Hawaii Liver Failure Cluster may be Tied to Weight Loss/Body Building Supplement

dietary_supplements_liver_failure_The state of Hawaii is looking into a number of liver failure cases that have occurred in young, healthy adults who all took dietary or nutritional supplements.

The state is issuing a public medical alert, according to KHON.com. “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.

At least 10 cases have been reported in Hawaii since May and all have involved young to middle-aged adults who felt suddenly ill and required hospitalization for various stages of liver failure and, “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 told KHON.com. One person required a liver transplant, two more have been added to the transplant list and one other person may be added to the list, according to Hawaii News Now.

State officials have said that the cases all appear to be tied to one particular brand; however, health officials have indicated that they are hearing about cases involving other brands. Officials have not indicated which brands are involved as there is no clarity concerning if the issue is with a brand, an ingredient, or a particular batch. It is possible that the culprit is a federally regulated supplement sold nationwide. Consumers taking supplements should be monitored by a doctor and people taking supplements who fell ill should contact a physician KHON.com warned.

Cases have involved acute liver inflammation and failure, which the Star Adviser described as hepatitis. The common finding is that those who have fallen ill is that all have all used a dietary or nutritional supplement for weight loss and/or muscle gain over the past six months, with cases reported in nearly every county in Hawaii. The cases have, to date, involved patients with no infectious causes, not history of high-risk social activities, and no identified commonly expected risk factors for liver failure, according to the Star Advisor.

“We are still in the early stages of this investigation and we have not identified the exact source of this condition, announced state epidemiologist Sarah Park of the Department of Health (DOH) in a news release, according to the Star Advisor. “However, we want to alert the public because of our concern that more people could potentially become ill,” she added. The DOH issued a statewide Medical Advisory that was sent to clinicians, clinics, and emergency departments and is collaborating with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“That’s the scary, or worrisome thing,” says Dr. Park. “They were previously healthy.” Dr. Park expects the number of cases to grow now that the alert has gone out. “Seven to ten cases are easy to link in Hawaii,” Dr. Park says.  “But in larger states, it may be harder,” she noted, according to Hawaii News Now.

Although Dr. Park would not give a specific brand name, saying that more than one supplement contains the ingredient in being investigated, and would also not indicate the name of the ingredient; however, Hawaii News Now indicated that it learned that the ingredient is found in Oxy Elite Pro, which is a supplement popular with body builders. In fact, the company received a letter from the FDA in 2012 over the-then new ingredient.

“OxyELITE Pro” is described on the firm’s website as an update to the former “OxyELITE Pro Super Thermogenic,” and that the new, re-named product has a purple top and is sometimes referred to as the “Purple Top OxyELITE Pro.” The ingredients, according to the product label include: Bauhinia Purpurea L. (Leaf and Pod) Extract, Aegeline, Norcolaurine HCI, Hemerocallis Fulva (Flower) Concentrated Extract, and Yohimbe (Pausinystalia Hohimbe) (Bark) Extract (AlphaShred™). The original version contained Dimethylamylamine HCl (DMAA), which has since been removed. The new version contains additional caffeine, as well as Noroclaurine HCl, which the website indicated is also known a higenamine, and which goes under the trade name Norcoline™.
The website described this ingredient as, “It’s a VERY safe, yet effective, fat targeting agent. Great for focus too!”

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