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Sample a ClassCitizens for Health has partnered with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition because we have seen the impact of their Health Coach curriculum and how it can empower you to transform your health and happiness and launch a fulfilling new career. Click on the banner to the left to learn more.

Get an exclusive look at the The Institute for Integrative Nutrition® annual conference!

On March 5th and 6th, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from the world’s most influential experts in health and wellness during IIN’s annual conference. They’re opening up exclusive access to their live stream to give you a sneak peek into this incredible weekend. Register now to gain access and witness the transformation made possible through their Health Coach program. It is absolutely free, and it is the only way you can eavesdrop on this powerful event.

The Details:

  • What: Access to an exclusive LIVE STREAM of the annual conference!
  • When: Saturday, March 5th and Sunday, March 6th from 10am – 12pm ET.
  • Where: Anywhere! Use your computer or mobile device – All you need is internet access!
  • Who should attend: Everyone who wants to experience the amazing energy of an Integrative Nutrition live event and sneak a peek at student life! It is specifically recommended for anyone considering becoming a Health Coach. IIN has created a special page and video for CFH supporters – just click on the banner to the left.
  • Note: There will not be a replay. So be sure to register now and mark your calendar!

The Latest in the Effort to Bash Supplements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 30, 2015

Big Names; Big Mistakes
Consumers Misled by Supplement Bashing

by Gert Schuitemaker, PhD (1) and Bo Jonsson, MD, PhD (2)

(OMNS, Oct 30, 2015) Big names: the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), arguably the most prestigious medical journal in the world. Plus, the New York Times. On October 14th, the latter mentioned: “Dietary Supplements Lead to 20,000 E.R. Visits Yearly, Study Finds.” It was a report of a study published in the NEJM with the headline: “Emergency Department Visits for Adverse Events Related to Dietary Supplements.”

Whoa! What is that again? Is there really something new and terrible about vitamin C or magnesium?

Naturally, it was time to investigate. First, a look at the original paper from NEJM, and a direct examination as to how the study was designed. [ http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1504267 ] This was a revelation in itself, which can best be explained as follows:

Let’s say someone is exercising Sunday morning and suddenly gets palpitations. Oh, he thinks, what’s going on here? A little bit frightened, and just to be sure, he decides to go to the E.R. He says: “Doctor, something is going wrong. I have palpitations.” The doctor examines him and asked about the circumstances. Then he learned that the visitor had used that morning a dietary supplement. Aha! That’s it! Dietary supplements! Suspicious!

There was not even one death caused by any dietary supplement in 2013, according to the most recent information collected by the U.S. National Poison Data System. [Reference at http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v11n02.shtml ]

This observational report is done by just the one doctor serving at that time. The data collection in this investigation can be considered as poor as well as subjective. It falls scientifically short. Moreover, as we already know, too many physicians 1) have little affinity for dietary supplements and 2) are virtually untrained as to nutrition and supplements.

But wait: there’s more

We continued by looking over the results section. We had already noticed that the researchers drew the conclusion that problems with dietary supplements were underestimated. Duffy Mackay, a spokesman for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a supplement industry trade group, argued that the results showed that only 0.01% of all Americans demonstrated an adverse effect from dietary supplements. So he came to an opposite conclusion: the study highlighted how relatively safe supplements are given how many people took them. [Scroll down at http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/14/dietary-supplements-lead-to-20000-e-r-visits-yearly-study-finds/ ]

In the study, it was striking that the biggest segment of that 0.01% was 20 to 34 year olds who took energy products and weight loss products. They showed symptoms like chest pain, heart palpitations and irregular heart rhythms. What kind of supplements could these be? We are not aware that vitamin C, vitamin B3 or any of the essential nutrients show these types of adverse effects.

The most misleading part of the NY Times article’s headline is “leads.” It is important to distinguish causation from correlation, and guilt from association. – W. Todd Penberthy, PhD

Where, then, is the problem? Mainly so-called “supplements” containing alkaloid substances. In most cases caffeine, but also ephedra, already banned in 2004 by the FDA as a supplement, but still offered for sale via the internet. Therefore, a comparison with “energy drinks” is more apt than to label these products as dietary supplements. However, caffeine-laden drinks were for some reason not included in the study. Aside from both being available as tablets and capsules, caffeine and nutrients have very little in common. Caffeine is a (medicinal) stimulant; nutrients are part of the human metabolism which are necessary for maintaining proper health.

