By Stephenie Overman
Relying on a panel of physicians and dietary supplement researchers, Consumer Reports has identified 15 common supplement ingredients — including green tea extract (GTE) powder — that are potentially harmful.
Risks include cardiac arrest, cancer and organ damage, according to experts quoted by Consumer Reports. Moreover, they said, none of the supplement ingredients provide sufficient health benefits to justify those risks.
Consumer Reports said the risks of GTE include: “Dizziness, ringing in the ears, reduced absorption of iron; exacerbates anemia and glaucoma; elevated blood pressure and heart rate; liver damage; possibly death.”
The other ingredients named in the report are aconite, caffeine powder, chaparral, coltsfoot, comfrey, germander, greater celandine, kava, lobelia, methylsynephrine, pennyroyal oil, red yeast rice, usnic acid and yohimbe.
“Many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects in the body,” Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spokesperson Lyndsay Meyer told Self magazine. “This could make them unsafe in some situations and hurt or complicate your health.”
Supplement sales have increased by 81% in the past decade, Consumer Reports noted, citing the Nutrition Business Journal.
But the FDA’s authority has not changed significantly in more than 20 years, Meyer told Self magazine.
“The FDA does not have the power to review the safety of most dietary supplements before they are marketed, so we can only take action after a problem has occurred,” Meyer said. “The FDA’s ability to detect and assess problems with dietary supplements is also limited by the fact that manufacturers are only required to report serious adverse reactions to FDA. Therefore, we depend on consumers and healthcare providers to provide us with information we can act on.”
She said the FDA recommends that consumers read up on dietary supplements on sites such as the National Institutes of Health, the USDA, or by using the FDA’s own resources, rather than by using commercial websites.