Consumer Health Digest #17-34

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 3, 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. Its primary focus is on health, but occasionally it includes non-health scams and practical tips.

ZYTO device flunks tests. ZYTO Corporation, of Orem, Utah, sells several devices that it claims are useful for determining what dietary supplements, herbs, or homeopathic products might be useful. The devices use a hand cradle that relays signals to and from a computer that runs ZYTO's proprietary software. ZYTO claims that the software "sends stimuli to the body using digital signatures that represent actual things" and interprets fluctuations in skin resistance that indicate "the body's degree of preference for the items being assessed." [Barrett S. ZYTO scanning: Another test to avoid. Device Watch, Aug 22, 2017] Last year, Dr. Stephen Barrett was able to obtain a working ZYTO device and tested himself 43 times in ten days. Sixteen of the tests were "basic" scans that purported to detect problems with 20 body organs. These scans reported an average of 11 problematic organs, but the organs specified and the supposedly corrective products varied considerably from one test to another. He also took 12 food-category tests and 15 individual-food assessments. As with the basic scans, the individual-food scores were wildly inconsistent, with many foods scoring "positive" (recommended) on one test and "negative" (not recommended) on another administered a few minutes later. The basic scan results were so inconsistent that they could not possibly be clinically meaningful. In addition to being inconsistent, the food-category biosurveys recommended excluding so many foods that the resultant diets could be extremely unhealthful. These findings confirmed that the claim that ZYTO devices can provide useful information is preposterous. [Barrett S. Close examination of a ZYTO electrodermal screening system. Missouri Medicine 114:238-244, 2017]

FTC curbs NutriMost weight-loss program. The Federal Trade Commission has announced that NutriMost has agreed to refrain from making certain claims and provide refunds to consumers who believe they were misled by the marketing of its NutriMost Ultimate Fat Loss System. [Marketers of 'NutriMost Ultimate Fat Loss System' settle FTC Charges. FTC news release, April 21, 2017] The weight-loss program was developed by Ray Wisniewski, D.C., who practices in Pittsburgh and franchised the program to more than 100 clinics throughout the United States. For about two years, the system was centered around ZYTO testing. In 2016, shortly after the company decided to phase out ZYTO testing, the FTC expressed concerns about the claims and other advertising practices that had been associated with its use. Without admitting fault, NutriMost signed a settlement order under which it:

The agreement also calls for payment of $2 million to cover refunds to consumers who bought the system directly from the NutriMost clinics operated by Wisniewski (but not from the clinics franchised to others). NutriMost officials have told Dr. Barrett that its program has been redesigned along more standard lines and will undergo a clinical trial that they hope will provide substantiation acceptable to the FTC. Chirobase has a detailed history of the company's activities.

Infant poisoned by "homeopathic" bracelet. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that routine screening of a female infant aged 9 months in Manchester, Connecticut, found anemia and a blood lead level of 41 μg/dL (Levels exceeding 5 μg/dL are abnormal.) The cause was traced to a handmade "homeopathic magnetic hematite healing bracelet" purchased from an artisan at a local fair. The child wore the bracelet for teething-related discomfort and was sometimes noted to chew on it.  
Small spacer beads from the bracelet tested at the Manchester Health Department were positive for lead (17,000 ppm). No identifying marks indicating metal content or manufacturer were found on the bead. The vendor records were not available, and the bracelet maker could not be located. The report cautioned that handmade metal jewelry, even if manufactured or purchased in the United States, may pose risk because infants have natural mouthing behaviors. [Garcia P, Haile J. Notes from the field: Lead poisoning in an infant associated with a metal bracelet—Connecticut, 2016. MMWR 66:916, 2017]

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This page was posted on September 3, 2017.