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Scammers Target Radiation Fears

Websites hawk drugs, devices that Americans don't need

But according to the FDA: "There is no public health event requiring anyone in the U.S. to take KI because of the ongoing situation in Japan."

In any case, KI only helps guard against radiation-caused thyroid cancer. It provides no protection against radioactive materials in other parts of the body. And KI comes with side effects, including intestinal upset, possibly severe allergic reactions and inflammation of the salivary glands, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some state health agencies have already issued warnings, with more expected this week, against taking KI or prescription products such as Prussian Blue, which can help in grave radiation exposure cases.

Protection detection

Other things to avoid, as Japan continues to grapple with its disaster:

  • Offers for other radiation protection products. Scammers might soon be trying to sell fraudulent protective suits, radiation "food monitors" or other grifting gizmos.

  • Emails from strangers that provide a link promising photographs or video from the disaster. This is a common ruse to infect your computer with viruses, some of which can give scammers remote access to your data.

  • Scam charities. Don't make a donation, whether by Internet, phone or door-to-door solicitation, until you authenticate the legitimacy of the organization. See this previous AARP Bulletin article on Japan scams.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.

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