Consumer Health Digest #15-34

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 30, 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.

CVS quits Chamber of Commerce over cigarette lobbying. CVS Health Corp., which was the first drugstore chain to stop selling tobacco products, has resigned from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in response to news that the chamber and its affiliates were undertaking a global lobbying campaign against anti-smoking laws. [Hakim D. CVS Health quits U.S. Chamber over stance on smoking. The New York Times, July 7, 2015] In a letter to the New York Times, the chamber claimed that it wants people to stop smoking but was fighting "measures that . . . single out one industry for discriminatory treatment." A report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids lays bare the history of the Chamber's pro-tobacco activities.

Oregon Medical Board clamping down on chelation therapy. The Oregon Medical Board has reprimanded Richard C. Heitsch, M.D., fined him $10,000, and ordered him to stop treating heavy metal toxicity or administer chelation therapy. The stipulated order indicates that the board was concerned about his management of six patients who were chelated without adequate reason. In five of the cases, the diagnosis was based on challenge testing—also called provoked testing—in which their urine was collected after a chelating drug was given to the patient. Because chelators artificially raise the concentration of excreted metals, the results are clinically meaningless. During the time the trouble occurred, Heitsch was medical director of the Integrated Medicine Group in Portland, Oregon.

Oregon's health authorities appear to be making it increasingly difficult for doctors within the state to misdiagnose metal toxicity and administer inappropriate chelation therapy. In 2011, the Oregon Health Authority issued a detailed handout that warned against these practices. In 2013, the Oregon Medical Board issued a statement of philosophy that said:

A provider who treats a patient with chelation therapy for any medical condition first must verify the toxic levels of heavy metals. Post-chelator challenge urinary metal testing does not meet the standard of care for diagnosis of heavy metal toxicity. . . . The Board cautions providers to use chelation treatment only after a diagnosis of heavy metal toxicity, which includes a blood test or other accepted unprovoked test confirming the presence of heavy metals, and a careful determination that chelation therapy is appropriate for the particular patient.

Recent Google searches indicate that many naturopaths in Oregon still promote inappropriate chelation but medical providers say little or nothing about it.

Wayne Dyer's death announced. Wayne W. Dyer, D.Ed., who catapulted to popularity in the mid-1970s with a self-help book called Your Erroneous Zones, has died at the age of 75. The cause of death has not been announced, but press reports indicate that in 2009, Dyer was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which he claimed to have treated with positive thinking, daily exercise and "psychic surgery" performed remotely by the Brazilian medium known as "John of God." Although many of Dyer's writings provide practical advice, he became progressively more mystical as time went on. His Web site states that "it is possible for every person to manifest their deepest desires—if they honor their inner divinity and consciously choose to live from their "Highest Self.'" His blog has supported questionable diet books, a book about emotional freedom technique, and other irrational health-related publications. In 2012, PBS Ombudsman Michael Getter concluded that his frequent appearances during the network's on-air pledge drives, contained excessive religiosity that violated PBS's Editorial Standards and Policies.

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This page was posted on August 31, 2015.