Consumer Health Digest #14-22
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 15, 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.
Australian cigarette warnings appear to be effective. Household consumption of tobacco products in Australia fell 4.9% in the year that ended in March. [Innis M. Australia's graphic cigarette pack warnings appear to work. The New York Times, June 11, 2014]. The drop appears to be due to rising prices and the packaging regulations that took effect in December 2012. Australian cigarette packages must now be plain except for large, graphic warnings about heart disease, lung disease, and other serious illnesses. The Supplier Guide, which provides full details, can be viewed online.
British regulators uphold complaints against "alternative" practitioners. The British Advertising Standards Authority has ordered two "alternative" health care providers to stop making certain claims about their credentials:
- Harald Gaier, doing business as Natural Family Health, had claimed to provide "scientifically proven medical alternative medicine, paired with orthodox diagnostic tests." He has had training in homeopathy and naturopathy but is not trained or registered as a medical doctor. The ASA ordered him to stop falsely implying that he is a medical doctor and to stop making unsubstantiated claims for nonstandard tests for food allergies, gut permeability, and gut fermentation.
- Sam Shohet, doing business as Integral Health, had advertised that (a) he is "the leading Alternative Health Practitioner in Harley Street, London and Woking, Surrey," (b) his background lies in conventional medicine, having started his career as a reconstructive dental surgeon, and (c) he was one of the very few dental practitioners in the UK to become a member of General Dental Surgery of the prestigious Royal College of Surgeons of England. After determining that he was not a qualified medical doctor or a practicing dentist, the ASA ordered him to stop using the title "Dr." Much of his practice centers around a hair test that enables him to provide "a full health report based on the analysis of your hair root, giving your health condition at the time of testing, your prescription to alleviate the problem, a list of your food allergy/intolerances, a letter from Dr Sam with his remarks and views on your health test result and our Patient Information booklet giving you all the alternative foods and where to buy them, advice on lifestyle and exercise and much more." The complaint to the ASA did not include claims about what he offers.
Biological dentist disciplined for the seventh time. Michael D. Margolis, D.D.S. who practices what he called "biological dentistry," has been disciplined again by the Arizona Board of Dental Examiners. In 1984, he was placed on one year's probation and ordered to take 21 hours of continuing education. In 1987, the board concluded that he had failed to adequately document the reasons for several procedures that the board suspected were questionable. After concluding that he had acted unprofessionally, it fined him $200 and placed him on probation for one year. In 1989, the board censured him for installing a crown improperly and ordered him to pay restitution of $330 to the patient. In 1995, the Board censured him for failing to supervise a dental assistant whom he had authorized to polish teeth. Each of other three disciplinary actions—in 2004, 2012, and 2013—concerned inappropriately diagnosing and treating a patient for "neuralgia inducing cavitational osteonecrosis" ("NICO") and unnecessarily extracting teeth based on diagnoses made with a Cavitat device. In two of these cases, he had also performed invasive jawbone surgery that was unnecessary and had left the patients with persistent jaw discomfort. In the 2004 case, he was ordered to take 12 hours of board-approved continuing education. In the 2012 case, he was ordered to take 24 hours of continuing education. In the 2013 case, he was ordered to pay restitution of $11,986 to the patient.
The NICO diagnosis is used by a tiny minority of dentists who claim that most facial pains and even pains and diseases located far from the mouth are caused by cavities (cavitations) within the jaw bones that can be diagnosed with a Cavitat device and should be treated with invasive and irreversible surgeries and extractions. [Barrett S. A critical look at cavitational osteopathosis, NICO, and "biological dentistry." Quackwatch, June 8, 2014] The Cavitat is an ultrasound device that does not have FDA approval for diagnosing disease. In 2012, the American Association of Endodontists issued a position statement that concluded:
The American Association of Endodontists cannot condone surgical interventions intended to treat suspected NICO lesions. Even when a NICO lesion is suspected to be associated with an endodontically treated tooth, no surgical procedures should be performed until orofacial pain specialists confirm the diagnosis. . . . In addition, the practice of recommending the extraction of endodontically treated teeth for the prevention of NICO, or any other disease, is unethical and should be reported immediately to the appropriate state board of dentistry.
Margolis's Web site states:
Dr. Margolis is not just a Dentist, but also a Doctor of Integrative Medicine. As such, he is capable of handling many complex dental health cases that involve not just the mouth, but the whole body, as well. Dr. Margolis focuses on restoring patient's overall health and well being through many holistic techniques (including avoiding root canals, eliminating heavy metals, using biocompatible dental materials, and much more).
Margolis's "integrated medicine" degree was obtained from Capital University of Integrated Medicine, a non-accredited school that functioned from 1995 to 2003 and advocated unscientific methods. Its "degrees" lack recognized academic or legal standing.
This page was revised on June 16, 2014.