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The National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) was a not-for-profit, US-based organization, that described itself as a "private nonprofit, voluntary health agency that focuses upon health misinformation, fraud, and quackery as public health problems."
According to archived website, the NCAHF evolved from three separate organizations. The Lehigh Valley Committee Against Health Fraud, Inc. (LVCAHF, now called Quackwatch) was founded in 1969 by Stephen Barrett and H. William Gross, D.D.S. in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Southern California Council Against Health Fraud (SCCAHF) had its origin in 1976 at Loma Linda University with academic colleagues William T. Jarvis and Gordon Rick as co-founders. Thomas H. Jukes of University of California, Berkeley founded the third organization, an unnamed group in northern California.
For a time between 1998 and 2000, the NCAHF operated under the name National Council for Reliable Health Information (NCRHI). The organization became inactive in 2002, and its legal entity was formally dissolved in 2011.
According to NCAHF's mission statement, its activities and purposes included:
- Investigating and evaluating claims made for health products and services.
- Educating consumers, professionals, business people, legislators, law enforcement personnel, organizations and agencies about health fraud, misinformation, and quackery.
- Providing a center for communication between individuals and organizations concerned about health misinformation, fraud, and quackery.
- Supporting sound consumer health laws
- Opposing legislation that undermines consumer rights.
- Encouraging and aiding legal actions against those who violate consumer protection laws.
- Sponsoring a free weekly e-mail newsletter.
NCAHF's positions on consumer health issues were based on what they considered ethical and scientific principles that underlie consumer protection law. Required were:
- Adequate disclosure in labeling and other warranties to enable consumers to make proper choices;
- Premarketing proof of safety and efficacy for products and services that claim to prevent, alleviate, or cure any disease or disorder; and
- Accountability for those who violate consumer laws.
NCAHF stated that its funding was primarily derived from membership dues, newsletter subscriptions, and consumer information services. Membership was open to everyone, with members and consultants located all over the world. NCAHF's officers and board members served without compensation. NCAHF stated they united consumers with health professionals, educators, researchers, attorneys, and others.
Position on health issues
The NCAHF asserted that acupuncture is scientifically unproven as a modality of treatment. In 1990, it said that research during the past twenty years had failed to demonstrate that acupuncture was effective against any disease. Perceived effects of acupuncture are, argued the NCAHF, probably due to a combination of expectation, suggestion and other psychological mechanisms. The NCAHF pointed out that acupuncture was banned in China in 1929 but underwent a resurgence in the 1960s. The organization also advocated that insurance companies should not be required to cover acupuncture treatment and that licensure of lay acupuncturists should be phased out.
There has been some controversy regarding the use of amalgam fillings by dentists, because the amalgam contains mercury. Some forms of mercury are toxic to humans, but the NCAHF cites the CDC in stating that there is no evidence that "the health of the vast majority of people with amalgam is compromised" or that "removing amalgam fillings has a beneficial effect on health". The NCAHF criticizes those who they believe exploit unfounded public fears for financial gain. NCAHF asserts that breath, urine and blood testing for mercury are inaccurate. Other tests for mercury exposure described by the NCAHF as invalid can include skin testing, stool testing, hair analysis and electrodermal testing.
The NCAHF contended that chiropractic can be dangerous and lead to injury or permanent disability. However, the NCAHF did not categorically oppose the practice. It differentiated between chiropractors who promote what it considered good and bad chiropractic practices. The former promote methods of diagnosis and treatment which have a scientific basis. For example, NCAHF claims there is no scientific support for vertebral subluxation. Their view is that chiropractors should restrict their scope of practice to neuromusculoskeletal problems such as muscle spasms, strains, sprains, fatigue, imbalance of strength and flexibility, stretched or irritated nerve tissue, and so forth. Chiropractors should refer cases involving pathology to qualified medical practitioners.
