The health ministry has taken the unusual step of urging major media to exercise caution before running ads for books promoting certain health foods, saying they could violate a law banning excessive or false advertising.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has reminded major publishing associations, including the Japan Book Publishers Association, the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association and the Japan Magazine Publishers Association, that such ads can run afoul of the Health Promotion Law.

The ministry said, “Such information stating severe diseases can be cured by taking certain foods or ingredients has little scientific basis.”

It added books containing such information and contacts for health food sales companies are deemed excessive advertising in the form of printed books for sales promotion.

Health food firms often advertise their books in prestigious publications to convince consumers.

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