Consumer Health Digest #06-15
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 11, 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.
Study undercuts major aromatherapy claim. Neil Martin, Ph.D., a psychologist at Middlesex University, studied how 60 healthy men and women reacted to experienced experimentally-induced pain during exposure to either a pleasant odor (lemon), an unpleasant odor (machine oil), or no odor. The pain was generated by placing one of their arms into a bucket of ice water for up to 15 minutes. At five minutes, the individuals exposed to either odor reported significantly greater pain than did those exposed to no odor. At 15 minutes, those exposed to the unpleasant odor experienced greater pain than did the control group. The results suggest that pain relief that occurs with aromatherapy is due to other factors such as concomitant massage. The study will be published in a scientific journal, but a less technical version has been posted to Quackwatch. [Martin GN. A failure of aromatherapy? Exposure to odor worsens the perception of pain. Quackwatch, April 7, 2005]
Aetna updates its chiropractic coverage policy. Aetna, which does not cover methods that it considers medically unnecessary or "experimental and investigational," has updated its clinical policy bulletin on chiropractic. The procedures it does not cover include maintenance care, Applied Spinal Biomechanical Engineering, BioEnergetic Synchronization Technique, Chiropractic Biophysics, Cranial Manipulation, Coccygeal Meningeal Stress Fixation, Directional Non-force Technique, Manipulation for Internal (non-neuromusculoskeletal) Disorders (Applied Kinesiology), manipulation under anesthesia, Moire Contourographic Analysis, Network technique, Neural Organizational technique, Sacro-Occiptal Technique, surface electromyography (sEMG), thermography, Upledger technique, and Craniosacral therapy. [Chiropractic services (CPB 0107), Aetna, March 31, 2006] Many of these methods are debunked on Chirobase.
Cancer fraudster indicted. Arthur Vanmoor (a/k/a "Philip Roth") of Boca Raton, Florida has been charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, misbranding, and marketing unapproved new drugs. According to the indictment:
- Operating in under such names as Flu-Fighter Laboratories, Vanmoor and co-conspirators sold fake cures for cancer, migraines, influenza, and cramps over the Internet using approximately 20 Web sites such as cancercure.org, breastcancercure.com, and lungcancercure.org.
- The products “Cancer Control,” “Migraine Miracle,” “Flu Fighter,” and “Cramps Comforter” were falsely represented as as “guaranteed” cures that were FDA-approved.
- The Web sites contained bogus articles from bogus doctors, pictures of people dressed like doctors holding the products, and bogus testimonials.
- Some products had names identical to FDA-approved drugs, such as Pfizer’s Camptosar. However, these products were not the actual drugs and contain no significant amounts (if any) of the active ingredients of these drugs.
Vanmoor is also facing a criminal contempt charge for violating a temporary restraining order issued December 2005. The Broward-Palm Beach New Times magazine has published detailed accounts of Vanmoor's background and activities, most notably his high-profile "escort service" businesses. [Stratton J. Gingerbread Man: Broward’s most notorious inventor and accused pimp rakes in a big take—from behind bars, Jan 29, 2004; and Far from benign: Is South Florida's most notorious pimp peddling a fake cancer cure? Dec 22, 2005]
This page was revised on August 30, 2007.