Consumer Health Digest #05-49

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 6, 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.

Heimlich severely criticized. Henry Heimlich, M.D., who is best known for the "Heimlich maneuver" for rescuing people who are choking, has been criticized by several recent reports. Questions have been raised about (a) whether Heinlich actually originated the maneuver that bears his name, (b) whether he helped another doctor fake credentials on a licensure application, and (c) the extent to which he was involved in unethical experiments in which people with AIDS and Lyme disease were infected with malaria as a form of treatment. [Francis F. Dr. Henry Heimlich's latest maneuver—a controversial AIDS "cure"—has many medical ethicists gagging. RADAR Online, Nov 10, 2005] Heimlich's claim that his maneuver can help save drowning victims has also been challenged. In a recent position statement, the American Heart Association stated: "Attempts to remove water from the breathing passages by any means other than suction (e.g., abdominal thrusts or the Heimlich maneuver) are unnecessary and potentially dangerous. The routine use of abdominal thrusts or the Heimlich maneuver for drowning victims is not recommended." [AHA Guidelines 2005 for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Repair. Part III: Drowning. Circulation. 112:IV-133-135, 2005]. Heimlich's son Peter maintains a Web site with additional criticisms.

Center of Inquiry headquarters expands. The Center for Inquiry (CFI) – Transnational has completed a research center adjacent to SUNY Buffalo’s Amherst Campus. This phase of its $26.25 million expansion program brings its total building space to 35,000 square feet on 7.5 acres. The CFI -Transnational and its affiliated Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health, and Council for Secular Humanism have a 65,000-book library and publish 17 magazines and newsletters that support critical thinking and the scientific method. Worldwide, more than 30 Centers of Inquiry exist or are under development. [Message from Paul Kurtz. CFI press release, Nov 29, 2005] At the new building's dedication, CFI chair Paul Kurtz charged that scientific education in the United States has fallen far behind that of many other developed countries and that the resultant scientific illiteracy is a serious threat to the survival of democracy.

Prominent antiquackery activist dies. Ludmil A. Chotkowski, M.D., who practiced medicine in Connecticut for 41 years, died October 6th of complications of a brain tumor. His book, Chiropractic: The Greatest Hoax of the Century?, is one of the few books that debunks chiropractic theory and is the only such book written by a medical doctor within the past half century. The Hartford Courant has published a detailed account of his life and public works. [Hamilton AM. 'Doc' Chotkowski was pioneer in public health, parks. Hartford Courant, Nov 13, 2005] Copies of his book, which he donated to Quackwatch when his condition was terminal, are available for $10 postpaid from Quackwatch, P.O. Box 1717, Allentown, PA 18105.

FTC expresses optimism about spam control. The FTC has concluded that spammers are far more likely to harvest e-mail addresses from Web sites than from chat rooms, message boards, USENET groups, and blogs. In a recent experiment, masking these addresses was fairly effective in defeating automated harvesting software. The study also found that filters used by ISPs block about 90% on incoming spam. [FTC study shows technology gaining in the battle against spam. FTC news release, Nov 28, 2005]

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This page was posted on November 10, 2005.