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Dietary Supplements can Cause Liver Injury Warns Loyola Hepatologist

Free Database of Drugs, LiverTox, Now Available Online

MAYWOOD, Ill. – Dose-dependent (acetaminophen) and idiosyncratic drug-induced liver injuries (DILI) are the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States and are responsible for approximately 50 percent of all reported cases.

“Awareness of the dangers of acetaminophen has risen, but many consumers and even many health-care professionals are not aware that certain popular herbal and dietary supplements can also cause liver damage,” said Steven Scaglione, MD, hepatology, Loyola University Health System (LUHS) and the Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM). “Kava, comfrey, valerian, vitamin A, niacin and even green tea, when consumed in high doses, have been linked to liver disease."

LiverTox, a new database launched Oct. 12 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has a searchable database of about 700 medications. “The LiverTox website is very user friendly and provides evidence-based data in a clear and succinct manner,” said Scaglione. As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the NIH will be adding another 300 drugs within the next few years.

Acetaminophen is one of the most widely used over-the-counter pain relievers and more than 25 billion doses are sold yearly.”Therapeutic doses of acetaminophen have been associated with liver toxicity,” said Scaglione, who cares for liver patients at Loyola. Acetaminophen is also a basic component in many over-the-counter cold and flu remedies for adults and children.

“Liver injury caused by medications is often difficult to identify and diagnose as well as treat,” said Scaglione, who also specializes in live transplantation and research. “The new LiverTox online reference is ideal for medical professionals as an educational tool and a guide in the evaluation of patients with suspected drug- induced liver injury.  The use of case examples is particularly helpful."

Scaglione is board certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology.  He is part of the Loyola liver-referral system for transplantation with offices throughout Illinois.

Patients may call 1- 85-LIVER DOC (1-855-483-7362) for additional information or to make appointments.

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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Stasia Thompson
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