Consumer Health Digest #09-43

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
Oct 22, 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.

Cause of Hulda Clark's death revealed. Hulda Regehr Clark, an unlicensed naturopath who wrote several books and exploited patients at a Mexican clinic, claimed to have found the cause and cure of all cancers. Her best known book, Cure of All Cancers, claimed that cancer patients who use her treatment will be cured in five days "regardless of the type." After her death in September 2009, supporters claimed that she died of "complications from a spinal cord injury." But a few weeks later, the Dr. Clark Information Center Web site revealed that she had multiple myeloma. This disease is a form of cancer in which plasma cells become overabundant in the bone marrow. As their volume increases, they destroy the surrounding bone, which releases large amounts of calcium into the blood stream. They also suppress the formation of other blood cells, which leads to severe anemia and other problems. [Multiple myeloma. Merck Manual Home Edition, accessed Oct 23, 2009] The diagnosis is usually easy to make because the affected areas appear on x-ray images as "holes" in the affected bones. The disease eventually kills by producing hypercalcemia, anemia, decreased resistance to infection, and/or several other problems. No cure is available, but most people benefit from treatment, and recently developed drugs have significantly increased survival times. The Dr. Clark Information Center Web site indicates that Clark had symptoms for many months (probably more than a year) before her cancer was discovered. The site further states that she "suffered more than she should have because she wanted to solve her problems herself, even in the face of her severe physical limitations." Although details are lacking, the information suggests that Clark's life was shortened because she failed to seek timely and appropriate medical care. Quackwatch has a detailed account of Clark's activities.

Vaccine fearmongering blasted. Wired Magazine has published a superb cover story debunking anti-vaccination arguments and the people who spread them. [Wallace A. An epidemic of fear: How panicked parents skipping shots endangers us all. Wired, Nov 2009]

Dental podcasts announced. The American Dental Association has begun monthly podcasts viewable through its Web site and downloadable to iPod devices. The first topic,"Overcoming Dental Anxiety," is now available. Future topics will include tooth whitening, oral piercing, importance of dental checkups, and dental care while traveling in other countries. The producers are interested in getting suggestions for other topics.

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This page was posted on October 23, 2009.