If you tune into any television or radio station, read any newspaper, or use any free social media you will find innumerable advertisements about the latest discovery to allow you to lose weight without dieting or exercise, improve your sex life, give you muscles that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger jealous or a bunch of other products or services.

They will offer your money back and you can double the offer just by paying additional postage and handling.

Let’s talk about postage and handling. I can pretty much guarantee that the cost of the postage and handling will more than repay the company offering the product. They will not lose money.

By the way, these ads will often mention that the product is “not available in stores.” To me that sounds suspicious.

Why would anybody who makes anything not want to sell them to stores to resell them to you?

Do you think they really want to sell one item at a time rather than many, often hundreds, to stores instead?

I worry about that. Perhaps it is that the stores don’t want to carry their product? Just thinking.

Now let’s talk about the products. There are clearly way too many to evaluate these products in this column. But, there are a couple of general principles that might help you try to figure out what are good and what to stay away from.

It is essential that if you buy something without being able to hold it in your hand and read the label that you know exactly what the product contains. This is particularly true if you are going to eat, drink or have contact with the product.

What you don’t know can hurt you very much. So reading the label is essential.

Of course, you can do this if you are in a store. Once you do read it, you have to understand what the product contains and whether any of the ingredients are potentially harmful. You may have to go to the seller’s website to learn the contents.

But in either case, if the label contains a lot of ingredients that you have never heard of, you have to be careful.

If you have done all of this, there is still no guarantee that it will help what it promises to help. I have no objection to your trying any of the variety of offers out there as long as you understand that, despite the claims of the slick looking guy or gal on the screen make, it may not work the way they suggest.

In fact, if you are able to read the tiny disclaimer these ads usually have at the end of the presentation or read to you by someone who talks so fast no one can really understand what they are saying, you will see that they make no real promises anyway.

And, even more important, as long as you are absolutely, positively sure that the product will not hurt you in any way, then I guess it is OK to try it.

How you will know “positively” that it will not hurt you is beyond me, so might I suggest that you avoid it in the first place.

Or, if you just have to have it, try it on someone else first. Who you choose is up to you, but I will not be available if you think you can try some of it on me.

Dr. Michael M. Warren is Ashbel Smith professor of surgery at University of Texas Medical Branch Division of Urology. Write him at michael.warren@galvnews.com.

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