Consumer Health Digest #01-20
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 14, 2001
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. 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.
Quackery Conference, June 23. The College of Saint Elizabeth and the National Council Against Health Fraud are co-sponsoring a one-day conference on Healthcare Beyond the Fringe: Schemes and Scams, Pseudoscience, and Superstition, at the college in Morristown, New Jersey. The topics include "alternative medicine" hype, nutrition cultism, chiropractic quackery, and aberrant dentistry. Details are posted on the NCAHF Web site.
AAP issues fruit juice policy statement. The Committee on Nutrition of the American Pediatrics Association has issued a policy statement on the use and misuse of fruit juice (100% juice) and fruit drinks (juice diluted with water) among infants and children up to age 18. [The use and misuse of fruit juice in pediatrics. Pediatrics 107:1210-1213, 2001.] The conclusions and recommendations include:
- Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit for infants younger than 6 months and therefore should not be introduced into their diet.
- For older infants and children, fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruit.
- 100% fruit juice or reconstituted juice can be a healthy part of the diet when consumed as part of a well-balanced diet. Fruit drinks, however, are not nutritionally equivalent to fruit juice.
- Juice is not appropriate for treating dehydration or managing diarrhea.
- Excessive juice consumption may be associated with malnutrition (overnutrition and undernutrition), diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal distention, and tooth decay.
- Unpasteurized juice may contain pathogens that can cause serious illnesses.
- A variety of fruit juices, provided in appropriate amounts for a child's age, are not likely to cause any significant clinical symptoms.
- Calcium-fortified juices provide a bioavailable source of calcium but lack other nutrients present in breast milk, formula, or cow's milk.
- Infants should not be given juice from bottles or easily transportable covered cups that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day. Infants should not be given juice at bedtime.
- Intake of fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 oz/day for children 1 to 6 years old. For children 7 to 18 years old, juice intake should be limited to 8 to 12 oz or 2 servings per day.
- Children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits to meet their recommended daily fruit intake.
- Infants, children, and adolescents should not consume unpasteurized juice.
FTC warns pest-control device marketers. The FTC has sent warning letters to more than 60 manufacturers and retailers of ultrasonic pest-control devices, stating that efficacy claims about those products must be supported by scientific evidence. Between 1985 and 1997, obtained consent agreements with six companies that had claimed that these devices could (a) eliminates rodent infestations; (b) repel insects; (c) serve as an effective alternative to conventional pest-control products; (d) increase or assist the effectiveness of other pest-control methods; (e) eliminate fleas on dogs or cats; and/or (f) scientific tests prove product effectiveness. In these cases, the agency asserted that any reaction by rodents to ultrasound would be temporary at best because rodents become accustomed to ultrasound and will return to their nesting or feeding areas even when an ultrasound device is present. [FTC warns manufacturers and retailers of ultrasonic pest-control devices. FTC news release, May 3, 2001]
HealthScout News Service sold. StaffWriters Plus, Inc., which provides editorial staff and specialized content for corporations and news organizations, has purchased the HealthScout News Service from RxRemedy, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since December 2000. The news service will be part of a new company called ScoutNews, LLC. Stories from the HealthScout News Service appear daily on hundreds of major Internet sites, including Yahoo!, USAToday.com, iWon, Bell South and Compuserve. HealthScout news is also syndicated daily through The New York Times Syndicate to more than 50 newspapers and broadcast outlets around the world. HealthScout News Service also produces 11 disease and condition-specific newsletters a week and a collection of daily health tips. NCAHF president John Renner, M.D., was HealthScout's chief medical officer at the time of his death last September.
Chiropractic antitrust suit update. In August 2000, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), the Virginia Chiropractic Association, 5 chiropractors and 18 patients filed a suit charging that Trigon Health Care, several related companies, and the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association have illegally conspired to "discriminate" against chiropractors and their patients in Virginia. ACA president James A. Mertz, D.C., has called this lawsuit "by far the most significant legal action ever taken by our profession against the insurance industry." The complaint states:
- Chiropractic is concerned largely with the nerves, muscles, and skeleton, the neuromusculoskeletal system. Chiropractic seeks to reduce or eliminate pain and other symptoms by manual positioning of bones to correct abnormalities. The large majority of the practice of chiropractic is adjustment of the spine to treat abnormalities in the position of the spine, referred to as subluxations, which cause pain and other symptoms.
- The chiropractic term "subluxation" denotes both a science and a philosophy of diagnosis and treatment. A spinal subluxation may be defined as an alteration of the normal statics and dynamics of the anatomical or physiological relationships of the spinal vertebrae and its resulting biomechanical and/or neurophysiological effects. These effects may be local, that is at the site of the subluxation and/or distal to the subluxation causing dysfunction to other tissues, organs and systems, directly or indirectly affected by the subluxation.
- Medical physicians, osteopathic physicians and physical therapists are not qualified by education and training to diagnose spinal subluxations or to perform manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation. To a medical doctor, a spinal "subluxation" connotes a complete dislocation of the spine that is untreatable by manual manipulation.
- Health insurance plans . . . discriminate against chiropractic by imposing coverage limits based on treatments provided by chiropractors rather than based on coverage of treatment of a patient's condition.
- Trigon has . . . progressively reduced payments for services provided by chiropractors by these policies and now pays . . . at a rate that is approximately 40% less than the rate at which services of medical doctors are compensated.
- Trigon has imposed a maximum annual payment of $500.00 per year for "spinal manipulations and other manual medical interventions."
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association has already been dismissed from the case. The other defendants have petitioned for dismissal on grounds of failure to state a legitimate cause of action. A similar suit in New York State was dismissed several years ago. Insurance companies limit chiropractic care to prevent overutilization, which is rampant throughout the profession.
This page was posted on May 14, 2001.