ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
High Birth Weight Doubles Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
CANCER
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
CAREGIVING
MRSA Infections Spreading to Kids in Community
Critically Ill Patients Lack Vitamin D
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
DIABETES
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Quick Weight Loss May Be Best for Long-Term Success
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Accumulated Lead May Affect Older Women's Brains
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
EYE CARE, VISION
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
FITNESS
Run for Your Life
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
MENTAL HEALTH
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
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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