/ 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?

Mark says:
16 October 2013

Chris, I took a look at Oasis and the information they have on the site. They speak very highly of their place and only of general rates. They also use what I would describe as the shot gun approach. You can have all the standard treatments and other nonstandard chemicals. They also offer many other things. There would be no way to know what helped or didn’t help. Independent verification of their results? The best you can say is that further work is needed.

Some cautions just looking at their home page.
“is your best cancer treatment option.”
“world’s leading authority in integrative and alternative cancer treatment”
“does not get you sick to get you better”
“lose the cancer not your hair
Not one but four testimonials.

Sounds to good to be true. I can see people making the trip to Tijuana thinking there is no harm in trying, but are they really getting anything?

Yes it does sound too good to be true, but the statistics speak for themselves and are verifiable.
Are they really getting anything?
Again the stats’ should answer this question.

I recall Guy and others mentioning that if anything “alternative” actually worked, it would not be called “alternative”, but actual “Medicine” and accepted into the fold of Mainstream.
What Guy and others fail to realize or admit, is that if any other alternative therapy was and is demonstrated to work, it is not investigated or investigated properly and then usually suppressed and denied on the grounds of so-called quackery.
I have always admitted that there are bogus alternative therapies that should be exposed for what they are, but quite a number of alternative therapies have been used successfully and against a large variety of diseases.
My own view based on much research over the last decade or so is shared by millions of others who are becoming increasingly aware of: the Big Three (”Organized Medicine, the Food & Drug Administration, and their overlords in the Pharmaceutical Industry”) where they have collectively engaged in a medical conspiracy for the better part of 70 years to influence legislative bodies on both the state and federal level to create regulations that promote the use of drug medicine while simultaneously creating restrictive, controlling mechanisms (licencing, government approval, etc) designed to limit and stifle the availability of non-drug, alternative modalities. The conspiracy to limit and eliminate competition from non-drug therapies began with the Flexner Report of 1910, and this is how we feel………………….

The clue is that they are in Tijuana, happy home of fugitive American cancer quacks such as Hulda Clark, Harry Hoxsey and Max Gerson.

Legitimate cancer clinics serving a US clientele are located in the US.

Mark says:
17 October 2013

How can the statistics be checked? They are a for profit organization that doesn’t want outside interference. Its one of the main reasons that they are in Tijuana. They could be using one of the tricks that for profit cancer centers in the U.S. use to improve the numbers.

Statistics very seldom speak for themselves. It could be they don’t count drop outs or people who do not return. It might be that the people who are able to travel to Tijuana have more resources and are in better condition. Its a mostly cash business. Comparisons are only meaningful if the groups are the same.

Mark says:
17 October 2013

“the Big Three (”Organized Medicine, the Food & Drug Administration, and their overlords in the Pharmaceutical Industry”) ”
I don’t see the conspiracy to limit competition from the non-drug or alternative treatments. There has been bad or unethical behavior by all involved in the health field. Many of the problems these treatments face is because of high standards of consumer protection. Some alternatives such as vitamins, supplements and homeopathy are almost given complete freedom. They are treated more like food than medicine.

I could have written this post for you: “The clue is that they are in Tijuana……………..”

Now let’s examine the real reason they are in Tijuana, along with all the other alternative cancer treatments: hounded there by orthodoxy for legal reasons, as the cancer treatment protocols do not conform to the medical paradigm………………..a much more accurate description of what is really going on.

you have exemplified what we in the alternative field have known for many a year: “I don’t see the conspiracy to limit competition from the non-drug or alternative treatments.”

This is because you are not meant to “see” this conspiracy to limit competition from the non-drug or alternative treatments. It is just labelled an alleged conspiracy which has no basis in truth, but it IS actually true nonetheless.

“Many of the problems these treatments face is because of high standards of consumer protection”, is yet another reason given on the pretext of suppressing alternatives. Most people swallow this hook line and sinker, because of the belief perpetuated by orthodoxy that alternatives are just quackery. This belief-system has been promulgated by one Stephen Barrett MD on his website “Quackwatch”, but has been countered with “Quackpotwatch”. Dr Barrett has lost most all the legal cases (and there are many of them) he has brought against alternatives in the United States, and made to pay punitive damages to the defendants.

Chris, they are in Tijuana because they insisted on continuing to make extravagant claims to cure cancer long after it became apparent that the claims were unsupportable.

I know some people believe they were “suppressed” but this is pure conspiracist thinking based on belief in the treatments and therefore disbelief in the science that shows the treatments to be ineffective. It relies on the idea of lone mavericks, usually with no relevant background and no scientific qualifications, developing cures that are not even hinted at by the large, well trained and well resourced medical research community.

Occam’s razor applies.

you will have to prove to me and others, that all these successful alternative cancer treatments have been thoroughly and properly tested by mainstream oncology, without for example the false conclusions reported for Vitamin D having nil effect on bone-density, when it is obvious to those who know better that paltry low doses of the same will have any effect at all.

When direct full body sunlight exposure will produce 20,000 ius within half an hour; so how would anyone expect a paltry 800 ius used in these studies, to have any real benefit. Would you honestly expect a 2mg dose of paracetamol to cure a headache when 500mg would probably be the required amount? Studies that are designed to fail will fail of course and give the misleading impression that Vitamin D overall has no beneficial biological effect.

I know that the Budwig anticancer protocol and the Otto Warburg cancer treatments have been investigated by Mainstream to a limited degree, but these “results” do not reflect the actual benefits as reported by those two individuals. Biased and prejudiced studies such as those are designed to be misleading and therefore worthless.
You will need to delve a little more deeply into this, rather than repeat the mainstream party line.

One Dr. Peres for example was diagnosed with a stage D2 prostate cancer which had spread throughout his body. In lay terms, you can’t have a gloomier prognosis. After he adopted a natural regimen based on a low-fat vegetarian macro-biotic diet, his cancer went into complete remission. Naturally overjoyed, upon his return to functional living he noticed that many of his medical colleagues actually appeared angry that he had survived.

Another example: Jenner, we know discovered in the early 1800s that milkmaids who had previously contracted cowpox were protected against smallpox. Jenner scientifically developed a vaccine from the crusty lesions of small-pox patients to inoculate others against smallpox. It took more than fifty years for the medical power structure to endorse his simple remedy for a killer disease.

In addition, Dr. Harvey’s monumental work on the theory of blood circulation was forbidden to be taught at the University of Paris Medical School twenty-one years after Harvey published his findings.

Currently there exists impressive statistical and clinical (case study) data on alternative approaches to reversing or controlling some cancers with-out the use of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. But covert politicking and overly rigid systems of testing and approval suppress these biological approaches that Americans are increasingly accessing.

Desperate cancer patients rarely learn about all their medical options; in fact, a full 80 per-cent of those who travel outside the U.S. for alternative cancer therapies are so terribly advanced in their diseases that it is too late, even for alternative approaches. This fact alone obscures the value of these therapies when they are promptly applied under competent medical supervision and not tried as a last resort, following, for example, chemotherapy. Chemotherapy alone can destroy a patient’s immune system, and biological methods usually require a functioning immune system.

Pathologist Charles Harris has written editorials about the “Cult of Medical Science” in which he says pseudo-science in medicine is currently a cult which inhibits innovation and considers participation in clinical drug trials (which have been designed by statisticians) as the work of scientists because these trials reject so-called anecdotal evidence based on clinical observations alone. But this narrow attitude is not real science which leads to discovery. It is merely indoctrination and a pledge of allegiance to the flag of pseudoscience.

There is plenty more where this came from.

