Consumer Health Digest #12-06
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
February 9, 2012
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.
UK "nutritional therapists" provide poor advice. Five undercover researchers who made a total of 15 visits to 14 "nutritional therapists" in the United Kingdom got inappropriate advice from all of them. [Are nutritional therapists gambling with your health? Which? Feb 2012, pp 58-60] The investigators noted:
- Six of the visits were rated as "dangerous fails," eight were rated as "fails,", and only one was deemed a "borderline pass."
- One researcher, posing as a breast cancer sufferer, was advised to delay medically-advised radiation therapy and instead follow a no-sugar diet for three to six months. The nutritionist said this would drive away the cancer because "cancer feeds off sugar. By cutting out sugar we have a better chance of the cancer going away."
- Another researcher was advised that if the nutritionist's treatment for severe tiredness started to make him feel unwell, it showed the "treatment was working" and he should not contact his personal physician who "wouldn't understand what was happening."
- Several of the therapists used non-evidence-based testing to "diagnose" a host of symptoms.
- One researcher who said she had been struggling to conceive a child for a year was told, after having her iris examined, that she had "a bit of bowel toxicity" and a 'leathery bowel," both of which are medically meaningless terms.
- Twelve of the 15 visits resulted in recommendations for expensive dietary supplement regimens that cost up to £70 per month.
New data on access to health care published. A study of data from the 2009-2010 National Health Interview Survey has found that the number and rate of adults aged 18 to 64 years who lack health insurance has been increasing, in part due to the historically high unemployment rates. [Driscoll AK, Bernstein AB. Health and access to care among employed and unemployed adults: United States, 2009-2011. NCHS data brief #83. National Center for Health Statistics, Jan 2012] However, even having comprehensive health insurance coverage does not guarantee access to needed services, in part because of co-payments and deductibles. The data showed:
- In 2009-2010, 48.1% of unemployed adults aged 18 to 64 years had health insurance compared with 81.4% of employed adults; among the insured, a higher proportion of the unemployed had public insurance.
- Unemployed adults had poorer mental and physical health than employed adults; this pattern is found for insured and uninsured adults.
- Unemployed adults were less likely to receive needed medical care or obtain prescription drugs due to cost than the employed in each insurance category.
- Uninsured adults were less likely to receive needed medical care and prescription drugs due to cost than those with public or private insurance, regardless of employment status.
Contraceptive access will increase. President Obama has announced a policy intended to accommodate religious freedom while ensuring that women have access to preventive health care, including contraception, at no additional cost, no matter where they work. The Affordable Care Act, called for most health insurance plans to cover women's preventive care services—such as well-woman visits, mammograms, immunizations, as well as contraception—without charging a co-pay or deductible beginning in August 2012. However, in response to protests from Catholic churches, President Obama has modified the rules:
- Churches, other houses of worship, and similar organizations that object on religious grounds to covering contraception will not have to do so.
- Other types of religious employers will not have to provide contraceptive coverage, subsidize the cost of contraception, or refer their employees to organizations that provide it. However, free coverage must be offered to women directly by these insurance companies.
- There will be an additional one-year transition period for religious organizations while this policy is being implemented.
Source: President Obama announces new policy to improve access to contraception. White House Policy Blog, Feb 10, 2012.
New site to benefit endangered animals. One of Dr. Stephen Barrett's granddaughters (age 13) has launched a charity web site (http://www.roarandsqueak.org) to help endangered animals via the World Wildlife Fund. The site offers interesting T-shirts and various other novelty items with all profits going to the fund.
This page was revised on February10, 2012