Transcript: Dietary Supplement Snake Oil
An editorial was recently published decrying much of the multibillion dollar marketing of dietary supplements in North America as misleading, deceptive—even predatory. After examining hundreds of sales claims made when supplements are being marketed over the years, the author concluded: “Dishonesty or wild exaggerations are frequent occurrences in the marketing of supplements.”
My favorite quote was: “The marketers of supplements like to use scientific evidence the way a drunk uses a lamp-post: more for support than illumination.”
This is nothing new. Similar editorials have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine. What made this special was that it was, to their credit, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. It’s like their own journal admitting it!
In response, the Head of Global Supplement Initiatives at Novus, which actually started out as the livestock feed additives division of Monsanto, before branching off into human feed additives—dietary supplements—starts his rebuttal with this counterpoint: “In his review entitled ‘’The Marketing of Dietary Supplements in North America: The Emperor is (Almost) Naked,’ [the author] may be mortified to know the emperor is still dancing in the street, dressed or not, to the tune of $68 billion. This figure is much higher and is a more relevant number than cited…indicating a very strong and respectable commerce.” That’s his first argument? That it’s highly lucrative?
He goes on to say that hey, they’re safer than some pharmaceuticals. But how much is that saying, given that prescription drugs kill an estimated 106,000 Americans every year? And that’s not errors; not abuse; not overdose. That’s just deaths from side effects, ADRs (adverse drug reactions), which would make doctors—me and my fellow colleagues—the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
So, for the supplement industry to say, “Hey, at least we’re not the fourth leading cause of death,” isn’t saying much.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena.
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