Consumer Health Digest #18-40
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 7, 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.
"Electromagnetic hypersensitivity" lawsuit dismissed. In June, a U.S. district court judge dismissed the second amended complaint of a lawsuit brought in 2015 by parents who alleged that the wi-fi network at the Fay School in Southborough, Massachusetts was making their 12-year-old boy ill and that the school had failed to make reasonable accommodations to protect him as required under the federal Americans with Disability Act. The boy's alleged disability was electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome (EHS), which had been diagnosed by a family practice physician who claims to practice "integrative," "functional," and "biologic" medicine and offers such questionable treatments as chelation therapy and "complex homeopathy" for cancer support. EHS is not recognized as a disease by the scientific medical community. The amended complaint was filed after the boy took a leave from the Fay School, was being home-schooled, and then enrolled in a Waldorf school that does not use computers in its classrooms. The parents alleged that the Fay School had retaliated against them by improperly excluding them and the boy from certain activities. The parents sought to force the school to readmit the boy. In dismissing the case, the judge concluded that there was no reasonable anticipation that the boy would return to Fay. His ruling did not address the invalidity of EHS as a diagnosis. The parents have filed an appeal. [Barrett S. "Electromagnetic hypersensitivity" is not a valid diagnosis. Quackwatch. Oct 4, 2018]
"Alternative medicine" use linked to shorter survival for cancer patients. Using the National Cancer Database, researchers from Yale School of Medicine identified 281 patients who: (a) had breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancers that had not metastasized at the time they were diagnosed, (b) chose "unproven cancer treatments administered by nonmedical personnel" (the AM group),and (c) did not receive conventional cancer treatment (CCT), defined as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and/or hormone therapy. All but one patient were matched to two others who received CCT and were similar in age, cancer type, clinical group stage, other health problems, insurance type, race, and year of diagnosis. [Johnson SB and others. Use of alternative medicine for cancer and its impact on survival. JNCI 110:121-124, 2018.] The researchers found:
- They could be 95% confident that, after a median of 66 months of follow-up, the "alternative medicine" (AM) users had between 88% and 227% higher risk of death than those who chose CCT.
- Among those with breast cancer, 58.1% of AM patients survived at least five years, while 86.6% of CCT patients survived at least five years.
- Among those with lung cancer, 19.9% of AM patients survived at least five years, while 41.3% of CCT patients survived at least five years.
- Among those with colorectal cancer, 32.7% of AM patients survived at least five years, while 79.4% of CCT patients survived at least five years.
- Among those with prostate cancer, five-year survival percentages were similar for AM (86.2%) and CCT (91.5%), which the researchers attributed to the fact that most prostate cancers progress slowly.
Dentist and husband charged with fake credential fraud. The Passaic County (New Jersey) Prosecutor's Office has charged Amy Rojas, D.M.D. and her husband Oscar Guevara with defrauding patients and insurance companies. Rojas is a licensed dentist,who runs Allure Dental, and Guevara is an x-ray technician. According to press reports:
- Guevera allegedly pretended to be a dentist and illegally performed dental procedures at his wife's practice.
- One such procedure was the installation of braces on a 16-year-old girl, who then needed follow-up and remedial care from a legitimate dentist.
- Guevara was listed as a dentist on the practice's website, even though he never received formal dental training
- The couple allegedly billed insurance companies for procedures supposedly performed by Rojas but actually performed by Guevara.
- Rojas is charged with health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
- Guevara is charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and practicing dentistry without a license.
This page was revised on October 9, 2018.