Consumer Health Digest #06-05

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 31, 2006

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.

Coretta Scott King dies in Mexican cancer clinic. Coretta Scott King, widow of former civil rights leader Martin Luther King, died at Hospital Santa Monica, a shady clinic run by Kurt Donsbach. The facility's Web site falsely claims that "with very few exceptions, traditional allopathic treatment of cancer today results in no more benefit than in 1950 when records of cancer successes were first kept." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Mrs. King had checked into the facility under an assumed name and died in her sleep a few days afterward. [Judd B and others. Clinic, founder operate outside norm: Holistic health practitioner has criminal record, dubious resumé. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Feb 1, 2006] The report also stated that Mrs King was in the late stages of ovarian cancer and was being "evaluated for possible treatment" before she died. Donsbach has "degrees" from several nonaccredited schools and has been the target of several criminal and civil prosecutions. [Barrett S. The shady activities of Kurt Donsbach. Quackwatch, Feb 1, 2006]

Many people wonder why the Mexican government permits shady clinics to operate. Most observers believe that it welcomes the "tourist" dollars and that bribery may also be a factor. The National Council Against Health Fraud would like the American government to ask the Mexican government to stop the exploiting of desperate Americans.

"Nutritional/metabolic" physician disciplined. John V. Dommisse, M.D., who practices what he calls "nutritional and metabolic telemedicine" in Tucson, Arizona, has been reprimanded for "unprofessional conduct" and placed on five years' probation by the Arizona Medical Board. The board concluded that Dommisse had:

The board's order requires Dommisse to pay for the board's investigation; modify his patient brochure and Web site; take certain continuing education courses; have patient records periodically monitored; and undergo an evaluation to determine his fitness to remain in practice. His Web site still claims that he "pioneered a radically new and highly successful approach to all types and grades of hypothyroidism, and to vitamin B12, and many other, deficiencies."

Cell Tech sued for wrongful death. The family of Melissa Blake, who died in 2003 from liver and kidney failure, has filed suit against Cell Tech International, alleging the company supplied her with algae products that contained toxic levels of microcystins. Cell Tech markets algae products made from blue-green algae harvested from Klamath Lake, Oregon. Blake worked for the company as a receptionist. The suit papers state: (a) the autopsy report showed liver and kidney damage suggestive of exposure to toxins that occur with blue-green algae called microcystins; and (b) tests on Cell Tech products found in Blake's home found high amounts of microcystins. The suit is posted on Casewatch.

ConsumerLab pans hoodia supplements. has concluded that "hoodia" supplements have not been proven safe or effective for reducing appetite or body weight and that the quality of the products is uncertain. Hoodia gordonii is a rare cactus-like plant that is protected by conservation laws in South Africa and Namibia. Its stems and roots are used in supplements. It has been speculated that more product is sold today than could possibly be made from all the Hoodia gordonii plants in existence, which would mean that consumers might not be getting what they expect. Access to the report requires a subscription or payment of a $10 fee.

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This page was posted on February 1, 2006.