The Dangers of Using Dietary Supplements and Nonprescription Drugs

You have to be careful when purchasing dietary supplements from flea markets, swap meets, online, ethnic stores and international stores because some of these products are nothing more than health fraud scams. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) representative Cariny Nunez (Public Health Advisory in the Office of Minority Health) warns us that health scams tend to lurk in nontraditional shopping locations and are highly attractive to non-English native speakers and people in remote locations where health care facilities and information are few in number or nonexistent.

“Natural” Does Not Automatically Equal “Safe”

According to FDA representative Dr. Gary Coody (National Health Fraud Coordinator), products marketed as natural are not always safe. Some products marketed as natural can contain other medical ingredients that are not only unnatural, but they are also unsafe to consume.

Also, harmful (and often unlisted) chemical ingredients and contamination may also be present in these products.

For instance, a substance in the FDA-approved drug Meridia called Sibutramine may still be present in some of these natural weight loss products. The problem with this is Sibutramine caused Meridia to be banned in 2010 because of the potential for the chemical to cause strokes and heart conditions.

Coody also warns us that FDA-approved ingredients can prove to be still unsafe if the prescription dosage or ingredient portion is in unsafe proportions.  As Nunez already mentioned, health scams tend to target nontraditional populations like ethnic societies and people with persistent health issues like obesity, cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS because these populations are often seeking more affordable and convenient ways to treat their conditions.  However, when people in these populations use these questionable products, they often experience a setback in real medical treatment for their conditions.

How Can You Determine if a Marketed Health Product is a Potential Scam?

Be alert for claims like these:

  • FDA-Approved. There are no imported or domestic or imported dietary supplements that are FDA-approved.
  • “All natural.” As stated earlier, some natural products have other additives that are unsafe to consume. Also, not all plants are safe to consume even if they are found in a supplement.
  • Quick fixes. There just aren’t any products out there that can treat a serious illness or condition quickly—no matter if it’s FDA-approved or not. So anything promising drastic results for a condition like obesity or cancer in a short period of time (like days or weeks) should be treated with extreme caution.
  • Personal testimonials. Just because someone says the product works doesn’t mean you should ignore the fact there is no scientific verification of these claims.
  • Miracle cure. Buzz words like “scientific breakthrough” or “new discovery” are often signs of an exaggerated claim. Our common sense should tell us that if this supplement provided the real cure for a serious condition, the media would already have this supplement featured on the radio, TV, internet or print publications.
  • One product does all. Always be cautious about products claiming to cure a host of health conditions.

Finally, consult your physician if you are still considering a drug that has questionable claims or is not FDA-approved. To determine if a product is already banned by the FDA, just go to their website to see if there are any existing legal issues concerning the product.

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‘All Natural’ Alternatives for Erectile Dysfunction

Beware of products (like foods or dietary supplements) claiming to improve your sexual performance because a lot of these products contain hidden ingredients that are not fit for human consumption and have the potential to be unsafe.

According to the FDA, about 300 of the products out there on the market for sexual performance have been found to have ingredients not reported on the label. These products may include ingredients found in FDA-approved drugs like Levitra, Viagra and Cialis, but the amount may be extremely high (especially in dosage quantity). Also, some products have a combination of hidden ingredients that may prove to be very unsafe regardless of the amount found.

Dr. M. Daniel Dos Santos, representative of the Division of Dietary Supplement Programs for the FDA, tells us that even if you read labels to determine the safety of a product, you may still select a product that is unsafe because some of the ingredients may not be listed. Despite a product label boasting of having only natural or herbal ingredients, the product could still contain unnatural herbal ingredients and chemicals, which means the label is deceiving people into believing they have a natural product when in actuality, they do not.

A Drug Cocktail

The FDA has discovered there are a lot of high doses of hidden ingredient mixtures in a lot of supplements sold for Erectile Dysfunction (ED). One supplement had a dosage amount that contained 31 times more of the ingredient Tadalafil than what is contained in Cialis. Also, this supplement had a high amount of a non-FDA-approved antidepressant called Dapoxetine.

A lot of dietary supplements are legitimately marketed and are not approved by the FDA like many other prescription and non-prescription drugs. The FDA usually examines dietary supplement that are legally sold by either doing facility inspections or by responding to consumer reports of negative responses to using the product. It is required for a company to ensure the products they market for human consumption are safe and actually work.

Unknown Contaminants

Alternative ED products are often marketed as sexual enhancement supplements because a dietary supplement can’t claim legally that it will diagnose, prevent, treat or cure an actual medical condition. Even though they are legally available for sale, it does not guarantee they are safe.

Risky Interactions

Many of these sexual enhancement supplements for men create adverse interactions with heart medications and certain other drugs.

For instance, if you use a supplement that has Sildenafil (an ingredient found in Viagra) and also take drugs with Nitrates, you could risk your blood pressure dropping at an unsafe level. Keep in mind that a lot of people with ED often have conditions that require medications with Nitrates (like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease).

The FDA works hard to prevent the sale of unapproved products by issuing recalls and having these types of medicines destroyed. The organization also sends out several warnings to be cautious about these types of products. Advisory letters are often given to manufacturers that market these products to cease production and/or sale of these products. After the advisory is given, a refusal to stop marketing the illegal product could result in import alerts (where the FDA can seize and physically examine all products deemed to be in violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act), seizures, recalls, injunctions and criminal prosecutions.

Best Exercises for Osteoporosis Prevention

Bone is a living tissue that reacts to increases in loads and forces put upon it by growing stronger. It does this all the time but any increase in ‘loading’ above normal levels has the best chance of increasing bone strength.

It’s never too late to start a bone-healthy exercise program, even if you already have osteoporosis. You may worry that being active means you’re more likely to fall and break a bone. But the opposite is true. A regular, properly designed exercise program for osteoporosis prevention may actually help prevent falls and fractures. That’s because exercise strengthens bones and muscles and improves balance, coordination, and flexibility. That’s key for people with osteoporosis.

Best Exercises for Osteoporosis Prevention

  • Weight-Bearing Exercises. These are exercises you do on your feet so that your bones and muscles have to work against gravity to keep you upright. Your bones react to the weight on them by building themselves up and getting stronger.
  • Muscles Exercises. Working your muscles matters just as much as building up bone. It can slow the bone loss that happens with osteoporosis and may help prevent fall-related fractures.
  • Balance Exercises. These moves don’t directly strengthen your bones. They can, though, improve your coordination, flexibility, and muscle strength. That will lower the chance that you’ll fall and break a bone. You can do these every day.
  • Yoga Exercises. Routines such as yoga and Pilates can improve strength, balance, and flexibility in people with osteoporosis.

Sources:

  1. www.webmd.com
  2. www.yourwebdoc.com
  3. nos.org.uk