Watch Out for Health Quacks
Medical Author: Melissa Stoppler, M.D.
K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Health quacks are people who sell useless or even harmful unproven remedies
for everything ranging from A to Z. Offering false hope to those affected by
myriad conditions, quacks pocket millions of dollars from unsuspecting consumers
The elderly and those with chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes,
arthritis, HIV, and multiple sclerosis are the most common targets for
unscrupulous "cure-all" promoters. Many health quacks go after people who are
overweight, promising fast painless weight-loss systems or products.
You can take steps to ensure that you do not fall victim
to health quacks. The Federal Trade Commission and the National Institutes of
Health offer the following tips for recognizing suspicious products and services. In general, you
should be wary of:
- Products that claim to provide relief or cures for a
number of different conditions.
- Special, ancient, or "secret" formulas, sometimes
only available from one company.
- Promises of quick and easy weight loss without diet
- Products that advertise prompt and painless cures.
- Products that promise cures for diseases with no
- Testimonials about miracles or breakthroughs that
have not been documented in the medical literature.
- Products that require advance payments, offer a
"free" bonus or extra product with purchase, or suppliers who claim limited
availability of their product.
- Offers using terminology such as "scientific
breakthrough," "miracle cure" and other superlatives or vague,
- "Money-back" guarantees if success is not achieved.