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'Pseudoscience' and 'Morally borderline'
A US COMPANY MAKES BIG CLAIMS ABOUT ITS PRODUCT. BUT, SAYS JAMIE WALTERS, EXPERTS ARE SCEPTICAL
British Newspaper Investigates Lifewave Patches
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The Complete Report
Pseudo science

David Beckham and his Real Madrid teammates have been photographed wearing them and a slew of US sports stars - from American footballers to weightlifters - endorse them. Their manufacturer says they can raise energy levels by up to 20 per cent in ten minutes and distributors claim they can help sufferers of serious illnesses such as cerebral palsy and cancer.

They are Lifewave Energy Enhancer patches - small discs that stick to the skin and allegedly send signals telling cells to burn fat. The devices, according to the makers, are 'non-transdermal patches' that put nothing into the body. Instead, they employ 'organic nanotechnology' that uses the 'electronic and magnetic features of the body like a cellular radio to transmit information to enhance the production of energy and stamina'.

'Pseudo science'

Lifewave, based in Georgia, USA, says this is frontier science. Independent experts, however, believe it is a complete con. 'It's all based on pseudo science,' says Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University. 'The explanation of the technology doesn't make the slightest sense and seems to be using scientific language to disguise bulls**t.'

This suspect terminology, coupled with an unwillingness to disclose what goes into the patches (a mixture of water, amino acids and sugars is as much detail as the company will give), has led to scepticism among specialists.

The company's scientific processes have also provoked criticism. Lifewave extensively uses anecdotal evidence to prove its claims, citing a series of personal accounts from people who say the product has helped them. Peerreviewed university studies, the gold standard of scientific proof, are scant and the company has nothing to back up its '20 per cent increase in energy' claim.

Dr Steven Haltiwanger - an American whose medical licence is on probation after he was found guilty of prescribing controlled substances in an inappropriate manner - is Lifewave's health and science director. He says: 'We have just completed two studies that prove the patches increase energy, but they have not been published yet. We have another 20 currently in progress and will have the results from them soon.'

But is there anything available now? Haltiwanger claims a study recently presented to a conference in Shanghai - which tested the effect of the patches on heart rate in just ten people - was peer-reviewed and proves they work.

'Morally borderline'

However, Lifewave's European director, Nigel Allan, says that research was not peer-reviewed. 'The company is only a year old and it takes time to get this stuff out. Currently we market our product using word-of-mouth and anecdotal evidence,' he says.

One such anecdote, sent to Metro by a British distributor - one of more than 25,000 worldwide - tells of an eight-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer who was able to kneel unaided for the first time after using the patches.

Ernst remains unimpressed. 'Progress in medicine is not being made by publishing anecdotes but by proper scientific scrutiny,' he says. 'The anecdotes are good promotion but what they are doing is at least ethically and morally borderline.'

Scope, the cerebral palsy charity, is also sceptical. 'To our knowledge, no clinical trials have taken place on the benefits of Lifewave for people with cerebral palsy,' a spokesman says.

The Complete Report