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Thyroid fears and thermography hype

In the Chicago Tribune, reporter Trine Tsouderos reports, “FDA warns doctor: Stop touting camera as disease screening tool.” Excerpt:

“On Dr. Joseph Mercola’s popular website, women are warned against getting mammograms to screen for breast cancer.

Instead, the Chicago-area physician touts thermograms — digital images of skin surface temperatures — as an early detection tool for a wide range of conditions from cancer to back pain, from lupus to arthritis.

Now Mercola is in a fight with federal regulators about his claims for the Med2000, a thermographic camera that he calls “revolutionary,” though science has yet to back his claims.

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent the osteopathic physician a warning letter accusing him of violating federal law by marketing the Med2000 for uses not approved by the federal agency

The letter is the third since 2005 for Mercola, whose online empire draws traffic that places it in the top 400 websites nationally. He offers thermography through his Natural Health Center in Hoffman Estates.

Mercola, who has twice been featured on “The Dr. Oz Show,” has built a massive online edifice offering readers thousands of pages of health information that include speculative and unproven ideas. The website has promoted the unsupported idea that cancer is caused by a fungus, for example.”

There’s also a Dr. Oz connection and a screening theme in Jane Brody’s New York Times column, “Thyroid Fears Aside, That X-Ray’s Worth It.” Excerpt:

“It doesn’t take much to scare people when it comes to cancer, especially when the cause, unlike smoking, seems beyond one’s control.

So I was not surprised by a stream of panicked e-mails I received after a television show in which the popular Dr. Mehmet Oz called thyroid cancer “the fastest-growing cancer in women” and cited the harmful effects of radiation from sources like dental X-rays and mammograms.

Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said the stable death rate despite a rising incidence strongly suggests that most of the thyroid cancers now being diagnosed would never have become a health threat.

“Our technology has gotten so good that we are finding cancers today that even 15 years ago would not have been diagnosed,” Dr. Brawley said in an interview. “We’re finding and treating cancers that would never have killed anyone.”

In a study describing a 140 percent increase in thyroid cancers diagnoses from 1973 to 2002, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006, researchers at the Veterans Affairs medical center in White River Junction, Vt., also concluded that the rise was the result of “increased diagnostic scrutiny.”

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Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.

Elaine Schattner

April 28, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Thanks for this post, Gary. I hadn’t before noticed that Joe M. is an osteopath. Revealing –


April 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm

I’m puzzled why cancers that would never have even been diagnosed in the past and that are acknowledged to be non-fatal are now being treated. What’s the point?

Heidi Stevenson

June 7, 2011 at 10:18 am

There’s an obvious reason for treating “disease” that doesn’t cause problems: money! There are no limits to which modern medicine and Big Pharma won’t go to bring people into the medical mill.