Consumer Health Digest #08-33

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 12, 2008

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.

Fluoridation figures updated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2006 about 188 million (69.2%) out of 266 million Americans served by community water systems were receiving optimally fluoridated water. [Populations receiving optimally fluoridated public drinking water --- United States, 1992--2006. MMWR 57:737-741, 2008] A few million more will probably be added within the next few years because San Diego is scheduled to start fluoridation by 2010 [Crozier S. San Diego authorizes community water fluoridation. ADA News, June 16, 2008] and Louisiana recently passed a law that will facilitate implementation statewide. [Crozier S. Louisiana law clears path for fluoridation. ADA News 39(14):1,14, 2008]

"Natural hygiene" practitioners settle wrongful death suit. Gregory Haag, Tosca Haag, and Vivian V. Vetrano, D.C., have agreed to settle a suit brought by survivors of Dennis G. McDaniel. Natural hygiene, an offshoot of naturopathy, is a philosophy of health and “natural living” that opposes most medical treatments and advocates (a) eating a “raw food” diet of vegetables, fruits, and nuts, (b) periodic fasting, and (c) “food combining” (avoiding food combinations it considers detrimental). For many years, according to their Web sites, the trio operated the Rest of Your Life (ROYL) Retreat in La Vernia, Texas, where they offered "natural hygiene" treatments. The suit charged that McDaniel's death [at age 55] was triggered by two weeks of complete fasting followed by two more weeks of severe dietary restriction. Both Haags purport to have a medical degree, but neither they nor Vetrano are licensed as health care practitioners. Vetrano, who is Haag's natural mother, claimed she was merely a visitor to the retreat, but the court ruled that that should be decided by a jury. Shortly afterward, the case was settled. The settlement terms are not in the court record, but a recent fundraising appeal states the trio "was left with $150,000 in lawyers' fees and $1,000,000 in a high interest loan." In 1982, a federal court jury awarded over $800,000 to the survivors of a 49-year-old man who died after undergoing a distilled water fast for 30 days at Shelton’s Health School, where Vetrano worked as an associate.

Dutch warn against Simoncini cancer treatment. The Dutch Health Care Inspectorate has concluded that the cancer treatment advocated by Tulio Simoncini is ineffective and dangerous. Simoncini claims that cancer is an infection caused by Candida albicans, an opportunistic fungus. He claims that the fungus can be eliminated by administering sodium bicarbonate by intravenous infusion, by mouth, or through intra-arterial catheters close to the tumor site. The Inspectorate's warning was triggered by the death of a patient whom Simoncini had treated at a Dutch clinic. In 2003, his license to practice medicine was withdrawn, and in 2006 he was convicted by an Italian judge for wrongful death and swindling. However, he has continued to treat patients at an Italian clinic and elsewhere. [Koene R, Jitta SJ. Be wary of Simoncini Cancer Therapy. Cancer Treatment Watch, Aug 7, 2008]

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