Hair Loss, Futile Therapy, and Steve Jobs
This is a guest post by the Hair Foundation’s contributor, Dr. Alfred Soffer, M.D. Cardiologist, Glenview, IL. He is the former Editor and Chief of the Archives of Internal Medicine of AMA and Professor of Medicine.
In this post, Soffer discusses hair loss, false claims and natural alternatives.
Are you worried about losing your hair? According to claims on a prominent website, this offers no problem. The company’s multicolored, multipage advertisement offers products for concerned individuals struggling with baldness, hair loss, and alopecia.
One of their products is a “hair loss survival kit, travel size.” Don’t leave home without it!
Can we assume that the kit contains either Rogaine (minoxidil) or Propecia (finasteride)? After all, they are currently the only two products in the United States proven to limit hair loss and promote hair growth. They have received FDA approval as a result of the data obtained in scrupulously controlled clinical trials.
Our assumption is erroneous. The “ hair loss survival kit “ contains only herbal-based shampoos.
For the non-traveler, this distributor of herbal pills recommends saw palmetto and Kava root powder. Their hawking of ineffectual compounds is representative of the staggeringly large number of similar websites. One “doctor of neuropathy” claims that “my herbal therapy for alopecia is 100% effective.”
Under the heading of “herbal hair loss treatment” another herbalist urges the consumer to “apply red pepper flesh directly to the scalp.”
All of these fanciful claims which appear on the Internet, in magazines, and in the media have one thing in common: they offer compounds which are entirely ineffective for the treatment of hair loss. In a definitive analysis, the National Council Against Health Fraud reported that herbal product vendors benefit from societies with a romanticized view that equates “natural” with “safe.”
Unfortunately the assumption that natural products are safe is false. Herbal remedies are being marketed as “dietary supplements.” As a result, consumers are being denied the most fundamental information and assurances of quality and efficacy.
It is vitally important to determine the reasons for either hair loss or poor hair growth in each individual. The status of health or disease of one’s hair can provide valuable diagnostic clues regarding the presence of pathologic phenomena elsewhere in the body. Continued use of futile remedies as a substitute for clinical evaluation may result in a delay to obtaining the correct diagnosis and instituting appropriate therapy.
The Hair Foundation’s president and chairman, Dr.Matt Leavitt, D.O. recently emphasized that diabetes can initially appear with the loss of hair. Iron deficiency and a number of other hormonal diseases, along with diabetes, may be manifested initially by hair loss or poor hair growth.
The death of Steve Jobs is a tragic example of the dangers of using futile scientifically-unproven therapy. The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer was made at a time when surgical intervention may have resulted in a full cure. Instead, Jobs insisted on first using acupuncture, colonic irrigation, and “natural” compounds for a period of nine months.
Eventually surgery was performed, but by then it was too late to effect a cure.
This entry was posted on Saturday, January 28th, 2012 at 8:55 pm and is filed under Hair Loss. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
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