Consumer Health Digest #02-36

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 3, 2002

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.

Homocysteine-lowering therapy reduces coronary reclogging. A double-blind study involving 553 patients who had had successful angioplasty has found that lowering homocysteine levels significantly decreased the incidence of major cardiac events after angioplasty. The participants were randomly assigned to receive a combination of folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 or a placebo for 6 months and were followed for about six more months. The study found that the incidence of heart attacks, death, and need for repeat revascularization were about one third less in the vitamin group than in the control group. [Schnyder G and others. Homocysteine-lowering therapy with folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 on clinical outcome after percutaneous coronary intervention. The Swiss Heart Study: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA 288:973-979, 2002] For additional information, see Quackwatch.

FTC hits claims for mosquito repellent device. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has charged Lentek International, Inc, and its principals, Joseph Durek and Lou Lentine, with making false and unsubstantiated claims that (a) their MosquitoContro devices repel mosquitoes from the user and provide an effective alternative to using chemical pesticides in the prevention of the West Nile Virus; (b) their pest-control products drive away mice, rats, bats, cockroaches, and other household pests by means of ultrasound and electromagnetic technology; and (c) their air-cleaning products remove various pollutants from indoor air through ozone and ionization. The company, located in Orlando, Florida, markets air cleaners, pest-control devices, housewares, pet products, personal care products, and flashlights through the Internet, retail stores, catalogs, and individual home distributors. [FTC alleges electronic mosquito repellent claims are false; sellers also lack evidence for ultrasonic pest-control and air cleaning product claims. FTC news release, Aug 28, 2002]

Arkansas Attorney General sues dubious naturopath and school. The Arkansas Attorney General's office has filed suit against the Southern College of Naturopathy (SCN) d/b/a Southern College of Naturopathic Medicine; Gary Axley, D.O.M.; Herbal Healer Academy, Inc.; Marijah McCain, N.D.; The Natural Path Massage Clinic; and Robert Maki, LMT for violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The suit seeks to enjoin the defendants from engaging in fraudulent, intentionally misleading and deceptive advertisements and business activities. The Attorney General's complaint states:

For additional information, see Quackwatch.

More data on quack nutrition by chiropractors. Of 74 chiropractors who responded to a mail survey, 81% said they incorporated nutritional counseling, literature, or supplementation into their practice. [Smith DL, Spillman DM. A survey of chiropractors' use of nutrition in private practice. Journal of Chiropractic Humanities, Vol 10, No.1, Nov 2001] When asked what methods they used to assess their patients' nutrition needs, 27% said hair analysis, 39% said applied kinesiology, and 46% said "subluxation" pattern. (None of these practices is legitimate.) About half (54%) said they use nutrient combinations to treat specific disease, a finding that the study's authors called "somewhat alarming." The responses were said to have been obtained by mailing a 3-page questionnaire to a random sample of 217 chiropractors, but the report did not state how randomization was done, The findings appear to be representative because they resemble those of three larger studies that were well designed but asked fewer questions.

Health Canada bans kava products. Health Canada has banned the sale of all products containing the herb kava after its safety assessment concluded that it can cause liver toxicity, muscle weakness, and coordination problems. The agency also requested the recall of all products that contain kava, which the label may identify with more than 30 different names. [Health Canada issues a stop-sale order for all products containing Kava. Aug 21, 2002]

Hydroxygen Plus marketer ordered to stop illegal claims. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned Earth & Plant, of Homer, Alaska, to stop claiming that its Hydroxygen Plus can help people with lupus erythematosis by increasing body oxygenation. [Breen CM. Warning letter to Robert D. Harrison. Aug 13, 2002]

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This page was posted on September 3, 2002.