Consumer Health Digest #02-51

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 17, 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.

Prominent expert urges NCCAM defunding. Wallace I. Sampson, MD, editor of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and former NCAHF board chairman believes that the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine should be defunded because (a) after years of existence and over $200 million in expenditures, it has not proved that any "CAM" method is effective and (b) its existence lends legitimacy to implausible methods. [Sampson WI. Why the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) should be defunded. Quackwatch, Dec 10, 2002]

Heart Association updates guidelines on fish and fish oil consumption. The American Heart Association (AHA) has updated its advice on the consumption of fish and fish-oil supplements. [Kris-Etherton PM. Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. Circulation 106:2747-2757, 2002] It recommends:

Patients without documented coronary heart disease Eat a variety of (preferably oily) fish at least twice a week. Include oils and foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid (flaxseed, canola, and soybean oils; flaxseed and walnuts)
Patients with documented coronary heart disease Consume approximately 1 gram of EPA+DHA per day, preferably from oily fish. EPA+DHA supplements could be considered in consultation with a physician.
Patients needing triglyceride-lowering Two to four grams of EPA+DHA per day provided as capsules under a physician's care

These guidelines support previous AHA recommendations to include at least two servings of fish per week and to use food sources high in alpha-linolenic acid. The document notes that although well-designed studies have demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acid supplements can reduce cardiac events (death, nonfatal MI, nonfatal stroke) and decrease progression of atherosclerosis in patients with proven heart disease, additional studies are needed to confirm and further define their health benefits for both primary and secondary prevention.

New cholesterol guidelines printed. The final report of the Third National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol on Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III) has been published as a 278-page softcover book. It can be read online free of charge but is more easily navigated in print form. Printed copies are available for $10 plus $2.50 for shipping. Among other things, it recommends lipoprotein analysis (measurement of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides) as the initial screening test.

Famed research team launches Web site. The Physicians' Health Study, an ongoing 20-year research project that has greatly deepened scientific knowledge of cardiovascular disease prevention, has launched a Web site with information about the study and more than 170 reports it has generated. The experimental subjects are physicians who report at least annually on their health status.

Life University receives partial reprieve. Life University's regional accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, has placed the university on probation for the next year, which means that its students are still eligible for federally subsidized loans. The university lost its national accreditation in October when the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) failed to renew it. Without CCE accreditation, Life graduates are not eligible to apply for licensure in most states. However, Ohio and New Jersey have decided that Life Chiropractic College graduates will still be eligible in their states. Meanwhile, Life's enrollment has plummeted and nearly 200 current and former students have filed suits alleging that the University and its former president (Sid E. Williams, D.C.) breached their duty to provide proper training and were negligent in failing to meet accreditation standards. News about Life's difficulties is archived at the Chiropractic Student Resource Site.

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This page was posted on December 17, 2002.