It is significant that neither the New York Times nor the original NEJM paper mentioned caffeine or coffee-extract. The researchers only mentioned ‘energy products’ and ‘weight loss products,’ not specifying the substances involved. In order to find out that the study mainly concerned caffeine, we had to get into a separate annex which was somewhat difficult to for the public to find, and only available via the website of the NEJM.

And what is in the future for unsuspecting consumers? The headline, “Dietary Supplements Finally Banned.”

It could happen. You can be sure the media will let you know when it does.

1. Gert E. Schuitemaker, PhD
Ortho Institute
Gendringen, The Netherlands

2. Bo H Jonsson, MD, PhD
Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Karolinska Institutet
Stockholm, Sweden

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org

Find a Doctor

To locate an orthomolecular physician near you: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v06n09.shtml

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:

Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)
Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (USA)
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
Michael Gonzalez, D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)
Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Peter H. Lauda, M.D. (Austria)
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Stuart Lindsey, Pharm.D. (USA)
Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)
Erik Paterson, M.D. (Canada)
W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)
Atsuo Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor and contact person. Email: drsaul@doctoryourself.com This is a comments-only address; OMNS is unable to respond to individual reader emails. However, readers are encouraged to write in with their viewpoints. Reader comments become the property of OMNS and may or may not be used for publication.

OMNS free subscription link http://orthomolecular.org/subscribe.html

OMNS archive link http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml

 

Yet Another Sneak Attack on Supplements from Blumenthal and Durbin

Courtesy of our allies at Alliance for Natural Health

This time it’s been slipped into a defense bill. Major Action Alert – Send Your Letter Now!

We suspected it would only be a matter of time before Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) launched his next broadside against supplements. Once again, Durbin and his allies, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), are pouncing on must-pass legislation and attaching last-minute amendments that would threaten Americans’ access to supplements.

The bill this time is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an appropriations bill to fund the military for FY 2016. The House passed its version of the bill in May. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced what is called “an amendment in the nature of a substitute” to create a Senate version of the House-passed bill. The Blumenthal/Durbin amendments were introduced on top of the McCain legislation.

Because it is a defense bill, the Blumenthal/Durbin amendments pertain to the supplement use of the US armed forces.

There are three amendments.

The first amendment would require military electronic health records to include data regarding supplement adverse events experienced by servicemen and women. This type of information is already gathered by the FDA, which is much better situated to handle it than the Department of Defense. This additional data collection is redundant and cumbersome. In 2011, Sen. Durbin and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) asked the Government Accounting Office to review supplement adverse event reports (AERs). In 2013 the GAO completed its report—which overwhelmingly demonstrated that supplements are safe! Why in the world is Durbin following the same tactic that embarrassed him so completely two years ago?

According to the resulting GAO report, there were a total of 6,307 AERs reported to the FDA between 2008 and 2011—an average of 1,575 a year. At the time, we pointed out that this was quite a low number, considering the fact that about half of Americans—157 million people—take supplements. This means that one-hundredth of one percent of all supplement users ever experience any problems at all.

If Sens. Waxman and Durbin had cared to search out where the real danger lies for the American consumer, they wouldn’t have had to look very hard. In 2008 alone, there were a whopping 526,527 AERs for FDA-approved drugs, with 275,421 considered serious. Of course, the astonishingly poor safety record of pharmaceutical drugs is irrelevant if you have a vendetta against supplements, as Sen. Durbin and his allies seem to have.

The second amendment would require the Department of Defense to establish minimum requirements for members of the armed forces to report on their supplement use. Service people would be ordered to report what vitamins and supplements they take—which means they could easily be ordered to stop taking them! It is simply Orwellian to have members of the military report on their supplement use. What business is it of the government if a service member is taking vitamin D, or B12? Big Brother shouldn’t be able to reach into your toiletries kit or control what you tell your doctor—even on a military base.

The third and most troubling of the amendments would extend a currently existing policy which regulates certain supplements on military bases to require all supplements that are to be sold to members of the military at exchange stores or commissaries to undergo a third-party review for “recognized public standards of identity, purity, strength, and composition, and adherence to related process standards.” This may sound innocent, but it is anything but.

First, supplements must already, by law, hold to current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs), which require that that they be processed in a consistent manner and meet quality standards. Second, supplement companies will likely be expected to pay huge sums for this review. Only the biggest companies, many of them owned by Big Pharma, will be able to comply. Yet another government-created monopoly will be handed over to big drug companies.

