Debunking Urban Legends, Email Hoaxes and Misinformation
Internet Rumors, Hoaxes and Scams
Why We Care
If your email in-box is anything like ours, you
see a number of urgent-sounding e-mails
with dire warnings about product safety,
scams, government conspiracies, etc.
Because seniors seem to be increasingly
targeted for some of the most pernicious of
these false-information e-mail campaigns,
Senior Resources and News has created a
senior resource section to debunk some of
the more widespread rumors and hoaxes in
the interest of senior safety and reliable
senior news and information.
No one knows better than SeniorResourcesandNews.com how important and convenient a
source of news and information the Internet can be. However, the ease of posting information on
the Internet is there for publishers with good and bad intent. We believe the senior population is
one of the most vulnerable to some of these online rumors and urban legends, and in keeping
with our mission of providing seniors with reliable and useful info and news, we are setting out to
expose some of the scams and false news items floating around on the Internet.
Phenylpropanolamine: The Bleeding Edge of a Scare Tactic
We decided to make the ongoing e-mail campaign involving the Phenylpropanolamine (PPA)
scare one of our first debunking efforts. This scare campaign has been very active on the
Internet since around the year 2000. (Which shows you how long of a shelf-life many of these
Internet rumors can have.) The irony is that this particular Internet scare campaign has its roots
in truth. In late 2000 the FDA issued a public health advisory warning that this drug, PPA,
contained in many over-the-counter (OTC) medications for cold, flu and appetite suppressants,
could amplify the danger of a hemorrhagic stroke, especially for women exposed to the drug for
the first time.
Cold and Flu Remedy Product Warning Now a False Alarm
Popular OTC remedies such as several versions of Alka-Seltzer Plus, Coricidin, Dimetapp,
Dexatrim, etc. were named as having PPA content in their ingredients.
In very quick order, the cold and flu remedy brands replaced PPA with pseudoephedrine; in
most cases, there was not as elegant a substitution solution for appetite suppressant/weight
loss remedies.
Pay Attention to the Listed Ingredients
Although almost all cold and flu remedy products have eliminated PPA as an ingredient, it is
recommended that you pay close attention to the listed ingredients of any product you
purchase, especially those intended for appetite suppression. PPA goes under the names of
Phenylpropanolamine, Phenylpropanolamine Hydrochloride, or Phenylpropanolamine Bitartrate.
As always, if you have any doubts or questions about safety whatsoever, consult your physician
or pharmacist.
Sick of Hearing about Flu and H1N1 Vaccines?
It must be Fall, football is on television, the World Series is around the corner and there is
constant news about upcoming flu epidemics.
News about flu strains, Swine Flu, the H1N1 virus, etc., is particularly topical for our senior
population. The WHO and CDC, along with the worldwide medical community at large all warn
that seniors are especially susceptible to the extreme and very real dangers of flu infection.
This season's Swine Flu, or H1N1 Virus, are a very real concern.

Supposed Risks of Flu Shots

However, with the annual news about the risks of flu infection for our senior population, there
are the inevitable Internet rumors and e-mail scare campaigns about the risks and dangers of
getting a flu vaccination shot. You've certainly heard them: a flu shot can actually give you the
flu or severe flu symptoms. Particularly in light of the strong flu season predicted for this
season, we decided to do some checking for you ourselves.

Dr. Oz Speaks Out

In their nationally-syndicated column, "The YOU Docs", Dr. Michael Rozen and Dr. Mehmet Oz,
take on the subject of flu vaccine myths. (This subject is also covered on their website,
Can a Flu Shot Give You the Flu or Flu Symptoms?
In a word: No. Flu vaccines contain dead flu virus. (Nasal Flu Mists do contain
significantly-weakened flu virus, but traditional flu vaccine serums do not.) There is no way a
dead virus will reawaken to infect you with the flu or cause flu symptoms to occur.
December is Too Late to Get a Flu Shot
While it is true that a flu vaccine shot in December is too late to prevent a flu bug infection in
October, flu viruses can remain active in the general population well past the beginning of
January. A flu vaccine shot in early December can protect you for 2-3 months of the run of a
potent flu virus strain.
As always, consult your physician with any questions or doubts about flu prevention measures
that are right for you!
What About Mercury in the Vaccine?
Multiple-dose vials of the H1N1 Virus vaccine do contain a tiny amount of the mercury-based
preservative thimerosal. The type of mercury in thimersol is ethyl mercury, which studies show
is ejected quickly from the body. Some thimerosal-free versions of the H1N1 vaccine should be
available in late fall-early winter.
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