Consumer Health Digest #09-28

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 9, 2009

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.

Devastating attack on "acupuncture anesthesia" published. The Science-Based Medicine Blog has concluded that the "acupuncture anesthesia" promoted by the People's Republic of China from about 1958 through the mid-1970s was faked. In a four-part series, anesthesiologist Kimball Atwood, M.D. concludes:

Source: Atwood KA. "Acupuncture anesthesia: a proclamation from Chairman Mao [Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV], Science in Medicine Blog, May/June 2009.

WHO asked to condemn homeopathy. More than 30 British scientists and early career researchers have authored and/or endorsed an open letter asking the World Health Organization to publicly condemn homeopathy as a treatment for tuberculosis, infant diarrhea, influenza, malaria, and HIV infections. The letter complained that clinics in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Botswana are promoting homeopathic products as equal to more more effective than standard drugs.

Sherman chiropractic college gets off probation. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has removed Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic from probation. Sherman was placed on warning status in December 2007 and probation in June 2008. SACS's probation announcement stated that Sherman had violated SACS guidelines related to integrity, academic freedom, governing board behavior, and the qualifications of its administrative and academic officers. Sherman is the most subluxation-based of the U.S. chiropractic schools. It also received a warning in 2002 but was able to return to compliance.

Cancer "mind-body" doctor" dies. O. Carl Simonton, M.D., who claims that cancers can be affected by relaxation and visualization techniques, has reportedly choked to death at the age of 62. ['Mind-body' oncologist Dr. O. Carl Simonton dies. Associated Press, June 30, 2009] During the 1970s, Simonton theorized that the brain could stimulate endocrine glands to inspire the immune system to attack cancer cells. His book, Getting Well Again included reports on patients claimed to have better treatment outcomes after using his methods. Originally trained as a radiation oncologist, Simonton offered what he called a "mind-body" approach at the Simonton Cancer Center in Pacific Palisades, California. In 1981, the American Cancer Society concluded that the Simonton technique can make people feel that are "doing something" and are "in control of their life." However, it also noted that Simonton's conceptual basis was flawed, and that the claim that imagery can influence the course of a tumor was unsubstantiated. [Unproven methods of cancer management: O. Carol Simonton, M.D. CA—A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 32:58-61, 1982] No subsequent validation occurred.

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This page was revised on July 12, 2009.