/ Health

It’s not worth risking your health or home on ‘miracle cures’

Miracles on a sign

The internet’s rife with adverts and claims for clinics and treatments that offer ‘cures’. But if you’re tempted by untested claims you might want to think again, argues Tabitha from Sense About Science.

A new Sense About Science guide, written with patients and medical charities, explores the danger of untested cures on the web.

People facing long-term or chronic conditions can be desperately searching for anything that might help, and are especially vulnerable to exploitation.

Bombarded with unsubstantiated claims for ‘pioneering cancer treatments’, new diets and unfounded stem cell cures, patients can be left chasing false hope, exposed to crippling financial and emotional costs and risking serious harm to their health.

These treatment claims offer hope of finding something that will do more than conventional medicines can. But the evidence for many of them is unreliable.

Harm to your health and wallet

It’s easy to see a treatment or cure and think ‘I’ve got nothing to lose…’ but the reality is that people can risk, and lose, a lot.

Patients have told us about harm to their health – aggravation of their condition, pressure to stop taking medication, being exposed to risk of infections such as HIV via treatment with unscreened stem cells. And patients have also told us about the financial costs – parting with life savings, risking loss of homes or jobs.

There’s also the emotional toll: pressure from well-meaning friends and family to try things despite a lack of evidence to support them and, perhaps worst of all, the disappointment of realising you’ve been sold false hope.

Aggressive advertising for ‘cures’

Many clinics use aggressive marketing, by selecting the best testimonials, using pseudo-science, even posing as patients in online forums. Some of these treatments cost tens of thousands of pounds. This runs into the hundreds of thousands if they involve costly trips to private clinics abroad – sometimes leading to high-profile emotional public appeals from family and friends to raise money for treatment costs.

In response, we’ve been working with patients and medical charities at Sense About Science to publish a guide to help people weigh up claims about unfounded cures on the web and in advertising. Christine, who has a thyroid condition, told us:

‘After a saliva test an “alternative thyroid doctor” gave me “adrenal glandular” tablets and told me to reduce my prescribed thyroid medication. I was in a lot of pain, bed-bound for weeks and it cost me a whole year out of my life – not to mention the huge costs of paid carers and useless and misleading saliva tests. My advice is not to make my terrible mistake of trusting anyone outside the medical profession.’

Cut through the hype

The clear message coming from patients is that if a claim about a treatment sounds too good to be true, it probably is – but also that there’s a lot that you can do, including:

  • Get involved in clinical trials.
  • Find good evidence-based information.
  • Ask questions about evidence to help tell the beneficial from the bogus.

We live in a world where it’s possible for people to trade in this area. The web provides an amazing advertising space – one which despite best efforts, defies jurisdiction. From our point of view, the best thing we can do is equip people against this: armed with evidence and some critical questions, anyone can put themselves in a stronger position to cut through the hype around unproven treatments for themselves.

What do you think about ‘miracle cure’ promises made online? Do you know of anyone who’s been affected by this?

Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Tabitha Innocent, Scientific Liaison at Sense About Science. All opinions expressed here are Tabitha’s own, not necessarily those of Which?


Tabitha, thank you for posting this. Aren’t these all things people can tell Action Fraud, the Companies Investigation Branch and Trading Standards about? And sue those responsible in court for compensation?

What are Which?’s criteria for getting a guest spot? Curious to know.

I am all in favour of science though I disagree with this Charity on its pro-GM stance. Sciences can become dogmas but anything that furthers public understanding of misleading statistics and presentations cannot be bad.

I am a little confused as to why it has apparently two Charity Commission numbers : Registration history 29 February 2012 registered is the new and 1101114 is the old.

Hi Diesel, we pick well-knowns or organisations to write about topics they have expertise in, especially if it’s a debate issue that consumers would be interested in.

Thanks for the reply. Am I right in thinking this is a development of the Conversations concept as looking back over the past year nothing leaps to the eye as being from third parties.

I did think when the AllTrials campaign launched in January 2013 that it was an ideal vehicle for Which? to get behind as it obviously applies to everyone and has no contentious areas that may diffuse the support.

You can read all of our guest posts here Diesel, we’ve had Jo Swinson, Forum for the Future, the Soil Association, EDF, the Transport Select Committee, RNIB, Co-op Energy, the FCA, Friends of the Earth, Bridgestone, and more over the last year: https://conversation.which.co.uk/tag/guest/

Do remember that although we give them the platform to launch a debate here on Which? Conversation, we don’t necessarily back what is being said. We’d be very happy for you to email us with your suggestions for guest posts.

Thanks for that Patrick. Navigating around here I see that a few tricks are required!

So 68 guests out of 3080 Conversations in around 1250 days so roughly one in every 45 Conversation and 19 days. I cannot believe I missed so many. Still not every Conversation is a go to subject.

I wonder if information overload comes into this wth other sites to visit , and other articles to read. !!

Indeed there are many scam therapies touted on the internet, and where those responsible should be brought to heel. However, this should be viewed against the successes of quite a number of these therapies, where Mainstream therapies have been found wanting.
Many people find their way to these therapies after going the rounds of orthodox treatments which have failed them, and use them as a last-resort and in many cases, in desperation.

Much also depends on what is meant by “evidence-based information”……………

Wikipedia states that: ” Evidence-based medicine is the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.” Of course, you are meant to believe (pharma) medicine is only used because it is based on sound evidence it works, unlike all Alternative medicine. Firstly, apart from antibiotics, that is debatable it does anything at all for most diseases, and secondly, they have brushed under the table dozens of more effective medicines (e.g. Cancer, Nutritional Medicine), as well as the full story on the nature of most diseases. This medicine is based around money. It is money-based-medicine masquerading as Evidence-based medicine.

In 2012, findings published in the journal “Nature” show that 88% of major studies on cancer that have been published in reputable journals over the years, cannot be reproduced to show their accuracy. This means that the research findings published are flat out false. Author of the review and former head of cancer research at Amgen C. Glenn Begley was unable to replicate the results of 47 of the 53 studies he examined. This suggests that researchers are fabricating their findings simply to create the illusion of positive findings instead of publishing their actual results. This ensures the continuation of their steady stream of funding and grants.

So although scam practices and deceptions advertised on the internet and elsewhere should be dealt with and exposed for what they are, this should be balanced with conventional medicines own scam practices, which have also duped millions of patients into believing they are having the best therapy available, when this is clearly not the case at all.

Sense About Science is well aware of the issue of irreproducible results and is a leading light in the AllTrials initiative, aimed at achieving compulsory publication of all data in all human trials. This would have prevented Vioxx from being licensed, to give but one well known example.

SCAM fields such as homeopathy, reiki, cranio-sacral therapy, live blood analysis and so on seriously muddy the waters. Practitioners rely for their income on persuading people that the scientific method is invalid or that belief trumps empirical evidence. Their practitioners refuse to accept that medical claims must be supported by robust evidence.

Skeptics, particularly including those involved with Sense About Science, believe that all claims should be subject to the same standard of proof. All data should be published, all claims subject to rigorous testing. Most research supportive of the common SCAM interventions are published in SCAM specific journals the majority of which rarely if ever publish negative results.

I think a level playing field is absolutely appropriate, and so does Sense About Science.

Josephine Jones says:
26 September 2013

Thanks Tabitha and Which, for posting this, and thanks Sense about Science for the campaign as a whole, which I wholeheartedly support.

I’ll try to summarise here what I’ve already written on my own blog and on the Sense about Science site.

Anyone promoting unproven, disproven or unlicensed treatments or making claims which are not supported by evidence should be reported – whether that be to the ASA, the MHRA, Trading Standards, the Food Standards Agency, the Department of Health, or all of them. The harm that can be done by such unproven treatments cannot be overstated. People have died horribly and avoidably after taking the advice of quacks instead of that of their doctor.

In the UK, it’s illegal to advertise cancer treatments under the Cancer Act. Those doing so should be reported to Trading Standards, as well as anyone else in a position to act. Earlier this year, Amazon removed listings for several quack cancer treatments following customer complaints. During last year’s World Snooker Championship, Peter Ebdon had to remove a logo for Gerson therapy from his waistcoat following complaints to the BBC. While it is possible to sidestep the Cancer Act (for example, by not explicitly mentioning cancer in the ad), it is always worth taking action – to raise awareness of the problem and to further marginalise and reduce the credibility of unproven treatments, thus reducing the harm that they can do.

Despite a lack of evidence and despite the Cancer Act, there are countless unevidenced supplements and treatments pushed at cancer patients. They might read about them in a magazine, such as What Doctors Don’t Tell You (available in WHSmith and leading supermarkets) or CANCERactive’s ICON magazine (available in some hospitals, I believe). They might be recommended them in a book or on an online forum. Without looking properly at the evidence, the argument may sound convincing, especially to someone in a vulnerable position and willing to try anything that might give them a chance.

If you see a dodgy health claim, challenge it. Report it. It’s important.

Alan Henness says:
28 September 2013

Josephine Jones said:

“If you see a dodgy health claim, challenge it. Report it. It’s important.”

Lots of help and advice here: http://www.nightingale-collaboration.org/

(Note: I am co-Director of the Nightingale Collaboration)

Josephine Jones says:
26 September 2013

chrisb1 – I think it is somewhat ridiculous to say that with the exception of antibiotics, it’s debatable that medicine works, but I’ll reply to you nonetheless. There are indeed problems in the pharmaceutical industry – particularly relating to publication bias. You will be pleased to learn that Sense about Science are also addressing this as part of their All Trials campaign.

