Consumer Health Digest #12-29

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 23, 2012

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.

ISM publishes chiropractic white paper. The Institute for Science in Medicine has published a scholarly white paper on chiropractic written by attorney Jann J. Bellamy and edited by Dr Stephen Barrett. The report stresses that (a) chiropractic is based on faulty premises and (b) that although spinal manipulation has some value for treating back pain, "many chiropractors employ methods that are unsubstantiated, implausible, and not based upon the body of knowledge related to health, disease, and health care that has been widely accepted by the scientific community." The paper provides most comprehensive and insightful analysis of the chiropractic marketplace written in the past 20 years.

Expert panel trashes "alternative medicine" concept. The James Randi Foundation has posted an incisive look at "The Truth About Alternative Medicine," a 1-hour program videotaped at the TAM 2012 meeting. The participants—Steven Novella, M.D., Harriet Hall, M.D., David Gorski, M.D., Ph.D., and Rachel Dunlop, Ph.D.—discuss how misleading concepts and quack practices have permeated our society and have even corrupted medical education.

Narconon deaths under investigation.The Pittsburgh County (Oklahoma) Sheriff and state Mental Health and Substance Abuse are investiating four deaths that occurred at the Arrowhead Narconon facility in Eastern Oklahoma. Narconon, which is the Church of Scientology's drug rehabilitation program, features sauna treatments and high doses of niacin that are claimed to release drug residues from fatty tissues. The Tampa Bay Times has reported that in 2010, there were 53 Narconon centers worldwide. [Childs J, Tobin TC. Deaths at Scientology drug treatment program Narconon bring investigation. Tampa Bay Times, Aug 16, 2012]

Abdominal exercise claims curbed. The marketers of Ab Circle Pro have settled FTC charges by agreeing to provide at least $15 milion for consumer refunds and to refrain from making false or unsupported claims in the future. Advertisements for the device had claimed that a three-minute workout was equivalent to doing 100 sit-ups and could cause them to lose ten pounds in two weeks. [Marketers of 'Ab Circle Pro' device to pay as much as $25 million in refunds to settle FTC charges. FTC news release, Aug 23, 2012]

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This page was posted on August 25, 2012.