Consumer Health Digest #16-21

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 5, 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.

Food labeling rules revised. The FDA has finalized a revised "Nutrition Facts" label for packaged foods to reflect updated scientific information, new nutrition and public health research, more recent dietary recommendations from expert groups, and input from the public. The changes include: (a) larger type for serving sizes and calories per serving, (b) serving sizes must be in units that are easy to understand, (c) added sugars must be listed, (d) amounts of saturated and trans fat must be specified, but total fat calories will not. Large manufacturers must make the changes by July 26, 2018. Those with less than $10 million in annual food sales have an additional year to do so. The FDA expects the changes to make it easier for consumers to make informed food choices. [Changes to the Nutrition Facts label. FDA Web site, May 16, 2016]

Quack device claims and misleading Craigslist ad lead to chiropractic license suspension. The Illinois Department of Financial Regulation (IDFPR) has indefinitely suspended the license of Michel Y. Roy, D.C. [Barrett S. Government actions against Michel Roy, D.C. Chirobase, June 4, 2016] Last year it disciplined Roy for advertising a receptionist job on Craigslist as a way to recruit prospective patients. Early this year, the IDFPR issued a second (concurrent) suspension for improperly advertising that a Vegatest device was "a valuable tool for helping patients to understand the underlying causes of their health issues and achieve lasting improvements in their health." The Vegatest is a fancy galvanometer claimed to identify problems by interpreting skin responses to a low-level electric current. [Barrett S. Quack "electrodiagnostic" devices. Quackwatch. June 4, 2016] The IDFPR's suspension order noted that device is not FDA-approved and is not a legitimate diagnostic tool, and that there was no scientific basis for Roy's Vegatest claims. Despite his suspension, Roy's Web site is still promoting Vegatest services to patients in Illinois. A video on the site even states that he is a "homeopathic and functional medical professional" who "specializes in finding the root causes of your health problems" and that his Vegacheck (another device) "provides detailed information about disorders that classical examinations like the x-ray, ultrasound, CAT scans, and other lab tests can't register." Severe discipline of chiropractors for unethical patient recruiting or unscientific practices is not common. It remains to be seen whether the IDFPR will follow through and stop Roy's unlicensed practice.

Video provides gruesome reminder of black salve danger. British media have reported that a woman burned off half her nose after applying a black salve to her nose to treat a medically diagnosed skin cancer. [Davies M. Woman has half her nose cut off after herbal remedy she used for skin cancer ROTTED her face. Daily, June 1, 2016] The progression of the burn was vividly portrayed in a video posted to YouTube. Black salves contain caustic chemicals that burn the tissues they encounter. Despite government action, they are still marketed for treating cancers. If a tumor is confined to the superficial layers of the skin, it would be possible to burn it off with a corrosive salve. However, products capable of accomplishing this can also burn the surrounding normal tissue and result in unnecessary scarring. In addition, if the cancer is not destroyed, it may continue to grow and cause extensive tissue destruction that is not readily apparent. [Barrett S. Don't use corrosive cancer salves (escharotics). Quackwatch, Aug 14, 2014]

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This page was posted on June 5, 2016.