Consumer Health Digest #08-15
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 8, 2008
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.
Research insider blasts "CAM" as worthless. R. Barker Bausell, Ph.D., who served for five years as research director of the University of Maryland's NIH-funded Complementary Medicine Program (now called the Center for Integrated Medicine), has bared the absurdities and lack of research support for "complementary and alternative" methods. After stating why "CAM" research should be regarded skeptically, he dissects the published evidence and concludes:
No CAM therapy has a scientifically plausible biochemical mechanism of action over and above those proposed for the placebo effect. Of course, just because there is no rational explanation for why something should benefit a medical condition or reduce a medical symptom doesn't mean that this something can't do so. Unfortunately, the results from high-quality, randomized, placebo-controlled trials and systematic reviews have demonstrated that CAM therapies don't do so, which regretfully leads me to conclude that CAM therapies are nothing more than cleverly packaged placebos. And that is almost all there is to say about the science of CAM.
Bausell's Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Alternative and Complementary Medicine, is available from Amazon Books.
Yale embraces quackery. The Yale University School of Medicine has joined a growing list of U.S. medical centers that, because of ignorance, excessive tolerance, stupidity, and/or greed, are including senseless methods as part of "integrated" care. Yale's program, called "Integrative Medicine at Yale," includes lectures, elective courses, conferences, and direct patient care. Yale's program is worse than most because it openly and unequivocally teaches and offers patients at least four types of delusion-based treatments:
- Homeopathy, which combines magical thinking with assertions that substances protect can be potent even when diluted so many times that no molecule of original substance remains.
which holds that light touches to the skull can cure disease by unblocking
the flow of fluid within the brain and spinal canal.
- Reiki, whose practitioners claim to heal by transmitting nonmaterial "energy" through their hands into their patient's body
- Therapeutic touch, whose practitioners claim to sense and manipulate their client's "human energy field."
The elaborate (and economically wasteful) patient evaluation process at one of the program's clinics is described in an interview with the program's directors. [McCloud A. Connecticut’s Integrative Medicine Center offers a new conventional medicine model: An interview with David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, and Ather Ali, ND, MPH. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal 7:34-37, 2008]
Texas chiropractors blocked from accessing accident reports. Police reports of auto accidents have been modified to make it difficult for telemarketers hired by chiropractors to solicit accident victims to begin "free" treatment with the chiropractic clinics. The change was brought about through an agreement between the Texas Committee on Insurance Fraud (TGIF), the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Texas Department of Transportation. Legislation was introduced last year to place a 30-day hold on all crash reports except to crash victims, law enforcement officers, insurers, and the news media. The bill failed, but the TGIF is urging lawmakers to support such legislation in the future. The Texas Chiropractic Association and the Texas Trial Lawyers Association supported the bill as well as another one to make telemarketing a crime, but that bill also failed. [New Texas crash reports sans victims' numbers aim to curb scams. Insurance Journal, April 4, 2008] The TCIF includes insurance industry, government, and anti-fraud organizations with the common goal of fighting insurance fraud.
Government maintains large dietary supplement database. The National Library of Medicine now hosts a searchable Dietary Supplements Labels Database with information about more than 2,000 brands of dietary supplements sold in the United States. Developed by DeLima Associates, it is intended to help both researchers and consumers. Searches can be conducted for active ingredients, brands, and manufacturers. Some of the entries link to pertinent health information, fact sheets, research findings, and clinical studies at the National Institutes of Health. FDA and FTC regulatory actions related to dietary supplements are also tabulated.
This page was posted on April 10, 2008.