Consumer Health Digest #07-28

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 24, 2007


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.


Cochrane reviews data on vitamin C and the common cold. The Cochrane Collaboration has updated its review of studies of vitamin C for preventing and treating colds. [Douglas RM and others. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD000980. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub3] The study looked at 30 controlled clinical trials involving a total of 11,350 participants. The reviewers concluded:

Regular ingestion of vitamin C has no effect on common cold incidence in the ordinary population. It reduced the duration and severity of common cold symptoms slightly, although the magnitude of the effect was so small its clinical usefulness is doubtful.


Saul Green, antiquackery activist, dead at 82. Saul Green, Ph.D., a board member of the National Council Against Health Fraud, died on July 1st. He was a biochemist who did cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for 23 years. He had a special interest in evaluating the proposed mechanisms of action of questionable methods and consulted on scientific methodology until a few years before his death. His most notable publications debunked claims for chelation therapy, immuno-augmentative therapy, coffee enemas, and antineoplastons. His chelation article on Quackwatch was ranked #1 by Google for more than five years. Some of his other writings are archived at http://saulgreen.blogspot.com.


Lorraine Day ordered to stop illegal advertising. The FDA has ordered Lorraine Day, M.D. to stop claiming that BetaBeet helps prevent cardiovascular disease. Day's Web site has stated:

BetaBeet™ is a soluble powder made form [sic] the juice of organically-grown beets and contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients including folic acid, iron, calcium and betaine. … Like vitamin B6 and folic acid, betaine helps reduce high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which can be a risk factor for arteriosclerosis.

These claims are illegal because (a) the product is not generally recognized as safe and effective for reducing the risk of arteriosclerosis and (b) dietary supplements cannot be legally marketed with such claims. Day claims to have cured herself of "terminal" breast cancer through a combination of prayer, dietary modification, and various lifestyle changes. Dr. Stephen Barrett, who does not believe this is true, has posted a detailed analysis of her story. [Barrett S. Stay away from Dr. Lorraine Day. Quackwatch, July 23, 2007]


Another class action suit filed against USANA. A lawsuit seeking class action status has been filed in California State Court on behalf of thousands of individuals who became "Associates" (distributors) of USANA Health Sciences Inc. on or after January 1, 1995 in California. The plaintiffs accuse USANA and several of its officers and directors of fraud and deception. Among other things, the suit alleges USANA (a) exaggerated the business opportunity, (b) failed to disclose that 87% of active distributors were losing money, (c) misrepresented the credentials of its advisory board, and (d) basically operated a pyramid scheme requiring a constant churn in its sales force. The lawsuit seeks damages for distributors left with thousands of dollars of losses each after paying for business “kits” and products they say they couldn’t sell. Earlier this year, similar class-action suits were filed on behalf of shareholders.


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This page was posted on July 24, 2007.