Consumer Health Digest #15-03

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 18, 2015


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.


Video says many MLMs are pyramid schemes. Pershing Square Capital Management, whose president, Bill Ackman, is urging government regulators to shut down Herbalife, has produced a brilliant 6-minute video explaining why many multilevel companies (MLMs) should be considered pyramid schemes. The video states:

Most companies that sell products make money by selling them to consumers. But many MLMs make money by selling overpriced, difficult to sell products to their own distributors who are typically aspiring entrepreneurs hoping to fill the business. To qualify as a distributor, you must buy a minimum amount of product from the company. This can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Once you purchase enough of the product to qualify for commissions, you will soon realize it is difficult to resell the inventory you purchased and generate retail profits. At that point, you will learn that recruiting others to become a distributor is the only way to have a chance of recouping the money you invested. You will likely be pushed by the distributor who recruited you to convince others to buy in and become distributors. . . . This constant emphasis on recruiting new distributors is a telltale sign you're dealing with a pyramid scheme.

MLM Watch has the full-text of the video plus links to the English and Spanish versions.


Study concludes that anti-fluoridation messages dominate the Internet. A study conducted in 2011 and 2012 has found that attacks on fluoridation through the Internet are far more prevalent than supportive messages. [Allukian M, Mertz A. Community water fluoridation on the Internet and social media. Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society 63:32-36, 2014] The researchers concluded:


Review finds spinal manipulation no more effective than exercise for chronic low back pain. An analysis of studies that compared that spinal manipulation and prescribed exercise for patients diagnosed with chronic low back pain has concluded that no conclusive evidence favors one over the other. Only three randomized controlled trials met the inclusion criteria of the review. One favored manipulation, one favored exercise, and the third study judged them equal. The authors called for more studies to determine which intervention is more effective. [Merepeza A. Effects of spinal manipulation versus therapeutic exercise on adults with chronic low back pain: a literature review. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 58:456-466, 2014]


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This page was posted on January 18, 2015.