Consumer Health Digest #10-43

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 21, 2010


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.


FDA issues "teething tablet" warning. The FDA has warned that Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Tablets may pose a risk to children and should not be used. The FDA's news release states:

The manufacturer (Standard Homeopathic Company) has announced a voluntary recall. Ari Brown, M.D. a prominent pediatric author who warned against using belladonna-containing teething tablets in her book Baby 411, has noted that teething gets blamed for fussy moods, disrupted sleep, runny noses, and diarrhea but rarely is the actual the cause of any of these. For relief, she recommends letting the infant gnaw on a frozen mini bagel or banana. Homeowatch has additional information about the situation.


Fluoridation access up sharply. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which releases fluoridation statistics every two years, has noted that from the end of 2006 to the end of 2008, 15 million people gained access to fluoridated water, bringing the estimated total to 195 million. The figures are based on water system data reported by states to the CDC Water Fluoridation Reporting System and U.S. Census Bureau estimates. [2008 water fluoridation statistics. CDC Web site, Oct 22, 2010] Most of the increase occurred in California, where more than 11 million people were added as a result of a 1995 state law that required fluoridation of any public water supply with at least 10,000 customers, provided funding is available. [Palmer C. CDC reports increased access to fluoridated water. ADA News, Oct 4, 2010] Funding of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California was subsidized by the California Dental Association Foundation, which provided $5.5 million to design and construct the necessary facilities.


ConsumerLab concerned about caffeine content of "energy shots." ConsumerLab.com has warned that the caffeine content of two "energy shot" products may be higher than users expect. Its concern was aroused during an review of B-vitamin supplements, two of which contained caffeine in amounts not disclosed on their labels. Its report states:

In a press release, ConsumerLab noted that "B vitamins won't increase energy levels if you already get an adequate intake, which most people do. The sense of energy from B vitamin liquid shots appears to come from the added caffeine, which may be at higher levels than you expect."

ConsumerLab.com evaluates the quality of dietary supplement and herbal products. Full access to its reports requires a subscription, but it also offers a free newsletter.


ASA blasts dubious cancer book ad. The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered Nutri Centre Ltd. of London, England to stop making misleading claims about Brian S. Peskin's book, The Hidden Story of Cancer. Text on the front cover of the book states: "Find Out Why Cancer has Physicians on the Run and How a Simple Plan Based on New Science Can Prevent It." The complaint to the ASA (a) charged that this claim was misleading and unsubstantiated and (b) challenged whether Peskin was a genuine professor as Nutri Center's ad also stated. When Nutri Centre failed to respond, the ASA upheld the complaint and ordered it not to repeat the ad. In 2003, in response to a complaint by the Texas Attorney General, a Texas District Court issued an injunction ordering Peskin and a company he ran to pay $100,000 to the State of Texas and to refrain from (a) making a long list of unsubstantiated claims about their Radiant Health Products and Peskin's credentials and (b) distributing or referring to Peskin's book "Radiant Health—Moving Beyond the Zone" in connection with marketing his products: Herbal Essence, Mineral Essence, and/or Basic Essence.  

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