ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
CANCER
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
CAREGIVING
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
DIABETES
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
DIET, NUTRITION
Antioxidants Abound in Cereals, Popcorn, Whole-Grain Snacks
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
Myrrh May Lower High Cholesterol
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Exhaust From Railroad Diesel Linked to Lung Ailments
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Smog Standards Need Tightening, Activists Say
EYE CARE, VISION
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
FITNESS
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Run for Your Life
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Cocaine Spurs Long-Term Change in Brain Chemistry
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Help Your Kids Stay Active
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Natural Therapies for Menopause
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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