Consumer Health Digest #15-24

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 21, 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.

FCC urges landline phone companies to block robocalls. The Federal Communications Commission has adopted a proposal intended to help protect consumers against unwanted robocalls and spam texts. In a package of declaratory rulings, the Commission affirmed consumers' rights to control the calls they receive. As part of this package, the Commission also made clear that telephone companies face no legal barriers to allowing consumers to choose to use robocall-blocking technology. The rulings came in response to consumer complaints about robocalls, which totaled over 215,000 in 2014. [FCC strengthens consumer protections against unwanted calls and texts: Commission responds to requests from businesses and attorneys general for guidance on robocall blocking, autodialers, recycled phone numbers and more. FCC news release, June 18, 2015]

USPHS fluoridation advisory revised. The United States Public Health Service has concluded that the optimal concentration of fluoride in community water systems is 0.7 milligrams/liter. Its former recommendation, issued in 1962, was based on outdoor air temperature of geographic areas and ranged from 0.7-1.2 mg/L. [Public Health Service recommendation for fluoride concentration in drinking water for prevention of dental caries. Federal Register 80:24936-24947, 2015] However, Americans now get more fluoride from other sources, and recent data show little relationship between water intake and outdoor temperature. The guideline is intended to apply to community water systems that currently fluoridate or will initiate fluoridation. In 2011, after the revision was proposed, the government received approximately 19,300 comments, nearly all of which opposed fluoride in community water at any concentration. About 18,500 (96%) were nearly identical to a letter submitted by an antifluoridation organization. The experts who reviewed the objections concluded that they had no validity. The guidance document includes interesting responses to the unfounded allegations that fluoridation of community water supplies causes fluorosis, causes cancer, lowers IQ, disrupts endocrine function, is basically unsafe, and is unethical (mass medication).

Offbeat "environmental medicine specialists" have high disciplinary rate. Quackwatch has posted a brief report on the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), which is composed mainly of medical and osteopathic physicians who espouse dubious concepts of multiple chemical sensitivity, toxic mold, and/or yeast overgrowth. AAEM's online directory lists 217 practitioners, 150 of whom are medical or osteopathic physicians licensed within the U.S. Of these, at least 25 (15%) have been subjected to licensing board actions.

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This page was posted on June 21, 2015.