Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Miracle Cures

Miraculous cancer cure!" shouts the headline. "My cancer is completely gone!" says a woman in the testimonial. "One pill can guarantee better health!" claims the email. A quick and easy cure for cancer is the heartfelt wish of people facing the disease and of doctors and researchers who are working to treat it. Too often, though, ads and offers that promote "miracle" cures do not deliver as promised. In fact, some treatments can actually be harmful to a person's health. So how can you tell if a particular treatment is the next big thing or a potential hoax?

The first thing to consider is whether the treatment falls into the category of complementary medicine or alternative medicine. Complementary medicine is a form of treatment used along with mainstream medical care. For example, some people find that activities such as aromatherapy, massage, meditation, or yoga are useful in controlling symptoms. These methods do not treat the cancer, but if they are chosen carefully and used properly, they can help improve your quality of life. Alternative medicine is just the opposite: a treatment used instead of standard or mainstream medical treatment. Alternative medical treatments, although they may seem promising, often have not been scientifically tested or proven to work. Patients who choose these treatments may sometimes give up or delay the use of proven treatments, and that can give cancer more time to grow and pose a dangerous health risk.

The next thing to think about is if the treatment follows some of the common characteristics you might find in a questionable or fraudulent treatment claim. For example, is the treatment or drug a secret, or is it or only offered by one person or clinic? Once a treatment is found to be helpful, it will often be used by other qualified professionals, not just one doctor. Does the article or information offer personal stories of amazing results, but no actual scientific evidence? Again, without research and testing, it's hard to know if a treatment truly works. Does the treatment promise a cure for all cancers or other serious illnesses, such as AIDS, chronic fatigue, or multiple sclerosis? These illnesses are complicated, and claims promising a single cure for all are almost certain to be false.

Last but not least, do your own research. If you're considering alternative or complementary treatments, learn about new treatments from respected sources you can trust, and work to uncover the potential benefits and risks. Then, talk to your health care professionals about any treatment you are considering. The decision to use an alternative or complementary treatment should not be taken lightly, and being well-armed against false claims could not only save you time and money, but it could also save your life.