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‘Fat Burning’ supplements pose risk for liver meltdown

Any local resident taking a dietary supplement to lose weight is being urged by Dr. Fred Uhrle to consult their physician following a medical advisory issued this week by the Hawai’i Health Department regarding “potential liver damage associated with diet supplements for weight loss.”


The advisory to healthcare providers in Hawai’i was issued Wednesday by the State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Y. Park, saying state health officials are investigating at least seven cases of severe acute hepatitis and fulminant liver failure, and the cases were presented to medical facilities between May and September this year.


“Currently, the only commonality identified is use of dietary supplements for weight loss and/or muscle gain. All are now hospitalized on Oahu,” said Park.


The median age of these cases is 35 years, ranging from 22 — 54 years of age, and Hawai’i health officials are working closely with their federal counterparts in the investigation. “Our investigation is still in the initial stages and ongoing, so currently reported findings may evolve as more information is obtained and cases identified,” said Park.


Uhrle, who received the medical advisory, said yesterday that many in the Hawai’i cases were taking more than one supplement so the specific product has not been identified; however, the suspect products are labeled “Fat Burners.”


“Anyone taking dietary supplements to lose weight should consult their physician,” said Uhrle, a U.S certified medical physician. “The safest way to lose is still to reduce the intake of sugars and processed foods and fats— and moving your body.”


“It’s very important that people need to be aware of the dietary supplement they are taking and to always check with their physician before taking such supplements,” he said.


In the medical advisory, Park asked healthcare providers in Hawai’i to advise patients who may be taking dietary or nutritional supplements for the purposes of weight loss and/or muscle gain “to use these products with caution” and under a physician’s supervision, while the state investigation is ongoing.




In June this year, Uhrle cautioned local consumers about the use of HerbaLife, an increasingly popular dietary supplement, saying that some people think it can do more than its intended purpose, which is to aid in weight loss.


There have been reports of some consumers buying HerbaLife to help with high blood pressure and diabetes. “Herbalife does not cure diabetes, hypertension or any other disease,” Uhrle told Samoa News at the time and advised consumers to always consult their physician first.


Uhrle also says that Herbalife “is an expensive way to lose weight and carries potentially higher risk for those with diabetes, heart and kidney disease. Concerns have also been raised about the potential for acute liver injury.”