Consumer Health Digest #14-33
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 7, 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.
No cancer-bra connection found. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle have found no support for the widely published notion that wearing a bra increases the risk of developing breast cancer. Promoters of this idea claim that bras cause pressure on the lymphatic system that interferes with the processes of waste and toxin removal. The researchers compared the bra-wearing histories of 469 apparently healthy women with those of 1,044 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and found that no aspect of bra wearing—including bra cup size, average number of hours/day worn, wearing a bra with an underwire, or age first began regularly wearing a bra—was associated with any breast-cancer risk. [Chen L and others. Bra wearing not associated with breast-cancer risk: A population-based case-control study. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, Sept 5, 2014]
Analysis of MLM complaints published. John M. Taylor, MBA, Ph.D., who operates MLM-thetruth.com, has published a 356-page analysis of complaints about multilevel marketing firms sent to the FTC in 2013. The report concludes:
- More than 900 complaints were filed regarding more than 100 companies. The complaints—which include "channel stuffing" (pressuring participants to buy products they have a hard time selling); overpricing; grossly exaggerated health claims; and high churn rates—are indicators of widespread deceptive and unfair trade practices, which the FTC is charged with investigating.
- MLM as an inherently flawed business model. Typically, prospects are lured with exaggerated product and income claims. And because the pay plan is heavily stacked in favor of those at the highest levels in the pyramid, the vast majority of participants spend more than they receive and eventually drop out, only to be replaced by a stream of similarly misled recruits, approximately 99% of whom are likewise destined to experience loss and disappointment.
- The FTC does not have the resources to prosecute the hundreds of MLMs that violate the FTC Act. Consumers have expressed anger at the abuses they experienced and provided a large body of evidence that points to specific areas in which the FTC could take preventive action. Although the agency could establish rules that will provide some protection to consumers, it has exempted MLMs from industrywide regulation under its Business Opportunity Rule in favor of case-by-case reviews that are rare and fail to protect against abuses that are common throughout the industry.
Meta-analysis compares weight-loss diet programs. A review of studies of popular weight-loss programs (Atkins, Zone, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and a few others) has found that low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets were most effective with little difference from one plan to another. The review encompassed 48 randomized, controlled studies that had compared the outcome of dieting with that of not dieting with at least 3 months of follow-up. The authors concluded that (a) behavioral support and exercise enhanced weight loss, (b) the weight loss differences between individual named diets were small with likely little importance to those seeking weight loss, and (c) the most effective diet is any diet that the patient will adhere to. [Johnston BC. Comparison of weight loss among named diet programs in overweight and obese adults: A meta-analysis. JAMA 312:923-933, 2014]
This page was posted on September 8, 2014.