First the Italians, and now the Americans, are questioning the safety of supplements at a time when the EU is planning draconian legislation to curb their sale.
An American survey says that supplements can cause heart and liver failure, seizures and even death.
They base their findings on telephone calls to 11 poison centres around the USA; in all, the centres fielded 2,332 calls from people who had taken 1,466 supplement tablets. Of these, 784 people had symptoms, and researchers were confident that 489 of these could blame a supplement. A third of the supplement-related symptoms were more than mild, although this was due, in part, to the age of the patient (and 591 of the 1,466 pills were taken by children up to the age of 11), multi-use, and long-term use.
The researchers did not name specific supplements, but they did include vitamins to aid body-building and muscle-toning.
The official line from the EU about the supplements legislation is that it is needed to protect the consumer, and the US research supports that stand.
Nobody would deny that the supplements market needs some control - especially after steroids have been found in some Traditional Chinese Medicine products - but the heavy-handed EU legislation will destroy several industries, and remove consumer choice.
The Health Freedom Movement, which we at WDDTY founded, is instead calling for a light-touch regulation, in line with the risks associated with complementary medicine, which will still provide consumer safety, and preserve choice.
(Source: The Lancet, 2003; 361: 101-6).
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