Daily Archives: April 9, 2010

“Fat dissolving” spa treatments do no such thing

So-called “fat dissolving treatments” offered by spas do NOT eliminate fat and the companies should stop saying so — at least according to a press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA says the procedures are called by names such as lipodissolve, mesotherapy, lipozap, lipotherapy, or injection lipolysis — and all involve unproven injections. The AP reports that “the Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on what are billed as fat-melting injections used in spas across the US, saying the drugs” have not “been cleared by federal scientists, as required by law.”

“We are concerned that these companies are misleading consumers,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “It is important for anyone who is considering this voluntary procedure to understand that the products used to perform lipodissolve procedures are not approved by the FDA for fat removal.”

Reuters Health reports the agency issued warning letters to:

  • Monarch Medspa in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania;
  • Spa 35 in Boise, Idaho;
  • Medical Cosmetic Enhancements in Chevy Chase, Maryland;
  • Innovative Directions in Health of Edina, Minnesota;
  • PURE Med Spa in Boca Raton, Florida, and
  • All About You Med Spa in Madison, Indiana.

The FDA also warned a Brazilian company that markets so-called lipodissolve products on two Web sites found here and here. “The FDA will notify regulatory authorities in Brazil of this action,” the FDA said in the statement.

The Brazilian company and the six medical spas in the US have to provide a written response within 15 days with their action plan to correct the situation, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Philadelphia Inquirer explains that in these procedures “patients receive a series of injections meant to ‘dissolve and permanently remove small pockets of fat from various parts of the body,’ the FDA said. The primary ingredients are phosphatidylcholine and deoxycholate, although vitamins and herbs may also be added.”

The agency “has not evaluated the drugs and says it knows of no ‘credible scientific evidence’ that shows they eliminate fat.”

Although no “definitive studies of side effects” have been reported, the risks of the injections “also aren’t understood,” the NPR “Shots” blog reported. Nevertheless, some patients have experienced “pain at the injection site, knots under the skin, and permanent scarring.”

The CNN “Paging Dr. Gupta” blog reported that “the companies have been cited for a variety of regulatory violations, including making unsupported claims that the products have an outstanding safety record and are superior to other fat loss procedures, including liposuction.”

According to HealthDay, “some of these companies have claimed that lipodissolve can treat certain medical conditions, such as male breast enlargement, benign fatty growths called lipomas, excess fat deposits, and surgical deformities.”

WebMD reported the FDA has also “issued an import alert to prevent the importation and distribution of unapproved lipodissolve drug products into the United States.”

MedPage Today reported that Kathleen Anderson, PharmD, of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, explained that if the companies’ response to the FDA’s letter is unsatisfactory, “they could face injunctions, seizure of the products, and civil or criminal action.”

“The agency has issued an import alert against the zipmed.net and mesoone.com entities to prevent the importation and distribution of unapproved lipodissolve drug products into the United States.”

In the meantime, it seems that it would be best not to waste your hard earned money on these procedures that have neither been shown to be effective or safe.

Forgotten Study: Child Abuse in Schools 100 Times Worse than by Priests

I appreciated a report from LifeSiteNews.com reminding me of a study that had fallen off my radar. No doubt, you’re aware that in the last several weeks an incredible quantity of ink has been spilled in newspapers across the globe about the priestly sex abuse scandals in Catholic institutions in several countries. Certain a casual reader might think that Catholic priests are the worst and most common perpetrators of child sex abuse. Such is NOT the case. Here are the details, from LifeSiteNews:

But according to Charol Shakeshaft, the researcher of a little-remembered 2004 study prepared for the U.S. Department of Education, “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.”

After effectively disappearing from the radar, Shakeshaft’s study is now being revisited by commentators seeking to restore a sense of proportion to the mainstream coverage of the Church scandal.

According to the 2004 study “the most accurate data available at this time” indicates that “nearly 9.6 percent of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career.”

“Educator sexual misconduct is woefully under-studied,” writes the researcher. “We have scant data on incidence and even less on descriptions of predators and targets.  There are many questions that call for answers.“

Renowned Catholic commentator George Weigel, in his blog, referred to the Shakeshaft study, and observed that “The sexual and physical abuse of children and young people is a global plague” in which Catholic priests constitute only a small minority of perpetrators.

While Weigel observes that the findings of Shakeshaft’s study do nothing to mitigate the harm caused by priestly abuse, or excuse the “clericalism” and “fideism” that led bishops to ignore the problem, they do point to a gross imbalance in the level of scrutiny given to it, throwing suspicion on the motives of the news outlets that are pouring their resources into digging up decades-old dirt on the Church.

