Consumer Health Digest #04-28

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 13, 2004

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.

Tougher cholesterol guidelines issued. The National Cholesterol Education Program's (NCEP) is advising doctors to consider more intensive treatment options for people at high and moderately high risk for a heart attack. [Update on cholesterol guidelines: more-intensive treatment options for higher risk patients. NCEP news release, July 12, 2004] These options include setting lower treatment goals for LDL ("bad") cholesterol and initiating cholesterol-lowering drug therapy at lower LDL thresholds. The update is based on a review of five relatively recent clinical trials of statin therapy that show a direct relationship between lower LDL cholesterol levels and reduced risk for heart attacks and death. The LDL goal for patients at very high risk has been lowered from less than 100 to less than 70. People at high risk are likely to require drug therapy to reach their recommended target values, but the report emphasizes that therapeutic lifestyle changes related to nutrition, physical activity, and weight control are still vital. The NCEP Web site has comprehensive information.

NAD challenges "anti-hangover" product. In April 2004, the National Council of Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division (NAD) concluded that A.D. Pharma, of Satellite Beach, Florida, had made unsubstantiated claims for its herbal "anti-hangover" product, notox®. The company had claimed that the product had been studied for two decades and found to reduce or eliminate the effects of alcohol on coordination, balance, memory, and drowsiness, NAD officials investigated because they believed that the claims were extraordinary and if unsupportable could encourage dangerous conduct. The company submitted reports on a study of ten men and a laboratory experiment on mice. NAD concluded that that the human study was too small, too skimpily described, and not necessarily applicable to women and that the animal research could not be legitimately applied to humans. [NAD Case Report: A.D. Pharma, Inc., April 2004] Although the company has modified some of its language, it still asserts that notox® can make drinking alcohol significantly safer and prevent or relieve its adverse effects. Dr. Stephen Barrett believes that these claims are unsubstantiated. [Barrett S. Notox "anti-hangover" claims challenged. Quackwatch, July 11, 2004]

Study finds soy protein ineffective as estrogen substitute. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study has found that supplementation with soy protein containing isoflavones did not improve mental function, bone density, or blood cholesterol levels in 202 healthy postmenopausal women ages 60 to 75. The participants received either 25.6 grams of soy protein containing 99 mg of isoflavones or a total milk powder daily for one year. The study was performed to explore whether soy protein could provide beneficial effects similar to those of estrogens. The researchers say that the study does not rule out the possibility of usefulness if administered around the time of menopause. [Kreijkamp-Kaspers S and others. Effect of soy protein containing isoflavones on cognitive function, bone mineral density, and plasma lipids in postmenopausal women: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA 292:65-74, 2004]

Lead poisoning found among ayurvedic product users. Between 2000 and 2003, the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received reports of lead poisoning associated with ayurvedic remedy use by 12 adults in five states. Most of the users were of Asian Indian or other East Indian descent. [Lead poisoning associated with ayurvedic medications --- Five states, 2000-2003. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 53:582-584, 2004]

Kevin Trudeau violates injunction. A U.S. District Court judge has found Kevin Trudeau in civil contempt of court for violating a July 2003 stipulated preliminary injunction. The judge ruled that Trudeau violated the injunction by claiming in direct mail pieces and an infomercial ("A Closer Look") that coral calcium is effective against cancer and many other diseases. The judge ordered Trudeau to cease all marketing of coral calcium and reserved the right to penalize him. In June 2003, the Federal Trade Commission charged that the infomercial, in which Trudeau "interviewed" Robert Barefoot, had falsely claimed that coral calcium is effective against a long list of diseases and conditions. Barefoot settled his part of the case in January by agreeing to an injunction and forfeiture of royalties. For further information, see FTC File No. 032 3064, Civil Action No. 03 C3904.

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This page was posted on July 13, 2004.