Consumer Health Digest #14-34
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 14, 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.
Pediatrician group updates fluoride advice. In a new clinical report, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated its recommendations to doctors for advising parents about topical fluoride for cavity prevention. [Clark MB and others. Fluoride use in caries prevention in the primary care setting. Pediatrics, Aug 25, 2014] The report states:
- Fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for all children starting at tooth eruption, regardless of caries risk.
A smear of toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) should be used up to age 3. After age 3, a pea-sized amount may be used. Parents should dispense toothpaste for young children and supervise and assist with brushing.
- Fluoride varnish is recommended in the primary care setting every 3-6 months starting at tooth emergence.
- Over-the counter fluoride rinse is not recommended for children younger than 6 years due to the risk of swallowing higher-than-recommended levels of fluoride.
These recommendations are in addition to the AAP's longstanding endorsement of water fluoridation and the use of supplements for children at high risk for developing tooth decay who live in nonfluoridated communities.
ACSH founder dies. Elizabeth M. Whelan, Sc.D., M.P.H., who was the co-founder and president of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), died last week at the age of 71. ACSH was founded in 1978 to "add reason and balance to debates about public health issues and to bring common sense views to the public." ACSH and Whelan strongly supported public health measures (fluoridation, vaccination, and food irradiation), relentlessly attacked the tobacco industry, and published many reports that debunked nutrition quackery. But its main focus has been on issues related to food safety, pharmaceuticals, and environmental chemicals. ACSH's site has a lengthy tribute to her work.
"Food Babe" severely criticized. Three contributors to the Science-Based Medicine Blog have severely criticized Vani Hari—better known as "The Food Babe"—for repeatedly making unfounded claims and organizing attacks on food companies that can undermine public trust in the American marketplace.
- Mark Crislip, M.D., has dissected her blog on flu shots, which falsely stated that the vaccine is ineffective and contains "a bunch of toxic chemicals and additives that lead to several types of Cancers and Alzheimer [sic] disease over time." Instead of having the shots, which are proven to save many lives, Hari advises skipping the vaccine, boosting vitamin D intake, and encountering the flu naturally.
- David Gorski, M.D., has debunked her attack on beer, which falsely asserted that various chemical constituents were harmful.
- Steven Novella, M.D., has debunked her attack on microwave ovens, which included a bizarre claim that distilled water heated in a microwave, resulted in a crystal similar to that created by repeatedly exposing the water to the words "Satan" and "Hitler."
Others have noted that Hari has no food science credentials and makes claims that overblown, sensationalized, misleading, and filled with errors and inconsistencies. [Purvis K. Charlotte's Food Babe has lots of fans—and some critics. Charlotte Observer, Sept 8, 2014]
This page was posted on September 15, 2014.