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Consumer Reports Issues Alert on Twelve Dietary Supplements

Consumer Reports recently identified a dozen supplements that it says government warnings, adverse-event reports, and top experts make them too dangerous to be on the market. According to Consumer Reports, American consumers spent roughly $76 million in 2002 for just 3 of these supplements: androstenedione, kava, and yohimbe, the only ones for which sales figures were available according to the Nutrition Business Journal, which tracks the supplement industry. Some of the supplements may cause serious health problems, including:


* Aristolochic acid with side effects including kidney failure severe enough to sometimes require transplant and death.


* Yohimbe that is linked to heart and respiratory problems.


* Bitter orange, an herbal similar in its active ingredients to ephedra, a weight-loss supplement that was recently banned.


* Also included in the Consumer's Union list are the herbals chaparral, comfrey, germander, kava, and skullcap, all of which are known or likely causes of liver failure; lobella, which may have adverse effects on the heart; and pennyroyal oil, which may cause liver, kidney, and nerve damage.



Walnuts Get New Health Claim

Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) affirmed that this new health claim for walnuts was acceptable: "Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces per day of walnuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. See nutrition information for fat content." This decision came in response to a petition filed by the California Walnut Commission.


Although walnuts' ability to reduce cholesterol seems to be at the heart of their health benefits, they also contain other vitamins, minerals, protein, and antioxidants.