Monday, June 23, 2014

John Oliver's take on "Unregulated" Dietary Supplements

Another salvo in the War on Vitamins and Dietary Supplements:

John Oliver was funny, but not remotely fair or accurate. Some of the more grievous false examples (in my opinion):

• He assumed no new laws or regulations have been implemented since DSHEA (the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act of 1994)
o Untrue, and some have been championed by industry; some examples:
 The 2002 Anti-Bioterrorism law's food safety regulations
 The implementation of mandatory Good Manufacturing Practices regulations and increasing numbers of FDA audits over the past 4 years
 Bans on steroids and their precursors
 A mandatory Adverse Event Reporting law
 The more recent Food Safety Law

• He showed old news reports speculating that the botanical ephedra killed 155 people, asserting that these deaths occurred because of DSHEA tying FDA’s hands
o FDA was admittedly unable to substantiate any deaths
o FDA was able to ban ephedra under DSHEA anyway based on a solely theoretical one death per year from billions of doses taken, despite two FDA expert panels unable to validate any deaths

• He claimed that FDA and FTC are powerless to act because of DSHEA, Hatch and Harkin
o The number of enforcements have been rapidly increasing
 Warning letters, recalls, even seizures
o The number of FDA inspections has been rapidly increasing

• He showed how many citizens supported DSHEA in 1993-1994, but asserted that they were misled by industry champions Senators Hatch and Harkin, who received donations from the then relatively tiny $2 billion industry
o He implied that Hatch and Harkin did it solely for the money
o He implied that Hatch and Harkin still block all regulation; see above for contrary examples
 some of the more recent laws were supported by industry and even sponsored by Hatch and/or Harkin)

• He assumed that dietary supplements are largely unregulated because of not enough regulation, rather than their relatively good safety record versus drugs or even other foods
o He promoted pre-market approval of products and claims, similar to a failed Canadian strategy that cut product selection without enhancing safety
o He cited DNA testing of botanicals failing 1/3 of products tested, without mentioning that this is actually a proposed but not yet validated assay technology disputed by herbal authorities as far too premature to use as a standard

This does not address his criticisms of Dr. Oz, who can defend himself.

Link to show:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Prebiotics (fiber) may improve metabolic factors in obese people

This is not new to me, but another study confirms that low levels of bifidobacteria are associated with obesity. This has been shown for newborns as well as adults. Consuming prebiotic fiber, i.e. inulin or FOS, can promote the growth of bifidobacteria that reduce the likelihood of obesity and its resulting symptoms/risks.

Obesity may have a microbial component. Adding prebiotic fiber plus bifidobacteria may shift metabolism toward a leaner, healthier equilibrium.