July 25, 2014 — A case report of a woman who developed severe acute hepatitis (liver inflammation) after using high doses of green tea extract has been published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
The popularity of dietary supplements containing concentrated green tea extract has exploded in recent years. These products are often promoted for weight-loss, cancer prevention, and a wide variety of health issues.
The most important ingredient is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a potent catechin and antioxidant. Several studies have linked high doses of EGCG in dietary supplements with liver damage.
The case study describes a 63 year-old woman who started using green tea capsules at the recommendation of a cancer support group. She developed a sudden inflammation of the liver (acute hepatitis).
When other possible causes were ruled out, doctors determined it was “probable” that the green tea capsule caused her injury. She stopped using the supplement and her symptoms improved rapidly. The product she was taking contained 93.2% EGCG and 6.8% epicatechin (EC) — a “very high dose level,” according to researchers.
Unlike traditional green tea, which has been safely used in Asia for centuries, a growing number of studies have linked green tea extract with severe liver side effects. In 2012, a study linked the diet pill SlimQuick with a case of hepatotoxicity in a 23 year-old woman. At least 34 cases of acute hepatitis were linked to green tea extract in a study published in 2009.
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