Consumer Health Digest #14-07

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 2, 2014

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 launches anti-cigarette offensive. The FDA has begun a year-long national public education campaign to reduce the number of children ages 12 to 17 who become regular smokers. "The Real Cost" campaign is the first of several planned strategies using the authority granted under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Some messages dramatize the health consequences of smoking by graphically depicting tooth loss and skin damage. Others portray cigarette addiction as a loss of control to a "bully," an approach that the agency hopes will disrupt the beliefs of youth who think they will not get addicted and can quit at any time. Others highlight the fact that menthol cigarettes cause the same health consequences as regular cigarettes. [FDA launches its first national public education campaign to prevent, reduce youth tobacco use. FDA news release, Feb 4, 2014]

Pediatricians issue raw milk policy. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has published a policy statement warning against consumption of unpasteurized (raw) milk and milk products. [AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases and Committee on Nutrition. Consumption of raw or unpasteurized milk and milk products by pregnant women and children . Pediatrics 133:175-179, 2014] The document notes:

Nazis contributed to "alternative medicine." By creating the profession of heilpraktikers ("practical healers"), Hitler and his Nazi colleagues played a major role in initiating what is now called "alternative medicine" in Germany. Goebbels did this to keep the civilians happy because as soon as a war could be arranged, the real doctors were going to be sent off to tend the troops. The Nazis conducted tests and actually realized that practical healing didn't work. Goebbels' law, as well as legitimizing its practitioners, was intended to prohibit further training so that their numbers would dwindle after the war ended. However, in 1957 the heilpraktikers got a court judgment overturning this restriction—and some of their approaches are also offered by physicians. [Fraser M. Hitler's contribution to "alternative medicine." Quackwatch, Feb 17, 2014]

Activists call for "bile farming" ban. Using social media and other tools, animal rights activists around the world are urging China and Vietnam to prohibit farmers from keeping bears in captivity and harvesting their bile for alleged medical purposes. The nonprofit group Animals Asia has collected more than 96,000 signatures so far on a petition asking Chinese officials to end the "barbaric practice" of bear bile farming. The group says:

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This page was revised on March 2, 2014.