(NBC) – You can buy supplements anywhere, but one doctor from North Carolina reminds us it’s an unregulated industry, so take them at your own risk.
The most common dietary supplements sold are for weight loss. In fact, many of the patients Atrium Health’s Dr. Mark Russo sees are women who end up in his office after taking these pills.
“Fairly frequently because supplements are so readily available,” he said.
Russo treats patients with liver problems. He says there is a direct link between diet supplements and liver failure.
“There is and its usually not one person that develops the problem, for example, many of these cases its 50 or 100 cases throughout the world and the only identifier is that specific supplement,” he said.
According to the FDA, the number of cases goes up every year.
“People look for shortcuts and sometimes those shortcuts can cause them a serious problem or even their lives,” said Dr. Russo.
But the FDA doesn’t regulate diet supplements. It’s up to the companies that make and distribute diet supplements to make sure their own products are safe.
“Patients call me and ask, Can I take supplement ‘X’? I say take it at your own risk.”
Dr. Russo points out just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe, and he recommends always checking with your own doctor before taking anything.
At the very least you can check out LiverTox – a website with tons of information on supplements and any issues related to them.
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