Consumer Health Digest #05-28

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 12, 2005

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.

Chiropractor ordered to stop doing live blood analysis. Joyce M. Martin, D.C., who has offices in several Rhode Island locations, has been ordered to stop performing live blood analysis, a procedure that involves looking at the patient's blood cells under a microscope and recommending dietary supplements to remedy alleged problems. An attorney for the state Board of Examiners in Chiropractic Medicine described the test as as "useless" and a "money-making scheme " A state medical board official said that the test has no discernible value and the public should be very suspicious of any practitioner who offers it. [Freyer FJ. Chiropractor ordered to halt blood tests. Providence Journal, June 21, 2005] Edzard Ernst, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, summed up the situation in an article in the British Guardian:

Seeing one's own blood cells on a video screen is, admittedly, a powerful experience. It gives patients the impression of hi-tech, cutting edge science combined with holistic care. And impressed patients are ready to part with a lot of money. American websites explain how a practitioner can make $100,000 (£57,000) annually by purchasing the equipment necessary for performing LBA. The bulk of this money is made not through charging for the test itself but by selling expensive nutritional supplements to the patient with the promise that these will correct whatever abnormality has been diagnosed.

In other words, patients are potentially cheated three times over. First, you are diagnosed with a "condition" you don't have; then a lengthy and expensive treatment ensues; and finally the bogus test is repeated and you are declared "improved" or "back to normal." [Ernst E. A new era of scientific discovery? Intrigued by the spectacular claims made for Live Blood Analysis? Don't be. It doesn't work. The Guardian, July 12, 2005]

Quackwatch has additional information.

"Top AIDS doctor" surrenders his California license. Michael J. Scolaro, M.D., of Beverly Hills, California, has been assessed $4,500 in costs and surrendered his license to practice medicine to settle charges of negligence, incompetence, unprofessional conduct and failing to keep required records in the treatment of three patients. The Medical Board of California says that he gave an unnecessary drugs, ordered excessive tests, failed to appropriately monitor a patient's progress, and failed to obtain consultation when needed. In 1994, the board placed Scolaro on three years' probation for improperly experimenting on 11 terminally ill AIDS patients by inoculating them with blood containing the human immunodeficiency virus. Scolaro founded and operated a clinic called Let There Be Hope. His Web site refers to him as "one of the world’s top AIDS doctors."

Study finds vitamin E and aspirin won't prevent cancer in women. Newly released data from the Women's Health Study do not support use of vitamin E or aspirin to prevent cancer or heart disease in apparently healthy women. The study involved 39,876 women aged age 45 years or older who were randomly assigned to receive vitamin E or placebo and aspirin or placebo and were followed for an average of 10.1 years between 1992 and 2004. The study found no difference in cancer death rate. Cardiovascular death rate was lower in the vitamin E group, but there was no decrease in the overall death rate. [Lee I-M and others. Vitamin E in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Journal of the American Medical Association 294:56-65, 2005] The authors concluded:

BMJ will stop posting letters from "AIDS deniers." The British Medical Journal has announced that its criteria for posting "rapid response" letters to its Web site have been tighened.The rapid response program, which began in 1998, has resulted in more than 50,000 posts. The editors like the program because it enables important comments about articles to be made immediately. However, the easy access has also resulted in what the editors call the threat of "bores taking over." The new policy requires that responses contribute substantially to the discussion and not be repetitive. One topic that will be curbed is the denial that AIDS is caused by the HIV virus. [Davies S, Delamonthe T. Revitalising rapid responses. British Medical Journal 330:1284, 2005]

Astrologer sues NASA over comet crash. Russian astrologer Marina Bai is suing the U.S. National Aeronautic and Space Administration, claiming that the agency's bombardment of the Tempel 1 comet has "deformed" her horoscope and violated her spiritual rights. A NASA probe rammed the comet last week as part of an experiment that scientists hoped would help reveal how the universe was formed. The suit asks for damages of $300 million, which approximates the cost of the mission. The James Randi Educational Foundation has posted this reaction from one of its readers: "I certainly agree with . . . Ms. Bai that NASA has caused a big difference in her life. Before Deep Impact hit the comet, she was an unheard-of buffoon; now she's a well-known buffoon."

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This page was posted on July 12, 2005.