Consumer Health Digest #14-38

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 12, 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.

"Dr. Oz" draws more criticism. Mehmet Oz, M.D., has been blasted again by two critics:

Suit filed to block Israel fluoridation ban. Public health and dental experts who oppose Israel Health Minister Yael German's decision to prohibit fluoridation throughout the country have asked the High Court of Justice to overturn her order. The suit charged that German's decision will "cause harm to public health and significantly increase the gap in dental health between the well-off and the poor." [Siegel J. Health Minister taken to high court over prohibition of fluoridation of drinking water. Jerusalem Post, Oct 6, 2014] In 2002, when Israel passed a mandatory fluoridation law, German was Mayor of Herzliya. Shortly after the law's passage, she and others filed a lawsuit to block its implementation. The suit, which was opposed by the Ministry of Health that German now heads, was ultimately dismissed by the Israeli Supreme Court, which concluded that the Health Ministry had responsibility and that fluoridation was safe. The economic disparity was demonstrated by a study conducted in 2011/12 at Jerusalem's Hebrew University. The researchers found that 12-year olds in fluoridated Haifa averaged about 30% fewer decayed, missing and filled teeth than those in non-fluoridated Kfar Saba and that the economically disadvantaged children in Kfar Saba had 26.7% more decay than those from the most affluent backgrounds. [Israeli study shows significant narrowing of dental health inequalities in fluoridated Haifa. Fluoridation News, Sept 2013]

New Zealand court upholds fluoridation law. The New Zealand appellate court has rejected the anti-fluoridation group New Health New Zealand's claim that the chemicals used to fluoridate water are medications. The suit asserted that under New Zealand's Medicine Act of 1981, fluoride added to water is a medicine, which gives citizens a right to refuse "treatment" and mandatory fluoridation should therefore be illegal. The court reasoned that although fluoride is added to domestic water supplies for a therapeutic purpose and fluoridation could be considered a form of administration, the concentration in water reaching the user is far too low for the Act to apply. The plaintiffs have filed an appeal. [Judgment of Collins J. New Health New Zealand vs. the Minister of Health. New Zealand High Court CIV-2014-485-004138, Oct 9, 2014]

Supplement products associated with liver toxicity. The Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network has reported that about 15% of the cases that it studied involved herbal and dietary supplement products. The organization was established in 2003 to identify and study cases of drug-induced liver injury attributable to medications (excluding acetaminophen) and supplements. The 130 patients with liver injury from supplements consisted of 45 (35%) who had taken bodybuilding products and 85 (65%) who had taken non-bodybuilding products. The report noted the problems attributable to bodybuilding products were relatively mild but severe outcomes (deaths and liver transplants) were more frequent among users of non-bodybuilding products than among medication users. [Navarro VJ and others. Liver injury from herbals and dietary supplements in the U.S. Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network. Hepatology 60:1399-1408, 2014]

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This page was posted on October 12, 2014.