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Jordan Safirstein, MD Headshot

Science Please, Not Scientology

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What is going on in this world? It's not enough that Tom Cruise has more money than most small countries, but now Maverick is using it to exploit some Scientology-based bullshit treatment for 9/11 workers.

And no one is writing a thing.

The self-proclaimed president of the L. Ron Hubbard fan club (aka Hubheads) is on a fundraising mission as co-founder of the New York Rescue Workers Detoxifixation Project. Sounds legit, huh? They are advocating an untested, unreported, pseudo-medical, regimen created the by Hubbard, himself, who is about as qualified to treat toxic exposure patients as Snoop Dogg. Tickets for the April 19th gala, which will star Cruise, run as high as $100,000 for a table for eight.

And still, no one is saying a thing!

It would be one thing if Cruise preached this crap in Los Angeles where star status sometimes takes precedence over common sense and practical thinking. But he is spewing this garbage all over what I consider to be the greatest (and toughest) city in the world - a city that suffered a great tragedy but rebounded magnificently. A city that is world-renowned for its medical prowess and internationally-touted physicians and surgeons. A city that does not hide its opinion or tolerate crap from anybody.

And despite all of that - not a peep.

This detoxification process that Cruise is hawking consists of high doses of niacin, moderate aerobic exercise, intermittent dry saunas to "force sweating", and of course, vitamin supplementation. As medically sound as it seems (can you hear the sarcasm?), the detox regimen has never, ever been reported to yield any positive health effects. It is not cited in PubMed, you will not read about it in any medical journal, and it has never been reported in a case series, let alone a randomized control trial, demonstrating any therapeutic or clinical benefit.

Yet no one has come out publicly to say that this might even be harmful to men and women who made a great sacrifice for our great city.

Well, let us be the first with a medical background to shout loudly that this is a huge load of Scientologic excrement. If Travolta and Cruise and all of the other Hubheads want to donate money to the 9/11 workers, why not consult with the mayor and ask where their dollars could be most helpful? And why hasn't Bloomberg, who usually does not hesitate to share his pragmatic opinions, weigh in on this matter?

It is completely irresponsible to offer a sham therapy in the hopes of converting some desperate folks and Cruise should be admonished for hocking his Scientologic mumbo jumbo. If he could offer even a shred of scientific evidence that this would benefit 9/11 workers we would not be so outraged but the only proof he can offer is his vacant grinning face and a wealth of Scientology preachings.

Medicine in this country has shifted over the past twenty years to lean heavily on the evidence and base treatment on what has shown clinical benefit in large, multicenter trials. As physicians we have a responsibility to have an open mind but always fall back on the evidence. I have no problem with holistic forms of therapy and even placebo has shown actual clinical benefit in many forms - but using a hypothetical detoxification program to recruit new members and make promises of wellness reeks of dishonesty and ignorance.

So we said something.