Consumer Health Digest #14-23
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 29, 2014
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.
Arnold Relman dead at 91. Arnold Relman, M.D. a prominent medical editor and ethicist, has died from complications of melanoma on his 91st birthday. He was a professor of medicine and social medicine at Harvard Medical School, edited The New England Journal of Medicine from 1977 to 1991, and wrote extensively about medical publishing, medical ethics, and the need for reform of the U.S. health care system. In 1980, he warned that the American Health care system was more focused on making money than on curing the sick and was in need of major reform. In 2012, he said that medical profiteering had gotten even worse than he could have imagined. [Martin D. Dr. Arnold Relman, 91, journal editor and health system critic, dies. The New York Times, June 21, 2014] Relman was also sharply critical of "alternative" and "integrative" medicine. His incisive reports on Andrew Weil and naturopathy are posted on Quackwatch.
"Gluten-free" fad criticized. The Wall Street Journal has published an article examining the extent to which Americans have become wary of gluten and how food companies and restaurant chains are taking advantage of their fears. [Jargon J. The gluten-free craze: Is it healthy? The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2014] Gluten is a term for proteins that act to give dough its elasticity and enable it to rise. The article notes:
- Gluten, found in wheat, barley and rye, is well-suited for baking, but triggers an autoimmune response that can damage the intestines of people with celiac disease.
- A few years ago, some doctors began suggesting eliminating gluten from patients' diets to address mysterious maladies; celebrities jumped on the bandwagon, touting gluten elimination as a way to lose weight and boost energy; and best-selling books orchestrated concerns.
- About 2-3 million Americans, less than 1% of the population, suffer from celiac disease. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness says research states another 18 million Americans have gluten sensitivity, experiencing discomfort without the intestinal damage. But recent surveys found that about 30% of Americans are trying to avoid gluten.
- Food companies are now marketing hundreds of gluten-free foods, some of which are less healthful than the foods they are intended to replace.
Kathleen Helms gets prison sentence. Kathleen Helms, who falsely represented herself as a doctor of naturopathy and has been arrested twice of practicing medicine without a license, has been sentenced to 20 months in prison. San Diego Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvis noted that Helms had (a) inappropriately diagnosed patients with Lyme disease, (b) treated them with bovine stem cells from Germany, and (c) caused several patients to become ill and one to nearly die as a result. [Johnson J. Fake doctor receives 20-month sentence. KGTV ABC10 San Diego, June 17, 2014]
This page was posted on June 29, 2014.