Consumer Health Digest #05-21

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 24, 2005


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.


Shark cartilage fails another clinical trial. A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, clinical trial of patients with incurable breast or colorectal carcinoma has found no evidence that adding powdered shark cartilage (Benefin®) to standard therapy is beneficial. Data on 83 evaluable patients showed no difference in overall survival or quality of life. Many patients dropped out of the study because of side effects related to the shark cartilage. [Loprinzi CL and others. Evaluation of shark cartilage in patients with advanced cancer. Cancer 104(1), July 1, 2005] Some experiments have shown that some forms of shark cartilage possess a modest ability to slow the growth of new blood vessels in laboratory cell cultures and in animals, no useful effect humans has been demonstrated. Public interest in shark cartilage soared in 1993 after CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" aired an irresponsible report claiming that patients in Cuba had gone into remission after treatment with shark cartilage. The National Cancer Institute later concluded the Cuban study's results were "incomplete and unimpressive." A clinical trial published in 1998 found no benefit of shark cartilage in 58 people with advanced breast, colon, lung, or prostate cancer. [Miller DR and others. Phase I/II trial of the safety and efficacy of shark cartilage in the treatment of advanced cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology 16(11): 3649-3655, 1998]


Free Internet conference, June 9. Consumer Reports WebWatch is sponsoring a conference called "Trust or Consequence: How Failure to Disclose Ad Relationships Threatens to Burst the Search Bubble." The meeting is scheduled for Thursday June 9 from 9 AM to 4 PM at the Claremont Resort & Spa in Berkeley, California. The discussion will focus on ways to help consumers find reliable health information. The speakers include Peter Goldschmidt (President, Health Improvement Institute), Joel Gurin (Executive Vice President, Consumers Union), Matt Cutts (software engineer, Google), and Dr. Stephen Barrett. Attendance is free, but registration by May 27 is required.


FDA orders cancer salve marketer to stop. The FDA has warned Robert Roy to stop his illegal marketing of Two Feathers Healing Formula. [Cassens BJ. Warning letter to Robert Roy, April 13, 2005] The formula, also called "Compound X," is available in salve and tablet form. Its ingredients are said to include "calcium phosphate, zinc, potassium, magnesium, sodium and eleven trace minerals in a specially prepared blend of 17 synergistic herbs." Roy has claimed that Two Feathers is effective against cancers and a long list of other diseases and conditions. Quackwatch has additional information.


Master's Miracle product recalled. The Master's Miracle company of Minneapolis, Minnesota has issued a public warning against applying the company's Fortified Mineral Neutralizer and Ultra Fortified Mineral Neutralizer to the eyes because these products are not sterile and cause serious infections that can result in blindness. Health Canada, which tested product samples, has also issued a warning. [Health Canada Warns consumers not to use "Master's Miracle Fortified Mineral Neutralizer" or "Miracle II Miracle Neutralizer." Health Canada Web site, May 12, 2005]


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This page was posted on May 24, 2005.