Supplements and Health: Sorting the Facts

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“Lose belly fat.” “Build muscle.” “Lower your cholesterol.” “Improve your sex drive.” Browse the shelves of any supermarket or pharmacy, and you will find dietary supplements that promise to do all this, and more. Supplements are a multi-billion-dollar business, and today more than half of American adults take them, many at the advice of their doctors. But dietary supplements can have real risks. They are not required by federal law to be proven safe “to the FDA’s satisfaction” before hitting the market, raising concern among critics about a perceived lack of safety oversight and consumer education.

Using the latest science as the basis for discussion, Forum experts examined the risks and benefits of supplements. How effective are they? What about dosages — or interactions with prescription medications? Should supplements be subject to more stringent rules and tests? What role should doctors, pharmacists, and drugstores have in helping consumers make safe, educated choices about supplements? This panel attempted to help sort the facts about supplements and health.

Part of The Dr. Lawrence H. and Roberta Cohn Forums, this event was presented jointly with PRI’s The World & WGBH on May 11, 2017.

Watch the entire series at ForumHSPH.org.

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