Consumer Health Digest #19-05

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
February 3, 2019


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.


Dubious social work activities noted. Scholars in social work and psychology have developed a list of 418 names of interventions, training offers, guiding philosophies, conceptualizations, credentials, equipment, etc., promoted on social work practitioner Web sites that "would not receive universal acclaim and, in some instances, might appear highly questionable." The list includes Auricular Detox, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist, Certified Avesa Quantum Healer, Divine Channel, Edgar Cayce ARE Past Life Regression Course, Five Element Medical Qigong, Golden Angel Healing work, Holographic Memory Resolution & Holographic Repatterning, Intuitive Energy Healing, Jewelry for Healing, Karuna Reiki, Licensed Acudetox Specialist, Metaphysical Practitioner and Metaphysical Minister, Numerology Personality Profile, Ortho-Bionomy, Psychic Medium and Healer, Quantum Healing Hypnosis Technique (QHHT), Remove Spirits from Homes, Spirit attachment work, Traditional Chinese Medicine Tongue and Pulse Diagnosis, Universal Shaman Apprentice, Vortex Healing, Women's Healing Circle for Fertility Support (includes Vibrational Healing & Balancing using Crystals & Sound), Yuen Method and Zero Balancing Practitioner. The authors said they created the list to encourage the scientific community to examine and discuss the practices and do something about those that should be stopped. [Holden G. Barker K. Should social workers be engaged in these practices? Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work. 15(1), 1-13, 2018] Commenting on the paper, Jann Bellamy wrote:

There needs to be a concerted national effort to stamp out pseudoscience in all of healthcare. Unfortunately, since medicine and other healthcare professions have abandoned science as a standard, and legislators fail to effectively regulate quackery (in fact, they regularly incorporate it into law), that isn't going to happen anytime soon. [Bellamy J. Pseudoscience invades social work. Science-Based Medicine. Jan 31, 2019]


Suboptimal toothpaste use and toothbrushing among children reported. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that brushing begin when the first tooth erupts (as early as 6 months). But based on interviews of a representative U.S. sample of parents of 5,157 children and adolescents aged 3-15 years, researchers have found that 20.1% started brushing their teeth during infancy, 38.8% started at 1 year, 26.6% at 2 years, and 14.5% at 3 years or later. The researchers also surveyed toothpaste use. As children begin using a toothbrush and toothpaste, supervision is a critical role for parents or caregivers. The CDC recommends that children begin toothpaste use at age 2 years, using a smear the size of a rice grain and no more than a pea-size amount from ages 3-6. The survey found that toothpaste use was started before age 2 in 44% and only half of those between 3 and 6 were using the correct amount. CDC also recommends that all persons drink optimally fluoridated water (0.7 mg/L). Recommendations aim to balance the benefits of fluoride exposure for prevention of dental caries with the potential risk for fluorosis when excessive amounts of fluoride toothpaste are swallowed by young children. [Thornton-Evans G and others. Use of toothpaste and toothbrushing patterns among children and adolescents—United States, 2013-2016. MMWR 68:87-90, 2019]


CFI objects to New Mexico naturopathy bill. The Center for Inquiry (CFI) has warned the Public Affairs Committee of the New Mexico Senate about the potential harms of the Naturopathic Doctors' Practice Act (SB 135), which would authorize naturopaths licensed by a state-approved board to provide primary medical care including drug prescribing and being able to "administer intramuscular, intravenous, subcutaneous, intra-articular and intradermal injections of substances appropriate to naturopathic medicine." CFI stated that naturopaths pose potential harm because they: (a) do not receive evidence-based medical training, and (b) subscribe to an array of baseless theories and practices that contradict fundamental scientific facts and principles. [New Mexico naturopath bill risks patients' health and legitimizes fake medicine. Center for Inquiry press release. Jan 31, 2019]


Former massage therapist tells why he left his profession in disgust. Paul Ingraham has revealed why he stopped practicing massage therapy practice. In 2010, the College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia unfairly accused him of being "unprofessional" for writing about unscientific aspects of chiropractic and massage therapy on his Web site. Rather than stop writing, he decided to stop practicing. His article concludes:

The massage world is still rotten with faith-based treatments and flaky magical thinking, and what little interest in science you find is often shallow. Vitalism is rampant and many therapists indulge in overt quackery like Reiki and reflexology, but that's only the most obvious nonsense, the tip of a far larger iceberg of health care amateurism and hair-raising ignorance, incompetence, and overconfidence. Practitioners earnestly keen on science and evidence-based practice are a depressingly small minority, and they are inevitably sneered at by many of their colleagues. Massage therapy has a deeply pseudoscientific character overall, defining itself mostly in opposition to science-based or "mainstream" health care, where rejection of science is actually celebrated by many practitioners, probably a majority. [Ingraham P. Why I quit my massage therapy career. Science-Based Medicine. Feb 1, 2019]


Tarr, Inc. settles complaint over deceptively advertised health products. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that—as a result of a settlement—that it is mailing 227,995 refund checks totaling more than $6 million and averaging $26.57 to consumers who purchased health products from three individuals and the 19 companies they controlled—collectively known as Tarr, Inc. According to the FTC's complaint, filed in November 2017, Tarr, Inc. used a vast network of online marketers to sell more than 40 different products mostly advertised as promoting weight loss, muscle building, or wrinkle-reduction. The FTC alleged that the defendants marketed their products with unsupported claims, fake magazine and news sites, bogus celebrity endorsements, phony consumer testimonials, deceptive offers of "free" and "risk-free" trials, and enrollments of people without their consent in programs that charged them for additional products each month. The complaint included examples of the ads. The settlement prohibits the defendants from using the alleged deceptive marketing tactics. [FTC returns more than $6 million to consumers who bought deceptively marketed health products from Tarr, Inc. FTC press release. Feb 1, 2019]


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This page was posted on February 3, 2019..