Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    FDA: Watch Out for Phony Cancer Cures

    Agency Wants Companies to Stop Hawking Products as Cancer Treatments
    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    June 17, 2008 -- The FDA today warned 25 companies to quit claiming their products cure cancer and urged consumers not to fall for fake cancer cures.

    In warning letters, the FDA ordered 23 U.S. companies, as well as a Canadian company and an Australian firm, to stop marketing products as cancer cures. The list of companies and the products in question are noted on the FDA's web site.

    The FDA is taking those companies to task over 125 products that include ingredients such as bloodroot, shark cartilage, coral calcium, cesium, ellagic acid, cat's claw, an herbal tea called Essiac, and mushroom varieties such as Agaricus blazei, shitake, maitake, and reishi.

    Examples of fraudulent claims for the products include:

    • "Treats all forms of cancer"
    • "Causes cancer cells to commit suicide!"
    • "80% more effective than then world's number one cancer drug"
    • "Skin cancers disappear"
    • "Target cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone"
    • "Shrinks malignant tumors"
    • "Avoid painful surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or other conventional treatment"

    Because the products claim to cure, treat, mitigate, or prevent disease -- and have not been shown to be safe and effective -- the FDA considers them to be unapproved drugs marketed in violation of federal law.

    Some of the products may be unsafe, might interfere with other cancer treatments, or may be used instead of medically acceptable treatment, notes David Elder, director of the Office of Enforcement in the FDA's Office of Regulatory Affairs.

    Health fraud is a "cruel form of greed," Elder said in a news conference, calling fraud involving cancer treatment "especially heartless."

    The FDA urges people using such products to talk to their doctor about discontinuing their use and to seek appropriate medical attention if they've experienced any side effects while taking the products.

    Today on WebMD

    man holding lung xray
    What you need to know.
    stem cells
    How they work for blood cancers.
     
    woman wearing pink ribbon
    Separate fact from fiction.
    Colorectal cancer cells
    Symptoms, screening tests, and more.
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article