Warning: Hidden ingredients in supplements for weight loss and male enhancement

News briefs


Think twice before buying dietary supplements that claim to help you lose weight or rev up your sex life. The FDA is seeing an increase in sales of over-the-counter supplements that contain hidden and dangerous prescription drugs, controlled substances, or untested and unstudied components. Such ingredients may cause serious side effects and interact with medications you’re taking. The tainted supplements are widely available and sold online from sellers on eBay or Amazon or through large retail stores such as Walmart. In December 2021, for example, the FDA identified nine sexual enhancement products with dangerous ingredients sold on Walmart’s website. Remember: unlike pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter supplements are not tested by the FDA, and companies can sell anything they like until the FDA proves they’re unsafe. Also, know that many types of supplements contain dangerous ingredients—including some products claiming to promote better sleep or relieve pain. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplement, and do your homework: check out the FDA’s tainted products database (/tainted) to see if supplements in your medicine cabinet (or some you’re eyeing) are listed.

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