New study shows that a growing number of adults and older adults are unknowingly risking their life by combining prescription drugs (and over the counter meds.) with supplements.
Statics showed that in the period from 2006 to 2011 the percentage of US adults (62 to 85 years) that took 5 or more supplements or medications rose almost 14 points – from 53 to 67%.
In a bid to increase their health millions of Americans are consuming botanical, animal and herbal supplements, not knowing that some of them can interfere with a wide range of prescription drugs used for treating everything from blood pressure, to depression, to cancer.
The problem is that certain supplements could interrupt and potentially stop the enzymes ability to break down a drug and clear it from the body, which can lead to overdose. In other cases, supplements increase the speed at which the drug is consumed by the body, making it ineffective.
One example of this is the blood thinner Warafarin, which in combination with omega-3 oils, one of the bestselling supplements, in certain cases has adverse effect of increasing the risk of bleeding.
Other example is Echinacea, herb taken for immunity boost, which is confirmed that affects the certain chemotherapy drugs, now could be linked to reducing effectiveness of drugs against breast cancer. Effectiveness of breast cancer drugs could also be limited for patients that consume kava supplement, which is used for reliving anxiety and treating sleep problems.
As a group, botanicals could interfere with drug metabolization in the stomach, liver and intestines.
K. Simon Yeung, a doctor of pharmacy and herbalist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, explains that although in small quantities, for example for cooking, herbs are safe, when they are concentrated in pills, and consumed regularly over time, they have negative effects, like in the cases of postoperative hemorrhage triggered by use of garlic supplements.
Dr. Malcom Tae, director of the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine-Westlake Village in Los Angeles, recommends to the patients that instead of taking supplement, they should eat food rich with the ingredients they are trying to consume thru the supplements.