The Scam of Skin Antioxidant Testing

A while back, a friend of mine asked me about this product:

It's a biophotonic scanner made by a company called Pharmanex.  This product measures carotenoid levels in the skin.  Carotenoids are antioxidants found in many fruits and vegetables.  Beta-carotene is one carotenoid that you may be familiar with.  Other carotenoids include lutein and lycopene, to name just a few.  Many scientists believe that carotenoids may be partly responsible for the observed associations between increased fruit and vegetable intake and lower risk of many diseases.

 The company claims that this scanner can give you an "accurate and reliable biomarker of your overall antioxidant health status".  They further state that, "Getting your Skin Carotenoid Score makes you aware of the antioxidant levels in your body-and gives you the push you need to improve your overall antioxidant health."  To appear scientific, their website is complete with a scientific advisory board, a list of scientists, and even a list of studies that they claim supports their product.

Well, it's B.S.

OK, it's not complete B.S.  The product does do what it claims to do....it measures carotenoid levels in the skin using a technique called Raman Spectroscopy.

While that's fine and dandy, what is B.S. is their claim that it is a reliable biomarker of your overall antioxidant status.  There is simply no evidence that carotenoid skin levels reflect the overall antioxidant status of your body.

Carotenoid skin levels do correlate with fruit and vegetable intake, so the test can tell you if you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.  But do you need an expensive scanner to tell you if you're eating a lot of fruits and vegetables?

And what do you think the company recommends you do if you have a low skin carotenoid score?  Buy their antioxidant supplements, of course.

This isn't the first time Pharmanex has spread outlandish claims.  In 1997, they were fined by the Federal Trade Commission over claims they made about two supplements they sold.

The fact is that this scanner is nothing more than a fancy way to take your money and to get you to buy things that you don't need.  There is no evidence that skin carotenoid status is a reflection of overall antioxidant status.  You do not need an expensive test to know if you're consuming a lot fruits and vegetables.  Also, there is little scientific evidence that supplemental antioxidants have any health benefits.  In fact, too many antioxidants can have a pro-oxidant effect, and may also reduce your own body's antioxidant defense systems.  We are a bit too antioxidant crazy in our society....a topic that I will get to in another blog post.


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Ginger Howell
Ginger Howell
8 years ago

Although this is NOT what you studied in med school, it IS real. If not, The National Institute of health, Columbia University, Purdue University, Hong Kong Medical and about 30 others would not have relied on it. Also, The Business Intelligence Group awarded it the 2014 title of “one of the top 14 innovations of 2014”. I understand that many doctors downplay the significance of the holistic world, but

Shame on you for posting without properly researching first.

Greg Waller
Greg Waller
8 years ago

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3086339/ (See Full Briefing) Increasing evidence points to the beneficial effects of carotenoid antioxidants in the human body. Several studies, for example, support the protective role of lutein and zeaxanthin in the prevention of age-related eye diseases. If present in high concentrations in the macular region of the retina, lutein and zeaxanthin provide pigmentation in this most light sensitive retinal spot, and as a result of light filtering and/or antioxidant action, delay the onset of macular degeneration with increasing age. Other carotenoids, such as lycopene and beta-carotene, play an important role as well in the protection of skin from UV… Read more »

Greg Waller
Greg Waller
8 years ago

Medical Physics – University Of Utah – Another group (Gellermann) is investigating optical properties of human tissue and exploring ways to detect antioxidant molecules non-invasively in various living human tissue sites using laser spectroscopy. In close collaboration with retinal specialists (Bernstein et al.) from the University of Utah’s Moran Eye Center, resonance Raman spectroscopy and fluorescence methods are being developed for measuring the concentration and spatial distribution of macular pigments in the human retina. Macular pigments shield the most light sensitive area of the retina from photo-toxic, short-wavelength light, and are thought to play a key role in the prevention… Read more »

Greg Waller
Greg Waller
8 years ago

A.B. 1981, Harvard University, M.D./Ph.D. 1988, Harvard Univeristy; Postdoctoral Fellow/Resident, 1989-1990, UCLA Medical Center, Jules Stein Eye Institute RESEARCH: Biochemistry and biophysics of nutritional interventions against ocular disease; carotenoid and omega-3 fatty acid metabolism and function in the human retina; genetics of macular and retina dystrophies and degenerations Paul S. Bernstein, MD, PhD joined the faculty of the Moran Eye Center of the University of Utah in 1995, where he currently divides his time equally between basic science retina research and a clinical practice devoted to medical and surgical treatment of diseases of the retina and vitreous, with special emphasis… Read more »

