The Problem with Quack Cures

People in pain seek relief. Unfortunately, there are people who are willing and wanting to take advantage of that need. With the surge of information available on the Internet, people hawking quack cures have found it to be their playground. While there is a tremendous amount of quality health information on the Internet as well, the chore of separating good information from bad information is left to you.

Warning: Beware of Bogus Cures

You need to beware of bogus cures. However, not everyone is heeding that warning. The FDA reports that consumers respond to the pitches and spend billions of dollars a year on fraudulent health products. It's sad how sick people are preyed on for easy money, and it's even sadder that sick people are so desperate they fall for the pitch.

It's not always easy to see through quack cures, but you can develop a sixth sense about recognizing quackery. Generally speaking, quack cures sell false hope. The problem with false hope is that it distracts from real hope. Recognizing the difference will save you dollars and time otherwise wasted.

Protect yourself by remaining skeptical of treatments or purported cures which sound too good to be true. Watch out for sensational words used to promote treatment benefits such as “exclusive,” “secret,” “proven,” “miracle,” or “breakthrough.” Be wary of testimonials and success stories that sound like hype and use the word cure or overemphasize the word natural. Many scams will use guarantees, whether it be guaranteed results or a money-back guarantee. They may also use claims that suggest a certain treatment is the only safe treatment or that denounce all other treatments as unsafe. Never trust treatments that are unsupported by scientific studies or claims that minimize the importance of scientific studies.

Be Logical about Quackery

Don't be led by frustration. Discuss anything you wish to add to your current treatment regimen with your doctor — your doctor must serve as your advisor. People pushing quack cures and unproven remedies can be very convincing. Beyond the possibility of wasting money and time, some of the quack treatments may be potentially harmful.

To protect yourself, make sure you consult your doctor with any information that seems questionable, do your own research by looking for more information, and be aware of the buzzwords so you're unlikely to fall victim.

Bogus or quack cures show up in likely places. Have your radar up when you are in online chat rooms, message forums, or watching infomercials. Someone wishing to tell a miraculous story can pass false hope to others. Some call those stories testimonials; others call them hogwash.

You, as a consumer, can file a complaint with the FTC at www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm or with the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch/index.html.

Fact

According to the Federal Trade Commission, an estimated $10 billion is spent on unproven arthritis remedies each year. One in ten people who have tried unproven arthritis remedies report harmful side effects, according to a survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The FTC offers information on where to turn if you have questions about a product. Go to www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/health/whocares/arthcure.htm.

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