Too Many Antioxidants Can Hurt the Liver and Even Lead to Cancer

Cup of green tea, with loose tea leaves inside and on a spoon next to the cup
Green tea made with loose tea leaves (lots of them!) (Image by apple deng from Pixabay)

Like many health-conscious people whose health is not perfect, I rely on certain natural supplements to keep me healthier and give me more energy. I thought I wasn’t overdoing it, until I read than even a cup of green tea a day can be too much for some people predisposed to anemia, because green tea interferes with the absorption of iron. And there’s more. In 2015 a medical case report was published about a sixteen-year-old girl from the UK, who actually got herself an acute hepatitis after drinking three cups of green tea (probably mixed with something else) every day for three months in order to lose weight. And in 2014 a fifty-year old man from the UK, who took green tea supplements to better his general health and avoid the fate of his father, who had died at fifty-nine of a heart attack, ended up in hospital with liver failure, needing a transplant within days, after only two or three month of taking that green tea extract. He got lucky and had that transplant, but his health is not the best, whereas before it was pretty okay.

In the past three decades some 200 cases of liver injury due to intake of green tea (green tea extracts, mostly), sometimes leading to liver transplant, have been documented in scientific journals. True, again, in the vast majority of cases the culprit is usually not pure green tea drunk in moderation, but green tea capsules, but still, there have been several well-known cases with liver toxicity from both green tea beverages and extracts, so it’s well worth it to be careful with this and other herbal supplements, as the author of one of my source articles for the above cases argues.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical or health practitioner, and no part of This Blog, or the websites and products I mention and link to on This Blog, is intended as professional medical or health advice, and should not be considered as such. Consult with your doctor(s) about starting any course of treatment, taking any supplements, or changing any (dietary, exercise, etc.) routines. Note that natural supplements and even some foods may interfere with certain medications. Here are my Full Terms and Conditions.

I only take a few choice supplements, and in rotation at that, but lately I’ve been having a persistent cold—light symptoms but taking way too long—and I began taking more supplements in order to help fight it. Then I had a talk with a friend of mine about green tea and how one doctor warned her to drink less of it because she’s predisposed to anemia, and I started looking into things more. And, lo and behold, it turns out that too much of a good thing is a bad thing—as it usually happens—and that if you neutralize too many free radicals, your immune system can get compromised by not having enough of them to fight infections. The idea behind getting loads of antioxidants, popularized wildly in the 1990s, had been that you need to pair up free electrons before they lead to cancer, other diseases, or hastened aging, but the body does, in fact, require a certain balance between free radicals and antioxidants.

And if we get antioxidants, we should try to take them mainly from food, as natural supplements can concentrate antioxidant levels up to fifty times what we find in food. And that can actually lead to cancers instead of preventing them.

The idea, then, is to be careful. My take on all this data at this point is to consider the total amounts of milligrams my natural supplements add up to, mindful of what exactly those milligrams measure, and how they compare to what I could get from food. Of course, given the pollution in Bucharest, sometimes I think I should make sure I take enough remedies to combat it, but still, there are other ways to strengthen our bodies as well, for instance through exercise or fighting stress.

Well, I hope this blog post gave you a few things to think about.

To a happier, healthier life,


P.S. I’d appreciate a pin/share if you found my post helpful. Thank you! 🙂


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