Consumer Health Digest #09-02

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 8, 2009


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.


Another supplement study finds no cancer-preventive effect. A ten-year controlled clinical trial has found no evidence that vitamin C (500 mg daily) or vitamin E (400 IU every two days) prevent cancer. The study involved 14,461 male physicians aged 50 or older (including 1,307 with a prior history of cancer) who received vitamin E, vitamin C, both supplements, or the placebos for both supplements. The researchers concluded that neither supplement reduced the risk of prostate or total cancer. [Gaziano MG and others. Vitamins E and C in the prevention of prostate and total cancer in men: The Physicians' Health Study II randomized controlled trial. JAMA 301:52-62, 2009] The results of this study were published together with the previously reported NIH-funded Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), which found that selenium and vitamin E supplements, taken alone or together for an average of five years, did not prevent prostate cancer. [Lippman SM and others. Effect of selenium and vitamin E on risk of prostate cancer and other cancers. JAMA 301:39-51, 2009] An accompanying editorial stated that even though diet may have a protective effect in some populations, it may be time to give up the idea that isolated dietary molecules given alone or in combination to middle-aged and older men will have the same effect. The editorial also advised physicians not to recommend selenium, vitamin E, or any other antioxidant supplement to patients for preventing prostate cancer. [Gann PH. Randomized trials of antioxidant supplementation for cancer prevention: First bias, now chance—next, cause. JAMA 301:102-103, 2009]


Coca Cola gets FDA warning letter. The FDA has criticized the Cola Cola Company's labeling and promotion of Diet Coke Plus, which contains added magnesium, zinc, and B-vitamins. [Wagner RF. Warning letter to Muhtar Kent, Dec 10, 2008] The agency's warning letter states:

The product was launched in 2007 with an announcement that "In addition to providing great, refreshing taste, Diet Coke Plus is a good source of vitamins B3, B6, and B12, and the minerals zinc and magnesium."


Prominent HIV denialist dies of undiagnosed pneumonia. Christine Maggiore has died of pneumonia. [Christine Maggiore, vocal skeptic of AIDS research, dies at 52. Los Angeles Times, Dec 30, 2008] Maggiore ran Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives, a nonprofit organization which falsely proclaims that (a) most of the AIDS information the public receives is based on unsubstantiated assumptions, unfounded estimates, and improbable predictions and (b) the symptoms associated with AIDS are treatable with “non-toxic, immune enhancing therapies.” In 2005, after the death of her 3-year-old daughter, the Los Angeles Times reported that (a) although Maggiore was HIV-positive, she had refused treatment for herself, delivered the child at home, breast-fed her, and never had her tested for HIV and (b) that the Los Angeles County coroner had determined that the cause of death was AIDS-related pneumonia. [Ornstein C, Costello D. A mother's denial, a daughter's death. Los Angeles Times, Sept 24, 2005] Maggiore disputed this and sued the county. An autopsy of Maggiore is unlikely, but knowledgeable observers believe that her terminal illness fits the description of AIDS-related pneumonia. [HIV/AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore is dead. Respectful Insolence blog, Dec 30, 2008 and HIV/AIDS denialist Celia Farber on the death of Christine Maggiore: It was a "radical detox" regimen, not HIV. Respectful Insolence blog, Dec 30-31, 2008]


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This page was posted on January 8, 2009.