The U.S. Food and Drug Administration posted warning letters addressed to 14 U.S.-based companies illegally selling more than 65 products that fraudulently claim to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure cancer. The products are marketed and sold without FDA approval, most commonly on websites and social media platforms. Legitimate medical products such as drugs and devices intended to treat cancer must gain FDA approval or clearance before they are marketed and sold. The agency’s review process helps ensure that these products are safe and effective for their intended uses.
The illegally sold products cited in the warning letters include a variety of product types, such as pills, topical creams, ointments, oils, drops, syrups, teas and diagnostics (such as thermography devices). They include products marketed for use by humans or pets that make illegal, unproven claims regarding preventing, reversing or curing cancer; killing/inhibiting cancer cells or tumors; or other similar anti-cancer claims. Frequently advertised as “natural” treatments and often falsely labeled as dietary supplements, such products may appear harmless, but may cause harm by delaying or interfering with proven, beneficial treatments. Absent FDA approval or clearance for safety, they could also contain dangerous ingredients.
Consumers should recognize certain phrases as red flags, including:
- Treats all forms of cancer
- Miraculously kills cancer cells and tumors
- Shrinks malignant tumors
- Selectively kills cancer cells
- More effective than chemotherapy
- Attacks cancer cells, leaving healthy cells intact
- Cures cancer
That holds true for treatments intended for humans and those intended for pets. The FDA urges consumers to steer clear of these potentially unsafe and unproven products and to always discuss cancer treatment options with their licensed health care provider.