The really astonishing thing is that so many people who support their entirely commercially driven operations, accuse medicine of suppressing them for financial gain, even though the majority of cancer research is conducted under government, charitable and other non-commercial grants. A question alties always seen unable to answer: how come the one-off, usually medically untrained “inventors” of near-magical and usually unbelievably facile cancer “cures” always right, and the scientists and doctors who get to the top of an intellectually demanding and competitive field, always wrong? Hoxsey was a salesman and former coal miner. You think he *really* knew more than the doctors? That’s simply irrational and there’s no point arguing about it any more.

Criticisms of medicine are an integral part of medical science. The critic you note, is part of medical science. Critics from the world of SCAM are, almost universally, totally ineffective, because they are unable to make rational criticisms but instead mix advocacy for unproven and disproven treatments with obviously nonsensical conspiracy theories.

The mistake is to use these criticisms to justify quackery. That’s just silly.

The All Trials initiative driven by Sense About Science will achieve more in improving the practice of medicine and medical science, than all the words published by alties. And it won’t kill anyone along the way, or even waste any of their money.

Oh, and don’t watch this weeks “Trust me, I’m A Doctor”. You won’t like it at all.

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

Please don’t use the word ‘fraud’ – it is in direct contravention of our T&Cs. We are not able to check the validity of your claims, so it’s better that you refrain from making accusations of fraud at all.

Patrick: I’m happy to restrict the word fraud to those where the evidence is unambiguous.

I freely admit that I take my steer from commentators rather than the courts (see http://boingboing.net/2013/01/18/cancer-quackery-news-stanisla.html) and of course accept that this might be problematic for Which?

Here’s a list of 187 bogus cancer remedies – I did a sample recently, all of the ones I checked are still being sold: http://www.fda.gov/drugs/guidancecomplianceregulatoryinformation/enforcementactivitiesbyfda/ucm171057.htm

What word would you prefer for people who have had their medical licenses revoked, or never had them in the first place, and who sell fake cancer “cures” until they are shut down, then move to Tijuana? What’s a good word for that? Will quack do?

Please just talk about the specific cases and the facts – that should be enough to debate the issue. Thanks.

Mark says:
18 October 2013

I’m not seeing the conspiracy, because they do such a very good job of covering it up. It is possible that some treatments may be delayed in reaching mainstream medicine. The alternative is to allow ineffective, dangerous or harmful treatments being established and then trying to get them stopped. This is not a better way.

I see the complete opposite concerning anecdotal evidence. Using anecdotal evidence for anything more than a starting point is pseudo-science. But, I will use a personal example. I have MS, which is a chronic disease without a known cure. When I first had the first signs, there were no treatments that could alter the course of the disease. There were many treatments everything from diets, vitamins, supplements, teas, homeopathy, bee stings, oxygen and list could go on and on. All of these had testimonials and case studies to back them up. People just tried things and if they were in remission whatever it was a success. When they had a relapse and a recovery they thought things could have been worse. Fortunately by the time I got a diagnosis the results of many good trials (statistics) were published. Almost everything came out negative or inconclusive except a couple of interferons. I was lucky and had a good job with great insurance and was able to see specialists. The recommendation was to start the drug treatment. I also started going to MS support groups.

My experience after 15 years. I saw more people get worse that didn’t go along with the statistics. The people who stayed on the drugs, exercised and were not over weight seemed to do the best. So far I’m a success story for the treatment. I can’t really known, because it could this is just the natural course of the disease. MS is a extreme example of how diseases or conditions have natural remissions, relapses and recoveries, but most have a similar pattern.

That list of 187 bogus cancer remedies is rather worrying to say the least, and should be prevented from sale to that effect, but I would take issue with one of them that I know of.

On April 21, 2011, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, released a paper on their curcumin research.
The researchers discovered that curcumin has an ability to differentiate cancer cells from normal cells and create apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells only, while actually promoting better cellular health in non-cancerous cells.
The MD Anderson Cancer Center were interested in how curcumin and other natural compounds affected adverse epigenetic influences from free radical damage due to pollutants and other sources. When adverse epigenetic influences begin, DNA damage occurs more rapidly than it can heal itself, resulting in a chain reaction of gene activation or inactivation that create cell mutations – or cancer cells.
The researchers concluded that curcumin (diferuloylmethane) exerts its biological influence through epigenetic modulation, a process that continues downstream staying one step ahead of adverse genetic influences.

In addition, a study from Zheijian Provincial People’s Hospital in Zheijiang, China indicated that curcumin is capable of inducing apoptosis (cell death) within triple negative breast cancer cells. Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a type of cancer that defies conventional therapy.

Even PubMed acknowledges curcumin’s anti-cancer capabilities for several different types of cancer………….

But I do not see as yet that Curcumin has become part of mainstream oncology: or ever will be?

Chris: The FDA lists curcumin because it’s touted as a “miracle cure”. Early and tentative results such as those at M. D. Anderson do not in any way justify the claims made for it on the various SCAM websites.

The FDA list is, of course, not exhaustive: these are just the ones they’ve shut down through enforcement action. I say shut down, most of the are still available and several are still actively promoted on quack websites such as Natural News (and of course whale).

If curcumin is provably curative, and better than alternatives, it will become part of medicine. The early results have not yet resulted in anything concrete on this, which of course doesn’t stop crank websites from presenting it as a suppressed miracle cure, in line with their long-term narrative of the naturalistic fallacy and conspiracist thinking. It is unfortunate that desperate people are continually sucked in by that kind of nonsense.

You’ll notice that bloodroot is listed. You were promoting this earlier. Have you changed your mind?

You will have to show me which post I made that promoted the use of bloodroot, as I do not know anything at all about that substance.

The findings on Curcumin have not been exclusively endorsed by M D Anderson, if you had read my post a little more thoroughly.
Curcumin is actually a traditional Chinese medicine that is used to treat diseases that are associated with abdominal pain. Furthermore, it was originally an ancient Hindu medicine that was used to treat swelling and sprains.
Curcumin (Turmeric) was first used thousands of years ago by the people of China and India. In fact, there are several stories that suggest that curcumin was used as far as 10,000 years ago.
It has many health-benefits.

But then along comes Orthodoxy where they will steal it as their own, and then proceed to claim all the credit for its use in their arsenal against cancers and other diseases.
Curcumin then till now has been quackery, administered by quacks, who go quack, quack, quack, but suddenly metamorphoses into science-based-medicine when Orthodoxy endorse its use.

Also, it is superfluous to mention time and time again the terms “quack websites” and “SCAM websites” which I find to be derogatory and insulting, so please refrain from using those terms again.

Chris: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/miracle-cures-medicine-treatments-sense-about-science/comment-page-2/#comment-1340059 is the comment where you promoted bloodroot.

Like I said, the results on curcumin are early and have yet to be properly confirmed. It would be extraordinary if *every* herbal remedy turned out to be bogus, and actually, contrary to the more outlandish conspiracy theories, biologicals have always been a fertile ground for exploration of new treatments.

The issue is the evidence base. I will wait to see what consensus emerges from the early and cautiously positive findings published to date. Most early findings are wrong, so this is the pragmatic and conservative approach.

lets be clear and accurate about this; you say that I promoted bloodroot, so here is what I actually said………..
“An almost identical version of the Hoxsey external paste has a history of successful applications on skin cancers as far back as 1850 in England, by a Dr. Fell, who got the bloodroot ingredient from Lake Superior Native Americans by way of European doctors traveling in America. In 1949 and again in the 1960′s, there were other American doctors who used the same paste successfully in the States.”

This is NOT promoting bloodroot Guy, just reporting its use, unless you think that “promoting” and “reporting” are in some way synonymous?

The “evidence-base” for Curcumin has been around for thousands of years, and used successfully over that time period in all kinds of health maladies.
It is so very typical of arrogant Orthodoxy to wait for “evidence”, when it is already substantiated by Chinese Medicine and ancient Hindu medicine.

