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Young People Get Osteoporosis Too 

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Notice:  If you have a serious medical condition, it's definitely always a wise idea to talk to your doctor before you begin a supplement program. 

Alternative Treatments: 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Despite the fact that most dietary supplements are advertised and marketed widely, and many are promoted as "natural" or "non-toxic," they shouldn't be taken lightly. The term "natural" may suggest to consumers that the supplement is safe, especially when compared with prescription drugs that are known to have side effects. But natural is not necessarily safe. 

Some are potent products that may cause harm and have dangerous interactions with other medications. Consumers should be very careful about when and how to use supplements. They always should discuss the risks and benefits with their health care professional.

The best advice for patients who take prescription medicines: If you're considering an herbal product, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or other healthcare professional. They have the resources and medical knowledge to give you the most current safety information.

Dietary supplements are not required to go through the same pre-market government review for quality, safety and efficacy as drug products.


It's unwise to judge a product's efficacy or safety based only on testimonials. First, it is very difficult to verify the accuracy of the account: Some marketers may embellish or even make up testimonials to sell their product. Second, you can't generalize one person's experience to others. Anecdotes are not a substitute for valid science

Check out any health claims with a reliable source, such as the National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements, a public health or scientific organization like the American Cancer Society or the Arthritis Foundation, and your health provider.

Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or other health provider about any medicines you take, as well as any dietary supplements you're using or thinking about using. Though some doctors have limited knowledge of herbal products and other supplements, they have access to the most current research and can help monitor your condition to ensure that no problems develop or serious interactions occur. Retailers or marketers can be good sources of information about their products and their ingredients, but bear in mind that they have a financial interest in their products. If your doctor or pharmacist has a financial interest in the product, get a second, independent opinion

Suspicious Claims

Promoters of fraudulent health products often use similar claims and practices to trick consumers into buying their products. Be suspicious when you see:

 

  • Claims that a product is a "scientific breakthrough," "miraculous cure," "secret ingredient" or "ancient remedy."
     

  • Claims that the product is an effective cure for a wide range of ailments. No product can cure multiple conditions or diseases.
     

  • Claims that use impressive-sounding medical terms. They're often covering up a lack of good science.
     

  • Undocumented case histories of people who've had amazing results. It's too easy to make them up. And even if true, they can't be generalized to the entire population. Anecdotes are not a substitute for valid science.
     

  • Claims that the product is available from only one source, and payment is required in advance.
     

  • Claims of a "money-back" guarantee.
     

  • Websites that fail to list the company's name, physical address, phone number or other contact information.
     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

To check a product out, FDA health fraud coordinators suggest:

  • Talk to a doctor or another health professional. "If it's an unproven or little-known treatment, always get a second opinion from a medical specialist," Rodriguez says.
     

  • Talk to family members and friends. Legitimate medical practitioners should not discourage you from discussing medical treatments with others. Be wary of treatments offered by people who tell you to avoid talking to others because "it's a secret treatment or cure."
     

  • Check with the Better Business Bureau or local attorneys generals' offices to see whether other consumers have lodged complaints about the product or the product's marketer.
     

  • Check with the appropriate health professional group--for example, the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, or the National Arthritis Foundation if the products are promoted for heart disease, diabetes or arthritis. Many of these groups have local chapters that can provide you with various resource materials about your disease.
     

  • Contact the FDA office closest to you. Look for the number and address in the blue pages of the phone book under U.S. Government, Health and Human Services, or go to www.fda.gov/ora/fed_state/dfsr_activities/dfsr_pas.html on the FDA Website. FDA can tell you whether the agency has taken action against the product or its marketer. Your call also may alert FDA to a potentially illegal product and prevent others from falling victim to health fraud.
     

  • For safety and other information on dietary supplements, see:
    www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/supplmnt.html

     

Signs of Medical Fraud:

The Food and Drug Administration and the National Council Against Health Fraud recommend that you watch for the following claims or practices. These are often warning signs of potentially fraudulent herbal products or other "natural" treatments:

 

  • Red flag words. The advertisements or promotional materials include words such as breakthrough, magical or new discovery. If the product were in fact a cure, it would be widely reported in the media and your doctor would recommend it.
     

  • Pseudo-medical jargon. Examples include words such as detoxify, purify or energize. Claims such as these are difficult to define and to measure.
     

  • Cure-alls. The manufacturer claims that the product can treat a wide range of symptoms, or cure or prevent a number of diseases. No single product can do this.
     

  • Unstudied. The product is supposedly backed by scientific studies, but references aren't provided, are limited or are out-of-date. Imbalanced view. The product promotion mentions no negative side effects, only benefits.
     

  • False accusations. The manufacturer of the product accuses the government or medical profession of suppressing important information about the product's benefits. There is no reason for the government or medical profession to withhold information that could help people.
     

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Young People Get Osteoporosis Too Organization
Copyright 2001  All rights reserved.
Revised: 03/11/08.