MLM bottled water: The “Evolv”-ing story with MD Anderson

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One of the top US comprehensive cancer centers and hospitals is continuing to play Whack-a-Mole with a multi-level marketing firm that sells bottled water.

In late 2009, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Hospital in Houston filed suit against EvolvHealth and their manufacturing partner, HealtH2o, for claiming that the institution had tested and somehow endorsed their bottled water containing an extract of archaea (formerly archaeabacteria) called ArchaeaActive™.  In January, 2010, the suit was dismissed with the agreement that Evolv and its partners would not use the MD Anderson name “or any variation or iteration thereof.”

Around that time, the company’s Health2o Products partner hired on as a consultant a recently-retired MD Anderson professor and pharmacologist, Dr. Robert Newman. This association allows the companies to have an apparent affiliation with MD Anderson since Newman holds a Professor Emeritus title there. EvolvHealth also continues to keep the October 6, 2009, press release on their site indicating that their product was tested at MD Anderson.

The “tests,” for those of you wondering, were in vitro cellular assays that I summarized here back on November 20, 2009, here – but here’s an excerpt:

The water was apparently tested against A549 small cell lung carcinoma and RBL1 rat basophilic leukemia cells for suppression of arachadonic acid-stimulated release of pro-inflammatory lipids such as prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B4.

At first glance of the data presented, it might appear that the water does actually have an effect on suppressing bioactive lipid production at so-called 1X, 0.5X, and 0.25X water concentrations (no standard deviations or indication of replicates, though). But what this appears to mean is that the cells were removed from culture conditions and exposed to straight water and then 50% and 25% water in culture medium. These no-salt or low-salt conditions would obviously kill the cells by hypotonic lysis during what appears to be a 2 hr incubation period; there do not appear to be corresponding controls to correct for this activity.

What a mess.

The rest of the data on endogenous release of PGE2 and leukotrienes are a bigger mess, with the water appearing to even increase production at some concentrations, and no apparent concentration-response trend.

However, the president of EvolvHealth, Trey White, wrote in a blogpost on the MD Anderson issue the very same day that, “Most importantly, the results of the in vitro tests are not in question.” [boldface his]

Umm, no. The results are gibberish.

A forthcoming publication that has been promised since from testing by another partner, FutureCeuticals, is nowhere to be found.

You may ask why I’m revisiting this case. Well, a reader recently contacted me with some information from a distributor who was hammering hard on Dr. Newman’s MD Anderson affiliation and his oversight of continued studies:

This particular distributor is targeting elderly people and making the usual outlandish claims that their water has medicinal properties.  I would be very grateful to know what new information you have on the subject.

So, I consulted with the good folks down in Houston over the weekend and received a response from Laura Sussman, Program Manger in Media Relations at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Sussman thanked us for our query and noted:

The use of MD Anderson’s name anywhere on EvolvHealth’s website is, in fact, a violation. We are taking steps to address the issue with Evolv.

I’m happy to hear that. I’m delighted to see an institution stand up to such nonsense.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress of this story.

For further reading, here are two of our previous posts on this topic:

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