Consumer Health Digest #15-10
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 8, 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.
Experts skeptical of "brain games." The Stanford Center for Longevity and Berlin Max Planck Institute for Human Development have produced a statement on "brain games" derived from a meeting of many of the world's leading cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists. [A consensus on the brain training industry from the scientific community. Stanford Center on Longevity, Oct 20, 2014] The experts have concluded:
- Exaggerated and misleading claims exploit the anxiety of older adults about impending cognitive decline.
- Much more research needs to be done before we understand whether and what types of challenges and engagements benefit cognitive functioning in everyday life. In the absence of clear evidence, the recommendation of the group, based largely on correlational findings, is that individuals lead physically active, intellectually challenging, and socially engaged lives, in ways that work for them.
- Physical exercise is a moderately effective way to improve general health, including brain fitness. Regular aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the brain, helps support formation of new neural and vascular connections, and has been shown to improve attention, reasoning, and components of memory.
- A single study, conducted by researchers with financial interests in a product, or one quote from a scientist advocating a product, is not enough to assume that a game has been rigorously examined. Findings need to be replicated at multiple sites, based on controlled studies conducted by independent researchers.
- No studies have demonstrated that playing brain games cures or prevents Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.
FDA bans marketing of testosterone as "anti-aging" drug. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning about the overuse of prescription testosterone products. In a recent drug safety advisory, the agency stated:
- The FDA has become aware that testosterone is being used extensively in attempts to relieve symptoms in men who have low testosterone for no apparent reason other than aging.
- Testosterone is not approved for such use and should be prescribed only for men with low testosterone levels caused by certain medical conditions and confirmed by laboratory tests.
- Manufacturers of approved prescription testosterone products must change their labeling to clarify the approved uses and to add information about the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes in patients taking testosterone.
Source: FDA cautions about using testosterone products for low testosterone due to aging; requires labeling change to inform of possible increased risk of heart attack and stroke with use. FDA drug safety communication, March 3, 2015.
Anti-vaccinationists ridiculed on YouTube. Television talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel has produced two episodes promoting vaccinations. The first one suggests that doctors might know more about vaccines than actress Jenny McCarthy (even with clothes on). The second one discusses the nasty responses to the first video and features the results of a survey in which children were asked whether they would rather get a shot or a lollipop.
Unlicensed naturopath cited. The Florida Department of Health has ordered Brian Clement to pay $3,735 and to stop representing himself as a Naturopathic Medical Doctor. Clement and his wife co-direct the Hippocrates Health Institute, which, according to its Web site, offers "non-invasive remedial and youth-enhancing therapies, state of the art spa services, inspiring talks on life principles and a tantalizing daily buffet of enzyme-rich, organic meals." In recent months, the facility attracted attention in connection with its bizarre treatment of two Canadian children with leukemia whose parents withdrew them from standard treatment. CBC News has done a series of investigative reports.
This page was revised on March 9, 2015.