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Advertising Standards Authority Adjudication Ė Rodale Books
This is one of series of reproductions on this website of adjudication decisions given by the Advertising Standards Authority in response to complaints made by members of the public about advertisements and related publicity promotion placed in the past by therapists and related organisations working in the Complementary and Alternative Medicine sector.
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The reproduction of this and other adjudication decisions on this website give examples of advertisements placed in good faith by therapists and related organisations in the past but which were judged not to meet required advertising standards.
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Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered Rodale International not
repeat two mail-order ads and to seek its advice before advertising again. The
adjudication involved claims that Extraordinary Healing (by Art Brownstein,
M.D.) and The Gluten Connection (by
Rodale International Ltd
t/a Rodale Books
Two direct mailings advertised books about health.
a. The first direct mailing advertised a book called "EXTRAORDINARY HEALING". The mailing stated " ... 'I'm healed at last!' How to go from chronically sick to suddenly healthy faster than you thought possible. Complete reversal of HEART DISEASE in weeks ... Dangerous HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE vanishes in 6 weeks ... HEALING DIABETES: After only 7 days, insulin is unnecessary ... Crippling arthritis reversed in 2 weeks ... Crohn's disease vanishes in 3 days ... people with even the most serious or chronic ailments have achieved complete recoveries without any help from prescription drugs ... even cancer cannot stand up to the miraculous powers of your healing system ... your healing system is NOT your immune system ... Your healing system is more powerful than heart disease or cancer ... If you're battling a chronic or dangerous illness right now, your healing system is working hard to re-establish balance and order in your body. And there's almost NO illness that your healing system can't handle. That includes ... Advanced heart disease ... Diabetes ... All forms of cancer ... Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, Osteoporosis ... Plus many, many more. Even illnesses that are considered incurable can be overcome when you tap into your body's all-powerful healing system ... It's a simple medical fact ... Summon your own healing miracle in just 10 days ... Your high blood pressure could begin to fade away without resorting to prescription drugs ... How to Be Your Own Best Doctor ...". Small print at the bottom of one page of the mailing stated "Note: The remedies described in this publication and in the EXTRAORDINARY HEALING are not intended as a substitute for any treatment prescribed by your doctor. If you suspect you have a medical problem, you should always seek competent medical care.
b. The second direct mailing advertised a book called "THE GLUTEN CONNECTION". Text stated " ... Arthritis Symptoms DISAPPEAR ... Diabetes DEFEATED in 2 Weeks ... 'Lifelong' Colitis REVERSED in 4 Weeks ... Crohn's Disease GONE in 30 Days ... Could You Be Suffering from a Hidden Danger in Your Food? ... Millions of Americans are enduring painful and chronic conditions ... Drugs usually offer little help ... Find a NATURAL SOLUTION for all of them in THE GLUTEN CONNECTION ... after all the drugs and mainstream treatments have failed (Dr. Lieberman is) able to help as many as 85% of patients who had all but given up! ... Most Doctors Still Donít Get It ... Multiple Sclerosis HALTED ... Heart Disease HEALED ... Osteoporosis Reversed! ...".
The ASA received two complaints.
East Ayrshire Trading Standards challenged whether mailing (a) was:
1. misleading, because they did not believe the claims to treat serious medical conditions could be substantiated and
2. irresponsible, because they thought it might discourage recipients from seeking proper medical treatment for serious conditions, and could discourage people from taking prescribed medication.
A medical doctor challenged whether the claims to treat serious medical conditions, particularly:
3. "Diabetes DEFEATED in 2 Weeks";
4. "Colitis REVERSED in 4 Weeks";
5. "Crohn's disease GONE in 30 Days";
6. "Multiple Sclerosis HALTED"; and
7. "Heart disease HEALED"
in mailing (b) could be substantiated.
8. We challenged whether mailing (b) was irresponsible, because it might discourage recipients from seeking proper medical treatment.
The CAP Code: 2.2;3.1;7.1;50.1;50.3
1, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7. Rodale Books (Rodale) provided the ASA with copies of the books Extraordinary Healing by Dr Art Brownstein and The Gluten Connection by Dr Shari Lieberman by way of evidence. They said the books cross-referenced numerous independent medical studies and journals which supported the claims made in ads (a) and (b) and supplied us with a list of those references in full. Rodale also submitted a list of medical definitions, taken from the Internet, to explain more about some of the conditions referred to in their response.
They explained that Extraordinary Healing was a publication about the bodys healing systems which offered information, exercises and techniques to enable individuals to improve their health and well-being by taking advantage of and maximising their healing resources. They said The Gluten Connection explained the nature of gluten intolerance, how gluten sensitivity could be mistaken for other health disorders, provided anecdotal evidence and testimonies of doctors who had gluten-sensitive patients and how to address gluten intolerance through gluten-free eating.
In providing their response, Rodale consulted the CAP Help Note on Health Beauty and Slimming Marketing that Refers to Ailments. They believed Colitis and Crohns disease were types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and akin to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. They considered that those conditions should therefore be regarded as non-serious medical conditions. As to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, Rodale conceded that they were nervous system disorders akin to epilepsy and Multiple Sclerosis and could be regarded as serious medical conditions. They agreed the other medical conditions listed in ads (a) and (b) were serious.
Rodale did not send us copies of the numerous documents referenced in the books because of the volume of material referred to. Instead, for each of the serious medical conditions mentioned, and in support of the claims made about them, they provided a summary of relevant case studies and pointed to the pages of the books where details of relevant medical studies and journals could be found.
