Consumer Health Digest #16-39

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 23, 2016


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.


Another dubious chelation study announced. The NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health has announced that it is funding a $37 million study to test whether chelation therapy is effective against coronary artery disease in diabetics. A previous NIH-funded study found no overall benefit among patients with coronary artery disease, but the principal investigator claimed that the data related just to diabetics were favorable enough to warrant studying this group alone. However, there is good reason to believe that the new study will expose the patients to significant risk with virtually no chance of benefit. [Salzberg S. NIH will spend $37 million on discredited treatment that may harm patients. Forbes, Oct 3, 2016]


Model's death due to chiropractic neck manipulation confirmed. People Magazine has reported that popular model Katie May died last February at the age of 34 due to neck manipulation by a chiropractor. The report was based on an autopsy finding that the treatment had torn her left vertebral artery, cutting off blood flow to May's brain and causing a fatal stroke. [Adams C, Guglielmi J. Playboy model Katie May died after chiropractor ruptured an artery in her neck, coroner says. People, Oct 19, 2016] Press reports last February indicate that May had tweeted that (a) she had "tweaked her neck" when she fell during a photoshoot, (b) she subsequently consulted a chiropractor who "adjusted" her neck, and (c) a few hours after a second visit to the chiropractor, she could hardly move, went to a hospital, vomited in the waiting room, was admitted, and suffered a second stroke that was fatal. [Salinger T. Playboy model Katie May's fatal stroke followed neck pain from bad fall during photo shoot and two chiropractor visits. New York Daily News, Feb 5, 2016] The cause of the stroke was suspected at that time but was not publicized until now. Quackwatch has a detailed report on the risk of stroke following neck manipulation. The Respectful Insolence Blog explains further why sudden, forceful twisting of the the neck can be dangerous.


"Anti-aging" doctor facing fifth disciplinary action. Lane Sebring, M.D., who operates the Sebring Clinic in Wimberly, Texas, is facing Texas Medical Board charges for the fifth time. His 2002 discipline was related to treating a patient for "Wilson's Syndrome," a supposed thyroid condition not recognized as valid by the scientific community. In 2005, he paid a $500 administrative penalty for advertising that he was "board-certified in anti-aging medicine," which violated a medical board rule because the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine did not meet Texas standards for certifying boards. In 2010 and 2014, he was again disciplined for misleading advertising. Currently, he is charged with violating the standard of care in managing a patient who had sought help for depression and other problems. The board's complaint charges that Sebring had failed to perform a full history and physical exam, failed to establish evidence-based diagnoses, failed to obtain proper informed consent, and prescribed non-therapeutically. Sebring's clinic Web site describes him as "as a board examiner for the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine" and "a recognized expert in Alternative and Anti-Aging Medicine." His personal Web site describes him as a "licensed medical doctor who specializes in holistic anti-aging therapies . . ." Casewatch has the details of his regulatory history and links to the disciplinary documents.


Woman who defrauded patients avoids lengthy prison term. Antonella Carpenter, 73, who was convicted of defrauding cancer patients by promising that her laser treatment would cure them, has been sentenced to five years of probation and forfeiture of $1.1 million that represents fees obtained from 97 patients. The prosecutor had asked for a lengthy prison sentence, but the judge felt that the treatments had been effective for some patients. [Killman C. Woman sentenced to probation in cancer treatment fraud case. Tulsa World, Oct 19, 2016] In 2011, in a civil suit for fraud and deceptive practices, a jury awarded $2.5 million to the the survivors of a woman whom Carpenter had treated for breast cancer. [2.5 million dollar verdict against Lase Med Inc. and Antonella Carpenter. McMath Woods Web site, June 16, 2011]


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This page was posted on October 25, 2016.