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U.S. consumers spending almost $34 billion on alternative health.

Americans spent almost $34 billion out-of-pocket on complementary and alternative medicine in 2007, when nearly 40 percent of adults used such treatments, according to a recent federal study.

The July study, based on 2007 National Health Interview Survey data, found an estimated $22 billion of the money spent went to self-care costs, with the majority going to the purchase of non-vitamin, non-mineral, natural products such as fish oil, glucosamine and echinacea. U.S. adults also spent an estimated $11.9 billion on more than 350 million visits to practitioners such as acupuncturists and chiropractors.

The money spent on products equals about one-third the total U.S. out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs, according to the survey.

"With so many Americans using and spending money on complementary and alternative medicine therapies, it is extremely important to know whether the products and practices they use are safe and effective," said Josephine P. Briggs, MD, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The survey found almost 12 percent of children, or 8.5 million children and teens younger than 18, use complementary and alternative medicine. The 2007 estimates update a 1997 telephone survey that put complementary and alternative medicine costs at $27 billion.

The survey, "Costs of Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Frequency of Visits to CAM Practitioners: United States, 2007," which was published in the July 30 National Health Statistics Reports are available at http://nccam.nih.gov/news/camstats/costs.
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Title Annotation:The NATION: Health news at the national and federal levels
Publication:The Nation's Health
Date:Oct 1, 2009
Words:241
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