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Food supplements ultra-safe, US and UK statistics confirm (Rx drugs? Not so much)

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Following is a press release on food supplement vs Rx drug safety (in this case, in terms of relative risk of death) from the Alliance for Natural Health International (www.ANH-Europe.org).

But first, what about the U.S.?

Statistics gathered by the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service indicate ZERO supplement-related deaths in 2011 (See “No Deaths from Vitamins: America’s Largest Database Confirms Supplement Safety.”) Yet, as nutrition expert Dr. Joseph Mercola has pointed out in commenting on these data, US residents consume “over 60,000,000,000 doses of vitamin and mineral supplements per year.”

Supplement Safety versus prescription drugs
Food supplements and herbal remedies by far the safest substances consumed by UK citizens

Source: Alliance for Natural Health International press release, July 11, 2012

The UK-based, international campaign group, the Alliance for natural Health International (ANH-Intl) released figures [on July 11] showing that food supplements are the safest substances regularly consumed by UK citizens.

Both food supplements and herbal remedies are in the ‘supersafe’ category of individual risk – meaning risk of death from their consumption is less than 1 in 10 million. [See the tiny bubble down in the lower left corner of this chart – shown with dotted line because too small to depict to scale.]

ANH-Intl executive and scientific director, Robert Verkerk, PhD, hailed the figures as shedding new light on the vexed question of natural healthcare’s safety:

These figures tell us not only what activities an individual is most or least likely to die from, but also what the relative risks of various activities are to society as a whole.

It puts some real perspective on the actual risk of death posed by food supplements and herbal remedies at a time when governments are clamping down because they tell us they’re dangerous.”

Commenting on the UK data, Verkerk added:

When compared with the risk of taking food supplements, an individual is around 900 times more likely to die from food poisoning and nearly 300,000 times more likely to die from a preventable medical injury during a spell in a UK hospital.

The latter is on a par with the risk of death from active military service in Iraq or Afghanistan.”

According to Dr. Verkerk, the new figures should help to pressure UK and European authorities to reduce regulatory burdens on natural health products:

Governments justify the increasingly elaborate and restrictive new laws affecting natural health products on grounds of public safety.

They argue that reducing consumer access to food supplements and herbal remedies, with the consequent negative impacts on small businesses manufacturing, distributing and selling such products, is in society’s interest.

But the evidence is simply not there – where are the bodies?

Also, adverse reactions to pharmaceutical drugs are 62,000 times more likely to kill a UK citizen than taking a food supplement, and 7,750 times more likely than herbal remedies.

While the ANH-Intl. makes clear that the data include only risk of acute death, rather than the risk of death from chronic, long-term exposure, or the risk of sublethal side effects, the overall pattern of risk from various activities continues to show that:

Food supplements are by far the safest group of substances consumed by humans.

Accordingly, the campaign group argues, in line with the good governance policies supported by the British and a number of other European governments, the available data can justify only a light-touch approach to the regulation of natural health products.

For further information, please contact:
Robert Verkerk PhD
Executive & Scientific Director
Alliance for Natural Health International
Email: info@anh-europe.org

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