Consumer Health Digest #10-31

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 5, 2010

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.

FDA and Health Canada warn against "mineral solution. The FDA is warning consumers not to drink Miracle Mineral Solution (also called Miracle Mineral Supplement or MMS) because, when used as directed, it produces an industrial bleach that can seriously harm health. [FDA Warns consumers of serious harm from drinking Miracle Mineral Solution. FDA news release, July 30, 2010] MMS is distributed on Web sites by multiple independent distributors. In May, Health Canada issued a similar warning. MMS's discovery is attributed to Jim Humble, a former "research engineer" who claims to have cured thousands of people of malaria and other serious diseases. The product contains a 28% solution of sodium chlorite which is supposed to be mixed with an acid such as citrus juice. This mixture produces chlorine dioxide, a potent bleach used for stripping textiles and industrial water treatment. High oral doses, such as those recommended in the labeling, can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and symptoms of severe dehydration. Last year, the FDA ordered one MMS distributor to stop making illegal health claims for MMS. Presumably as a result, manufacturers have changed the product label to specify that MMS is sold for water purification. However, it is still widely claimed to be effective against HIV, hepatitis, the H1N1 flu virus, common colds, acne, cancer, and other conditions. The first half of Humble's book, Breakthrough: The Miracle Mineral Solution of the 21st Century (2009), which is filled with grandiose claims, is downloadable free of charge.

Pseudoscience "guide" published. Dr. Robert Carroll, a retired college professor who for many years taught courses in ethics and critical thinking, has published a brilliant 20-point guide to creating your own pseudoscience. The techniques include making big promises, using lots of jargon, lacing promotions with references to government conspiracies, charging high prices, using testimonials and celebrity endorsements, and obtaining a degree from a diploma mill. [Carroll RT. Creating your own pseudoscience. Skeptic's Dictionary, June 4, 2010]

British medical organizations warn against unnecessary testing. The British Medical Association and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges are concerned about the promotion of inappropriate medical tests. In a joint statement, the groups warned:

The statement also called for "robust" government regulation to protect consumers from being misled. [Meldrum H, Douglas N. Joint statement on direct-to-consumer screening, June 24, 2010]

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