Consumer Health Digest #10-48

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 2, 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.


Recommended dietary intake levels for calcium and vitamin D revised. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has published new calcium and vitamin D recommendations for healthy Americans. Vitamin D is essential for promoting calcium absorption in the gut and maintaining the blood calcium and phosphate levels needed for bone growth and maintenance. Together with calcium, it helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. Much recent attention has focused on vitamin D because studies suggest that it may play a major role in the prevention of cancer and several other diseases. There has also been widespread concern that Americans are not getting enough. However, the new IOM report concludes:

The new report, Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D, can be read online free of charge or purchased at a discount from the National Academy Press Web site.


Homeopathic marketers receive warning letter. In June, the FDA and FTC jointly notified Homeopathy for Health, of Moses Lake, Washington that it was illegal to market unapproved products "intended to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat (including to treat the symptoms of) or cure the H1N1 Flu Virus in people." The warning letter covered claims made for 20 homeopathic products from six manufacturers—Heel, Inc. (BHI), NaturalCare, Inc., Hyland's Homeopathic, Standard Homeopathic Company, and Boiron Borneman, Inc., and Celletech / Micro-Nutrition Plus—each of which received a copy of the letter. The products included Oscillococcinum, which for many years has been marketed to treat the symptoms of colds and flu. The FDA's Fraudulent 2009 H1N1 Influenza Products List now has 185 entries.


FTC warns about online dating scams. The Federal Trade Commission is warning that scammers are using online dating and social networking sites to try to persuade people to send money in the name of love. In a typical scenario, the scam artist creates a fake profile, gains the trust of an online love interest, and then asks that person to wire money—usually to a location outside the United States. The following should be considered red flags:

People have reported scammers who immediately expressed undying love and affection; others who secured their trust through passionate and intimate conversation; and still others who took a more deliberate approach with months of patient wooing before asking for money. Regardless, people who send money once nearly always receive additional requests. The FTC's warning is posted to OnGuardOnline.gov, which provides tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help people guard against Internet fraud, secure their computers, and protect their personal information. The FTC maintains the site with help from 35 other agencies and organizations.


Mannatech settlement documents posted. Casewatch has posted documents from last year's settlement of charges brought by the Attorney General of Texas against Mannatech, Inc. and its founder and former chief executive officer, Samuel Caster. [Barrett S. Mannatech and founder agree to pay $7 million to settle Texas Attorney General charges. MLM Watch, Dec 3, 2010] The complaint, filed in 2007, charged Mannatech and Caster with orchestrating an unlawful marketing scheme that exaggerated their products' health benefits. The complaint alleged:

Under the settlement, signed in February 2009, the defendants agreed:


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This page was revised on December 4, 2010.