US supplement users have healthier habits

Data from a series of annual online customer surveys on the prevalence of dietary supplement use in the USA has been published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Entitled Consumer Usage and Reasons for Using Dietary Supplements: Report of a Series of Surveys, the article looks at data recorded between 2007 and 2011 by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), who contracted with Ipsos Public Affairs to conduct the surveys.

According to the article, “dietary supplement use is somewhat more prevalent in the United States than has been reported in the NHANES surveys...Most dietary supplement users take a multivitamin, and many take a variety of products.  The primary reasons given for supplement use are for overall health and wellness or to fill nutrient gaps.  Users of dietary supplements are more likely than nonusers to adopt a variety of healthy habits, indicating that supplement use is part of an overall approach to living healthy”.

Vermont racing to the finish post to enforce GM labelling

The US state of Vermont Senate has passed a bill, by 28 votes to 2, for mandatory labelling of foods produced or partially produced with "genetic engineering".  If the House of Representatives approves the changes to the bill, the law is set to take effect on 1st July 2016.  Falko Schilling from the Vermont Public Interest Research Group said, "We are really excited that Vermont is going to be leading on this."  Karen Batra, spokeswoman for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, has said that mandatory labelling will create needless extra costs and complications for farmers and the food industry. The usual backlash is expected from the biotech industry in the form of a lawsuit, the value of which some observers estimate at $8 million.

UK Government green lights GM Camelina omega-3 trials

In a predictable move, the highly pro-genetic modification (GM) UK government has given the go-ahead for field trials of GM oilseed Camelina sativa. The trials will be performed by the controversial Rothamsted Research.  The plants have been genetically engineered to produce the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in their seed oils.  According to the UK government, the plants have been modified “through the introduction of the biosynthetic genes for these fatty acids.  Such genes are normally only found in marine microbes such as microalgae and diatoms and some oomycetes and lower plants”.  EPA and DHA are essential fatty acids, popular as supplements, are naturally found in fish oil.  Rothamsted Research argue that the GM Camelina plant will be a ‘more sustainable’ future source of EPA and DHA, but many think otherwise – especially since two varieties conventionally bred to produce omega-3 oils already exist.

The “small-scale” trial is scheduled to begin this spring and will continue until 2017, with the first harvest due this autumn.

Former Merck doctor blows whistle on Gardasil scandal

Dr. Bernard Dalbergue, a former employee of pharma giant, Merck, said without hesitation in an interview that “Gardasil will be the biggest scandal in medical history.  The full extent of the Gardasil scandal needs to be assessed.  Everyone knew when this vaccine was released on the American market that it would prove to be worthless.”  In the interview with French magazine Principe de Santé (Health Principles), the doctor also spoke about Marcia Angell, former head of the respected New England Journal of Medicine, who left her job due to her belief that the pharmaceutical industry manipulates and controls the publication of clinical research.  Dr Dalbergue also mentioned other products proven to have serious side effects about which the pharmaceutical industry has deceived the public. When asked why Gardasil isn’t just withdrawn from the market, his answer was short: “There is far too much financial interest for these medicines to be withdrawn.”

Diabetes doubles over two decades

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has shown that the prevalence of diabetes in the US has almost doubled in the last 20 years.  When measuring glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) to define undiagnosed diabetes, prediabetes and, among persons with diagnosed diabetes, glycaemic control, the studyshows that the number has risen from 5.8% in 1988–94 to 12.4% in 2005–10. However, it also shows a decrease in the number of undiagnosed diabetes cases, suggesting improvements in screening and diagnosis.

EFSA striving to get the science right

“Our first priority is to get the science right.” This bold statement comes from Dr Bernhard Url, the man who is likely to become the next executive director of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) after Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle.  He continues, “We need the best experts, methodology and data” so that EFSA remains “at the cutting edge of risk assessment.”  EFSA has, in the past, been criticised for having major conflicts of interest, but Dr Url claims that “EFSA in 2014 does not have a problem with conflict of interest, more with perceived conflicts of interest.” In the article, Dr Url also assures EU parliamentarians that greater transparency has never been more important, and is certainly the way forward in addressing issues.

Lithuania bans 182 botanicals

Lithuania is set to ban 182 botanicals.  A list has been sent to the European Commission which, while it contains some herbs that are considered toxic, also contains popular herbs such as St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) and Ashwagandha/Indian ginseng (Withania somnifera).  The move has been criticised by large herbal players, who described it as a “step back in harmonisation and free trade in the European Union”.  Director of scientific and regulatory affairs at Food Supplements Europe (FSE), Patrick Coppens, protested that “some of these plants are widely used in food supplements today and should therefore not be banned without clear safety-based reasons.”  However, Coppens also observed that the EU's Mutual Recognition Regulation could force Lithuania’s hand with the more commonly and widely used herbs.

ANH-Europe Homepage