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Stop the Supplement Murders

Stop the Supplement Murders
Selling products that can kill you, without
adequate manufacturing or testing
safeguards, is nothing less than murder.

This article might save your life or the life of someone you love. I'm going to tell you a story about supplements. Those packages of pills, powders, drinks and mixes that are full of promises. They claim if you take them you'll lose weight, build muscle, fight cancer, enhance the liver, heal the heart or perform any number of amazing miracles.

From 1988 to 1994, about 43% of American adults took a supplement. In the 2003 to 2006 time frame, that number increased to about 53%. If you're an adult reading this column, there's a better than 50% chance you're taking some kind of supplement. The question is; what's that supplement doing to you?

If you took dietary supplements manufactured by a company called Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, you would have been taking something called DMMA (1,3-dimethylamylamine HCl). It's an unsafe food additive that elevates blood pressure, causes shortness of breath, tightening of the chest and can cause heart attack. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) it's "particularly dangerous when used with caffeine."

On November 12, 2013, US Marshals seized DMMA laced products from Hi-Tech that had a retail value of more than $2 million. Products sold with names like Black Widow, ECA XTREME, FASTIN, Lipodrene, Stimerex-ES, and YELLOW SCORPION.

Unfortunately, the seizure of tainted products happened too late for some. The FDA acted only AFTER they had received numerous reports of illnesses and death associated with the supplements containing DMMA.

There's more.

Customers of USPlabs LLC thought they were buying a "fat burner" in a product called OxyElite Pro or a muscle builder in a product called VERSA-1. What those unsuspecting shoppers didn't realize was that both products contained "aegeline, a new dietary ingredient... that lacks a history of use or other evidence of safety." At least one customer died after taking one of the supplements, another customer had to get a liver transplant and others are on the liver transplant list.

On November 6, 2013, the FDA sent a letter to USPlabs that said, "if the company did not initiate a voluntary recall, the FDA could by law order the company to immediately stop distributing the dietary supplements and immediately notify other parties to stop distributing the dietary supplements."

USPlabs initiated a recall of the product on November 10th, but more than a month later there were still sites online promoting and selling both OxyElite Pro and VERSA-1.

In 2013, there were about 55,000 different types of supplements sold in the United States. The FDA estimates 70% of the companies making those products are not taking the simple steps needed to prevent their products from becoming adulterated.

But that's not the really scary part.

According to Dr. Paul A. Offit, the chief of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and an expert on dietary supplements, only 170 of those 55,000 supplements have been studied thoroughly enough to determine their common side effects. That means we only have good information on less than 0.31% of all the supplements currently for sale.

Regular readers of my column know that supplements are NOT tested like drugs. When a supplement company releases a new product, no government agency checks to make sure it works first. Dosages are not verified. Ingredients are not confirmed. Claims on the label are left entirely up to the supplement company.

Supplement companies are NOT regulated by the FDA. They are NOT regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The government only steps in once they start hearing complaints of injury or death.

According to Consumer Reports, American adults "spent $26.7 billion on supplements in 2009." That's an enormous amount of money going to companies that don't seem to care about product safety, rarely conduct clinical trials to see if their product works and almost never research potential side effects.

If you're taking, or thinking about taking any supplements, make an appointment with a doctor and get their professional opinion. You can also read my article, The Four Point Reality Check that'll give you specific things to look for when evaluating supplements.

Don't waste your money, or risk your health, for a bottle of lies.

UPDATE: Supplements Destroy Liver

Between 2004 and 2013 there were 839 reported liver-related injuries attributed to bodybuilding supplements. There were 85 more from non-bodybuilding supplements like herbal medicines, energy boosters, cleansing products and multivitamins.

The bodybuilding supplements typically made the person jaundiced or required hospitalization, but nobody died. Unfortunately, the non-bodybuilding herbal medicines and cleansing products resulted in 13 cases that required a liver transplant or caused death. Remember these products are NOT tested for safety and DO NOT have to prove they work. They're dangerous and you should avoid them!

The information is from the Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, November 2013.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

Updated 5/30/2015
Updated 4/2/2021

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