Dietary Supplements May Interfere with Effectiveness of Prescriptions

New research indicates many of the daily dietary supplements taken by millions of Americans interfere with the effectiveness of their prescription medications, especially cancer drugs.

Dietary supplements can interfere with prescription drugs because they contain the same active ingredients, and work to reduce the effectiveness of prescription drugs, or may make the drugs more toxic. Dietary supplements can negatively affect anxiety and cholesterol medicines, blood thinners, and medicines used for radiation treatment, in addition to cancer drugs.

The research shows people are not purposefully hiding this information but simply neglect to tell their doctors they are taking dietary supplements because they believe supplements are harmless. Many people believe “natural” means “safe”, and supplements will always improve their health, but Dr. Wendy Chen of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute bluntly rejects that notion: “Just because something’s natural doesn’t mean that it’s safe.”

Consumer advocates are calling on the FDA to regulate dietary supplements, which are not regulated by any entity but operate in a “West Wild” environment without standardized manufacturing practices and labeling requirements to ensure consumer safety.

To keep yourself and your loved ones safe, the best practice is to keep an updated list of any and all prescription medications and dietary supplements and to communicate these regularly to your primary healthcare provider and to your pharmacy. Most of us carry smartphones and we recommend keeping an updated list of all prescriptions and dietary supplements, their dosages, and how often you take them, on your phone for easy access and ready communication with others involved in your healthcare.