Interested in getting a tan from the comfort of a chair in front of your computer screen? More than a million others apparently are, according to statistics from a website that claims users can get an all year tan by simply sitting in front of their UV-enhanced computer screen three times a week.
The UK site, ComputerTan, has received more than a million hits since it launched two months ago. The site claims users can download software which ‘recalibrates’ their computer screens to produce ultraviolet rays—transforming their computer monitors to the equivalent of a tanning lamp.
What they actually get is warning about the dangers of UV radiation, along with images of various skin cancers:
The site is a hoax, of course. It was created by a nonprofit cancer prevention group to raise awareness of skin cancer among young, the most common form of cancer in young adults. The site is dedicated to Karen Clifford, an English woman who died from skin cancer in 2005. Clifford’s friends and family worked with experts from the Queen’s Medical Centre to create the site in the hope of demonstrating “the danger of over-exposure to the sun.”
As improbable as a computer tan may seem, it apparently pales in comparison to the gullibility consumers have when it comes to potential cancer cures. Just last week, the Federal Trade Commission took action against two companies for marketing alleged bogus cancer cures.
The companies, Herbs for Cancer and Native Essence Herb Co., were among 11 targeted in a law enforcement sweep last fall. The FTC said all of the firms were making unsupported claims about the abilities of their products to treat, cure or prevent cancer. All but two of the 11 cases have been settled, the FTC reports.
The latest actions involve Mary T. Spohn, doing business as Herbs for Cancer, and Mark J. and Marianne Hershiser, the principals of Native Essence Herb Co.
The FTC said Spohn marketed Chinese herbal teas as cancer cures. According to her ads, 16 of the teas fought 16 types of cancer, while a specially formulated 17th type handled broader types of cancer.
The FTC Order prohibits Spohn from representing that any dietary supplement, food, drug, device, or health-related service or program is effective in treating or curing any type of cancer, “unless the representation is true, non-misleading, and supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.”
Native Essence Herb Co. reportedly made unsubstantiated claims that herbal concoctions, including blends containing cat’s claw, as well as Maitake mushroom extracts and the herb chaparral could treat and cure a variety of cancers, shrink or eliminate tumors, and prevent breast cancer. The FTC settlement bars the Hershisers from representing that their products prevent, treat, or cure any type of cancer. It further requires them to notify all customers who have bought their products since Jan. 1, 2005 that they should consult with a medical professional before using any alternative or herbal product to treat cancer.
- Considering alternative cancer cures? Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City offers a wealth of information About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products.