Stuff published an advertorial article this week claiming that colloidal silver - small particles of silver in a cream or spray - could treat a variety of medical conditions. Colloidal silver has not been shown to be able to treat any medical condition, and it's illegal to sell concentrations of more than 10 parts per million in New Zealand. People who take too much silver have been known to turn blue, with a condition call Argyria (ar-jeer-ia).
The article was written by a sales representative from Skybright Natural Health, a company which sells colloidal silver products. She said:
"Ionic colloidal silver is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral. It supports the immune system when the body is under attack and micro-organisms cannot build up resistance to it.
It's also completely safe for every single person in the family to use, babies included."
Mark Hanna, from the Society for Science Based Healthcare, sent a complaint to Stuff. He quoted America's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCAM):
"There are no high quality studies on the health effects of taking colloidal silver, but we do have good evidence of its dangers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that colloidal silver isn't safe or effective for treating any disease or condition."
As a result of the complaint, they quickly pulled the article and replaced it with an apology:
"An article previously published here made claims about the supposed health and therapeutic benefits of colloidal silver. This story did not meet our journalistic standards of accuracy and balance and has now been withdrawn.
We regret the publication of this story and apologise to readers."
This was a great result. Given how clearly the article was factually wrong about the efficacy of colloidal silver, it was good to see it was removed so quickly. We'll have to see if Stuff continue to be as vigilant, as I'm sure people will be submitting complaints about more dubious articles in the future.