There are more ways than ever to sell untested—and possibly harmful—health products. These products may interfere with medicines prescribed by your doctor, they may be expensive, and people with serious illnesses such as cancer may lose valuable time and the chance to benefit from a proven treatment. This delay may lessen the chance of controlling or curing their disease.
Health scams set their sights on people who are scared or in pain. These scams usually target people with diseases that have treatments for symptoms but currently have no cures. Ads that show people saying they have been cured do not prove that a product works.
Tips for Protecting Yourself
Be skeptical. Question what you see or hear in ads or online. Newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV stations do not always check to make sure the claims in their ads are true or if a celebrity is being paid to endorse a product. Ask your doctor, nurse, other healthcare provider, or pharmacist about a product before you buy it. Don’t let a salesperson talk you into making a snap decision.
Look for red flags in ads or promotional material that:
• Promise a quick or painless cure
• Claim the product is made from a special, secret, or ancient formula
• Offer products and services only by mail or from one company
• Use statements or unproven case histories from so-called satisfied patients
• Claim to cure a wide range of ailments
• Claim to cure a disease that hasn’t been cured by medical science
• Promise a no-risk, money-back guarantee
• Offer a free gift or a larger amount of the product as a special promotion
• Require advance payment and claim there is a limited supply of the product
This article is based on information provided by the National Institute on Aging (www.nia.nih.gov).