The Nutrition and Health Institute – Dodgy adverts, Dodgy products

“The Nutrition and Health Institute are conducting a FREE TRIAL of a new natural supplement that we believe in conjunction with changes to diet and lifestyle could reduce both getting up at night and the likelihood of getting Prostate Cancer. “

(Edited from a thread in the Badscience Forum; acknowledgements to the others, principally ControlFreak and Rayatseagal for their contributions. The thread started on November 18, 2007 and finished on December 6.)

Start here -  

ControlFreak

Don’t normally read the Times (wife bought it for King Tut DVD!) but noticed an advert (p58) for a “Free Trial” for a “new natural supplement” to reduce symptoms and likelihood of getting prostate cancer. The Nutrition and Health Institute are running the trial, anybody heard of them or know their background is?

I found a US web site that quoted books by Roger Mason but there was no direct link to the advert.

Rayatseagal

Any specific contact details, like where to send off for it? A Google on “Nutrition and Health Institute” prostate leads to a likely candidate: http://nutritioninst.com – i.e. there is no “Institute”; it’s just some company with a website selling supplements – “manufactured in the United States to our specifications by Young Again Nutrients corporation”

… the Young Again Nutrients Corporation who were stamped on by the FDA for illegally labelling supplements as protecting against SARS and other viral diseases. I see this bunch is advertising an Anti Bird-Flu and other Pandemics package too.

Incorporated in the Marshall Islands and is wholly owned by The Nutrition and Health Foundation in Panama – European office: 38 Troy Court, Grand Vaux, St Saviour, Jersey, JE2 7NG, 0153 4872 990”

That is, in a block of housing trust flats in St Helier. And its web address is obfuscated at whois behind its web designer in Belarus.

Yeah, I always trust companies that make such strenuous efforts to hide their identities and operate from offshore locations outside UK trade, advertising and health jurisdiction. They appear to be based in the UK, though, quite possibly in Golders Green: there are number of links at the nutritioninst.com site to addresses at yoag.com (not a public site, and whois also obfuscated) which has been advertising for telesales people lately. These will be the “nutritional consultants” you speak to if you call them.

Addendum If you try to access yoag.com, you get a page called “YANC Login”. Could those be yoag = YOung AGain, and YANC = Young Again Nutrients Corporation?). We know someone there’s called Leo. Googling all this … workings omitted … we find:

a) “Leo Scheiner http://www.nutritioninst.com

b) “Leo Scheiner, from nutraceuticals company Young Again Nutrients Corporation”

c) “Leo Scheiner, Nutrition and Health Institute”

QED.

I wonder if it’s the same Leo Scheiner who ran a number of Internet ventures way back? (Global Markets Ltd and 1on1, as well as spamming various Usenet health newsgroups with stuff about the Montignac diet).

MugsandMoney

Controlfreak – it can’t be a “trial” in the accepted sense of the word – in order to measure risk factors associated with something like prostate cancer, you would need thousands of subjects followed up consistently over a period of many years (like The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study)

Therefore, the only likely reason they can be taking out expensive adverts in the national press is because they are hoping that, at some time in the future, they can exploit the people who respond to the advert by selling them something. If you are sufficiently interested, please respond & let us know what happens next!

ControlFreak

FREE TRIAL
Every hour one man dies of
PROSTATE CANCER

The Nutrition and Health Institute are conducting a FREE TRIAL of a new natural supplement that we believe in conjunction with changes to diet and lifestyle could reduce both getting up at night and the likelihood of getting Prostate Cancer.
If you are getting up at night to go to the bathroom or sometimes finding it slow to start, finish or experience urgency, frequency or pain when going to the bathroom, the most likely cause is an enlarged prostate. It has been estimated that one in three men with an enlarged prostate will get Prostate Cancer.
If you are getting up at night you may therefore benefit from this FREE trial.
To apply to join this national trial simply leave your name, and telephone number on FREEPHONE 0800 822 3865.
Please note that to proceed with your application, you will need a credit card to pay £4.95 as a contribution to postage and packaging.

There is a freephone contact number for details but absolutely no other contact method. This advert immediately set my alarm bells ringing, seems to have done the same with some others!

Rayatseagal

What day was it in? I think there are plenty of grounds there to shop it to the ASA for breaches of the CAP Code.

Misleading description of scenario: a firm selling supplements masquerading as some kind of health Institute.

TRUTHFULNESS
7.1 No marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise.
Blatant appeal to fear of cancer:

FEAR AND DISTRESS
9.1 No marketing communication should cause fear or distress without good reason.
Failure to specify precisely what this free offer entails.

FREE OFFERS AND FREE TRIALS
32.1 A free offer may be conditional on the purchase of other items. Consumers’ liability for costs should be made clear in all material featuring the offer.
Failure to give identity and contact details:

SIGNIFICANT CONDITIONS FOR PROMOTIONS
34.1 Promotions should specify clearly before any purchase (or before or at the time of entry/application, if no purchase is required): … h) Promoter’s name and address the promoter’s full name and business address, unless this is obvious from the context. Promotions by newspapers and magazines in their publications need not state the name and address if those can easily be found elsewhere in the publication
Specifics relating to health and medical claims:

HEALTH & BEAUTY PRODUCTS AND THERAPIES …5
0.1 Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people. …

50.6 Marketers offering individual treatments, particularly those that are physically invasive, may be asked by the media and the ASA to provide full details together with information about those who will supervise and administer them. Where appropriate, practitioners should have relevant and recognised qualifications …

50.11 Medicines must have a marketing authorisation from the MCA before they are marketed and any claims made for products must conform with the authorisation …

50.14 Marketers must not use fear or anxiety to promote medicines or recovery from illness and should not suggest that using or avoiding a product can affect normal good health …
50.20 Marketers should hold scientific evidence for any claim that their vitamin or mineral product or other food supplement is beneficial to health

 

MugsandMoney

Yeah – somehow they extend it all the way from “getting up at night” to coughing up £4.95 in order to benefit from a free trial. That’s quite a stretch!

I called them on the contact number. There’s a recorded questionnaire which asks some personal details, whether you have any medical conditions or are taking any supplements, and concludes with:

Certain nutritional supplements can be very effective in reducing prostate size and preventing prostate cancer. Would you be prepared to pay about £25 per month for these supplements?”

More when they call me back.

MugsandMoney

The ad is also in contravention of The Times’ Terms & Conditions of Advertising as follows:

All advertising copy submitted to the Publisher is legal, decent, honest and truthful and complies with the British Code of Advertising Practice and all other relevant codes under the general supervision of the Advertising Standards Authority.
For most advertisements and inserts where the reader pays any sum before receiving the goods, the advertiser is expected to be a member of the National Newspapers Mail Order Protection Scheme

MugsandMoney

At long last, the phone has rung & I have a (very few) details, from a guy who didn’t know how to pronounce “prostate”.

For £17.95 per month (price reduced from £25) you get some tabs containing a variety of goodies – and a free copy of the book by Roger Mason.

The magic pills have been proved to be effective by the “University of Harvard”, although no citation is available. It is a “trial” in the sense that if you pay them once a month, you are presumed not to have contracted cancer.

Details of company names, trading addresses not given. The sponsors are “Nutrition and Health Institute” – with website http://nutritioninst.com, a phone number in Jersey and an office in the Marshall Islands and/or Panama.

Quite clearly a scam which exploits vulnerable people and hides its backers by using untraceable offshore companies.

End -  

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