Hidden Drugs And Danger Lurk In Over-The-Counter Supplements, Study Finds

Everyone has seen the ads or the products on the shelves.

A dietary supplement that promises to make consumers skinny, without dieting or exercise. Or the one that will bulk them up and turn them into the envy of other weightlifters at the gym. Not to mention the one to make them perform better in the bedroom.

Their labels say they are safe and all-natural. But are they?

Many of these products contain unapproved and unregulated pharmaceutically active ingredients, according to a study published Friday in JAMA Network Open. The authors wrote that the substances represent “a serious public health concern.”

Researchers from the California Department of Public Health found that, from 2007 to 2016, 776 products marketed as dietary supplements contained hidden active ingredients that are unsafe or unstudied. Among them, dapoxetine, an antidepressant that is not approved in the United States; and sibutramine, which was included in some weight-loss supplements but was banned from the U.S. market in 2010 because of cardiovascular risks.

“It’s mind-boggling to imagine what’s happening here,” said Dr. Pieter Cohen, an associate professor of medicine at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts. Cohen wasn’t involved in the study but wrote a commentary published alongside the research.

The California researchers based their findings on an analysis of a Food and Drug Administration database that identifies “tainted” supplements. “The study lays a foundation for ongoing enforcement work in this area, by the FDA and other partner agencies, to curb the illegal manufacture, importation, distribution, and sales of adulterated dietary supplements,” CDPH spokesman Corey Egel said in an email.

Being tainted or adulterated means the product contains active ingredients not listed on the label that fly under the FDA’s radar.

Dietary supplements aren’t classified by the FDA as drugs. They are instead considered foods. They include vitamins, minerals and botanicals, among other things. They are not intended to treat or prevent disease and are not subject to premarket safety and efficacy testing that drugs undergo.

The FDA database tracked problems that emerged during “post-market surveillance” — for instance, adverse events reports and consumer complaints — when bottles were already in consumers’ medicine cabinets. These issues generally draw FDA warning letters and agency requests for voluntary recalls by the manufacturer.

With an estimated 50 percent of Americans consuming some type of supplement, researchers note that the $ 35 billion industry is a big business.

But Duffy MacKay, senior vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at the supplement industry’s Council for Responsible Nutrition, noted that with between 50,000 and 80,000 supplement labels on the market, 776 tainted products is serious but not widespread.

Of the adulterated products, nearly 46 percent were for sexual performance, 41 percent were for weight loss and 12 percent were for building muscle. Ingredients like sildenafil, the active drug in Viagra, and ephedrine, a stimulant banned from diet pills since 2004, were found in supplements. Anabolic steroids, or ingredients like them, were in 73 of the muscle-building supplements.

Nearly a fifth of these supplements contained more than one unapproved ingredient.

“Adulterated dietary supplements have the potential to cause adverse health effects both on their own and also in combination with other medications an individual may be taking,” the authors wrote.

Cohen agreed, noting that a patient with heart disease might be told to steer clear of prescription erectile dysfunction meds because they could interact with other prescription medications and dangerously lower the consumer’s blood pressure.

Instead, that patient turns to over-the-counter supplements that are marketed as all-natural, thinking this product will not pose the risks he was warned about. “And that’s very worrisome,” said Cohen.

The study authors wrote that these adulterated dietary supplements “are consumed under the presumption of safety and have the potential to cause dangerous consequences in cases of misuse or overdose.”

Cohen suggested looking for supplements with a single ingredient, because they probably will have a lower likelihood of containing secret, harmful ingredients. And never trust a supplement that definitively says it can improve your health.

That advice was echoed by MacKay, from the supplement industry’s trade group, who said outrageous claims about weight loss or body building are red flags.

These products are sold online or by shady retailers and have ridiculous names like “Ball Refill” or “Weekend Prince,” he said.

“There is such a difference between legitimate products and these products,” he added, noting that these “very extreme products” are marketed to “a consumer base that may be OK with this kind of illegal stuff.” That could include, he said, consumers who are “gym rats” and people who want Viagra without a prescription.

But earlier research conducted by Cohen and cited in this study offered a different lens through which to consider the numbers. It pointed to shortcomings in the post-marketing surveillance system, especially the inability of physicians and consumers to identify an adulterated product as the cause of a health problem or to know that such things should be reported to the FDA.

“In fact,” the researchers wrote, “poison control centers received over 1,000 more reports of adverse events associated with dietary supplements use than the FDA did over a 3-year-period.”

There’s little the FDA can or will do once a bad actor is identified. Supplement recalls aren’t like food recalls, Cohen said. With supplements, the FDA can only notify a company that their products have unapproved ingredients. It’s up to the company to conduct a voluntary recall.

“The recall process itself has completely broken down as far as I can tell,” Cohen said.

Kaiser Health News

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Avoid Hidden Costs During A Window Replacement

Replacing multiple windows in your home is a worthwhile, but costly, investment. As you vet and select the best window contractor for your project, it is important to discuss your budget and potential factors that might affect the overall cost of your window replacement. To make sure your project is as affordable as possible, review these hidden costs ahead of your upcoming window replacement.

