People spend billions of dollars a year on health-related products and treatments that not only are unproven and often useless, but also sometimes are dangerous. The products promise quick cures and easy solutions for a variety of problems, from obesity and arthritis to cancer and AIDS.
But the "cures" don't deliver, and people who buy them are cheated out of their money, their time, and even their health.
It's important to learn how to evaluate claims for products related to your health.
- Don't assume a "natural" product is safe or effective. Even if it is available without a prescription, a dietary supplement can have serious side effects. If you have a medical condition, speak with your doctor about treatment options, and seek his or her input on adding any nutritional supplements.
- Beware of product ads that promise a "scientific breakthrough." Genuine medical discoveries always make headlines in the news first. If you first learn about a new breakthrough product in an ad or online, it' very likely is not an authentic medical innovation -- keep your guard up and verify with several other sources.
- Testimonials can be faked. There is no guarantee that any ads or "customer stories" include true information or even real patients!
- Talk to a professional. Before trying a new health supplement or over the counter medication that promises great results, talk to your health care provider or pharmacist. Ask about research to support the product's claims, interactions with medications you are already taking, and possible side effects also.