I am constantly amazed as we find out things that are suppose to help us may actually be doing more harm than good. Much like the post yesterday regarding sun-screens, today we learn that nearly all of the herbal dietary supplements tested in a Congressional investigation contained trace amounts of lead and other contaminants.
From the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/26/health/policy/26herbal.html?hp):
The levels of heavy metals — including mercury, cadmium and arsenic — did not exceed thresholds considered dangerous, the investigators found. However, 16 of the 40 supplements tested contained pesticide residues that appeared to exceed legal limits, the investigators found. In some cases, the government has not set allowable levels of these pesticides because of a paucity of scientific research.
Investigators found at least nine products that made apparently illegal health claims, including a product containing ginkgo biloba that was labeled as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and a product containing ginseng labeled as a treatment to prevent diabetes and cancer. They also described a salesperson at a supplement specialty store who claimed that a garlic supplement could be taken instead of blood pressure medication.
Any product that claims to treat, cure, prevent or mitigate a disease is considered a drug and must go through strict regulatory reviews.
Travis T. Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, wrote a letter to the committee saying that some athletes have been rendered ineligible for international competitions because they took supplements that contained steroids not listed on the products’ labels. There are thousands of supplements available for sale that contain steroids or other harmful ingredients, he wrote.