Consumer Health Digest #07-10
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 6, 2007
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.
Antioxidants hit by pessimistic report. A Cochrane Collaboration team has concluded that commonly taken antioxidant supplements may do more harm than good. Their review encompassed 68 randomized controlled trials with 232,606 participants who took various combinations of beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and/or selenium or a placebo or had no intervention. [Bjelakovic G and others. Mortality in randomized trials of antioxidant supplements for primary and secondary prevention: Systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA 297:842-857, 2007] The reviewers concluded:
- There was no convincing evidence that antioxidant supplements have beneficial effects on overall death rate.
- In 47 trials with 180,938 participants, the antioxidant supplements significantly increased the death rate.
- Beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E given singly or combined with other antioxidant supplements significantly increase mortality
- The potential roles of vitamin C and selenium on mortality need further study.
- Considering that 10% to 20% of the adult population in North America and Europe may consume the assessed supplements, the public health consequences may be substantial.
- Because the study examined only the influence of synthetic antioxidants, its findings should not be applied to the potential effects of eating fruits and vegetables.
Parents sentenced for quackery-related child abuse. Sharen and Michael Gravelle, an Ohio couple who kept 10 of their 11 adoptive children in cramped cages, were sentenced to six months to two years for felony child abuse. For five years, several of the children were treated by attachment therapist Elaine Thompson, who, according to the Gravelles, had recommended using cages equipped with alarms to protect the children. The State of Ohio paid Thompson more than $100,000 for treating the Gravelle children. The oldest child wrote the trial judge: "I spent the most important years of my life being commanded like a dog, being told when to eat, when to sleep, when to go to the bathroom, when to get a drink of water, when to work, etc." Another told the judge what a relief it was to be through with the attachment therapy program: "I don't have to steal food. I can use the bathroom whenever I want. Never again will I have to sleep in a box." [Adoptive parents guided by attachment therapy are sentenced to two years in prison. AT News, March 4, 2007] Thompson, a licensed social worker, denied wrongdoing but pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of failure to report the abuse. [Freehan J. Therapist in 'caged kids' case enters guilty plea: Lorain County woman failed to report abuse. Toledo Blade, Feb 21, 2007] The Gravelles are appealing their conviction. The Advocates for Children in Therapy Web site has additional details about the case.
Review finds auditory training ineffective. A systematic review has found no evidence that auditory integration training is effective for autistic adults or children. The reviewers examined six randomized controlled trails with a total of 171 participants aged 3 to 39 years. [Sinha Y and others. Auditory integration training and other sound therapies for autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review. Archives of Disease in Childhood 91:1018-1022, 2006]
ACSH reports again on nutrition information in popular magazines. The American Council on Science and Health's has issued its tenth report on the accuracy of nutrition information in popular magazines. The evaluation judged approximately ten articles each from 21 magazines for factual accuracy, presentation, and quality of recommendations. The highest-scoring magazines were Consumer Reports (90% rating), Glamour (87%), Ladies' Home Journal (87%), and Shape (87%). The three lowest were Cosmopolitan (75%), Muscle & Fitness (72%) and Men's Fitness (67%). The full report—Nutrition Accuracy in Popular Magazines, January 2004-December 2005—is available free of charge online.
This page was posted on March 7, 2007.