Some straight dope on pot products, soy foods, essential oils, stem cell hype

Marijuana-206x300Let’s give them their just deserts and dispatch them with alacrity. In this week’s hokum alert:

  • 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.
  • In case you missed it, the New Yorker — joined in appreciation by, a health information watchdog site — has called out the burgeoning business of persuading Americans that there are magical, mystical benefits to “essential oils.” Rachel Monroe, a New Yorker writer, deftly details how two odd-ball enterprises have become the leading suppliers and marketers for aromatics made from plants, be they lavender or frankincense fragrances and oils. These have become New Age mainstays, and the biggest enterprises enriching themselves through their sales dance, ever so carefully, on the line about promoting their benefits to avoid, say, crackdowns by the FDA or the Federal Trade Commission. The products lack rigorous, medical science research as to their possible health attributes. Belief steps in and common sense seems to fly away. Yours shouldn’t.
  • Speaking of, while you’re at its site, there’s some worthwhile reading there about gasbag major hospitals and the claims they are making about stem cell treatments. The Mayo Clinic gets tweaked for a video posted on its site. Mayo says the video simply describes on-going research at the famed academic medical center. But the piece, focused on a patient from Serbia (!), is worrying BS, says a McGill University medical ethicist. The video appears to have been yanked down. But talks to other experts about similar challenging information at UC Davis and Northwestern University. Stem cell hype is a growing woe, and serious institutions ought to be setting an example, not engaging in it.

In my practice, I see the major harms that patients can suffer while seeking medical services, and the destructive effects on them and society as a whole of medical hype and misinformation. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t, right? Common sense should rule, including for patients in need of medical care. It’s difficult, however, to maintain good judgment, an even keel, and moderation when we’re all inundated with claims from so many different directions by so many different enterprises.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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