Chris: You said

“Well here are the facts re’ Harry Hoxsey”;
“The Hoxsey alternative cancer treatment is actually a story of suppression by the medical establishment, cancer industries, and cooperating government agencies who colluded to ensure that his cancer cure was actually suppressed.”
“An almost identical version of the Hoxsey external paste has a history of successful applications on skin cancers as far back as 1850 in England, by a Dr. Fell, who got the bloodroot ingredient from Lake Superior Native Americans by way of European doctors traveling in America.”

I will leave it to others to judge whether this was promoting bloodroot or merely uncritically repeating someone else’s words.

So, do you now accept that bloodroot is dangerous and ineffective?

Incidentally, I Googled the exact text and came up to a page on crank website Natural News: http://www.naturalnews.com/027020_cancer_AMA_treatment.html – but although the para on bloodroot in your comment is a direct copy-paste of this, the rest of your comment is not, so if that was your source for that specific statement then you were clearly either gathering text form other sources as well, or paraphrasing, which implies that you endorse the text exactly as you wrote it, i.e. an uncritical endorsement of bloodroot.

Speaking of SCAM and Quackery, research using polls and questionnaires continue to show that 3 of every 4 doctors and scientists would refuse chemotherapy for themselves due to its devastating effects on the entire body and the immune system, and because of its extremely low success rate. On top of that, only 2% to 4% of all cancers even respond to chemotherapy or prove to be “life extending,” yet it is prescribed across the board for just about every kind of cancer. So by definition, and we replace the word Chemotherapy with “Alternative Cancer Treatment”, this would no doubt be outlawed, and those held responsible held to account, and by anyone’s definition: double standards.

Criticisms of medicine ARE an integral part of medical science, but then you have tried to convince me that medicine is subject to EBM and SBM, and with that being the case, it is a mystery how medical science, and in particular the science based on pharmaceuticals, continues to fail and do much harm.

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

False. This was actually busted by David Gorski just recently: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/09/16/two-percent-gambit-chemotherapy/

What they will do is listen to the facts and assess whether the likely additive effect is worth it – there’s no doubt that a lot of patients are desperate to cling to life and will only hear the things that sound hopeful (this is of course one reason we have the Cancer Act, because cancer patients are so vulnerable to comforting lies over uncomfortable truths).

In response to David Gorskis 2% gambit………….

According to the study that was done by the Australian oncologists, when a person gets chemotherapy, they have a 2.1% chance of survival in 5 years for all of the cancer’s included. The study was called “The Contribution of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy to 5-year Survival in Adult Malignancies”. This study took every randomized controlled clinical trial performed in the U.S. from 1990 to 2004 and the results showed the above Cancer cure statistics. According to that study, chemo is most effective against Hodgkin’s disease at 40.3% (ABSOLUTE numbers).

David Gorski also mentions the German biostatistician, Ulrich Abel PhD: after publishing dozens of papers on cancer chemotherapy, he wrote a monograph “Chemotherapy of Advanced Epithelial Cancer.” It was later published in a shorter form in a peer-reviewed medical journal (a lesser Journal perhaps, but still a Journal of note).
Dr. Abel presented a comprehensive analysis of clinical trials and publications representing over 3,000 articles examining the value of cytotoxic chemotherapy on “advanced epithelial cancer”. Epithelial cancer is the type of cancer we are most familiar with. It arises from epithelium found in the lining of body organs such as breast, prostate, lung, stomach, or bowel.

From these sites cancer usually infiltrates into adjacent tissue and spreads to bone, liver, lung, or the brain. With his exhaustive review Dr. Abel concluded that there is no direct evidence that chemotherapy “prolongs survival in patients with advanced carcinoma”. He said that in small-cell lung cancer and perhaps ovarian cancer the therapeutic benefit is only slight. Dr. Abel went on to say, “Many oncologists take it for granted that response to therapy prolongs survival, an opinion which is based on a fallacy and which is not supported by clinical studies.”

Over a decade after Dr. Abel’s exhaustive review of chemotherapy, there seems no decrease in its use for advanced carcinoma. For example, when conventional chemotherapy and radiation has not worked to prevent metastases in breast cancer, high-dose chemotherapy (HDC) along with stem-cell transplant (SCT) is the treatment of choice. However, in March 2000, results from the largest multi-center randomized controlled trial conducted so far showed that, compared to a prolonged course of monthly conventional-dose chemotherapy, HDC and SCT were of no benefit. There was even a slightly lower survival rate for the HDC/SCT group. And the authors noted that serious adverse effects occurred more often in the HDC group than the standard-dose group. There was one treatment-related death (within 100 days of therapy) in the HDC group, but none in the conventional chemotherapy group. The women in this trial were highly selected as having the best chance to respond.

So Mr Gorski would have been more accurate to start using the ABSOLUTE NUMBERS and NOT the RELATIVE NUMBERS often used by those that want to skew the results to distort findings and encourage funding of chemotherapy.
You simply will NOT find ANY studies done in America that critique/attack the medical industry’s use of chemotherapy.

Chris: That’s Dr. Gorski. You can check his publications on PubMed (Gorski DH).

Since he is a respected expert in the field and neither of us is medically trained or has full access to the source materials, I think I’ll take his opinion over yours, thanks all the same.

Food for thought:

“In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.” – Carl Sagan, 1987 CSICOP keynote address

Following the recent discussions of “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” (specifically related to Sense About Science and the “miracle cure” trope) I’m looking very hard for any evidence of alt-med and “miracle cure” believers showing this kind of intellectual honesty, and having a very hard time finding it. All pointers gratefully received.

I’ll answer your questions Guy, if you answer mine.
You have ignored most of them to date.

I don’t think I’ve failed to answer any substantive questions, Chris, only rhetorical ones.

I have just found one example that bears further investigation: the book Chiropractic Abuse: An Insider’s Lament, by Preston H. Long.

This doesn’t really count as I knew of Long through Quackwatch, but it is a good example of the kind of thing I’m looking for: a decently critical examination of problems within a SCAM profession.

Needless to say this critique has not influenced practice at all. I’d quite like to find examples of “miracle” cures that have been discarded by the SCAM community after the evidence showed them to be useless or dangerous.

The number of sites selling aristolchia is now very tiny, which I guess might meet this criterion, but in this case it was not due to the industry but due to medical and regulatory actions after a series of cases of neophropathy and cancer were found.

I’m finding it really difficult to track any sort of open discussion of solid evidence-based approaches to treatment in SCAM.

Mark says:
19 October 2013

Guy, I think this is the key to being part of the SCAM industry. No matter what the evidence is as long as was once part of practice it continues to be used. Contrary evidence is discounted using one of many excuses….big pharma and other conspiracies, work not done by skilled Drs., testimonials disagree, look how bad something else is why are picking on me, its harmless, the patients like it, trials don’t reflect actual practice, on and on. Homeopathy, naturopathy and chiropathy come to mind as the major players in my area.

Just saw an advertisement from a chiropractor for the DRX-9000. The claim is that if you use it you can avoid the knife. It is a very expensive machine that requires many trips over months. Is it really any better than not doing anything? Many people with back pain get the message that if it doesn’t get better we will have to have surgery.

it is a rather naive view to state that: “the key to being part of the SCAM industry is no matter what the evidence is, as long as was once part of practice it continues to be used”.

Do you really believe that therapies that have stood the test of time have done so because they do not work?
If a therapy did not work, it would eventually be abandoned by those who use it, and fall by the wayside.


You say that a therapy would be abandoned if it did not work. May I remind you that we still have homeopathy after 200 years. 🙁

One of these days, you may be very grateful of conventional medicine.

