Stem cell treatment advertising by “CAM” practitioners analyzed – Consumer Health Digest

Having been in the room with my late wife at a fake stem cell facility in Mexico, I highly suggest you take this information into consideration before considering doing this therapy in this way. Feel free to contact me for more information on what we experienced.

An investigation of 368 Web sites found through Google with search terms combining stem cell with various buzzwords and practitioner names associated with “complementary and alternative medicine” has revealed:

  • 243 sites marketed stem cell therapies and 116 marketed other interventions where stem cells were mentioned in the description of the treatment or its effects. The other interventions included platelet-rich plasma injections (88), prolotherapy (19) and others (9).
  • The cells used for transplantation were said to be derived from adipose (fatty) tissue (112 sites), bone marrow (100 sites), blood (28 sites), umbilical cord (26 sites), and other sources [e.g., placenta, amniotic sac, amniotic fluid, embryonic stem cells] (35 sites).
  • 20 sites advertised plant cell-based treatments and products (e.g., skin creams).
  • The most common advertised treatment targets were: bone, joint, and muscle pain/injury (182 sites); diseases or maladies (82 sites); cosmetic concerns (52 sites); non-cosmetic aging (44 sites); and sexual enhancement (18 sites).
  • 80% of the sites were for clinics in the USA; the rest were located in 17 other countries.
  • The practitioner types mentioned on the 368 sites included medical doctors (161), naturopaths (63), chiropractors (61), acupuncturists (36), midwives (33), homeopaths (27) and massage therapists (13). Some sites mentioned more than one and some sites listed none.
  • Hyperbolic language was found on 32% of the sites.
  • Only 31% of the sites mentioned the regulatory status of the intervention, and only 33% noted that the therapy was unproven.
  • Only 19% of the sites stated there was limited evidence of efficacy of the intervention and 13% said there was evidence of inefficacy.
  • Only 25% of the sites mentioned general risks of the interventions.

The investigators concluded:

Many clinics seem to be engaging in scienceploitation, which can seriously obfuscate public discourse, mislead the public and make it difficult to discern real science from marketing claims that merely reference scientific sounding terminology. The marketing of unproven stem cell therapies has the potential to harm patients and to harm the reputation of stem cell science. It is incumbent on regulators and policymakers to take a proactive approach to managing the risks associated with the growing private market for stem cell-related interventions, and addressing misleading marketing practices is an important part of this strategy.

[Murdoch B and others. Exploiting science? A systematic analysis of complementary and alternative medicine clinic websites’ marketing of stem cell therapies. BMJ Open 8(2), March 2, 2018]

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