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science nutrition blog

science nutrition <strong>blog</strong>

By Steve Blechman

Amid the growing concerns about green tea and liver toxicity, a new report will be published in the Journal of Nutrition in March 2018. It documents serious case reports linking fat-burning supplements containing green tea extract have been linked to liver hepatitis and acute liver injury. These case reports include four patients. The first patient developed liver failure and had to be treated with liver transplantation. The second patient developed liver hepatitis that resolved spontaneously. The third patient required multiple surgical procedures and suffered severe hemorrhage. The fourth patient was treated for two separate episodes of liver injury after ingesting two different products.

Liver biopsy was performed in all patients and revealed no other cause of liver injury. Viral-autoimmune and metabolic liver diseases were excluded, making non-supervised consumption of fat burners containing green tea the most likely contributing agent.

Years ago, usnic acid found in fat-burning products was shown to cause liver toxicity. In 2011, a study published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology showed the case of a 28-year-old female bodybuilder who had been using fat-burning supplements; one of the products contained usnic acid and green tea extract. She was taken to Mt. Sinai Medical Center and diagnosed with acute liver failure. Cadaveric orthotopic liver transplant was performed on the patient to correct the damage. Usnic acid is derived from a fungus that grows on bark or twigs called Usnea.

Usnic acid fat-burning products have been banned from the marketplace because of liver toxicity. Canada has recently introduced new measures to toughen warnings about green tea extracts and concerns about liver injury. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe. The active ingredient in green tea extract includes caffeine and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). According to the recent findings published between 2013 and 2018, and recent findings by Consumer Reports, green tea extract in concentrated form can lead to liver damage otherwise known as hepatotoxicity. Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean that it is necessarily safe.

Buyer beware when buying fat-burning supplements.

One Fat Burner that does not contain Green Tea Extract is ThermoHeat. For More Information, please click on image below. 


Gavrić, Aleksandar et al. Fat burner-induced acute liver injury: Case series of four patients. Nutrition, Volume 47, March 2018 110-114

Radha Krishna Y, Mittal V, Grewal P, Fiel M, Schiano T. Acute liver failure caused by “fat burners” and dietary supplements: A case report and literature review. Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology 2011; 25(3):157-160.