Consumer Health Digest #14-40

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 2, 2014


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.


Medical data valuable for identity theft. Reuters News Service has reported that cyber criminals are increasingly targeting the $3 trillion U.S. healthcare industry, which has many companies still reliant on computer systems that do not use the latest security features. The data thieves aim is to capture and sell names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes, and other billing information that can be used to (a) create fake identities to buy medical equipment or drugs that can be resold, or (b) combine with false provider numbers to file bogus insurance claims. Because medical data theft often is not obvious, the thieves may have years to deploy the data. That makes the data more valuable than credit cards, which banks quickly cancel when they detect the fraud. [Humer C, Finkle J. Healthcare firms at risk; Hackers value medical records over credit data. Insurance Journal, Sept 26, 2014]


Faith healer Ernest Angley severely criticized. The Akron Ohio Beacon-Journal has published a 6-part series which reports that 93-year-old "faith healer" Ernest Angley has been accused of:

Angley has denied all this except for the genital-checking. The James Randi Educational Foundation has published additional observations by Dr. William M. London.


Health Canada seizes Miracle Mineral Solution. Health Canada has seized a supply of Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), which was sold as a treatment for serious diseases such as cancer through the website www.buymms.biz. MMS contains sodium chlorite, a chemical used mainly as a textile bleaching agent and disinfectant, which cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and symptoms of severe dehydration, if ingested. An alternate format of MMS, labeled as CDS, also sold through this Web site, would pose similar risks. The seizure included bottles of MMS, packaging, labeling, and raw materials used to produce MMS. The agency said that it took the action because the company had failed to comply with an order to cease sales. In 2009,the FDA ordered one MMS distributor to stop making illegal health claims for MMS, and in 2010, both agencies issued public warnings. Presumably as a result, manufacturers have changed the product label to specify that MMS is sold for water purification. However, it was still widely claimed to be effective against more than 100 health problems.


Smithsonian reports on fasting quack. Smithsonian.com has published a brief account of Linda Hazzard, who, despite little formal training and a lack of a medical degree, was licensed by the state of Washington as a "fasting specialist." [Lovejoy B. The Doctor Who Starved Her Patients to death: Linda Hazzard killed as many as a dozen people in the early 20th century, and they paid willingly for it. Smithsonian.com, Oct 28, 2014] Hazzard claimed that the root of all disease was the result of eating too much and advocated long periods of near-total fasting during which patients consumed only small servings of vegetable broth, had their systems "flushed" with daily enemas, and underwent vigorous massages that nurses said sometimes sounded more like beatings. The article describes how several of her patients died of starvation, how she became the beneficiary of estates of wealthy clients, and how in 1911 she was ultimately convicted and imprisoned for manslaughter. The details of her career were published in Starvation Heights (2005), which is available from Amazon.com.


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This page was posted on November 2, 2014.