Fish oil supplements have been popularly promoted as a means of reducing cholesterol and heart disease. Personally, my doctor recommended I take 1200 mg a day to reduce cholesterol risk, and my bottle of Nature Made supplements proudly says it may reduce the risk of heart disease.
It is a common type of claim for supplements, not necessarily unique to fish oil.
Now there is apparently a study indicating the one pill a day plan may increase the risk of deadly prostate cancer by 70 percent:
Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements may increase the risk of aggressive prostate cancer by 70% | Mail Online
If the one study turns out to be medically established, anyone recommending the supplements is fair game for a lawsuit. Doctors. Supplement makers. Retailers. Website promoters. It is a huge potential opportunity for lawyers.
(Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if lawsuits started to be filed this month.)
So how do you protect yourself in the health niche? Not just from fish oil supplements, but for any health product you promote. You never know when a study may come out and it suddenly appears you are recommending a cancer causing product.
1. Include disclaimers on your website. If you are in the health niche you should already have disclaimers, including disclosures about supplements not being regulated. Since health and medical issues are so varied, persons should be told to always consult with their doctor before taking a health related product or supplement.
A product good for most of the population could turn out to be deadly or dangerous for persons with certain conditions, a condition you may never have considered. This is why you have disclaimers.
2. Double-check you do not have false claims on your site. A disclaimer does not "disclaim away" false statements.
3. If you are promoting a product you may want to indicate that claims about the product come from the manufacturer and not something you dreamed up.
4. Never use the word 'cure'. Sorry, but whatever you are promoting will likely not cure cancer, blindness, hair loss, etc.
5. Keep on top of your industry. You want your website to be a trusted source of information so visitors come back and readers rely on your recommendations for buying products. This means discussing bad news, such as one study suggesting increased cancer risks of 70% and perhaps doing additional reporting about any other study of the issue.
In fact, even if you are not promoting fish supplements, discussing this news fish story on your site could be useful to highlight how a product even doctors think is healthy to take can turn out to be dangerous. You can use this to impliedly suggest even though you are promoting what are believed to be healthy products, it may turn out in the future they have problems. There are plenty of examples in medical history where products once touted as healthy, or believed benign, turned out to be horribly dangerous.