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12 Dangerous Dietary Supplements


Simply because it is "natural" doesn't mean it's innocuous. Consumer Reports hopes to get that message across with the recent publication of a list of "dirty dozen" - 12 supplements the magazine recommends avoiding public. It is often sold under different names in unique products or multiple ingredients combined, these supplements were implicated in cancer, severe liver or kidney damage, heart problems and even death.

While all supplements are not equally dangerous, consumers should take responsibility when it comes to them, "You should buy products from a company or a source you know and trust, "said Judy Blatman the Council for Responsible Nutrition Washington, DC "In addition, you should consult your doctor about supplements you are considering health take up. "During this time, think twice before putting the following supplements in your cart. Consumer Reports rated as definitely hazardous, probably hazardous, and likely hazardous. Here's what you need to know:

Common name: Androstenedione (or andro, for short)
Reason for use: Ups blood levels of testosterone and is often used by athletes for bodybuilding. Baseball player Mark McGuire famously used the substance.
Possible danger: Increases cancer risks; decreases HDL, or "good" cholesterol
Consumer Reports rating: Very likely hazardous

Common name: Aristolochic acid
Reason for use: Found in traditional Chinese medicines used in treating such ailments as eczema, endometriosis, and backache
Possible danger: Linked to kidney failure and cancer
Consumer Reports rating: Very likely hazardous

Common name: Bitter Orange
Reason for use: Works like ephedra, a stimulant used for weight loss, which was banned by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004.
Possible danger: hypertension; increased risk of cardiac arrhythmias, heart attacks, strokes and their use
Consumer Reports rating: Very likely hazardous

Common name: Chaparral
Reason for use: Has been marketed as a "blood purifier," cancer cure, and acne treatment
Possible danger: Linked to abnormal liver function that is often irreversible
Consumer Reports rating: Very likely hazardous

Common name: Comfrey
Reason for use: Drunk as a tea or "green drink" for stomach ulcers or as a "blood purifier"
Possible danger: Contains toxins called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) which have been associated with abnormal liver function or damage, often irreversible when taken internally. Deaths have been reported.
Consumer Reports rating: Very likely hazardous

Common name: Germander
Reason for use: Often used in formulations for weight control
Possible danger: Linked to abnormal liver function that is often irreversible
Consumer Reports rating: Very likely hazardous

Common name: Kava (or kava kava)
Reason for use: Soothes stress and anxiety
Possible danger: Linked to abnormal liver function
Consumer Reports rating: Very likely hazardous

Common name: Lobelia
Reason for use: An herbal treatment for asthma, bronchitis, and coughing
Possible danger: Difficulty breathing and rapid heart rates may result from its use
Consumer Reports rating: Likely hazardous

Common name: Organ/glandular extracts
Reason for use: Treating disorders such as chronic hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus
Possible danger:Theoretical risk of mad cow disease, particularly from brain extracts
Consumer Reports rating: Likely hazardous

Common name: Pennyroyal oil
Reason for use: used topically as an insect repellent and disinfectant and internally for digestive and liver disorders
Possible danger:Associated with liver and kidney failure, nerve damage, convulsions, abdominal tenderness, and burning of the throat. Deaths have been reported even with ingestion of tiny amounts; even topical application can be dangerous.
Consumer Reports rating: Likely hazardous

Common name: Skullcap
Reason for use: Relieves anxiety and insomnia
Possible danger: Abnormal liver damage
Consumer Reports rating: Likely hazardous

Common name: Yohimbe
Reason for use: A men's aphrodisiac sometimes referred to as "herbal Viagra"
Possible danger: Blood pressure changes, heartbeat irregularities, and heart attacks have been reported with its use.
Consumer Reports rating: Likely hazardous

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a specific condition.

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