New Media Producer: Brad Maglinger
Every year 150-million Americans buy dietary supplements for a variety of presumed health benefits. Consumer Reports says there are twelve supplements that should never be taken.
Aristolochia acid, also known as snakeroot, the report finds can cause organ failure and has known carcinogenic properties.
The FDA has warned 23 companies to stop making the supplement androstenedione. Chaparral, germander, kava, bitter orange, organ or glandular extracts, lobelia, pennyroyal oil, scullcap, and yohimbe are also all on Consumer Reports' lists as having adverse effects.
The potentially dangerous effects of most of these products have been known for more than a decade, and at least five of them are banned in Asia, Europe or Canada.
Charles Bell, of the Consumers' Union, says, "These are supplements that can cause severe kidney and liver damage, heart problems, cancer and even death."
There are about 30,000 supplements on the market and the industry says the majority are safe.
Unlike prescription drugs, dietary supplements are regulated like food, not drugs. They can be sold until the FDA proves they are dangerous. The industry says the new report shows the FDA's oversight works.
Consumer Reports says just because these products are natural, doesn't mean they're safe.