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FDA Warns Hundreds Of Supplements Contain Hidden Dangerous Drugs

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Lately it seems like so many of the things that we once believed are good for us may actually be causing us harm.

A few weeks after University of Arizona professor Janet Funk's eye-opening report on the link between turmeric supplements and liver disease, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is sending out a warning to those who take dietary supplements regularly.

Turns out, the natural ingredients aren't the only thing that can cause side-effects. The agency found a number of unapproved drug ingredients in nearly 800 supplements sold over-the-counter between 2007 and 2016.

What's even more alarming is that there's no way of knowing the concentration levels of the drugs, and this means that those who consume the supplements could be ingesting high levels of hidden pharmaceutical ingredients.

"These products have the potential to cause severe adverse health effects owing to accidental misuse, overuse, or interaction with other medications, underlying health conditions, or other drugs within the same dietary supplement," wrote the study's authors, led by Madhur Kumar of the California Department of Public Health Food and Drug Branch.

The report revealed that from 2012 to 2016, most of the tainted products were supplements for sexual enhancement, weight loss and muscle-building. If overused, some of the active ingredients in these products could cause damage to the blood vessels, increase risk of cardiovascular disease, or trigger mental, kidney and liver problems.

Antidepressants and antihistamines, both of which may interact with other medications, have also been found in the affected supplements.

Considering 50% of American adults use dietary supplements, you or someone you know have probably taken adulterated supplements that have not been labeled correctly.

Experts like Dr. Pieter A. Cohen, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, are concerned that the FDA's actions aren't aggressive enough to solve this serious problems and lower the potential health risks consumers may face.  

In an email to CNN, FDA spokeswoman Lindsay Haake wrote that "the FDA recognizes the seriousness of this problem and continues to act within its resources and authorities to address this problem as best it can."

She explained that at this time, "the agency's primary objective is to mitigate any risk posed to public health by informing consumers about any dangers associated with the product and to work to remove it from the market as soon as possible."

So far, fewer than half of the 746 tainted products have been recalled, but more recalls are expected to be announced in the coming days or weeks.

If you are currently taking a dietary supplement, you should speak with your doctor right away to ensure you're not at risk.

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.