Consumer Health Digest #14-17

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 11, 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.

Former Herbalife distributors describe how they were severely harmed. Bill Ackman, who believes that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme, has produced a documentary and a panel discussion in which former Herbalife distributors describe how they suffered significant financial losses. The videos—which are very compelling—can be viewed on Ackman's Facts about Herbalife Web site, which contains detailed financial analyses, court documents, and many other source materials about the company. Although the basic cost of becoming a Herbalife distributor is small, many people are persuaded to invest thousands of dollars stocking up on products, buying sales aids, and attending promotional meetings.

Prenatal DHA supplementation not found beneficial. Based on assessments over a 4-year period, British researchers have found no objective evidence of improved intellectual function among children whose mothers took supplements of docosahexanoic acid (DHA) during pregnancy. Some people claim that DHA supplementation during pregnancy will enhance development of the fetus's brain, but neither this study nor shorter-term studies support these claims. [Makrides M and others. Four-year follow-up of children born to women in a randomized trial of prenatal DHA supplementation. JAMA 311:1802-1804, 2014]

Lawrence Stowe sentenced. Lawrence Stowe has been sentenced to 78 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release for his role in a conspiracy to introduce misbranded and unapproved new drugs into interstate commerce. [Illegal sale of stem cell case lands engineer to federal prison. USDOJ news release, May 2, 2014] Restitution of $419,358 was also ordered, to be paid jointly and severally with co-defendant Francisco Morales, who was previously sentenced to 60 months in prison. According to their indictments:

In 2010, CBS's "60 Minutes" aired a hard-hitting undercover report about Stowe's scheme. [21st century snake oil: "60 Minutes" cameras expose medical con men who prey on dying victims. CBS News, April 18, 2010] Stowe and Moralse pleaded guilty in 2012. [Convictions entered in two separate Texas cases involving stem cells. USDOJ news release, Sept 2, 2012]

Dental Watch posts article about recommended products. Dr. Stephen Barrett has posted information about three dental products that he uses and recommends: Sonicare electric toothbrushes, PHB ultra soft toothbrushes, and Glide Comfort Plus dental tape.

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This page was posted on May 11, 2014.