Consumer Health Digest #09-50
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 10, 2009
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. 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.
FTC updates testimonial/endorser guidelines. The Federal Trade Commission has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act. [FTC publishes final Guides governing endorsements, testimonials: Changes affect testimonial advertisements, bloggers, celebrity endorsements. FTC news release, Oct 10, 2009] The last update was in 1980. Under the revised Guides:
- If an advertisement features a consumer experience that is not typical, it must clearly disclose what consumers can generally expect. The 1980 version permitted advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical." Advertisers typically did this so inconspicuously that many people would not notice it. The new guidelines require disclaimers to be "clear and conspicuous."
- All "material connections” (including payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers must be disclosed.
- Both advertisers and endorsers may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement—or for failure to disclose material connections between the advertiser and endorsers.
- Celebrities have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media.
Study pans chiropractic "subluxation" concept. Four scholarly chiropractors have concluded that epidemiologic evidence does not support chiropractic's most fundamental theory. Since its inception, the vast majority of chiropractors have postulated that "subluxations" (misalignments) are the cause or underlying cause of ill health and can be corrected with spinal "adjustments." [Barrett S. Subluxation: Chiropractic's elusive buzzword. Chirobase, May 21, 2006] After searching the scientific literature, the authors concluded:
No supportive evidence is found for the chiropractic subluxation being associated with any disease process or of creating suboptimal health conditions requiring intervention. Regardless of popular appeal, this leaves the subluxation construct in the realm of unsupported speculation. This lack of supportive evidence suggests the subluxation construct has no valid clinical applicability. [Mirtz TA and others. An epidemiological examination of the subluxation construct using Hill's criteria of causation. Chiropractic & Osteopathy 2009, 17:13, 2009]
Major study finds no association between mobile phones and brain tumors. Researchers who examined incidence rates of brain tumors in Scandinavian countries from 1973 through 2003 detected no new trend in rates during the final five years, a period during which cell phone use increased rapidly. [Deltour I and others. Time trends in brain tumor incidence rates in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, 1974-2003. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, electronic publication Dec 3, 2009]
This page was revised on December 18, 2009.