RETIRED SCHOOL PERSONNEL
October 10, 2012
Prescription Drug Abuse. Most of us take some kind of prescription drug and frequently give it little thought. Addiction to prescription drugs has become a serious problem, some even calling it an epidemic. One would expect this to occur primarily among youth, but statistics indicate that all classes of people are falling victim. As seniors, it is all too easy to become careless and forgetful, leading to the possibility of inadvertent addiction. Be very careful with your meds. Experts tell us the addiction to prescription drugs is extremely difficult to break, and unbearably painful. Keep all of your physicians informed of all meds that you take. Be alert and don’t become a victim.
Dangerous Supplements. Numerous sources are warning about dietary supplements that have hidden pharmaceuticals which can present real dangers. One of the worst is weight loss supplements. All of them are heavily advertised and promoted, but the U.S. has little regulation of them. Dan Fabricant, Director of the FDA’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs, considers it a very serious problem, saying, ”If we went out there today, to the web or to certain retail outlets, we would have absolutely no problem finding products that are tainted.” Since 2008, FDA has warned or recalled some 400 supplements containing hidden pharmaceuticals. They think many more are available. What can you do to protect yourself? Investigate any supplement you are considering on the Web. Is there any solid scientific evidence to support its use? The truth is usually out there if you look for it. (Try the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s Supplement 411 at usada.org/supplement411, or the FDA’s Tips for Savvy Supplement Users, or the Council For Responsible Nutrition’s One Dozen Tips for Consumers). Talk to your doctor and/or pharmacist. Check the FDA’s website for warnings or recalls. If it ‘sounds too good to be true’, don’t buy it.
In addition to the problem of drugs in a supplement, recent reports have shown that many supplements vary considerably from their advertised concentrations. This even includes vitamins and minerals, which can be harmful in mega-doses. For example, vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble vitamins that can accumulate in the body. Excessive amounts can be very harmful. If your pills have a higher concentration than advertised, you may be taking too much. Even reputable sources have been shown to vary by large amounts. Be cautious and selective.