CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

FTC addresses cancer scams

The Federal Trade Commission, which regulates advertising, has a new site telling consumers how to evaluate and report scams in cancer care.

The FTC is now targetting misleading promotions of alleged cancer cures:

FTC today warned of bogus cancer treatmets and encouraged to ask your doctor about a cancer cure that one may here advertised here and there. The move comes after FTC took action against several bogus cancer treatment companies.

FTC has created a special website called Cure-ious? Ask. The government agency tells the visitors and patients to ask and consult a doctor when choosing various cancer treatments.

Curious about a cancer treatment?
Curious about a product that says it can treat or cure cancer? Be skeptical. Do some research and ask questions.

Talk to your doctor.
Ask about the risks of any treatment product: How might it affect your ongoing treatment or any medications you might be taking. Five questions for your doctor.

If you're curious about a product that claims to cure or treat cancer, talk to your doctor before you try it -- or buy it. Ask:

Does this product work? Is there any research to support its effectiveness?

What are the possible risks, side effects, or benefits in my specific case?

Will it interfere with my current treatment plan?

Has this product been proven to be safe?

Can we talk about other treatments or products that could reduce my discomfort or some of my symptoms?

Don't stop or delay your conventional treatment.
Stopping or delaying conventional treatment may have serious consequences. In many cases, the product can have negative repercussions: it won't treat the cancer; and it could even harm you. Talking to your doctor is the best way to satisfy your curiosity, and manage your treatment wisely.

In your research, you may come across references to complementary and alternative medicine.

Complementary therapies are meant to enhance standard medical treatment, like surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. Your treatment team can tell you whether there's any proof that a complementary therapy may reduce discomfort or any other symptoms. Tell your treatment team what you want to achieve with complementary therapy.

Alternative therapies are meant to replace conventional cancer treatment. Reputable medical and cancer experts generally do not recommend alternative products and practices to the exclusion of conventional therapy, because there's no proof that they are effective treatments for cancer. Many can even be harmful.

Be skeptical of online claims that a product can cure or treat cancer.

How can you tell if websites are hawking a hot new product, old-fashioned snake oil, or something in between? These signs can help you determine whether a website or an ad is on the up-and-up.

No one treatment works for every cancer or every body. All cancers are different. Even two people with the same diagnosis may need different treatments. That's one reason it's best to be skeptical of any website with ads for products that claim to treat cancer.
Natural doesn't always mean effective. Scammers take advantage of the feelings that can accompany a diagnosis of cancer. They promote unproven - and potentially dangerous - remedies like black salve, essiac tea, or laetrile with claims that the products are both "natural" and effective. But "natural" doesn't mean either safe or effective when it comes to using these treatments for cancer. In fact, a product labeled "natural," can be ineffective and even downright harmful.

Bogus marketers often use trickery and vague language to take advantage of people. Testimonials on websites with ads for products that claim to cure or treat cancer can seem honest and heart-felt, but they can be completely fake: in fact, they may not disclose that actors or models have been paid to endorse the product. Even when testimonials come from people who have taken the product, personal stories aren't reliable as evidence of effectiveness.
Lots of technical jargon may sound impressive, but by itself, doesn't prove effectiveness. Big words from a medical dictionary are no substitute for the plain-language facts from your doctor.
A money-back guarantee doesn't prove that a product works. Even if the money-back guarantee is legitimate, it isn't a reliable substitute for scientific evidence that a treatment is safe or effective.

How to report bogus claims
If you've think you've been misled by websites or online ads for a product that claims to treat or cure cancer, file a complaint with:

Federal Trade Commission
ftc.gov/complaint

The FTC site includes a note about why it's important not to stop conventional treatment:

Don't stop or delay your conventional treatment. Stopping or delaying conventional treatment may have serious consequences. In many cases, the product can have negative repercussions: it won't treat the cancer; and it could even harm you. Talking to your doctor is the best way to satisfy your curiosity, and manage your treatment wisely.

In your research, you may come across references to complementary and alternative medicine.

Complementary therapies are meant to enhance standard medical treatment, like surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. Your treatment team can tell you whether there's any proof that a complementary therapy may reduce discomfort or any other symptoms. Tell your treatment team what you want to achieve with complementary therapy.

Alternative therapies are meant to replace conventional cancer treatment. Reputable medical and cancer experts generally do not recommend alternative products and practices to the exclusion of conventional therapy, because there's no proof that they are effective treatments for cancer. Many can even be harmful.

Also, here are 'signs of a scam:'

of a scam How can you tell if websites are hawking a hot new product, old-fashioned snake oil, or something in between? These signs can help you determine whether a website or an ad is on the up-and-up.

No one treatment works for every cancer or every body. All cancers are different. Even two people with the same diagnosis may need different treatments. That's one reason it's best to be skeptical of any website with ads for products that claim to treat cancer.
Natural doesn't always mean effective. Scammers take advantage of the feelings that can accompany a diagnosis of cancer. They promote unproven - and potentially dangerous - remedies like black salve, essiac tea, or laetrile with claims that the products are both "natural" and effective. But "natural" doesn't mean either safe or effective when it comes to using these treatments for cancer. In fact, a product labeled "natural," can be ineffective and even downright harmful.

Bogus marketers often use trickery and vague language to take advantage of people. Testimonials on websites with ads for products that claim to cure or treat cancer can seem honest and heart-felt, but they can be completely fake: in fact, they may not disclose that actors or models have been paid to endorse the product. Even when testimonials come from people who have taken the product, personal stories aren't reliable as evidence of effectiveness.
Lots of technical jargon may sound impressive, but by itself, doesn't prove effectiveness. Big words from a medical dictionary are no substitute for the plain-language facts from your doctor.
A money-back guarantee doesn't prove that a product works. Even if the money-back guarantee is legitimate, it isn't a reliable substitute for scientific evidence that a treatment is safe or effective.

Here is Wikipedia defining naturopathic medicine:

Naturopathic medicine (also known as naturopathy, or natural medicine) is a complementary and alternative medicine which emphasizes the body's intrinsic ability to heal and maintain itself. Naturopaths prefer to use natural remedies such as herbs and foods rather than surgery or synthetic drugs. Naturopathic practice includes many different modalities. Practitioners emphasize a holistic approach to patient care, and may recommend patients use conventional medicine alongside their treatments.

Naturopathy has its origins in the Nature Cure movement of Europe[1][2]. It is practiced in many countries but subject to different standards of regulation and levels of acceptance.

Naturopathic doctors who are trained at an accredited North American school are entitled to use the designation ND or NMD which is legally protected in sixteen US states and five Canadian provinces.[3] They are trained to use diagnostic tests such as imaging and blood tests before deciding upon the full course of treatment.[4] and to refer to other health professionals for standard medical care where it is required. Scope of practice for Naturopathic doctors varies widely amongst jurisdictions. Naturopaths in unregulated jurisdictions may use the ND designation or other titles regardless of level of education.

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