Consumer Health Digest #14-37

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 5, 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.

Infant dies following laetrile treatment. Martha Grout, M.D., who founded and directs the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine in Scottsdale, Arizona, has been reprimanded by the Arizona Medical Board. Grout's clinic's Web site states that she has been a homeopathic physician for the past ten years and is "dedicated to the natural treatment of cancer, Lyme disease, diabesity (metabolically), irritable bowel and other chronic diseases." The medical board's order states that (a) she administered amygdalin (laetrile) to an 18-month-old girl with retinoblastoma (an eye cancer), (b) the child developed respiratory distress and died five hours later, and the board's medical consultant concluded that the cause of death was cyanide poisoning. Laetrile is a bogus cancer treatment that releases cyanide into the body and has been banned by the FDA. The board's reprimand carried no penalty or restrictions. Grout is also licensed by the Arizona Board of Homeopathic and Integrative Medical Examiners, which has been investigating the case for more than a year but has not decided whether to initiate regulatory action. Grout served as a member of the homeopathic board from August 2006 through June 2012.

More vaccine misinformation debunked. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center has issued a report intended to reassure parents that the use of aluminum in certain vaccines is safe and that spacing out vaccines to reduce exposure to aluminum is senseless. The report notes:

Whole Foods sued over homeopathic claims. Whole Foods Market, Inc., which operates a chain of supermarkets, is facing a class-action suit that challenges claims made for four of its "365 Be Well" brand homeopathic products: Cough Ease for Kids, Cough Ease (for adults), Flu Ease, and Arnica Montana 30C (claimed to relieve pain). Homeopathy is based on the notion that substances that can cause symptoms when administered in large amounts can cure diseases with these symptoms when administered in high dilutions. But the complaint charges that the supposed "active ingredients" have been diluted so much that they exert no effect on the body.

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This page was posted on October 5, 2014.