Pinnaclife Health Evaluation:
Another "Test" to Ignore
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Pinnaclife's Web site promotes its free Health Evaluation as "17 Questions that can save your life." People who click the relevant link get 17 "Yes/No" questions flashed one at a time on their computer screen. After they are answered, a screen appears that asks for the prospective customer's name and e-mail address. After that is submitted, a page appears that lists all of the "Yes" answers with a paragraph related to the subject of the question. This page also states whether the person is at low, medium, or high risk for for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer and offers links to "read how Pinnaclife Supplements might be the health solution you need" to reduce the alleged risks. A few minutes later, an e-mail message arrives with the same information and links. After taking the test several times, I have concluded:
- Answering "Yes" to all 17 questions scores the person at high risk for all three conditions.
- Answering "No" to all 17 questions scores the person at low risk for all three conditions.
- Regardless of the alleged risk levels, the pages that offer the "health solution you might need" are the same and the same five Pinnaclife products are suggested.
- Some questions cannot be meaningfully answered with a simple yes or no. For example, one asks whether you have "ever" suffered from an irregular heartbeat, fainting, shortness of breath, or chronic fatigue. Many people who have had one or more of these symptoms are not necessarily at risk for anything.
- The text that accompanies the "Yes" answers is mostly accurate information about risk factors related to the relevant question. Most of the information is common knowledge. However, a few answers contain glaring errors. For example, the blurb that accompanies the elevated serum LDL cholesterol answer says, "When LDL cholesterol levels exceed 240 mg/dl a person is considered at higher risk of heart disease." "Higher risk" is not a medical classification." The standard classification is 160-189 for "high" risk and 190 or more for "very high."
- I don't see any reason to believe that the 17 questions will save anyone's life.
Pinnaclife sells five products that it recommends using in addition to, or as part of, a "Mediterranean diet." Although the diet has some scientific support, I don't believe that Pinnaclife products are needed to follow it; and the products themselves certainly are not "solutions" to the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or cancer. Moreover, many of the things Pennaclife says about its products are said to to be based on laboratory research that is certainly not equivalent to tests in humans. When time permits, I may evaluate specific claims.
This article was posted on September 24, 2010.