Liver failure in Hawaii could be linked to dietary supplements

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The state is investigating numerous cases of liver failure in young and healthy adults. The only common thread is they all took dietary or nutritional supplements.

The state is sending a medical alert to the public after hearing startling news from doctors.

“A cluster of cases of liver failure, extremely severe liver failure, in fact, going to transplant some of them,” state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said.

Since May, at least 10 cases have been reported in Hawaii. There are young to middle-aged adults who have suddenly became ill and were hospitalized for various stages of liver failure.

“Who have nothing in common among them except for the fact that they all took a dietary supplement, a nutritional supplement for the purpose of weight loss or muscle-building,” Dr. Park said.

The state says the cases seem to be associated with one particular brand, but health officials are now hearing of other brands. They’re not saying which ones since they don’t know if it’s the brand, a certain ingredient, or just a bad batch. But it may involve a federally regulated supplement that’s sold across the country.

“That is scary,” bodybuilder Kevin Sperling said.

Sperling has won the Mr. Hawaii title twice. He says people need to pay attention to the supplements they’re taking and not to be sucked into the latest craze.

“I stick with the basics. A multi-vitamin, amino acids,” Sperling said.

Many others admit they take dietary supplements to help them lose weight fast.

“It’s a challenge to get it off so sometimes those really do help, but there’s a lot of caffeine, so I know there’s a lot of dangers. I’ve had the heart palpitations before,” MMA fighter Bryanna Fissori said.

Dr. Park knows there are many other people who use these supplements. That’s why she’s concerned this cluster of cases could be just the beginning.

“There’s a lot of focus on how you look and looking good, and things like this,” Dr. Park said.

People who are taking supplements should be monitored by a doctor.

Anyone who feels sick after taking a supplement should contact a physician.

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