Weighing Out Diet Scams

weight-lossThe first month of 2017 is almost history, but a few of the resolutions you may have put on the list for this year may still not be crossed off—or started, for that matter. Getting more organized and saving money are goals that are easy to plan, while losing weight—a resolution that is at the top of many people’s lists—is one of the hardest to start.

Losing weight is a healthy and rewarding goal, however, beware of quick-fix weight-loss products and plans. Like other scams, if they sound too good to be true, they probably are.

At best, “miracle” weight-loss products won’t help at all and will only cause you to lose money. At worst, they can cause health issues. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that hundreds of dietary supplement products contain hidden active ingredients that may be advertised as “natural” and “safe.” As a result, the FDA has received numerous reports of increased blood pressure, heart palpitations, stroke, seizure, and even death as a result of taking these supplements.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), beware of weight-loss ads with tag lines like these:

  • Lose weight without diet or exercise!
  • Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods!
  • Lose weight permanently! Never diet again!
  • Just take a pill!
  • Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!
  • Everybody will lose weight!
  • Lose weight with our miracle diet patch or cream!

The FTC says the best way to lose weight is to cut about 500 calories per day, eat a variety of healthy foods, and exercise regularly. Also, before beginning any weight-loss plan, consult your healthcare professional. To check the status of a doctor’s license, visit the Medical Board of California website at www.mbc.ca.gov.

November is American Diabetes Month

Did you know that 1 in 11 Americans today has diabetes?  Despite its prevalence, diabetes is an invisible disease.  It affects men and women, people young and old, and people of all races, shapes and sizes.  Often there are no outward signs of the disease from the 29 million Americans who fight this chronic illness every day.  That’s why there is a critical need to foster awareness and education while breaking down stereotypes, myths and misunderstandings about this growing public health crisis that affects so many of us.

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This is exactly why the American Diabetes Association marks each November as American Diabetes Month: to bring extra attention to the disease and the tens of millions of people affected by it.

Diabetes is more than the medications and devices used to manage it.  For many, diabetes dictates how they organize their day, what they eat at every meal, how they choose to be physically active and how they spend their money.  People with diabetes can have health care costs that are 2.3 times higher than someone without diabetes, as type 1 and type 2 require very specific forms of treatment.

ada2Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and there is no known way to prevent it.  Approximately 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1, which means their body does not produce any insulin.  Insulin is critical in order for the body to transport glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into cells for energy.  People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to live.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of cases in the United States, and is caused when the body does not produce or use insulin properly.  Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include being overweight, having a family history of diabetes and having diabetes while pregnant (gestational ada1diabetes).  Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose (sugar) with healthy eating and being active; others may require oral medications or insulin, especially as the disease progresses.  Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as older adults.  

Some women develop gestational diabetes, high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy, which requires treatment to protect the health of the mother and the baby. Gestational diabetes affects approximately 9.2 percent of pregnant women.

This November, the American Diabetes Association will showcase real-life stories of friends, families and neighbors managing the day-to-day triumphs and challenges of diabetes.  Through the use of social media, everyone is invited and encouraged to use  #ThisIsDiabetes to share their personal stories and to begin a dialogue about what it means to live with diabetes.2-november-is-american-diabetes-month

The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) along with the Board of Registered Nursing, Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians, Physician Assistant Board, Medical Board of California, Board of Podiatric Medicine, Board of Optometry and the Board of Pharmacy are proud to help promote the 2016 awareness campaign efforts of the American Diabetes Association.

DCA will run a social media campaign in support of the national awareness effort via Facebook, Twitter and its blog, The DCA Page.

To learn more and view #ThisIsDiabetes stories, check out diabetes.org.

Women Warned Against Using Ovarian Cancer Screening Tests

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The FDA is warning women and their physicians not to use ovarian cancer screening tests because test results are not reliable and may cause delays in treatment.

Currently, there is no safe and effective ovarian cancer screening test because none are sensitive enough to reliably screen for ovarian cancer without a high number of false results.

False-negative test results cause a woman who actually has ovarian cancer to not receive needed treatment. False-positive results cause a healthy woman to undergo more testing or unnecessary surgery with risks for complications for a cancer that doesn’t exist.

Several companies have marketed tests that claim to screen for and detect ovarian cancer. In a recent safety alert warning about these tests, the FDA said “women and their physicians may be misled by such claims and rely on inaccurate results to make treatment decisions.”

There are also fears that women at high risk for the disease may rely on inaccurate testing instead of working on prevention.

According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, which are reproductive glands found only in women. Ovarian cancer occurs when abnormal cells in or near the ovaries grow and form a cancerous tumor.  Symptoms rarely appear until the cancer has spread and early detection is difficult.

In the U.S., ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among women. The National Cancer Institute says that in 2016, more than 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Those at highest risk are women who have reached menopause, women who have a family history of ovarian cancer and women with specific genetic mutations.

Women are encouraged to talk to their doctors about ways to reduce their risk of developing ovarian cancer, especially if there is a family history of ovarian cancer or they have BRCA genetic mutations.

Physicians are asked not to recommend or use tests that claim to screen for ovarian cancer in the general population of women because testing higher-risk patients for ovarian cancer has no proven benefit and is not a substitute for preventive actions that may reduce their risk.

Physicians are instead asked to consider referring at-risk women, including those with BRCA mutations, to a genetic counselor or gynecologic oncologist or other appropriate health care provider for more specialized care.

The Medical Board of California shared the FDA safety alert with its licensed physicians.

“The Medical Board’s primary mission is consumer protection and this type of information is extremely valuable in achieving that goal,” said Kim Kirchmeyer, Medical Board executive officer.

The California State Board of Pharmacy also helped spread the word to licensed pharmacists.

“We believe women who are considering such tests should review the concerns of the FDA,” said Virginia Herold, Board of Pharmacy executive officer.

To view the FDA safety alert, click here.