Consumer Health Digest #01-39

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 24, 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.

Senate antiquackery hearing video now online. A RealPlayer video recording of the September 10 Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing "Swindlers, Hucksters and Snake Oil Salesmen: The Hype and Hope of Marketing Anti-Aging Products to Seniors" is now accessible at The software enables the listener to tune into any part of the 3-hour, 20-minute hearing.

ACSH vaccine report published. The American Council on Science and Health has published a 48-page booklet promoting vaccines and debunking anti-vaccine myths. The report addresses safety concerns related to vaccine additives and preservatives, such as thimerosal. The report concludes that although press reports have questioned the safety of certain vaccines, "the vast majority of reports linking vaccines to various diseases do not meet the scientific criteria required to define a causal relationship." The Promise of Vaccines: The Science and the Controversy is available online or for $5 from the American Council On Science and Health, 1995 Broadway, New York, NY 10023.

CHILD leader to get award. Rita Swan, co-founder and president of Children's Health Care Is A Legal Duty (CHILD), will receive the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC)'s Outstanding Legal Advocacy Award for 2001. CHILD's mission is to combat medical neglect rationalized on religious grounds.

TM reaction to terrorist attack. The Endowment Fund for World Peace, a project of Transcendental Meditation (TM) promoters, has published a full-page ad in The New York Times and elsewhere urging people to contribute to its effort to bring about world peace through group meditation activities. The ad urges "the world's wealthiest" to create a $1 billion endowment fund to "permanently engage 40,000 young men from the traditional Vedic Families in India . . . in the programs of enlivening the unifying, nourishing power of Nature's Intelligence, in order to create and maintain coherence in world consciousness and eliminate the basis of all negativities." TM advocates claim that "Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field, including Yogic Flying" enables "as few as the square root of one per cent of the population of the society . . . to create an immediate change towards harmony and positivity in the whole society. . . . analogous to the phase transitions towards coherent collective functioning in physical systems described earlier in the example of the laser." (Yogic flying is a form of hopping with one's legs crossed.) TM advocates also claim that "Scientific research has further shown that when Yogic Flying is practiced in groups this unifying influence of coherence spreads to the collective consciousness of society as a whole. This results in a decrease in negative trends throughout society such as crime, accidents, sickness, unemployment and economic hardship, and an increase in positive social, economic and political trends." [Australian Natural Law Party. Yogic flying and the Maharishi Effect, 1998]

Homeopathic treatment fails to help rheumatoid arthritis. A well-designed British study has found no evidence that homeopathic treatment improves the symptoms of joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. The study involved 58 patients who were followed for six months using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover protocol in which various remedies were prescribed one at a time. [Fisher P, Scott DL. A randomized controlled trial of homeopathy in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology 40:1052-1055, 2001]

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This page was revised on September 25, 2001.