Consumer Health Digest #16-18

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 15, 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.

Australian chiropractors ordered to tone down claims. The Chiropractic Board of Australia, which regulates Australian chiropractors, has warned that those who advertise unproven benefits might be prosecuted. [Spooner R. Watchdog warns chiropractors over unsupported health benefit claims. The Age, March 7, 2016] The board's announcement expressed "particular concern" about claims suggesting that manual therapy for spinal problems can assist with general wellness and/or benefit a variety of pediatric syndromes and organic conditions that not supported by satisfactory evidence. This includes claims relating to developmental and behavioral disorders, ADHD, autistic spectrum disorders, asthma, infantile colic, bedwetting, ear infections and digestive problems. The board also warned against discouraging vaccination. The message reinforced by Victoria's Health Minister Jill Hennessy who said she was "visibly shaken" while watching a video of a Melbourne chiropractor cracking the spine of a four-day-old premature baby to treat colic. [Australian Associated Press. Video of chiropractor cracking baby's spine 'extremely distressing'. The Guardian, May 5, 2016] Shortly after Hennessy complained, the chiropractor agreed not to treat patients under 18 until June 2, at which time, the board is expected to take further action. [McArthur G. Chiropractor Ian Rossborough temporarily banned from treating children after viral video manipulating four-day-old baby. Herald Sun, May 16, 2016] Pressure against Australia's chiropractors is being driven largely by activists Ken Harvey and Malcolm Vickers, who have found more than 200 chiropractic clinic Web sites with improper claims. The extent to which the board will clamp down on other violators remains to be seen.

Israel expected to resume fluoridation. Fluoridation is expected to resume soon throughout Israel. The country's previous health minister, Yael German, halted the decades-old fluoridation program in August 2014. But when the current health minister, Yaakov Litzman, replaced her, he quickly sought to restore it and, in April 2016, Israel's parliament ordered it. The regulations require all water systems that serve 5,000 or more people to add optimal levels of fluoride. The new regulation is expected to fluoridate the water for 80% of the country's population. [Manchir M. Water fluoridation set to return in Israel. ADA News, April 11, 2016]

Newsweek criticized for promoting faith healer. Joe Nickell, who has been closely following the career of the Brazilian "healer" John of God, has severely criticized Newsweek for portraying him as a "miracle healer," while omitting well-documented criticism. [Nickell J. "Newsweek": In Flagrante. Center for Inquiry, March 11, 2016] The Newsweek article claimed that he had "healed millions." In 2007, Nickell wrote a detailed report describing why he regarded John's procedures as a "sham." [Nickell J. 'John of God': Healings by Entities? Skeptical Inquirer, Sept/Oct 2007]. Dr. William London has provided additional criticism.

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This page was posted on May 16, 2016.