You'd have to be nuts to take this stuff

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Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 2.47.57 PMThe bad news is that people keep consuming products that they have been manipulated into believing will help them. But, not only do these products fail to meet expectations, sometimes the exact opposite is true harm instead of help.

The good news is that even though people have been harmed or killed by dietary supplements, the products and the companies that sell them have taken so many hits in the news, that people are starting to pay attention. And are learning what the industry is really about. Perhaps some good will come from this.

And, just like that, we have another doozie today something that will cause men to pay serious attention, if only because this involves what is perhaps the most vital organ to the male subspecies. Bet you ve already figured it out.

A new study from Brown University is going to hit men where it hurts not in the pocket but pretty nearby. As reported in the British Journal of Cancer, men who used certain bodybuilding supplements had a significantly higher rate of testicular cancer than those who did not.

Senior author Dr. Tongzhang Zheng, who conducted the study while he was an adjunct professor in epidemiology at Yale, said The observed relationship [between supplement use and testicular cancer] was strong. He also noted that If you used [the supplements] at earlier age, you had a higher risk. If you used them longer, you had a higher risk. If you used multiple types, you had a higher risk.

How high was the risk? Too high.

Zheng and his group interviewed nearly 900 men from Connecticut and Massachusetts 356 who had testicular cancer and 513 who did not. After correcting for confounders (smoking, drinking, exercise habits, others), they found that men who had used certain supplements had a 65 percent increased risk of developing testicular cancer.

The study also revealed several instances of dose-dependence an important factor in determining whether study results are real, or simply an artifact of poor data collection and analysis.

For example, that risk jumped to 2.77-fold (a 177 percent increase) in men who used more than one supplement, and 2.56-fold in men who took supplements for more than three years.

Regarding the validity of the conclusions, ACSH advisor and uber-statistician Dr. Stan Young says, There is reasonable evidence of a possible problem. Some of the risk ratios are larger than 2. Longer use seems an important risk factor. Use of multiple products also increases risk and, which could be due to the producer slipping in some steroids into the product. In other words, not half bad.

ACSH s Dr. Bloom, whose recent piece What the hell is GNC selling now? was a scathing commentary on the chaos of sometimes contradictory policies by different government agencies says, Duh. People can walk into a drugstore, supplement shop or supermarket, and walk out with a bottle of DHEA (aka Dehydroepiandrostenedione). Note the part of the name that is italicized. This is a dead giveaway that this supplement is a steroid sex hormone. Although it is endogenous (produced in the body) this does not mean that taking more of it is smart or safe.

He continues, DHEA, as is the case with many hormones, has multiple effects in the body. It is an anabolic steroid (builds muscle) and if someone wants to explain to me why this should be sold next to Flinstones Vitamins, I'm willing to listen. DHEA also has both androgenic and estrogenic properties (the misguided chemophobes who worry about touching cash register receipts because they contain a little BPA might want to note this). Taking this drug is similar to testosterone replacement therapy. You better do it carefully. If you take it orally (which you cannot legally do, since the FDA rejected it in 2104) your risk of heart disease and liver cancer becomes elevated.

So, here at ACSH, it s same old, same old. Another one bites the dust. Keep in mind that dietary supplements are supposed to, according to the FDA help ensure that you get an adequate dietary intake of essential nutrients; others may help you reduce your risk of disease.

Too bad this story didn't break 13 days ago. It would have been much more appropriate on on April Fools day. We'd hate for the joke to be at the expense of men who may have to have their testicles surgically removed. Not all that funny, is it?