Acknowledging that "any time you put something in your body you want to be cautious about it," Shao maintained that "the overwhelming majority of dietary supplements are well-made and safe, the scientific evidence supports that."
At the same time, people should be aware that "dietary supplements are not drugs and they shouldn't look forever for weight loss or performance benefit or some magic bullet when they take them," he said.
Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association, criticized the decision not to identify the product. "The failure to identify the exact product means that consumers who still have it in their homes are at risk," he said.
It's also a mistake to call the product a dietary supplement, McGuffin said. "I'll tell you what the FDA calls these," he said. "They call them illegal drugs. The fact that someone found one of these should not implicate every herbal product and every vitamin product as somehow being adulterated with drugs or not containing what it should. That's just not true."
Andrew Vickers, a research methodologist in the epidemiology department at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, called the report "very well-written and very compelling."
Both men in the report originally had low levels of prostate-specific antigen, a signal for prostate cancer "and then suddenly presented with widespread cancer within six months, which is unusual," Vickers said. "Clearly, these are very unusual cases, and there is appropriate concern with this agent."
The substance taken by the men apparently was one of a number of products being advertised as improving male sexual health, Vickers said. "They are presumably very widely used, but
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