For Study Hall each week, we sort through the deluge of new medical studies and wordy white papers to bring you one that deserves your attention—in plain, healthy English.
Attention vegans and vegetarians: A new study published online in the Postgraduate Medical Journal found that many people who avoid eating animal products unknowingly take pills that contain gelatin, derived from collagen in animal skin, bones, and connective tissue.
The study: Researchers from the U.K. surveyed 500 urology patients about their dietary preferences and whether they would take medications that contained animal products. (Previous studies have shown that urology drugs often contain gelatin.) They also asked the patients if they would question their doctor about animal ingredients in pills.
The results: Of the patients polled, 176 said that they preferred medication made with vegetable products, and 43 percent of those 176 said they that would not knowingly take a pill made with animal products. (The other 57 percent said they would take a pill containing animal products if no other alternative existed.)
The most surprising fact? Of the people who preferred vegetarian pills, only about 20 percent said they’d ask their doctor or pharmacist if their treatment contained animal products.
What it means: Speak up, vegetarians! Just like you’d ask a waiter if the soup of the day is made with chicken stock, ask your doctor whether or not your prescribed medication contains gelatin. If it does, there may be an alternative. —Allison Becker
Should prescription labels (or your MD) identify animal-based ingredients in your meds? Tell us your thoughts in the Comments, below!