Millions of people use dietary supplements to boost health, sexual performance, lose weight, and improve athletic performance. Unfortunately, there is a growing trend of dietary supplements containing hidden pharmaceutical ingredients with dangerous side effects. In addition, many “all-natural” ingredients have been linked to liver damage, heart problems, cancer, and more. If you were injured, you are not alone.
What You Can Do & How a Dietary Supplement Lawsuit Can Help
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting dietary supplement induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been injured by a dietary supplement, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Dietary Supplement Litigation Group or call us toll-free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
Approximately 40% of Americans use a dietary supplement, for nutrition, weight-loss, body-building, sexually enhancement, recreation, and more. Americans spent $28.1 billion on supplements in 2010. Unfortunately, these products may be tainted with hazardous drugs. Supplements also may be spiked with dosages that are several times higher than the legal limit. Dangerous supplements can cause heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, liver damage, depression, and death.
Recently, dangerous products have sparked several dietary supplement lawsuits. One example regards DMAA, an amphetamine-like supplement that was implicated in the deaths of two U.S. soldiers. Other recent dietary supplement lawsuits regarded bogus health claims made by Acai berry product manufacturers, and more.
Dietary Supplements and the FDA
The federal government regulates the dietary supplement industry under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. This law provides regulations that are intended to protect the health and safety of the American public. Even so, the supplement industry is under far less scrutiny than the food or drug industry. In most cases, dietary supplement manufacturers sell their product without providing the FDA with even minimal data regarding the safety or effectiveness. Although supplement manufacturers are technically barred from making claims that their product has health benefits, this rule is widely flaunted.
Are Dietary Supplements Safe?
In most cases, yes. Not all dietary supplements are unsafe, and many are beneficial. The problem is that consumers have very little assurance of quality, safety, or effectiveness of the product before they buy it. In fact, illegal products often enter the U.S. market through places like China, available over the internet or in supplement stores. Other times, companies adulterate their products with new ingredients without providing the FDA with a New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) notification, which is supposed to include safety information.
Furthermore, many companies provide “scientific” studies that are flawed, designed in a way to skew the results to favor the “safety” of the ingredients. These flawed studies tend to have small sample sizes, lack placebo controls, are conducted over short periods of time, have methodological flaws which skew results, involve a non-random selection of people, etc. When supplement companies present this flawed information, consumers may lack the sophistication to be wary of the results.
Dietary Supplements and Liver Damage
A recent study has found that dietary supplements are associated with 18% of all liver injuries in the United States. Approximately 33% of the injuries were attributed to body-building supplements and 26% were attributed to weight-loss supplements. Other supplements caused 31% of the liver injuries.
The problem with liver damage is that new, healthy livers are rare. There is a high demand for new livers, and the waiting list can take months or years. Furthermore, the pain and suffering, medical expenses, and decreased quality of life may be significant.
Symptoms of Liver Damage
- Jaundice (discolored skin, eyes that appear yellowish)
- Abdominal pain, swelling
- Itching skin
- Dark urine color
- Pale, bloody, or tar-colored stool
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of appetite
Dietary Supplements and Cancer
Some people who have cancer, are at risk of cancer, or are in remission decide to take a dietary supplement. If you do this, it is important to tell your doctor about all herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements you take. This is because some supplements can interact with cancer treatments, making them less effective. For example, some studies have found that high doses of Vitamin C blunted chemotherapy by 30-70%.
There is also evidence that high doses of some supplements can increase the risk of cancer. One study found that high doses of selenium, beta carotene, and folic acid increased the risk of several types of cancer.
Many supplements are sold with massive amounts of vitamins or minerals, far exceeding the recommended daily allowance. It is important to understand that ingredients that may be safe at normal doses can have severe, sometimes fatal effects when taken at extremely high doses.
Dietary Supplements and Heart Attacks
Several dietary supplements are known to be associated with an increased risk of heart attack. We may never know the full list, because most supplements do not undergo safety testing before they are sold in the U.S.
Some supplements, such as calcium supplements, have been associated with as much as an 86% increased risk of heart attacks. At least three studies have linked calcium supplements to increased risk of heart attack, likely due to the fact that taking a supplement causes a sudden spike in blood-calcium levels. Dietary calcium (found in foods such as milk, broccoli, and sunflower seeds) was shown to reduce the risk of heart attack.
Another dietary supplement that was linked to heart attacks is DMAA. Fortunately, the FDA has recently moved to restrict sales of DMAA. However, it was an ingredient in more than 200 supplements for several years before the FDA became aware that it was a synthetic drug and an illegal ingredient in dietary supplements. By the time the FDA restricted sales of DMAA, two soldiers who died of heart attacks were found to have DMAA in their bloodstream.
Other Supplement Side Effects
- Heart problems
- Liver damage, liver failure
- Heart attack
- Kidney damage, kidney failure
- Permanent disability
Do I have a Dietary Supplement Lawsuit?
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting dietary supplement induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been injured by a dietary supplement, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Dietary Supplement Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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