In addition, once this regime is established, it will be only a short step to expand it to all US consumers, not just the military. Then the pharmaceutical industry will have what it really wants: control over the supplement industry. Many supplements will become drugs and soar in price while their availability is restricted. As with any monopoly, quality will also decline, because regulations are never a substitute for real competition involving new and small as well as old and large companies.

Supplements are incredibly safe and already fully regulated by the FDA and FTC. These amendments are misguided attempts to limit access and hamper individual health freedom.

The truth of the matter is that the current regulatory regime governing dietary supplements is working—which is why supplements have such a sterling safety record. In fact, our counterparts at ANH-Europe found that UK residents were about as likely to get struck by lightning as die from taking dietary supplements.

We’ve come to expect this sort of maneuver from Durbin and company: what can’t be accomplished through more conventional democratic means, they try to accomplish through sneaky, eleventh-hour maneuvering before the public can catch wind of it. This military appropriations bill has nearly 200 amendments attached to it, and not all of them will be discussed by the Senate. With your help, we hope to prevent the Blumenthal/Durbin amendments from ever being considered on the Senate floor. The natural health community has responded vigorously to defeat previous Durbin attacks against supplements: in one instance, our readers sent nearly 90,000 messages in less than twenty-four hours. The time has come again to make our voices heard on Capitol Hill to protect our access to quality dietary supplements!

Major Action Alert! Write or call your senators and urge them to stop the Blumenthal/Durbin amendments, which will take dangerous steps towards limiting consumers’ access to dietary supplements.

A vote can come any day – Please send your message immediately!

Who’s Afraid of Supplements? “Do You Believe in Paul Offit?”

by Alison Rose Levy

The Medical Establishment’s “Favorite” Doctor and His Crusade Against Supplements and Alternative Medicine

Paul Offit’s new book and media blitz pretend to be objective, but really offer one-sided bashing of natural healthcare.

Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at? Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia? has authored a new book, Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (Harper, 2013 ). Now on the stump, he encourages thinking more critically about healthcare treatments. Too bad his is a one-sided view. And that his intended audience is unlikely to be convinced because health information has been increasingly available over the last 25 years. Nor do many physicians and prominent medical organizations subscribe to his views (although a few legislators do).

“People are systematically choosing to manage their own health in a way that is unprecedented,” points out James S. Turner, chairman of Citizens for Health, a health advocacy group with over 100,000 members. “The conventional treatments that Offit champions are often very helpful. The problem is that the industry has oversold them, and more and more people see that now.”

If Offit’s book had aimed to explore all health options even-handedly for their upsides and their downsides, it might have truly advanced the conversation about how to better health and lower healthcare costs. (And ranking below 16 developed nations across the lifespan and for all income levels, while stuck in the midst of a polarized debate over costs and coverage, the U.S. sorely needs that conversation.) But instead, in his book and media tour, Dr. Offit plays the predictable role of debunker, single-mindedly championing his own medical brand. Unfurling an arch skepticism about the use of herbs and other nutritional supplements, for example, Offit presents himself as the stalwart for science. But it’s instructive to see what happens when he encounters someone conversant with the health literature.

Products Using “Carmine” – A Food Coloring Derived from Ground-Up Insects

Below are just a few recently released products that contain the insect-based food coloring known as “carmine.” There are thousands of others already on the market. Please check back here from time to time for updates to the list as we identify more products containing carmine — food coloring made from crushed whole cochineal beetles.

 

quik

Nestle Nesquik: Chocolate Cookie Sandwich (Strawberry)

alive

Nature’s Way: Alive Women’s 50+ Multivitamin/Multimineral

superdieter

Laci Le Beau: Super Dieters Fast Dissolve

mentos

Rainbow Mentos

fruitconcentrate

Healthy America: Triple Strength Natural Cranberry Fruit Concentrate

libidomax

Applied Nutrition: Libido Max for Women

prenatalmulti

CVS Pharmacy: DHA Prenatal Multivitamin

memoraid

Naturade: MemorAid with Omega 3 & Vitamin D

smoothie

Lucerne: Smoothie Dairy Beverage (Strawberry Banana)

twinlab

Twinlab: Ripped Fuel

werthers

Werther’s: Original Sugar Free Caramel Cinnamon Flavored Hard Candies

hotpockets

Hot Pockets: Snackers

parfait

Meijer: Strawberry Yogurt Parfait

candymix

Harry & David: Valentine Candy Mix

yoplait

Yoplait: Original Variety Pack

redvelvetcake

Betty Crocker: Red Velvet Cake Mix

omega3

Jamieson Natural Sources: Omega-3 Age Defence

 

