Consumer Health Digest #17-04

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 22, 2017

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.

Many pediatricians are shunning non-vaccinated families. The Washington Post has reported that pediatricians have become increasingly likely to dismiss families who refuse vaccination and that some families will only choose physicians who require other families to vaccinate. [Sun LH. Parents are insisting on doctors who insist on vaccinations. Washington Post, Nov 20, 2106] Dismissal "as a last resort" is supported by the Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Practice and Ambulatory Medicine, which recently concluded: "The decision to dismiss a family who continues to refuse immunization is not one that should be made lightly, nor should it be made without considering and respecting the reasons for the parents' point of view. Nevertheless, the individual pediatrician may consider dismissal of families who refuse vaccination as an acceptable option." [Edwards K, Hackel JM. Countering vaccine hesitancy, Pediatrics 138, 2016]

BBC investigates Robert O. Young and his "pH Miracle." BBC News has produced a vivid account of what happened to a young woman who died of breast cancer at age 27 despite "treatment" by Robert O. Young [Yeo G., Quinn T. The dying officer treated for cancer with baking soda. BBC Magazine, Jan 19, 2017] Young, who represents himself as "Dr. Young," has a "Ph.D." from a nonaccredited correspondence school. The central false premise of Young's approach is that health depends primarily on proper balance between an alkaline and acid cellular environment that can be optimized by dietary modification and taking supplements. [Barrett S. A critical look at "Dr." Robert Young's theories and credentials. Quackwatch, Feb 4, 2016] The BBC report states that Naima Houder-Mohammed paid more than $70,000 for Young's alkaline treatment, which consisted mainly of intravenous infusions of baking soda. Last year Young was convicted of practicing medicine without a license, which included administering intravenous treatments to patients.

India's advertising council doing important work. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is a voluntary, self-regulatory organization that has evaluated hundreds of health-related promotional claims. In May 2014, the council announced that its average complaint-processing time was 12 days, down from 45 days in 2012, even though the rate of complaints had increased more than ten-fold. The announcement also mentioned that the council's National Advertising Monitoring Service (NAMS) had begun tracking the ads against which complaints have been upheld and found that more than 90% of them did not reappear or were appropriately modified. To facilitate access to the council's health-related decisions, Dr. Barrett has begun posting summaries to Casewatch.

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This page was revised on January 23, 2017.