In contrast, what the NCAHF considered bad are those chiropractors who believe the spinal adjustment will cure or alleviate a variety of diseases, such as infection, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies or excesses, appendicitis, blood disorders, or kidney disease. These practitioners may use unproven, disproven, or questionable methods, devices, and products such as adjusting machines, applied kinesiology, chelation therapy, colonic irrigation, computerized nutrition deficiency tests, cranial osteopathy, cytotoxic food allergy testing, DMSO, Gerovital, glandular therapy, hair analysis, herbal crystallization analyses, homeopathy, internal managements, iridology, laser beam acupuncture, laetrile, magnetic therapy, and so forth.
The NCAHF was opposed to dietary recommendations and practices not supported by scientific evidence, including behavior-related claims. Unverified assessment methods such as iridology, applied kinesiology, and routine hair analysis for assessment of nutritional status are criticized. NCAHF and some of its members have long opposed implementation of beliefs that they characterize as unfounded or unscientific.
NCAHF also questioned the health claims, marketing, safety, efficacy and labeling of many herbal supplements. Herbal preparations are regulated as foods, rather than as drugs, in the United States. The NCAHF advocates regulations for a special OTC category called "Traditional Herbal Remedies" (THRs) with an adverse reaction surveillance program, product batches marked for identification and tracking, package label warnings about proposed dangers of self-treatment, oversight requirements from outside of the herbal industry, and strong penalties for unapproved changes in herbal product formulations.
The NCAHF asserted that many unqualified practitioners are able to mislead the public by using diploma mills or "degree mills" to get "specious degrees". Diploma mills are not accredited, and frequently engage in "pseudoscience and food faddism". NCAHF also noted that "some of the 'faculty' or 'academic' advisors at several of these schools have criminal convictions in the area of health fraud". NCAHF considers diploma mills harmful to the students and to the public.
Usefulness as a source
The National Council Against Health Fraud was mentioned as a useful source for information by the United States Department of Agriculture, the 2003 edition of "Cancer Medicine", published by the American Cancer Society, and many other organizations and libraries.
The journal Dynamic Chiropractic, while highly critical of NCAHFs views on chiropractic, has written: "The National Council Against Health Fraud is considered a valuable information source for many agencies nationwide. They are well networked and, as demonstrated by their past history, are able to influence the efforts of various agencies and insurance carriers. The NCAHF's ability to publish its opinions and hold these types of conferences does make them a substantial "player" in the area of health fraud."
Criticism from alternative medicine supporters
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) criticised a 2002 PBS broadcast which included an episode about chiropractic in which the NCAHF was involved. ACA president Daryl D. Wills responded to PBS officials stating (in part): "I find it ironic that a program titled 'Scientific American Frontiers' would completely ignore the scientific foundation of the chiropractic profession. The chiropractic portion of the June 4 episode titled 'A Different Way to Heal?' irresponsibly characterized chiropractic care -- a legitimate, research-based form of health care -- as a fraudulent hoax." and that "[t]he producers of your program could not have expected objectivity" from the NCAHF. The producer of the program replied in detail and explicitly denied these allegations: "The segment did not claim that chiropractic is fraudulent and did not attempt to prove or disprove that chiropractic 'works,' but it does state that chiropractic has no basis in science. This conclusion is entirely justified by both current research and generally accepted views of human anatomy."
- "National Council Against Health Fraud Archive". www.ncahf.org. Archived from the original on 2019-06-26. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
- "NCAHF's History". 14 March 2016. Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
- "NCAHF Mission Statement". www.ncahf.org. Archived from the original on 2018-09-17. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
- Humber, James M.; Robert F. Almeder (1998). Alternative Medicine and Ethics. Springer Humana Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-0896034402.
- "NCAHF Position Paper on Acupuncture". www.ncahf.org. Archived from the original on 2019-07-02. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
- Cordón, Luis (2005). Popular psychology: an encyclopedia. Greenwood Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0313324574.
national council against health fraud.
