Regular readers of the Better Health blog are familiar with the shoddy science behind homeopathy (an outdated system of “medical” treatment that relies on water dilution and shaking to ‘”strengthen” the effects of drugs). But because homeopathic placebos have been marketed so successfully (even receiving paid endorsements from hockey teams), the Ontario government has decided to regulate homeopathic practices.
In this terrific news exposé, reporters ask if it’s appropriate for the government to regulate health scams. In doing so, are they not lending credibility to modern-day snake oil? Check out these videos and let me know what you think. Is there a roll for government in regulating homeopathy?
Last week, after the National Lung Screening Trial results were released, David Sampson, American Cancer Society director of medical and scientific communications, wrote that “our greatest fear was that forces with an economic interest in the test would sidestep the scientific process and use the release of the data to start promoting CT scans. Frankly, even we are surprised how quickly that has happened.”
And, yes, the marketing has even hit fly-over country in the Twin Cities, with this ad appearing in the Sunday MinneapolisStar Tribune in the “A” section:
Of course, no where in the ad will you read about the potential harms of such scans, the false positive rate, what happens when you get a false positive (unnecessary followup testing and perhaps unnecessary treatment), and more costs. And nowhere in the ad will you read that 300 heavy smokers had to be scanned in order for just one to get a benefit of extending his life. But six clinics in this chain are standing by to take your money and do your scan.
It’s been almost a month since the LA Times ran the article by Chris Woolston entitled The Healthy Skeptic: Stem cell face-lifts on unproven ground. It’s well written and presents a fairly balanced view. While I am a fan of stem cell research, I think the “claims” are often put ahead of the science. This is one of those times. I can’t find any decent articles to support the claims of the plastic surgeons doing “stem cell face-lifts.”
My view is echoed in the article (bold emphasis is mine):
Rubin says he’s excited about the potential of stem cells in the cosmetic field and beyond. Still, he adds, there are many unanswered questions about the cosmetic use of stem cells, and anyone who claims to have already mastered the technique is jumping the gun. As Rubin puts it, “Claims are being made that are not supported by the evidence.”
While researchers in Asia, Italy, Israel and elsewhere are reporting decent cosmetic results with injections of stem cell-enriched fat, Rubin says that nobody really knows how the stem cells themselves are behaving. He points out that fat injections alone can improve a person’s appearance, no stem cells needed.
Rubin believes it’s possible that injected stem cells could create new collagen and blood vessels — as they have been shown to do in animals studies — but such results have never been proved in humans. And, he adds, the long-term effects of the procedures are an open question.
Stem cell face-lifts could someday offer real advances, says Dr. Michael McGuire, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and a clinical associate professor of surgery at UCLA. But he believes that scientists are still at least 10 years away from reliably harnessing stem cells to create new collagen and younger-looking skin. Until then, promises of a quick stem cell face-lift are a “scam,” he says.
Freelance journalist and author Suzanne Schlosberg wrote because she was so upset over a New York Times story, “The Chip That Stacks Adds a Multigrain Twist,” that she wanted us to review it. I thought anyone who feels so strongly about something should review it herself. So she did. Here is Suzanne’s guest post:
I was flabbergasted when I read this New York Times piece on Procter & Gamble’s new entry into the potato-chip market: multigrain Pringles. The story accepts at face value P&G’s misleading marketing pitch — that “multigrain” is equivalent to “healthy.” When I sent a link to my nutritionist friend Cynthia Sass., M.S., R.D., she replied: “Did you notice it says ‘advertising’ in the top left corner? It must be a paid ad that resembles an article.”
Actually, it’s not. It’s a business story that ran in the “Media & Advertising” section. Though the story didn’t appear on the health pages, it should have made clear that “multigrain” simply means that more than one grain is included in the product — not that the product is necessarily nutritious. Read more »
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