ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
CANCER
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
CAREGIVING
With Alzheimer's, Health-Care Costs Could Triple
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
DIABETES
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
Coffee Drinking Lowers Women's Stroke Risk
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Most Mt. Everest Deaths Occur Near Summit During Descent
Ozone Pollution Taking Toll on American Lives
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
FITNESS
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
Maximize Your Run
Higher Fitness Levels Tied to Lower Heart, Death Risks
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Biomarkers May Help Measure Rate of Decline in Dementia
Stressed and Exhausted: An Introduction to Adrenal Fatigue
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
MENTAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Add your Article

Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients

MONDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer patients often turn to the Internet as a source of information and hope. But all too often, those hopes are betrayed by purveyors of so-called cancer "cures" that are anything but, experts say.

Earlier this month, five companies were charged with making false and misleading claims for cancer cures, and settlements were reached with six other companies, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced. Products marketed by the companies included essiac teas and other herbal mixtures, laetrile, black salve (a corrosive ointment), and mushroom extracts.

"There is no credible scientific evidence that any of the products marketed by these companies can prevent, cure, or treat cancer of any kind," said Lydia Parnes, director of the FTC's bureau of consumer protection, the Associated Press reported.

In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to two dozen companies peddling everything from cure-all teas to tablets and tonics. And earlier this year, more than 100 manufacturers of such products were issued similar letters.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, black salves are one of the most dangerous of these fake cures. The products, which supposedly "draw out" the disease from under the skin, can actually burn the skin and cause scarring.

Which is not to say that none of these compounds has potential as cancer fighters. But consumers need to be careful.

"Many of these compounds touted as having beneficial effects have lots of lab research, but it's more selling hope in a jar based on preliminary lab research," said Sarah Wally, a nutritionist with the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C. "That's not fair to the consumer, particularly consumers with cancer who have a really strong motivation to try anything that might offer hope."

Many of these so-called cures or preventive treatments won't actually cause harm (except to your wallet), but some can interact with regular, supervised medical treatment, Wally said.

"Antioxidants can actually interfere with chemotherapy and radiation treatment," she said. "Some people think, 'I'm just drinking juice.' But they might be drinking two gallons of juice a day of super-antioxidant juice compound, not thinking to discuss it with their doctor."

And, some consumers may actually forego lifesaving conventional treatments in favor of shams.

Here's some advice from the experts:

* "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," said Dr. Ted Gansler, director of medical content for the American Cancer Society. Beware of claims that one treatment will cure all types of cancer or more than one type of disease. Also be leery of language such as "scientific breakthrough," "miraculous cure," "secret ingredient" and "ancient remedy," as well as claims that a product is "natural" and therefore safe. And take note of claims that the product has limited availability and that the company needs advance payment.
* Find out if the product has ever been tested in humans. Laboratory and animal research is fine, but only as a starting point, not as a basis for recommending the therapy in humans, Wally said.
* "Be careful about the credentials of the people promoting the treatment," Gansler said. "The possibility that someone with no medical or scientific treatment is going to come up with a cure for cancer or other diseases is not very likely." Reliable sources of information include the American Cancer Society, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. (All have Web sites.)
* "Watch out for evidence that is only testimonial," Gansler said. "In some of the most notorious alternative clinics, people will be diagnosed with cancer who don't even have cancer and, later on, they're 'cured.' " The "patient" may actually believe he or she was cured.
* Be on the lookout for obvious factual errors. If someone says their "Stage 7" cancer has been cured, be leery. There is no "Stage 7" cancer.
* Wally advised: "Before you wholeheartedly jump into these things, you need to really sit down and have a discussion with your physician." This is especially true in an age when alternative and complementary medicines are gaining acceptance. It can be tricky distinguishing between something bogus and something that may have a benefit, Wally added.

-Amanda Gardner

More information

The FDA has more on fake cancer cures to be avoided.



SOURCES: Sarah Wally, M.S., R.D., nutritionist, American Institute for Cancer Research, Washington, D.C.; Ted Gansler, M.D., director, medical content, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; July 2008 American Institute for Cancer Research newsletter; U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Last Updated: Sept. 29, 2008

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