ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Majority of College Students Report Backpack-Related Pain
Fractures in Older Adults Up Death Risk
CANCER
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
New Guidelines for Treating Heart Failure
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
DIET, NUTRITION
Keep Stress Off the Holiday Meal Menu, Expert Advises
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
FITNESS
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Exercise Keeps the Brain Young
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Proven Strategies for Avoiding Colds and the Flu
Spread of Swine Flu in Japan Could Raise WHO Alert to Highest Level
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
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
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
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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