Consumer Health Digest #06-24

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 13, 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.

California authorities warn against ozone-producing air cleaners. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has concluded that many devices marketed as air cleaners or air purifiers are not good for people's health. [Some devices marketed as air cleaners dangerous to public health. California Air Resources Board news release, May 31, 2006] In a recent press release, it noted:

Unlicensed naturopath facing prison sentence. A federal jury in Providence Rhode Island has convicted John E. Curran of 18 counts of wire fraud and 3 counts of money laundering. According to the indictment, Curran misrepresented himself as a medical doctor; told clients that they had “live parasites” in their blood; and claimed that they would develop life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, and that he could cure them of life-threatening diseases. [Indictment charges “natural healer” with fraud. USDOJ news release, Sept 15, 2005] Curran's purported M.D., N.D., and Ph.D. "degrees" came from nonaccredited schools that required no classroom attendance and provided no legal basis to treat patients. Curran's treatments included “E-Water,” which he billed as containing the same “synergistic healing properties as the water in Lourdes, France.” He also sold a “Green Drink,” that he claimed would "support and promote the body’s overall ability to fight and prevent disease.” Evidence at the trial indicated that clients paid at least $1.3 million for treatments after being falsely diagnosed with various ailments. The jury also decided that Curran should forfeit devices that he used to promote his scheme and about $15,000,000 in a bank account of his Northeastern Institute for Advanced Natural Healing. [Jury finds “natural healer” guilty of fraud, money laundering. USDOJ news release, May 26, 2006] The maximum penalty for each count of wire fraud and money laundering is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for August 25th.

PAHO promoting salt fluoridation. The Pan American Health Organization is advocating that countries that lack piped water supplies suitable for fluoridation consider fortifying their salt to deliver fluoride. Studies have shown that when most salt destined for human consumption in a country is fluoridated, its effectiveness approximates that of water fluoridation. [Jones S. and others. The effective use of fluorides in public health. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 83:670-676, 2005] PAHO's book, Promoting Oral Health. The Use of Salt Fluoridation to Prevent Dental Caries, details how to plan, operate, monitor and evaluate salt fluoridation programs.

Heimlich maneuver irresponsibly plugged as drowning treatment. Henry Heimlich, M.D., who is credited with promoting abdominal thrusts for dislodging solid bodies in the airway (sometimes called the Heimlich Maneuver), is also advocating this method for treating drowning. Because abdominal thrusts do not open the airway and can cause fatal aspiration of stomach contents, the American Heart Association has concluded that their use is "unnecessary and potentially dangerous." [American Heart Association. 2005 Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care, Part 10.3 Drowning. Circulation 112:IV-133-IV-135, 2005] On May 27, the Cincinnati Enquirer ran a full-page graphic highlighting abdominal thrusts as a first treatment for drowning. After complaints by several experts, the Enquirer published a modified graphic that still promoted abdominal thrusts. Despite two weeks of further protests by NCAHF president Dr. Robert Baratz, the newspaper has failed to retract its dangerous advice.

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This page was revised on June 15, 2006.