Health News Review

Normally, I wouldn’t consider as “news” something that is clearly a “Dear Pharmacist” column.  However, the Chicago Tribune website labels this as one of its “Top Stories” so if they want to call it news, we’re going to fire away, ridiculous as that labeling may be. The screenshot below shows how the story appears on the Tribune site’s search page.

Coffee enemas can help you detoxify,” screams this “Top Story” headline. Former stalwart Tribune reporter Trine Tsouderos jumped all over that on her Facebook page, writing:

“My goodness Tribune, what on earth are you running this pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo for? For the record, there is no scientific evidence that coffee enemas are safe or effective.  This is as evidence-based as treating infections with mercury or ingesting eye of newt to cure cancer.”

Note at the bottom of the Tribune “story” that it says: ” Copyright © 2013, South Florida Sun-Sentinel.” So the once-great Chicago Tribune is calling a “Dear Pharmacist” column from another newspaper a “Top Story.”  Shovelware.

Meantime, the Science-Based Medicine blog this week posted a response, headlined, “Ask the (Science-Based) Pharmacist: What are the benefits of coffee enemas?” Excerpt:

“Coffee enemas are considered unsafe and should be avoided. Rare but serious adverse events like septicemia (bacteria in the bloodstream), rectal perforation, and electrolyte abnormalities have been caused by coffee enemas. Deaths from the administration of coffee enemas have been reported. Coffee enemas are based on a pre-scientific idea called “autointoxication”, the belief we are being poisoned by toxins because we are not digesting and eliminating waste products from our colons. This concept is not new, and has roots as far back as our records of medicine. Autointoxication as a concept was discarded over time, as the scientific basis for disease was discovered. …

I’m very sorry to hear about your chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Science-based medicine lacks a good understanding of this illness, and there is a lack of effective treatments. Unfortunately, that can make patients with these illnesses targets to those that profess certainty and offer dubious and unproven treatments, like coffee enemas. A decision to undergo any treatment needs to consider the risk and benefits. And treatments need to be investigated to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks. With coffee enemas, the evidence is clear. Given the lack of benefit and potential harms, there is no plausible justification to undergo these treatments. You should ignore any medical advice from anyone that recommends coffee enemas to you.”

Consider that a coffee enema caveat emptor.

 

Addendum less than one hour later:  The column has now been taken down from the Tribune’s Health page.  It doesn’t seem to turn up through the website’s Search page.  The link provided above, though, still works.

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