Consumer Health Digest #02-42

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 15, 2002


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.


Nonsmoker with lung cancer wins worker's comp case. The Ontario (Canada) Workplace Safety and Insurance Board has awarded worker's compensation to Heather Crowe, a 57-year-old woman who has never smoked. Crowe, who worked for 40 years as a waitress, asserted that her terminal lung cancer is an occupational disease linked to long-term exposure to second-hand smoke. Her attorney says that this is the first such award to implicate exposure to smoke in a restaurant or bar. Some observers believe that the ruling may pressure Canada's provincial governments to make all restaurants and bars smoke-free. [Laghi B. Ailing ex- waitress wins second-hand smoke case. Globe and Mail, Oct 10, 2002]


FDA study finds potency problems with compounded drugs. FDA researchers have found that pharmacists who prepare their own versions of approved drugs do not always craft these products properly. The researchers sampled 29 products from 12 pharmacies that market through the Internet. Nine products were not potent enough; one was contaminated; and three others failed an initial test but were not counted as failures because an inadequate amount was left for retesting. By comparison, 1% to 2% of drugs from manufacturers fail to meet standard assays. [Subramaniam V and others. Survey of drug products compounded by a group of community pharmacies: Findings from a Food and Drug Administration study. Presented Sept 21, 2002] Quackwatch has additional information about the problems associated with compounding.


Life University sued over loss of accreditation. Five men who are students or former students of Life University have filed suit charging that the university and its president, Sid E. Williams, D.C., have damaged them by failing to maintain the accreditation necessary for its graduates to be eligible for licensure. The suit alleges that the defendants breached their duty to provide proper training and were negligent in failing to meet accreditation standards. The suit arose because in June 2002 the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) revoked Life's accredited status. Life is appealing CCE's ruling (which would mean that plaintiffs would be ineligible for licensure), but the plaintiffs allege that the damage to them cannot be undone even if the appeal is successful. At least eight more students are expected to file a similar suit. The Chiropractic Student Resource Site features an archive of news reports about Life University.


U.S. Life expectancy hits new high. A new report issued by the National Center for Health Statistics indicates that American adults are living longer, fewer babies are dying in infancy, and the gap between white and black life expectancy has narrowed during the past decade. The key findings include:

The 430-page report, Health, United States, 2002 can be viewed online or purchased in book form


New guide to ache and pain relief. The Chiropractors's Self- Help Back and Body Book, by Samuel Homola, D.C., provides comprehensive advice on relieving aches and pains at home and on the job. The book also describes when it is appropriate to consult a chiropractor, when it is not appropriate to do so, and how to avoid the nonsense associated with some forms of chiropractic treatment. Homola, a retired chiropractor who practiced for 43 years, has written 12 other books and co-hosts the Chirobase Web site, where he provides a question-and-answer column. His Inside Chiropractic: A Patient's Guide denounces the cultism in chiropractic but supports the appropriate use of spinal manipulation and the research efforts required to develop a scientific basis for chiropractic practice.


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