Consumer Health Digest #04-31
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 3, 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.
Quackwatch expands. Quackwatch has launched six more sites to bring its total to 15. Most of the sites have been redesigned with volunteer help from Marty Mapes of Boulder Information Services. Full deployment is expected to take about a year. The new sites are:
- Autism Watch: A scientific guide to autism
- Casewatch: A guide to health fraud- and quackery-related legal matters
- Chelation Watch: A skeptical view of chelation therapy
- Device Watch: A guide to questionable medical devices
- Infomercial Watch: A critical guide to health-related infomercials
- Mental Health Watch: A guide to the mental help marketplace
Lorraine Day infomercial called "dangerous." A 30-minute infomercial featuring an "interview" of Lorraine Day, M.D., is promoting a videotape in which Day claims to have cured herself of "terminal" breast cancer through a 10-step program that features prayer and a "raw food" diet. Donald Barrett, who conducted the interview, is president of ITV Direct, which produced the infomercial and processes orders for the tape. Day warns against trusting the medical profession and claims that all drugs can cause cancer. Her videotapes state (falsely) that standard cancer treatment has never cured anyone and that nobody should undergo chemotherapy and radiation for any cancer. The centerpiece of Day's story is that she cured herself of a grapefruit-sized lump that she says was a recurrence of her breast cancer. But she has refused to disclose any medical records that would confirm that the mass was cancer (rather than a fluid-filled cyst). Dr. Stephen Barrett believes that her advice is untrustworthy and dangerous to the extent that it steers people away from effective treatment. Quackwatch has posted a detailed background report, and Infomercial Watch has a detailed analysis of the infomercial.
Heart Association skeptical of antioxidant supplements. The Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism has once again concluded that antioxidants have little or no proven value for preventing or treating cardiovascular disease. [Kris-Etherton PM and others. Antioxidant vitamin supplements and cardiovascular disease. Circulation 110:637-641, 2004] The committee found:
- Of nine studies on vitamin E and cardiovascular disease (CVD), five showed no effect on CVD events, three showed beneficial effects, and one showed a negative effect.
- Of four studies of beta-carotene, three showed no effects on CVD and one showed a negative effect.
- Of five studies of antioxidant "cocktails," two showed no effects and three showed negative effects.
- Two studies of vitamins E and C together showed beneficial effects.
The Association continues to recommend using a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, legumes, poultry, and lean meats to provide antioxidant vitamin benefits.
FTC goes after "growth hormone" spammer. A federal judge has ordered Creaghan A. Harry, doing business individually and as Hitech Marketing, Scientific Life Nutrition, and Rejuvenation Health Corp., to stop spamming and making deceptive claims for bogus "human growth hormone" products. The FTC sought the order in response to more than 40,000 complaints about the spam. The spam messages contained hyperlinks to Web sites that marketed "Supreme Formula HGH" and "Youthful Vigor HGH" with claims that they can stop or reverse the aging process and produce weight loss, muscle gain, hair regrowth, wrinkle removal, and higher energy levels. Experts for the FTC have concluded that the claims are wholly false and that Harry's products had no discernible effect on the body. The products cost $79.95 for a one-month supply. The FTC alleges that thousands of consumers have been defrauded of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The FTC also asserts that Harry took many steps to hide his involvement with the bogus product operation, including using multiple names, foreign addresses, anonymous Web sites and spam, and having the proceeds of the product sales deposited into a Latvian bank account. The judge's order included an asset freeze. [FTC sues Florida man for illegal spam and false "human growth hormone" product claims. FTC news release, July 29, 2004]
Man ordered to stop misrepresenting self as a licensed provider. Illinois officials have ordered Robert Jerrolds ("Dr. Bob" Jerrolds) to stop representing himself as a doctor and selling health insurance. In September 2003, he circulated a press release about an alleged new cancer treatment called the "Cancer Cell Terminator." [Hein A. 'Dr. Bob' must stop insurance offers. State order: Officials say he's not a licensed provider. The Herald News, July 29, 2004]
This page was posted on August 3, 2004.