STONE: Certain medical practices can prey on false hopes – Odessa American

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Aug 22 2017

Its human nature to want a quick fix in resolving issues or problems. Getting maximum results with minimal effort certainly has its appeal. From Thigh Masters and Bowflexes to The Clapper and Ginsu knives, the promise for rapid results and convenience can draw consumers in like the late-night glow of the TV infomercials selling these items.

But, lets be honest, these examples may have yield their desired results, but most products end up being a total disappointment and waste of money. This is also the case with certain medical procedures or therapies claiming to fix certain ailments or chronic conditions. As a patient-consumer, its important to do your research and not let emotions or false hopes guide you into making a potentially expensive or even risky decision involving your health.

One item in general, stem cell therapy, has been getting quite a bit of attention of late. Many may ask, what are stem cells? Stem cells are cells that have the potential to develop into many different types of cells. Think of them as a blank canvas which can divide and become specialized cells within the body such as blood, liver, or muscle cells. Stem cell therapy acts by introducing these cells into some areas of the body, to which the stem cells can divide regularly to regenerate and/or repair existing tissue. Stem cell therapy has long been used by physicians to treat certain types of cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma as well as treating some bone, skin, and corneal eye injuries. But, while stem cells continue to be studied as potential treatments for other ailments and conditions, there are very few of these treatments currently that have been proven to be effectivelet alone safe.

With catchy, even gimmicky, tag lines like make me walk again, feel young again, or no surgery, no side effects, clinics (both in the United States and outside of it) are offering stem cell therapy to treat a laundry list of conditions. The problem with it is patient testimonials and gimmicky marketing techniques can be misleading. One resource beneficial in better understanding stem cell therapies is the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR). It represents academia and industry on a broad range of issues that affect the well-being of patients and their families, and strives to educate the public and government regulators on the basic principles of stem cell science and the realistic potential for new medical treatments and cures.

According to the ISSCR, when there is no existing or effective treatment for a disease or condition it is easy to understand why you may feel there is nothing to lose from trying something new, even if it isnt proven. Unfortunately, most of the unproven stem cell treatments for sale throughout the world carry very little promise of actual benefit and very real risks.

Many stem cell therapy clinics may offer the use of a patients own cells, also known an autologous transplant. In theory, your immune system would not attack your own cells if they were used in a transplant. However, the processes by which the cells were acquired, grown and then reintroduced into the body would carry risks. Here are just a few known risks of autologous stem cell treatments:

If you have thought about or are considering stem cell therapy, first get the guidance of your primary healthcare provider. They can help guide you in obtaining the right literature and evidence in help making the right decision for the safest and most effective treatments available. Snake oil salesmen exist in every industryincluding those wearing white lab coats. Choose your care wisely.

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STONE: Certain medical practices can prey on false hopes - Odessa American

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