- The federal Food and Drug Administration couldn’t make it clearer: Companies pushing products with cannabis in them can’t make unfounded claims about their use in treating or “curing” cancer. It’s just rubbish. The agency ordered the makers of dozens of pot-containing products to stop their hype. Savvy consumers also should stop acting as if they’re stoned and giving any credibility to these claims, right?
- The rightly red-faced FDA itself is walking back some of its gullibility about health claims for soy foods and their purported heart healthfulness. The Weston A. Price Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports good nutrition, called out the agency, pointing out that recent research demonstrates at best a correlation between soy eating and good heart health. The FDA, which had allowed just a dozen claims of health benefits on food packaging, decided soy’s benefits are insufficient to stay in this glowing group (which includes Vitamin D in cutting osteoporosis risks and fruits and vegetables in cancer reductions). Just to be clear: soy isn’t harmful, it is popular (notably in Asian-based diets), and it is a sound, plant-based protein.
Elmo and the Colonials won’t make it as a new Saturday morning hit cartoon show. But the colorful characters might play a tangential part in some important lessons for consumers and some supposedly serious institutions on preserving the public trust in published, medical-scientific research.
Healthnewsreview.org, a nonprofit and independent watchdog of health information, rightly has taken George Washington University to task for issuing a Pollyannaish, inaccurate news release on a Colonials’ study on whether text messages could help curb expectant moms’ smoking. The hype from the school, about research from GWU’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, first proclaimed:
Text messaging program may help pregnant women kick the smoking habit
Social media have become a “circus” for some plastic and cosmetic surgeons to clown around in unprofessional ways, including: videos in which one doctor has cradled fat removed from a tummy-tuck like an infant and put a baby face on it using a Snapchat filter. Other costumed surgeons have posted visual displays of themselves dancing before surgery and showing off on camera procedures or with tissues they have removed.
The abuses have become so bad that faculty and students from Northwestern University’s medical school, after researching incidents online, have published a prospective social media code of ethics for plastic surgeons, calling for its adoption by specialists at their next major meeting.
Robert Dorfman, one of the Northwestern students and an author of the draft ethics proposal, has described plastic surgery’s social media landscape “like the Wild West out there, with no guidelines or rules.” Clark Schierle, senior author of the guidelines, a plastic surgeon, and a medical school faculty member, has observed that practitioners in the field are “uniquely drawn to social media because we tend to do more marketing and we are a visual specialty.”
Could pediatricians accomplish what many parents cannot? Can they talk to rebellious youths about the body adornments that are all the rage now, and get kids to consider the health risks and long-term issues surrounding trendy tattoos, piercings, and body scarring?
In case you’ve fallen like Rip Van Winkle into a long doze or you’re senior enough to even understand the Washington Irving reference, tats and body jewelry worn in created openings and roughing up the skin to make interesting patterns all have become so common among the young that those who go without such au trendy beauty measures may now even be the outliers among their peers.
There isn’t good data on body scarring but the public opinion experts at the Pew Research Center found in 2010 that 38 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds had at least one tattoo, and 23 percent had “piercings in locations other than an earlobe.”
The quest for beauty—whether skin deep or in the eye of the beholder—not only carries high costs. It also can be health risky.
Jane Brody reminds us in the New York Times that due “to a lack of federal regulations, the watchword for consumers of cosmetics and personal care products should be caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware.”
Citing a recent editorial in the Internal Medicine publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Brody reports that, despite a $26.3 million lawsuit settlement involving 200 women, a hair care maker continues to tout the benefits and safety of its products, about which federal regulators have received more than 20,000 complaints of hair loss or scalp damage.
Mocking the vanity, self-absorption, and stupidity of the rich and celebrities may be too feckless a sport. But the tragic spin-offs of the sweeping misinformation their hype mechanisms can generate sometimes just cannot be ignored.
If you can take it, New York magazine has put out a detailed story on “The Wellness Epidemic,” a deep dive into the cult-like affectations of affluent Americans who spend way too much time worrying they might be sick—and dabbling with remedies that might make most readers with an inkling of common sense spit up a little.
Why pay a second’s attention to this hypochondria and Goop, the fantasy empire of wealthy and beautiful Gwyneth Paltrow? Because she’s the actress who’s not only selling millions of dollars in beauty supplies and vitamins and supplements of suspect health value, she’s also sharing with a sadly rapt global audience her nonsensical views on the benefits and necessities of fecal transplants and putting a $66 jade egg into one’s private parts.
They once got a ton of hype with radio, TV, and print ads, as well as billboard campaigns by proponents who later proved to be nothing less than sketchy. But the much-touted lap-band weight surgeries have fallen out of favor. The number of the procedures performed annually has nose-dived.
Researchers, based on a longer view, are finding that, among bariatric weight-loss options, lap-band surgeries offer some of the poorest results and result in frequent added procedures—at big costs, both economic and to disappointed, suffering patients.
Vox, the online news site, deserves credit for pulling together a painful review of what once was the most common way for overweight Americans, mostly women, to tackle one of the nation’s epidemic conditions: obesity.
The adolescent misery of acne and the irritation of any itchy rash might not rank high as maladies requiring major medical interventions. Still, patients seeking dermatological care for a range of issues may be feeling a new pain — in their pocketbooks — as specialists nationwide report that they and those in their care are getting swept up in what’s looking more and more like pharmaceutical avarice.
Skin care drugs since 2009 have on average quadrupled in price, according to a new published study. As the Washington Post reports, “Of the 19 brand-name drugs included in the study, certain outliers showed massive price surges — a 60-gram tube of a gel for a type of skin cancer increased from $1,686.78 for a tube to over $30,000.”
All drugs, of course, have been creeping up in cost, and not necessarily with great cause and explanation. Dermatologists express special chagrin that their commonly prescribed drugs — old and new, biologic or manufactured — all have zoomed up in price. They also don’t get on pharmacy plans so they get covered by insurance plans, meaning patients are howling because they are bearing a greater share of costs.
When a celebrity “has work done” and the job goes wrong, it’s splashed all over the tabloids. When it happens to you, it doesn’t make the news, but the results are equally devastating.
Dr. Patrick Hsu, a plastic surgeon, recently wrote on KevinMD.com that the number of people having plastic surgery is increasing, and that the number of bad outcomes is increasing right along with them. Hsu wants potential patients for plastic surgery, whether the procedure is elective or medical, to know how to find the right surgeon.
As always, it’s best to get more than one opinion about a nonemergency medical procedure, and plastic surgery is no different. To enhance your chances of getting the best outcome, Hsu advises all patients to ask prospective plastic surgeons these questions:
The patients arrived at the weight-loss clinics for liposuction, and left with an unwelcome add-on: streptococcus infection. The cause, a study showed, was probably a staff unaware of or unwilling to perform proper infection control.
The strain of streptococcus that the 13 people contracted is a bacterium that can cause relatively mild illnesses, such as “strep” throat, or impetigo, a skin infection characterized by spreading pustules that most often occurs in children, and is contagious. And streptococcus can cause other severe and even life-threatening problems, such as pneumonia or toxic shock syndrome.
Reuters wrote about the outbreak in Maryland and Delaware that occurred in 2012 and was investigated by state officials. Last month, JAMA Internal Medicine published a study about the incident titled “Invasive Group A Streptococcus Infections Associated With Liposuction Surgery at Outpatient Facilities Not Subject to State or Federal Regulation,” which pretty well sums up a key problem with the whole affair.