In any case, that is beside the point. If the evidence behind a particular medicine isn’t as good as we thought, that doesn’t validate quackery.

Josephine–that depends on what is meant by quackery, and who practices it.

As long as you are aware that Iatrogenic medically caused deaths are the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States, and that cytoxic chemotherapy is only marginally successful against two cancers: leukemia and testicular cancer, then we have to be careful about what this actually means…………….
If you mean that quackery is the exclusive domain of Alternative Medicine, then that would be a gross error based on the actual evidence.

The “one third” claim is fallacious in several respects. I realise that you are repeating it here so it can be discussed by a fresh audience, and I hope I can be forgive for repeating the facts I gave you last time.

Consider the case of a patient with severe coronary heart disease. They may have a close to 100% chance of dying in the next 12 months, and a 10% chance of dying under the knife during surgery that would extend their life expectancy by perhaps five years.

If the patient dies under the knife, then this could be counted as a medical death, but the overall results of all such cases will be a saving of many life-years.

The particular claim in respect of the US also includes maladministration of prescription medicines by patients – human error by the patient, is counted as an iatrogenic death.

It also includes people who die during surgery after major trauma, despite a perhaps 100% chance of death if left untreated.

And of course it ignores the millions of people who are only alive in the first place because of immunisation – the statistical methodology used has no way of counting these.

Human life expectancy in the West has roughly doubled since the advent of the field of medical science, many past killers such as infectious disease and trauma are now survivable or even entirely preventable. The result is that most people now die at a much later age, and under some sort of medical care. Our bodies are evolved for a lifespan which is now barely considered middle age.

I’d just like to take the opportunity to remind you of Scopie’s Law: “n any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses you the argument immediately …and gets you laughed out of the room.”

I wonder if the crackpots at whale would like to return to the paleolithic era, when few people died of cancer because they died of sepsis, starvation or animal attack before they ever got old enough for it to develop.

Aside: Hickey and Roberts fall for a classic fallacy of the SCAM practitioner, in believing that medical practice is governed by broad-brush statistical assessments of risk and benefit.

This might have been a valid criticism in the 70s but it certainly isn’t now.

A vast number of new diagnostic tests, not just genetic profiling but also specific antibody and enzyme tests, have been developed to refine and personalise diagnosis and treatment. The idea that quackery is holistic and medicine is not, is a grievous insult to GPs in particular.

What medicine does do, especially through groups like NICE, is *exclude* treatments that do not provide proven benefit commensurate with their cost. And there is more to do: a lot of screening tests are unnecessary and cause more harm than good.

The solution to the problems that medical science highlights within medicine, is not to abandon medical science, but to continue to refine medicine, as has been the case for the last century and more – to tremendous effect, I might add. When was the last time a doctor proposed bloodletting or purging to balance your humours?

Josephine. I was much helped by your first post which was informative. One thing I noted was there appears to be no legal way of dealing with things like this:

Obviously tens of thousands of people each year pay to stay at hotels, travel, in a vain hope of a cure. And no doubt there are other sites and other religions. Surely this is large scale fraud? I cannot see it mentioned it specifically in the Charities booklet.

indeed: “if the evidence behind a particular medicine isn’t as good as once thought, that doesn’t validate quackery”.

Depends on what we define as quackery. These should provide some good reading material…………..
Evidence Based Medicine: Fraud, Double Standards And Ignorance:

Evidence-Based Medicine: Neither Good Evidence nor Good Medicine
by Steve Hickey, PhD and Hilary Roberts, PhD

I also welcome the AllTrials campaign and Sense about Science, just as long as it is honest and impartial towards all therapies.

Chris, please stop citing whale as a source. Here is a partial list of the craziness it asserts:

* “Chemtrails”
* 9/11 “truth”
* Antisemitic conspiracies and hoaxes including the Protocols of the Elders of Zion
* Electrosensitivity
* Medical mind control
* Genocide via vaccination
* MMR-Autism
* Evolution “hoax”
* Alien abductions
* JFK assassination conspiracies
* Illuminati
* Crop circles “made by aliens”

I do not think there is any hoax, conspiracy theory or other form of lunacy so way out that whale.to would reject it.

whatever anyone’s take maybe on whale as a source of information, the article was written by Dr Steve Hickey PhD (Medical Biophysicist) and his colleague Dr Hilary Roberts PhD, so rather than look at the source, it is the article that really matters here. Perhaps, and more likely, they could not find another media outlet to publish it.
Whale does publish some outlandish ideas I will admit, but then perhaps they have an open mind and are prepared to publish anything with what could eventually turn out to have merit. After all one should consider all possibilities, even if they are rather cranky. I find some of them to be quite amusing and entertaining.

We should also bear in mind that approx’ 70-80% of what is practiced in your standard hospital or medical office has NO randomized controlled trial (RCT) establishing efficacy, so hardly EBM or SBM (Science-Based-Medicine).

We should all be aware of charlatans and those that prey on the unfortunate circumstances of others for the sole purpose of monetary gain, and where these people should be dealt with accordingly, but speaking from personal experience, this is not as widespread as has been portrayed.
You are well known Guy, for your antipathy towards anything deemed “Alternative”, and from my previous dealings with you, a word you describe as a synonym for “quackery”, but this just isn’t true.
There is for example a new report entitles: ‘Game changing’ economic report: Supplements could save billions of dollars in health care costs
September 23, 2013
Dietary supplement regimens may reduce the number of disease-associated medical events, representing the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars – and in some cases billions – of savings, according to a new report by Frost & Sullivan and commissioned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Foundation.

I suppose this is just nonsense and not supported by the evidence?

Cite the paper in a reputable peer-reviewed journal, or I will regard it as self-published wibble like the rest of whale.

Yes, I have antipathy towards the alternative. There is a very good reason for that: the definition of alternative is that a therapy either hasn’t been tested, or it’s been tested and found not to work.

The way to get respect for an alternative therapy is to subject it to proper, rigorous scientific review. Of course then, if it works, it will no longer be alternative. It’ll be medicine, so the alties will have to drop it 🙂

Incidentally, why did you repeat the false claim that “70-80% of what is practiced in your standard hospital or medical office has NO randomized controlled trial (RCT) establishing efficacy”? Several of us already proved to you that this is a false claim.

In practice estimates converge on around 80% of interventons being based on sound evidence, with around 2/3 on RCTs (there is a maximum on this value as some things cannot ethically be subjected to peer review). A lot of poorly evidenced treatments remain on the books, but there’s no evidence they are used any more.

The purpose of medical science is to critically examine the field of medicine. Exploiting the outcome of medical science in order to propose in its pace things which have a vastly lower standard of evidence, always seems to me to be hypocritical and not a little cynical. The science that finds issues in medical practice is the very same science that shows things like homeopathy, reiki, cranio-scral therapy and acupuncture to be worthless. Why is science only trumpeted by alties when it gives a result they like? Skeptics are like Cromwell: paint it warts and all. Hence the role of Sense About Science in the AllTrials initiative, as I’ve pointed out before.

It’s all about sound scientific evidence. One standard for all, a level playing field, no special pleading, no exceptions to a common requirement for evidence of safety and efficacy. Don’t you agree?

Guy – Your view on Phage therapy, acceptable medicine or not?

I don’t know. I have seen some work that looks plausible, others I know dispute it, but much of the literature is in Russian. I know that bacteriophages exist, but I do not know if they are therapeutically useful, or what the risks are.

It’s an interesting case, since the difference in acceptance is (for once) actually ideological – it seems to me to stem from the cold war. I suspect that the rise of antibiotic resistance will force an evaluation of the evidence in the West, whether that results in a useful therapy or a myth being busted I would not like to predict as I know very little about it.

That was a really interesting question, by the way. I found this in Nature from 2004: http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v22/n1/full/nbt0104-31.html


Ideological or a tribute to the value of patents and making money : ) Who would have thunk L’Oreal was in the game.!

I think the case is proven that phage therapy works and has done so for nearly 100 hundred years. A bizarre sort of nimbyism or medical fashions …..

However one can easily imagine 30 years ago us advanced Western scientists laughing at the primitive Russians and 99% of doctors would never have heard of it. Just goes to show how humility in understanding that what is accepted wisdom may not be the be all and end all.

And in no way is that comment an endorsement of quackery or faith healing .

I worked on phage-bacteria interaction in the 70s, funded by the Medical Research Council. Phage (or bacteriophage) are viruses that bind to and can destroy bacterial cells. There is nothing wrong with the science, but phage are much more specific than antibiotics, so the therapy will only be effective if a suitable phage is available to treat a particular infection.

There is a considerable risk of bacteria becoming resistant to phage therapy – probably more so than with resistance to antibiotics.

I think your last paragraph is wrong wavechange. Have a read of the various papers derived off the original link. This one is good if a decade old !! : )

” Regulatory approval is the major hurdle for standard mono- or polyvalent phage therapy. In the words of Harald Brüssow, “phagetherapy … challenges current pharmacokinetic concepts”, in large part because this is “the only medicine that multiplies”. The Georgian approach – to isolate new phages when the existing cocktail does not work – is unacceptable to North American regulators.

In addition, phage therapy is decidedly ‘low technology’. It is questionable whether drug companies would be willing to invest in the development of phage-based products without considerable confidence that they could make a profit. And the patenting of viral cocktails would be venturing into new legal territory.”

Phage Therapy – Everything Old is New Again [way back from 2004]

Sad isn’t it that something that is acknowledged to work against Shigellosis, affecting 90 millions a year, is so under-rated. Just looking at the Wikipedia article reveals the blindness to an “alternative”.

