SAN DIEGO, Calif. - April 30, 2003 - A recent study commissioned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and conducted by the Rand Corporation found that the dangers posed by ephedra far outweigh any potential benefits it may have. The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s nonprofit fitness advocate, supports this study --- urging all Americans to avoid using ephedra-containing products and consult a physician before taking any dietary supplement.
Last year, consumers spent approximately $1.3 billion on ephedra products. Fitness enthusiasts have often consumed ephedra-based dietary supplements to enhance athletic performance and increase weight loss.
“Ephedra has been linked to many life-threatening side effects, even when taken at suggested dosages by presumably healthy individuals,” says Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist and vice president of educational services for ACE. “Exercise and the use of other stimulants like caffeine can exacerbate the adverse effects associated with ephedra use.”
In the May/June issue of Fitness Matters, the American Council on Exercise takes a look at the controversy surrounding ephedra for weight loss and performance enhancement. The cover story reveals the truth about ephedra and details the risks and side effects of its usage.
Poison control centers have reported almost 1,200 cases with side effects associated with ephedra use, while the Food and Drug Administration has linked the product to nearly 90 deaths and 1,500 reports of health problems including insomnia, heart palpitations, psychiatric and gastrointestinal effects, tremors and hyperactivity. The recent death of Baltimore Orioles’ pitcher Steve Bechler has served to highlight the significant health risk associated with ephedra use.
In spite of the mounting evidence, manufacturers of ephedra continue to insist that the herb can be used safely with very minimal side effects. The Ephedra Education Council claims banning ephedra would be ignoring a potential treatment for obesity. However, the Rand Corporation study indicates limited benefits associated with ephedra on short-term weight loss or physical performance.
The American Council on Exercise reminds the nation that the best way to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle is to incorporate regular exercise and well-balanced meals into daily regimens. According to Dr. Bryant, “It is important that individuals attempting to lose weight understand that there is no safer approach than regular exercise and sensible nutrition---unfortunately, for most Americans it’s a tougher “pill” to swallow.”
The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s Authority on Fitness, is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation’s “workout watchdog,” ACE sponsors university-based exercise science research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org