TikTok video promotes unproven cancer treatment

·3-min read

A video with tens of thousands of views on Facebook claims a product called "TO-MOR-GONE" can cure cancer. This is false; medical experts say the cream is not a proven cancer treatment, and the man behind it was sentenced to prison for violating federal law.

"'To-Mor-Gone' Apparently it's a 'natural remedy that cures cancer,'" says the caption of a Facebook video published July 25, 2022.

The clip, also found on Instagram, stems from a now-removed video on TikTok. It shows a woman promoting a product called "TO-MOR-GONE," with text saying the cream is a "natural remedy that cures cancer."

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken July 28, 2022

However, medical experts say there is no scientific evidence TO-MOR-GONE is an effective treatment.

The product traces back to Samuel A Girod, an Amish man from Bath County, Kentucky who manufactured the cream and claimed it could cure skin disorders, infections and cancer. In 2017, he was found guilty on 13 charges related to three different products he sold -- including TO-MOR-GONE.

Girod was convicted in federal court for "selling misbranded products with the intent to defraud" and violating the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He was sentenced to six years in prison.

"This particular product is just an example of how information on the internet can be deceiving," said Roberto Pili, associate dean for cancer research and integrative oncology at the University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

He called the case a "serious felony, as the individual claimed a therapeutic benefit without registering the product with the FDA."

Pili said that registering products with the FDA is important for both patient safety and to ensure the product does what it claims to do.

"The promise of curing cancer cannot be used lightly," he said. "A cream that is able to treat any type of cancer remains an unscientific claim."

Timothy Rebbeck, professor of cancer prevention at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and professor of medical oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, also said the claims in the video "are not based on science." He said there is "no data" that indicates TO-MOR-GONE or similar products can treat or cure cancer.

Claims about unapproved natural remedies can be harmful because they may cause patients to avoid proven, potentially life-saving treatments, Rebbeck said.

"The treatments we have for cancer are very rigorously tested. We know they work if they're approved," he said. "I'm much more worried about what's in the 'natural product' that is completely unregulated."

The FDA warns consumers to "beware of products claiming to cure cancer on websites or social media platforms." The agency also advises against using unregulated creams, which may have potentially harmful side effects.

Unproven cancer cures are often touted online. AFP has previously debunked claims that grape seeds, lemon waterapricot seedshot pineapple water and dandelion root extract are effective treatments.

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