Booster Shots

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If a cancer cure sounds too good to be true...

September 19, 2008 | 10:07 am

Maybe some companies honestly believe their products work; maybe some know that they're preying on the scared. Regardless, the Federal Trade Commission has told 11 of them that enough's enough. The agency has charged five companies with making "unsupported claims" in the marketing of products to treat cancer and gotten assurances from six others to cool it.

"Many of these products are scams," Lydia Parnes, the director of the agency's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement, "and let's face it, when you're battling cancer, the last thing you need is a scam."

The five companies sued are Omega Supply, Native Essence Herb Co., Daniel Chapter One, Gemtronics and Herbs for Cancer.

Native Essence, for one, was not pleased. An attorney for the company said in an Associated Press article: "In our view it's a battle between the right to speak and the government's censorship."

The six companies with which the agency reached proposed settlements are Nu-Gen Nutrition, Westberry Enterprises, Jim Clark's All Natural Cancer Therapy, Bioque Technologies, Cleansing Time Pro and Premium-essiac-tea-4less.

The statement from the FTC includes details about the products each company produces. It also announces the creation of a website designed to educate consumers on how to spot -- and report -- bogus cancer-cure claims. That site,, stresses that those tempted by such products should talk to their physician about them but not, repeat not, stop their more traditional treatments.

In Life and death on fringes of medicine, Shari Roan tells the story of one couple's hope, and eventual disappointment, in alternative cancer cures.

-- Tami Dennis