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Read Your Labels: The “Top Ten” Additives to Avoid: A Recap

From our Read Your Labels Campaign, a recap of the series “Top Ten Food Additives to Avoid”, courtesy of

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been blogging about the Citizens For Health selections of the top ten food additives to avoid in the “Read Your Labels” campaign. In case you missed any of the actors in this rogue’s gallery of unnecessary and health-damaging ingredients that turn up in so many products, here’s a recap of what they are, where you’re most likely to find them, and why you should keep them out of your diet.

As the high point of this campaign, Citizens for Health has declared Thursday, April 11 to be  “Read Your Labels Day.” On that date, we would like you to help spread the “411” on these additives by taking a photo of food and beverage products containing these undesirable ingredients and sharing your photos on Instagram by using the hashtag #ReadYourLabels.

The “Read Your Labels”  top ten additives to avoid in review:

#1. High fructose corn syrup

Where you’ll find it:

Where do we begin? HFCS has permeated the marketplace in so many foods and beverages it’s just about impossible to create a list. For starters, it’s in most all sodas, and many other beverages such as tea and flavored drinks, and numerous juice drinks made for kids, as well as other sweetened items such as jellies, cookies and pastries. It also turns up in some surprising places like bread and condiments, and oddly, even in some diet foods (where it’s possible that a super-high fructose version is used). All in all, to purge HFCS from your diet, you need to read ingredient labels and reject all products containing this laboratory sweetener.

Why you should avoid it:

  • HFCS and high fructose consumption have been implicated in a variety of diseases and health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and weight gain.
  • The actual fructose percentage of HFCS is variable and unknown (which is why Citizens for Health has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to require the true fructose content of HFCS formulas be disclosed on food labels).
  • Contrary to industry propaganda, HFCS isn’t “corn sugar” or a “natural” ingredient, but a test-tube concoction that’s much cheaper than sugar.

#2. Aspartame

Where you’ll find it:

Aspartame is apt to turn up in foods labeled as “light” or “low-cal,” diet soft drinks, teas and juice drinks, kid’s vitamins, liquid cold drugs and other pharmaceuticals, chewing gum, cereal, sugar-free candies. Foods containing this artificial sweetener must also bear a warning that the item contains phenylalanine for those with a disorder called PKU.

Why you should avoid it:

  • Aspartame has never been proven to be a safe food additive, and is, in fact, considered by experts to be in a class of ingredients called “excitotoxins” that can literally excite brain cells to death, especially in children and the elderly (as are the three additives that follow);
  • Studies have connected it to the development of brain tumors in rodents and grand mal seizures in monkeys.
  • Thousands of aspartame-related health complaints, from migraines to memory loss to dizziness to vision problems have been reported to the FDA.

#3. Hydrolyzed protein
#4. Autolyzed yeast
#5. Monosodium glutamate

Where you’ll find them:

These “excitoxins” can be found in soups, broth, flavoring additives, chips, dips, soup mixes, ramen noodles, frozen meals, snack mixes, canned fish, and a wide variety of other dishes –  including “natural,” “vegetarian,” and organic ones.

Why you should avoid them:

  • These are all toxic substances containing processed glutamic acid that can kill brain cells. They are especially harmful to kids, the elderly and developing fetuses.
  • Adverse reactions to these additives include everything from skin rashes and asthma attacks to mood swings, upset stomach, migraines, heart irregularities and seizures – even potentially fatal anaphylactic shock.

#6 Potassium bromate

Where you’ll find it:

Added to flour, it can be found in breads, flat breads, bakery products, knishes and tortillas. (It may also be listed on ingredient labels as “bromated flour.”)

Why you should avoid it:

  • Potassium bromate has been known for over three decades to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
  • It’s banned in Europe, China, Canada and Brazil.
  • If it’s not used “properly,” a significant residue of this additive can end up in the finished food product.

#7 Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO

Where you’ll find it:

Some Gatorade products, Mountain Dew and other drinks containing citrus flavorings.

