Transfer factor: another MLM scam
Noraini wrote in with a request for the MMR to promote “Transfer factor”
Transfer factor is currently a product being sold in an MLM scheme. The 4Life TF product you refer to is a product which has no proven value in any illness. Claims of it “boosting the immune system” are unsubstantiated by any peer-reviewed journal publication. I cannot find any reference in a Pubmed Medline search.
Medicine Man is an interesting article which tells of how this product is being sold via the MLM mechanism
But 4Life Research is not a typical health supplement supplier, either. The various Transfer Factor products generally are not sold in retail outlets, but by self-employed distributors who operate within a classic multi-level marketing plan. Their goal is not only to sell the products, but to entice others to become distributors as well as that’s where the real money is. A distributor who spawns others, who in turn spawn still others, supposedly can make five or even six figures per year with shockingly little effort
What is “transfer factor”?
The term “transfer factor” has various unrelated meanings in science. Its first use related to immunity stems from research performed by Dr. H.S. Lawrence of New York University in the 1940s.
In Lawrence’s work, transfer factor referred to “an extract of human white blood cells that could transfer a type of immunity called cell-mediated immunity,” says Dr. Burton Zweiman, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania who worked in Lawrence’s lab 40 years ago. “Investigation of TF has been somewhat erratic over the years, with both supporters and deniers of its biologic importance.”
“I am not aware of any studies of transfer factor being obtained from cow colostrum and [transferring] immune reactivity to humans,” says Dr. Zweiman. “Nor could I find any reference to it in a Medline search of the medical literature.”
A spokeswoman for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health, says, “NCCAM has not funded any research on this therapy, nor have I heard of it before now.”
But Dr. Fudenberg, reached at his office in Spartanburg, SC, says the report — which he described as the results of a review of other scientists’ work — stated nothing of the sort. “The conclusion,” Fudenberg says forcefully, “was that the commercial firms making this for humans were invariably run by people who were not scientists and who didn’t care whether their products were harmful or not.”
City Paper forwarded a transcript of 4Life’s promotional audio cassette “From Here to Immunity,” which was distributed at the seminar in Valley Forge, to various immunologists, microbiologists and biochemists. Those who responded were skeptical.
“Speaking from a standpoint of mainstream medicine, there is not a lot of familiarity [with] or support for this kind of practice,” says Dr. James T. Li, professor of medicine at the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN, and member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “This is a form of alternative treatment,” he says, which, he adds, almost by definition means there is little evidence to support its proponents’ claims — at least not the kind of evidence doctors and scientists generally like to see.
Li hesitates to call 4Life’s claims misleading or false, but says, “I would be skeptical, and I would advise others to be as well.”
Others are more blunt.
“Most of the clinical studies of transfer factors have been based on the specificity of each transfer factor,” says Dr. Charles Kirkpatrick, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology — who says he once declined 4Life’s offer to act as a consultant.
For example, he explains, “a transfer factor that is specific for Herpes simplex will prevent recurrent infections with this virus. The approach being used by 4Life and other companies is to ignore the specificity issue and make non-specific claims for boosting the immune system.”
and there is the usual disclaimer
And in the fine print, 4Life Research’s own materials include startlingly blunt disclaimers such as this one: “Transfer Factor and Transfer Factor Plus do not claim, nor should it be interpreted, to cure, prevent or mitigate any serious disease.” And this: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
You claim that it is a “highly recommended as an alternative medicinal help to many chronic diseases especially by the Russian Ministry of Health.” I am sorry but claims like these need to be backed up by solid clinical studies and sound scientific evidence. I can’t find any.
**Testimonial evidence is NOT scientific evidence**
I am not reproducing the links to the websites you emailed as I do not condone unproven “health products”. FYI the FDA has taken action against websites falsely promoting Transfer factor for unfounded therapeutic claims
Is colostrum from cows good for you? Yes, if you are a baby cow…..