“Currently, no licenced vaccine targeting Shigella exists. Shigella has been a longstanding World Health Organization target for vaccine development, and sharp declines in age-specific diarrhea/dysentery attack rates for this pathogen indicate that natural immunity does develop following exposure; thus, vaccination to prevent the disease should be feasible. Several vaccine candidates for Shigella are in various stages of development.[4] Candidates in development include live attenuated, conjugate, ribosomal, and proteosome vaccines.[8] There are promising results for a vaccine against serotype 1, which otherwise show large resistance to antibiotics.[9]”

Excuse me but is it not a little sad that Western medicine sees and seeks only vaccines or antibiotics as a panacea.

Why waste time with Phage Therapy against Shigella when Colloidal Silver will do the trick effectively and economically.
Studies, such as one conducted at the Microbiology Department of Brigham Young University showed that Colloidal Silver inhibited and killed 16 various bacteria that typically cause serious infection such as Staphyloccoccus, Salmonella, Streptococcus and Shigella.

in answer to my alleged false claim that only 70-80% of what is practiced in your standard hospital or medical office has NO randomized controlled trial (RCT) establishing efficacy”…………

“Only 10-20% of all procedures currently used in medical practice have been shown to be efficacious by controlled trial.” Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress. Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technologies. Washington DC : Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress; 1978.

These include: spinal fusion for low back pain; minimally invasive hip replacement surgery; orthognathic surgery for TMJ; PET scanning for putative Alzheimer’s; TpA for stroke; statins for primary prevention; PSA testing for prostate cancer; CT scan screening for lung cancer; stents for the prevention of stroke and so on.

Dr. John Ioannidis’ model predicted, in different fields of medical research, rates of wrongness roughly corresponding to the observed rates at which findings were later convincingly refuted: 80 percent of non-randomized studies (by far the most common type) turn out to be wrong, as do 25 percent of supposedly gold-standard randomized trials, and as much as 10 percent of the platinum-standard large randomized trials.

I suggest you read this quite thoroughly……………

Dr. John Ioannidis on The Reliability of Biomedical Evidence……………..


Thanks. My comment about phage therapy was only in support of it having a genuine scientific basis rather than being a nonsense therapy.

I have not given much thought to phage for over 30 years. The 2001 review by Sulakvelidze et al. is the most cited review on the topic and reviews in the past decade have had very few citations. I can see several obvious problems with phage therapy. They are more specific than antibiotics, so a cockltail is likely to be needed. Phage can be stored, but they are less stable than a typical antibiotic. The first step in the attack by bacteriophage is binding to the bacterial envelope, and any changes in envelope components can decrease this affinity.

In view of growing problems with evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, perhaps it is surprising that phage therapy is not an area of intense research. I have no idea whether this is due to technical problems or the lack of potential to cover costs and make a worthwhile profit on effective products.

Fascinating though this is, I think our remit is to discuss the miracle cures and useless therapies that cannot hope to achieve anything other than giving false hope.


Fraud or viable? I take it you see my point that someone with comparatively little knowledge of phagetherapy but lots on Western medical techniques may decry someone who mentioned it as a possible cure. : )

As to the thread title – if we did not go off-piste it would have been very boring indeed. Rather like should we pay premium rates to complain by phone. Who is going to disagree!! : )

I am impressed you had ben involved in earlier years with phages. I fully accept what you say however surely the easy solution in our mega hospitals is to have a production facility providing not only cocktails but also patient specific phage injections. Save a bundle on antibiotics.

Alan Henness says:
28 September 2013

chrisb1 said:

““Only 10-20% of all procedures currently used in medical practice have been shown to be efficacious by controlled trial.” Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress. Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technologies. Washington DC : Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress; 1978.”

I’m sure you’re well aware that this has been debunked many, many times. To steal Guy’s phrase, it’s a zombie argument.

The figure of 15% to 20% comes from a small survey of GPs in the north of England in 1961 – half a century ago. Fortunately for us, much has changed in the last 50 years. Wouldn’t you agree?

But this survey was never intended to assess the degree to which GPs were evidence-based, but rather was looking at controlling prescribing costs in terms of generic versus proprietary drugs.

And please don’t try citing the bmj evidence figures: we both know what they actually say, not what altmed supporters would like them to say.

Chris: Colloidal silver turns you irrevocably blue and doesn’t work that well. You might as well ask why we use internal combustion engines instead of steam: the answer is that they work dramatically better. Phages may work about as well as antibiotics for specific bacteria (with caveats); colloidal silver does not, which is why it’s no longer used (since about 1940) outside the quack community.

ignorance abounds it seems, and in particular with Argyria: the skin turning blue/grey after drinking home made colloidal silver to great excess over a long period of time.

Guy, if you were to take a prescribed dose of paracetamol to cure a headache, that would be sensible would it not?, but the whole bottle in one go?

Or better still, drink ten gallons of water in the shortest, quickest time possible, and see what happens, but does this negate our need for water?

The actual truth is that CS is no longer used or approved as an antibiotic Guy because of the dominance and influence of the pharmaceutical companies in the 1940’s….$$$$$.

There are literally hundreds of studies conducted over the past 90 years at top medical universities in both Europe and America, which have confirmed the phenomenal infection-fighting powers of this safe, proven all-natural antibiotic substance.

Please do some research before making wildly outlandish and totally untrue statements.

Chris, the claims you make re evidence base for treatment have been debunked at length before. Rebunking them here does not change that fact.

the salient facts are:

* Most interventions by most doctors are well supported by evidence
* The number which aren’t, are an indication that we should work harder on the evidence for treatments in use, not in any way a justificaiton for throwing the standards of evidence out of the window.

It’s a classic bait and switch argument used by the SCAM industry. Point to some treatments in use that may not have robust evidence, and use that as justification for treatments that in general have no credible evidence at all.

There should be a level playing field, one standard, all treatments supported by robust scientific evidence, everyone bound by the same rules, don’t you agree?

Chris, you cited a website promoting colloidal silver quackery as “evidence”. How many times do I have to point out that sites advocating “alternative” treatments are *never* reliable sources for the legitimacy of that practice?

Colloidal silver is less effective than antibiotics, and can cause argyria (there are many examples, as 30 seconds’ Googling will show you). The special pleading of colloidal silver quacks changes nothing. Come back when you have reliable evidence in reputable peer-reviewed journals to support the claim that colloidal silver is of any meaningful use.

So, a site devoted to promoting colloidal silver says it’s safe and doesn’t cause argyria.

What do reliable sources say?


From which, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3582910/

“Colloidal silver is widely marketed as a folk remedy for diabetes, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, cancers and infections. Most reported cases of argyria had occurred following ingestion of 4~5 g. People believe colloidal silver based products as cure-alls despite its unsubstantiated claims of effectiveness against major illnesses. With an increasing number of reports of problems associated with silver ingestion, dermatologists should warn patients in regards to the use of colloidal silver for medicinal purposes.”

This presumably explains why doctors don’t tell you that colloidal silver is a miracle cure: (a) tit isn’t and (b) it turns you blue. It doesn’t matter what the dose is that turns you blue because there is no credible evidence it does what’s claimed, no reason to suppose it should do what’s claimed, and no control whatsoever over the cottage industry of assorted charlatans who promote it, so no way you can be anything like sure you#’re getting sound advice. After all, the only sound evidence-based advice is not to use it at all.

Your reliable sources on Colloidal Silver are well………….not that reliable Guy. ncbi pubmed may be reliable on other matters, but not in this case.

Let’s have a look at some very reliable and impartial evidence on the use of Colloidal Silver.

Why WebMD.com Slams Colloidal Silver; because they were paid $3.5 Million By Merck Pharmaceuticals.

Hers one study………..

and a whole host of others……….

I value what Sense About Science is trying to achieve, but with so many worthless and dangerous products on sale it is going to be an uphill struggle to discourage people from spending their money unwisely.

I think we will know progress is being made when homeopathy disappears from the UK. I know that sounds like putting the boot in, but it’s totally indefensible. There are three categories of people: those who know it to be worthless, those who believe in it despite the evidence, and shruggies. The shruggies are sucked in by false advertising and misleading point of sale materials; if all false advertising of homeopathy, including word of mouth, were to stop, and all over the counter sales other than in specialist shops for believers (with no real medicines on offer in these shops, since homeopathy defines itself by mutual exclusivity with medicine) then I would accept that as a sign that reality is in charge of the agenda.

Also, chiropractic should be illegal. There is absolutely no evidence of benefit beyond normal manipulative therapy, one signature treatment is known to be potentially fatal for no offsetting therapeutic value at all, and chiros are a hotbed of antivaccination and other quackery. So that would be another sign of a comeback for reality after the dreadful ascendency of the “new age” generation.

In the short term of course the ghastly rag “what doctors don’t tell you” should be expunged from the high street. It’s on sale in Tesco. Apparently the November issue will be a special focus on homeopathic treatment of cancer. I kid you not.

Consigning homeopathy to the history books would be a great step forward in tackling the lies and deception inflicted on the population. How the NHS is still spending money on homeopathy beggars belief. Please will someone tell the Secretary of State for Health that homeopathy does not work.

A serious point: this week I attended the AGM of a fantastic charity called Combat Stress, who provide mental health services to ex-forces. They were, I think, about the first group to actively identify and work with shell-shock victims back in 1919 (then called The Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society).

The NHS spend on homeopathy would cover a third of their annual budget.

Just think about that for a moment.

