Posted 28 October 2015
From Consumer Health Digest #15-42, October 25, 2015:
The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), which provide the UK Advertising Codes administered by the Advertising Standards Authority, has issued a guidance statement on live blood analysis. The document states that advertisers of should not:
- Make claims that live blood analysis can detect current or future health risks
- Make claims for treatment of conditions or diseases detected with the test
- Make any reference to the diagnosis or treatment of cancer
- Use the title “Dr” unless you hold a general medical qualification
- Discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought
Live blood analysis is carried out by placing a drop of blood from the patient’s fingertip on a microscope slide under a glass cover slip to keep it from drying out. The slide is then viewed at high magnification with a dark-field microscope that forwards the image to a television monitor. Both practitioner and patient can then see the blood cells, which appear as dark bodies outlined in white. The results are then used as a basis for prescribing supplements. The procedure is also called live cell analysis, dark-field video analysis, nutritional blood analysis, vital hematology, biocytonics, and several other names. Dark-field microscopy is a valid scientific tool in which special lighting is used to examine specimens of cells and tissues. However, its use as a basis for prescribing products is not legitimate.[Barrett S. Live cell analysis: Another gimmick to sell you something. Quackwatch, Oct 25, 2015]
The CAP guidance document basically says that the only permissible advertising claim is availability.
CAP Guidance on Live Blood Analysis
Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP)
20 October 2015
Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
This section should be read in conjunction with the entry on Health: Therapies (General)
The CAP Compliance Team is carrying out an important sector compliance project. This letter has been sent to marketers offering LBA in order to ensure that problematic claims are amended or removed.
Live blood analysis (also known as live blood testing, nutritional microscopy, live cell analysis and hemaview) is the observation of a pin prick quantity of blood through a microscope. Marketers have claimed that by studying ‘live’ blood in this way, they are able to detect diseases and identify abnormalities in blood cells including allergies, vitamin deficiencies and illness.
Do not make claims that current or future health risks can be detected through live blood analysis
In 2013, the ASA upheld a complaint which included the claim that live blood analysis “is an invaluable test to establish both the short and the long term nature of any health problems, as well as generally to give an overall picture of your health” before listing conditions and diseases that could be detected through the symptoms identified through the testing. Because the advertiser was unable to demonstrate that live blood analysis could be used to detect, diagnose or treat health symptoms or conditions with demonstrable improvements that were shown in further blood analysis, it was considered that the ad breached the Code (Steps to Perfect Health, 6 March 2013).
Do not discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought
Also in 2013, a complaint was received about a practitioner whose ad made claims including “…Crohn’s disease is not a disease at all and that it is the result of poor dietary habits causing inflammation to its unwitting victims”, “It is now high time to look at a safe natural alternative that works” and “Errol has treated conditions such as Arthritis, Cancer. Diabetes. Gout etc…” The ASA noted that the ad made efficacy claims for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought and that diagnoses and treatment for them could only be provided by a suitably qualified medical professional. Because the advertiser could not demonstrate that this was the case, the ASA considered that the ad was likely to discourage essential medical treatment and therefore breached the Code (Live Blood Test t/a Errol Denton, 27 February 2013).
Do not make claims for treatment of conditions or diseases detected using Live Blood Analysis
In 2010, the ASA upheld a complaint about an ad for live blood analysis which claimed “With a live analysis, the following can be identified, including: Relative level of acidity in the body fluids and the Effects they have especially for weight loss! Blood sugar imbalance Vitamin deficiency, Allergies, cholesterol Uric acid and mycotoxins Gastro-intestinal tract dysfunction Detection of parasites, yeast, fungus and mould Imbalance associated with degenerative conditions”. The advertiser was unable to substantiate the claims and the ASA considered the ad misleading (Live Blood Test, 13 October 2010).
Do not use the title “Dr” unless you hold a general medical qualification
In 2013, the ASA upheld a complaint about a live blood analysis practitioner who referred to himself using the “Dr” title. In the context of an ad for live blood analysis, the ASA considered that the title would be understood as a reference to a general medical qualification. However, because no evidence was supplied to demonstrate that such a qualification was held, the titled was considered misleading (Live Blood Test t/a Errol Denton, 24 April 2013).
Marketers should avoid references to the diagnosis or treatment of cancer and are reminded to seek legal advice regarding The Cancer Act 1939, before making any references to cancer in advertising.
In summary, CAP is yet to see any evidence for the efficacy of live blood analysis as a diagnostic tool or treatment therapy and so without rigorous evidence to support it, it should be advertised on an availability-only platform.