Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quackery in Seattle

I often listen to AM 1090 Seattle (upstart progressive talk radio station and Air America / Nova M radio
affiliate).  What irks me are the many fringe/quack commercials and infomercials that air on the station.  I don't see many of the vendors listed on their sponsor pages so I'm not sure if they are just forwarding commercials from the networks, but I wish they would take a little more editorial control.

What doesn't help is that one of their prominent talk show hosts (that I actually like for his political acumen and rational take on issues) Thom Hartman tends to shill for many questionable products.  He seems fairly
gullible outside of the political sphere.  And this seems to only be reinforced now that I found that he owns his own company producing ADHD herbal treatments:  Enzymatic Therapy, Inc. - North America's leading manufacturer and distributor of dietary supplements and natural medicines. Seriously -- if there was something to what he discovered, it should result in a pharmaceutical product regulated by the FDA and controlled in dosage with well-done and documented trials to prove efficacy. Products that go the "natural" route don't have that kind of rigor and actual evidence backing them.

Some of the products featured that are total quackery (not science-based medicine):

which claims to rid you of "the five to twenty five pounds of waste that some experts say is trapped on the colon walls like spackle or paste"  This is a typical quack claim.  Anyone who has gotten a colonoscopy can tell you that you actually don't have "pounds" of stuff on your colon walls.  Your body expels solid waste fairly well, unless you have an obstructed bowel.  Then you would need serious medical attention, not some supplement that is not even regulated by the FDA. See How Clean Should Your Colon Be? (The American Council on Science and Health)

Super Beta Prostate,
formulated by Roger Mason, who has the book quackishly-titled, "The Natural Prostate Cure" and even one entitled "The Natural Diabetes Cure".  Do you think if someone had a "cure" for these diseases, especially one that was over-the-counter, that this would be HUGE news that the scientific and lay press would take a big interest in.  Not to mention the pharmaceutical companies that would love to synthesize a
cancer treatment.

I found this review from amazon.ca funny and to-the-point:

Roger Mason's little pamphlet has some serious flaws in it. He proclaims that the way to beat prostate
cancer is to eliminate meat and dairy in favor of whole grains and
vegetables. His authority for this is that a grain based diet is what
mankind has been consuming throughout recorded history.
This is
falacious reasoning at best. Archaeologists can tell him that they can
determine the eating habits from ancient skeletal remains by
examination of the teeth. Healthy, undecayed teeth are indicative of
someone whose diet was primarily meat; while teeth that demonstrate
considerable deterioration proves that their diet was primarily grains.
Why is it that grains do that and meat doesn't?! In addition, they
might also reveal that the natural
mode of human biology is for a mother to nurse for up to three years
and remain infertile throughout that time; while a grain based diet
interferes with the natural
biological cycle and returns a woman to fertility in as little as three
months despite nursing an extant child. Mason should also explain why
humans have incisors...

The Atkins diet plan is juxtaposed to Mason's views. It emphasizes the more natural
diet of meat and de-emphasizes grains and starches as the heaviest
carbohydrates. The results are startling - reduced weight and
cholesterol despite eating MORE red meat! Carbs get stored in fat cells
when there is an overabunbance. That leads to disease. The human body
can't store extra protein. It's the extra carbs that cause an
oversupply of estrogen in men, not the consumption of protein as Mason

Mason just doesn't know what he's talking about. Try
reading instead Drs. Eades & Eades' Protein Power, in which real
medical doctors give real medical evidence about estrogen, insulin and
how the body manages protein, carbohydrates and fats.

Regardless, the main ingredients in SBP are Beta-sitosterols and the
website claims that one capsule is equivalent to 100 typical Saw
Palmetto capsules for the amount of Beta-sitosterols.  So, one could
look at the efficacy (or lack thereof) of Saw Palmetto then to help
determine whether SBP could conceivably have any benefit.  As recently
as 2006 there was a large study that seemed to show (as is typical when
the effect is not real) the larger, well-done study tends not to show
an effect.  Meaning, that it is unlikely that saw palmetto and its
ingredients would be a good anti-cancer therapy. 
Study Casts Doubt on Saw Palmetto as Prostate Remedy : NPR
new study in The New England Journal of Medicine indicates "saw
palmetto" does not work to shrink enlarged prostates. At least 2
million men take the supplements, often on the advice of doctors.
Smaller studies have shown that saw palmetto does work, but this is the
largest study to date.

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