Consumer Health Digest #02-13

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 26, 2002


Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. 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.


Quackwatch blasts final WHCCAMP report. Quackwatch has posted detailed information about the final report of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy (WHCCAMP), which was released on March 25th. The information features a paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the entire report plus the "minority report" in which two Commissioners lay bare the intellectual dishonesty of the rest. The1910 Flexner Report set the standards for medical education. The WHCCAMP report does the exact opposite by outlining the agenda for establishing quackery. The Quackwatch analysis is indexed at http://www.quackwatch.org/07PoliticalActivities/WHC/00.html.


Government-sponsored "CAM" research called fruitless. Saul Green, Ph.D., a retired cancer researcher, has concluded that the research awards by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and its predecessors over a 9-year period "have not produced useful information." Writing in the Fall 2001 issue of The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and Aberrant Medical Practices (SRAM), he states:

Published reports of investigations exist but in relatively small numbers. Many publications were . . . repetitions of previously published research, reviews, commentaries-- the latter two not requiring large grants to perform. Several individuals who were members of the OAM/NCCAM Advisory Committee were . . . repeated recipients of grants and awards. Many projects seem to be devoted to implausible methods. No clearly positive or negative findings have been reported for any method, yet many reports call for continuing research. [Green S. Stated goals and grants of the Office of Alternative Medicine/National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. SRAM 5:205-207, 2001.

The same issue of the journal provides critical background information on members of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and its chairman James S. Gordon, M.D. Annual subscriptions to SRAM are $60 for individuals in the United States and Canada, $70 for individuals overseas, and $100 for institutions everywhere. Orders can be placed by calling (800) 421-0351 or writing to SRAM, Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228.


Lorraine Day's claims questioned. Quackwatch has launched a major investigation of Lorraine Day, M.D., a former orthopedic surgeon who claims to have cured her breast cancer by combining "natural food" with religious faith. Day's videotapes state that radiation and chemotherapy don't work and that her recovery took place even though her doctors had "sent her home to die." Dr. Stephen Barrett believes that her tapes are filled with factual errors and far-fetched claims. [Barrett S. Preliminary Notes on Dr. Lorraine Day.]


Conference on critical thinking about dietary supplements. On May 3, 2002, in Irvine, California, the Orange County Nutrition Alert Coalition will hold a 5-hour conference on Health, Hope or Hype? Dietary Supplement Conference: Critical Thinking for Consumers. The topics include ergogenic aids, why testimonials are unreliable, and who should be trusted. The event is cosponsored by the National Council Against Health Fraud and offers continuing education credit to dietitians, nurses, and health educators.


Ohio criminalizes therapist/patient sex. Ohio has passed a law (SB 9) that makes sexual activity between mental health professionals and their patients punishable by imprisonment and a fine. The law (a) makes sex coerced as part of "treatment" a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000 and (b) with a few exceptions, makes noncoercive sex a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. The law's passage was stimulated by articles in The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) showing that psychologists convicted of sexual offenses had received little or no censure from the Ohio Board of Psychology. Therapist/patient sex has been criminalized in the District of Columbia and 24 other states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. [Milne D. Psychologists' disciplinary failure leads to new law in Ohio. Psychiatric News, March 15, 2002, p. 18]


Major report on food safety. The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) has issued a 107-page report on emerging food safety problems and strategies for countering them. The topics include:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that foodborne pathogens cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths each year in the United States. The symptoms of foodborne illnesses range from mild gastrointestinal upsets to life-threatening neurologic, liver, and kidney diseases. The new report, Emerging Microbial Food Safety Issues: Implications for Control in the 21st Century, can be accessed on the IFT Web site. Its concerns include the increasing use of animal manure as fertilizer.


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This page was posted on March 26, 2002.