Why you should avoid it:

  • BVO builds up in fatty tissue and been shown to cause heart damage in research animals.
  • It’s banned in Europe, India and Japan.
  • It’s never been declared safe by the FDA, where its status has remained in limbo  for over 30 years.

#8 BHA and BHT

Where you’ll find them:

This pair of preservatives turn up in many breakfast cereals (including most Kellogg’s varieties), as well as snack foods, chewing gum, pies, cakes and processed meats.

Why you should avoid them:

  • Made from coal tar or petroleum, BHA and BHT have been of concern for decades.
  • Over 30 years ago studies found that after pregnant mice were fed BHT and BHA, their offspring were born with altered brain chemistry.
  • BHA is considered a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization and listed as a carcinogen in California.

#9 Trans fats

Where you’ll find it:

Any food products containing partially hydrogenated oil contain trans fats, regardless of a zero trans fats listing on the nutrition facts label. These can include bakery items, pizza, dough, pies, cakes and cookies, snack foods and frozen meals.

Why you should avoid them:

  • Trans fats increase LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and decrease “good” HDL cholesterol.
  • People with high blood levels of trans fats appear to have a greater risk of developing certain cancers. (Some research has even linked them to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.)
  • All health authorities, including government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are in agreement that trans fats cause heart disease and that cutting them out of our diet could prevent thousand of heart attacks and death from coronary disease each year.

#10 Artificial colors

Where you’ll find them:

They’re present in many cereals, cakes, candy, bakery products, drinks, juice drinks, vitamins and pharmaceuticals.

Why you should avoid them:

  • Artificial colors are widely acknowledged to cause hyperactivity and behavioral problems in some children.
  • They’re made from both coal tar and petroleum extracts – hardly the sort of things one would want to ingest.
  • Some, such as Red #3, have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals, but are still allowed to be used in foods.

So there they are in review – the top ten offenders among food additives. They’re best avoided (except in the case of processed glutamic acid), by buying organic processed foods, or, better yet, by cooking your own food from scratch as much as possible. But if you’re too hard pressed to always do all that, you should at least take the time to read those ingredient labels – and keep the items that contain these health-threatening intruders out of your kitchen and out of your life.

You Created a National Movement!!

Dear Citizen for Health,

Prop 37 may not have won, but you, along with us together, did!!!!!

Together we created a renewed nationwide movement that cannot be stopped!!!!

We put GMOs front and center on the national stage!!!!

Our coming together on this issue was a massive success, one that we can use to spread like wildfire in California and in every other state in the Union until we get a whole lot of state laws passed, or a national law, or both!!!!

A new movement has been created. Let’s take advantage of this historic convergence!!!!

Food labels and advertising must tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the food we and our children eat.

Stay tuned for more on the campaign to label GMOs and other issues of truth about food.

Sincerely,

The Citizens for Health Team

Press Release: FDA Protects Supplement Consumers From Drug-Spiked Tainted Products

Citizens for Health Supporters Urged to Visit KeepSupplementsClean.org

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: James Turner, 202-462-8800
James Gormley, 202-695-2027

Washington, D.C., November 1, 2012 – Citizens for Health (CFH) believes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should provide, and avoid blocking, useful information that consumers can use to make their own health choices.

In this spirit, Citizen for Health calls attention to an effort by the FDA that we support wholeheartedly. When it comes to protecting consumers from products that masquerade as dietary supplements, but that actually contain undeclared drugs, drug analogs, or steroids, by informing consumers FDA is serving as the safety agency that we as consumers urge it to be.

Under U.S. law, dietary supplements may contain a wide variety of ingredients, from nutritional substances such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, to botanical ingredients and a range of other ingredients that are used to supplement the diet. Although we do not always see eye-to-eye with FDA on where the exact boundary for allowable dietary ingredients lies, we agree with the agency that neither pharmaceutical drugs nor steroids are allowed in lawfully marketed supplement products.

Unfortunately, there are marketers who have placed their own profits before the health of those who use their products, and FDA has identified over 400 products since 2008 that were found through the agency’s analysis to be spiked with an undeclared drug or steroid ingredient. Most of these products have been marketed either for weight loss, body building, or sexual enhancement. FDA’s enforcement actions have included consumer advisories, product recalls, and in a few cases criminal indictments, and regulatory agencies in many other countries are also confronting these same illegal products.

