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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 98, Issue 5, pp 383–388 | Cite as

The Use of Herbal and Other Non-vitamin, Non-mineral Supplements among Pre- and Post-menopausal Women in Ontario

  • Katayoon Pakzad
  • Beatrice A. BoucherEmail author
  • Nancy Kreiger
  • Michelle Cotterchio
Article

Abstract

Background

Herbal or other non-vitamin, non-mineral (NVNM) supplements are used by many Canadians, and are of public health significance given potential health effects. The majority of supplement users are women, yet there are limited data on their pattern of use. Ontario women were surveyed about their use of NVNM supplements, including those for women’s health, and characteristics associated with use were examined.

Methods

3,423 randomly selected Ontario households were telephoned to identify eligible women (25–65 years). Of the 1,741 identified, 800 agreed to participate and were mailed a self-administered questionnaire querying NVNM supplement use and healthrelated characteristics. Prevalence of use, duration, and reasons for use were calculated; distributions of respondent characteristics were tabulated and associations with supplement use were assessed.

Results

478 women (27%) completed questionnaires; 64% reported ever, and 34% reported current use of NVNM supplements. Echinacea was the most frequently used, followed by evening primrose, garlic, and camomile; supplements were used for less than one year. Alleviation of symptoms and prevention of illness were two primary reasons for taking NVNM supplements. 49% reported ever, and 37% reported current use of supplements for women’s health, and for reasons similar to other NVNM supplements. High body mass index (≥30.0 kg/m2) was associated with more supplement use, and visiting a physiotherapist in the past year was associated with less.

Conclusion

Findings suggest a high level of NVNM supplement use among Ontario women, possibly associated with certain health-related characteristics. This has important public health implications considering possible benefits and/or interactions with conventional medications.

MeSH terms

Dietary supplements plants medicinal phytoestrogens nutrition surveys Canada women’s health 

Résumé

Contexte

De nombreux Canadiens prennent des plantes médicinales et autres compléments nonvitaminiques non-minéraux (CNVNM). Le phénomène est d’importance pour la santé publique en raison des effets possibles de ces suppléments sur la santé. La majorité des consommateurs de suppléments sont des femmes, mais on manque de données sur leurs habitudes de consommation. Nous avons sondé les Ontariennes sur leur consommation de CNVNM, y compris les produits de santé des femmes, et analysé les caractéristiques associées à la prise de ces suppléments.

Méthode

Nous avons téléphoné à 3 423 ménages ontariens sélectionnés au hasard pour repérer des femmes admissibles (de 25 à 65 ans). Sur les 1 741 femmes répertoriées, 800 ont accepté de participer au sondage; nous leur avons posté un questionnaire à remplir soi-même, comportant des questions sur leur consommation de CNVNM et leur état de santé. Nous avons calculé la prévalence, la durée et les raisons de la prise de CNVNM, réparti les répondantes selon leur profil de santé et évalué les associations de ces variables avec la prise de suppléments.

Résultats

Des questionnaires ont été remplis par 478 femmes (27 %); 64 % ont déclaré avoir déjà pris des CNVNM, et 34 % ont dit le faire actuellement. Le supplément le plus populaire était l’échinacée, suivi de l’oenothère, de l’ail et de la camomille, et les suppléments étaient pris sur une période inférieure à un an. Les répondantes prenaient principalement des CNVNM pour soulager des symptômes et pour prévenir des maladies. Quarante-neuf p. cent (49 %) des répondantes ont dit avoir déjà pris des produits de santé des femmes, et 37 % ont dit le faire actuellement. Les raisons invoquées étaient les mêmes que pour les autres CNVNM. Un indice de masse corporelle élevé (≥30 kg/m2) était associé à une forte consommation de suppléments, tandis que la consultation d’un physiothérapeute au cours de l’année antérieure était associée à une consommation plus faible.

Conclusion

Les Ontariennes font une consommation élevée de CNVNM, et ces niveaux de consommation pourraient être associés à certaines caractéristiques de santé. Ceci pourrait avoir d’importantes répercussions de santé publique étant donné les avantages possibles de ces produits et/ou leurs interactions éventuelles avec les médicaments classiques.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katayoon Pakzad
    • 1
  • Beatrice A. Boucher
    • 2
    Email author
  • Nancy Kreiger
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Michelle Cotterchio
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Nutritional SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Division of Preventive OncologyCancer Care OntarioTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Public Health SciencesUniversity of TorontoCanada

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