“Unapproved pharmaceutical ingredients” the Secret Sauce in Many Nutritional Supplements

That new pre-workout pump juice working pretty well for you? Well, that might just be because it’s loaded up with prescription drugs like Viagra (now you’re feeling the pump).

Research  from the California Department of Food and Agriculture has shown that many vitamin and herbal supplements are loaded with undeclared, and unapproved, drugs.

Via  Science Alert:

A new analysis of 10 years of FDA records reveals that from 2007 to 2016, almost 750 dietary supplements were found to be contaminated with secret doses of totally unregulated drugs, including prescription medicines, banned and unapproved chemicals, and designer steroids.

Over 20 percent of these offending products contained more than one unapproved drug ingredient, and numerous contained a cocktail of clandestine chemicals – in two cases, as many as six unlisted ingredients.

For a US$35 billion industry patronised by about half of American adults, it’s possible this data could be just the tip of the iceberg, too.

“The drug ingredients in these dietary supplements have the potential to cause serious adverse health effects owing to accidental misuse, overuse, or interaction with other medications, underlying health conditions, or other pharmaceuticals within the supplement,” researchers from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Sacramento, explain in their paper.

Given that supplement use is associated with some 23, €¯000 ER visits and 2,000 hospitalisations in the US each year, it’s clear we’re looking at a big problem here, but what’s even more shocking than the brazen selling of these illicit additives is how tame and toothless the FDA’s official actions were.

So what kind of drugs are we talking about?

A total of 92 adulterated muscle building supplements were reported. This included 73 supplements that were deemed by the FDA to contain undeclared anabolic steroids or steroid-like substances, 9 that had anabolic steroids and/or steroid-like substances declared on the label, and 10 that had aromatase inhibitors declared on the label. The aromatase inhibitors block estrogen receptors and are used in the treatment of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.  Eighty-nine (96.7%) of these adulterated muscle building products reported from 2007 through 2016 were identified in just 2 years, 74 of 92 (80.4%) in 2009 and 15 of 92 (16.3%) in 2010. Overall, synthetic steroids or steroid-like ingredients were identified in 82 of 92 adulterated muscle building products (89.1%).

Obviously dangerous stuff and not at all what you sign up for when you start taking supplements. Doesn’t really make sense, throwing in some  parsley would be much cheaper,  and the placebo effect is incredibly powerful.

Reminds me of one of the side-plots in Margaret Atwood’s  Oryx and Crake  in which pharmaceutical companies occasionally put carcinogens in expensive vitamins because if you can afford expensive vitamins, you can afford expensive chemotherapy treatments.

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