Abhinav
Abhinav
8 years ago

Dear All, I “scanned” rapidly across all the comments and counter-comments. My conclusions are the following. 1. To the name “biophotonic scanner”: This is a little misleading, because a “scanner” records a dependence of a parameter over time, space, energy, etc. To me the terme “probe” would be more appropriate. 2. Raman spectroscopy is a well established technique, no doubt about this. “Nobel prize winning”, why not; it improves the confidence level and thus the sales figures. But remember Richard Feynman’s (Nobel prize in physics) definition: “Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts”. 3. There seems to… Read more »

Hélder Falcão
Hélder Falcão
9 years ago

The S3 Scanner is an efficient tool to measure the carotenoid level present in your body accumulated for the last 4-6 weeks. Most people are not absorbing the right amount of nutrients. The reading helps the scanned client to change if necessary his/her lifestyle habits. One habit is supplementation. The company refunds 100% if the score in 90 days remains the same, providing the person takes the recommended supplmentation. What other company/pharma chain gives your money back if the supplements you take are not working? None. Do you know why? Because NuSkin is the only company that can measure. As… Read more »

Greg Waller
Greg Waller
9 years ago

Recently I had a doctor (MD) make a claim that the use of Raman Technology was not a validated science (him not knowing it won a Nobel Prize) I wanted to invite him in front of Dr.Oz or some of our PhD’s so he could explain why Dr.Oz would have such a technology on his show…. I didn’t hear back from him., oh well….Next! It always amazes me how some people can just pull claims out of their wa-zoo’s without any factual data to substantiate it. Enjoy The Following In Case You Ever run Into One of Those That Have… Read more »

Greg Pharmanex Waller
Greg Pharmanex Waller
9 years ago

@ Kenneth (The Lion Tamer) If your mother, father or loved one were sent by their doctor to a GNC, Target, Walgreen’s or Walmart to purchase supplements and make a profit with unvalidete or contaminated would that be better? Listen! If your rumor is true then let the Lions deal with it. Do you think your doctor cares the pharma companies are making a profit by pumping full of drugs? So is the bottom line profit for health or profit for sickness? Kenneth, what have you done to help move people in the direction of wellness? PS – Better to… Read more »

Kenneth
Kenneth
9 years ago

I’m obviously late to the “party” on this issue, but I was curious if there’s been any mention of Dr. Mehmet Oz and his support of the Pharmanex device. I ask because there is a member of Lions Clubs, the world’s largest service organization, who claims is a Doctor of Alternative Medicine and an avid follower/supporter of Oz. However, it is rumored this person paid Oz in excess of $500,000 for 3 years of events – for what can only be taken as self-serving purposes. This person is traveling the country trying to grow support of Lions of the U.S.,… Read more »

Marc
Marc
9 years ago
Reply to  Kenneth

Dr. Oz did use Pharmanex’s BioPhotonic Scanner on a show segment about antioxidants and cancer, where Dr. William Li, a cancer specialist was a guest, but made no mention of Pharmanex or the name of the scanner. Nor were any supplements mentioned. He did tout the scanner as being the ultimate nutritional lie detector test, and after scanning his entire audience, showed that the majority of his audience have low protective cellular carotenoid levels. The point being that people are not eating enough daily volumes of antioxidant rich fruits & vegetables. That was it as far as the show.

Ginger Moore Howell
Ginger Moore Howell
9 years ago

James – get a grip. The scanner is for real. It does not care or know WHAT you eat, drink or what supplements you take. The highest scan score came from the rain forest. That is where a vegan diet, low stress and no pollution translate into a strong antioxidant reading. If you have not tried what Pharmanex has, you might want to. The stories from clients are AMAZING. My own story is equally amazing. If you want to look and feel younger – let me know. This stuff works. Not only does it render plastic surgery obsolete – you… Read more »

Redditor
Redditor
9 years ago

You have no sources. You have no credentials. Your opinion means nothing. You are stupid. Your story is stupid. You spread your stupid like a disease. You are cancer.

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