Consumer Health Digest #01-42

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 15, 2001


Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.


Canadian chiropractor sued after child paralyzed. On July 19, 2001, Canadian stock car racer Alan Turner filed a lawsuit charging that a chiropractor paralyzed his 11-year-old son by manipulating his neck and back. The lawsuit states that in July 2000, the boy developed chest pains while swimming and was taken to the chiropractor's office, where his neck and back were manipulated that day and the day afterward. Following the second treatment, the boy lost use of his legs and bladder function and was rushed to a hospital. Subsequent investigation revealed that the problem was a benign spinal cord tumor that had been damaged and bled, causing permanent paralysis of his legs, weakness of one hand, and poor bowel and bladder control. [Benedetti P, MacPhail W. Chiropractor sued after child paralyzed Family seeks $2.75 million for 11-year-old son. Canoe Web site, Oct 15, 2001] Additional details are available on Chirobase.


Spinal manipulation fails to improve scoliotic curve. Researchers at two chiropractic colleges found that chiropractic intervention had no discernible effect on the scoliotic curves of children ages 6 to 12.. The study involved 42 children who were treated for a year with full-spine manipulation. Some of the children were also treated with heel lifts, postural counseling, and/or lifestyle counseling. The scoliotic curves ranged from 6 to 20 degrees. The authors stated that although case reports abound, this was the first published clinical trial of the effect of chiropractic treatment on adolescent scoliosis. [Lantz CA, Chen J. Effect of chiropractic intervention on small scoliotic curves in younger subjects: A time-series cohort design. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 24:385-393, 2001]


Adoptive mother sentenced in "rebirthing" death. Jeane Newmaker, whose adopted child Candace died during "rebirthing therapy," has pleaded guilty to criminally negligent child abuse and been sentenced to four years' probation and ordered to complete 400 hours of community service. [Sleeven C. Woman pleads guilty in daughter's 'rebirthing' therapy death. Associated Press, Oct 11, 2001] The two primary "therapists," who in April were convicted of reckless child abuse leading to death, have been sentenced to 16 years in Colorado state prison but are appealing the verdict. Two others who assisted during the procedure (Jack McDaniel and Brita St. Clair), have received 10 years' probation after pleading guilty to negligent child abuse resulting in death. [Banda PS. Two assistants plead guilty in rebirthing trial. Associated Press, Oct 5, 2001.] Evidence presented during the trial showed that Candace was tortured for eight days and was finally suffocated during a "treatment" that supposedly would enable her to bond with her adoptive mother.


Antioxidants not found effective in preventing cataracts. A study of supplementation with high doses of vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene has found no apparent effect among well-nourished adults on the risk of development or progression of age-related lens cataracts or loss of vision. The patients were adults ages 55 to 80 who were followed for an average of 6.3 years. [Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group (AREDS). A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with Vitamins C and C and beta-carotene for age-related cataract and vision loss. Archives of Ophthalmology 119:1439-1452, 2001]


Antioxidants may be effective against macular degeneration. Researchers have found that those taking high-dose supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and/or zinc had 25% to 30% less progression of intermediate-level age-related macular degeneration. The patients were adults ages 55 to 80 who were followed for an average of 6.3 years. [Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group (AREDS). A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss. Archives of Ophthalmology 119:1417-1436, 2001] An accompanying editorial suggests criteria for selecting patients who might benefit but warns that beta-carotene should probably not be used in smokers. [Jampol LM. Antioxidants, zinc, and age-related macular degeneration. Archives of Ophthalmology 119:1533-1534, 2001]


Cigarette use declines only slightly. The percentage of American adults who smoked cigarettes during 1999 has declined from about 25% in 1993 to about 23.5% in 1999. [Cigarette smoking among adults—United States 1999. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 50: 869-873, 2001] The rate of decline was much greater during the 1980s.


TT response to World Trade Center attack. Therapeutic touch (TT) is a method in which the hands are used to detect and manipulate the patient's alleged "energy field." Proponents theorize that healing results from a transfer of "excess energy" from healer to patient. The "energy field" and "energy transfer" postulated by proponents cannot be measured by scientific instruments and have not been demonstrated to exist. Nevertheless, the Board of Trustees of the Nurse Healers—Professional Associates International has posted the following suggestion from TT's developer Dolores Krieger, R.N., Ph.D.:

The names of several of the victims have been displaying themselves on the screen throughout the day. I am taking the name of one person however often I can, and thinking of him or her as an individual. I am doing healing at a distance, which I do by visualizing myself at that person's side and see/feel/think of myself doing Therapeutic Touch to that person. In this I am calling upon the help of the angels of compassion and am trying to work with them as best I can understand. My first thought is to help the person through the terror of dying so suddenly and so horribly. I try to maintain a supporting sense of love, strength and stability. There are ways, I find, of permeating my thought with more than one color at a time, and I do this; however, the predominant color I project is that wondrous blue that is connected with the Mother of the World in all belief systems. I try to be as intelligent and as aware as I can be throughout this time, working together with whatever beneficent forces I think of or who present themselves at this time. I also think of the relatives of these persons to help them through their grief. Here blue is so powerful, too. You can send the above to whomever you choose. I think a process such as noted above will help ourselves as well as those we think of, don't you?


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This page was posted on October 15, 2001.