Dietary supplements are a billion dollar a year industry. According to a recent National Health Interview Survey, about 114 million people; more than half the adult population of the United States regularly consume dietary supplements. Many supplements are sold over the Internet, but they are also sold in mainstream nutrition stores across America. According to the Survey, the majority of people believe that supplements require government approval. Another common misconception is that supplement manufacturers are required to provide labels that include warnings about their potential side effects and dangers.
People believe that these supplements are regulated and because they are being sold in mainstream nutrition stores they are safe. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, supplements are entirely unregulated in the United States. Many of these supplements are manufactured in China. Make no mistake about it, many of these supplements are very, very dangerous.
There are two main type of dietary supplements that are especially dangerous. Weight loss supplements and weight gain/ bodybuilding supplements. The packaging and advertisements for these supplements promise huge losses or gains. In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged this growing supplement crisis. The FDA has received reports of serious adverse events associated with the use of body building products that claim to contain steroids or steroid-like substances. Those adverse events include cases of serious liver injury, stroke, kidney failure and pulmonary embolism (artery blockage in the lung), stroke, low testosterone levels, high estrogen levels, high cholesterol, and loss of libido.
Ironically, one of the most prevalent side effects of these body building supplements is gynecomastia. Which is the development of hard, painful breast tissue. In other words, the young men develop female breasts. This condition often develops with the use/abuse of anabolic steroids. The more your testosterone level increases through the use of steroids, the more your estrogen level will increase as well. This irregular raise in estrogen, often causes severe side effects. The biggest is “gyno.” When taking steroids, the body reacts to the overabundance of artificial hormone by shutting of it’s production of natural male hormone (testosterone). Once this happens, the testicles shrink and female breast development begins.
Gynecomastia is extremely painful. A hug, for example, can cause agonizing pain. However, for most of these young men, the extreme pain is dwarfed by the stigma of having female breasts. Remember, these are body builders. The embarrassment level of having female breasts often times sets off many psychological issues. Usually, surgery is required. In essence, a breast reduction.
As a result of these adverse side effects, the FDA has issued public health advisories warning consumers to stop using any body building products that are represented to contain steroids or steroid-like substances. Most of these products are marketed as dietary supplements.
Importantly, the FDA has recently taken action. Federal agents recently raided American Cellular Labs in California in order to investigate allegations they were manufacturing supplements contaminated with anabolic steroids. In addition, the FDA recently raided the Boise, Idaho warehouse of Bodybuilding.com amid allegations it is selling dozens of products containing illegal anabolic steroids. The FDA has sent a message to the supplement industry. Now, this same public health message needs to be sent to teens and young adults whom are most susceptible to this unscrupulous marketing.
In most instances it is teens and young adults that take these body-building products. Teens today have immense pressure to perform athletically. They see their peers getting bigger, stronger, and faster. These same peers are receiving full scholarships to big time colleges. They feel pressure from the athletes they compete against. They feel pressure not to be left behind. If you don’t keep up, you don’t play. If you don’t keep up – you won’t get the college scholarship. It’s simple. Simple and extremely unsafe.
These kids know that steroids are illegal and may be harmful. So they turn to supplements. The supplement products are sold in national nutrition store chains, they are sold in mainstream fitness magazines, and they are sold in gyms all over America. We are not talking buying drugs from the trunk of a car in a dim parking lot. No, these supplements are sold in brightly lit mainstream stores, magazines, gyms and other places. So these kids figure the supplements must be safe. Otherwise, how can you buy these supplements at national nutrition store chains? In reality, these kids are gambling with their health and safety. These dietary supplements are dangerous.