Hidden dangers lurk in over-the-counter supplements, study warns

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Everyone has seen the ads or the products on the shelves.

A dietary supplement that promises to make consumers skinny, without dieting or exercise. Or the one that will bulk them up and turn them into the envy of other weightlifters at the gym. Not to mention the one to make them perform better in the bedroom.

Their labels say they are safe and all-natural. But are they?

Many of these products contain unapproved and unregulated pharmaceutically active ingredients, according to a study published Friday in JAMA Network Open. The authors wrote that the substances represent “a serious public health concern.”

Researchers from the California Department of Public Health found that from 2007 to 2016, 776 products marketed as dietary supplements contained hidden active ingredients that are unsafe or unstudied. Among them, dapoxetine, an antidepressant that is not approved in the United States, and sibutramine, which was included in some weight-loss supplements but was banned from the U.S. market in 2010 because of cardiovascular risks.