Chris: They have not necessarily “stood the test of time” – current TCM and acupuncture, for example, is largely a creature of Mao; chiropractic was invented from whole cloth in the 1890s.

But the fallacy of that idea is readily demonstrated. Christianity, Islam and Judaism have all “stood the test of time”, each claims to be the one true faith, each claims that the others are wrong. Many other religions also exist, and have done for millennia, many of them are also mutually exclusive.

All that is required is believers who cling tenaciously to a belief in spite of the evidence.

In 1972, MSKCC started testing amygdalin / laetrile (different but closely related). Same story as many other alt-med tropes: initial studies showed a meaningful effect in (uncontrolled small-scale) animal models, early results were leaked to laetrile believers and shouted to the rooftops as conclusive proof, subsequent more rigorous tests showed the early results to be down to observer bias, proper tests on 14 different tumour systems showed no evidence of effect in any of them, scientifically inconsequential errors in a report were picked up as evidence of “suppression” (Ralph Moss built an entire career on that one claim), and the standard narrative of “suppressed” miracle cure was established.

There have been many tests, all have shown no useful effect. There have been meta-analyses. They show no useful effect. Trials continued to the early 80s showing no beneficial effect and evidence of side effects due to the fact that laetrile contains cyanide. And now the trials have stopped because they are unethical: it is toxic, it doesn’t work, there is no ethical justification for subjecting volunteers to this treatment, there is no new knowledge to be gained, the scientific question is settled.

Laetrile has been known not to work for 30 years but it is still promoted as a “miracle” cure by numerous quack clinics, including the notorious Oasis of Hope. Ernesto Contreras was a believer. William Kelley told Steve McQueen that he could cure his mesothelioma using coffee enemas, laetrile and other quack nostrums. McQueen went to Mexico to Kelley’s clinic where he died of his mesothelioma, laetrile and the other nostrums made no difference at all.

Laetrile is big business. Jason Vale made at least half a million dollars selling it illegally. This is not “big pharma” versus “little alt med”, it is a case of a therapy that is known not to work, sold for profit by people who one has to conclude absolutely believe in it. They only see what they want to see, so they never see the truth.

G. Edward Griffin’s research evolved into his groundbreaking book, World Without Cancer. This book not only explained laetrile and chronicled several cancer cures, but also chronicles his investigation into the cancer industry’s efforts at keeping alternative cancer cures from the light of day. That’s how he discovered that the Sloane-Kettering Cancer Institute had buried documentation from their scientists’ research, which proved laetrile was “highly effective” at curing cancer.
Griffin explains how he received those documents himself from an insider, who had been told to cover up that evidence and claim that laetrile was worthless.

The FDA banned Laetrile in 1971, but why would they ban a harmless and non-toxic substance such as this? Laetrile is derived directly from a food substance in nature and not chemically developed in a laboratory, it is impossible to patent.

Here is the real story by G Edward Griffin……

Mark says:
20 October 2013

Chris, Treatments once started are very hard to stop. People seem to benefit from even harmful treatments and if it is a placebo treatment its even harder to stop. Wavechange pointed out homeopathy which has had 100’s of years to find even ONE effective remedy. Naturopathy even still requires homeopathy as a graduation requirement. If you have a mix of effective and ineffective treatments, it is much easier to have a very loyal following. When people have success with illness that ends naturally, the treatments with poor results are thought not necessarily failed treatments. This is why I think it is very important to only use treatments that have a very strong evidence base.

I think it was a big mistake to have homeopathic remedies not have the same requirements as the big pharma ones. A drug is a drug and given special treatment to the ones made by homeopaths is a big mistake.

“TCM and acupuncture, for example, is largely a creature of Mao”.

As you seem to believe that NCCAM is a reliable source of information, they have this to say on TCM……..
“Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) originated in ancient China and has evolved over thousands of years”.
Calls by western trained doctors to ban traditional Chinese medicine were rejected by the National Medical Assembly in Shanghai on 17 March 1929. This day is still celebrated every year as Chinese Doctors’ Day.
TCM remained in the shadow of western medicine until the Long March of 1934-5. Without drugs, anesthetics or surgery, vast numbers of sick and wounded soldiers faced death until doctors of traditional Chinese medicine achieved amazing results using acupuncture and other traditional methods of treatment.

From then on, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and western medicine were practiced side by side in China. Under the People’s Republic of China, established in 1948, all branches of TCM were nurtured and encouraged to grow, because of its efficacy. By 1978, whole hospitals and research departments were devoted to the practice of TCM.

I agree with you that once treatments are started they are very hard to stop. I know of mainstream oncology treatments that are said to have been given because the oncologist should offer something in the way of hope, even if that hope is all the patient has, and if the treatment-success is considered to be marginal at best.

Psychology plays a large part in any healthcare system and the placebo-effect as a result, but when you weigh the evidence for and against, many alternative therapies, esp’ cancer therapies are actually successful in eradicating cancers.

Dr Johanna Budwig for example, who was nominated 7 times for the Nobel prize, and who was the leading biochemist in Germany of her generation, successfully treated cancers with an all natural protocol. This was as a result of her scientific research into cancers and their causes which was reported to have had a 90% success rate in curing cancer, even with patients who were given days or even hours to live.
Her protocol is very inexpensive, so she had no underlying motive to promote it, so when confronted by a Medical team who visited her in Germany from the USA, and informed that she did not make any money from her therapy, they returned to the United States, uninterested in her methods.

Make no mistake, there are SCAM practices on both sides of the health equation, and all of them should be exposed for what they are, and dismissed or banned from use, but it is the alter-ego and arrogance of much of Institutionalized Medicine that dismisses much of what alternatives have to offer, rather than what really matters most: patient outcomes.

It is conspicuous by its absence, that Guy (who is a stalwart of what is known as Medical Science) has yet to answer my questions on Natural Healthcare, such as whether there has been any independent, impartial and unbiased investigations into the anticancer Budwig protocol, or even that of Hoxsey or Gerson, and others This should speak volumes for his approach and denialism that pervades much of Mainstream Medical care.

Remedies and treatments such as that of Homeopathy, which I have posted on many times, do show effective use well over and above that of placebo and in particular the video proving its efficacy…………….

Instead of being investigated by Mainstream, they are just dismissed by them as the work of charlatans and mere quackery, proving my point even further, that these therapies are subjected to autocratic opinion, and substantial medical arrogance.

chrisb1, are you saying that Dr Johanna Budwig cured 90% of the cancers with which she was presented? Are you also saying no-one was interested? If her methods were so effective, why was the USA the only party assessing her?

Malcolm R,
yes I am saying that Dr Johanna Budwig cured 90% or more of cancers with which she was presented, AND that the Medical team who came from the USA, who had heard of her success, and went to visit her and syudy her methods, ignored her treatment protocol because there was no financial incentive to do so. This is the testimony from Dr Budwig herself.

The cancer industry did not accept her results, and the Central Committee for Cancer Research ended up taking her to court over her claims. However, the case was thrown out following the acceptance that her findings were backed up by solid research and results. She stuck to her belief that cancer could indeed be prevented and even cured through diet alone, as long as the strict diet was adhered to. Of this there is no doubt whatsoever.

It’s remarkable how medicine is so consistently wrong and those dismissed as quacks so consistently right, even when they have absolutely no medical training whatsoever.

It seems that the more you know about the human body, especially cancer, the less competent you become to assess it, and the more you succumb to the narrative of cancer as a complex set of heterogeneous diseases with diverse causes, triggers and physiologies, the more unable you are to see The Truth that it is totally cured by apricot pips, coffee enemas, a sugar-free diet, chlorophyll, hyperbaric oxygen, drinking bleach, injecting hydrogen peroxide or whatever else is on offer.

