Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Functional foods: health boon or quackery?

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 24 July 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:205

Rapid Response:

Regulatory doublethink

Dear Editor,
There is good evidence that adding thiamine to alcohol containing
beverages will substantially reduce the incidence of Wernicke-Korsakoff
syndrome. Australia has a high incidence, and we probably only correctly
pick a small proportion of those with the syndrome, ante-mortem at least.
Moves to have thiamine added were torpedoed on the pretext that this would
enable promoters to claim alcohol as a health food (much as they are now,
anyway, regarding cardiac disease). So, W-K continues as before. Now
these same regulatory bodies seem unable to prevent a whole new wave of
"health food" quackery - so we cannot have proven beneficial additives but
unproven ones are OK? Am I wrong to believe that as regulatory bodies
proliferate the efficacy of any one diminishes exponentially? And that
this is not just regrettable and expensive, it actually kills people?

Competing interests: No competing interests

24 July 1999
Rod MacQueen
GP/Drug and alcohol
Self employed/Lyndon detox unit.