- Hyson JM (March 2006). "Amalgam: Its history and perils". J Calif Dent Assoc. 34 (3): 215–29. PMID 16895078.
- CDC Factsheet on amalgam Archived May 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- "Administrative Law Judge's Conclusions about Hal A. Huggins, D.D.S." www.quackwatch.org. 23 November 2012. Archived from the original on 2018-10-28. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
- "Consumer Health Digest, May 21, 2017". www.ncahf.org. Archived from the original on June 26, 2018. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
- "NCAHF - Position Paper on Chiropractic". www.ncahf.org. Archived from the original on 2020-01-12. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
- "NCAHF - Position Paper on Diet and Criminal Behavior". www.ncahf.org. Archived from the original on 2016-10-26. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
- "NCAHF Statement on Commercial Weight Loss Promotions". www.ncahf.org. Archived from the original on 2016-10-26. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
- Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 Archived 2009-05-31 at the Wayback Machine, Accessed from the Food and Drug Administration website, 5 January 2007.
- NCAHF Position Paper on Over-the Counter Herbal Remedies, 1995 Archived 2011-07-07 at the Library of Congress Web Archives, accessed online 31 Dec 2006.
- "NCAHF - Position Paper on Diploma Mills". www.ncahf.org. Archived from the original on 2017-03-14. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
- Fraud and Nutrition Misinformation: Dietary Guidance. Nutrition Information on the Internet. United States Department of Agriculture Archived March 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "Reputable Sources of Information about Alternative and Complementary Therapies - American Cancer Society". Archived from the original on 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2017-09-05.
- Here is a short list of examples:
- Library of Selected Non-FDA Sources of Food & Nutrition Information Archived 2007-09-18 at the Wayback Machine - United States Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
- Other Websites with FDA and Related Historical Information Archived 2009-05-12 at the Wayback Machine - Food and Drug Administration
- Dietary Supplements: General Information and Resources Archived 2007-11-12 at the Wayback Machine - USDA's National Agricultural Library
- Evaluating Health Information Archived 2007-09-21 at the Wayback Machine - New York Public Library
- Research Topics: Alternative Medicine Archived 2010-09-19 at the Wayback Machine - Santa Monica College Library
- Valuable Links: Nutrition Education Archived 2007-12-22 at the Wayback Machine - Texas Dietetic Association
- Consumer Health Protection Archived 2008-07-04 at the Wayback Machine - Yale University School of Medicine's Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library
- Consumer Health Links: Questionable Treatments & Medical Myths Archived 2009-02-26 at the Wayback Machine - State University of New York, Health Sciences Library
- Consumer Health Resources: Evaluating Medical Information Archived 2007-02-11 at the Wayback Machine - University of Minnesota Duluth Library
- Consumer Health Resources on the Internet: Quackery and Health Fraud Archived 2007-09-18 at the Wayback Machine - South Shore Hospital
- "National Council Against Health Fraud". Dynamic Chiropractic. 8 (21). October 10, 1990. Archived from the original on May 18, 2006. Retrieved January 28, 2006.
- "Report 12 of the Council on Scientific Affairs (A-97)]". American Medical Association. June 1997. Archived from the original on 2009-06-14.
- "Adjusting the Joints, on season 12, episode 10". Scientific American Frontiers. Chedd-Angier Production Company. 2001–2002. PBS. Archived from the original on 2006-01-01. - PBS.
- "A DAY WITH WALLY SAMPSON" (PDF). www.chedd-angier.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-12-08. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
- "PBS Broadcast Angers Chiropractors". www.chirobase.org. 17 June 2001. Archived from the original on 2018-09-13. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
- My Reply to the American Chiropractic Association Archived 2018-09-13 at the Wayback Machine. - Robert S. Baratz, M.D., D.D.S, Ph.D., president, NCAHF
- Chedd-Angier, PBS Producer Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine.
- PBS Producer's response, June 11, 2002. Archived November 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- National Council Against Health Fraud - Official site