I was thrilled when the FDA cracked down on supplements containing ephedra last year, the first such action against a supplement. Although the recent overturning of the ban in Utah by a federal court is disappointing, I still hope the FDA's decision will pave the way for an industry gone amuck.
I was thrilled when the FDA cracked down on supplements containing ephedra last year, the first such action against a supplement. Although the recent overturning of the ban in Utah by a federal court is disappointing, I still hope the FDA's decision will pave the way for an industry gone amuck. I receive a lot of junk mail, but none is more offensive than the junk mail put out by the less-responsible supplement companies. I get it as a veterinarian, horse owner, homeowner, automobile owner, veteran, college graduate, and voter—but most of all, I get junk mail from the supplement companies as a senior citizen.
These companies know that as seniors our eyesight is failing, our backs and knees hurt, and our contemporaries are succumbing to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. They know that we are worried. What they don't know is that some of us have medical degrees and don't believe their fraudulent and ridiculous lies. This week, for example, I received the following junk mail claims:
1. "All natural. Stops hair loss in days and grows hair back. Money-back guarantee. No chemicals."
2. "Ultimate prostate relief. Risk-free, money-back guarantee. Natural. Safe. Proven. Avoid a medical nightmare." [Please note: If the supplement causes hypertrophy it's an enhancement, but if it causes atrophy it's relief.]
3. "Don't starve yourself. It's easy to lose weight without changing your diet and exercising. A free gift with every order. A natural [important word] way to lose weight."
4. "It's not your fault. Your weight problem is due to cortisol, and this all-natural, nonprescription formula will neutralize your excessive cortisol levels." [Strange! I was taught that weight gain was the result of higher calorie intake than output.]
5. "Arthritis pain? Avoid costly and unnecessary surgery. This all-natural, nonprescription formula will relieve knee, back, hip, neck, and shoulder pain. Your money back if it doesn't work. Safer than prescription drugs."
When will the FDA crack down on this out-of-control industry? Supplements are invaluable to be sure, but a naïve public must be protected against unscrupulous and irresponsible providers.
Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker, and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member from Thousand Oaks, Calif. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his Web site at www.robertmmiller.com.