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Consumer Health Digest #03-35

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 9, 2003


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.

Teenage tanning booth use considered alarming. A study of 6903 non-Hispanic white adolescents, aged 13 to 19 years, has concluded that 36.8% of the females and 11.2% of the males had used a tanning booth at least once in their life, while 28.1% of females and 6.9% of the male reported 3 or more uses. The data were collected in 1996. [Use of indoor tanning facilities by white adolescents in the United States. Demko CA and others. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 157:854-860, 2003] An accompanying editorial noted that whereas many people view tanned skin as sexy and desirable, indoor tanning is associated with skin cancer and ultraviolet radiation is classified as a carcinogen. [Teenagers in the UV tanning booth? Tax the tan. Dellavalle RP. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 157:845-846, 2003]

"Lipostabil" marketer warned to stop illegal claims. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned Ayoula Dubin of New York City to stop claiming that injections of phosphatidyl choline (marketed as Lipostabil) into fatty areas will break down and dissolve fat, slimming and smoothing the skin. The warning stated that under federal law, injectable products cannot be marketed as "dietary supplements" and must have FDA approval as drugs. [Woyshner JG. Warning letter, July 22, 2003] In 2002, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery cautioned:

ConsumerLab issues supplement guidebook. ConsumerLab, which tests dietary supplements and herbal products for quality, has compiled its findings on multivitamins, B-vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, iron, coenzyme Q10, creatine, echinacea, fish oils, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, glucosamine & chondroitin, MSM, SAMe, saw palmetto, soy & red clover isoflavones, St. John's wort, and valerian. Each product review covers uses, quality concerns, test results, and buying tips. The book also discusses regulatory and product-quality issues. Copies of ConsumerLab.com's Guide to Buying Vitamins & Supplements: What's really in the Bottle? are $17.95 plus shipping from ConsumerLab or Amazon Books. ConsumerLab subscribers who are logged in can get a 20% discount.

Obesity suit against McDonald's dismissed. A U.S. District Court Judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed on behalf of two teenagers who claimed that McDonald's food had increased their likelihood of developing obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol level, related cancers, and/or other adverse health effects. The suit alleged that McDonald's should be held responsible because it had engaged in advertising campaigns which falsely represented that its foods are nutritious and can easily be part of a healthy lifestyle. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs had not provided enough information about their eating habits, exercise habits, and other risk factors to conclude whether the foods caused the problem or merely contributed to it. [Pelman v. McDonald's Corp., 02 Civ. 7821 (RWS), Sept. 4, 2003]

Convicted "attachment therapist" loses appeal. The Colorado Court of Appeals has denied the appeal of Connell Watkins, who is in prison in connection with the death of 10-year-old Candace Newmaker during a "rebirthing" session. The court's summary stated that the session lasted for over an hour, during which time the child repeatedly said that she could not breathe, and was being squashed, and that she eventually stopped moving or speaking and was found to have been suffocated. In 2001, Watkins and co-defendant Julie Ponder were convicted of reckless child abuse resulting in death and sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of 16 years. Ponder's appeal is pending. The appeals court's decision is posted on the Court's Web site. Quackwatch and KidsComeFirst have additional information about "attachment therapy."

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This page was revised on September 12, 2003.