This headline was all over the media recently and naturally, it stopped me in my tracks — as I’m sure it did for a lot of people:
“Supplements Tied to 23,000 Emergency Department Visits Annually”
Of course my first thought was, who’s writing this? Because it’s so misleading it absolutely reeked of Big Pharma’s influence. Then I got to the bottom of the article and discovered who was funding the research…
It was none other than the US Department of Health and Human Services and the FDA.
Two of Big Pharma’s favorite bedfellows.
But broadcasting a headline like this isn’t just misleading — it’s downright dangerous. Because it only gives a fraction of the story.
It’s time to tell the whole truth.
So let’s put the numbers into perspective, shall we?
Out of the 150 million people in America who take supplements, 23,000 of them will go to the ER during a year. That’s less than .01% in an entire year.
Now let’s compare this statistic to how many prescription drug users will go to the emergency room during a year. That number rings in at 690,000 — 30 times more.
In fact, drug-to-drug interactions are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Yet these authors are pointing the finger solely at nutritional supplements.
So when you get down to brass tacks, and look at the big picture, the numbers actually turn this study on its head.
They prove just how SAFE the supplement industry actually is. Which is no doubt the exact opposite of what the researchers intended.
While it’s true some supplements on the market today may not be the “magic bullets” they’re touted as…and some have even been found to be dangerous (usually because they’re tainted with pharmaceutical drugs, by the way), the fact is — these supposedly “lightly regulated” substances are only part of the problem here.
And that’s another thing… Mainstream medicine and the media love to throw around the term “lightly regulated” or “unregulated” when they talk about the supplement industry. But the FDA does regulate supplements under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1993.
And besides, Big pharma is so covert and complicit in how they fix the prices and market drugs I consider them to be the only industry in this country that is SELF-regulated. So which is worse?
But back to this latest attack on supplements.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at the reasons why supplement users are ending up in the ER.
First of all, 25% of the ER visits involved young people between the ages of 20 and 34 who were admitted for cardiac symptoms as a result of taking weight loss, energy, body building, or sexual enhancement products.
As if this is a big surprise. These young “millennials” were raised on “instant gratification.” If a pill is supposed to help you lose weight, build up your muscles, give you energy, or enhance your libido their mindset is, I want it to work NOW. So they take more than the recommended dose. (And then chase them down with a Red Bull, making them even more prone to caffeine overload and heart palpitations.)
Take former NBA player Lamar Odom, for instance. He was recently found unresponsive after reportedly taking multiple doses of a sexual enhancing supplement called “Reload.” He probably would have been dead had he taken multiple doses of Viagra but hey, supplements are the real dangers right?
But the next two points the study made really show how flimsy their arguments are:
- The second group after young adults who were frequently seen in the ER were children who got into things like multivitamins they weren’t supposed to.
- And the next group affected were older adults who had trouble swallowing pills.
So how, exactly does this differ from young children getting into the medicine cabinet and taking prescription drugs? And really, are the elderly immune to choking on the pills Big Pharma manufactures?
This statement particularly made my head spin:
“Although the numbers of emergency department visits and hospitalizations were less than 5% of the numbers that have been reported for pharmaceutical products previously, dietary supplements are regulated and marketed under the presumption of safety.”
And pharmaceutical drugs aren’t? Am I wrong here that the entire approval process of a medication is supposed to prove that it is safe?
So really it comes down to common sense. Follow these four simple steps and you shouldn’t have any problems with supplements:
- Do your homework before you buy any supplement. Have the ingredients been thoroughly researched and proven safe and effective in human clinical trials? Are there any reported interactions with any other medications you’re taking?
- Take supplements according to the instructions on the label unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.
- If you have difficulty swallowing pills — ask your doctor or pharmacist for other options or if you can cut them in half.
- And by all means, keep ALL medicines and dietary supplements stored up and out of sight of young children.