In its efforts to combat this problem, FDA has also reached out to the trade associations that represent responsible marketers of dietary supplements to ask for their assistance to educate the industry about this problem and to develop strategies to combat it. One of these organizations, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), has developed a website that can keep you informed on this issue.

This site, KeepSupplementsClean.org, links to FDA’s consumer advice on how to avoid these products, and is updated every time FDA, or any international regulator, announces any action against a marketer of an illicit, tainted product.

If you are a consumer of health-promoting dietary supplements, especially those in the product areas most likely to be contaminated with undeclared ingredients (e.g., weight loss, body-building or sexual enhancement) you can protect yourself from inadvertently consuming a hidden drug or steroid by staying informed through the AHPA’s KeepSupplementsClean.org.

From that site you can find the specific names of tainted and drug-spiked products identified by regulators around the world, sign up for an FDA RSS feed for future updates, and learn how to report suspicious products to FDA.

Stay informed and stay healthy! Dietary supplement users can have confidence in the quality of the vast majority of dietary supplement products, but should also be wary when they encounter products with claims that sound too good to be true.

About Citizens for Health

Founded in 1992 Citizens for Health (or CFH), The Consumer Voice of the Natural Health Community,  is one of the nation’s most respected and powerful non-profit consumer action groups dedicated to providing a voice and a platform for informed and effective health activism. CFH provides nearly 100,000 supporters with credible and well-researched consumer news, action alerts, and opportunities to protect and expand access to innovative dietary supplements, healthy food, non-toxic products and integrative healthcare.

# # #

Dr. Bronner’s Donates $250,000 More to Yes on 37; Time to Get Out And Vote!

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a California-based and family-owned maker of the top-selling natural brand of soap in North America, announced today that they have donated another $250,000 to Proposition 37, The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.

According to a press release announcing this from Dr. Bronner’s, “Prop. 37 has been losing support in voter polls due to the impact of relentless and deceptive TV attack ads funded by pesticide and junk food manufacturers. At the rate of at least a $1 million dollars a day the ads mislead voters into thinking that a simple labeling law is somehow a plot by trial lawyers to get rich while food prices sky rocket.”

“These same arguments against consumers’ right to know have been made against every previous labeling regulation such as calorie and allergen disclosure,” noted the release. “Despite being vastly outspent, the Yes on 37 campaign has demonstrated through internal polling that their simple ad reminding voters of their fundamental right to know what’s in their food cuts through the flak.”

“Chemical corporations are outspending consumer groups 10 to 1 in California, so we felt we had to step up with another major donation to ‘Yes on 37’,” said David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. “It’s wrong that American democracy is hijacked by pesticide manufacturers who spend vast sums of money to keep consumers in the dark. The opposition’s lies on TV will be answered this final crucial week before Election Day, while a huge grassroots surge reaches voters directly. If enough voters are reminded of their own rights and power, Prop. 37 can win.”

“Genetically engineered foods should have been labeled from the get-go in the 1990’s,” noted Bronner. “Pesticide companies genetically engineer DNA from bacteria into food crops to either produce or tolerate the pesticides they sell. Their business model is rapidly failing in the face of superweeds and superbugs resistant to their poisons. Pesticide companies like Monsanto and Dow are now doubling down and engineering resistance in food crops to much more toxic weed killers such as Dicamba and 2,4 D, the main ingredient in Agent Orange.”

Bronner added: “These pesticide companies have demonstrated they will spend any amount needed to keep the public in the dark about the secret changes they have made to our food. We have a right to know if our food has been genetically engineered, just as citizens in over 61 other countries do, including in Europe, Japan, even China. Prop 37 is just the beginning.”

Bronner said: “The writing is on the wall, win or lose we have sparked a movement. We will have the right to know in this country sooner versus later.”

Vote YES on Prop 37—today (early voting is on in California). Exercise your right to know about what you choose to buy and choose to eat. Here is information on how to vote early.

An Open Letter to Consumer Reports: 10 Misinformation Hazards in Your “10 Surprising Dangers of Vitamins and Supplements” Article

By James J. Gormley

It is personally disappointing for me that Consumer Reports, the flagship of the respected marketplace-empowerment organization, Consumers Union, has once again seen fit to arm the American consumer with detrimental misinformation regarding safe, beneficial food supplements.

In the alarmist piece which appears in the September 2012 issue, the anti-supplement subtitle reads: “Don’t assume they’re safe because they’re all natural.”

