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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Thursday, June 4, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Beauty in a tube foiled by fine print

“Rediscover your skinny jeans,” promised the ad tucked into the Sunday newspaper.

All it takes, it seduced, is this new cream that “combines high-performance ingredients White Tea and Anise extract to help tone and redefine the appearance of the body’s contours.”

Now, you know you’ll never look like the model in the ad preening in front of the mirror.

But a girl can dream, right?

Which leads you to the Web site, where you find assurances that four weeks of cream application will “help give your clothes a more flattering fit.”

That’s all it takes? Diet and exercise in a squeeze tube?

But how’s it work, you wonder, just out of curiosity.

Must be the magic of white tea.

Which leads you to and a May 5 report saying white tea “might be a miracle brew.”

“Not only does it increase your metabolism and prevent new fat cells from forming, it may also help prevent cancer, improve skin and fight other signs of aging.”

Surely, it’s true. The report cites a “new study.”

But what study, you wonder, just out of curiosity.

Which leads to the online Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, where a group of German researchers reports this: “Our data show that incubation of preadipocytes with White Tea extract solution significantly decreased triglyceride incorporation during adipogenesis in a dose-dependent manner without affecting cell viability.” Conclusion: “White Tea extract is a natural source that effectively inhibits adipogenesis and stimulates lipolysis-activity. Therefore, it can be utilized to modulate different levels of the adipocyte life cycle.”

Ooookay. Well, what about cancer prevention, you wonder, just out of curiosity.

Which leads to and news that Oregon State University researchers found that white tea inhibited cell proliferation in lab rats exposed to a colon-cancer-causing carcinogen. A company that makes iced white teas helped fund the project.

No conflict there, you suppose.

Are there any more authoritative sources, you wonder, just out of curiosity.

You find that the Mayo Clinic’s Health Letter in April 2008 piled lots of qualifiers onto claims about tea’s health benefits. But the newsletter’s subscription-only, so you settle for a synopsis on

Bottom line: Tea sipping might help with heart health, cancer prevention, bone density and memory, but the science isn’t definitive.

Maybe it’s the anise, then, that’s sure to deliver that “feel-good silhouette.”

You know you crush anise seeds to mix into the cinnamon-sugar coating for biscochos from your grandmother’s recipe. Not so much a weight-loss aid, those cookies.

As for anise extract, best you can tell is that it’s also great for biscotti and pfefferneusse. The Environmental Working Group’s lists it as an ingredient in shampoo for lice and in anti-aging face lotion.

So much for toning and redefining from the waist down.

Why would anyone try to foist false hopes upon silly women foolish enough to exchange their money for a quick-fix, no-effort instant beautifier?

You wonder, just out of curiosity.

Which leads you to the Federal Trade Commission Web site and its links to lawsuit after lawsuit against companies that duped consumers with false assurances that their products could, contrary to common sense, reverse the effects of genetics, time and bad habits, no muss, no fuss.

“Be skeptical about exaggerated claims,” the FTC warns. Exercise doesn’t come in a bottle, and cream won’t grow your breasts, firm your backside or melt your cellulite.

Which leads you back where you started. That’s when you notice more fine print across from the puffery about the cream that can “firm, tighten and elasticize skin” in four weeks.

Under a “Did you know” headline comes this: “Studies suggest that white tea may increase metabolism and encourage the body to burn more fat in tandem with a balanced diet and regular exercise.”

Well, darn. There are those two essential ingredients again.

I am sure that is not how Tyra Banks fits in her skinny jeans.

Linda P. Campbell is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Her e-mail address is

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