Liver damage on the rise in the U.S.

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In the US, deregulation in the dietary supplement industry is presenting a bill. In 2010-2012, hospitalizations for severe liver damage related to taking hazardous dietary supplements reached 20 percent of cases due to substance use.

The finding emerges from research presented at the 2013 Liver Meeting by a network of liver disease physicians. And it raises the alarm about the marketing of harmful ‘Made in USA’ products. Pills and powders, almost always lacking safety controls, offered with claims promising to “burn” fat, increase muscle mass and make people lose weight fast.

There are about 55,000 supplements on the market in the US. Of these, just 0.7 percent are subjected to voluntary safety studies before sale, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 allows the FDA to intervene, and order withdrawal from the shelves, only when adverse events occur. A system diametrically opposed to that in place in the EU, where safety is the prerequisite for staying in the supplement market.