Some over-the-counter dietary supplements have been found to contain hormonal ingredients that speed up the development of colon cancer and also make important cancer-treating drugs less effective. The finding is the result of recent research conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and published in a recent edition of Clinical Cancer Research.
UT researchers began investigating the link between a particular supplement and prostate cancer progression when they inadvertently spotted similarities between two patients suffering from aggressive colon cancer who had each recently began consuming the same dietary supplement daily — one to develop stronger muscles and enhance his sexual performance, and the other to gain muscle mass.
Scientists analyzed the supplement, which is not identified in the study, and discovered that the products label listed ingredients which were not present, as well as contained ingredients which were not listed on the product label. The concentrations of ingredients which were present were also inaccurately listed. A hormone analysis of the supplement revealed the presence of testosterone as well as estradiol, a sex hormone that is a potent stimulator of cancer cell growth. In laboratory tests, scientists were unable to halt the progression of cancerous colon cell growth with conventional cancer drugs as long as the estradiol was present, indicating that patients who were being treated for colon cancer would likely receive no benefit from their treatment as long as they were also taking the dietary supplement. Further, the supplement would simultaneously speed the proliferation of cancerous cells.
As a result of the research, physicians filed an adverse event report with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which subsequently issued a warning letter to the manufacturers. Following receipt of the warning letter, the manufacturers removed the dietary supplement from the market.
Authors of the study warn that unlike prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements are not required to be tested for safety or efficacy before being released to the market, and that dietary supplement labels may or may not reflect the ingredients they actually contain. They also recommend that all physicians should question their patients regarding what dietary supplements they may be taking, in order to formulate a more complete and accurate assessment of their health.
Previously on the DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:
- Why dietary supplement and herbal remedy labels dont guarantee safety
- A new rule issued by the FDA to better regulate dietary supplements
- An FDA warning regarding steroidal dietary supplements
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