Consumer Health Digest #13-22
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 6, 2013
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. 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.
New project reports on alleged "CAM" cancer treatments. The National Information Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the University of Tromsø, Norway, is now operating a project that reviews alleged "complementary and alternative" cancer treatments. The project—called "Concerted Action for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Assessment in the Cancer Field" (CAM-Cancer)—is funded mainly by the university's National Research Center in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NAFKAM) and Reliable Cancer Therapies (RCT), a non-profit organization that provides research-based information on cancer treatments. The CAM-Cancer Web site has about 60 reports that can be downloaded and freely reproduced.
UK activists attack misleading "CAM" regulatory agency. The Nightingale Collaboration, a group of British activists, has submitted 100 complaints against practitioners and clinics registered with the UK's Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). The CNHC was set up in 2008 with government support to regulate Alexander therapy, aromatherapy, Bowen therapy, craniosacral therapy, healing, hypnotherapy, massage therapy, microsystems acupuncture, naturopathy, nutritional therapy, reflexology, reiki; shiatsu, sports therapy, and yoga therapy. To display the CNHC "quality mark," registrants must meet a long list of standards that include, "Advertisements must not be misleading, false, unfair or exaggerated." The Collaboration's home page summarizes the situation this way:
- The breadth of these questionable claims is truly staggering, with just about no CNHC 'discipline' left untouched. The Alexander Technique is a notable exception in this batch of complaints—at least there is some good evidence for it for some conditions and we found no evidence of the outrageous claims that were being made for other disciplines.
- The CNHC controls what training is considered appropriate for an aspirant registrant and they must also ensure that future registrants are clearly taught during their training just what they can and cannot treat—and that has to be based on the best scientific evidence available. Anything less is a dereliction of their duty. They promised this nearly four years ago, but even if they have taken action, our complaints clearly demonstrate that it was wholly inadequate.
- If the CNHC ever wants to be considered a regulator that protects the public rather than its registrants, it should take this opportunity to tackle the endemic problems with their registrants head on, ensure that all misleading (and indeed illegal) claims are removed, and deal with the registrants appropriately.
- The CNHC recently applied to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) to join their statutory Accredited Voluntary Register. With these revelations of the widespread and reckless claims being made by CNHC registrants, we suggest the PSA drop their application and have nothing further to do with them until the CNHC are able to fully demonstrate their ability to control their registrants and protect the public.
Tetanus case attracts media attention. The parents of a 7-year-old boy who suffered terribly and nearly was killed by tetanus are speaking out about their poor decision not to provide measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) shots to the boy. The parents attributed their decision to statements on the Internet that vaccines cause autism and are promoted by drug companies purely for profit. Widespread media coverage of the story in Australia and New Zealand is motivating parents to get their children immunized. [Wynne E. Parents' fear of vaccinations nearly killed their son [ABC-TV Perth, Australia, June 6, 2013]
This page was revised on June 10, 2013.