Researchers say cases linked to products claiming to promote muscle growth or weight loss are rising and more rigorous oversight is needed
The number of patients being admitted to hospital with severe liver injuries caused by herbal and dietary supplements claiming to promote muscle growth or weight loss is increasing, with some people harmed so severely they required a liver transplant.
A study led by Dr Emily Nash from the Royal Prince Alfred hospital examined hospital records of 184 adults admitted to the AW Morrow Gastroenterology and Liver Centre with drug-induced liver injury between 2009 and 2020. She and her co-authors found liver injury cases linked to herbal and dietary supplements increased from two out of 11 patients (15%) during 2009–11, to 10 out of 19 patients (47%) during 2018–20.
Liver injury from overdose from paracetamol, a widely used medication to treat fever and pain, and antibiotics, is common, and the authors found 115 patients with paracetamol-related drug-induced liver injury during the study period. Of the 69 with non-paracetamol liver injury, 19 cases involved antibiotics, 15 involved herbal and dietary supplements, and the rest involved anti-tuberculosis or anti-cancer medications.