In the Christmas issue published on bmj.com today, Professor Sir Malcolm Green explains: "a review of a historical study from 1848 reveals that cod liver oil was an effective treatment for tuberculosis ." 1, 077 individuals with consumption (tuberculosis) were enrolled to participate in the study conducted by physicians at the Hospital for Consumption, Chelsea (now the Royal Brompton Hospital). 542 participants received standard treatment with cod liver oil, while 535 (controls) participants received standard treatment without cod liver oil. Results from the study revealed that between the two groups, improvement rates were similar, the disease was stabilized in 18% of participants who received cod liver oil, in comparison with only 6% of participants in the control group. In the control group deterioration or death occurred in 33% of patients compared with 19% of patients given cod liver oil.
The FDA has for the first time taken legal action against a dietary supplement manufacturer and owner, which has substituted ingredients and products and failed to note the changes on the final product labels. The U.S. Department of Justice, which filed the permanent injunction for the FDA, could prohibit the defendant from producing and distributing over 400 products for violating the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. It is the first time that the FDA is carrying out legal proceedings against a dietary supplement manufacturer of this size because of its failure to comply with the dietary supplement current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations, which require manufacturers to ensure quality in their dietary supplements by controlling all aspects of their processes and procedures.
While many consumers equal 'natural' with 'safe', botanicals and botanical preparations such as plant food supplements may contain compounds, like the so called alkenylbenzenes, that are of concern for human health. At high doses these chemical compounds can cause liver cancer in experimental animals. A new study, published in the last issue of the journal Food and Nutrition Sciences, reveals that in many plant food supplements levels of these compounds are so low that they are of no concern. Although there are also plant food supplements on the market that contain alkenylbenzenes at levels comparable to those causing tumours in laboratory animals. This indicates a need for better regulation and quality control of plant food supplements containing alkenylbenzenes. Botanicals and botanical preparations such as plant food supplements are extensively used by consumers within the European Union and the market volume for these products is expanding.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first test for use as an additional, more specific test on human serum or plasma specimens found to be positive for antibodies to Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi). T. cruzi causes Chagas disease, a serious and potentially fatal parasitic infection. The test, called the ABBOTT ESA Chagas [Trypanosoma cruzi ( E. coli, Recombinant) Antigen], is an in vitro enzyme strip assay for the qualitative detection of antibodies to T. cruzi. There are currently two donor screening tests licensed to detect antibodies to T. cruzi; however, this will be the first test licensed as a supplemental test. "This test will help health care professionals to provide counseling to donors with positive screening test results, " said Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
Using acupuncture to treat children is generally safe as long as the practitioner is properly trained, researchers from the University of Alberta, Canada, reported in the journal Pediatrics. Even when adverse events associated with acupuncture were detected, they were mostly mild in severity, the authors added. The researchers explained as background information that the usage of acupuncture in children has been increasing significantly over the last few years. However, there has been no systematic review of pediatric acupuncture. Sunita Vohra, MD, MSc. and team set out to determine what the adverse events linked to needle acupuncture in children might be. They looked at articles dated up to September 2010 (all languages). They were seeking articles that were original and peer-reviewed, included kids aged up to 17 years, focused on the use of needle acupuncture, and included data on adverse events.