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Study: some supplements lead to increase in liver damage

Posted at 6:10 PM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-03 18:10:33-04

"It's a personal choice I guess," said Nick Paolini, Buffalo State student who says he uses workout supplements everyday. "So if you study, and you believe it's okay for you to take, I think it's okay then."

If you study up on supplements like some Buffalo State students say they do before taking them, you'll find liver damage from using them are on the rise. 

"I usually take supplements everyday," said Richard Rinallo, Buffalo State student who says he uses about three supplements per workout. "Before, I take a pre-workout. During, I take an amino acid. After, I take protein."

It's those bodybuilding and weight-loss supplements that come with the greatest risk. Rsearchers say some workout supplements are illegal because they have anabolic steroids in them. While some weight-loss supplements have green tea extract, a substance that's been linked to acute liver injury, liver failure, even death.

"Just because it's all natural does not mean it's safe," said Carol Denysschen, Chair of Health and Nutrition Dietetics at Buffalo State. "Herbs in certain amounts can cause liver damage and can increase side effects."

Denysscen added that there are many supplements people can easily buy over-the-counter or online that affect the liver, including Echinacea.

"The FDA does not regulate herbal supplements as they do with medications," said Denysscen. "They will pull a supplement off the market but only after there has been complaints of side effects."

The study shows Americans spent $140 million on green tea extracts in 2015. College students are also paying a good amount for workout supplements. In a month spending:

"I'd say a little over $100," said Rinallo. "It's very popular now a days. I know there is research that says some things can be bad for your health, this and that, but I tend to pick and choose what I use."

Students like Nick Paolini and Richard Rinallo tell 7 Eyewitness News reporter Paola Suro that they do their research, knowing side effects are a possibility. But Denysscen says they need to stop taking them altogether.

"Liver disease is very concerning because your liver is your primary organ that metabolizes all these supplements, all these nutrients, and all these prescription drugs," said Denysscen. "SO if they take these in large amounts, it can decrease the function of their liver."