Consumer Health Digest #12-39

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 8, 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.

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Suit alleging EMF harm dismissed. A district judge has dismissed a suit by Arthur Firstenberg who claims to suffer from electrical hypersensitivity (EHS). The suit claimed that his health had been seriously impaired by electromagnetic fields generated by cordless telephones, dimmer switches, chargers, Wi-Fi and other computer-related equipment in a neighboring house. EHS is an alleged condition in which people believe that many common ailments are caused exposure to electromagnetic fields. It is nor recognized by the scientific community as a disease. After reviewing the evidence, the judge concluded that (a) experimental studies have found no reliable evidence that people who claim to be sensitive actually experience any unusual physical reactions when exposed to electromagnetic fields, and (b) since Firstenberg could not demonstrate causation, his case must be dismissed. Firstenberg, who founded the Cellular Phone Taskforce in 1996, has been crusading against the use of wireless networks for many years. Quackwatch has additional information about "EHS" and links to the key documents in the case.

Anti-fluoride commissioners lose reelection bid. For the first time in nearly 30 years, two incumbent Republicans have failed to get reelected as Pinellas County (Florida) commissioners. Last year, the pair were among the commissioners who voted 4-3 to end fluoridation in their county. Both winners used the fluoridation issue to persuade voters that the incumbents were reactionary and deaf to dentists' appeals. One of them, Janet Long, told a reporter, "I attribute the win to fluoride, but also to the way the fluoride vote happened. If you've got people who are going to ignore science and empirical facts, then you have to wonder what other decisions they're going to apply that to." The other winner, Charlie Justice, said that adding fluoride back into the county's water would be his first act as commissioner. [Phillips AM, Lindberg A. Commissioners who voted to end fluoridation of the county water supplies have failed to get re-elected. Tampa Bay Times, Nov 7, 2012]

Free herbal app released. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital Cancer Center has released an app version of its Online "About Herbs" database that works on iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch device. The database, which will be updated weekly, provides referenced, searchable monographs on more than 200 supplements, herbal products, and "complementary" treatments.

Prominent science writer dies. Leon Jaroff, one of the media's most vigorous opponents of pseudoscience and quackery, has died at the age of 85. Jaroff served as the senior science editor for Time magazine for many years and the managing editor of Discover magazine for four years.

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This page was posted on November 10, 2012.