No doubt it’s all due to the profit motive. Thank goodness that “alternative” practitioners all do it out of altruism and never make vast fortunes from it.


“What she (Dr. Johanna Budwig) has demonstrated to my initial disbelief but lately, to my complete satisfaction in my practice is: CANCER IS EASILY CURABLE, the treatment is dietary/lifestyle, the response is immediate; the cancer cell is weak and vulnerable; the precise biochemical breakdown point was identified by her in 1951 and is specifically correctable, in vitro (test tube) as well as in vivo (real)…”
Dr. Dan C. Roehm M.D. FACP (oncologist & former cardiologist) in “Townsend Letter for Doctors”, July 1990

Dr Willner, M.D., Ph.D. (The Cancer Solution) writes, “Numerous, independent clinical studies published in major medical journals world-wide confirm Dr. Budwig’s findings…. Over 40 years ago Dr Budwig presented clear and convincing evidence, which has been confirmed by hundreds of other related scientific research papers since, that the essential fatty acids were at the core of the answer to the cancer problem…You will come to your own conclusions as to why this simple effective prevention and therapy has not only been ignored—it has been suppressed!”. Or as someone commented, “Over the years I have been given a lot of different advice as well, so when I heard about Dr Budwig’s protocol I too was very skeptical, until I tried it.”

As summarized by Cliff Beckwith who has kept his prostate cancer under control for over a decade: “Dr. Budwig to my knowledge had over 1000 documented successes. However, her work was not popular with the Oncology Industry in Europe. Her ideas would have meant a lot of losses in the Food Industry as well as the cancer industry; especially in the fats industry.
My cousin, Richard Beckwith, called her probably eleven years ago and talked to her for about forty five minutes. She told him that American doctors had come to Germany and been impressed with her work. Then they wanted to try to work out some way to have exclusive rights to her methods in the United States and make a lot of money and she wouldn’t do that.
She believed her work was very important and was anxious to see it carried on but no one seemed interested unless they could make a lot of money.

In 1952, Dr. Budwig wrote in a paper entitled On Fat Biology V. Paper Chromatography of Blood Lipoids, the Tumour Problem and Fat Research: “It is basically proven that highly unsaturated fatty acids are the heretofore undiscovered decisive factor in respiratory enzyme function”, i.e. constitute the second part of the “equation” that nobelist Otto Warburg* had been unable to find. What sounds insignificant to the layman’s ears, is arguably one of the greatest breakthroughs in medicinal science: from that moment onward we have known that the highly unsaturated fatty acid is the decisive factor achieving the desired effect of cellular respiratory stimulation. Working in conjunction with sulfurated amino acids (protein), the highly unsaturated fatty acid plays a part, even the critical part, in the “bridging” taking place between fats and protein, in the absorption AND utilization of oxygen, in all growth processes, in the formation of blood and in many other processes. Working from this theory, Dr. Budwig was able to help a great many cancer patients with the scientific oil-protein diet of flaxoil plus cottage cheese she designed (the “Budwig diet”), which allows cancer cells to start “breathing” again.

chrisb 1, you will forgive me for expressing disbelief in this. You are telling us that there was “acceptance that her findings were backed up by solid research and results”. Yet nobody (why was it just the Americans that were cited?) in the whole of the world-wide medical community followed up her work? They were all blind to her success? Just because there was no money in it? . Strict diet is the cure….”Of this there is no doubt whatsoever” – why is their no doubt? Perhaps I have misunderstood what you are saying – was this a very few very specific cases of cancer?

Malcolm R,
I understand your disbelief, as I was in your shoes at one time….a true skeptic.
Dr. Dan C. Roehm M.D. FACP (oncologist & former cardiologist) also expressed his initial disbelief, and then to his complete satisfaction that the therapy worked, in “Townsend Letter for Doctors”,

My research cured my own skepticism.

The German courts accepted Dr Budwigs evidence and ruled in her favor a number of times, after being persecuted by Orthodox Medicine and the fats industry.

Dr Budwig was a qualified German pharmacologist, chemist and physicist with a doctorate in physics who worked as the chief expert-consultant for drugs and fats at the former Bundesanstalt für Fettforschung (Federal Institute for Fats Research). Described as “the world’s leading authority on fats and oils”

No it wasn’t just the Americans who inquired as to her methods and treatment protocols, as she had this to say, and I quote her directly: “I have the answer to cancer, but American doctors won’t listen. They come here and observe my methods and are impressed. Then they want to make a special deal so they can take it home and make a lot of money. I won’t do it, so I’m blackballed in every country.”

Every Country.

You see it is disbelief that something so simple and effective would be worthy of merit or investigation, so has been dismissed out of hand by orthodoxy as quackery.

And the fact that it’s *every* country says it all.

Consider: if a cancer treatment worked and was rejected by the capitalistic “cancer industry”< then Cuba would have every reason to use it just to rub the Americans' nose in it. In fact Cuba has a world class health care system, its life expectancy rivals that of the West despite rampant poverty, normally a predictor of early death.

They don't use Budwig.

Because it doesn't work.

RESULTS: The most often mentioned "cancer diets" are Budwig diet, Gerson's regimen, lowcarb diet, cancer cure of Breuß and macrobiotic diet. These diets can be classified according to the principle idea of carcinogenesis as follows: cancer as a lack or abundance of a substance or as a consequence of pathological metabolism of cancer cells. Staying in line with a specific diet the patients are thought to be able to cure themselves or at least substantially contribute to cure. However, we did not find any scientific publication of a clinical study which describes positive results regarding survival. On the contrary, data show malnutrition and side effects.

CONCLUSION: There is no indication to consume a "cancer diet". In some cases adverse effects can occur. Cancer patients who are discussing nutrition should be warned about taking up a "cancer diet".

Hübner J, Marienfeld S, Abbenhardt C, Ulrich CM, Löser C. "How useful are diets against cancer?" (in translation) Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2012 Nov;137(47):2417-22. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1327276. Epub 2012 Nov 14.

There is no conspiracy. These therapies are not used for the simple, straightforward and obvious reason that they don't work.

The problem is well understood. Budwig's early results were wrong (as most early results are), but instead of following the evidence Budwig went down the path of self-belief known as "pathological science". Instead of asking "is this true?" she asked "how can I show this is true?".

It is sad, but it is the story of very many alternative cancer "cures".

Mark says:
22 October 2013

The cancer treatments in India are an example of the worst of the alternative treatment. They have treated over 20,000 patients and have yet to organize a controlled study. They claim success using only homeopathic remedies. This would be an amazing cure. Why would a cure of cancer be the first time that a homeopathic remedy was found to be conclusively effective for any condition? The best that they can say is after submitting 14 cases to the National Cancer Institute 4 would be made available for further study in their best case series. This in no way gives any evidence that the treatment is effective. The NCI has investigated many treatments that are not effective and some that have turned out to be harmful.

Homeopathy is a placebo treatment. In all of the major systematic reviews not ONE remedy can be recommended for use. The very best claim was back in 1991 when the review found that the effects of homeopathy could be more than placebo. They also stated problems with quality and bias that made it impossible to make any definite conclusion. Since then the reviews have been even less positive. A very damming trend has been found that the better the study the less likely it was positive. In studying a placebo treatments you will always find some positive results even in high quality studies. Taking into account bias of both researchers and publications and small study size a weak positive response would be expected for any placebo treatment. This is exactly what you see when looking at homeopathy. Is using homeopathy as a stand alone treatment for cancer unethical?

I’d also quite like to find examples of “miracle” cures that have been discarded by the SCAM community, after the evidence showed them to be useless or dangerous, so it just goes to show there aren’t many of them if any at all.

Your views on Chiropractic along with any other healing modality that is not endorsed or accepted by Orthodoxy is well known by now, (except for CAM) so hardly needs repeating.

