Consumer Health Digest #18-16

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 22, 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.


Evidence for chiropractic disease prevention found lacking. A team of researchers has found no evidence that manipulative therapy/chiropractic care protects general health or can prevent or stop early disease. The researchers conducted a systematic review of the literature with a search that led them to scrutinize 13,099 titles. [Goncalves G and others. [Effect of chiropractic treatment on primary or early secondary prevention: a systematic review with a pedagogic approach. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 26:10, 2018] Edzard Ernst, M.D., Ph.D. praised the review and concluded:

If chiropractors systematically trained to become research-competent, the chiropractic profession would cease to exist; they would become a limited version of physiotherapists. There is simply not enough positive evidence to justify chiropractic. In other words, as chiropractic wants to survive, it has little choice other than remaining ignorant of the current best evidence. [Ernst E. Chiropractic: a truly remarkable and excellent review by chiropractors. Edzard Ernst blog, Apr. 19, 2018]


Elevated rate of complaints about chiropractors reported. A study of all formal complaints from 2011 to 2016 to regulators about all registered practitioners (other than medical doctors) in Australia permitted to perform manipulation of the cervical spine found these incidence rates of complaints:

After adjusting for age, gender, and practice location (metropolitan versus regional/remote) of practitioners, the incidence rate of complaints was four and a half times higher for chiropractors than physiotherapists. For all three types of practitioner:

Although chiropractors made up less than one-sixth of the workforce studied, nearly half the complaints were about chiropractors. Just over 1% of chiropractors were responsible for over a third of the complaints about chiropractors. It generally took longer to resolve complaints about chiropractors than about osteopaths and physiotherapists. [Ryan AT and others. Complaints about chiropractors, osteopaths, and physiotherapists: a retrospective cohort study of health, performance, and conduct concerns. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 26:12, 2018]


Homeopathy prescribing linked to poor prescribing of other drugs. A research team has found that out of 7,618 general (primary care) practices in England for which drug prescribing performance data were available, 644 practices (8.5%) prescribed homeopathy at least once, 38 prescribed homeopathy more than ten times, and three prescribed homeopathy more than 100 times. The odds of prescribing homeopathy were found to increase significantly with increasingly worse scores on each of four measures of prescribing quality. The findings were based on analysis of six months of data from the OpenPrescribing.net project. The researchers concluded:

We believe this strong association between homeopathy use and poorer prescribing in general should raise concerns and may be of interest to those seeking to understand variation in clinical styles and the use of alternative medicine by clinicians. In addition, homeopathy prescribing may provide some limited information about the overall prescribing of a particular practice. [Walker AJ and others. Is use of homeopathy associated with poor prescribing in English primary care? A cross-sectional study. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Jan 1, 2018]

According to UK's National Health Service: "There is no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition." In March, the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (RLHIM) announced that starting April 3rd, it "will no longer be providing NHS-funded homeopathic remedies for any patients as part of their routine care." [Gallagher J. NHS homeopathy ending in London. BBC News, Mar. 13, 2018]


Recommended recent videos. Some recent YouTube videos that expose influential efforts promoting egregious health deceptions include:


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This page was posted on April 22, 2018