Beware of Bogus Cancer Treatments, FDA Says

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Americans should be wary of products claiming to treat or cure cancer, as a number of products are falsely making these claims, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Today (April 25), the FDA sent warning letters to 14 U.S. companies saying that the businesses are breaking the law by making unproven claims about their products.

The agency advises consumers to beware of fraudulent cancer treatments, which may carry labels falsely claiming that the treatments "miraculously" kill cancer cells or that they are "more effective than chemotherapy."

"Consumers should not use these or similar unproven products, because they may be unsafe and could prevent a person from seeking an appropriate and potentially life-saving cancer diagnosis or treatment," Douglas Stearn, director of the Office of Enforcement and Import Operations at the FDA, said in a statement. "We encourage people to remain vigilant whether online or in a store, and avoid purchasing products marketed to treat cancer without any proof they will work."

The FDA also advises consumers to speak with their doctors about the best ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. [Wishful Thinking: 6 'Magic Bullet' Cures That Don't Exist]

The products targeted by today's warning come in many forms, including pills, topical creams, ointments, oils, drops, syrups, teas and "diagnostic" devices, the FDA said. The products are often marketed and sold online, including on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.

In addition to marketing bogus cancer treatment products for humans, some companies are marketing similar products for pets, the FDA said.

"Increasingly, bogus remedies claiming to cure cancer in cats and dogs are showing up online," said Nicole Kornspan, a consumer safety officer at the FDA. "People who cannot afford to spend large sums at the animal hospital to treat cancer in their beloved dogs and cats are searching for less expensive remedies," Kornspan said. [11 Ways Your Beloved Pet May Make You Sick]

Any product marketed for the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of a disease must first gain FDA approval. Doing so involves showing that the product is safe and effective for its intended use. The 14 companies cited in today's warning did not get approval for their products before making their claims.

The companies must respond to the FDA within 15 business days describing how they will correct the violations the FDA has cited. If the companies don't make amends and follow the law, the FDA may seize their products and take further legal action.

Original article on Live Science.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.