There is new legislation being offered and, finally, it’s favorable toward the dietary supplement and natural foods industry! Consumers have been kept in the dark about the health benefits of vitamins and foods. Why? Because the current law says that if you are a natural product you may not “prevent, diagnose, treat or cure” anything and if you make any claims along those lines, i.e. “fish oil is a natural anti-inflammatory,” then in the eyes of the FDA you are selling a drug. And that is illegal.
This highly biased law is great for the pharmaceutical industry. But, it’s bad for you, because it doesn’t allow you to make fully informed, personal health care choices. There is very good research on the curative and preventative benefits of certain nutrients, the kind of stuff you find in a refereed journal, but the natural products industry cannot site any of it!
In this country, we are bombarded by a tired old mantra about nutrients: “there needs to be more research…we don’t know what they will do.” Yet, we readily accept any prescription drug because a doctor says we need it and overlook that fact that over 110,000 deaths occur every year in this country from non-error, adverse effects of medications. What that means is that the patient got the right drug for the right condition in the right dosage, but the patient died anyway. So says a report from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), No.4, July 26th 2000 article written by Dr. Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH of the John Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.
Juxtapose that to a published report by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, stating no one died in the year 2008 as a result of taking a dietary supplement. (1) The facts are that legitimate reports of deaths caused by dietary supplements in this century are virtually non-existent. No more than 11 people in the past 24 years! In fact you have a better chance of being poisoned by dish detergent than you do of being poisoned by vitamins.
So now there is new legislation being proposed by Jason Chaffetz (R, UT) and Jared Polis (D, CO), both of whom co-chair the Dietary Supplement Caucus. They have introduced H.R. 4913, the Free Speech about Science Act. This landmark legislative offering ensures (1) basic free speech rights, (2) ends censorship of science, and (3) enables the natural health products community to share peer-reviewed, scientific findings about natural health products with the public. This is a small bill with vast potential leverage. If it passes it will help you make more informed health care choices, and, eliminate the fallacy that only drugs are backed by science.
Next: The fight for nutritional supplements