Consumer Health Digest #03-32
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 12, 2003
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.
California Dental Board drafts bogus "fact" sheet. The Dental Board of California is thinking about ordering dentists to distribute a "fact sheet" prepared by board member Chester Yokoyama, D.D.S., a long-time opponent of amalgam fillings. The proposed document is filled with false and misleading claims. [Baratz RS, Barrett S. Dishonest "Fact Sheet" Drafted by California Dental Board. Quackwatch, Aug 9, 2003] The document will be reviewed for clarity by the California Department of Consumer Affairs and is expected to be reconsidered by the Dental Board in November.
In 1992, California passed a law ordering the Board to prepare a fact sheet comparing the various materials used for dental restorations. The law was spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Diane E. Watson when she chaired the California Senate Health Committee. The resultant document, distributed in 2002, reflects the scientific consensus that amalgam is safe and and is commonly the best choice. After it was prepared, amalgam opponents persuaded the state legislature to shut down the board so that Governor Gray Davis could appoint new members who were not amalgam proponents. Watson has asked Davis to urge the Board and the Department of Consumer Affairs to adopt Yokoyama's fact sheet, which, she says, "actually states the risks." [Watson DE. Letter to Gray Davis, June 4, 2003]
Watson, who is a nincompoop, is also pushing for a federal ban on amalgam. Last year, Time Magazine science writer Leon Jaroff euphemistically called her "scientifically unsophisticated." [Jaroff, L. There's nothing dangerous about 'silver' fillings: But some in Congress continue to insist there is. Time.com, May 8, 2002] The situation illustrates the extraordinary potential for harm when an aggressive minority uses political means to advance an unscientific agenda.
Study finds poor advice at Canadian health-food stores. Canadian students have found that health-food-store personnel often recommend products that are unproven, expensive, and potentially harmful. The investigation was done by eight students who told retailers at 34 stores that their mother was suffering with breast cancer. The average cost of recommended products was CN$58 per month. The recommendations included 33 different products, none of which was supported by evidence of effectiveness. Only 11 employees (32%) asked whether the patient was taking prescribed medication; three (9%) discussed the adverse effects of the products, and eight (24%) pointed out that the products might interact with prescribed drugs. Two employees suggested that the products might cure the cancer, and one advised stopping standard treatment with Tamoxifen because it was "poisonous." [Mills E, Ernst E, and others. Health food store recommendations: Implications for breast cancer patients. Breast Cancer Research 5:170-174, 2003]
FTC halts cell-phone "radiation protection" schemes. Two companies that marketed bogus cell phone radiation protection patches have settled FTC charges that they made false and misleading claims that their products, designed to fit over the earpiece of any cell phone, could block a substantial amount of radiation and other electromagnetic energy emitted by cellular telephones, thereby reducing consumers' exposure to this radiation.
- Rhino International, Inc., Sag Harbor, New York-based company and its principals, Nigel Harrison and Sherry Molina, had claimed that its "WaveScrambler" could block 99% of electromagnetic waves emitted by cellular phones and cordless phones.
- Safety Cell, Inc., based in Brooklyn, New York, and its principal, Jerry Berger, had claimed that their "WaveGuard" cell phone shield blocked most of the electromagnetic energy emitted from cell phones.
The settlements require the defendants to indicate clearly in connection with claims that any device protects consumers from cell phone radiation that most electromagnetic energy emitted by cell phones comes from parts of the phone other than the earpiece, and that the WaveScrambler and WaveGuard have no significant effect on this other electromagnetic radiation. The Rhino settlement also requires payment of $342,665 in redress to consumers who purchased its "WaveScrambler" patch. [Radiation protection patch marketers "cell" consumers short. FTC news release, Aug 6, 2003]
FDA attacks "miracle soap." The FDA has warned Tedco, Inc, of West Monroe, Louisiana, to stop claims that its "Miracle II Soap," "Miracle II Neutralizer, " "Miracle II Neutralizer Gel," and "Miracle II Skin Moisturizer" are effective against aches, pains; acne, AIDS, allergies, Alzheimer's disease, athlete's foot, arthritis, bed sores, bronchitis, burns, cuts, scratches, bruises, cancer; earache, hemorrhoids, herpes, ulcers, high blood pressure, skin cancer and many other health problems. [Draper CE. Warning letter to Kirk and Clayton L. Tedeton, July 18, 2003] The Miracle II Online Web site (operated by a reseller) still states that "Miracle II is a miraculous supernatural product that contains Spiritual and Eloptic Energy beyond measure." The site also contains a 14-minute audiotape in which Clayton Tedeton claimed that in 1980 God had revealed the formula to him and that tens of thousands of people had called to say that the product had healed their infirmities.
This page was revised on September 12, 2004.