Dietary supplements are growing more popular every year. Unfortunately, manufacturers rarely conduct safety studies before selling their products. Others make misleading, unsubstantiated claims regarding health benefits. There is also a growing trend of supplements containing hidden pharmaceutical ingredients with dangerous risks.
Do I Have a Dietary Supplement Lawsuit? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one has been injured after taking a dietary supplement, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit.
Do you take a dietary supplement? If so, you are among the 40-50% of Americans who do so. The most popular supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other supplements for weight-loss, body-building, and sexual enhancement. Most dietary supplements are safe and legal. Unfortunately, some are adulterated with illegal drugs or they contain ingredient dosages that are several times higher than the recommended amount.
The problem is, many people falsely believe that supplements are regulated the same way as food or drugs. In fact, supplements are subject to far less scrutiny than food coloring or aspirin.
Dietary Supplements and the FDA
In 1994, Congress enacted the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). This law was intended to rein in the rampant abuse of the lax regulations imposed on the dietary supplement industry. However, even today, many supplements are sold with illegal, unsubstantiated health claims. They may also contain illicit drugs or dangerously high dosages of ingredients.
Recently, a flurry of dietary supplement lawsuits targeted DMAA, a stimulant drug that was in many body-building / weight-loss supplements. Despite the fact that the drug had been implicated in the deaths of two people and at least 42 severe injuries, manufacturers continued to claim that it was safe, and continued to sell products containing the ingredient. It was only after the FDA restricted sales that it was taken off the market.
Are Dietary Supplements Safe?
In most cases, yes. The problem is, because the industry is loosely regulated, customers have very little assurance that the product they are buying is safe or effective. As demand for the products has grown, so has the amount of illegal products entering the U.S., often sold from countries like China, or over the internet. Some manufacturers adulterate supplements with illegal drugs, or use excessively high dosages of ingredients.
Another problem is that unscrupulous manufacturers often assure their customers about the safety of their product using flawed “studies,” skewed to favor optimal results. Common flaws with these studies include small sample size, lack of placebo controls, short duration of drug-use or study length, methodological flaws, or other ways to selectively present the most favorable data possible. It works because most people are not sophisticated enough to scrutinize a research paper, and they want to believe the supplement is safe and effective.
Dietary Supplements and Liver Damage
Liver damage is one of the most serious risks associated with dietary supplements. A recent study associated 18% of liver disease to dietary supplements, with weight-loss supplements and body-building supplements accounting for almost 60% of the injuries. It may be due to the fact that these products frequently contain illicit substances or exceptionally high doses of vitamins and minerals.
A major problem with dietary supplement liver damage is that there are not enough available livers to go around. If a person needs a liver transplant, the waiting list can take months or years. Sometimes, patients do not receive a transplant in time and they die from complications of their disease.
Symptoms of liver disease include:
- Jaundice (discolored skin, eyes that appear yellowish)
- Abdominal pain, swelling
- Itching skin
- Dark urine color
- Pale, bloody, or tar-colored stool
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of appetite
Dietary Supplements and Cancer
Cancer is one of the most severe side effects of any product. Although many people take supplements to reduce the risk of cancer or treat existing cancer, a new study has found that high doses of some supplements might actually increase the risk of developing cancer. These supplements include selenium, beta carotene, and folic acid.
Many people fail to tell their doctor that they are taking herbal supplements, vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplement. This is a problem, because supplements can interact with many medications — including cancer treatments. There is evidence that high doses of Vitamin C can blunt the effectiveness of chemotherapy by 30-70%.
Dietary Supplements and Heart Attacks
Experts may never be fully aware of the list of supplements that increase your risk of heart attack. This is due to the fact that most supplements are never tested for safety before being sold in the U.S.
Recently, three studies linked calcium supplements to an increased risk of heart attack. Some studies found this increased risk to be 86% higher than for people who did not take calcium supplements, whereas people who got enough calcium from their diet had a 30% lower risk of heart attack. The researchers found that the body metabolizes calcium differently in food and in supplements; calcium is absorbed slowly from food, but supplements cause a sudden spike in blood-calcium. The researchers suggested that, if possible, people should get their daily requirement of calcium from food instead of supplements.
Another supplement that has recently been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks is DMAA, a stimulant ingredient that is popular among fitness enthusiasts. After the FDA received 42 adverse event reports, including reports of two U.S. soldiers who died of heart attacks had DMAA in their bloodstream, the FDA moved to restrict sales of DMAA. The substance was an ingredient in over 200 supplements, and had been on store shelves for several years before the FDA took action.
Health Risks of Dietary Supplements
- Heart problems
- Liver damage, liver failure
- Heart attack
- Kidney damage, kidney failure
- Permanent disability
Do I have a Dietary Supplement Lawsuit?
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