February 1, 2010
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) today launched a public education video called “American Roulette” under its Supplement Safety Now (www.SupplementSafetyNow.com) initiative. In the brief video, Dr. Pieter A. Cohen of Harvard Medical School characterizes taking dietary supplements as playing American roulette based on his study of the issue. His findings were published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine (Oct.15, 2009).
“The problem is that we have a lot of dangerous supplements, but we don’t know which ones they are,” explains Dr. Cohen in the video, located at www.SupplementSafetyNow.com.
Dr. Cohen stresses that when consumers buy dietary supplements, they are potentially buying a cocktail of dangerous and toxic ingredients that are unlabelled. “In the ideal world, it’s just a cocktail of dietary ingredients. But by law, tissue and glandular extracts can be included. We have also found a wide range of contaminants: the wrong plant, toxic plant material, heavy metals, bacteria, fungus, as well as prescription medications.”
The potential consequences of consuming the wrong dietary supplement, warns Dr. Cohen, include liver failure, the need for a liver transplant, heart attack, stroke and addiction to the substance.
Like USADA and its partners in the Supplement Safety Now public protection initiative, Dr. Cohen, who’s also an Internist at Cambridge Health Alliance, finds significant cause for concern with the current regulatory environment of the dietary supplement industry, and has joined the effort to affect positive and healthy change so that consumers can have confidence in all nutritional supplements.
USADA launched Supplement Safety Now (www.SupplementSafetyNow.com) in partnership with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the U.S. Olympic Committee and other national sports and health organizations, urging Congress to refine the regulatory framework to ensure that all supplements sold over the counter, in retail stores and online, are safe and free of dangerous steroids and other drugs.
To date, joining the MLB, NFL, the USOC, NBA and NHL in their support of Supplement Safety Now are: USA Swimming, USA Triathlon, USA Gymnastics, USA Track and Field, USA Cycling, U.S. Lacrosse, U.S. Tennis Association, the PGA Tour, the NCAA, The Center for Drug Free Sport, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Swimming Coaches Association.
USADA is the non-profit, independent and non-governmental entity responsible for the testing and results management process in the U.S. for athletes in the Olympic and Paralympic Movement, upholding the Olympic ideal of fair play, and representing the interests of athletes. USADA is dedicated to preserving the integrity of sport through research initiatives and educational programs. The agency manages a drug reference phone hotline and Global Drug Reference Online, conducts educational sessions with National Governing Bodies and their athletes, and proactively distributes a multitude of educational materials, such as curriculums, themed brochures and nutrition and dietary guides, easy- reference wallet cards for the prohibited substance list, periodic newsletters, and protocol and policy reference publications, all of which can be found at www.USADA.org.