- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Broadway Books (December 26, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0767920430
- ISBN-13: 978-0767920438
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,239,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Natural Causes: Death, Lies and Politics in America's Vitamin and Herbal Supplement Industry
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From Publishers Weekly
In his lively debut, health and medical journalist Hurley takes aim at the $21 billion supplement industry and its potentially injurious "natural" products. He critiques its strong-arming of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act through Congress—a law that rendered the FDA virtually powerless to regulate these remedies—and observes the FDA's "coziness" with the industry it regulates. From snake oil and shark cartilage to ephedra, Hurley consistently animates patches of dry legal and medical material with harrowing case studies. Sue Gilliatt, for example, burned off her nose when she used the Native American herbal remedy bloodroot to treat her skin cancer in 2001. When Dorothy Wilson's doctor prescribed L-tryptophan for her insomnia in 1988, the over-the-counter amino acid triggered a mysterious disease that left her painfully incapacitated by nerve damage. Although Hurley presents scanty evidence regarding vitamin C's inability to prevent colds, his claim about the criminal backgrounds of several supplement manufacturers is alarming. Hurley wraps up with a refreshingly tough-love conclusion: the bamboozled have to accept some of the blame themselves for wanting a quick-fix promise of good health without having to do the work of a salubrious lifestyle. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* Hurley maintains that the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 is one of the worst laws on the books. Shielding vitamins and herbal concoctions from FDA testing, it requires only that no curative claims be made for such "dietary supplements." In the prologue, Hurley shows that curative claims are made, anyway, and the users of an herbal salve were able to sue when the stuff ate their flesh. Subsequent chapters cite cases that also show that per-dosage amounts of dietary-supplement ingredients are often improperly listed; that greater than standard recommended daily amounts of most vitamins wreak havoc in the body; and that natural doesn't mean safe or effective. He notes the high proportion of convicted felons in the supplement industry, sketching the careers of several of the most egregious, including best-selling self-help health author Kevin Trudeau. He points to research that nullifies common knowledge about the effectiveness of virtually all dietary supplements; food, not pills, is the optimal and probably the only means of properly ingesting vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and so forth. He puts all such substantive information in the context of plenty of absorbing and moving stories of death, deceit, and political chicanery. Truly a good book that is good for you. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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However, Mr. Hurley leaves out important information that would have been helpful to anyone concerned about their health and trying to understand what is going on -- esp folks concerned about chronic diseases, about 1/2 the population. (1) Page 165. Hurley claims the AMA's only policy recommendation on vitamins is folic acid for pregnant women and Vit. K for infants at birth. NOT TRUE. In 2003, the AMA came out with a recommendation that all adults take a good multivitamin to help protect them from chronic diseases, the area that drugs cannot address except to suppress symptoms. This is why so many healthcare professionals of every kind are starting to take a multivitamin every day. But how do we know which ones to take?
(2) The only "okay" vitamin company acknowledged is Natrol, pg.233 -- "practices are as good as or better than anyone's in the industry." No, Natrol is a good company but not the top-quality supplement producer in the industry by far. In fact, there are major companies producing much higher quality supplements, using PHARMACEUTICAL-GRADE STANDARDS in their manufacturing. How did Hurley miss such an important distinction? Considering he's covering the supplement industry, wouldn't you think he'd talk to allopathic doctors who are increasing using and recommending multivitamins? As a good researcher,Hurley should have asked many different doctors, both allopathic and holistic, if they use supplements and if so, what products they use and recommend to their patients. The companies producing PHARMACEUTICAL-GRADE VITAMINS & MINERALS are using STANDARDS that meet drug-company standards for safety, purity, and reliability. The companies METAGENICS, DOUGLAS LABS, and USANA come to mind. In fact, an increasing number of allopathic doctors now make these supplements available through their medical offices for their patients -- METAGENICS for instance is only sold through licensed healthcare professionals. Yet, Hurley makes no mention of this area of the industry which is very surprising given his strong emphasis on the importance of scientific standards.
In fact, Hurley and his publisher missed an enormous opportunity to begin to get unscrupulous supplement manufacturers and uneducated healthfood store clerks out of the supplement business and to begin put everyone's primarycare doctors in charge of this area of supporting health. If folks marched into their doctor's office and asked for and received a recommendation for professional-grade multivitamins for themselves and their family, that would go along way to begin to eliminate the WILD WEST APPROACH THAT IS SO DANGEROUS -- the many supplements that are based on ingredients for which there is no science to support their use; problem of the wrong supplementation for a condition; supplementation that can interfere with meds someone might be on; supplementation that can actually worsen a condition; mis-use of supplements inc. overdosing which is very common; and the use of dangerous supplements because contaminated with lead or other toxins.
So don't dispair, fellow Americans. Go to your primary physician and ask for their help. And keep asking until you get their help. Most doctors want to do what is best for their patients. The growing body of research on professional-grade supplementation is out there for their education. Patients want to believe and follow their doctors. An educated doctor would establish with everyone of his/her patients the need to take a professional-grade multi-vitamin and then make recommendations. Patients would learn to ask their doctors about supplements and stop asking the uninformed for information they do not possess and are not trained to interpret. That, Mr. Hurley, is what your book could have done for the American people.
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