Consumer Health Digest #16-15
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 24, 2016
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.
Mercola ordered to stop marketing tanning beds. Joseph Mercola, D.O. and two companies he operates (Mercola.com, LLC and Mercola.com Health Resources, LLC) have settled a Federal Trade Commission complaint by agreeing to stop selling tanning beds and to pay up to $5,334,067 to cover the cost of refunds and administration of the refund program. [Marketers of indoor tanning systems to pay refunds to consumers: Defendants ran ads claiming that Indoor tanning is safe, Doesn't increase the risk of skin cancer. FTC news release, April 14, 2016] The defendants were charged with falsely claiming that their indoor tanning devices would enable consumers to slash their risk of cancer and improve the clarity, tone and texture of their skin, giving them a more youthful appearance. Commenting on the case, Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, noted that indoor tanning is not safe because it increases the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. This is the fourth federal regulatory action against Mercola. In 2005 and 2006, the FDA ordered him to stop making illegal health claims for a total of seven dietary supplement products sold through his Web site. In 2011, the FDA ordered him to stop to making claims for thermography that went beyond what his equipment was cleared for. [Barrett S. Dr. Joseph Mercola ordered to stop illegal claims. Quackwatch, April 22, 2016]
Naturopathic pediatrics denounced as unsafe. Britt Hermes, who left naturopathy after concluding that it is a public menace, believes that most naturopaths go into practice with almost no experience in treating children. [Hermes B. Naturopathic pediatrics is not safe. Naturopathic Diaries Blog, April 14, 2016] Her observations include the following:
- The programs do not have clinical rotations built into pediatrics courses or any clinical science course.
- Students were taught to prescribe homeopathic remedies to treat febrile seizures, ear infections, burns, and snake bites.
- Dana Ullman's Homeopathy for Children and Infants and Dr. Bob Sears's The Vaccine Book (which advocates an "alternate" vaccine schedule), were included in the syllabi for her courses. [Homeopathic products have no medicinal effect whatever; and Sears's vaccine schedule involves delays that expose children and those around them to unnecessary risk—SB]
- During the elective clinical shift dedicated to pediatrics, which few students took, students saw no newborns, talked to parents about what supplements to take to "boost the immune system," counseled about alternative vaccine schedules, and didn't actually give out vaccines. [There is no logical reason to believe that dietary supplements can improve immune system function in people who are not malnourished—SB]
Writing about the case of Ezekial Stephan, who died of meningitis at age 19 months while his parents followed naturopathic advice, Hermes said:
In order to meet graduation requirements, naturopathic students, at least at Bastyr University, are allowed to present vignettes of a medical case, and describe how to diagnose and treat these fictitious patients. This sort of training actually counts as "direct patient care" by the schools and by their accrediting agency. I presented cases for made-up patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, cardiovascular problems, and infectious diseases. I never had a chance to get any meaningful, first-hand training with patients actually suffering from these conditions. The ND treating Ezekiel probably didn't either. [Hermes B. A toddler dies from meningitis, governments need to block naturopathic pediatrics. Naturopathic Diaries Blog, March 10, 2016]
Sequenced amino acid modulation debunked. Quackwatch has posted a major investigational report on sequenced amino acid modulation ("SAM" or "SAAM"), an obscure treatment in which amino acid derivatives (peptides) are injected or placed under the tongue to treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions. Most practitioners who offer SAM do not advertise it. The investigation located no supportive research and was unable to find out who makes or distributes the SAM products or teaches how to use them. [Barrett S. A skeptical look at Dr. Nelson Kraucak and sequenced amino acid modulation therapy. Quackwatch, April 23, 2016]
This page was posted on April 24, 2016.