The FDA has developed a message for consumers warning them of fraudulent online cancer cures.
They are frequently offered as dietary supplements or natural treatments.
Medicines and devices intended to treat cancer must gain FDA approval before they are marketed. The agency’s review process helps ensure that these products are safe and effective. Without such approval, no product can be marketed as a medical treatment.
According to the FDA, many of these fraudulent cancer products may appear completely harmless, but can cause harm by delaying or interfering with proven, beneficial treatments.
The FDA points out red flags that should alert consumers to a problem with a remedy offered on the Internet include:
- “Treats all forms of cancer”
- “Skin cancers disappear”
- “Shrinks malignant tumors”
- “Doesn’t make you sick”
- “Avoid painful surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or other conventional treatments”
Gary Coody, R.Ph., the National Health Fraud Coordinator and a Consumer Safety Officer with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Regulatory Affairs, said,
Anyone who suffers from cancer, or knows someone who does, understands the fear and desperation that can set in. There can be a great temptation to jump at anything that appears to offer a chance for a cure.
Advertisements and other promotional materials touting bogus cancer ‘cures’ have probably been around as long as the printing press. However, the Internet has compounded the problem by providing the peddlers of these often dangerous products a whole new outlet.
More signs of health fraud cited by the FDA include,
- Statements that the product is a quick and effective cure-all or a diagnostic tool for a wide variety of ailments.
- Suggestions that a product can treat or cure serious or incurable diseases.
- Claims such as “scientific breakthrough,” “miraculous cure,” “secret ingredient,” and “ancient remedy.”
- Impressive-sounding terms, such as “hunger stimulation point” and “thermogenesis” for a weight loss product.
- Claims that the product is safe because it is “natural.”
- Undocumented case histories or personal testimonials by consumers or doctors claiming amazing results.
- Claims of limited availability and advance payment requirements.
- Promises of no-risk, money-back guarantees.
- Promises of an “easy” fix for problems like excess weight, hair loss, or impotency.
The FDA urges consumers to talk to their doctors before beginning any new treatment or supplement that they find on the Internet. While some may be harmless, others can interfere with ongoing treatment or be dangerous.