What You Don’t Know Might Kill You. That’s the title of a new article in this weeks Sport Illustrated magazine. It’s a look in to the multi-billion dollar business of the supplement industry. It’s easy to be skeptical on certain supplements, especially when they are a new product that has not been around for as long as some of the well known name brands.
It’s also easy to be skeptical when you really don’t know if the product can harm you. They aren’t tested and regulated by the FDA unless there is potential that the product in question may be harmful. If it’s never brought up in suspicion of being dangerous then they don’t bother.
What worries a lot of people is not knowing where or how some of these products are manufactured and by whom. You don’t have to have a license, you don’t have to list all of the ingredients and you can literally make supplements out of your home if you buy the supplies. If no one complains, no one is investigated.
Back to Sports Illustrated. This weeks SI has a great write up about the supplement industry. David Epstein and George Dohrmann uncover how dangerous it could be and possibly is, how some companies market the side effects of their products as the intended effect and kitchen chemists. Here are some excerpts from the article. The cover features recently suspended [for use of PED] Manny Ramirez and hits news stands today. (after the jump)
Epstein and Dohrmann explain: “In 1994 Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which allowed supplements—broadly defined as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and other products that don’t contain approved pharmaceutical drugs and don’t claim to treat diseases—to be sold with no proof of effectiveness or safety, and without approval from the FDA. That legislation, heavy with lobbyists’ fingerprints, razed virtually every barrier to entry into the marketplace.”
Rene Gonzalez has no background in chemistry or nutritional science, yet he owns a nutritional supplement store, Just Add Muscle, and dreams of one day owning his own manufacturing company. Gonzalez seems completely unqualified to offer advice on supplementation, let alone design and manufacture his own line of products. However, his dream is not nearly as fanciful as it would appear. In a Sports Illustrated special report, staff writer David Epstein and senior writer George Dohrmann reveal how would-be experts such as Gonzalez, in addition to a litany of untested (and potentially deadly) products, feed a multibillion dollar obsession with better performance across all levels of sports (page 54).
One glaring example of what happens when supplement makers ignored testing protocol: “Almost every sports-supplement store sells products that contain the steroid prohormone DHEA, which is legal but banned by the NCAA, the NFL, the NBA and WADA. DHEA is marketed for everything from muscle growth and fat loss to antiaging. Levels of DHEA in the body do decline with age, but in scientific studies on thousands of senior citizens, supplemental DHEA failed to improve muscle mass or brain function. Studies have, however, documented side effects, including facial hair growth in women and breast enlargement and elevated blood pressure in men, in addition to a number of dangerous interactions for those also taking prescription drugs.”
Also in the article it talks about how Muscltech sometimes has 62 pages of supplement ads in Muscle & Fitness Magazine. That’s not surprising at all. I’ve been reading through what I thought was a good article just to turn the page and find out it was nothing but a Muscletech ad. In fact, out of November’s Muscle & Fitness’ 280 page magazine there were 151 pages of supplement ads to include the back page. Muscletech ads were probably half of those. It’s kind of ridiculous.
(Excerpts provided by SI Publicity.)