Healthcare Spam

Does This Product Really Kill Cancer (or Diabetes, Arthritis, or Other Diseases)?

It’s amazing how much spam some people get everyday.  Some of it ends up being for miracle cures for cancer, diabetes, arthritis, sexual dysfunction, and more.  Do these products you can order online really work?  If they’re selling them, obviously someone must be buying them – do they know something your medical professional doesn’t, or is hiding from you?  While not an exhaustive list of cures we get emailed, here’s a quick sample of some of these, along with an explanation of the complexities of each.

Cancer

Cancer isn’t a disease.  At first, that statement doesn’t make any sense – you’ve probably known someone with cancer.  But, cancer is actually a grouping of diseases.  There’s not one cancer, there’s over a hundred types of cancer that occur in humans.  And, it comes in quite a few forms of severity.  Basal Cell Carcinoma is the least dangerous form of cancer, even though 4 million people a year in the United States are diagnosed with it, though it’s exceedingly rare for there to be a fatality from Basal Cell Carcinoma.  Colorectal Cancer, on the other hand, kills 52,000 people a year.  That’s just two forms of cancer.

Then, there’s the causes of cancer.  Obesity and physical inactivity currently rank #1 on the list of potential causes of cancer, but the list also includes:

Genetics:  Some forms of breast cancer have been identified as hereditary.

Infection:  Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the cause of some forms of vaginal, cervical, anal, penile, and throat cancers.

Chemical Exposure:  There’s a very long list of known chemical carcinogens, such as benzine, excessive exposure to alcohol, and more.

Physical Exposure:  Coal dust, wood dust, and asbestos.

Radiation Exposure:  This is one that most people associate with cancer.

Now we can see that cancer is group of diseases that are each distinct, and each with a very different origin.  Despite years of products (and even news articles) purporting to be the “Cure For Cancer”, it becomes fairly obvious that a single product is unlikely to do the job.

Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus – usually just referred to as diabetes – is a little less complicated than cancer in the number of types that exist, but like cancer it’s a descriptor for multiple disorders.  You can break diabetes down into three major groups:

Type I:  With Type I diabetes, the body isn’t producing enough insulin.  A majority of Type I cases are caused by an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks beta cells in the pancreas, though there’s more than one potential reason someone may have Type I.  Someone with Type I diabetes has to have insulin injections, or possibly an insulin pump.

Type II:  The body no longer responds to insulin properly.   Type II is typically caused by a combination of diet, obesity, low physical activity levels, and stress.   Medication is used to help control insulin levels.

Gestational Diabetes:  Around 2% of all pregnancies have Gestational Diabetes as a complication.  Typically it’s handled with medication and diet, though insulin may be required, and in the majority of cases, there are no long term side effects if treated.

For a single cure for diabetes to work, it would need to regrow cells in the pancreas (if it’s Type I) and reprogram the autoimmune system to no longer attack those cells.  Then, if it’s not Type I, it needs to modify how the body handles insulin and sugars.  These are fairly large tasks for a single product or fad diet!

Arthritis

Arthritis is a swelling in the joints.  However, there’s a lot of forms of arthritis, with over a hundred that fall into the category, and is considered one of the largest forms of disability in the United States, with over 20 million people experiencing severe limitations in their daily lives because of it.  Arthritis for some can be mildly painful, and for some it can be completely debilitating.  So, it’s no wonder spammers have been preying on arthritis sufferers for years.

Osteoarthritis:  Osteoarthritis has various causes, ranging from trauma to the joint to wear and tear caused by excessive weight, or sometimes just wear and tear combined with age.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:  Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, which can be attributed to multiple factors.  Some cases are genetic, some are attributed to lifestyle choices such as tobacco use and alcohol use, and some are attributed to viral infections such as Epstine-Barr Virus (EBV) and Human Herpies Virus (HHV-6).

Yet again, it would be hard for a product to cover all these situations.

 

The Common Thread

You’ll notice that each of these disorders mentioned aren’t simple.  There’s not a single cause, and there’s not a single set of symptoms.  But, combined, they represent millions of Americans who experience pain, discomfort, and fear from their condition.  Who wouldn’t want a simple pill to cure any of the conditions above?  Or maybe it’s migraines, sexual dysfunction, crohn’s disease, or some other hard to treat disorder. And even if they were being offered for much more specific cases – say, Type I Diabetes – it’s very they would still be scams.

There was a time in the history of America where medication was unregulated.  The term “Snake Oil” goes back to a cure-all that came to the US with chinese laborers – supposedly, the snake oil would cure the pain of arthritis and bursitis.  However, even if snake venom were effective, often the product sold contained none of the active ingredient.  Soon, scammers began selling all sorts of cure-alls, though usually it was just mineral oil with a few added ingredients.  It became bad enough that Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which formed the Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) to begin regulating the problem.  To this day, the FDA has it’s hands full when it comes to dealing with scammers – it’s almost impossible to find and prosecute offenders selling “snake oil” over the Internet.

Like many things, talk to the medical professional in your life.  If you’re thinking about picking up one of these products, remember:  if there was a cure, you wouldn’t get it in a spam email.  Instead, you would have seen it in the news, and all you’d have to do is ask your medical professional the next time you see them.  Their job is to keep you healthy, online spammer’s job is to convince you to open your wallet.

This article is for educational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice.  Healthcare is an individualized process, and reading an article online should not be your source for healthcare advice - instead, it's intended to help you better understand the process or healthcare, inform about a specific disease, or present the potential for lifestyle changes that may occur with a disease or disorder.  Do no rely on online articles for healthcare - instead, consult your healthcare provider if you feel you may be suffering from symptoms presented in this article, or other symptoms not listed here.

Davis Sickmon is a writer, sometimes college instructor, entrepreneur, and IT professional. More information about Davis can be found at his personal website.

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