Consumer Health Digest #17-43

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 19, 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.

Brilliant book spotlights national health insurance problems. People interested in understanding how the Affordable Health Act gained passage and the problems it was intended to address will benefit from reading America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System, by Steven Brill. The book vividly describes:

The Los Angeles Times called the book "A thunderous indictment of what Brill refers to as the 'toxicity of our profiteer-dominated healthcare system.'"

Review contrasts veterinary drugs and homeopathic "alternatives." The British Veterinary Association's journal has published two articles that place homeopathy in historical and scientific perspective. Although the articles concern veterinary practices, their conclusions are equally relevant to human drugs. The first article notes that, "For many drugs the mechanism of action is proven, and for most drugs without proven mechanisms of action, scientifically plausible mechanisms exist." [Lees P and others. Comparison of veterinary drugs and veterinary homeopathy: Part 1. Veterinary Record, Aug 12, 2017] In contrast, the second article notes that "Homeopathy . . . is top down and faith-based; governed by arbitrary laws, invented by the founder, Hahnemann, which are immutable. As such, homeopathy is not just unscientific, it is a genuinely mystical belief system." [Lees P and others. Comparison of veterinary drugs and veterinary homeopathy: Part 2. Veterinary Record, Aug 19/26, 2017]

Another infection due to raw milk reported. The New Jersey Department of Health has ordered Udder Milk, a home delivery company, to stop selling unpasteurized milk in New Jersey. [DOH issues cease-and-desist orders to company that illegally sold raw milk in NJ: North Jersey woman became ill with rare bacterial infection, people should know health risks. DOH news release, Nov 13, 2017] State and federal officials are investigating to determine from which farms Udder Milk acquired its raw milk, after a North Jersey woman became ill with a rare bacterial infection. Unpasteurized milk may contain dangerous bacteria and is illegal to sell in interstate commerce and several states. The current concern arose after a North Jersey woman was diagnosed with brucellosis acquired from consuming raw milk. People who have consumed raw milk products that are potentially contaminated with Brucella organisms are at high risk for brucellosis infection. Symptoms of brucellosis can occur anytime from 5 days to 6 months after initial exposure to Brucella germs. Symptoms can also disappear for weeks or months only to return at a later date. Initial symptoms may include fever, sweats, malaise, anorexia, headache, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain. Severe infections of the central nervous system or endocarditis can occur. In the chronic forms of brucellosis (lasting 6 weeks or longer), symptoms include recurrent fever, arthritis, and testicular swelling. From 1993 through 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received reports of 127 outbreaks of infections (of all types) linked to raw milk consumption that resulted in 1,909 cases of illnesses and 144 hospitalizations.

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This page was posted on November 19, 2017.