There are plenty of SCAM cures that are known to be useless and/or dangerous. These include Gerson, Hoxsey, Essiac, Budwig, escharotics (bloodroot / black salve), “Miracle Mineral”, laetrile and many others.

The issue is whether there is any evidence of useless and/or dangerous treatments that have been dropped. Claiming that bloodroot, say, must be safe because SCAM practitioners still use it is begging the question. It’s also wrong: it is not safe, it is horrible, dangerous, indiscriminate and ineffective other than by accident (if you burn away half your face, the small day-case-operable squamous cell tumour is likely to go with it, for sure, but that doesn’t make it a good idea or a safe or advisable treatment).

Dangerous? a tad overly-exaggerated perhaps?

Tell me Guy, has mainstream ever conducted any serious proper and impartial studies into the protocols of Gerson, Budwig, Hoxsey, laetrile and others? because if they have, you will have to provide the evidence and proof of this; or is it more likely a case of these being dismissed as quackery, based on nothing more than opinion, conjecture, bias and prejudice?

Or are these yet more of my questions that you will ignore, as you have with all the other questions I have asked you?

Chris: Yes. In fact medicine (through the SCAM-friendly NCCAM has spent $20bn over two decades including $1.3bn in grants, testing alternative therapies. Despite bowling them soft ball after soft ball, not one therapy has been validated.

If coffee enemas cured cancer, they would be part of the standard of care.

They don’t. So they aren’t.

NCCAM have falsely reported on the efficacy and the real science that supports the use of Colloidal Silver as an antibiotic/antiviral, which is known to kill 650 pathogens, so if they are wrong on that score (which they are) it is only logical to assume they are also wrong on the efficacy of other alternative therapies. Their scientific sources are mainly from mainstream regarding CS so no big surprise there.
NCCAM are also funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the United States Government.
The NIH were instrumental in aiding a now bankrupt pharmaceutical company in stealing Burzynskis patents use on his cancer treatments.
NCCAM are therefore deemed not to be a reliable or accurate source of information on alternative therapies.

I would ask where you get this patently ridiculous “information” from but I suspect I know. NCCAM is the most quack-friendly government body known to humanity, and NIH never stole Burzynski’s patents – his narrative of conspiracy is simply a way of rationalising the fact that independent reviews of his claims, show them to be false.

The only question is why you always take at face value the claims of anyone branded “alternative”, even when they are clearly profiteering from cancer patients, while rejecting out of hand any actual scientific evidence that contradicts it.

It’s an extremely odd way of looking at the world, and I sincerely hope you never become actually ill because real diseases have a habit of not being fooled by the narrative of conspiracy.

if I am ever unfortunate enough to develop cancer of any kind I would refuse mainstream oncology except for surgical intervention to remove a tumor, but my main treatment protocol would be Budwig coupled with Sutherlandia OPC.

One of my closest friends developed bowel cancer, but despite feeling ill for some time, refused to see his Doctor. When he eventually did, the diagnosis was made, but by then this had metastasized to his Liver.
He began the Budwig protocol of his own volition after I gave him the information on this, and he began to recover: his appetite returned with a glow to his cheeks, and his energy levels returned, where prior to this he had no energy at all and an opaque appearance: his oncologist informed him that whatever he was doing he was to keep on doing it.
His test results were all improving. However, his family and oncologist eventually persuaded him to undergo chemotherapy, abandoning the Budwig protocol of his own choosing. This sealed his fate, and he progressively became worse and eventually died a physical shadow of his former self.
I have no doubts that he would still be with us today if he had continued with Budwig, but such is the influence of orthodoxy that his faith in them instilled into us all, let him down at the age of 51.

As I’ve pointed out before, the figures show that people who make choices like yours fare worse than those who follow mainstream therapy, even controlling for the fact that they typically delay proper treatment while they try alternatives first so present with more advanced disease.

Cancer sucks. Cure rates vary between cancers and centres, but even a single type of cancer is not homogeneous between (or even within) patients. Bill Heald at Basingstoke produced great results with his total mesorectal excision technique, due in no small part to copious flushing of the operation site to remove seed cells, but even then there is controversy over how he defined curable versus non-curable cases when comparing with other centres. It’s complex, and as Mencken said, for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. That’s what these various quack cancer “cures” are. Comforting lies instead of unpleasant truths.

The Budwig protocol doesn’t work. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23152069 – there’s a lot of discussion in the literature of the ways in which people delude themselves into believing otherwise, but no credible evidence that the Budwig diet works at all, et alone as advertised.

Experience indicates that these facts will not affect your belief in it. I am profoundly sad that this is the case, it represents an abject failure of the medical and scientific professions when such distrust in proper standards of evidence is exhibited. Regardless of your belief, doctors and medical scientists are clever people who work hard to try to make people better: if a genuinely effective therapy was proposed even by someone who has been struck off for ethical violations it is likely it would be tested and accepted. The narrative of “cancer industry”, suppression etc. notwithstanding, there is nothing in this world that is being more earnestly sought than genuinely effective treatments for cancer.

we know that NCCAM state on their website that Colloidal Silver has no benefit to human health, so here is another reason NCCAM cannot be trusted and even dangerous………….

However, prior to the advent of patentable and more profitable antibiotics, medicines containing silver were the most widely prescribed infection fighters by doctors and there were no fewer than 34 different approved prescription and over the counter medications which contained silver. Now, after the elimination of most large particle and silver nitrate products and after improved technology has made nano-sized particles that require far less parts per million, colloidal silver proponents claim that it is safer and more effective than ever. At the same time, however, it has become the subject of increasing attacks by mainstream medicine, which labels colloidal silver as a scam, as quackery and as a dangerous substance with no proven value.

When it is pointed out that colloidal and nano-silver are used by NASA, Potters for Peace, the Hong Kong Subway System, Cure-Aid, and major hospital burn units, the detractors often concede that perhaps it works externally; however, they maintain that when it is taken internally it is ineffective and it causes dangerous toxicity due to silver build-up. In a familiar refrain when it comes to silver and other alternatives to mainstream drugs, it is also claimed that colloidal silver taken internally has no “scientifically” proven benefits. One of the most widely publicized warnings is that colloidal silver causes people to turn blue due to a skin condition known as argyria.

Yet, the EPA says that 90-95% of ingested silver particles are eliminated from the body within two days and 99% are gone within a week (1). Furthermore, the bluest of the blue people, “Papa Smurf” Paul Karason was given a clean bill of health at Mount Sinai Hospital. (2) Karason, like the Montana senator who has bluish skin, did not actually take colloidal silver. Instead, he took large quantities of home-made ionic silver made with tap water and contaminated with salt for a prolonged period of time.

When it comes to scientific studies regarding the benefits of internal silver, in 2008 researchers in Hungary found specific silver receptors on human tissue – an indication that silver plays an important role in human health. (3) A joint study between the University of Texas and Mexico University published in the Journal of Nanotechnology showed that silver nano-particles of sizes 1-10nm attached to HIV-1 prevented the virus from bonding to host cells. (4)

Another study, conducted by the Department of Microbiology at Kyungpook National University in Daegu, Korea, and published in the prestigious Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology, found that nano-silver was comparable in effectiveness to Amphotericin B, one of the most powerful prescription antifungal drugs known to man, which is often used intravenously to cure serious systemic fungal infections. The same study also found that nan-silver was superior to the well-known anti-fungal drug fluconazole (popularly known as Diflucan). (5)

In a recently completed study conducted by researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine and the University of Akron, Ohio, and presented at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society, researchers infected a group of mice with the bacteria Pseudomona aeroginosa. Psuedomona aeroginosa is a common cause of bacterial pneumonia in humans, especially those on ventilators, those with cystic fibrosis or those with compromised immune systems. Once infected, all the mice then inhaled aerosolized nano-particles once per day. In half of the mice, these particles contained antimicrobial particles known as silver carbene complexes (SCCs).

