Fifteen percent of older U.S. adults at risk for major drug-drug interactions.
The practice of polypharmacy among older U.S. adults is rising significantly. The concurrent use of 5 or more prescription medications rose by 5% between 1999 and 2012. During this same period, the use of dietary supplements increased from 52% to 64%. Using standardized criteria, the risk for major drug-drug interactions has nearly doubled in this age group today.
PositiveTip: For your safety, always communicate to your physician ALL medications you are taking--including dietary supplements.
The Dr. Oz Show scrubs coverage of Green Coffee Extract following retraction.
A 2012 paper claiming a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled crossover study demonstrated that green coffee bean extract helped people lose weight has been retracted. After the Dr. Oz Show touted this extract causes substantial weight and fat loss it became an international best seller. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states "the study was so hopelessly flawed that no reliable conclusions could be drawn from it."
One-fifth of liver injuries are caused by herbal and dietary supplements in the U.S.
During the past 10 years liver injury from herbal and dietary supplements has doubled. Researchers analyzed data from over 800 patients who sustained liver damage from medications (acetaminophen excluded) or herbal and dietary supplements. Injuries jumped from 7% of cases in the first two years to 20% 10 years later. Liver damage from dietary supplements required more transplants than injury from drugs.
PositiveTip: Be very cautious of using herbals or dietary supplements without consulting with your physician.
The majority of food supplements are untested and unregulated.
A 28-year-old female bodybuilder with no risk factors for liver disease was hospitalized with acute liver failure after taking herbal supplements as recommended on the label for increased energy and burning fat. These uncontrolled supplements contained usnic acid, green tea, and guggul tree extracts. An immediate liver transplant saved her life. Dietary supplements are responsible for almost 20% of drug-related liver injury, up from 7% ten years ago.
Workout boosters found to contain dangerous stimulants.
The dietary supplement "Craze," marketed primarily as a workout booster has been found to contain a methamphetamine analog (N,alpha-diethyl-phenylethylamine). Three different samples from separate sources were analyzed in two labs--and found this potentially dangerous designer drug. The amounts found indicate it is not a minor contaminant.
Many new supplement ingredients are introduced without any regulatory oversight.
Americans spend more than $28 billion annually on vitamins, minerals, herbals and other "natural" products in the form of dietary supplements. They do this assuming they are safe and effective. The FDA regulation of these products has been rather weak, even though the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act requires manufacturers to present "reseasonable expectation of safety." The food industry is held to much more stringent safety standards than the supplement industry. The New England Journal of Medicine has an informative article on this by Pieter Cohen, MD of the Cambridge Health Alliance.
PositiveTip: Remember--not all things "natural" are safe or effective!
The British Medical Journal just published results from a study on how B-Vitamins and fish oil affect several cardiovascular diseases. The outcomes were disappointing.
Researchers studied 2501 individuals who were sick to begin with. All had experienced a stroke, heart attack or unstable chest pains. The study involved over 400 research physicians throughout France.
People were randomly assigned to one of four groups, with various daily treatments:
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements from fish, plants or both show no significant benefit.
There is growing interest in the possibility of reducing the risk of heart disease by supplementing with fish-based omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) or plant-derived alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Using a multi-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 4837 older men with heart disease, researchers found during an almost four year follow-up that none of the supplements from fish or plants showed any significant advantage over the placebo.
PositiveTip: Including adequate plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids from dietary sources (nuts, vegetable oils) will not hurt you, but they are probably not a magic bullet for preventing heart disease.
Many people who spend hard-earned money on expensive nutritional supplements are mistakenly seeking a "natural" method of healing. The companies who sell these products know this, and spin their marketing to exploit it. You can learn more about "natural" doesn't always mean natural if you wish.
Some people today dream of a wonderful time in the past when all food was organic and no one ever used pesticides. Health problems were treated with folk remedies. Obesity was unheard of, and everyone got plenty of physical activity. And...the average life expectancy was a ripe old 35!
Many people today, even in church lobbies, are selling high-priced nutritional supplements through network marketing schemes.
Remember the Bible story of Naaman (I Kings 5)? He was an important man in the Syrian army, and he had leprosy. Every Syrian treatment had failed, including all the alternative methods. But then a little slave girl suggested the prophet of God who lived in Israel, an enemy country. Naaman's king gave him permission to visit this healer, and sent along fabulous gifts.