Consumer Health Digest #15-44

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 8, 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.

Hormone Health Network attacks myths. The Hormone Health Network has issued five fact sheets intended to counter hormone-related myths:

Some of the exposed myths involve diagnoses that are claimed to be an underlying cause of dozens of common symptoms for which their advocates provide hormones and/or dietary supplements. The Hormone Health Network is the patient-education resource of The Endocrine Society, the largest international group of professionals that deal with hormone-related problems.

"Sensory integration disorder" diagnosis still disputed. Quackwatch has updated its article about the diagnosis and treatment of so-called sensory integration disorder (SID). Sensory integration refers to the process by which the brain organizes and interprets external stimuli such as touch, movement, body awareness, sight, sound, and gravity. It has been postulated that certain behavioral and emotional problems result from malfunctioning of this process. The diagnosis of sensory integration disorder—also called sensory processing disorder (SPD)—is made mainly by occupational therapists and has little recognition by mainstream medicine. Many children with autism have "sensory issues" such as oversensitivity to touch. Similar symptoms occur with other neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems (including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and anxiety disorders. However, the prevailing medical view is that "sensory symptoms" are a nonspecific indicator of neurodevelopmental immaturity rather than a distinct disorder. [Heilbroner PL. Why "sensory integration disorder" is a dubious diagnosis. Quackwatch, Nov 8, 2015]

Evidence mounts against "chronic Lyme" diagnosis. Using a questionnaire, researchers have evaluated the health-related quality of life of 100 subjects with culture-confirmed early Lyme disease who were seen annually for 11 to 20 years. The average summary scores of physical and mental health were similar to those of the general population. [Wormser GP and others. Long-term assessment of health-related quality of life in patients with culture-confirmed early Lyme disease. Clinical Infectious Diseases 61:244-247, 2015] Lyme activists insist that many people with common symptoms are suffering from "chronic Lyme disease" that warrants long-term intravenous antibiotic treatment. [McSweegan E. Lyme disease: Questionable diagnosis and treatment. Quackwatch, Jan 20, 2013] The study adds to the evidence that "chronic Lyme disease" is not a valid diagnostic entity. The recently introduced 21st Century Cures Act—the 964-page National Institutes of Health funding bill includes language that appears intended to create a platform to promote the "chronic Lyme" concept. The bill would establish a permanent Interagency Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Working Group to review all Lyme-related activities within the Department of Health and Human Services, including research priorities. Half of the group would be public members that represent "a broad spectrum of viewpoints," including those of patients, medical providers, and nonprofit advocacy groups.

Edzard Ernst shares Maddox award for bravery. Edzard Ernst, M.D., Ph.D., Emeritus Professor at Peninsula Medical School, and Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet and Population Health at the University of Oxford, have been awarded the international 2015 John Maddox Prize for courage in promoting science and evidence on a matter of public interest, despite facing difficulty and hostility in doing so. Dr. Ernst was recognized for his long commitment to applying scientific methodology in research into "complementary and alternative medicine" and to communicating his mostly critical findings. He continued in his work despite personal attacks and attempts to undermine his research unit and end his employment. The attacks included a formal complaint from Prince Charles's private secretary, Sir Michael Peat, who was also chairman of the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health. Dr. Jebb was recognized for her promotion of public understanding of science-based nutrition despite false accusations that industry funding had compromised her integrity. The £2000 prize, which is awarded to one or two people each year, is a joint initiative of the science journal Nature, the Kohn Foundation, and the charity Sense About Science. The late Sir John Maddox FRS edited Nature for 22 years and was passionate defender of science.

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This page was posted on November 8, 2015.