Drink up! Now you can breathe easy…

Nearly 20 years ago, Stephen Barrett, of the Complementary and Alternative Medicine watchdog ‘Quackwatch’ reported, ‘Various products referred to as “stabilized” or “aerobic oxygen”, are being marketed with claims that they can cure disease by increasing oxygen delivery to the cells’.

In his article Dr Barret went on to describe how these products were not only useless and unable to do what their promoters claimed but that even if they could somehow add oxygen to our blood-stream by drinking them (something humans would find impossible on account of not having gills) there is no such thing as ‘oxygen deficiency’ which causes disease anyway – suffocation yes, disease, no. In short, you can’t absorb oxygen from your gut and even if you could it would do you no good.

One such product was sold as ‘Vitamin O’ and the authorities became so concerned about it they took action. The Federal Trade Comission (FTC), charged with protecting consumers in the US, filed a complaint which alleged that two Washington companies (both controlled by the same person) had ‘falsely claimed that “Vitamin O” taken orally allows oxygen molecules to be absorbed through the gastrointestinal system [and] that “Vitamin O” prevents or treats life-threatening diseases and other ailments’.

In settlement, the defendants were obliged to pay $375,000 for ‘Consumer Redress’ and were prohibited ‘from making unsupported representations that: “Vitamin O” or any substantially similar product prevents or is an effective treatment for life-threatening diseases, including but not limited to, cancer, cardiovascular disease and pulmonary disease.

There is, it seems, nothing new under the sun. Fast forward to the present day and we find that ‘Aerobic Oxygen’ is still on sale from a number of suppliers including Amazon and Ebay as well as smaller outlets including ‘fully qualified veterinary surgeon’ Roger Meacock on his ‘Natural Healing Solutions’ website.

Like those who were selling the ‘substantially similar’ product ‘Vitamin O’ in 1999, today vendors of ‘Aerobic Oxygen’ claim it is ‘a new way of delivering extra oxygen to the body that is safe [and] convenient…’ and suggest that drinking a few drops of aerobic oxygen mixed in a glass of water bears comparison to the use of oxygen therapy, where gaseous oxygen is delivered through a mask or endotracheal tube to patients suffering respiratory compromise as a result of asthma or other lung disease.

Extensive use is made by Vitalox, the company run by UKIP politician Andrew Haigh which supplies ‘Aerobic Oxygen’, of questionable marketing techniques as their website first reports that (obviously) oxygen is needed for adequate cellular function and normal foetal development, and suggest oxygen might be associated with cancer and cellulite before switching tack to imply that by ‘boosting blood oxygen levels’, ‘Aerobic Oxygen’ can help. All this despite the fact there is no evidence ‘Aerobic Oxygen’ can have any effect on blood oxygen levels whatsoever and no mechanism by which it could. Of course, never at any point does anyone actually come out and say that ‘Aerobic Oxygen’ can cure cancer, control cellulite, optimise cell function or anything else because they know full well such claims would be false. Roger Meacock comes close though on one page of his website when he states: ‘K9 Immunity and K9 Transfer Factor are part of Roger’s standard dog cancer treatment protocol… Other additional supplements such as Aerobic Oxygen may help according to [sic] the type and aggressive nature of the cancer’.

Now, as if all these dubious claims and insinuations weren’t enough, according to an article by science writer Tom Chivers on BuzzFeed.com, chemist Dr Dan Cornwell of King’s College London has analysed ‘Aerobic Oxygen’ and discovered it is more or less indistinguishable from plain household bleach. To quote Dr Cornwell, ‘Aerobic Oxygen’ is ‘definitely some powerful bleach-like alkali’.

This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise really after reading the websites of those good folks who sell it, as we learn ‘Aerobic Oxygen’ ‘… was developed for NASA for water purification purposes’ (just like bleach) and that ‘it will kill anaerobic bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites…’ (also, just like bleach).

The analysis and other information regarding ‘Aerobic Oxygen’ has been passed to the UK’s Food Standards Agency and is currently under review by their National Food Crime Unit. I wonder if they’ve got the phone number of the FTC?

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