Mice that inhaled the SCCs had significantly lower concentrations of bacteria in their lungs than mice inhaling placebo nano-particles. Most significantly, none of the mice in the SCC group died, while all the mice in the control group did. (6)

Perhaps most exciting is the results of recent year studies on colloidal silver and cancer. In a breast and colon cancer study published in 2010 in the Journal of Clinical Cancer Research, researchers concluded that colloidal silver might be a potential alternative agent for breast cancer therapy.(7) Another study on Dalton’s lymphoma and ascites published that same year in the International Journal of Nanomedicine, researchers confirmed the anti-tumor properties of silver nanoparticles and suggested that silver could be a cost-effective alternative in the treatment of cancer and angiogenesis.(9)

In 2012 British researchers at Leeds University compared silver to the popular chemotherapy drug Cisplatin and found that silver could kill breast and colon cancer cells more effectively than chemotherapy without the nausea, hair loss and other side effects of the chemotherapy drug.(9)

Were all those doctors who prescribed silver products and the scientists who conducted the studies liars, scammers or quacks? Or could it be that mainstream medicine and its advocates are attacking colloidal silver because it represents a huge threat to billions in profits from patented drugs which are more expensive, less safe and often less effective?

Meanwhile, millions of people around the world are taking colloidal silver and reporting cures and success against pneumonia, staph, candida, MRSA, Chrohn’s, Lyme, the H1N1 flu, and much more.

1. The Environmental Protection Agency, Integrated Risk Information Program (IRIS), Silver; CASRN 7440-22-4
2. http://www.flubreak.com/faq.html
3. The Crusador – interview with Dr. Eric Rentz, circa June 2008
4. http://www.physorg.com/news7264.html
5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18756112
6. http://www.naturalnews.com/026952_nanoparticles_silver_bacteria.html
7. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2010 Nov 16;29:148. doi: 10.1186/1756-9966-29-148.
8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21080962
9. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2095610/Silver-bullet-cancer-Metal-kill-tumours-better-chemotherapy-fewer-effects.html

NCCAM is therefore not a reliable or trustworthy source of information on anything to do with alternative therapies.

Colloidal silver has no provable benefit to health, and has well documented risks (e.g. argyria).

The claims that are made for it are entirely generic “miracle health” claims, indistinguishable from those made for MMS (bleach) and numerous other long-debunked quack remedies.

There are valid medical uses of silver, some historical and some current. These do not validate the “alternative” claims made about it. As usual, Wikipedia has a nicely balanced overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_uses_of_silver

“Since the 1990s, colloidal silver has again been marketed as an alternative medicine, often with extensive “cure-all” claims. Colloidal silver products remain available in many countries as dietary supplements and homeopathic remedies, although they are not effective in treating any known condition and carry the risk of serious side effects such as argyria, allergic reactions, and interactions with prescription medications.”

Incidentally, your position as a writer for Utopia Silver (a commercial vendor of “miracle” silver products) might be relevant, you ought to declare it, as well as your having made a film with “Silver Donald” Cameron.

I understand your advocacy of this, I completely get that you believe it, but the science says you’re wrong. That is, the combined weight of science as assessed by people with no dog in the fight, not the cherry-picked studies used by proponents in the mistaken belief that they discount or remove the conflicting information. Sorry, science is brutal that way: it actively doesn’t care how many people believe something.

So, this is why it sucks to be a skeptic. There are no winners in this one. All we can do is commiserate with the bereaved: to say “I told you so” would be crass, if justified.


Jessica Ainscough bills herself as the “Wellness Warrior.” She’s a cancer patient. She persuaded her mother to put her faith in Gerson therapy, a well known “miracle cure” that has been known not to work for a long time. The result was inevitable, depressing, and will not feature in the lists of anecdotes used by the “Gerson Institute” to promote its long-discredited “cure”. The inclusion of hair analysis and “live blood” analysis (two medically useless diagnostic techniques) is a strong clue that the practitioner was not only a quack, but one who had no idea of their own limitations.

There are no winners n these case. People die, other people rationalise it away, and skeptics seethe with frustration at the deceit manifest in every line of the “miracle” narrative.

Gerson will not have a 100% success rate Guy, but neither do orthodox cancer therapies.
The question is: does the Gerson cancer therapy work and work well?

Most all alternative cancer therapies rely on the self-healing powers of the body, including a strong immune system to combat cancer and other degenerative diseases. These healing powers of the body are often severely compromised because of Chemotherapy and other treatments by orthodox oncology, where it is known that chemotherapy will mostly destroy the immune system, severely reduce essential blood counts, and so on; this leaves patients much more prone to viruses and bacterial infections.
The vast majority of cancer patients who use Gerson and others, have already been through mainstream oncology treatments, using them as a last resort, so it is all the more remarkable that they survive and recover from Cancer (including melanoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, lymphoma, pancreatic cancer and many others); this would also include Diabetes, Heart disease, Arthritis, and auto-immune disorders, and many others.

Gerson, Budwig and others rely on the “Nutritional” approach to aid and encourage the bodys biological healing powers, because the body will only function at its optimum level of healing if this is the case, and why drugs are not biological necessities or requirements in the healing process.

Not that you would accept testimonials as proof of efficacy, but for starters you should watch the film: The Beautiful Truth, which outlines the facts……………

BTW, Gerson and Budwig or even Hoxsey did not consider their treatment protocols as “miracle cures”, but it IS a miracle when mainstream have informed you to accept the inevitable death sentence and you are then cured of your terminal illness.

The success rate of Gerson therapy is indistinguishable from the success rate of no therapy at all.

It does not work.

That is why it is not used in cancer treatment by real doctors, only in the ethical vacuum of Tijuana’s cancer industry (a real cancer industry this time, not the conspiracy theory one).

“The success rate of Gerson therapy is indistinguishable from the success rate of no therapy at all.
It does not work.”

Show me the facts and figures from properly conducted clinical studies within mainstream, that the above is the case, but not the ones that are designed to fail from the outset.

Mainstream is not going to waste time testing worthless therapies. We need to devote the time to developing treatments that work. If those with the magic cures want to be accepted then they need to apply proper scientific methods that have stood the test of time.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20361473 summarises the present state of knowledge, from clinical studies.

Gerson and Gonzalez (which are similar) not only don’t work, patients following these protocols fare significantly worse than those receiving standard of care alone.

So, do you now acknowledge that Gerson and Gonzalez are bogus?

Malcolm R,
Wavechange has just exemplified WHY: “mainstream is not going to waste time testing worthless therapies”.

A predetermined and orthodox medical/scientific viewpoint that states they already know that Budwig is worthless without any investigation whatsoever.

Doesn’t that tell you something?

No, Chris, they know Budwig is useless from examination of case series and other evidence. Once the links are approved by the mods you’ll see the cite.

Unlike cancer quacks, doctors actually care about ethics. They don’t run trials on real people when there is no reason to believe a therapy will work and decent evidence that it doesn’t.

It’s a quirk.

The PubMed summary on the Gerson protocol Guy was published by the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, who are known to have withheld and suppress its cancer research into Laetrile, which they actually found to be effective against cancer. This was revealed to G Edward Griffin by an insider at that center, who went on to publish his findings.
Sloan Kettering therefore loses credibility in making judgements and pronouncements on Gerson or indeed anything else considered to be an alternative cancer treatment.

So, do I now acknowledge that Gerson and Gonzalez are bogus?

You will be pleased to know then that in Japan there are whole hospitals who are using the Gerson Therapy on hundreds of patients and getting great results!