I’m recovering from PTSD (not combat related). It is hard to relate just how debilitating this can be. I could not drive a car for a year. I had to change jobs. I still have insomnia, two years after discharge from treatment. And that was *mild*.

That sum of money, a spit in the bucket for the NHS, would transform mental health provision for combat veterans. I am sure there are plenty of other similarly worthy causes.

Seriously? Why is this still even a discussion. If people want to waste their own money on useless airy-fairy nonsense then let them, but let’s not spend public money or accord public legitimacy to this idiocy.

Alan Henness says:
28 September 2013

wavechange said:

“Please will someone tell the Secretary of State for Health that homeopathy does not work.”

He already knows. From: http://www.dcscience.net/?page_id=6105 (6 August 2013):

“Jeremy Hunt renounces homeopathy on Radio 5 Live Breakfast show. The Health Secretary says that he signed an Early Day Motion that supported homeopathy by mistake. More likely, he didn’t know what homeopathy means. It’s quite encouraging that a politician as devoted to expediency as Hunt has changed his mind: it shows that it is now not respectable to support homeopathy.

Listen to the clip http://www.dcscience.net/Hunt-homeopathy-R5live-060813.mp3

If you would like to make a sample list of all these: “many worthless and dangerous products on sale” Wavechange I would be grateful, so that we could all benefit from that information.
Thanking you in advance.

Since when did politicians know anything about healthcare? as Jeremy Hunt majored with a first in PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics).

Presumably you don’t watch the reality-based news services so may have missed the news that a chiro broke a baby’s neck recently, the quack regulator to which he subscribed did nothing much, didn’t even report it as an adverse event.

The Chiro’ example is merely one illustration Guy; can you find any more? No health therapy is perfect as you should know.

Thanks very much, Alan. I am delighted to find that I was out-of-date. One small step for man, and let’s get rid of NHS funding for homeopathy next. 🙂

Please don’t provoke me, chrisb. You know that I am opposed to homeopathy and other unscientific claptrap. I am very grateful for conventional medicine.

It is understandable that someone with an untreatable condition, or with a relative thus inflicted, may try anything to find a cure out of desperation. However, untested and unproven “remedies and cures” are dangerous. The mainstream medical and pharmaceutical industries are well regulated and use scientific methods to assess the probability of a treatment having success or not. Nothing is certain, but it is irrational to put down this approach, based on fact, in favour of money-making witch doctors.
Work on our genetic make up may well point to more targetted treatments – just another complication that no doubt requires both resources and expert knowledge to exploit. Who, outside, has this ability?
“Conventional ” medicine has made huge undisputable advances, partly because of a rigorous approach to investigation and research.

Malcolm R
You mention that: “Mainstream medical and pharmaceutical industries are well regulated, and use scientific methods to assess the probability of a treatment having success or not”.

Is a common misconception and fallacy; the truth is that many studies conducted and financed by pharmaceutical companies, mostly come out in their favor (Vioxx for example).

We should also consider what has taken place in many healthcare trusts up and down the country within the NHS, where thousands of patients have died needlessly. My own Mother suffered the same fate of neglect and poor medical standards.

chrisb 1, I am, of course, sorry your mother suffered at the hands of the NHS. It is a disgrace that parts of the NHS behave in an improper and inhumane way, and that rarely is anyone held to account. However, this is irrelevant to the question of proven, or partially so, medical practices and medicines.
If those who purport to have cures, but trade outside the system, are confident in the ability of their practices and products to either cure or help mitigate the effects of medical conditions then they should provide evidence or subject them to scientific testing. If they do not then it strongly suggests their faith is less in the product and more in its commercial gain. There are sufficient people with the expertise to make independent considered judgements – a product or technique does not have to be totally successful, or to help everyone, for it to be useful. But it must have some proven use, and, importantly, safety.
Like in many of these conversations, some people do things without proper knowledge of what they are doing – the challenge is to help them make considered decisions. Truthful information is the only answer.

My sister died in the ITU at Durham. She was given marvellous care, we, the family, were treated with compassion, fed and given tea, and when she died the nurses were in tears. They laid her out in a side room with flowers and music, as a counter to the dreadful image of her festooned with tubes and wires.

That’s the NHS at its best.

My dad, by contrast, died after more than 24 hours waiting for admission to the “rapid assessment unit” in another hospital.

So, the NHS is, in my experience, a bit of a curate’s egg. Pretty much as you’d expect, given the challenges it has.

Medicine in the UK has some great critics, people like Ben Goldacre, Margaret McCartney, Phil Hammond and Gary Walker. These are people who propose ways it can be improved.

There are also quacks who knock medicine in the hope of proposing nonsense with parity of validity and esteem. The correct thing to do with them is to analyse their claims and expose them as the rubbish they are. Sense About Science does some of this work.

Alan Henness says:
28 September 2013

chrisb1 said:

“the truth is that many studies conducted and financed by pharmaceutical companies”

If not them then who?

Also, why does the same issue not apply to SCAM, even though virtually all positive papers are written by SCAM vendors, virtually all studies independent of SCAM find massively less benefit, and virtually all the supportive literature is in journals dedicated to promoting SCAM, not science.

My point exactly Alan: who would conduct studies other than pharmaceutical companies?

An impartial and unbiased group of scientists, with no affiliation to any particular funding source with studies not designed to produce a favorable outcome for those funding the science, would be good for starters.

This should apply to what you glibly refer to as SCAM, where many positive papers are written by those who use and practice it. The simple answer to this, which no one seems to have taken into account: no one will do the funding, (there is no financial incentive) unless you are a pharmaceutical company interested in producing a drug that can be patented to make huge profits.

Even if Vitamin C for example is successful at treating a variety of diseases and illnesses, there is little to any serious funding because Vitamin C cannot be patented. Vitamin C is very cheap and lasts along time.
This isn’t rocket science Guy, just plain old $$$$.

Alan Henness says:
28 September 2013

chrisb1 said:

“My point exactly Alan: who would conduct studies other than pharmaceutical companies?

An impartial and unbiased group of scientists, with no affiliation to any particular funding source with studies not designed to produce a favorable outcome for those funding the science, would be good for starters.”

Who would fund all the studies (Ph 1 upwards)?

Chris, as you’ve been told many times before, there is plenty of active work going on right now on unpatantable treatments. The assertion about patents is just one of the many fallacious arguments made by vitamin quacks to excuse the fact that their quackery lacks credible evidence.

The SCAM industry is a multi billion dollar industry that spends only a tiny fraction, as a proportion of income, on R&D – at least one and generally two orders of magnitude less than drug companies. A correspondingly greater sum is spent on marketing.

If there was any actual desire to test these treatments the industry has plenty of cash to do so. They don’t bother, mainly because they have successfully lobbied for exemptions to much of the consumer protection legislation that applies to drugs, so they can make all kinds of exaggerated claims and get away with them without any need to prove anything, even, in many cases, safety.

Examples of unpatentable treatments undergoing active research please Guy?

The issue of patents is not a fallacious argument Guy when it just happens to be true, and not only made by what you condescendingly and erroneously refer to as “Vitamin quacks”. High dose Vitamin efficacy does not lack credible evidence either, as you just ignore this to suit your own biased agenda.
Please try and not refer to anything other than Mainstream therapies as SCAM, because this just illustrates your own bias. Bias has little to do with science.
Yes food supplements are exempt from consumer protection legislation (needed for drugs) because Vitamins are food-derived (Nutraceuticals) and should therefore not be classified as a drug.

The claims are not exaggerated either.

Read these and you will learn something of value…………

The problem, Abram Hoffer M.D., Ph.D. had observed, is that no amount of evidence can persuade someone who is not listening…………….

Alan Henness says:
28 September 2013

chrisb said:

“Even if Vitamin C for example is successful at treating a variety of diseases and illnesses, there is little to any serious funding because Vitamin C cannot be patented. Vitamin C is very cheap and lasts along time.
This isn’t rocket science Guy, just plain old $$$$.”

Yes. Just plain old $$$$.

Over $221 million sales in 2011, apparently: http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Suppliers2/Vitamin-C-supplement-sales-edge-up-2.8-in-year-to-October-1

You’d have thought they could spend just a bit of those plain old $$$$ on research…

Chris: You keep citing an advocacy organisation. That is pointless. There is absolutely no chance whatsoever that the True Believers within the “orthomolecular medicine” movement would ever say anything else other than that the claims of the orthomolecular medicine movement are correct.

Please cite reliable, independent peer-reviewed sources. My review of these sources tends to find some evidence of investigation, some niche areas where megavitamin therapy may be helpful, some evidence of harms of various kinds, and absolutely no support for the inflated claims to “cure polio”, “cure cancer” and so on.

Science has been here before. N-rays were demonstrated by several believers before the entire house of cards was brought down. Benveniste believed he had demonstrated a repeatable effect, but once the experimenters were rigorously blinded to the samples under test, the effect vanished.

It is human nature to believe your own hypothesis. That is the reason why medical science came up with mechanisms like the randomised controlled trial and systematic reviews.

this report may help you to understand the cost-savings of targeted nutritional supplements, which more than offsets any research that is lacking in R&D for these.

September 23, 2013—Use of specific dietary supplements in targeted populations not only provides health benefits, but, according to a new economic report, also offers significant savings for health care costs.
The report, “Smart Prevention—Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements,” issued by the economic firm Frost & Sullivan, through a grant from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Foundation, examined four different chronic diseases and the potential for health care cost savings when U.S. adults1, 55 and older, diagnosed with these chronic diseases, used one of eight different dietary supplement regimens.
It demonstrated that supplementation at PREVENTIVE INTAKE levels in high-risk populations can reduce the number of disease-associated medical events, representing the potential for hundreds of MILLIONS of dollars—and in some cases BILLIONS—of savings…………….

