A study, published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine offers some shocking statistics the adverse affects of supplements. More specifically, it claims that tens of thousands of people are ending up in emergency rooms for issues related to their use. According to the study, in 1994, there were some 4,000 dietary supplement products available to consumers. As of 2012, there were 55,000. This industry generates billions of dollars in revenue annually. However, in an ironic twist, some are paying another price — instead of getting healthier, these supplements are landing them in hospitals.
The study says, with an estimated accuracy of 95%, that as many as 27,000 people, annually, are seen by emergency physicians for issues related to dietary supplements. The largest groups of those impacted by this were those in the 20-34 age group and young children. Unsurprisingly, children were often seen because they had accidentally ingested supplements left within their reach. Those in the 20-34 age range were most likely to be taking supplements for weight loss and energy. They reported seeking emergency help because of chest pains or unusually high heart rate. For older adults, another danger presented itself. They often ended up in emergency care just from an inability to swallow supplement pills.
Excluding accidental ingestion or choking hazards, there are, apparently, very real concerns in relation to supplements. There are few regulatory hurdles to putting these products on the market — neither FDA approval nor safety testing is required. As a result, many consumers are at risk.
The only thing I can say is to be careful. The next time you hear the disclaimer “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”, realize that you could be taking a product that not only may not be able to deliver on its promises but, also, could actually be putting your health at risk.