Consumer Health Digest #17-09

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
February 26, 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.

Australian pharmacists exhibit woeful ignorance of "CAM" products. A CHOICE survey of 240 pharmacies has found widespread support for products that have little or no evidence of benefit. [Davey M. Unproven alternative medicines recommended by third of Australian pharmacists. The Guardian, Feb 13, 2017] The survey involved mystery shoppers who asked for advice about feeling stressed.

EPA denies antifluoridationists' petition. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied a petition filed in November 2016 by the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), Food & Water Watch, the Organic Consumers Association, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, and several individuals. The petition asked the EPA to ban fluoridation based on claims that it can damage to the nervous system. But the agency concluded that fluoridation is safe and effective:

The petition has not set forth a scientifically defensible basis to conclude that any persons have suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of exposure to fluoride in the U.S. through the purposeful addition of fluoridation chemicals to drinking water or otherwise from fluoride exposure in the U.S. Still less has the petition set forth a scientifically defensible basis to estimate an aggregate loss of IQ points in the U.S, attributable to this use of fluoridation chemicals. As noted previously, EPA has determined the petition did not establish that fluoridation chemicals present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, arising from these chemical substances' use to fluoridate drinking water. The fact that a purported risk relates to a large population is not a basis to relax otherwise applicable scientific standards in evaluating the evidence of that purported risk. EPA and other authoritative bodies have previously reviewed many of the studies cited as evidence of neurotoxic effects of fluoride in humans and found significant limitations in using them to draw conclusions on whether neurotoxicity is associated with fluoridation of drinking water. In contrast, the benefits of community water fluoridation have been demonstrated to reduce dental caries, which is one of the most common childhood diseases and continues to be problematic in all age groups. Left untreated, decay can cause pain, school absences, difficulty concentrating, and poor appearance, all contributing to decreased quality of life and ability to succeed.

Chiropractor caught selling handicapped placards. CBS-TV Los Angeles has reported that Leon Weathersby, D.C., accepted a $250 payment for authorizing a handicapped placard for a TV producer who responded to an ad that Weathersby had placed on Craigslist. The ad stated that that "if you do not qualify, you do not pay." [Caught on video: Doctor asks for cash for handicapped placard even before exam CBS Los Angeles, Feb 10, 2017] Weathersby has had serious trouble in the past. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to grand theft that involved billing insurance companies for services that were not provided to patients, office visits by patients that did not occur, and/or double billings. The court ordered him to pay restitution of $219,518 and eventually sentenced him to three years of supervised probation, 365 days of electronically monitored house arrest, and participation in a counseling program. In 2006, the chiropractic board revoked Weathersby's license but said he could apply for reinstatement after 2 years. In 2012, the board concluded that he had made substantial rehabilitative efforts and placed his license on closely supervised probation for five years. In 2015, the board admonished him for falsely reporting that he had completed the number of continuing education hours required for license renewal. The board has not publicly responded to the TV broadcast, but it is safe to assume that it will take appropriate action.

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This page was posted on February 27, 2017.