Alan Henness says:
29 September 2013


You were talking about the lack of money for research and seemed to put this down to patent issues. I have shown you that, even just considering the Vit C industry, it is swimming in the green stuff.

Why aren’t they doing the research you seem to believe is needed?

1. You are citing a website devoted to orthomolecular medicine, in support of the claims of orthomolecular medicine. Please replace this worthless source with one that is independent, credible and peer-reviewed.

2. Any claim of drug X to treat condition Y, where condition Y is a new indication (source: IPO); also no doctor (at least in the US, uncertain elsewhere) can be sued for using any medical /procedure/; any generic drug for any indication; the tests of various unpatantable claims such as those of orthomolecular, homeopathic, ayurvedic and other therapies (albeit the results are negative). Also, patent expiration opens the door to a lot: how about Vincristine? A drug with many uses under active testing (and many more in use), patent expired long ago.

I am citing a website devoted to orthomolecular medicine, in support of the claims of orthomolecular medicine, because no one else will.!!! Or perhaps you think a Pharmaceutical company will do so!!!

Facts are facts whatever the source, and that includes Mercola where you dismiss him because of his name and NOT because of the CONTENT of his website, which = bias and prejudice.

GC – A credible source of information

Please see item 6 regarding high levels of Vitamin C for patient benefit. I am a moderate man and believe that there are many shades of grey in what is possible and what is not. Charlatans going after money is quite easily a black area.

Two of my cousins were diagnosed with terminal cancers several years ago. Their traditional doctors gave up on their treatment as it was having no positive effect on their cancers. They both followed diets and alternative remedies to try and cure or prolong their lives. Nothing worked and they died within several months of their quest for an alternative cure. I did not understand why they took this route rather than making the most of the time remaining until my brother was diagnosed with leukaemia late in 2011. I watched him go through the treatment and his hopes dashed each time they checked his blood cells. He even sought a second opinion from traditional doctors, most unlike him, and was told they could do nothing more, unless a new treatment became available. The hope in his eyes as the consultant mentioned this was so hard to see. Most of us facing death will I think grasp at any straw and sometimes this hope may keep us going longer than if we just sat in our chair, waiting for death. My brother only lived a few weeks after he saw the last consultant so I suppose I should be grateful that he did not start a quest for alternative remedies, or should I?

I have no idea what remedies I would resort to if I was facing death but I hope that somewhere along the way someone would stop me chasing a dream and making the ‘quacks’ rich.

Anonymous wisdom: “It’s hard to accept the truth when the lies were exactly what you hoped to hear”.

Few people are more deserving of contempt than the cancer quack. There is a specific law against claiming to cure cancer, the Cancer Act of 1939, but quacks still do this.

Marianne says:
28 September 2013

To echo Josephine above, who has written excellently on the subject, I have also tried to contribute to the campaign.

As a PhD graduate of a cancer research institute, and a person who (like most of us) has suffered personally the effects of cancers, the vast array of claims about fraudulent and dangerous cancer “treatments” that exist really are upsetting.

A huge number of people have worked hard to gain the knowledge we have now about cancer, and there’s a long way to go before we understand it enough to help everyone as much as we’d like. But we’re getting there and huge progress has been made.

Unfortunately there are those who would wilfully mislead patients and their loved ones to sell them products and services they do not need, and which might harm them even more. Some sellers are victims of deception themselves, unfortunately, and it’s often hard to pin down the worst offenders. But they have to be picked up on what they’re doing, because they are ruining lives.

People with less time than they expected should not be conned into spending money and time on scams – it is robbery on so many levels. Cancer treatment can be gruelling, but it can often offer real hope, whereas false cures sell false hope and I can think of few greater crimes.

We’ve seen a lot of publicity for Stanislaw Burzynski’s Texas clinic, where they use untested drug combinations (which he claims are not even drugs at all in most cases) on people who are often unaware they’ve signed up to a “clinical trial” that will never be published. The fundraising is reported, the false hope given when scans that have been misread are shown to the families as progress – but the death and the wasted money and time, the stress put on (often) children who are flown there – those are kept quiet.

We see panaceas dreamed up by strange people who think that bleach (in the case of “miracle mineral solution”) or other common plants/chemicals/lifestyle choices will magically cure all kinds of cancer and other diseases.

Never believe them. Ask for the evidence, report the offenders and let’s concentrate on developing real treatments.


Marianne, you may be interested to know that a 15-year long battle by the Texas Medical Board has officially ended its crusade to revoke Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s medical license, in an effort to end his use of Antineoplastons, as well as his combination gene-targeted therapy for cancer.
Two medical board informal settlement panels found that the use of these combination drugs on the advanced cancer patients involved was within the standard of care.
the case was set for trial in April 2012. However, a week before trial, the administrative law judges dismissed most of the charges against Dr. Burzynski which forced the Board to seek to adjourn the case to do some reevaluation.

You would do well to read the entire case here……………..

Chris: You clearly haven’t been following this case. It’s true that Burzynski got off on a technicality (esentially by throwing his staff under the bus and refusing to accept responsibility for what went on in his own clinic) but the latest publication from the FDA shows a third consecutive finding of serious shortcomings in the Institutional Review Board and all trials which have not yet recruited have been closed, all reference to the “antineoplaston” treatment removed from the clinic’s website, and FOIA requests show the likelihood of much more to come.

The BBC Panorama documentary recently was as sympathetic as a reasonable person can be towards Burzynski, and he still came across as living in an ethical vacuum, a personality cult.

40 years of investigation, 61 trials registered, one completed, zero credibly published results from any of them. Patients promoted as survivors on the patient group, who turn out to be dead or untraceable. Thousands of claimed successes, but only the same handful actually alive and talking (consistent with the expectation form previous treatments and spontaneous remission). Patients told that a tumour outgrowing its blood supply is “breaking down”, followed shortly by full blown remission and rapid death.

Mercola is one of the two or three greatest promoters of quackery in the world. Not only is he a believer in homeopathy, “toxic amalgam”, fluouride conspiracies and other nonsense, he’s even an HIV/AIDS denialist. Seriously. He denies that HIV causes AIDS. Oh, but he will sell you a supplement that cures AIDS, obviously.

Citing Mercola is only one step down from citing Whale. He has hosted the Burzynski propaganda movies (made by one of the brothers who produced the Truther propaganda film Zeitgeist). He’s a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a far-right group that opposes abortion (using long-debunked fraudulent claims), vaccination (again using long-debunked fraudulent claims), Obamacare and pretty much anything else that the mainstream medical establishment supports. Andrew Schlafly has worked for them, and they are associated with the even more way-out “Doctors for disaster Preparedness”, a prominent DDT denialist group,

Those of us who have been watching this farrago expect him to move to Tijana any time now, where he will fit right in with the many notorious notorious quacks who make their home there.

Bah! s/remission/recurrence/ obviously.

Alan Henness says:
29 September 2013

If only Burzynski would publish the results of all his ‘successful’ trials…

Burzynski has published the results and ongoing research as scientific-publications.
Clinical trials conducted in his Clinic are FDA approved protocols.


Not sure how he could. Of the 61 trials registered, only one is complete and several closed after the IRB inspection, without recruiting a single patient. I suspect FDA are winding up the rest as we speak.

Alan Henness says:
29 September 2013

Burzynski also hasn’t published any results since 2006, despite having conducted dozens of ‘trials’ on his subjects.

Chris: One of the many fraudulent claims made by Burzynski’s supporters is that FDA approval for a trial equals a validation of the treatment.

Obviously if this were true the trial would be unnecessary.

Burzynski has registered 61 trials in the last four decades. Of these exactly one has completed. He has not published full data from any of them. That’s 0/61 published. I cannot trace any reputable research institution with a hit rate that low.

Typical lead time from commencement of a phase 2 trial to publication is 3-5 years. As far as I can tell, 60 of the 61 trials (i.e all the phase 2 trials) were lodged with clinicaltrials.gov on the same date, 1 November 1999. There is good evidence that this was the result of his entering a consent decree in a court case to administer the drugs only under clinical trial.

For one trial to run for 14 years would be unusual. For 60 trials to run that long, with only one completed and none fully published, is to stretch credulity to breaking point.

And then there’s the issue of charges. Very few clinical trials are chargeable. Burzynski maintains he does not charge for the trials, but his case management fees are greatly in excess of the total treatment cost for many valid therapies. In the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And then there’s the issue of prognosis (his are not in line with oncologists’, and the oncologists seem to be right about the survival time of Burzynski patients).

And then there’s the issue of the institutional review board, its conflicts of interests and gross ethical violations.

And then… Oh, what’s the point

Please give an example of an alternative cancer therapy you consider bogus.

Alan Henness says:
30 September 2013

The BBC is suggesting ancient Chinese herbal medicine works for some cancers!

You want irresponsible? The next issue of What Doctors DOn’t Tell You (subtitle: because it’s complete nonsense) is punting homeopathy as a cure for cancer.

Q: What do you call someone who relies on homeopathy as a treatment for cancer?
A: The deceased.

Google Penelope Dingle for an example.

Thank you for that post and information dieseltaylor.

I particularly like the quote from Prof Wen Jiang: “Although a few successes, most of the traditional remedies are short of scientific explanation which has inevitably led to skepticism – especially amongst traditionalists in the West”…………..

……………and that would include the skeptic die-hards here as well.

I don’t believe I have ever mentioned that homeopathy is an appropriate treatment for cancer, although some have claimed that it is.

WDDTY has been described by the Guardian as: “containing information that is scientific, but is easy for parents to digest……….WDDTY provides much damning evidence”.

I fail to see how you can dismiss this quite so easily.

“What Doctors Don’t Tell You” may provide information on homeopathic remedies for cancer, and it is a sad and tragic story concerning Penelope Dingle, but it is reported that she conducted her own research and made her own decisions not to have chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

However, to highlight a case such as this, we should compare this tragedy with that of the dismal record of conventional oncology, which speaks only in terms of a “5 year survival” from the initial diagnosis.
The peer, Lord Saatchi, who lost his wife to a form of ovarian cancer in 2011, said he had been told by senior medical professionals that an estimated one in 10 people are killed by their cancer treatment.
Enough said.

Alan Henness says:
29 September 2013

chrisb1 said:

“WDDTY has been described by the Guardian as: “containing information that is scientific, but is easy for parents to digest……….WDDTY provides much damning evidence”.

I fail to see how you can dismiss this quite so easily.”

Do you often place a lot of trust in the Guardian when it comes to medical matters?

Alan Henness says:
29 September 2013

chrisb1 said:

“I particularly like the quote from Prof Wen Jiang: “Although a few successes, most of the traditional remedies are short of scientific explanation which has inevitably led to skepticism – especially amongst traditionalists in the West”…………..

……………and that would include the skeptic die-hards here as well.”

So, what do you believe the alternative is? Give up questioning how something might work?

How can I dismiss WDDTY so easily? Well, that’s a tough one. Maybe it’s the advocacy of provable quackery like laetrile, maybe it’s the number of misleading advertisements they publish (I think they have a record for upheld adjudications for any single issue of a supposedly mainstream publication), or maybe it’s the fact that their October issue will have a special issue on curing cancer with homeopathy.

As you rightly point out, even many homeopaths don’t support that. Though I see no evidence whatsoever of the Society of Homeopaths or Faculty of Homeopathy preparing the necessary prominent warning to prospective victims^wpatients that these claims are utterly without foundation in reality and should under no circumstances be believed.

In the end, there is a very simple reason why doctors don’t tell you what’s in WDDTY: it’s not true.

“So, what do I believe the alternative is? Give up questioning how something might work?

Of course not as that a rather silly suggestion, but at least Prof Wen Jiang has an open mind on the subject, and is prepared to investigate why the herbs in question work against cancer.
Why did you ask me to state the obvious?

Penelope Dingle was persuaded to forego chemo and especially surgery by her husband, an “orthomolecular” quack, and her homeopath. This much is abundantly clear in the coroner’s report.

As for the supposedly “dismal” record of conventional cancer therapies, which one are you referring to? The ~85% 5 year survival for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma? The 94% 5-year survival for thyroid cancer? The 83% 5-year survival for uterine cancer?

Cancer is not a single disease. Individual cancers may not even be a single disease: cancers are often heterogeneous. That’s one of the ways we can tell that quackery like homeopathy, black salve, laetrile, vitamin megadoses, hyperbaric oxygen and the like are not cures. They posit a single cause and cure for cancer with generally no recognition at all of stage or even class of tumour.

Cancer is a horrible disease, and a dreaded one. Cancer quacks are pretty much the most vile people on the planet. There is very little that one human being can do to another, which compares with pretending to cure cancer in that person or (much worse) their child.

In some ways, the more sincerely a cancer quack believes their own hype, the worse they are. The massive disconnect between the prognosis given to patients and the outcomes as far as independent data can actually tell with people like Burzynski, for example, means that his delusion amounts to a very cruel deception.

Quacks exploit the fact that medicine tries to be honest about cancer prognosis especially, offering comforting lies in place of harsh reality. They exploit the desperate for personal gain, usually but not always financial. This is inexcusable and, in the UK at least, illegal.

“Do I often place a lot of trust in the Guardian when it comes to medical matters”?

I don’t make a habit of it no, but then I suggest you research WDDTY for yourself, and arrive at your own conclusions (impartially of course).


Penelope Dingles husband was reported to be a “Toxicologist”, not an Orthomolecular Doctor.

[This comment has been edited for breaking our guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Chris: I agree, always keep an open mind (though, as I believe it was Carl Sagan put it, not so open your brains fall out).

When you test alternative cancer therapies like homeopathy, German new medicine, Essiac, Hoxsey, Gerson, laetrile, Moerman, superfoods, EPFX, magnetic therapy, Rife machines, therapeutic touch, Hulda Clark’s “cure for all cancers”, Contreras, Gonzales, Cansema (“black salve”), juicing, fasting, faith healing, antineoiplastons, colloidal silver, chelation, miracle mineral (MMS, chemically, sodium chlorite), “orthomolecular medicine” (megavitamin therapy), shark cartilage or urotharapy – to name only a few well known ones, they divide into three classes:

1. Those that are definitvely proven not to work (e.g. homeopathy, EPFX, Rife, laetrile)
2. Those for which there is no credible evidence of effect (e.g. shark cartilage, orthomolecular, juicing)
3. Those which not only don’t work, but are actively dangerous (e.g. MMS, black salve)

Cancer is probably the single biggest focus of medical brains in the world. The best, the brightest and the most dedicated medical researchers are generally to be found in this field. There is nothing – NOTHING – they will not try if it looks even remotely hopeful.

Anybody who believes they have a new and wonderful cure or treatment for cancer, should co to CRUK and talk to them. They will test it, and do so honestly. Mistakes can of course be made, but the number of tests and the consistency of results is such that any alternative cancer remedy – more than probably any other area of alternative medicine – can be confidently assumed, as a reasonable first approximation, to be fraudulent. And it’s the luck of the draw whether you get one that definitely doesn’t work, one for which there’s no good evidence but probably doesn’t do you any harm, or one that’s actively dangerous.

My challenge for every advocate of “alternative” treatments is: take a random selection of alternative treatments, selecting some form the set you believe in and some from the set you don’t. Using your usual research methods, such as reading the websites of advocates or checking testimonials, work out how many that you recognise as bogus, pass your test.

If your test can’t distinguish between, say Essiac and homeopathy or Cansema and MMS, then you need to ask some searching questions of yourself. You’ll find that people like CRUK are very open about what has weak evidence versus zero or evidence of definite harm. Are the sites you’re reading as honest as that? Probably not. You pretty much never find a critical statement about any form of whacknuttery on Natural News, for example.

Alan Henness says:
29 September 2013

Oh, I have.

Alan Henness says:
29 September 2013

I have no idea whether his mind is open or not and I’m not sure why you would have a better insight. What we do know and can examine is what he publishes.

Alan Henness says:
29 September 2013

chrisb1 said:

“However, to highlight a case such as this, we should compare this tragedy with that of the dismal record of conventional oncology,”

No we shouldn’t. Many conventional cancer treatments provide excellent benefits; homeopathy provides none whatsoever.

“Many conventional cancer treatments provide excellent benefits”.

Such as surgery for example? Quite amazing how Oncology uses “treatments” against cancer when the causes are unknown.

For your information Alan, cancer is now the second major cause of death in Western countries such as Australia, the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom. In the early 1940s cancer accounted for 12% of Australian deaths. (1) By 1992 this figure had climbed to 25.9% of Australian deaths. (2) The increasing trend of cancer deaths and incidence is typical of most Western nations. It has been said that this increase in cancer is just due to the fact that people now live longer than their ancestors did, and that therefore the increase of cancer is merely due to the fact that more people are living to be older and thereby have a greater chance of contracting cancer. However, this argument is disproved by the fact that cancer is also increasing in younger age groups, as well as by the findings of numerous population studies which have linked various life-style factors of particular cultures to the particular forms of cancer that are predominant there.

(1) d’Espaignet, E.T. et al., Trends in Australian Mortality 1921-1988, Australian Government Publishing Service (AGPS), Canberra, 1991, p. 33

(2) Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia 1992, ABS, Canberra, 1993, p.1

Dr. John Bailer, who spent 20 years on the staff of the U.S. National Cancer Institute and was editor of its journal. (3) stated: “”My overall assessment is that the national cancer programme must be judged a qualified failure”.
Dr. Bailer has also said: “The five year survival statistics of the American Cancer Society are very misleading. They now count things that are not cancer, and, because we are able to diagnose at an earlier stage of the disease, patients falsely appear to live longer. Our whole cancer research in the past 20 years has been a total failure. More people over 30 are dying from cancer than ever before . . . More women with mild or benign diseases are being included in statistics and reported as being ‘cured’. When government officials point to survival figures and say they are winning the war against cancer they are using those survival rates improperly.”

A 1986 report in the New England Journal of Medicine assessed progress against cancer in the United States during the years 1950 to 1982. Despite progress against some rare forms of cancer, which account for 1 to 2 per cent of total deaths caused by the disease, the report found that the overall death rate had increased substantially since 1950: “The main conclusion we draw is that some 35 years of intense effort focussed largely on improving treatment must be judged a qualified failure.” The report further concluded that “. . . we are losing the war against cancer” and argued for a shift in emphasis towards prevention if there is to be substantial progress. (4)

(3) Dr. Bailer, speaking at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in May 1985, as quoted in Bette Overall, Animal Research Takes Lives – Humans and Animals BOTH Suffer, NZAVS, 1993, p.132

(4) Robert Sharpe, The Cruel Deception, Thorsons Publishing Group, Wellingborough, U.K. 1988, p.47

So where exactly are these “excellent benefits”?