“The narrative that has been constructed is often less about the protection of the young (for whom the Catholic Church is, by empirical measure, the safest environment for young people in America today) than it is about taking the Church down,” he writes.

Weigel observes that priestly sex abuse is “a phenomenon that spiked between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s but seems to have virtually disappeared,” and that in recent years the Church has gone to great lengths to punish and remove priestly predators and to protect children. The result of these measures is that “six credible cases of clerical sexual abuse in 2009 were reported in the U.S. bishops’ annual audit, in a Church of some 65,000,000 members.”

Despite these facts, however, “the sexual abuse story in the global media is almost entirely a Catholic story, in which the Catholic Church is portrayed as the epicenter of the sexual abuse of the young.”

Outside of the Church, Shakeshaft is not alone in highlighting the largely unaddressed, and unpublicized problem of child sex abuse in schools. Sherryll Kraizer, executive director of the Denver-based Safe Child Program, told the Colorado Springs Gazette, in a 2008 Editorial, that school employees commonly ignore laws meant to prevent the sexual abuse of children.

“I see it regularly,” Kraizer said. “There are laws against failing to report, but the law is almost never enforced. Almost never.”

“What typically happens is you’ll have a teacher who’s spending a little too much time in a room with one child with the door shut,” Kraizer explained. “Another teacher sees it and reports it to the principal. The principal calls the suspected teacher in and says ‘Don’t do that,’ instead of contacting child protective services.”

“Before you know it, the teacher is driving the student home. A whole series of events will unfold, known to other teachers and the principal, and nobody contacts child services before it’s out of control. You see this documented in records after it eventually ends up in court.”

In an editorial last week, The Gazette revisited the testimony of Kraizer in the context of the Church abuse scandal coverage, concluding that “the much larger crisis remains in our public schools today, where children are raped and groped every day in the United States.”

“The media and others must maintain their watchful eye on the Catholic Church and other religious institutions,” wrote The Gazette, “But it’s no less tragic when a child gets abused at school.”

In 2004, shortly after the Shakeshaft study was released, Catholic League President William Donohue, who was unavailable for an interview for this story, asked, “Where is the media in all this?”

“Isn’t it news that the number of public school students who have been abused by a school employee is more than 100 times greater than the number of minors who have been abused by priests?” he asked.

“All those reporters, columnists, talking heads, attorneys general, D.A.’s, psychologists and victims groups who were so quick on the draw to get priests have a moral obligation to pursue this issue to the max. If they don’t, they’re a fraud.”

Teen Birth Rates Fall After Two Year Increase, Abstinence Education Credited

Poll Shows Majority of Americans Say Abstinence Effective, Want Parents Involved

Multiple news reports are trumpeting the fact that teen birth rates fell in 2008 after increasing during the two years prior, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control. Immediately after the reports surfaced, backers of abstinence education have credited their programs as making an impact. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported today that the full birth rate fell two percent in 2008.

Some 4,251,095 babies were born in the United States in 2008, down two percent from the 4.317 million the year before. The birth rate for teenagers aged 15-19 fell by 2 percent as well and the CDC says the decline resumes the long-term trend of falling teen birth rates since 1991 — during a time when abstinence education program were gaining favor. And, the decline was most notable (4%) among teens aged 18-19.

Here are some of the responses to the CDC data, reported by LifeNews.com: Valerie Huber, the executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, told LifeNews.com today she is delighted by the news. “So that the positive trend begun a decade ago can continue, we should redouble our efforts to help teens avoid all the consequences of sexual activity, including teen childbearing,” she said.

However, President Barack Obama eliminated all funding for abstinence-centered education in his FY 2011 budget request to Congress. “Today’s announcement provides Congress an opportunity to make a course correction by again placing a priority on the risk avoidance abstinence-centered message,” Huber said.

Huber said her organization is appealing to all groups who genuinely seek the best health outcomes for youth to join in encouraging the avoidance of all sexual risk. “Today’s news shows that teens are able to make good decisions, even in the midst of a sex saturated culture. We must assure that they continue to receive tools for achieving the best sexual health outcomes – in order to escape all the risks of sexual activity,” she said.

Obama’s budget eliminates funding for CBAE (Community Based Abstinence Education) and Title V Abstinence Education Program. In Obama’s FY 2010 Proposed Budget, the president calls for at least $164 million in funding for contraceptive-only education. The money includes competitive grants, research, evaluation and authorization for $50 million in new mandatory condom grants to states, tribes and territories.

That was the second time Obama has called for less abstinence funding. In the omnibus spending bill Obama signed earlier in 2009, abstinence programs received $95 million, a substantial reduction from the $151 million they previously received.

Here are some of my blogs on the topic:

Here are more reports about the effectiveness of abstinence education: