Consumer Health Digest #06-21

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 23, 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.

Comprehensive dietary supplement reports issued. The National Institutes of Health has drafted a "state-of-the-science" report about whether multivitamin/mineral supplements (MVMs) and certain single nutrient supplements can prevent chronic disease. The conclusions expressed by the report's authors include:

The draft statement was accompanied by a 321-page evidence report. A final statement is expected in July.

Chiropractors threaten transportation authority. The World Chiropractic Alliance, an organization dedicated to "preserving and strengthening subluxation-based chiropractic around the world," is upset about conspicuous ads appearing on the outside of buses in Bridgeport and Waterbury, Connecticut. On May 8th, a lawyer acting on its behalf notified the Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority (GBTA) that if the ads were not immediately removed, the WCA and several local chiropractors would file suit and ask state and federal authorities to investigate. The ad was placed by the Chiropractic Stroke Victims Awareness Group.

The GBTA has issued a public statement that, "The advertising space on our fleet of buses is . . . protected by the first amendment of the US Constitution. . . . This amendment therefore limits advertisers that can be rejected regardless of the concerns of any one body in the community." Chirobase has further details. Stroke from chiropractic neck manipulation occurs when an artery to the brain ruptures or becomes blocked as a result of being stretched. Speculations exist that the odds of a serious complication due to neck manipulation are somewhere between one in 5,000 and one in 10 million manipulations. No one really knows, however, because there has been little systematic study of its frequency. [Barrett S. Chiropractic's dirty secret: Neck manipulation and strokes. Quackwatch, Jan 27, 2004]

ConsumerLab's libel suit against CRN moves forward. The Supreme Court of the State of New York has denied a motion to stop's libel suit against the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a trade group that represents dietary supplement manufacturers and distributors. In January 2005, CRN published a press release and a letter that it sent to the FTC. Both included false allegations that (a)'s "entire business model represents an an egregious form of consumer fraud and deception" and (b) companies are pressured into paying a fee to avoid potential negative consequences of having their products tested. After the FTC dismissed CRN's complaint, filed suit. In upholding the suit, the court ruled that although complaints to regulatory agencies are shielded, public disclosure of their contents is not. offers a combination of free and subscription-based reports about products (including herbs) sold as dietary supplements.

German study finds no cholesterol-lowering with policosanol. A multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of patients with high LDL-cholesterol levels has found no benefit from taking policosanol. Derived from Cuban sugar cane, policosanol is claimed to have effects comparable to prescription statin drugs. However, among 129 patients who were followed for 12 weeks, the study found no statistically significant difference between the policosanol and placebo users for LDL, HDL, VLDL, triglycerides, or lipoprotein(a). The researchers noted that (a) although more than 80 previous studies have reported positive results, nearly all were done by a single research institute in Cuba, (b) more independent studies are needed to balance the vast body of positive studies, and (c) no studies have determined whether policosanol users have fewer heart attacks. [Berthold HK and others. Effect of policosanol on lipid levels among patients with hypercholesterolemia or combined hyperlipidemia. JAMA 295:2262-2269, 2006]

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This page was posted on May 23, 2006.