Just look at this headline. And if it’s not the most absurd thing you’ve ever read, I’m telling you now, I’ll eat my hat: Choking Hazard: Another Reason to Skip Supplements.
Excuse me, but… WHAT?
There are so many ridiculous things wrong with this conclusion that I wondered for a hot second if it was a joke. But alas, it’s real… and so is the so-called “science” behind it.
Before my rage bubbles back up and blinds me, let’s dive right into it, shall we?
A double standard on full display
According to this new study, multivitamins and calcium supplements are frequent causes of choking in older adults.
Let’s be real.
So is dry mouth. And not chewing your food properly. And drinking too quickly. And holding your breath. But why concern ourselves with the bigger picture when we can just slam supplements and call it a day?
In case you’re wondering what makes multivitamins such a convenient scapegoat, allow me to explain: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has some say when it comes to the size of pharmaceutical pills. (Specifically, generic drugs can’t be any larger than the size of the brand name version’s pills—which are typically 17 mm. And drugs can’t exceed 22 mm in pill size.)
Supplements, however, aren’t subject to these rules. But here’s why it doesn’t matter…
These researchers looked at the top ten supplements implicated in choking reports. Average length, width, and height of the pills were 19.3 mm, 9.8 mm, and 7.8 mm, respectively.
And as far as I can tell, that’s well below the FDA’s 22 mm maximum, despite not being “subject to such scrutiny,” as the study’s authors put it.
They also didn’t include powders or liquids in their analysis. Although many supplements are available in these forms, often to accommodate users with swallowing problems. But again… details, details.
The important part, I suppose, was the decade’s worth of adverse events reports submitted to the FDA—of which some 20,000 were for dietary supplements and around 19 percent were for swallowing issues.
But just for giggles, would you like to know how many adverse events are reported for pharmaceutical medications every year? Over one million.
The story behind the stats
By now, I imagine you see where I’m going with this.
Age was another risk factor for supplement swallowing trouble. And of the adverse event reports that included age, more than three quarters came from seniors over the age of 65. But again, I must point out that some 90 percent of patients in this age bracket take prescription drugs.
Plus, get this: There were three deaths in that entire DECADE attributable to choking. But deaths attributable to Big Pharma?
90,000 per YEAR.
Yet, unsurprisingly, I don’t see these authors calling for seniors to stop taking Big Pharma’s products.
And it doesn’t take a genius to see why. Americans shell out $30 billion every year on vitamins and supplements. And that’s despite the fact that “questions of efficacy and safety have arisen.”
Let’s be completely clear, though: There is no problem with safety. At least, not outside of this manufactured joke of a report.
I will, however, point out the recent recalls of many blood pressure and heartburn medications, and then gladly remind you of the rising death toll of the opioid crisis. I’ll also point out that Americans shell out $325 billion dollars—more than ten times as much—for prescription drugs. (And this doesn’t count the ones your doctor gives you or the drugs administered in hospitals.)
Choking on supplements may be a “preventable hazard.” But so is getting hit by a bus. Needless to say, that doesn’t mean it’s especially likely to happen.
This is just another baseless attempt to discredit what we all know to be the truth. Nutritional supplements are every bit as powerful as any other pills. And on any given day of the week, they’re a whole lot safer, too—despite Big Pharma’s attempt to dock them.
P.S. I’ve been exposing mainstream lies about supplements for decades now, and today’s discussion is just the latest. Which is why it’s more important than ever to stay vigilant. And if you’re a dedicated reader of mine, you’ll always be in the know. So continue tuning it to my Reality Health Check e-letters, and consider signing up for my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives, too.
“Choking Hazard: Another Reason to Skip Supplements.” Medscape Medical News, 08/19/2019. (medscape.com/viewarticle/916993)