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PITTSBURGH (CBS) – It cleans and sanitizes, but could an ingredient in bleach also be the key to curing disease?

Hundreds of people have been persuaded to think so and are now consuming it for a variety of health problems from hepatitis to cancer.

They’re singing the praises of chlorine dioxide, which is found in a product called Miracle Mineral Solution or MMS.

Chlorine dioxide is a disinfectant, which is very effective at killing bacteria and viruses – most often on hard surfaces.

But, the maker of MMS says when consumed, it can do the same in the body going so far as to suggest it can cure the incurable.

Despite the anecdotal testimonials, the company provides no scientific evidence that MMS is safe or effective.

They only say that if you start to experience some side effects, that means it’s working. Those side effects include nausea, diarrhea and headaches.

“I’ve never used or prescribed bleach,” Dr. Venis Wilder said.

Dr. Wilder said there’s been so many complaints about MMS, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the product.

“It can cause injury to the GI system, to your stomach and your intestines,” Dr. Wilder said.

In 2015, the Department of Justice sentenced the seller of MMS to 51 months in prison for peddling what they called a “toxic product” as a miracle cure.

Yet, not only is it still selling online, but people swear by it.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Barbara Greenberg says so-called alternative products like this often play on the power of suggestion and persuasion.

“What’s happening here is that people perceive an ineffective treatment as effective simply because of their expectations,” Dr. Greenberg said.

The company’s website says, “Due to the MMS product becoming ever increasing in its litigiousness, we unfortunately no longer take calls.”

So, we sent several e-mails in an attempt to demand some answers, but never heard back.

“I would not recommend this product and I don’t know any doctor who would,” Dr. Wilder said.

By the way, the sale of MMS has been banned in a handful of countries, including Canada and Ireland.

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