New Delhi: The extra presence of chromium in nutrition supplements can cause various types of cancer as well as liver and lung damage, doctors have said.
The overuse of supplements causes severe damage to chromosomes in cells, which then mutate the DNA and cause cancer, according to experts.
The US National Academy of Sciences has estimated that up to 200 micrograms of chromium was safe for adequate daily dietary intake for adults. However, the supplements available in the market to gain weight contain 500 micrograms of chromium.
"The health hazards associated with exposure to chromium depends on its oxidation state. Oxidation of chromium occurs inside the cell, which means, it loses electrons and transforms into a carcinogenic form," said Veronica Sharma, consultant at city-based SRV Hospital.
According to Sharma, health complications caused by excess chromium include damage to kidney, lung, and several forms of skin problems including eczema and other inflammation.
Behram Pardiwala, medicine expert at the city-based Wockhardt Hospital, said presence of excess chromium in any product "has always been harmful".
"Brands selling supplements state that it is safe but that's not true. The first problem that high chromium containing supplements cause is stomach problems and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and later kidney and nerves damage," he said.
Earlier this month, a study by University of Sydney also came up with the conclusion that high intake of chromium through nutrition supplements makes consumers prone to cancer.
A study by business chamber Assocham stated that 70 percent of dietary supplements being sold across India were fake, unregistered and unapproved, besides being extremely difficult to identify.