Cancer concerns over diet pills

(iStock)
(iStock)

You may want to think twice before reaching for the diet pills to shed the holiday pounds.

Concerns have been raised over the long-term use of nutritional supplements containing chromium, after Australian researchers found the mineral is partially converted into a carcinogenic form when it enters cells.

Supplements containing the trace mineral chromium are commonly used to treat weight loss and body building, but there's an increasing body of evidence indicating it is not safe.

New Zealand's current recommendation is 25-35 micrograms of chromium daily as an adequate intake for adults, but some supplements contain up to 500 micrograms per tablet.

The latency period for chromium-related cancers is often greater than 20 years and researchers say the finding raises concerns over the risks of taking chromium nutritional supplements long term or in high doses.

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