NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The government issued a new warning Wednesday for people who take dietary supplements for an array of health reasons.

A report found many of the supplements make illegal and potentially dangerous claims.

Inspectors for the Department of Health and Human Services analyzed a sample of products, looking specifically at supplements for immune support or weight loss. They found that 20 percent made claims without scientific evidence, with some products going as far as to promise a cure for cancer or diabetes.

Experts said some of the claims on the label should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. Doctors also remind people that supplements are just that and do not take the place of good medicine.

“They make potentially dangerous claims,” said Dr. Michael Hansen of Consumer Reports. “People think they can take them and then they don’t need to go to the doctor or they don’t need to take regular medicine.”

However, some dietary supplement users  said the pills do, in some cases, help.

“I started feeling like I was going to get sick so I went immediately to my three immune-booster, sick-fighting supplements,” Pilates instructor Denise Posnak told CBS 2’s Alexis Christoforous.

Posnak said the supplements she takes do help and are just one aspect of her lifestyle.

“If you’re going to supplement, do your research. If you have time, read the studies,” Posnak told Christoforous.

Experts warn consumers that supplements do not go to the Food and Drug Administration for safety testing and health claims on the label are not pre-approved. Some safety experts have called for greater government oversight of dietary supplements.

It is estimated that dietary supplements bring in $20 billion in sales each year. One research group estimates 80 percent of adults take supplements.

The health department’s report did not name specific brands or products that are making these false claims, but the agency has appealed to the government to keep the supplement industry honest.

Do you take dietary supplements? Do you think they help? Offer your comments below…


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