Using data from a national registry, researchers found that herbal and dietary supplements were implicated in 18% of liver injury cases caused or suspected of being caused by drugs or supplements from 2003 to 2011.
Bodybuilding and weight loss supplements were by far the biggest offenders, linked to 34% and 26% of 93 cases studied, respectively, says researcher Victor J. Navarro, MD, a professor of medicine, pharmacology, and experimental therapeutics at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
Still, the study is not meant to scare people, Navarro says. Many supplements are beneficial to your health, he says, ticking off a long list that includes calcium and vitamin D supplements and multivitamins made by reputable companies.
Plus, the absolute risk of any one person developing supplement-associated liver injury may be very small, he says.
The findings were presented at the Digestive Disease Week conference in San Diego.