Consumer Health Digest #20-02

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 12, 2020


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.


Fear-mongering ad about 5G found misleading. The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that a poster for charity Electrosensitivity-UK opposing the rollout of 5G network technology is misleading. The poster claims that 5G has a range of health effects including "reduced male fertility, depression, disturbed sleep and headaches, as well as cancer." [ASA ruling on Electrosensitivity-UK. ASA. Jan 8, 2020] ASA announced:

The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Electrosensitivity-UK to ensure they did not make claims which implied there was robust scientific evidence that demonstrated negative human health effects caused by 5G signals or that specific medical conditions had been shown to be caused by 5G signals, unless they held adequate substantiation for such claims.


Questionable treatments for neurodevelopmental issues debunked. Skeptical Inquirer magazine has published the first of a three-article series of sidebars from the book Pseudoscience in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy edited by Stephen Hupp (Cambridge University Press, 2019). [Dubious claims in psychotherapy for youth. part 1: neurodevelopmental issues. Skeptical Inquirer. 44(1):36-41, 2020] Part 1 deals with neurodevelopmental issues with sidebars debunking:

An additional sidebar by Henry Hupp calls for teaching children critical thinking about pseudoscience.


Evidence lacking for chiropractic "functional neurology." Functional neurology (FN) is a mainly chiropractic approach that provides spinal manipulation for neurodevelopmental disorders, neurogenerative disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorders in addition to musculoskeletal disorders commonly recognized as within chiropractic's proper scope. A systematic review of randomized and non-randomized controlled tests of FN with outcome measures used to assess "brain function" revealed only 18 relevant articles, all of which lacked methodological quality. Researchers concluded that it is premature to promote the use of spinal manipulation to improve brain function and recommended that the "chiropractic profession should consider the potential consequences of encouraging undergraduate- and postgraduate courses on chiropractic approaches relating to the treatment of the brain via the spine." [Meyer A. and others. Unravelling functional neurology: does spinal manipulation have an effect on the brain? - a systematic literature review. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies. 27:60, 2019]


National physician database available. The Federation of State Medical Board's docinfo search engine now enables users to access background information about more than one million records medical and osteopathic physicians in the United States. It is especially useful to determine whether the doctor has been licensed in more than one state or had disciplinary actions.


National Academies call for integrating social care into U.S. health care delivery. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has concluded that increasing attention to social factors—such as access to stable housing, reliable transportation, and nutritious food—can help shape people's health because they affect both the delivery and the outcomes of health care. A new report advises that facilitating them can improve both primary prevention and the treatment of acute and chronic illness. [National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Integrating Social Care into the Delivery of Health Care: Moving Upstream to Improve the Nation's Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2019] The report can be downloaded free of charge from the Academies' Web site.


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This page was revised on January 14, 2020.