In my 60 years of existence I have known many many people (friends, relatives, close family, friends of friends and so on) who have developed one type of cancer or another; only ONE has survived to this day, after the remainder went the conventional route of Oncology (surgery, chemotherapy and radiation).

Alan Henness says:
29 September 2013

Hasn’t Guy corrected you on this many times before???

Global mortality by cause, the top ten:

1: Ischaemic heart dsease
2: Stroke
3: Lower respiratory infection
5: Diarrhoeal diseases
7: Trachea bronchus, lung cancer
8: Diabetes
9: Road injury
10: Prematurity

And in the high income countries:

1. Ischaemic heart disease
2: Stroke
3: Trachea bronchus, lung cancer
4: Alzheimers
6: Lower respiratory infection
7: Colorectal cancer
8: Diabetes
9: Hypertensive heart disease
10: Breast cancer

Ischaemic heart disease kills nearly twice as many people as stroke. More than the next two added together, in fact.

And I’ll warrant that a significant proportion of your friends and family are alive today because of medical science. Specifically, epidemiology. That’s what told us about the link between smoking and cancer, the link between water and cholera, the link between obesity and diabetes. Medical science produced insulin, making type I diabetes a chronic condition rather than a uniformly and rapidly fatal one.

Here’s another amazing* fact: people with access to evidence-based medicine live longer than those who have only folk medicines. People had access to homeopathy, acupuncture, herbs and other folk remedies for a long time, not one of these ever produced long-term survival for type I diabetes, lymphoma or anything else.

The thing that annoys me more than anything else about alties, is their relentless portrayal of medicine as a sinister industry committed to pumping drugs down your throat until it kills you. How many people, exactly, do you think sign up for ten years of debt, intensive study, long hours and relentless testing, in order to be able to profit from killing people? You think doctors are uncritical of “big pharma”? That’s patent nonsense. Read Ben Goldacre. If alties were half as critical of “big herba” as doctors are of “big pharma”, the SCAM industry would die out in six months!

* No, not really.

“Global mortality by cause, the top ten:”

Source please.

Deaths from non-communicable diseases rose by just under 8 million between 1990 and 2010, accounting for two of every three deaths (34·5 million) worldwide by 2010. 8 million people died from cancer in 2010, 38% more than two decades ago; of these, 1·5 million (19%) were from trachea, bronchus, and lung cancer. Ischaemic heart disease and stroke collectively killed 12·9 million people in 2010, or one in four deaths worldwide, compared with one in five in 1990; 1·3 million deaths were due to diabetes, twice as many as in 1990.

Wiki is a poor and unreliable source of information Guy.
This has been pointed out to you before, but have just ignored this.

Every time someone “points out” to me that “as you know” Wikipedia is unreliable, it always turns out that it actually is reliable but doesn’t say what they want it to say.

Seems that reality is reliably “wrong” wherever it conflicts with the sales message of the SCAM industry. Most singular.

Chris: The rise in deaths from different sources is evidence that the human condition is, at this time, universally fatal.

You have, it seems, entirely missed the point.

Medicine works, but imperfectly. Medical science improves medicine. To use the inability of medicine to cure everything as an excuse for therapies that have been rejected or discarded because there’s no good evidence they cure anything at all, is the core of SCAM advocacy worldwide, and is utterly ridiculous.

Wikipedia is not always an unreliable source that is true. However, at times, it can have false or mistaken information.
Wikipedia can also be susceptible to having errors because literally anyone can edit an article on the site. This means that people can put in false or mistaken information and there are no editors to fact check the statements. Other users may fix errors that they find, but little-known subjects with few experts may not get fixed because there are few people who know much about the subject.

However, the number one reason you can’t cite or rely on Wikipedia is because it says so on Wikipedia.
Wikipedia states, “We do not expect you to trust us.” It adds that it is “not a primary source” and that “because some articles may contain errors,” you should “not use Wikipedia to make critical decisions.”
Furthermore, as Wikipedia notes in its “About” section, “Users should be aware that not all articles are of encyclopedic quality from the start: they may contain false or debatable information.”

no I haven’t missed the point, as it seems to be you have missed all of the points I have made, and will make again no doubt.

I agree with you that Medical Science improves Medicine, but that is not the issue; the issue is whether overall health and the quality of life can be improved. Health is not merely the absence of a disease, and where Medicine concentrates on the “treatment” of diseases, rather than the “prevention” of diseases.

To a large extent Medicine has succeeded in many treatments, but in the majority of cases only “manages” disease.

Therapies have been rejected or discarded because the evidence has been ignored, rather than investigated, and where this was highlighted on the BBC’s health website regarding herbs in the effective treatment of cancer, and as dieseltaylor highlighted in this thread. What is actually “utterly ridiculous”, is that Medicine has ignored the alternative for far too long.

Chris, I am an administrator on Wikipedia, an email reponse volunteer, and I know Jimmy Wales personally. As an email response volunteer, I had the inestimable pleasure of corresponding with the wife of the late Ronnie Neame, shortly before he died, an exchange I will always treasure, and the slightly more dubious privilege of being insulted by Michael Winner in the Sunday Times and being savaged for daring to enforce policy on a biography that was the target of a truly deranged hate mob. I have a pretty realistic view of Wikipedia’s strengths and weaknesses.

I always advise anybody reading Wikipedia to check the references. Some articles, such as those on creationism and homeopathy, have had input from both sides (believers and the reality-based community, here; in other cases Greeks and Turks or Israelis and Palestinians), so are very solid.

At their best, these articles forged by discussion between deeply entrenched opposing views can be the best and most balanced source on the subject, anywhere.

Some articles have been driven off the rails numerous times and dragged back (cold fusion is a good example). Some have been battlegrounds for crackpots. Some are the site of protracted disputes. We’re on our third go-round with Ebionites, FSM help us. Falun Gong, cold fusion, NLP, pseudoscience generally? They were bad in the past but mainly settled now. But the Wikipedia community loves a good drama, and there is a dedicated crew of idiots who deliberately press the hot buttons just so they can point and reiterate that they were right all along (having been booted, in the main, for repeatedly insisting they are right when they aren’t). There are a few people who absolutely believe that one admin is part of a massive conspiracy over Lockerbie. It makes no sense whatsoever, but conspiracists wouldn’t be conspiracists if they were amenable to reason and Wikipedia is the most important place to get your crank idea presented, so they really do obsess about it.

The vast majority of Wikipedia articles are uncontentious. The contentious ones tend to converge on an accurate consensus view over time. The ones to watch out for are those with two dozen edits, all from an editor with no other interests.

chris b, would you like to postulate why the reputable cancer research organisations throught the world, such as CRUK, should not take account of the “alternative” cures if there was the remotest chance they might have some effectiveness.

your guess is as good as mine, but here’s the rub.

The well-known breast cancer foundation: Susan G Komen, who organize “pink-ribbon-day” in the United States have a Facebook group. Several people I know of have posted on the effectiveness and the “science” of iodine and Vitamin D3 behind breast cancer prevention and treatment there, for the benefit of members. Literally within minutes of posting, they were deleted with no explanation.
Year ending March 31, 2010, Komen reported approximately US $400 million in earnings; of this only $75.4 million (20.9 percent of total expenditure) went towards research.
If the Komen Foundation were truly running to find a cure, would it not make sense that they would be keenly interested in how a woman beat terminal breast cancer? In at least one instance, the Komen Foundation instead ran right on by one woman who tried to contact them to tell them how she used natural therapies to beat what mainstream doctors had said was terminal cancer.

Reported the woman:

“I was shocked an appalled when I tried to contact every single person of importance at Susan G. foundation. I had completed my traditional therapies, my stage IV metastatic disease was said to be terminal and yet here I am! No Evidence of Disease!

“I was euphoric and feel like God personally guided me through this process. Immediately I faxed, called, emailed dozens of people at Susan G. Komen foundation to let them know they can stop running.

“The only contacts I received were when they wanted me to give them money, ‘To help find a cure.’ Haha!

“I was shocked, betrayed, appalled and sickened that no one in the research department would call me back, … I got their fax and faxed off a release of information and also my scans, …. proof! Still, … no call back.

“I beat my disease, (i didn’t say cured) and no one cared, … not a one. No media, no doctor, no foundation gave (me) the time of day.

“The advocacy group I used stated that all foundations were like this.

“They don’t really want to find a cure, they want to keep searching and doing experiments so that they can keep their jobs.”

CRUK give good advice on prevention, but their research efforts are drug-based to the exclusion of all else, and the mentality of the current medical paradigm of only drugs treating disease.
Their 5 year research strategy calls for an enhanced programme of work in earlier presentation and diagnosis in radiotherapy and surgery, and in areas of unmet medical need. They also list drug development and drug discovery along with surgery as their main avenues forward, coupled with strategies for prevention (whatever that actually means).

So I am not particularly enamored with current cancer charities and foundations who fund their own limited medical research into cancer and its prevention.

Precisely. The “evil cancer industry” conspiracy only works if you don’t think about it even superficially. Actors in cancer research and treatment include:

* Charities
* Patient support groups
* The hospice movement
* Doctors
* Medical scientists
* Research foundations
* Governments
* Evil Big Pharma Drones
* Regulators
* Transnationals such as the UN

I’m sure I forgot a few. How many people must be in on the secret and not telling? I can’t believe it would be less than millions. How many people were in on the secret of Watergate? A couple of dozen? That got blown wide open. Bureaucracies, especially, absolutely *suck* at covering things up.

