O-T-C Products to Prevent Dementia Offer False Hope

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Sadly, no treatment has been shown to stop or reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Over-the-counter products and treatments marketed for dementia are worthless at best, harmful at worst. But their sales are on the rise—a testimony to the effectiveness of marketing.

As the population ages and dementia becomes a bigger concern, many manufacturers have seized the opportunity to prey on people’s fears with “pseudomedicine.” This $3.2-billion industry is made up of companies that operate outside regulations, often marketing on websites and social media sites like Facebook and Instagram with little oversight. They tout “clinical studies” that are poorly designed or lack scientific rigor, or they target unsubstantiated “causes” of dementia (like metal toxicity, mold exposure, or infections like Lyme disease). The products may even be promoted by an individual with a medical degree. However, this does not mean that the products are useful.

Such products offer false hope and delay appropriate care for patients who would otherwise seek legitimate therapies from licensed healthcare providers. They can also be very costly, with no benefit and the possibility of dangerous side effects.

If these products were that effective, their use would be widespread and accepted. So it’s important to remember: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.