Friday, February 24, 2006
Last week, saw palmetto, used by 2.5 million American men to
treat prostate problems, was found to be ineffective. This week,
the New England Journal of Medicine published the eagerly-awaited
results of a trial of glucosamine/chondroitin, used by about 5.2
million Americans for arthritis pain at a cost of $30 to $50 a
month. In 2004 alone, sales were $730M. The NIH sponsored study
cost taxpayers $12.5M. Glucosamine/chondroitin, like saw
palmetto, was found to be ineffective. Both are marketed under
the 1994 Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (DSHEA),
which allows natural supplements to be sold without proof of
safety or efficacy. After Stephen Strauss became director, the
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at NIH
began in-depth studies of the most popular supplements. It takes
time, and it's expensive, but let's look at the score: echinacea
doesn't ward off colds or flu, St. Johns Wort doesn't relieve
depression, ginko biloba doesn't improve memory, ephedra aids
athletic performance but kills people, and is the only supplement
to be banned. A year ago, the Institute of Medicine called for
revision of DSHEA to require all treatments to meet the same
standards (WN 14 Jan 05) .
Congress has done nothing, but I guess they've been busy.
When was it that NASA began having these suicidal fantasies? The
2007 budget request calls for sinking more money into the failed
Shuttle and Space Station programs at the expense of robotic Mars
sample returns and Terrestrial Planet Finders and anything else
that smells of science and progress.
The President of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario has
decided to keep the school isolated. "The jury is still out on
the impact that electromagnetic forces have on human physiology,"
he told a university meeting. How isolated can you get? WN has
followed the EMF/cancer issue for more than 20 years. It almost
died after an epidemiological study by NIH in 1997, but there are
always people who overslept. It last came up 4 years ago in
California (WN 31 May 02) .
Several years ago USA Today had a full page ad for "Vitamin O"
(WN 27 Nov 98) . It was
ordinary salt water that sold for $40 an ounce. Then there was
Oxyl'Eau, which played a key role in the Stanley Cup finals
(WN 23 Jul 99) . The latest
variation on that scam is water from a spring in the San Diego
Mountains that is "infused with the power of intention through
words, thought and music" http://www.h2omwater.com/home.html .
Why would you drink ordinary water?