For the standard altie cancer industry conspiracy to be true, it would have to be simultaneously the most widely known and the best kept secret in history. There is literally no precedent in human history for anything even remotely approaching it.

It isn’t really a conspiracy Guy, and those taking part are not actors either. Medical Doctors/Nurses and anyone involved in Medicine are I’m sure a very caring group of professionals, but they are essentially entwined in a methodology that they have grown up in and educated to believe in as the only methodology.
Medicine has essentially become institutionalized ever since the Flexner report of 1910 and the adoption of the German-based drug/surgery model of disease-treatment to the exclusion of all else.

I have mentioned this before, and I will say it again; Medicine has much to offer and has made great strides in healthcare, but it has become dominated by the powerful influence of the pharmaceutical companies, which in the light of recent discoveries, place $$ before humanity.

Good lines of argument Guy. Make a pleasant change from the normal. It is nice to acknowledge that an enquiring mind has always been mans best tool.

Incidentally including medical scientists in the good guy list whilst speaking of cancer does mean all those carefully published and authored reports from the tobacco industry are also there. I wonder how many doctors knowingly said black was white for a a pay-off, and how many were plain gullible.

Anyone interested:
” When the government, through the Federal Trade Commission, tried to intervene against “hucksterish” advertising slogans promoting the healthfulness of their cigarettes, prominent otolaryngologists were recruited to defend the validity of the blatantly false claims.

“The list of recruitments who served as experts testifying on behalf of tobacco interests includes a virtual who’s who of leading otolaryngologists in the 20th century, including many leading head and neck cancer surgeons,” Jackler said.

In 1949, the average physician income was $11,058. In that era, a $5,000 payment — which was common from tobacco companies to otolaryngologists — represented a major inducement.

Even after the Surgeon General’s Report of 1964 definitively linked smoking with cancer of the voice box (larynx), the otolaryngology departmental chairs of four major universities testified before Congress in opposition to the findings.

“It was especially disappointing to discover that leading otolaryngologists took public positions exculpating tobacco even after the definitive Surgeon General’s report,” the study said.
– See more at: http://med.stanford.edu/ism/2012/january/tobacco-0123.html#sthash.efH9RONh.dpuf

On a philosophical note :

I think too much stress is placed on not dying as opposed to dying with dignity. Obviously in the West we have religious, social, and medical reasons for our aim in prolonging life. Perhaps its time to examine the concept. Particularly as the art of the possible in medicine grows monthly.

It will become a monster with rich economies being able to keep thousands of people alive well past when they ought to be dead in a world overrun with humans.

Chrisb, My guess is that were there any likely “alternative” therapies out there, any researcher would be investigating them – both for altruistic, professional and for personal reasons. What researcher wouldn’t want to discover a new efficacious treatment? So the likelihood is these alternative cures have no merit.

The difficulty is finding the funding to properly research and test potential alternative therapies, to make sure that they are both efficacious and safe. Altruism is great, but substantial funding is what is required. At one time, scientists in universities and research institutes could work on what interested them. Now its a case of selling well thought out projects to those that provide the funding.

The SCAM industry is a multi billion dollar industry, and it spends virtually nothing on research, only marketing. They have plenty of cash if they choose to use it, but they prefer to simply lobby for a pass on the need to provide evidence in the first place. That’s worked much better for them historically.

Hi all, thanks for getting involved in this debate. But please can I remind you that the topic is about miracle cures advertised online that can be very damaging to those who are taken in. This isn’t a debate about medical science.

The two questions that Tabitha has finished her Conversation with are; What do you think about ‘miracle cure’ promises made online? Do you know of anyone who’s been affected by this?

Let’s return to that topic of debate.

1. I don’t like them.
2. No.

Patrick I am not sure it is very interesting approach. :

Alan Henness says:
30 September 2013

What is amazing is that we see so many new ‘miracle’ cures for all sorts of things being advertised and sold on the Internet.

What is amazing is that we see so many new ‘miracle’ cures for all sorts of things being advertised and sold on the Internet.

What is amazing is that we see so many new ‘miracle’ cures for all sorts of things being advertised and sold on the Internet.

Day after day, after day…month after month…year after year…

With all these miracle cures, why haven’t all illnesses been cured by now?

Many of the claims made by alternative medicine vendors have been tested by the ASA and found not to be backed by reliable scientific evidence.

Some of the advertisers have withdrawn or amended the claims, many others have not. Many of the claims originate, in any case, elsewhere (e.g. the US).

In the absence of any credible mechanism to shut down fraudulent claims, and any regulator prepared to take n this task, the best we can do is challenge the claims wherever we see them.

This is the 21st Century. It is not acceptable to claim that magic can cure disease.

Perhaps someone would like to make a list of these “miracle cures” and even give their source of origin, websites and so on.

I linked it. Waiting for approval.

Hi Guy, we’ve published all comments waiting for a approval – can’t spot this one. Did it definitely go through? You might want to try posting it again. Thanks

Must be my fault then. I can’t remember exactly which link it was now! But these should help illustrate the problem:


Also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Health_fraud is a very incomplete list of health frauds.

I regularly get ads for Rife machines in my gmail inbox! Unbelievable that this stuff is still out there.

“Many of the claims made by alternative medicine vendors have been tested by the ASA and found not to be backed by reliable scientific evidence.”

Yes and we all know who the ASA relied upon as their “expert witness” in their homeopathic ruling.

Even the FDA will say you have committed a felony if you advertise that prune juice can cure constipation, and therefore prune juice must be classified as a drug.

Alan Henness says:
30 September 2013

chrisb1 said:

“Yes and we all know who the ASA relied upon as their “expert witness” in their homeopathic ruling.”

Which of the many ASA rulings against homeopaths; who was their expert; how do you know?

“Even the FDA will say you have committed a felony if you advertise that prune juice can cure constipation, and therefore prune juice must be classified as a drug.”

[citation required] as they say in Wiki…

these should help….

“That a man suffering from constipation should drink prune juice is a truth so fixed in people’s minds that there is only one place where people are still unsure of it: Rockville, Maryland, home of the Food and Drug Administration. However well known the effects of prune juice may be to the public and the scientific community, the FDA does not allow prune-juice manufacturers to print “This product may relieve constipation” on their labels. Manufacturers who do so face civil and criminal penalties”……………

This is a very good read (non-fiction).
Global Censorship of Health Information, by Jonathan Emord Attorney at Law.
Attorney Jonathan W. Emord Has Achieved The AV Preeminent Rating–The Highest Possible Rating From Martindale-Hubell.


The FDA and FTC state that it is not “allowed” to say that good food can “promote” or “maintain” health, but it is NOT allowed to say that good food can “prevent disease.” That last statement has now been declared ILLEGAL – it is “against the law.”

There’s plenty more where this came from.

So, those sources again:

* FDA Law Blog, which is not the FDA law blog but the blog of a law firm that acts for prominent SCAM proponents (i.e. it’s stating its opinion as advocate, not an analytical opinion)
* Volokh.,com, a conspiracist site
* A laudatory statement on the subject’s own website
* A book published by what appears to be a “dedicated Conservative group” (i.e. an anti-regulation agenda)
* ANH USA, a pro-SCAM lobby group
* ANH Europe, ditto
* Mike F***ing Adams, aka Health Danger, the most prolific source of woo known to man
* A “health freedom” advocacy site.

Would you care to reference a reliable independent source one of these days please? It may be that the underlying facts are accurate, but every single source you cite is ideologically committed to the SCAM industry so every single link you offer has a massive pro-SCAM spin on it.

Incidentally, I like Ken White (Popehat). His blog is hilarious, but reading law blogs regularly shows you that there is a world of difference between a press release stating the argument made on behalf of a client, and the findings of a court of law.For example, there are law blogs that argue that teaching “creation science” is constitutional in the US. It isn’t. The courts have historically rejected this argument every time.

For an example of the rare crossover where a judge lets his impatience with idiots rip, read the Prenda Law judgments by Judge Otis Wright.

The actual text ANH uses speaks volumes, for example:

“We are pleased to report that a settlement agreement with the FDA now allows selenium supplements to claim that “selenium may reduce the risk” of prostate, colon, bladder, or thyroid cancer. The statements must be followed with the disclaimer, “Scientific evidence concerning this claim is inconclusive. Based on its review, FDA does not agree that selenium may reduce the risk” of these cancers.”

So, they extracted a concession that they should be allowed to claim that selenium “may reduce the risk of” cancer, but the scientific evidence is inconclusive and there is no good evidence that proves selenium supplementation will prevent these cancers.

ANH thinks this is a good thing, and I am sure you do to.

I think it’s appalling. It’s treating cancer like wrinkles. Acme Expensive Face Cream “may reduce the appearance of wrinkles”, everyone other than an incurable optimist knows this to be tripe but nobody cares. Cancer is a teensy bit more serious.

I think any claim to prevent, treat or cure disease should be subject to identically high standards of evidence. Cancer especially. And that selenium claim would almost certainly be illegal in the UK.

I assume that most of those who try ‘miracle cures’ have chronic health problems that are either currently untreatable or they have not yet received appropriate help from conventional medicine. It is hardly surprising that many are victims because they are prepared to try anything that might help them regain their health.

The Sense About Science guide is easy to read, but I think warnings need to go into the helpful information produced by various organisations about specific conditions.

This could prove to be very interesting reading for you all……
Followed by Dr Days response…………