It could be that Americans are really optimistic. We often assume when we take some action, we will get the positive reaction and neglect the possibility of negative side effects.
For instance, we will see an acupuncturist who claims that they can change our energy flow to stop pain, or our ADHD or get us to stop smoking.
Why do we not assume that if this were true, can they increase pain, give us ADHD or work for Big Tobacco and make our cravings worse?
Now, some things we take with a grain of salt.
We assume used car salesmen, politicians and Big Pharma are probably lying to us about their claims.
Yet we don’t apply this same level of skepticism to the supplement industry.
It may be that just a few years ago the supplement industry was relatively small, not the forty-billion-dollar industry it is today with over 50,000 products.
We assume that when we take one of these supplements it will:
- Possibly help whatever symptom we are suffering from.
- Not hurt us.
But this is not always the case.
A few years ago, there was a great deal of interest in how antioxidants could help prevent certain cancers.
Specifically, there was a study on the effectiveness of Vitamin A in antiproliferation of lung cancer.
The preliminary data was very promising, and the government funded the CARET study to see if beta-carotene and vitamin A could save lives.
The results were disastrous. So bad in fact that the study was shelved quickly because the combination actually fed the tumors and made the condition worse.
Dr. Gilbert Omenn was one of the scientists who was working on the project. They were intrigued because yellow and green veggies seemed to slow down cell division of cancer cells.
But Dr. Omenn said, “we saw one additional cancer case per thousand people.”
“That may not seem like a lot, but in the world of cancer, an increase of one in 100,000 is significant,” Omenn was quoted as saying.
So instead of making things better, the vitamin industry may have unleashed a virtual cancer epidemic.
It’s cases like this that make the Food and Drug Administration desirous of regulating the supplement industry.
Yet they currently lack the authority because Congress keeps blocking them.
Add to this very few supplements are tested for efficacy or safety.
Most of what is known is the testimonial of a single person’s results. In the best cases these are called N=1 studies, where a serious person takes a supplement for a specific condition and objectively tests to see if they are getting a positive result.
But very few people are willing to do even that. Most of the testimonials are much more generic. For instance, “I took this, and I felt younger” would be fairly typical.
To make matters even more worrisome, some supplements may not be safe or contain what they claim on the label.
For instance, fish oils require very special handling not to go bad before packaging. It can be an expensive process to produce a high-quality product.
But price conscious consumers don’t realize that there is no oversight over the manufacturers and the low-cost version they are buying might be hazardous because oxidation happened.
These are not easy problems to fix, but we will be working at Freedom Health News to get you the best information on supplements and quality sources when we know.