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Study: Green tea 'weight loss' supplements can be dangerous

Posted March 27
Updated March 28

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— Many consumers take green tea supplements for their assumed weight loss benefits, but studies have found that the extracts can pose serious health risks.

A study conducted by Consumer Reports shows that there is little evidence to support the claim that green tea extract powders, tablets and liquids actually help people lose weight.

"Green tea extract can potentially cause serious liver damage," said Jeneen Interlandi, a health editor at Consumer Reports. "Plus, the herb has been found to alter the effectiveness of a long list of drugs, including certain antidepressants and anti-clotting medications."

Don't confuse green tea supplements, made with green tea extract powder, with the kind of green tea you drink. Drinking green tea has some health benefits, experts say, but many supplements made with green tea extract aren't as beneficial as they seem.

Studies found that these supplements can also elevate your heart rate and blood pressure. Even more concerning, research suggests that up to 10 percent of people who suffer acute liver failure from green tea extract may die as a result.

As a result, Consumer Reports puts green tea extract powder on its list of 15 supplement ingredients to avoid.

"The manufacturers who make these supplements are not required to prove to federal regulators that their products are safe or effective, or even that they're accurately labeled, so you really don't know what you're buying," said Interlandi.

Other studies found that, even in high doses, green tea probably won’t help you lose weight.

"It's true that green tea can raise your metabolic rate, so you burn more calories," said Interlandi. "But that's probably just due to the caffeine and antioxidants found in green tea."

Instead of reaching for a green tea supplement, experts say most people can safely reap the health benefits of green tea with a couple of cups a day.

As for the 15 supplement ingredients to avoid, in addition to the green tea extract powder, the list includes kava, caffeine powder and red yeast rice. The entire list can be found here.

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