This year, we Americans will spend billions of dollars on products that do
nothing for us - or may even harm us. And we\'ll do it for the same reason people
have done it since ancient times... We want to believe in miracles. We want to
find simple solutions and shortcuts to better health. It\'s hard to resist. All
of us, at one time or another, have seen or heard about a product - a new and
exotic pill, a device, or potion - that can easily solve our most vexing problem.
With this product, we\'re told, we can eat all we want and still lose weight. We
can grow taller or have bigger breasts. Or we can overcome baldness, age,
arthritis, even cancer. It sounds too good to be true - and it is. But we\'re
tempted to try the product in spite of all we know about modern medical science
- or perhaps because of it. After all, many treatments we take for granted today
were once considered miracles. How can we tell the difference?

Not all advertisements for health products are false, of course. In fact,
the vast majority aren\'t .So just what is quackery? Simply put, quackery is the
promotion of a medical remedy that doesn\'t work or hasn\'t been proven to work.
In modern times, quackery is known as health fraud. But call it quackery or call
it health fraud, the result is the same - unfulfilled wishes, wasted dollars,
endangered health. Often quack products are fairly easy to spot, like the magic
pills you are supposed to take to stay forever young. But sometimes the products
are vaguely based on some medical report that you may even have heard about in
the news. In general, when looking over ads for medicines and medical devices,
watch out for those that seem to promise too much too easily. Quack cures rob us
of more than money. They can steal health away or even take lives. Quacks may
lure the seriously and often desperately ill, such as people suffering from
arthritis and cancer, into buying a bogus cure. When people try quack remedies
instead of getting effective medical help, their illnesses progress, sometimes
beyond the treatable stage.

Quacks have always been quick to exploit current thinking. The snake-oil
salesmen a few generations back carried an array of "natural" remedies to sell
to a public that was still close to the frontier. And today, quacks take
advantage of the back-to-nature movement, capitalizing on the notion that there
ought to be simple, natural solutions to almost any problem. Some current target
areas for such promotions include:

ARTHRITIS. Over 30 million Americans suffer from arthritis, and the
nature of the disease makes it fertile ground for fraud. And
because symptoms may come and go, or the disease may be in remission for
several years, arthritis sufferers may actually believe at least
temporarily, that they\'ve been cured by a quack remedy.
Before you add to the $2 billion spent annually on quack arthritis cures,
remember that, although medical science offers effective
treatments, it has found no cure for arthritis. The list of fraudulent
"miracle cures" for the disease ranges from snake venom to lemon juice,
from the harmless milk of vaccinated cows to the dangerous use of
steroids. More dangerous and costly arthritis treatments are offered
by legitimate-looking clinics, often located outside the United States. While
some clinics may offer effective treatment, many prescribe untested
diets or drugs that either offer no arthritis cure or cause
patients to have additional health problems. Beware of arthritis clinics that
offer cures. It is important to remember that pain relief and
inflammation treatments are not the same. A product that
advertises relief for the minor pains of arthritis does not necessarily treat
inflammation. For this reason, the serious condition of arthritis should be
treated by a doctor.

CANCER. Here quack cures are probably the cruelest and the most
expensive. Seriously ill people may spend thousands of dollars on
phony treatments that do nothing to relieve their disease or suffering. Often,
the quack cancer treatment clinics are set up just outside the United
States, so that they\'re beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. authorities.
Before you request admission to any cancer clinic, talk to your doctor
about it.
As an aid in evaluating cancer-cure claims, keep in mind that there is
no one device or remedy capable of diagnosing or treating all types
of cancer. Cancer cannot be detected or treated solely through the use of
machines. No one medical test conducted one time can definitively
diagnose cancer, nor can a machine operated by a fraudulent
practitioner cure it.