They believed that because both books made reference to numerous independent medical studies and journals, which they believed supported the claims made in the ads, this was proof that the claims were capable of objective substantiation.
2. & 8. Rodale believed ad (a) did not discourage individuals from seeking proper medical treatment for serious medical conditions or from taking prescribed medication. They pointed to three statements in the ad, which they said supported their view and should be looked at together rather than in isolation; "While many of Dr Brownsteins patients have seen dramatic results in as little as 10 days, your results, of course, may vary", "There is definitely a time and place to ask for help from doctors but you can minimise these occasions when you learn to rely more on your healing system" and "The remedies described in this publication and in the EXTRAORDINARY HEALING are not intended as a substitute for any treatment prescribed by your doctor, If you suspect you have a medical problem, you should always seek competent medical care".
Rodale believed ad (b) did not discourage readers from taking proper medical treatment. They pointed to the statement "This report features remarkable stories ... Your results, of course, may vary". They added that at no point did ad (b) suggest that medical treatment should not be sought in connection with serious medical conditions or the ending of medication.
They said it was important to note the overall impression and purpose of the ads which was to give information about the books and to invite the recipients of ads (a) and (b) to read the books, not to tell readers how to deal with or diagnose a problem nor to ignore medical advice or treatment. They said the books themselves contained numerous statements that further emphasized that the techniques in Extraordinary Healing and the information in The Gluten Connection were not intended as a substitute for medical treatment or medication.
Finally, Rodale added that a full refund was offered to anyone who was dissatisfied or felt misled by either the books or the ads, which they felt was a responsible approach from a responsible publisher.
1., 3., 4., 5., 6. & 7. Complaints upheld
We noted that the claims in both ads regarding the reversal or cessation of serious medical conditions, which we considered to be breakthrough claims, were based on case studies; individual results achieved by some people. Although we recognised the results were positive for those individuals, we considered that the overall impression of the ads was that the same results could be achieved by others. A number of claims in ad (a) including "How to go from chronically sick to suddenly healthy faster than you thought possible ... even cancer cannot stand up to the miraculous powers of your healing system ... And there's almost NO illness that your healing system can't handle ... Even illnesses that are considered incurable can be overcome when you tap into your body's all-powerful healing system ... Summon your own healing miracle in just 10 days" all gave this impression. Similarly, a number of claims in ad (b) including "Millions of Americans are enduring painful and chronic conditions ... Drugs usually offer little help ... Find a NATURAL SOLUTION for all of them in THE GLUTEN CONNECTION" gave this impression. We considered the case-study evidence submitted was not sufficient to support the overall impression given by both ads that positive results could be achieved for people in general.
We noted that Rodale considered that the claims could be substantiated and that they provided us with details but not full copies of the medical studies and journals listed in the books. We noted, however, that a number of the medical studies, in relation to the claims in ad (a), involved vitamins or supplements such as calcium, magnesium, cinnamon, ginseng, omega-3 and green tea extract. We noted from previous investigations and advice from experts that studies using these components were unlikely to support breakthrough claims such as those made in the ads.
We noted the further medical studies and journals listed. In relation to ad (a), one of the documents merely noted results for "some patients". Another consisted of trials conducted on mice; we considered that breakthrough health claims such as those made in the ads should be supported by rigorously controlled clinical trials conducted on humans. Other studies consisted of trials conducted on certain groups such as older women. We again considered this evidence was not sufficient to support the overall impression given by ad (a) that positive results could be achieved for people in general. In relation to ad (b), the documents merely showed a link between gluten intolerance and the serious medical conditions listed but did not support the claims made.
We therefore considered that the case studies, medical studies and journals did not support the breakthrough claims to reverse or halt either the serious or non-serious medical conditions listed in ads (a) or (b). We considered the claims were unsubstantiated and misleading.
On these points, the ads breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Health & beauty products and therapies - General).
2. & 8. Complaints Upheld
We noted that the ads contained statements which indicated that results may vary and that ad (a) further indicated that the remedies described in the book Extraordinary Healing were not intended as a substitute for any treatment prescribed by a doctor. However, we considered these statements were not prominent and contradicted the other claims in the ads which indicated positive results for people in general. We therefore disagreed with Rodale that the overall impression given by the ads was one of invitation only - to read the books and find out more.
Both ads contained statements which, we considered, indicated that medical treatment and prescribed medication were not necessary:
Ad (a) stated "HEALING DIABETES: After only 7 days, insulin is unnecessary ... people with even the most serious or chronic ailments have achieved complete recoveries without any help from prescription drugs ... Even illnesses that are considered incurable can be overcome when you tap into your body's all-powerful healing system ... It's a simple medical fact ... Your high blood pressure could begin to fade away without resorting to prescription drugs ... How to Be Your Own Best Doctor ...".
Ad (b) stated "Could You Be Suffering from a Hidden Danger in Your Food? ... Drugs usually offer little help ... Find a NATURAL SOLUTION for all of them in THE GLUTEN CONNECTION ... after all the drugs and mainstream treatments have failed (Dr. Lieberman is) able to help as many as 85% of patients who had all but given up! ... Most Doctors Still Don't Get It ... ".
We therefore considered the ads were irresponsible and that they might discourage people from seeking essential medical treatment for serious and non-serious conditions, and could discourage people from taking prescribed medication.
On these points, the ads breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Responsible advertising) and 50.3 (Health & beauty products and therapies - General).
The ads should not be repeated. We told Rodale to seek advice from the CAP Copy Advice team before advertising again.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)
Date of posting : 31st August 2010