The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on October 20, 1991 · Page 54
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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 54

Cincinnati, Ohio
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 20, 1991
Page 54
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Sunday, October 20, 1991 THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER FeaturesE-7 FDA ignores dietary supplements Gentlemen, start your mowers Lawn Rangers of Areola, 111., march through time BY MARIAN BURROS Dave Barry supplements daily, ranging from ordinary vitamins and minerals to products with names like bee pollen and coenzyme Q10. Most take the supplements because they believe they may not be getting enough nutrients from food or because some studies suggest that certain vitamins and minerals may prevent serious diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Most people assume supplements are regulated. In severe cases Since the mid-1970s there have been only two types of situations in which the FDA has taken action against a supplement: first, when illness or injury is traced to a supplement, and second, occasionally, when a supplement makes a questionable claim. In 1990, for example, the agency banned the sale of L-tryptophan, an amino acid, because 34 deaths and 1,500 illnesses were associat ed with taking the supplement. "If there is a safety problem demonstrated, if harm has occurred, the agency can step in," Kessler says. "But that's awfully reactive and one of the fundamental tenets of this agency is to prevent harm, not to deal with harm once it has occurred." It's not that the agency lacks enough authority to regulate dietary supplements; it lacks the will. In 1976, Congress curbed some of the agency's regulatory powers over the dosage of vitamins and minerals, and several court cases have blocked FDA actions. "All of that combined sent signals throughout the agency that we ought to cool it," says Gary Dyk-stra, the deputy associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. The result is that dietary supplements are not regulated like drugs, which must be approved as safe and effective before they can be marketed. The New York Times Americans take $3.3 billion worth of dietary supplements each year, but the Federal Food and Drug Administration has no idea whether they are safe or not. In fact, no one does. The agency, charged with regulating supplements just as it regulates food and drugs, has largely ignored the supplements for the last 15 years. "The public has to be aware that these products have not been regulated in any systematic way," the FDA commissioner, Dr. David A. Kessler, said. "We have not set any product standards, any manufacturing controls nor required any safety testing. If you walk into a health food store you have to recognize that we have not approved the safety of these products nor substantiated their claims." This information may shock the one in four Americans whom the government estimates take dietary Recently I had the honor of marching with the world-renowned Lawn Ranger precision power lawn mower drill team at the famous Areola Broom Corn Festival. Just in case you never heard of this famous event, let me explain that Areola is a town in Illinois, just north of Mattoon. Areola (slogan: "Amazing Areola") claims the proud distinction of having formerly been "one of the nation's top producers of broom corn, the primary ingredient in brooms." The town is still a major power in the broom industry. Each September Areola holds the Broom Corn Festival, featuring, among other events, a parade. For 11 years one of the key ing units has been the Lawn Rangers, who are considered by many observers who have had a couple of beers to be the finest precision lawn mower drill team in the world. A toast to immaturity When the Rangers invited me to march this year, I accepted eagerly, although I was concerned about being able to live up to the unit's high standards, as explained in this excerpt from the official Ranger newsletter, written by Ranger co-founder Pat Monahan: "As always, we will be living our motto, 'You're only young once, but you can always be immature.' This is a fine motto, but it can be carried to excess. Here I am thinking of Pee-wee Herman." On the day of the parade, Monahan picked me up at the Champaign, 111., airport and drove me through large quantities of agriculture to Areola. In addition to some nice grain elevators, Areola boasts the nation's largest collection of antique brooms and brushes, as well as an establishment called the French Embassy, which is a combination gourmet restaurant and 12-lane bowling alley. I swear I am not making any of this up. "Walking the Dog," which is when you hold your broom up while turning your lawn mower, in a circle; and "Cross and Toss," which is when you cross paths with another Ranger, then each of you tosses his broom to the other. These maneuvers require great precision, and we rookies were forced to train in the grueling sun for almost two full minutes before we could perform them to the Rangers' exacting standards. Finally it was time to march. We formed two columns, each of us wearing a cowboy hat and a Lone-Ranger-style mask. We were pushing a wide variety of customized lawn mowers, one of which had a toilet mounted on it. As we neared the main parade street, we stopped, gathered together, and put our hands into a huddle, where Monahan delivered an inspirational speech that beautifully summed up the meaning of Rangerhood: "Remember," he said, "you guys are NOT SHRINERS." A shining example to all Thus inspired, we turned down the parade route, went to the "Brooms Up" position and executed the Cross and Toss with total 100 flawless perfection except for a couple of guys dropping their brooms. Some onlookers were so awed by this electrifying spectacle that they almost fell down. When it was over I stood with my fellow Rangers, engaging in further mental preparation and accepting the compliments of the public ("Do you guys have JOBS?"). At that moment I knew that I was part of something special, something important, something that someday, I hope, can be controlled by medication. But until then, Amazing Areola, 111., will serve as a shining example of why America is what it is. Whatever that may be. OurExpertTReatment Can Make Vricose And SpiderVeins Disappear. En route Monahan explained the philosophy of the Lawn Rangers, which is that it is possible for a group of truly dedicated men to have a lot of fun, yet at the same time do absolutely nothing useful for society. The Rangers' arch-enemy marching organization is the Shriners, who engage in worthwhile activities and are therefore regarded by the Rangers as being dangerously responsible. Ranger Orientation took place in the garage of Ranger Ted Shields. About 50 Rangers were gathered around a keg, engaging in intensive mental preparation as well as "shanking," which is when you sneak up behind somebody and yank down his shorts. Next we had the annual business meeting, which I can't describe in a family newspaper except to say that at one point a Ranger, using a strategically placed ear of corn, gave a dramatic interpretation of the song "Shine On Harvest Moon" that will haunt me for the rest of my life. Then it was time for Rookie Camp. We rookies were each given a power lawn mower and a broom, and told to line up on the street, where we received intensive instruction in precision-drill maneuvers. A grueling drill "LISTEN UP, YOU GRAVY-SUCKERS!" shouted our Column Leaders, who carried long-handled toilet plungers to denote their rank. "ALL MANEUVERS WILL START WITH THE BROOMS-UP POSITION! THE BROOMS WILL ALWAYS COME UP ON THE CURB SIDE!" We learned two maneuvers: Only one facility in Cincinnati is dedicated exclusively to relieving the discomfort and appearance of varicose veins, spider veins, and related problems. 171 Reading FM Eit Ml K I I X 1-471 Liberty Si Eiil I ylljl nJ. T TO 2 E ' 1a SO 0" Selected Carole Custom Bedspreads, iD UOfflO JO Top Treatments, Draperies & More. '."' I; O '-mmmmf " J Y The Vein Center of Cincinnati, from its new location at 2055 Reading Road, uses the latest in vascular surgical procedures. 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