The regulation of dietary supplements is again making headlines after Houston Texan Duane Brown said he didn’t realize the supplements he was taking contained banned ingredients.
The tackle tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, the NFL announced Tuesday. He was suspended for four games including Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. It’s a mistake that will cost Brown one fourth of his salary.
Houston Texans tackle Eric Winston, who says he does not take supplements, addressed the topic during an interview on Sports Radio 610.
“A lot of people, I don’t think, understand how easy it is, the whole supplement industry is so non-regulated,” said Winston. “They can say it is whatever it is and it can be something so different.
“We are disappointed that Duane Brown has been suspended,” said Texans GM Rick Smith. “Our players have to understand they are responsible for what goes into their bodies and that they take risks anytime they use a supplement not approved by the NFL.”
Smith said the Texans’ coaching staff regularly reminds players about the dangers of supplements and the risks associated with taking non-approved products.
In most cases, manufacturers do not need FDA approval before producing or selling dietary supplements. It’s up to the manufacturer to make sure the information on the label is truthful and not misleading.
“We’re missing the regulation, we’re missing the warning, we’re missing the instructions and we’re missing basically missing consumer awareness of what the product is,” said Houston attorney Jason Gibson.
Gibson has filed more than a dozen lawsuits against manufacturers of dietary supplements.
He says many of his clients ended up in the hospital with liver problems after taking certain supplements.
“It’s equivalent to having a severe case of hepatitis where your liver shuts down,” he said. “People are able to go buy those products over the counter, on-line, and take them thinking they’re good and safe because they’re legal to buy, when in fact, they’re anabolic steroids that can be very harmful for you.”
Dr. Larry Lipshultz, professor of urology at the Baylor College of Medicine, says he has treated several teens that have come to him after using certain dietary supplements.
“It’s a huge problem because the manufacturers don’t have to necessarily list all the contents,” said Lipshultz. “What I’ve seen among the high school boys is they come in with Gynecomastia, which is swelling of the breasts in men. They come in with no testosterone of their own, literally, because the over-the-counter medication has turned off their own natural production.”
The FDA is responsible for taking action against any unsafe supplement after it hits the market.
Houston trainer Randy Winfrey says you need to educate yourself about the products you’re taking.
“There are plenty of dietary supplements, some vitamins and protein powders that are what they say they are and do help, but you need to educate yourself because some companies don’t list all of the ingredients,” said Winfrey.