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Four popular herbal supplements are to have safety checks. This article reports on the testing programme.

Four popular herbal remedies are to undergo safety checks due to concerns they may contain cancer-causing properties.

The US National Toxicology Programme, which includes the Food and Drug Administration and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, will test aloe vera, ginseng, kava and milk thistle.

Scientists are expected to study whether the herbal substances are carcinogenic.

The National Cancer Institute recommended the supplements be tested.

Aloe vera is a widely used product, commonly used to soothe skin, but is now being used as a drink which claims to fight disease by 'cleansing' the digestive tract. Researchers have noticed some similarities between aloe vera and croton oil - a known carcinogen.

The British Medical Journal reports other substances to be safety tested include kava which is claimed to be a muscle relaxant and mood enhancer, ginseng which claims to boost energy, and milk thistle which is thought to have anticancer properties. A fifth substance, indole-3-carbinol, has also been nominated for testing.

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