A March 27 article in The Advocate’s Business section referenced a new wellness center. Unfortunately, this article was more of an “advertorial” that included unfounded claims about the purported benefits of services that can “go up to $499” per month.
I assume responsible journalism includes fact-checking for any article, particularly when claims of health benefits are made, in today’s age of “fake” health news. Device manufacturers often perpetuate these myths in order to sell their devices to individuals who then sell the services provided by such devices without researching the original claims. The wellness, fitness and nutrition industries are notorious for exploiting science to make such claims with the promise of better health.
Claim 1: “Cryotherapy raises white blood cell counts and give a burst of energy.” This obviously relates to “whole body cryotherapy,” where individuals stand in a deep-freeze chamber for a short period of time. There are no well-designed scientific studies that prove that WBC causes an increase in white blood cells. While there is limited evidence that those receiving WBC increase their white cell count, this may be attributed to natural variations rather than cause-and-effect.
This “immunity-boosting” claim is quite common today in this COVID-world. Furthermore, “energy” is only provided through caloric intake, not a sudden external shock of cold air.
Claim 2: “Hyperbaric oxygen treatments give cells more oxygen.” While this claim is true in a condition where cells are starved for oxygen, such as poor-healing wounds or decompression sickness, healthy cells simply cannot “take” more oxygen because they are already saturated. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has warned against “off-label” uses of hyperbaric oxygen treatments for other diseases; however, this warning does not apply to claims not intended to treat disease. Therefore, claims of providing more oxygen to cells are used out of context to market the service under the guise of health.
Claim 3: “Ballancer Pro compression therapy massages the lymph nodes and helps drain waste out of the body.” It’s highly unlikely this system specifically “massages” lymph nodes, which are stimulated through very light, purposeful and directed strokes of the skin. While pneumatic compression can have beneficial effects in athletic recovery, I have no idea how any compression system “helps drain waste.” Where does it go?
Consumers should be better educated and not misled or taken advantage of by exploiting science for profit. Often, these claims are made out of context by making logical fallacies of “cause and effect.” Worse, there are legitimate risks from using these treatments if done improperly.
I hope journalists will do more investigation and help consumers become more skeptical about such claims, thereby educating their readers rather than advertising expensive procedures with no likely benefit.
PHIL PAGE, Ph.D.
assistant professor, research director
Regymen Fitness co-founder launches new wellness concept