Curing Cancer With Social Media?
Social media brings us some amazing viral content. For those of us in the medical field, it’s great to see people sharing tips for healthy living and raising awareness for cancer prevention and the fight for curing cancer. But as with anything found on the Internet, we often let our guards down and forget to ask important questions. What’s the source of this research? Is this scientifically and medically proven? And who wrote this, after all?
As a breast cancer doctor who regularly diagnoses and treats breast cancer patients, it pains me to see the outrageous stories circulated and “shared” time and again on sites like Facebook. From “Curing Cancer with Coconut Oil” to “25 Reasons Why Turmeric Can Heal You,” millions of Americans are bombarded by false, if not dangerous claims on a daily basis.
But why would someone want to mislead cancer patients?
Put simply, the Internet is a scary place. Desperate people turn to the anonymity of social media to trick, dupe, and manipulate others for profit. In some cases, some “experts” turn to Facebook because they genuinely believe in the “healing power” of a certain fruit, vegetable, or antioxidant smoothie. While such posts are deceptive in their own right, there’s another breed of internet stalkers with far more malicious intentions. Behind these posts is the typical charge that evil, greedy doctors are hiding incredible natural cures for cancer.
So, is there really a conspiracy theory among those in the medical field?
Many posts will read like this: “The Truth About Curing Cancer and Essential Oils: What No Oncologist Will Tell You.” The idea that an oncologist would purposely withhold life-saving information or treatment is more than ludicrous. These claims are so blasphemous that it begs the question:
What are the motives behind these fraudulent claims?
For one, the majority of these viral headlines use inflammatory language and manipulative tactics to garner “clicks.” As unsuspecting, vulnerable cancer patients take the bait and open the article, the individual makes a profit. Times this by the thousands of folks who willingly share the link on social media, and scam artists receive a huge payday. If they’re not in the business of pay-per-click, unscrupulous companies may also fabricate stories to hock their poorly performing products. Whether it’s coconut or some essential oil, almost every post eventually prompts you to “buy it now.”
The devastation of a cancer diagnosis makes people vulnerable. Find a doctor you trust to answer your questions and explain your cancer treatment options; get a second opinion before proceeding with any therapy. This is something I’m really passionate about. Remember that you never need false hope when you have professional treatment and care.