Consumer Health Digest #09-39

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 24, 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.

David Steenblock, D.O. placed on probation again. The Osteopathic Medical Board of California has placed David Steenblock on probation for five years, ordered to take courses in medical ethics and recordkeeping, and assessed $25,166.60 for the cost of investigation and enforcement. The Board concluded that Steenblock had engaged in gross negligence, repeated negligent acts, and excessive prescribing of treatment and had failed to maintain adequate records in connection with a 77-year-old stroke patient to whom he administered 87 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The Board also concluded that he had improperly advertised himself as board-certified. Although strokes are caused by lack of oxygen to the brain, there is no scientific evidence that increasing oxygen delivery to the brain after an acute episode is over can stimulate cells to regenerate. This is the third time Steenblock has been in trouble with the Board. Quackwatch has posted a detailed report that links to the disciplinary documents.

Resveratrol claims debunked. Quackwatch has updated its report on resveratrol in response to an advertisement in Parade Magazine which suggested that "Vinotrol" might help people lose weight and delay aging. Resveratrol (trans-3,5,4'-trihydroxystilbene), a compound found largely in the skins of red grape. Recent studies in laboratory mice have found increased survival and lower incidence of several diseases and conditions associated with aging. However, human safety and effectiveness studies have not been conducted. [Barrett S. Resveratrol: Don't buy the hype. Quackwatch Sept 21, 2009]

FDA lists fraudulent flu products. The FDA has established a Fraudulent Products List to alert consumers about Web sites that are illegally marketing products related to the 2009 H1N1 Flu Virus (“swine flu” virus). As of September 15, the list had 136 entries, all of which received a warning letter from the agency.

Canadian medical group criticizes college for advocating irrational methods. The British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA) has accused Vancouver's Langara College of training its students to do "medically useless" and potentially harmful treatments. Dr. Lloyd Oppel, who monitors "alternative" health practices for the BCMA, says that he has watched for a decade as Langara's roster of "holistic health" courses has progressed from recreational classes to career training and that the publicly accredited college now offers more than 50 classes in subjects such as iridology and "integrative energy healing." [Rupp S. Medical group slams college's energy-healing courses. Globe and Mail, Sept 1, 2009]

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