Consumer Health Digest #18-10

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 11, 2018

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H., with help from Stephen Barrett, M.D. 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.

Frequently shared autism stories usually misinform. Buzzfeed News has identified the 50 most shared stories published between August 2012 and August 2017 that claimed to present scientific or medical information about autism and found that 28 (56%) of them, including the two most-shared stories, could be classified as "unevidenced." [Chivers T. How online filter bubbles are making parents of autistic children targets for fake "cures." BuzzFeed News Aug. 28, 2017] The stories in the analysis were identified using data from BuzzSumo, a company that tracks social sharing across Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. Facebook groups or pages with unevidenced stories included "AutismCD", Healing The Symptoms Known As Autism, and Autism Mothers. The Web sites with such stories included Natural News, SafeMinds, and Generation Rescue. Some of the questioned treatments are listed as "Doubtful and Discredited Methods" on Autism Watch.

Mike Adams ("The Health Ranger") under fire. Three recent stories have severely criticized the activities of Mike Adams, who operates Natural News and more than 50 other Web sites that promote questionable information.:

On March 3rd, Adams complained to his Natural News readers that YouTube had deleted more than 1,700 videos from his Health Ranger video channel. In June 2016, the channel's "About" page reported 101,541 followers and 21,895,111 views. Now that page states that the account was "terminated for violating YouTube's Community Guidelines." It is not clear what triggered the ban.

Neuro Connect wearable clips flunk CBC Marketplace testing. CBC's "Marketplace" program investigated Neuro Connect wearable clips after skeptical viewers complained about an uncontrolled demonstration of the products on CBC's "Dragons' Den," a program in which entrepreneurs pitch products to venture capitalists. Collingwood, Ontario chiropractor Mark Metus and his business partner Greg Philips market the clips through their company NeuroReset, Inc., with claims of improving balance, strength, and joint function by creating "quantum entanglement"—an implausible rationale according to experts consulted by Marketplace. With the help of experts at the University of Toronto's Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, "Marketplace" asked ten participants to complete a static standing balance test and a grip strength test three times under double-blind conditions—once with Neuro Connect clips, once with a set of name tag clips, and once with no clips. The test found no enhanced performance when the Neuro Connect Lifestyle clip was used. [Szeto E and others. 'This is snake oil': Scientists don't buy balance-boosting clips featured on Dragons' Den. CBC News, Feb 2, 2017]

"Marketplace" also noted that Health Canada has ordered NeuroReset to stop advertising selling Neuro Connect Balance clip, Neuro Connect Balance spray, Neuro Connect One, Neuro Connect Lifestyle, and Neuro Connect Golf because they are unlicensed. The NeuroReset home page now states, "We are working to ensure that we meet all compliance requirements for sale of products. Our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause." The site still makes promotional claims, but it appears that the products cannot be ordered. NeuroReset's sales pitch is still posted on the "Dragons' Den" site, but this content is not viewable outside of Canada.

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This page was posted on March 12, 2018