Trying to stay on top of wellness and health news and events can be overwhelming. It’s a lot to digest (pun intended). We saved you the trouble. Here are 7 things you need to know from February + March, WellBe-style.
What: In February, the FDA Chief issued a statement announcing a complete overhaul in the way that the FDA approves supplements. The following month, he announced his resignation.
The Details: The FDA describes its change in approach regarding supplements as “one of the most significant modernizations of dietary supplement regulation and oversight in more than 25 years.” The last major development came in 1994, when Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act in order to regulate dietary supplements. But since that time, the supplement industry has exploded, going from a $4 billion industry with about 4,000 unique products to a $40 billion industry with more than 50,000 products. This is partly due to advances in science that allow the development of new supplements, but it’s also a lot of garbage-hawkers looking to capitalize on a booming market. These new regulations are meant to protect consumers and crack down on bad actors using misleading claims to market products that are ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. Think fat-burning diet caffeine pills…
Just over three weeks after issuing the statement announcing this overhaul, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigned. He’s said to be leaving the agency on good terms, and is proud of the advances he’d made during his tenure, including lowering pharmaceutical costs and setting in motion this new supplement regulation, but we’re still curious about this sudden resignation…
Why Does This Matter for My Health? Three out of four American consumers takes a supplement on a regular basis — and the number rises to four out of five for older Americans — so, chances are, supplements are a part of your life. Because you can buy supplements anywhere, sans prescription, you’re often making your supplement choices based off of marketing or the anecdotal advice from a friend (or maybe an Instagram ad?), which means you could very likely be ending up with products that don’t work or even cause harm. These new regulations will (hopefully!) make it so that you’re getting access to high quality, pure, effective supplements and aren’t being duped with brilliantly marketed but useless supplements.
The WellBe Takeaway: We’re always wary to recommend supplements unless they are verified by some third party or are recommended by health professionals. It’s promising to hear that the FDA is going to take a similar approach — but we’re definitely going to keep doing our research before we incorporate any new supplements into our routine.
What: A new study suggests that HPV could be the cause of a recent increase in vocal cord cancer among young nonsmokers.
The Details: For the past 150 years, cancer of the vocal cords (aka glottic cancer) has been a disease that almost exclusively afflicts smokers over the age of 40. But recently, that has been shifting, to the point where 50% of glottic cancer cases today occur in nonsmokers, and more and more frequently in younger patients.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital may have pinpointed the reason for this change: in a recent study, they looked at the records of 353 patients treated for vocal cord cancer between 1990 and 2018. None of the 112 patients treated from 1990-2004 were 30 or younger, but 11 of the patients treated from 2004-2018 were — and, notably, only three of these 11 were smokers. After analyzing tumor tissue samples from these 11 patients, they found that all but one of them had high-risk strains of HPV.
Why Does This Matter for My Health? Though this study doesn’t prove that HPV causes vocal cord cancer, the results are striking. And because HPV is so common (about 80 percent of sexually active people are affected at some point in their lives) this is cause for concern.
The WellBe Takeaway: We’re going to keep an eye on this line of r