If an advertisement for a health product sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The Federal Trade Commission advises consumers to be aware of fraudulent health claims. Food and Drug Administration describes a health fraud as “articles of unproven effectiveness that are promoted to improve health, well being or appearance.” The articles can be medicines, devices, foods, or cosmetics for human or animal use.

It is very important to be aware because products claiming to cure conditions such as obesity, insomnia, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s may contain harmful ingredients.

Health frauds are all around us. Promotions for fraudulent products appear daily in newspaper and magazine ads and TV “infomercial’s.” They accompany products sold in stores, on the Internet, and through mail-order catalogs. Health frauds are also passed along by word-of-mouth.

Protect yourself

Always talk to your doctor before taking any new supplement or medicine (this includes diet and herbal supplements). Avoid products that make the following claims and/or statements:

  • Quick and effective cure-all
  • Scientific breakthrough
  • Ancient remedy or secret ingredients
  • No risk money-back guarantees
  • Undocumented personal testimonials by doctors or consumers claiming miraculous results
  • Advance payment required

Having a dialog with your doctor is an important part of your health. Below is a sample list of things to do during your visit to the doctor. The list will help you have a good dialog with your doctor.

Helping your doctor help you:

  • Talk about what worries you most.
    • Be clear and get straight to the point.
      • Be specific.
      • Tell your doctor exactly what is going on.
      • Describe the symptoms you have and how long you have had them.
  • Tell the truth.
    • Your doctor needs to know what you really eat, exactly how much you exercise, and whether you drink, smoke, or use drugs.
  • Ask questions.
    • If you doctor says something you don’t understand, ask him to explain it again.
    • Bring a list with you to help you remember which questions go ask.
    • List of questions to ask your doctor.
    • Get the facts about your treatment options.
    • If your doctor suggests you have a test or see another doctor, ask why.
    • Speak up.
      • If something bothers you, tell your doctor what it is.
  • Bring a pen and paper to the doctor’s office.
    • Write down what you want to remember or need to do.
  • Tell your doctor which medicines, herbs, or alternative treatments you are taking.
    • This is important because medicines may interact negatively with each other.
  • If necessary, schedule a follow-up appointment.
  • Do not be afraid to seek a 2nd or 3rd opinion.