Since I started blogging, I’ve had to become quite savvy at forming headlines for my posts as the wording can be a factor in whether someone reads it or not. A post picture can also influence. There’s a third factor and that is credibility – I’d like to think I’ve worked hard to earn that level of trust in my ‘product’. I use the NET to talk about NETs! I’m a genuine guy with a genuine purpose and I don’t want to sell you anything – my ‘product’ is free.
However, the ‘NET’ can also provide ‘misinformation’. Unfortunately ‘misinformation’ also includes ‘alleged’ cures for various ailments including cancer. I think we’ve all been there, we check twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc and we find the ubiquitous miracle cures for every illness under the sun, annoying shared by our friends. Easy to find, easy to read and worryingly, easy to share. Surely these cures must be true, after all…..it’s on the ‘NET’.
I was, therefore, delighted to see that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently posted warning letters addressed to 14 U.S.-based companies illegally selling more than 65 products that fraudulently claim to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure cancer. The products are marketed and sold without FDA approval, most commonly on websites and social media platforms. Clearly, this is not just a USA problem, I suspect you all could tell me similar stories from your own countries? I just read a story from my own local area only last week. This is only the tip of the iceberg though!
Most of these claims are from obscure unheard of websites (clue 1) and yet they claim to have the cure for all sorts of illness including cancer (clue 2). They normally have a product to sell (clue 3). Clue 4 and onwards can be found by digging into their claims to see if there is any scientific evidence – normally there’s none; or it looks believable but the authors are also the owners of the company selling the product.
Here are some of the tactics they use plus a commentary from the US FDA:
One product does it all. Be suspicious of products that claim to cure a wide range of diseases. A New York firm claimed its products marketed as dietary supplements could treat or cure senile dementia, brain atrophy, atherosclerosis, kidney dysfunction, gangrene, depression, osteoarthritis, dysuria, and lung, cervical and prostate cancer. In October 2012, at FDA’s request, U.S. marshals seized these products.
Personal testimonials. Success stories, such as, “It cured my diabetes” or “My tumors are gone,” are easy to make up and are not a substitute for scientific evidence.
Quick fixes. Few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly, even with legitimate products. Beware of language such as, “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days” or “eliminates skin cancer in days.”
“All natural.” Some plants found in nature (such as poisonous mushrooms) can kill when consumed. Moreover, FDA has found numerous products promoted as “all natural” but that contain hidden and dangerously high doses of prescription drug ingredients or even untested active artificial ingredients.
“Miracle cure.” Alarms should go off when you see this claim or others like it such as, “new discovery,” “scientific breakthrough” or “secret ingredient.” If a real cure for a serious disease were discovered, it would be widely reported through the media and prescribed by health professionals—not buried in print ads, TV infomercials or on Internet sites.
Conspiracy theories. Claims like “The pharmaceutical industry and the government are working together to hide information about a miracle cure” are always untrue and unfounded. These statements are used to distract consumers from the obvious, common-sense questions about the so-called miracle cure.
The rise of the internet means that we need to be very careful what we believe, particularly when the term ‘fake news’ is abundant. The people who work in this ‘dark’ industry are very clever, playing on the mind and fears of those who suffer from cancer and other illnesses which they claim they can cure. Many of them are easy to spot or at least attract your suspicion as you can see above. I’m concerned that some of them make their way onto patient forums unchallenged by the administrators (leave those groups, they are a danger to your health). Here’s something you’re probably not aware of….. I am targeted weekly by people and organisations who want me to advertise their ‘product’ to you guys, some of them are very dubious indeed. I have a “no selling” rule on my site so it’s easy for me to reject anyone approaching me in this way – the very dubious are blocked immediately.
See an article where this post was featured …… Click Here
I will never share this sort of thing on my site and I even check official looking mainstream media articles for the background scientific data before I would share here. For me, regardless of the headline or post picture, this is where credibility comes in. Often (whilst everyone else is sharing), I wait on informed comment from credible organisations such as Cancer Research UK who very frequently have to dampen down the excitement caused by mainstream media ‘headlines’ by providing a more balanced and evidence based view. I’ve blogged before about Cancer Research UK in the post The trouble with the NET (Part 1), The trouble with the NET (Part 2) (with mention of Steve Jobs and Neuroendocrine Cancer). I particularly like their blog 10 persistent cancer myths debunked.
Be careful out there – it’s dangerous!
Hope is great, false hope is not.
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