Consumer Reports: SARS

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The SARS virus, which has already spread to more than two dozen countries, has doctors working to contain the disease and find a cure. So far there are (current figure) reported cases in the United States.
Some online companies are touting a dietary supplement to protect against SARS. But Consumer Reports says don't believe the hype.

More than eight thousand cases of the deadly SARS virus have been reported worldwide. The United States has managed to escape the full fury of the disease so far. But that doesn't mean that people aren't nervous.

"It's an illness they don't understand."

"You don't know who's carrying it, who's breathing on you."

"It's scary because they can't get a hold on it."

Colloidal silver — a liquid with tiny silver particles suspended in it — is sold in health food stores. Consumer Reports medical expert Dr. Marvin Lipman says internet sites are claiming colloidal silver can help prevent SARS.

There's the official sounding SARS Research Labs. It sells a travel kit that includes four different colloidal silver products for $59.95.

The Dynamo Web site has a Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Alert. It says you can "Start protecting yourself today" with a colloidal silver generator that costs $89.95. says, "With the spread of the SARS virus, it makes sense to use colloidal silver regularly as a preventative and an immune system booster."

But Consumer Reports says people are being lied to.

"Silver may have some mild antiseptic properties, but it's way too weak to be effective against any generalized bacterial or viral infection."

In fact, colloidal silver is potentially toxic.

"With repeated use it can build up in your system and eventually cause organ damage and neurological disorders and it can even turn your skin a slate blue."

So Consumer Reports says it's best to leave colloidal silver on the store shelf.

Consumer Reports says the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have announced a joint crackdown on Internet marketers of "bogus SARS protection products" — including colloidal-silver supplements.

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