Consumer Health Digest #02-42
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 15, 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.
Nonsmoker with lung cancer wins worker's comp case. The Ontario (Canada) Workplace Safety and Insurance Board has awarded worker's compensation to Heather Crowe, a 57-year-old woman who has never smoked. Crowe, who worked for 40 years as a waitress, asserted that her terminal lung cancer is an occupational disease linked to long-term exposure to second-hand smoke. Her attorney says that this is the first such award to implicate exposure to smoke in a restaurant or bar. Some observers believe that the ruling may pressure Canada's provincial governments to make all restaurants and bars smoke-free. [Laghi B. Ailing ex- waitress wins second-hand smoke case. Globe and Mail, Oct 10, 2002]
FDA study finds potency problems with compounded drugs. FDA researchers have found that pharmacists who prepare their own versions of approved drugs do not always craft these products properly. The researchers sampled 29 products from 12 pharmacies that market through the Internet. Nine products were not potent enough; one was contaminated; and three others failed an initial test but were not counted as failures because an inadequate amount was left for retesting. By comparison, 1% to 2% of drugs from manufacturers fail to meet standard assays. [Subramaniam V and others. Survey of drug products compounded by a group of community pharmacies: Findings from a Food and Drug Administration study. Presented Sept 21, 2002] Quackwatch has additional information about the problems associated with compounding.
Life University sued over loss of accreditation. Five men who are students or former students of Life University have filed suit charging that the university and its president, Sid E. Williams, D.C., have damaged them by failing to maintain the accreditation necessary for its graduates to be eligible for licensure. The suit alleges that the defendants breached their duty to provide proper training and were negligent in failing to meet accreditation standards. The suit arose because in June 2002 the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) revoked Life's accredited status. Life is appealing CCE's ruling (which would mean that plaintiffs would be ineligible for licensure), but the plaintiffs allege that the damage to them cannot be undone even if the appeal is successful. At least eight more students are expected to file a similar suit. The Chiropractic Student Resource Site features an archive of news reports about Life University.
U.S. Life expectancy hits new high. A new report issued by the National Center for Health Statistics indicates that American adults are living longer, fewer babies are dying in infancy, and the gap between white and black life expectancy has narrowed during the past decade. The key findings include:
- In 2000, average life expectancy at birth hit record highs, with men at 74.1 years and women at 79.5 years. A century earlier, life expectancy was 48 years for men and 51 years for women. Those who reach age 65 now live to an average age of 81 for men and 84 for women
- During the past half century, death rates among children and adults up to age 24 were cut in half. Mortality among adults 25-64 years fell nearly as much, and dropped among those 65 years and over by a third.
- The infant mortality rate - deaths before the first birthday - has dropped 75 % since 1950, dropping to a record low of 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000, down from 7.1 in 1999.
- More than 40% of adults were smokers in 1965, compared with 23% in 2000. Those without a high school education were still almost three times as likely to smoke cigarettes as college graduates.
- Deaths among children and young adults from unintentional injuries, cancer, and heart disease are down sharply. Among working-age adults, fewer are dying from unintentional injuries, heart disease, and stroke. For older Americans, the increase in life expectancy is largely due to the sharp drop in deaths from heart disease and stroke.
- Three in five adults ages 20-74 are overweight. One in four Americans is considered obese. Almost 40% engaged in no physical activity during leisure time, and women were more sedentary than men. One in 10 Americans age 45-54, 1 in 5 of those 55-64 years, 1 in 4 of those 65-74 years, and 1 in 3 of those 75 years and over reported being in fair or poor health.
- Americans spent $1.3 trillion on health care in 2000, or 13.2% of the gross domestic product, far more than any other nation. A third of the health care dollar was spent on hospital care, about one-fifth on physicians, and almost one-tenth on prescription drugs. The cost of prescription drugs increased 15% a year from 1995-2000 - faster than any other category of spending.
- Hospital stays keep getting shorter: just 4.9 days on average in 2000. Twenty years ago patients spent more than 7 days in the hospital. Sixty-three percent of all surgeries now are performed as outpatient procedures, with patients being sent home after a short stay in a recovery room. A decade earlier, one-half of all surgeries were on outpatients. In 1980 only 16% were done on outpatients.
- Federal and State government programs principally Medicare and Medicaid paid 43% of all medical bills. Private insurance covered 35%, and other private sources paid 5%. Consumers paid 17% out of their own pockets.
The 430-page report, Health, United States, 2002 can be viewed online or purchased in book form
New guide to ache and pain relief. The Chiropractors's Self- Help Back and Body Book, by Samuel Homola, D.C., provides comprehensive advice on relieving aches and pains at home and on the job. The book also describes when it is appropriate to consult a chiropractor, when it is not appropriate to do so, and how to avoid the nonsense associated with some forms of chiropractic treatment. Homola, a retired chiropractor who practiced for 43 years, has written 12 other books and co-hosts the Chirobase Web site, where he provides a question-and-answer column. His Inside Chiropractic: A Patient's Guide denounces the cultism in chiropractic but supports the appropriate use of spinal manipulation and the research efforts required to develop a scientific basis for chiropractic practice.
This page was posted on October 17, 2002.