Consumer Health Digest #09-52

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 24, 2009

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. 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.

Vitamin C supplements may raise cataract risk. A study of women who were followed over an 8-year period has found that vitamin C supplementation, particularly in high dose and long duration, may increase the risk of age-related cataracts. The study included 24,593 women aged 49-83 years from the Swedish Mammography Cohort (follow-up from September 1997 to October 2005). The researchers used a self-administered questionnaire to collect information on dietary supplement use and lifestyle factors. [Rautiainen S and others. Vitamin C supplements and the risk of age-related cataract: a population-based prospective cohort study in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Nov 18, 2009. Epub ahead of print] The study does not prove cause-and-effect, but because high-dose vitamin C provides no proven benefit for the general population, the findings provide further reason to avoid vitamin C megadosage.

Anti-homeopathy campaign coming. Skeptics in the United Kingdom have announced their intention to raise public awareness that homeopathy is quackery. The campaign will launch early in 2010. People who wish to join or monitor the campaign can register on

Dismissal of Heimlich associate's groundless libel suit upheld. A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the dismissal of a libel suit brought by Edward Patrick, M.D. against the Cleveland Scene newspaper and Thomas Francis, a writer whose cover story, "Playing Doctor," accused Patrick of lying about his professional experience. Patrick is board-certified in emergency medicine, based on a one-year residency program followed by credit for practice. However, critics believe he did not complete residency training. The newspaper article also questioned the veracity of data from Patrick that were used to establish the Heimlich maneuver as a method for treating choking. The appellate court agreed with the lower court judge that Patrick had misrepresented the extent of his medical training and failed to present credible information to rebut other accusations made in the article.

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This page was posted on December 24, 2009.