A lot of people seem to be entrusting their health care to unqualified individuals and buying unproven, sometimes dangerous remedies from them. They have entered the world of health quackery. We often concentrate on the most dangerous abuses, but health fraud is big business and using health product is not without risk. Many people who try quack remedies is harmed by side effects.
FDA describes health fraud as "articles of unproven effectiveness that are promoted to improve health, well being or appearance." The articles can be drugs, devices, foods, or cosmetics for human or animal use.
Here is FDA's list of the top 10 health frauds with small comments:
1. Fraudulent Arthritis Products.
2. Spurious Cancer Clinics. People who go to these clinics often abandon legitimate cancer treatments. This is tragic in the case of young children because some of their cancers are highly curable through legitimate treatment.
3. Bogus AIDS Cures. There is no cure for AIDS yet, proposed treatments such as massive doses of antibiotics, typhus vaccine, or herbal tea made from the bark of Brazilian trees are all unproven.
4. Instant Weight-Loss Schemes. Some of the latest gimmicks in instant weight-loss plans have included skin patches, herbal capsules, grapefruit diet pills, and Chinese magic weight-loss earrings.
5. Fraudulent Sexual Aids. Although male sex hormones, available by prescription, do influence libido and sexual performance, they have potentially serious side effects and should only be used under a physician's supervision.
6. Quack Baldness Remedies and Other Appearance Modifiers. Remedy to grow hair or prevent its loss, a cream that removes wrinkles, or a device to "develop" the bust.
7. False Nutritional Schemes.
8. Chelation Therapy. Promoters of this therapy claim that an injection or tablet of the amino acid EDTA, taken with vitamins and minerals, cleans out arteries by breaking down arterial plaque.
9. Unproven Use of Muscle Stimulators. Muscle stimulators are a legitimate medical device approved for certain conditions to relax muscle spasms, increase blood circulation, prevent blood clots, and rehabilitate muscle function after a stroke.
10. Candidiasis Hypersensitivity. Candida is a fungus found naturally in small amounts in the warm moist areas of the body such as the mouth, intestinal tract, and vagina. When the body's resistance is weakened, the fungus can multiply and infect the skin or mucous membranes.
To check a product out, FDA health fraud coordinators suggest amongst others to talk to a doctor or another health professional, talk to family members and friends, legitimate medical practitioners should not discourage you from discussing medical treatments with others. Be wary of treatments offered by people who tell you to avoid talking to others because "it's a secret treatment or cure." Find out if other consumers have complaints about the product or the product's marketer.
I think we all have been attracted by one form of quackery or another. There are several reasons to be tempted. Many people believe that if something is printed, it must be true, they believe what others tell them from personal experience and they are attracted by promises. Some people with a serious health problem become desperate enough to try anything. People who suffers from chronic pains or fearing growing old is vulnerable.
If you want to protect yourself, you must spot the health fraud and avoid being scammed by a worthless product. Best case you loose your money and worst case you become more sick.