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Consumer Reports ID's ‘Dirty Dozen’ of ‘Dangerous’ Ingredients; Industry Takes Issue With Report

Aug. 3, 2010 -- A dozen ingredients commonly found in dietary supplements should be avoided, according to a new report, because they are linked to cancer, coma, kidney and liver damage, heart problems, and death.

Compiled by Consumer Reports, the report singles out 12 dietary supplement ingredients termed the ''dirty dozen." "The dozen we call out in this report are by no means the only dangerous ingredients," Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor at Consumer Reports, tells WebMD. "They are the ones we chose to highlight."

A spokesperson for the supplement industry calls the report ''a little bit sensationalized."

Dangers of Dietary Supplements: A Closer Look

Researchers from Consumer Reports worked with experts from the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, an independent research group, first identifying from a database of nearly 1,100 ingredients a group of about 25 ingredients that had been linked to serious problems either by research studies or case reports.

Next, they whittled down the list to the 12, evaluating adverse events as well as how available the ingredients were and how aggressively the products containing them are promoted, Metcalf says. ''It's to a certain extent a subjective thing," she says of the process. She and her colleagues combed medical literature and other data to arrive at the list of 12 that Consumer Reports advises people to avoid.

On the list are these ingredients, their uses, and what evidence Consumer Reports has they may lead to problems:

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