Dairy Ads Pose Health Risk to Americans with High Blood Pressure, Say Doctors
Physicians Group Petitions FTC to Pull Misleading Ads
WASHINGTON—In a petition submitted March 28, 2001 before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) calls on the agency to halt a dairy industry ad claiming that low-fat dairy product consumption is beneficial to people suffering from high blood pressure.
The advertisement running in medical journals is unsupported by scientific studies and is in direct violation of the FTC Act. "Dairy products do not lower blood pressure to any meaningful degree, and ads that imply that they do are pushing potentially deadly advice," says PCRM nutrition director Amy Lanou, Ph.D.
The ad claims "Dairy Makes the Difference in DASH." This is a reference to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension multicenter study funded by the federal National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. As explained in detail in PCRM's petition, the DASH Study did not conclude that dairy product consumption is responsible for a reduction in blood pressure. Its design did not isolate dairy products for examination. In fact, in 1998, the Food and Drug Administration denied the dairy industry permission to make the claim that low-fat dairy products protect against hypertension.
Hypertension, also known as "the silent killer," affects 50 million American adults, and is especially prevalent among African Americans and elderly individuals. "In the absence of appropriate treatment, hypertension is a major contributor to fatal heart disease and stroke. The suggestion that dairy products can cause a clinically important reduction in blood pressure is false and poses the danger that hypertensive individuals may be less likely to seek effective treatment," states Dr. Lanou.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.
Jeanne S. McVey
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