Stuff that occurs to me

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Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmx DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Despite strong regulatory action live blood analysis is still with us

The news on Thursday that a practitioner of live blood analysis had been fined £19,000 for making misleading claims about cancer is part of a series of events where live blood analysts have been under increasing regulatory scrutiny in the UK and abroad. Earlier this year US-based live blood analyst Robert O Young was arrested and charged with 18 counts of practising medicine without a license, and theft.

In July last year, after three years of adjudicating on complaints about live blood analysis, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority and Committee of Advertising Practice wrote overarching guidelines for what live blood analysts are allowed to claim in their marketing material. 'Not much' would be an accurate description as they can only say that they offer the test.

Live blood analysis is a fake diagnostic tool that sounds and looks sciencey (microscopes, microscope slides, camera, computer screen, discussion about blood and health, possibly someone wearing a white coat while doing so). Apart from the costs of the 'test' it exists to sell a mixture of perfectly sensible dietary advice along with unnecessary and expensive supplements. In at least one case someone has been given alarmist (and wrong) health information about cancer.

It's a waste of money and thanks to Westminster Trading Standards bringing this latest Cancer Act of 1939 case to completion at Westminster Magistrates Court I imagine it might be easier for victims to get their money back if they've spent anything on this nonsense.

Further reading (and listening)

1. The recent regulatory action 
£20,000 bill for cancer claims man Jersey Evening Post (21 March 2014)
• Conclusion of the case brought by Westminster Trading Standards, at Westminster Magistrates Court.

Harley Street practitioner claimed he could cure cancer and HIV with lifestyle changes and herbs, court hears The Telegraph (11 December 2013)
• An earlier hearing of the case above which, not being concluded in time, resulted in the later March hearing.

'Cancer cure' alternative health practitioner appears in court Trading Standards Institute news (~December 2013)
• "Westminster Trading Standards has instigated legal proceedings against an alternative health practitioner who uses a room in London’s Harley Street, for making various claims contrary to the Cancer Act 1939. "

Therapies: Live Blood Analysis Committee of Advertising Practice (~July 2013)
• "CAP is yet to see any evidence for the efficacy of this therapy which, without rigorous evidence to support it, should be advertised on an availability-only platform."

2. Audio clips on some of the ASA's adjudications
Blood tests BBC You and Yours (11 March 2013)
• The ASA upholds more complaints against a man offering ‘live’ blood tests.

Live Blood Tests BBC You and Yours (15 March 2012)
• "Why adverts for a test which lets you see your own 'live' blood cells on a computer screen have been criticised for failing to prove claims they have the potential to prevent illness or disease."

3. The ASA adjudications against claims made about live blood testing
• ASA (24 April 2013) ASA adjudication on Live Blood Test
• ASA (27 February 2013) ASA adjudication on Live Blood Test
• ASA (6 March 2013) ASA adjudication on Steps to Perfect Health
• ASA (16 January 2013) ASA adjudication on the Natural Health Clinic 
• ASA (2 November 2011) ASA adjudication on Fitalifestyle Ltd: Fitalifestyle Ltd
• ASA (19 October 2011) ASA adjudication on Optimum Health UK
• ASA (7 September 2011) ASA adjudication on MyCityDeal Ltd: MyCityDeal Ltd t/a GrouponUK
• ASA (1 June 2011) ASA adjudication on Fitalifestyle Ltd t/a
• ASA (13 October 2010) ASA adjudication on Live Blood Test

4. ASA Non-compliant online advertisers offering live blood analysis
• ASA (12 March 2013) Live Blood Test
ASA (15 February 2013) The Natural Health Clinic - this person has since removed their misleading website claims and so has now been removed from the non-compliant list
• ASA (26 June 2012) London Natural Therapies 
• ASA (15 November 2011) Fitalifestyle (claims about blood-cleaning properties of chlorophyll)

5. Background reading on live blood analysis as a bogus test
• Edzard Ernst (2005) A new era of scientific discovery? The Guardian
• Mark Crislip (2009) Live Blood Analysis: The modern auguries Science Based Medicine blog 
Wikipedia's article on Live blood analysis
• Thomas Patterson (2012) The Pseudoscience of Live Blood Cell Analysis Skeptical Inquirer
• Zachary Rubin (2009) Live Blood Analysis: New Diagnostic Method or Quackery? Case report and Review of the Literature UCLA Department of Medicine
Posts tagged with Live Blood Analysis on Josephine Jones' blog 

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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).