NPA calls on NY AG to provide banned supplement data
WASHINGTON — The Natural Products Association on Tuesday revisited its call to the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to release the study data that served as the scientific basis behind a request to four retailers — GNC, Target, Walmart and Walgreens — to remove a number of herbal supplements from its shelves.
"It's been three weeks since the attorney general asked retailers to remove products from their shelves without sharing the study data," noted Daniel Fabricant, NPA CEO and executive director. "The Natural Products Association has serious concerns over the scientific basis for that recall. It has been more than a week since the winds of change from the attorney general focused attention away from DNA in botanical extracts and toward structure/function claims for ingredients with established science behind them," he said. "These actions set a dangerous precedent not just for dietary supplement retailers but for the entire retail market, including manufacturers and ingredient suppliers. If actions such as this are permitted, they will surely branch out to other commodities and industries."
The New York State Attorney General recently expanded his inquiry into the manufacture of herbal supplements to several manufacturers, including Pharmavite, NBTY, Nature's Way Products and Nutraceutical Corp., according to an Associated Press report.
"The scientific community, public health officials, and others have raised serious doubt about the steps taken to ensure the safety and efficacy of the herbal dietary supplements taken daily by millions of Americans," Schneiderman said in his letter, according to the report. "As part of a broader investigation, NYAG is reviewing the sufficiency of the measures manufacturers and retailers are taking to independently assess the validity of their representations and advertising in connection with the sale of herbal supplements."
All of the information the attorney general is requesting from manufacturers can be accessed by the Food and Drug Administration, said Fabricant, former director of the Division of Dietary Supplement Programs at the FDA. "The federal government is fully equipped to regulate dietary supplements, and goes to great lengths to ensure consumer and public health is protected. If the FDA finds issues with manufacturers, it swiftly and resolutely takes action against those firms. In my time at the agency, we were not shy about going after those who put consumers at risk," he said.
"It is perplexing as to why Attorney General Schneiderman continues to use resources to address dietary supplement matters, which do not fall within his authority and are already handled by the regulators within the federal government. The attorney general seems more motivated by generating headlines and plaintiff's cases than by protecting the public health," Fabricant added.
Study: Strong link between low vitamin D levels and diabetes
WASHINGTON — People who have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have diabetes, regardless of how much they weigh, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism on Monday.
The results help clarify the connection between vitamin D, obesity and diabetes. According to the Society’s Scientific Statement on the Non-skeletal Effects of Vitamin D, studies have found that people who have low levels of vitamin D are more likely to be obese. They also are more likely to have Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome than people with normal vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and maintain bone and muscle health. The skin naturally produces this vitamin after exposure to sunlight. People also absorb smaller amounts of the vitamin through foods, such as milk fortified with vitamin D. More than 1 billion people worldwide are estimated to have deficient levels of vitamin D due to limited sunshine exposure.
“The major strength of this study is that it compares vitamin D levels in people at a wide range of weights (from lean to morbidly obese subjects) while taking whether they had diabetes into account,” stated one of the study’s authors, Mercedes Clemente-Postigo, of Instituto de Investigación Biomédica de Málaga at Complejo Hospitalario de Málaga (Virgen de la Victoria) and Universidad de Málaga in Malaga, Spain.
The cross-sectional study compared vitamin D biomarkers in 118 participants at the university hospital Virgen de la Victoria in Malaga as well as 30 participants from the Hospital Universitari Dr. Josep Trueta in Girona, Spain. All participants were classified by their body-mass index, as well as whether they had diabetes, prediabetes or no glycemic disorders. Researchers measured levels of vitamin D in the participants’ blood streams and vitamin D receptor gene expression in adipose tissue.
The analysis found that obese subjects who did not have glucose metabolism disorders had higher levels of vitamin D than diabetic subjects. Likewise, lean subjects with diabetes or another glucose metabolism disorder were more likely to have low levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D levels were directly correlated with glucose levels, but not with BMI.
“Our findings indicate that vitamin D is associated more closely with glucose metabolism than obesity,” said one of the study’s authors, Manuel Macías-González, of Complejo Hospitalario de Málaga (Virgen de la Victoria) and the University of Málaga. “The study suggests that vitamin D deficiency and obesity interact synergistically to heighten the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. The average person may be able to reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough outdoor activity.”
CDC: Flu season still going strong in several areas across the U.S.
ATLANTA — Incidence of flu may be trending down, but there are still some influenza hot spots across the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday. Nationwide for the week ended Feb. 14, 3.2% of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to influenza-like illness. The percentage remains above the national baseline of 2%.
ILI activity levels were particularly pronounced across the South and in New York and Nevada.
A total of 12 states and Puerto Rico experienced high ILI activity for the week. In addition to New York and Nevada, those states included Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia.
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