• U.S.

Health: Supplements: The Dirty Dozen

1 minute read
David Bjerklie

Most consumers believe dietary supplements are safe. That’s a dangerous assumption. Although prescription drugs must be proved safe by their makers, under federal law the burden falls on the FDA to prove that supplements are not safe. The FDA last week got a prod when Consumers Union (CU) warned Americans that they should avoid a “dirty dozen” that may cause cancer, kidney or liver damage, even death. The list: aristolochic acid (birthwort), comfrey, germander, androstenedione, chaparral, kava, bitter orange, organ or gland extracts, lobelia, pennyroyal oil, scullcap and yohimbe.

CU also recommends:

–Tell your doctor which supplements you are taking. Some can interfere with prescription medicine.

–Don’t exceed upper limits of daily vitamins or minerals.

–Stay away from all supplements for weight control. –D.B.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com