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Dangers of dietary supplements

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An estimated 23,000 emergency room visits each year are attributed to adverse events related to dietary supplements, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine:

  • The most common event involved heart problems related to weight-loss or energy products among young adults 20 to 34 years old.

  • Another danger was unsupervised ingestion of supplements by children.

  • Among adults ages 65 and older, swallowing problems, such as choking on supplement pills, were an issue.

Lead author Andrew Geller of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Emory, who is also a medical officer with the CDC, used surveillance data from 63 emergency departments from 2004 to 2013.

“These data are important because dietary supplements are presumed to be safe and are regulated differently from over-the-counter or prescription products,” Geller says. “Unlike pharmaceuticals, which have to demonstrate both benefits and safety, dietary supplements can be sold without that information. Perhaps these findings can help target interventions to reduce safety risks.” 

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"Study finds an estimated 23,000 ER visits are related to dietary supplements" (11/16/2016)

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