Thursday, December 03, 2015
Doctor's Perspective The dangers of supplements

By Dr. Anthony Policastro Many professional athletes - football players, baseball players, track stars, cyclists and more - have been punished for using performance enhancing drugs. Adolescents often think these supplements are a good thing. They are convinced of this through several sources. One source includes the companies that sell the products. Using supplements is a big time business. You can bet that the companies are not in it to benefit the athlete. They are in it to benefit their bottom line. They made $38 billion in 2014. Sometimes coaches encourage the use of supplements. As a matter of fact, 58% of high school athletes use some kind of supplement. Coaches think that if their players do better, then it reflects positively upon them. You might wonder how positive it is for a coach to be encouraging their athletes to do something stupid. What is of more concern is that some parents encourage their children to use supplements. It is surprising how many parents do this kind of thing. This is less a case of parents asking their children to do something stupid and more about the parent being stupid. This is a form of child abuse. The number of supplements that are available is large. Supplements include anabolic steroids, human testosterone and its derivatives, creatine, ephedrine, amino acids, protein supplements and beta blockers. These supplements all have a few things in common. Because they are not actually drugs, they are not strictly regulated which means that they do not have to be proven to be safe or effective. The manufacturers do not have to adhere to any standards. The result is that anyone who purchases these supplements does not really have a clue as to what they are getting. The supplements may contain impurities, dangerous substances and/or be contaminated. No one checks for that. Of even more concern is that every one of these supplements has side effects. Like most medications not everyone who uses them experiences the side effects. However, if you happen to be one of the individuals that do, it can create significant problems. Some people might think it is still worth the effort despite all of these drawbacks. The problem is that some of these things do not work at all. Others work better in some people than they do in others. The result is that users take drugs that may or may not work. They may have significant side effects. They are not regulated so people do not really know what they are taking. The ones who really benefit from this are the companies who are making money from it. Even professional athletes have been foolish enough to use supplements. Not only are they potentially harming their body, they are also potentially harming their career. This offers one more example of how people can sometimes do things that make no sense in search of something that they might not attain anyway.

New Healthier Sussex campaign Healthier Sussex County seeks to "Motivate the First State" with an interactive, online, activity log that benefits the health of community members and the financial well-being of local charities. The new campaign is part of the Healthier Sussex County collaboration between community members, Bayhealth Milford Memorial, Beebe Healthcare, and Nanticoke Health Services with a mission to make Sussex County one of the healthiest in the nation. Motivate the First State is championed by Delaware Governor Jack Markell who has challenged the First State to walk a total of one million miles. When you track your healthy activities - everything from jogging around the block to brushing your teeth at night - you are directly helping organizations that make positive impacts throughout the First State.

For every activity you log, a monetary donation will be made on your behalf to charities including the Boys and Girls Club of Delaware, YMCA of Delaware, and Special Olympics Delaware. The Motivate the First State information and sign-up can be found at To participate, create a Plus3 account. Once you receive a confirmation email, the link provided will place you in the Motivate the First State Clubhouse where you can select the Healthier Sussex County team. When your account is created, log onto the portal and record your activities. Participants may select pre-set activity descriptions or upload data from their Fitbit, smartphone or GPS. If you join the Healthier Sussex County team and log 15 or more activities during the month of December, you will be entered for a chance to win a $50 Visa Gift card. For more information about Healthier Sussex County, visit

Weight Loss Seminars Nanticoke Physician Network General and Bariatric Surgery will host free weight loss seminars on Wednesday, Dec. 9 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 19 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. These seminars are designed to provide education to individuals considering weight loss surgery to help them make informed decisions on whether surgery is an appropriate option. The weight loss seminars will consist of presentations by Dr. Tarek Waked to inform individuals about the many benefits of weight loss surgery. Patients and their spouses, family members or friends are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. For more information about this seminar or about weight loss surgery, contact Shelly Geis at 629-6611, ext. 8810.

Bariatric Support Group Nanticoke Physician Network General & Bariatric Surgery will host a bariatric support group from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 17, at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in the Medical Staff Conference Room. This free group is designed to provide education and support to patients before and after their bariatric weight loss surgery. Meetings will consist of guest speakers and presentations to provide useful information about nutrition, supplements, exercise and behavior modifications. Patients and their spouses, family members and friends are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. For more information, contact Shelly Geis at 629-6611, ext. 8810.

Hospice Lunch Bunch Lecture "Resiliency: The Art of Bouncing Back" will be the topic of Delaware Hospice's Lunch Bunch Lecture with Dr. Judy Pierson on Friday, Dec. 11. Resiliency is the ability to overcome challenges of all kinds - the loss of a loved one, a traumatic experience, a breakup, etc. It is not the denial of adversity but a way of moving through it that allows you to regain your footing in life. While most people adapt over time, some seem to be able to master challenges more effectively. Learn the resiliency strategies used by those who fair better and build your own personal skills for enduring hardship. Lunch, which is $5 per person, is from noon to 12:30 p.m. The free presentation is from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome. Registration is required as seating is limited. Register by Thursday, Dec. 10, by contacting Michele August at 302-746-4503 or