Old Window Disposal:

Ahead of your window installation, it is important to discuss how to best dispose of your old windows. While many window installers will clean up and discard the windows at no additional cost, some contractors do charge a fee for this service.

Check your estimate, and discuss disposal details as you vet contractors. The cost of transporting the leftover frames and dump fees for non-hazardous waste disposal can add an extra $ 40 or $ 50 to your budget.

Framing Changes:

Most new windows will easily slide into your existing window openings, making for a relatively simple replacement process. However, there are some situations —like uneven framing or rotting wood— that can cause pricey complications.

An existing frame will need to be rebuilt if:

  • There is uneven framing.
    • If your new windows won’t fit in the existing space, the frame may need to be rebuilt to accommodate the new windows.
  • There is rotting wood.
    • If you’ve had moisture damage from a recent storm, the water might leak into the wall. The original window will need to be removed in order the replace the damaged or rotted window.
    • This is more common in older homes. Homeowners may be unaware of this damage until after the window has been removed. In many cases with older homes, the wall structure may have broken seal damage, and not the window itself. This damage to the wall won’t be visible until the window is removed.
  • There is a fire code.
    • Homes older than 75 years old were likely not built to modern fire code standards. The International Residential Code dictates that windows must have a specific opening size (with a minimum of 24 inches height). If your home’s windows don’t adhere to these requirements, they will likely need to be enlarged to comply with these standards.

Rebuilding a window frame can cost an additional 50 percent on top of your current replacement costs. While rotted or severely damaged frames are usually a worst-case scenario, talk to your contractor about what damage they may encounter once the window installation is underway.

Window Delivery:

If you purchase your windows from a home improvement store and haul them home, you do not need to worry about a delivery charge. However, if you purchase your windows from a dealer or manufacturer, you may have a delivery fee.

Depending on your region and distance from the seller, the delivery fee can range anywhere from $ 50 to $ 400. If you are purchasing your windows through a dealer or contractor, discuss if your contractor will cover this fee. If not, discuss out how much it will cost, as it will be included in your estimate.

Permits:

In most cases, a home window replacement is a process between the homeowner and contractor. In some instances, a project may require a building permit before you can begin your project. A permit is required when a window opening is enlarged horizontally or when the wall structure is altered, as both of these changes can have safety repercussions.

An application must be submitted and a permit approved before any construction begins. While homeowners are responsible for acquiring permits, many contractors will take on the task. It is important to discuss any permit needs with your contractor, as the average cost of a building permit can run anywhere from $ 400 to $ 1600.

Lead Paint Test:

If your home was built before 1978, your walls are likely coated in lead-based paint. Undisturbed, lead-based paint does not pose many risks. However, renovations and repairs can create toxic lead dust. Paint lead and lead-contaminated dust are some of the leading causes of lead poisoning.

Windows carry a higher lead exposure risk due to their exposure to outside elements and paint friction. If you have an older home, you or your contractor will need to inspect your paint.

Testing for toxic lead typically costs between $ 200 and $ 400. You may need multiple tests. While homeowners can conduct a home inspection for an affordable price— if the test is positive, a lead risk assessor may need to examine the home and send dust samples to a laboratory for analysis.

If you have an older home, talk with your contractor about testing for lead-based paint and how it could impact the cost of your window replacement project.

Ready to find a trusted contractor for your window replacement? The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your window repair or replacement project is in good hands. You can access the interactive checklist by visiting the Modernize Homeowner Portal or by downloading it here.

The post Avoid Hidden Costs During A Window Replacement appeared first on Modernize.

Modernize

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

New forensic crime-fighting dye can reveal hidden DNA

Scientists at Flinders University in Australia have developed a DNA analysis technique that could provide a valuable weapon in the fight against crime. “We know that some people pass on more of their DNA because when they touch something, more of their cells are left behind,” Professor Adrian Linacre, chair of forensic DNA technology at…
Technology News & Reviews | New York Post

SPECIAL SHOE DISCOUNT:

Check Out These Hidden Gems at Your Local Library That Don’t Cost Anything

It probably comes as no surprise that, as a writer, I love the library.

I adore being surrounded by books, magazines and newspapers. But the library is so much more than that, so we’d like to share some of the unique benefits you can get from your local library.

The best part about all this is they don’t cost a thing — and you can save hundreds of dollars.

Take Full Advantage of Your Library Card

Did you know some libraries lend cake pans? Others lend microscopes and musical instruments.

This post on nine unusual things you can borrow from public libraries will have you asking your librarian for a lot more than just book recommendations.

There’s an App for That

Sometimes you don’t even have to set foot in your library to gain access to books, magazines, movies and other media.

Your library may partner with apps like Hoopla, which offers digital access to music and TV shows in addition to your favorite ebooks and audiobooks.

Check out this post for other apps that might be available for library card holders.

Revamp Your Career at Your Local Library

Looking for a new job can be stressful, but the quiet environment of a library might be the perfect place to get a little focus.

While you’re there, make sure to take advantage of other resources, like free career workshops or access to adult learning programs.

See this post for more ways your library can help your career.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


The Penny Hoarder

BEST DEAL UPDATE:

Sam's Club Membership Offer