During the last decade the use of alternative medicines, particularly herbal products, has increased considerably, according to background information in the article. Americans spent $4.2 billion on herbs and other botanical remedies in 2001, and their benefits are being cited more and more in the media.
Judith P. Kelly, M.S., from Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues examined data from phone interviews conducted from 1998 through 2002 in order to determine which dietary supplements Americans were using. The 8,470 study participants were asked to identify all over-the-counter and prescription drugs, along with dietary supplements taken during the preceding seven days.
The percentage of people using dietary supplements increased from 14.2 percent in 1998 1999 to 18.8 percent 2002, with a low of 12.3 percent in 2000 and a high of 19.8 percent in 2001. The percentage of people aged 45 to 64 years who took supplements increased by about half between 1998-1999 and 2001-2002. However, the use of Ginko biloba and Panax ginseng declined during the study period. Overall, supplement users were older, more likely to be female (59.9 vs. 55.5 percent) and white (80.7 vs. 75.6 percent). The use of lutein, a component of multivitamin products, increased in both men and women, with a prevalence of 0.3 percent, 0.5 percent, 6.6 percent, and 8.4 percent, respectively, in 1998-1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002.
"Our observations regarding lutein use were unexpected," the authors noted. This carotenoid antioxidant which it has been suggested may be protective against macular degeneration (an impo
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