The FDA describes health fraud as "articles of unproven effectiveness that are promoted to improve health, well being or appearance."
When the use of a fraudulent product results in injuries or adverse reactions, it's a direct risk. When the product itself does not cause harm but its use may keep someone away from proven, sometimes essential, medical treatment, the risk is indirect. For example, a fraudulent product touted as a cure for diabetes might lead someone to delay or discontinue insulin injections or other proven treatments.
- "How to Spot Health Fraud" article by Paula Kurtzweil on the FDA website, last updated 02/25/2010