Consumer Health Digest #16-29
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 31, 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.
Acupuncture claims shredded. Friends of Science in Medicine, an Australian anti-quackery group with more than 1,100 members, has issued a devastating report calling for an end to acupuncture as a medical practice. [Is there any place for acupuncture in 21st century medicine? Friends of Science in Medicine, July 25, 2016] After summarizing acupuncture history, theories, research, and rationalizations for failed studies, the authors conclude:
- Acupuncture has been studied for decades and the evidence that it can provide clinical benefits continues to be weak and inconsistent. There is no longer any justification for more studies. There is already enough evidence to confidently conclude that acupuncture doesn't work. It is merely a theatrical placebo based on pre-scientific myths.
- All health care providers who accept that they should base their treatments on scientific evidence whenever credible evidence is available, but who still include acupuncture as part of their health interventions, should seriously revise their practice.
- There is no place for acupuncture in medicine.
For many years, proponents have cited as supporting evidence a World Health Organization (WHO) report that listed over 90 conditions for which acupuncture was supposedly effective. In 2014, however, this report was withdrawn in response to substantial evidence contradicting the WHO's advice, including Cochrane Collaboration reviews that shredded the majority of claims.
Unlicensed cancer quack arrested. The Washington Post has reported that following an undercover investigation, Peter B. Adeniji-Bello, 67, has been arrested and charged with five felony counts of fraud, seven counts of operating a medical practice without a license, four counts of dispensing drugs without a license, and one count of money laundering. [Jackman T, Shapiro TR. Va. man claimed he had cure for cancer, charged $1,200 per bottle. Cops say it's bogus, bust him. Washington Post, July 26, 2016] Adeniji's Web site claims that he has had over 20 years of experience in the practice of naturopathic and holistic medicine and has successfully treated and reversed multiple sclerosis, inoperable brain tumors, multiple myeloma, lung cancer, asthma, COPD, colon cancer, colorectal carcinoma, glaucoma and retinopathy, cataracts, breast tumors, high blood pressure, kidney failure, congestive heart failure, prostate cancer (up to stage 4), and is certified with the American Council of Holistic Medicine. However, he is not licensed as any type of health practitioner. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to unlicensed practice of medicine and served 3½ months in jail. [Pegram C. Lynchburg man who posed as doctor gets jail time. The News & Advance, June 14, 2008]
Stem cell clinics proliferating. A survey has found that hundreds commercial clinics are advertising stem cell therapy to consumers. [Plummer Q. 570 clinics in the US are offering expensive, unproven and unregulated stem cell therapies and that's very dangerous. Tech Times, July 5, 2016] Stem cells are primitive cells that can become specialized cells such as skin, fat, and muscle. They can help to repair tissue and to generate new tissue cells to replace old red blood cells, torn muscles, old skin, and other tissue in the body. They may have the potential to replace tissues damaged by disease, but research is at best preliminary and safety is a major concern. Gabe Mirkin, M.D. lists these reasons to be wary of commercial clinics:
- When stem cells are removed from your own body and re-injected into you, there is no way to tell if anything has been changed.
- Stem cells taken from you do not appear to be as capable of making new tissues as stem cells that are embryonic cells taken from the umbilical cord of a newborn baby.
- Stem cells from a baby's umbilical cord are far more likely to have abnormalities that would keep them from growing lasting new tissue.
- Stem cells can trigger an immune response in which your body treats the new cells as it does invading bacteria and kills them.
- The stem cells from most of these clinics usually have none of the therapeutic advantages that research labs use to make their stem cells more effective. For example, research labs are making stem cells better by manipulating and transplanting DNA genetic material.
- No government agency is checking these unapproved and unregulated stem cell clinics for effectiveness or safety.
- The procedures used in most of the clinics have not been approved for the general population.
- Celebrity endorsements and patient testimonials are meaningless.
- The prices charged are often outrageous and unlikely to be covered by insurance. [Be wary of stem cell clinics. Gabe Mirkin's Weekly e-Zine, July 10, 2016]
This page was posted on August 1, 2016.