Here are the “10 Surprising Dangers” along with some accurate information and perspective:

“1. Supplements are not risk free.”
With 3,000 deaths and 128,000 hospitalizations a year from food poisoning, it is clear that nothing in life is risk-free, but we already knew this. It would be of better service to do an expose on the dangers of properly prescribed pharmaceuticals, which injure over 1 million and kill over 100,00 Americans each year in hospitals alone. The subtitle on a prescription drugs-focused article could read: “Don’t assume they’re safe because they’re FDA-approved.”

The fact of the matter is that food supplements are inherently benign and pharmaceuticals are inherently dangerous; they are part of a completely different risk paradigm. With the millions of supplements sold and safely used every year, dietary supplements have an enviable consumer safety record.

Since the 1994 enactment of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), FDA has had the authority to remove any dietary supplement from the market if FDA shows that it presents “a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury” or that it contains “a poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health.” In fact, the FDA can act immediately against any product that poses an “imminent hazard to public health or safety.” With the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, the FDA’s mandatory recall authority was affirmed and expanded.

Recently released data from risk-management expert Ron Law confirmed that food supplements are by far the safest substances that people are exposed to daily (http://tinyurl.com/ron-law-data).

“2. Some supplements are really prescription drugs.”
Supplements are a class of food, not drugs, so drugs masquerading as supplements is a drug adulteration problem best handled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), something which I and Citizens for Health have been calling for since early 2010 (http://tinyurl.com/dea-should-take-over), which is now being supported by industry as well (http://tinyurl.com/dea-and-steroids).

“3. You can overdose on vitamins and minerals.”
With only a few exceptions (e.g., iron, selenium, zinc, vitamin A), even with the dosages found in high-potency supplements there is a window of safety on supplements of several hundred percent; in fact, most supplements are so safe that no upper limit can even be determined. What we really have to worry about are the over 13,000 truly dangerous prescription drugs on the market with known side effects.

“4. You can’t depend on warning labels.”
True, but since dietary supplements are inherently benign with a margin of safety a mile wide, there is virtually nothing to warn consumers about. To be conservative, many products carry cautions relating to consumption by children and pregnant/breastfeeding women, but this is more to protect companies from actions stemming from gross misuse.

“5. None are proven to cure major diseases.”
The same can be said for prescription drugs. And even if they did, supplement manufacturers would not be allowed to tell consumers about it. Regardless, supplements are complements to the diet not substitutes for healthy food and physical activity.

“6. Buy with caution from botanicas.”
I would venture to say that apart from cities bordering Mexico, over 99.999% of herbal products are sold through mainstream channels of trade. We could also say “don’t buy prescription pain killers” on the black market or from peddlers in back alleys, but some level of common sense usually prevails.

“7. Heart and cancer protection: not proven.”
The American Heart Association recommends a diet rich in marine-based omega-3s, and the U.S. government has approved health claims for vitamin D and calcium supplementation. In 2005, Harvard researchers estimated that low intake of omega-3s in the U.S. diet accounted for 72,000 to 96,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease. There have been numerous animal studies showing direct cancer prevention with omega-3s and epidemiological studies associating high levels of dietary omega-3s with reduced rates of cancer.

“8. Choking.”
Now Consumer Reports is really reaching. Anybody who tries to dry-swallow any pill can experience a gag reflex, which is not a problem unique to any one class of products.

“9. Some natural products are anything but.”

Most dietary ingredients are analogues of natural extracts; technologists are not standing around with wooden mallets, mortars and pestles. There are only one or two cases where a true synthetic is not as efficacious as a natural source nutrient, and that is with vitamin E.

“10. You may not need supplements at all.”
But we need drugs? For decades the USDA has shown that most of us do not get anywhere near a basic level of vitamins and minerals from the standard American diet, so it would be a rare person indeed who would not stand to benefit from a multivitamin/multimineral supplement at the very least.

Although Consumers Union has a long, and illustrious, track record in advocating for consumers, Consumer Reports appears to have a bug in its bonnet regarding dietary supplements, either that or single-copy newsstand sales soar when “supplements are bad” stories are run.

This is unfortunate, since scare-mongering re safe, well-regulated and effective dietary supplements will, at best, only serve to unfairly cause consumers to wrongly distrust a beneficial class of products and, at worst, drive even more Americans away from responsible self-care into the welcoming arms of drug-happy conventional medicine.

That’s not what I call consumer advocacy.