Consumer Health Digest #15-17

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 3, 2015

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.

California chiropractors opposing vaccination bill. Senate Bill 277, which would end California's "personal belief" exemption for 10 vaccines, has drawn opposition from at least two chiropractic organizations:

The pending bill was introduced in response to the recent outbreak of measles among children who had visited Disneyland. In a letter to the Los Angeles Times, William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H., noted that mandatory childhood vaccination should be regarded as a social obligation rather than a matter of misinformed consumer choice.

Lyme disease quackery examined. An team of infectious disease experts has summarized the scientific status of more than 30 "alternative" Lyme treatments promoted through the Internet. [Lantos PM and others. Unorthodox alternative therapies marketed to treat Lyme disease. Clinical Infectious Diseases, April 20, 2015] The report concluded:

IOM skeptical of dietary supplements offered for Alzheimer's disease. The Institute of Medicine has concluded that there is little evidence that supplements of antioxidants (vitamin E, vitamin C, flavonoids, or carotenoids), B vitamins (B6 , B12 or folate), or vitamin D can improve mental function in people who are not deficient. [Blazer DG and others. Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2015] The report concluded:

The medical literature does not convincingly support any vitamin supplement intervention to prevent cognitive decline. There is evidence to support the replacement of folate among older people who are folate-deficient, as evidenced by high homocysteine levels, but not for the supplementation of older persons who are not deficient. Whether it is worthwhile to screen for these deficiencies in general populations remains an unanswered question. To date, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has not issued recommendations regarding such screenings.

The entire book can be read online or downloaded free of charge from the IOM Web site.

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This page was posted on May 3, 2015.