Consumer Health Digest #07-32

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 21, 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.

FDA warns against using red yeast rice products. The FDA is warning consumers not to buy or eat three red yeast rice products promoted as dietary supplements for treating high cholesterol. FDA testing has revealed the products contain lovastatin, the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Mevacor, a prescription drug approved as a treatment for high cholesterol. [FDA warns consumers to avoid red yeast rice products promoted on Internet as treatments for high cholesterol. FDA news release, Aug 9, 2007] Although lovastatin is a very useful drug, it is not suitable for self-medication and the amount in dietary supplements is not standardized. The FDA also ordered the marketers (Swanson Healthcare Products, Inc. and Sunburst Biorganics) to stop promoting and selling the products. During the past ten years, the agency has issued similar orders to at least six other companies.

"Quackometer" site develops. The Quackometer Web site provides help in judging whether information sources are trustworthy. The quackometer counts words in web pages that quacks tend to use; the more such words, the more quackery is suspected. The Quackometer QuackSafe™Web Search Engine returns matches from about 50 sites and blogs that are known to supply reliable information about quackery, quacks, medical fraud, and health-related pseudoscience. Andy Lewis, who manages the Quackometer site, notes that "Wikipedia is also not included, as after consideration, its articles on quack related subjects often suffer from the "BBC fallacy" that the truth is found in a balance of opinions.

Hulda Clark criticism posted. The daughter of a deceased cancer patient has written a vivid account of her mother's experience with Hulda Clark, the unlicensed naturopath whose book Cure for All Cancers states that all cancers can be cured within 5 days. Shortly after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma (a bone cancer), the mother refused standard treatment and went to Clark's Mexican clinic instead. The article describes how, after more than a month, Clark pronounced that the mother was cured and advised her not to get an MRI because because even though her malignancy had been killed it would take time for the tumor to reduce in size. Several weeks later, an MRI showed that during Clark's treatment, the tumor grew to two-and-a-half times its initial size. [Chavez P. How Hulda Clark victimized my parents. Cancer Treatment Watch, Aug 11, 2007]

Dubious test promoter loses chiropractic license. The Web site of the Nutrition Wellness Center of Sarasota, Florida, states that its proprietor, James H. Martin, is a "retired chiropractic physician who has been in practice for over 30 years." It fails to mention, however, that his "retirement" involved permanently relinquishing his chiropractic license rather than facing charges by a patient who had accused him of fraud. Martin and his clinic offer NutraScan Bio-Resonance testing, which is said to examine urine and saliva for "over 550 known toxicants, including chemicals and heavy metals, pesticides, dyes, parasites, bacteria, molds, viruses and fungi." Based on the results and a questionnaire, prospective patients are advised to undergo "zapping" with a dubious low-voltage electrical device and to purchase expensive dietary supplements. In 2002, a young woman complained to the state attorney general that she had spent thousands of dollars for worthless tests and treatments. In 2006, although he denied wrongdoing, Martin voluntarily relinquished his license rather than have the board judge the patient's complaint. [Barrett S. NutraScan: Another test to avoid. Quackwatch, Aug 20, 2007]

"Age-management specialist" ordered to curb advertising. Philip S. Czekaj, M.D. and the Texas State Board of Medicine have entered into an agreed order under which Czekaj was assessed an administrative penalty of $500. Czekaj operates the Genesis Medical Spa in San Antonio, Texas, which, in 2006, advertised that in addition to being board certified. Czekaj was trained and certified by the Cenegenics Institute in the field of age management medicine. (The site also defined age management medicine as "a proactive approach that utilizes hormone modulation and nutritional supplementation to help prevent disease and minimize the effects of aging.") The board became concerned that prospective patients might conclude that Czekaj was certified in "cenegenics" or "age management medicine" instead of emergency or preventive medicine in which he is actually certified. Cenegenics and age-management medicine are not medically recognized specialties.

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This page was posted on August 21, 2007.