Beware of ‘miracle cures’ promising better health

Posted Feb. 23, 2012, at 6:01 p.m.

We all want to feel better, look better, have more energy and prevent diseases as we age. However, this quest for supreme health paves the way for opportunistic scammers ready to pounce on our good intentions.

Advertisements for products in all media outlets promise cures for everything from arthritis to wrinkles. While some claims are outlandish enough to be laughable, others are enticing, and therein lies the potential danger, according to the National Institute on Aging, part of The National Institutes of Health.

There are numerous reasons to avoid getting sucked in by the promises declared in “miracle cure” advertisements. The NIA warns that products could be untested and harmful and possibly interfere with prescribed medication you are taking. These products often instill false hope in consumers who may forgo a visit with their doctor because of belief in the product’s effectiveness.

The NIA offers the following tips to help you weed out products that may fall into the suspicious category. Think twice about promotional materials or advertisements for products and services that:

• Promise a quick or painless cure.

• Claim to be made from a special, secret or ancient formula.

• Are offered only by mail or from one company.

• Use statements or unproven case histories from so-called satisfied patients.

• Claim to be a cure for a wide range of ailments.

• Claim to cure a disease (such as arthritis or Alzheimer’s disease) that hasn’t been cured by medical science.

• Promise a no-risk, money-back guarantee.

• Offer an additional “free” gift or a larger amount of the product as a “special promotion.”

• Require advance payment and claim a limited supply of the product.

For more information about heath scams, visit nia.nih.gov. Remember the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always check with your health care provider before taking anything claiming to be the magic potion that will fix your life.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging.

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