Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Doctor proud to bust medical 'quacks'

Doctor proud to bust medical 'quacks'

Bruce Ward
Monday, June 27, 2005

OTTAWA -- Terry Polevoy is a medical doctor and health-care watchdog who delights in calling himself "the Quackbuster." He uses cold, hard science to probe the murky world of complementary and alternative health care.

Polevoy's online group -- -- investigates products and services that are marketed by con artists, cranks and and medical phonies.

The treatments include electrical shocks, shark cartilage, weird chemical cocktails, herbs and heat.

But these treatments have one thing in common, he said Saturday in a presentation to the Canadian Humanist Association. None of them work.

He said chelation therapy, for example, is advertised as a way to prevent hardening of the arteries.

"It is supposed to cleanse the arteries. It has never been proved that it works. The big study has never been published."

In 2003, he co-authored an e-book called Pig Pills, Inc. The book was an in-depth investigation into a concoction called "Empowerplus." It was sold to gullible customers who had serious mental health problems.

Health Canada issued an advisory because the company did not provide evidence of "safety, effectiveness or quality, and has also failed to stop the promotion and sale of Empowerplus -- despite Health Canada's request on several occasions that it do so."

As a result of the book, Health Canada took action against the Synergy Group of Canada and their Truehope support organizations.

Polevoy, who has a practice in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, says quacks or "un-doctors" are easy to spot by their advertisements.

"They all use testimonials to market themselves. They always want to sell you something expensive -- supplements, magnets, new shoes, whatever. And they can never back up anything that they claim."

He said quackery is pernicious because it delays proper medical diagnosis, wastes patients' money and causes pain of suffering to the families of seriously ill children.

Polevoy said his efforts to expose health scams have made him a target for quacks, some of whom have smeared him on their Web sites.

Ottawa Citizen

© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2005