Supplements in the news; it’s all about politics and profit

Editorial by David Mulvain

Have you noticed that nearly all of the news about nutritional and herbal supplement use in the media warn us of their dangers? Yet, for every study that finds that supplements are not safe and do not work, there are hundreds that prove that they are both safe and effective. Why aren’t those studies making the news? And why aren’t we reading and hearing about some of the dangers of conventional medicine?

 The supplement industry is growing for a reason. The American medical system is unaffordable and is not living up to its promises. In 2007 we were spending an average of $7,290 a year, per person on medical care, almost twice as much as any other nation in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) analysis of data from 191 countries in 2000 placed the U.S. health care system 37th. We rank 26th in infant mortality, 24th for life expectancy and we are in the Stone Age for preventative care. It gets worse. According to a review of studies published in 2004 by the not-for-profit organization, Life Extension, adverse drug reactions cause about 106,000 deaths a year. Medical errors cause about 98,000 deaths a year, hospital infections 88,000, treatment caused malnutrition 108,000, treatment related outpatient deaths 200,000 and unnecessary procedures 35,000 deaths a year. The practice of medicine appears to be the number one actual end cause of death in the U.S. Most medical treatment is directed at treating symptoms and seldom addresses the underlying cause. Treating symptoms is far more profitable than finding cures.

 We are a fat, unhealthy nation and we are not getting slimmer or healthier. There is a solution, at least for most non-emergency, non-crisis conditions. Study after study has proven that life style and regular supplement use contribute to better health, are highly preventative, and can be as effective, or more effective, than pharmaceutical drugs and other conventional treatments. The Lewin group estimated that if the elderly used just a few supplements regularly, it would result in a $24 billion savings over 5years. That savings would come out of the profits of the pharmaceutical and medical industries. Supplement use is already taking a bite out of the profits of these industries.

 Natural healing compounds cannot be patented. That makes pricing competitive and profits very low compared to patented drugs. Also, drugs that cure probably would not make back their development cost, so they are seldom developed. The medical, pharmaceutical and insurance companies make money when people stay dependent on treatments for a long time. This is a David and Goliath battle for your health care dollars. These mega-disease treatment industries would like to eliminate their competition, and they have political clout. They are the political power behind the legislation that gets introduced to cripple the supplement industry, and they are often the designers and financiers of the anti-supplement studies.

 For now, we have freedom of choice of health care, but there is a constant flow of proposed legislation introduced to Congress to regulate supplements. The pretext is safety, but supplement use has proven to be extremely safe. The real problem is that lifestyle and supplements do work, and they are affordable for most people, so they are a threat to the entrenched disease treatment industries.

 If you want to stay healthy for life or get healthier, it is up to you. In today’s, world it won’t happen unless you choose healthy life style habits, like diet, supplements, exercise and attitude. If you do have or develop a degenerative disease, it is in your best interest to investigate alternative treatment options, including supplements.

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