How to Spot Bogus Health Claims

Don't be taken in by bogus quick health fixes

woman with pill bottle

The Food and Drug Administration has a warning for you: Beware of products that “do it all.”

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Health fraud scams are everywhere, from TV to ads in newspapers and magazines to cyberspace. They do more than waste your time and money. They can make your health problems worse.

Cardiologist David Frid, MD, agrees with the FDA to be wary of products with such claims.

“A product that says it can make you perfect in every way, can cure cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s — anything out there — is something you need to be suspicious about,” says Dr. Frid.

“Quick fixes” that aren’t

Fraudulent health claims promise everything from weight loss to enhanced sexual performance to cures of serious diseases. The FDA warns that there is really no such thing as a “miracle cure” or a quick fix. Beware of language like “lose 30 pounds in 30 days” or “eliminates skin cancer in two weeks.”

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“There are situations where people have bacterial or other types of infections when we can take care of it quickly with antibiotics,” says Dr. Frid. “But most things don’t do that because most of the problems we have are more chronic.”

When red flags should fly with health claims

The FDA says red flags should go up when you see health products accompanied by these:

Labels of “miracle cure” or “scientific breakthrough” are not always true. Claims like these or “new discovery” or “secret ingredient” should set off alarms. A real cure would be widely reported in the media and prescribed by healthcare professionals, not pop up in TV infomercials or on Internet sites.

Personal testimonials are easy to create. Claims such as “it cured my diabetes” and “my tumor is gone” from “real people” are easy to make up. They’re not scientific evidence.

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Claims to be “all-natural” are probably not completely accurate. The FDA has found some products promoted as all-natural contain hidden and dangerously high doses of prescription drug ingredients and even untested artificial ingredients.

Sometimes fraudulent health products can be tough to spot. Play it safe and check with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking anything questionable.

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