The $37 billion supplement industry is barely regulated — and could be dangerous to your health

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Posted 20 August 2017

This article published in Business Insider, makes the following points (extracts):

“In the middle of the pregnancy, her mother had come down with tuberculosis. She’d contracted the contagious lung infection in her teens, and the illness came back despite preventative antibiotics and regular screenings. The cause: a popular herbal supplement called St. John’s wort. St. John’s wort is one of the most popular herbal supplements sold in the United States. But in 2000, the National Institutes of Health published a study showing that St. John’s wort could severely curb the effectiveness of several important pharmaceutical drugs — including antibiotics, birth control, and antiretrovirals for infections like HIV — by speeding up their breakdown in the body.”

““Consumers should expect nothing from [supplements] because we don’t have any clear evidence that they’re beneficial, and they should be leery that they could be putting themselves at risk,” S. Bryn Austin, a professor of behavioural sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told Business Insider.”

“Using data from 2004 to 2013, the authors of a 2016 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that 23,005 emergency-room visits a year were linked to supplements. Between 2000 and 2012, the annual rate of negative reactions to supplements — or “exposures” as they are known in scientific parlance — rose from 3.5 to 9.3 cases per 100,000 people, a 166% increase.”

“A large recent review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at 27 trials of vitamins involving more than 400,000 people. The researchers concluded that people who took vitamins did not live longer or have fewer cases of heart disease or cancer than people who did not take them.”

“In 2016, the world’s largest supplement maker, GNC Holdings Inc., agreed to pay $US2.25 million to avoid federal prosecution over allegations that it sold a performance-enhancing supplement that claimed to increase speed, strength, and endurance with an active ingredient called dimethylamylamine, or DMAA. Two soldiers who used the supplement died in 2011, which prompted the Defence Department to remove all products containing DMAA from stores on military bases.”

Read the full article on Business Insider

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