Controversial medical therapies

Heart to Heart Talk


“FOR ladies who want larger breasts, men who want larger and longer penises, for those who want to be taller, and for older people who want to have instant rejuvenation and a sex drive and performance of a teenager, send me your money and I will make your dream come true!”

While the last dozen words are not exactly how the infomercials phrase the ads of the “miracle drugs, lotion or potion or pills” they are selling to the public, the aggressive and blatant marketing of these controversial therapies and products, which are not proven scientifically and not evidence-based, continues to bombard all the media, from print, radio, television and the internet, victimizing their prey, the ignorant, misinformed, and gullible consumers with money.

What amazes me is how careless and unthinking some people are to fall for these 21st century snake oils, in spite of voluminous medical warnings against these baseless and useless treatments, some of which may even have severe, if not fatal, potential side-effects and complications. Not to mention the tons of money spent on them, a trillion-dollar business industry.

What are some of these therapies or items?

The list includes, but not limited to, the following: exotic fruit juices that prevent or sure dozens of illnesses, including cancer; fat-burners, all-you-can-eat weight-reducing diet; ozone treatment; chelation IV injections to clean the heart arteries; colon-cleansing enemas, medications, etc; detoxification diets; alkaline water and water-ionizing machines; creams and drugs for breast and penile enlargement; medications to make you taller; crude herbs for sexual enhancement; and oxygen bars for better health. None of these have any genuine basis in science and medicine. They are all deceptive money-making abuse of public trust.

How about liposuction and tummy tuck?

Liposuction does NOT confer health. After the procedure, one does not become healthier. Patients may book slimmer, but unlike proper dieting and exercise, liposuction simply “sucks out” adipose (fatty) tissues under the skin, all for cosmetic purposes. Unfortunately, the fats can, and usually, come back after a few weeks or months, unless one is religious with living a healthier lifestyle, including proper dieting, calorie-counting, and daily physical exercises. Worst, liposuction surgery carries a very high and unacceptable risk, compared to any major surgery. Many deaths have been reported on these patients “dying to look good.” The same is true with tummy tuck.

Is hormone therapy safe?

Hormone therapy (estrogen/progesterone/testosterone, etc) with proper medical indication is helpful, justifiable, and fairly safe under good medical supervision. But the question here is the “medical indication.” Some are using hormones outside of their FDA-approved indication and use, and this could lead to increase cancer risks. Using growth hormones to make a person taller is baseless and unsafe. Use of anabolic agents is likewise dangerous. Taking testosterone by men who want to feel younger or perform better in bed for their age increases the risk for prostate cancer and other potential complications. Using pills for male erectile dysfunction (Viagra, Cialis, Levitra) is safe and acceptable in medical practice. These are not hormones and found truly effective after hundreds of millions of prescription. Pills or solutions advertised as the “female counterpart” are fraudulent claims. Unfortunately, no drug has yet been discovered for women to improve their sex arousal and libido, except for the use of vaginal lubrication gel, and more importantly, the genuine romantic approach of the male partner and the ambiance.

How about magnets and lava rocks?

Wearing magnetic bracelets or necklace and anklets, or applying lava rocks on the skin, are, at least, therapies that do not involve ingesting or swallowing any medication. Their application, like acupuncture, is local or topical. And whether they really work or not, psychologically or otherwise, the magnets could simply be regarded as personal jewelry since many of them are colorful and attractive pieces of artwork, anyway. The basic wise rule is, even if it is not effective, the therapy must at least NOT cause adverse side-effects or complications.

Is stem cell treatment a fraud?

While the developments in stem cell therapy are very promising, the current claims by individuals, clinics and hospitals, that the procedure is efficacious and safe in promoting rejuvenation among individuals, or in curing organ diseases, are nothing but hype and business marketing. For bone marrow treatments for those with blood diseases, there is clinical indication and proof that it is effective, but not for the other conditions it is claimed to be effective and safe for as this stage of its development.  Adverse complications have been reported by patients who even went abroad of stem cell therapy, spending thousands of dollars for each treatment, and not getting the good effects they were promised, and developing severe complications they did not expect. The popular anecdotal testimonials in the media from celebrities and politicians who had the treatment “to feel younger,” are likewise scientifically baseless. The great potential benefits from stem cell therapy in various areas in medicine and surgery when it is finally ready for clinical use are medical miracles we can all look forward to. The stem cell therapy fraud was featured on 60 Minutes on CBS in January and again in August 2012.

Is glutathione skin whitener safe?

Fatal skin disorders have been reported from the use of glutathione, especially one administered intravenously for skin whitening. Two of this deadly complications are Steven-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, besides derangement in thyroid and kidney functions. This is one of those “dying to look good” issues I described in my book. While glutathione creams are popular, we do not have evidence-based data to say at this time that there are no long-term adverse side-effects down the line. Actually, the skin-whitening noted when one uses glutathione is a side-effect of the drug. The FDA has NOT approved glutathione for this use. This drug is approved only to help cancer patient “cope with the toxicity related to cisplatin chemotherapy.” The public may be complacent because unlike taking cyanide, which causes death immediately, using glutathione and other unapproved drugs for beauty or rejuvenation might take years for the harmful side-effects to manifest. By that time, it would be too late. It is a lot safer and cheaper to eat a lot of broccoli, watermelon, tomatoes, watercress, lemons, nuts, fibers, spinach, avocado, and green leafy vegetables to have whiter complexion, to flush excess fat, cholesterol and toxins out of our body safely, and to have a healthier body. Unless the condition is truly disfiguring, let’s accept our blessings, love our body, and not fool with Mother Nature.

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