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Updated 11/18/2010
 

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How safe are our supplements in America - Really ?
By Dr Andrew Saul
Natural health products, such as amino acids, herbs, vitamins and other nutritional supplements, have an extraordinarily safe usage history. In the USA, close to half of the population takes herbal or nutritional supplements every day. That is over 145,000,000 individual doses daily, for a total of over 53 billion doses annually.
The most elementary of forensic arguments is, where are the bodies? Turn to the 2003 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers Toxic Exposures Surveillance System, published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, Vol. 22, No. 5, September 2004.
Pharmaceutical drugs, on the other hand,
caused over 2,000 poison control-reported deaths, including
Antibiotics: 13 deaths
Antidepressants: 274 deaths
Antihistamines: 64 deaths
Cardiovascular drugs: 162 deaths
It would be incorrect to state that only prescription drugs kill people. In 2003,
there were 59 deaths from aspirin alone. Other deaths reported by the American Association of Poison Control Centers included: aerosol air fresheners: 2 deaths nailpolish remover: 2 deaths perfume/cologne/aftershave: 2 deaths charcoal: 3 deaths dishwashing detergent: 3 deaths (and interestingly, weapons of mass destruction: 0 deaths)
In America in 2003, there were 28 deaths from heroin, and yet acetaminophen ("Tylenol") alone killed 147. Though acetaminophen killed over five times as many, few would say that we should make this generally-regarded-as-safe, over-the-counter pain reliever require a prescription. Even caffeine killed two people in 2003, a number equal to the two fatalities attributed to non-iron vitamin/mineral supplements. Tea, coffee and cola soft drinks are not sold with restriction, prescription, or in childproof bottles, and rather few would maintain that they need to be.
IN PERSPECTIVE
Supplementation's harshest critics have traditionally railed against vitamins
(especially in large doses) as being outright "dangerous" and at the very least "a waste of money." Yet nutritional supplements are very safe, and for much of the population, very necessary. . . To illustrate how extraordinarily important supplements are to persons with a questionable diet, consider this: Children who eat hot dogs once a week double their risk of a brain tumor. Kids eating more than twelve hot dogs a month (that's barely three hot dogs a week) have nearly ten times the risk of leukemia as children who ate none.
(Peters JM, Preston-Martin S, London SJ, Bowman JD, Buckley JD, Thomas DC.
Processed meats and risk of childhood leukemia. Cancer Causes Control.
1994 Mar; 5(2):195-202.
Zinc How important is it ?
Zinc, the brain and behavior.
Pfeiffer CC, Braverman ER.
The total content of zinc in the adult human body averages almost 2 g.
            This is approximately half the total iron content and 10 to 15 times
the total body copper. In the brain, zinc is with iron, the most concentrated metal. The highest levels of zinc are found in the hippocampus in synaptic vesicles, boutons, and mossy fibers. Zinc is also found in large concentrations in the choroid layer of the retina which is an extension of the brain. Zinc plays an important role in axonal and synaptic transmission and is necessary for nucleic acid metabolism and brain tubulin growth and phosphorylation. Lack of zinc has been implicated in impaired DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis during brain development. For these reasons, deficiency of zinc during pregnancy and lactation has been shown to be related to many congenital abnormalities of the nervous system in offspring.
Furthermore, in children insufficient levels of zinc have been associated
with lowered learning ability, apathy, lethargy, and mental retardation.

Hyperactive children may be deficient in zinc and vitamin B-6 and have an excess
of lead and copper. Alcoholism, schizophrenia, Wilson's disease, and Pick's disease
are brain disorders dynamically related to zinc levels.
Zinc has been employed with success to treat Wilson's disease, achrodermatitis
enteropathica, and specific types of schizophrenia.
Eniva's "Vibe" has it #17006 (32 oz bottle) or # 17007 (Box of packets)
Also in a single bottle - (tooth decay - Bad breath - foot odor -
and a natural anti-biotic)
# 8014 (20 oz bottle) Zinc
 

Watchdog Group Petitions FDA for Warning Labels on 356 Personal Care Products
Shampoos, Skin Creams and Other Products Found to Lack Safety Data

WASHINGTON, June 14-2004 Environmental Working Group (EWG) today petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to recall or issue warning labels on a wide array of personal care products whose ingredients have not been adequately assessed for safety or may harm health.

The legal action was prompted by a 6-month EWG computer investigation. Researchers found that 356 personal care products contain ingredients that, according to the chemical industry's own review panel, lack sufficient data to support their safe use in personal care products. The products included shampoos, shaving products, moisturizers and other common items sold under brand names such as Jergens, L'Oreal, St. Ives, Dove and more.

The EWG study found that another 19 products, including Desitin Diaper Rash Ointment and Stridex Triple Action Pads, contain ingredients that, according to industry assessments, may cause harm when used as directed on the product label. EWG seeks a recall or warning label on those products as well. Only 11 per cent of 10,500 personal care product ingredients have been publicly assessed for safety.

The EWG petition is the most comprehensive legal challenge FDA has faced over personal care products to date. Because FDA has no definition for the term "safe" as it applies to personal care products, EWG requested the Agency give practical meaning to its term "adequately substantiated for safety." EWG also petitioned FDA to require internet vendors to clearly list all ingredients in all products they are selling, and to assess the safety of chemical ingredients that have not been studied by industry or the government.

The FDA has no authority to require safety tests before chemicals can be put in personal care products and used by consumers.

"Most consumers believe that if a product is on a store shelf, government scientists have approved it," said EWG Vice President for Research Jane Houlihan. "But the $35 billion cosmetics industry appears to have the freedom to put whatever chemicals it wants into our personal care products. FDA needs to update decades-old safeguards and make sure that personal care products on store shelves contain only ingredients that have been proven safe."

Charlotte Brody, executive director of Commonweal, said, "Cosmetics companies that sell products in Europe have to remove chemicals that can cause cancer, mutations, and birth defects from their products no later than September to comply with a new law. Today I ask those companies to sell their safer, reformulated products to American consumers as well."

Arianne Callender, general counsel for EWG, said, "The FDA studies food and drugs with care and caution before allowing them to be sold in stores. Shouldn't our personal care products at least meet the same safety standards as food? We petition FDA today to remove from store shelves or put warning labels on products whose ingredients have not met scientific safety standards. We ask for meaning behind the word, 'safe,' and we seek scientific study of ingredients in personal care products that could cause harm."

Consumers can read the petition at http://www.ewg.org and use EWG's "Skin Deep" website to learn what health effects are associated with ingredients in their own personal care products.


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