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NewsBites January 2016 Issue

Less-Regulated Supplements Send 23,000 to ER Annually

Products sold as "dietary supplements" lead to about 23,000 emergency-room visits and more than 2,100 hospital admissions every year, a new government report estimates. Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration studied records at 63 nationally representative hospitals over a 10-year span to compile the figures, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Products marketed for weight loss or "energy-boosting" were most often the cause of ER visits, accounting for 72% of problems with chest pain or irregular or rapid heartbeat. Other supplements causing cardiac symptoms included body-building and sexual-enhancement products.

Unlike medications, dietary supplements don’t require FDA approval or proof of safety or effectiveness before hitting store shelves. The FDA can only act to recall dangerous products after reports of health problems.

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