“More people fail Gerson – than Gerson fails people”; What I mean by that is that there are more people that don’t follow the Gerson protocol (but say/think they are) and more people that stop the Gerson therapy too soon – and both groups get failures…..than people that follow Gerson protocol to the letter in both what must be done AND for the duration of time it must be done. Healing cancer is PRECISE and TAKES TIME.
So why do I have to prove to an ego filled medical world that already won’t budge one bit, with all the international proof we have already that the Gerson Therapy works? Ie: HEALED, LIVING PATIENTS!!! Thousands upon thousands of them.

In one of the Gerson Therapy videos one of the non-believing “experts” was asked “What would it take for you to believe that the Gerson Therapy cures cancer?”

The answer was 100% ego filled! “They would have to know and explain HOW it cures.”

Okay, do we know 100% understand the mystery of how sperm and egg can come together and make a baby? Do we 100% understand how and why a cut is automatically healed by the body?
No, we don’t 100% understand these. We just KNOW they happen –and, they happen whether your ego understands them or not! How come these same people are not asking: Give me PROOF that sperm meeting egg creates life?

So why is healing cancer any different? Why do all these ego-filled ‘experts’ have to know HOW it is healing before it CAN heal? The Japanese don’t understand HOW it heals – yet they are opening one after another cancer hospital dedicated to Gerson.

In other words, it is not just the power, money-hungry Big Pharma powers and drug salesmen that keep the Gerson truth from us. IT IS OUR OWN EGO that keeps Gerson from healing us.
It would mean our education has been a lie
So, I ask all those people who’s ego is fighting all the evidence that Gerson DOES heal: “What is underneath your refusal to believe? What fear is keeping you from believing?”

The entrenchment of a belief-system and ego that prevents any backtracking of medical dogma that refuses to accept that a diet and other lifestyle changes can actually cure cancer.

Gerson Therapy Cures Cancer—Now Proven…….

Some professionals who trust the scientific legitimacy of the Gerson Therapy, believe the therapy is denigrated by the medical and pharmaceutical industry as it puts their interests at risk. Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of Death by Modern Medicine, says Gerson’s documented successes published in Europe were not allowed in the United States. The reason, she says, is that Gerson Therapy is a natural therapy, which allows people to be in control of their own health without being dependent on drugs. The therapy is based wholly on food and supplements found in nature. Other medical professionals reject the therapy due to lack of scientific proof of its effectiveness. However, Dean explains, “The scientific model only tests for one variable at a time, and the Gerson Therapy uses hundreds of variables,” which makes the Gerson Therapy incompatible with scientific testing.

Dr. Tony Soriente:
“The Gerson Therapy employs the use of raw organic vegetables void of any outside chemicals to eliminate toxins like fertilizers and other possible chemicals from continuing to enter the body which possibly stimulate production of malignant cells. Various clinics implement the therapy but some of the more notable individuals are: Charlotte Gerson (Dr. Gerson’s daughter), the therapy is also being implemented in Holland by Dr. Wilko van der Vegt and in Japan by Dr. Takaho Watayo, Subdirector & Surgeon, Toritsu Ohtsuka Hospital, Dr. Kunihiko Tominaga, Director of the Loma Linda Clinic in Japan and Dr. Yoshihiko Hoshino, M.D. Professor of Medicine at Loma Linda Clinic. Dr. Hoshino actually treated himself for metastasized liver cancer over 15 years ago. Dr. Watayo’s research and documentation of his work is extensive. All of these doctors and the late Dr. Gerson have plenty of casework done to back up treatment of cancer patients who were “cured.”
The opponents of the Gerson therapy say that the Gerson doctors take advantage of patients in a time of desperation and that there are no clinical studies proving that the therapy is valid. Most of the opponents will also state that any improvements or so called curing of cancer is due to a misdiagnosis. Another attack on the therapy states that the diet lacks essential nutrients and the coffee enema is dangerous and many people have died from it (although I tried to find a case of death by coffee enema but not one has ever been documented to my knowledge).
The opponents of Gerson- often stating dangers of the therapy to be deadly or injurious in some way without any facts behind these statements. Also they complain the methods have not been tested against their standards of double blind testing. Going by these statements, the same could be said of medical treatment of cancer. Possibly the people treated with chemotherapy would have gotten better anyway and that they were misdiagnosed. I simply state this because people die everyday from cancer and other diseases while getting conventional treatments”.

Excerpt from Cancer: Step Outside the Box by Ty Bollinger…………..

“The AMA lobbied so strongly against research into alternative cancer treatments that the move was narrowly defeated in the Senate. Then the Medical Mafia used their influence to suppress Gerson’s success and branded him as a “quack.” Using the techniques of Edwin Bernays and Adolph Hitler, they said it loud enough and long enough that it became “common knowledge” that Gerson was a quack, despite the fact that his treatment protocol was curing terminal patients of cancer.
Standard operating procedure for the Medical Mafia and the Cancer Industry is to quickly suppress any discovery of an alternative cancer treatment and to create the public perception that a physician who discovers an alternative treatment is incompetent or “a quack.” And they are quite effective – they even have websites (like quackwatch) set up for this very purpose. The truth is that Dr. Gerson’s treatment was very effective; in Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s words, “I see in him (Dr. Gerson) as a medical genius who walked among us.”

Chris, will you please try to understand this simple and fundamental point:

It DOES NOT MATTER what Gerson advocates say. Their narrative of suppression and conspiracy is generic for all forms of quackery and fails to address the fundamental issue, the only thing that actually matters: when tested, Gerson therapy does not work. There is no credible reason to believe it should work, the mechanisms by which it is claimed to work do not hold up, and the evidence shows it does not work.

What you are doing is precisely analogous to asserting that wine becomes blood when blessed by citing an endless list of Catholic priests, when a scientific test shows that the wine does not in fact become blood, but remains, in every sense that matters, wine.

you said……
“There is no credible reason to believe it (Gerson) should work, the mechanisms by which it is claimed to work do not hold up, and the evidence shows it does not work”.

Then you had better contact Dr. Yoshihiko Hoshino, M.D. Professor of Medicine at Loma Linda Clinic in Japan, and let him know and discover his response.

Incredible, quite incredible!!!!

As usual, you appeal to lone authorities in order to counter the totality of evidence.

Hoshino is a bacteriologist. He has a substantial body of published work on mycobacteria and tuberculosis, but I find nothing by him in the published literature validating Gerson.

As a published academic scientist, he will be well aware that publication in the peer-reviewed literature is the only way to change scientific opinion. As a human, he is as susceptible to the blandishments of cranks as any of us.

I cannot trace any publications validating Gerson since his death in 1959. I can find a few studies in the non-SCAM literature, all of which are negative, with one exception – a 1955 study in German for which I cannot find an abstract, but believers say it supports Gerson.

Most early findings are wrong. Unaccountably, believers in woo assume that being found to be wrong is actually validation that the idea is right. Science is a bit less credulous.

In response to your comment…………..

“Gerson and Gonzalez (which are similar) not only don’t work, patients following these protocols fare significantly worse than those receiving standard of care alone”

Gonzalez has treated a number of cancers with success at his clinic since 1990. He even took part in a preliminary Clinical Trial when his nutritional Therapy (which involves a tailor made package of supplements and pancreatic enzymes) was tested using pancreatic cancer patients. Gonzalez wrote, “We did complete a trial of our therapy with patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, supervised by the National Cancer Institute and funded by Nestle. The results of that study were published in the peer reviewed journal Nutrition and Cancer and reported the best results ever in the treatment of the disease.
As a result of that data, our US National Cancer Institute funded a large-scale clinical trial, which turned out to be, unfortunately, a nightmare of mismanagement. A paper was published a year ago without our knowledge claiming our therapy didn´t work, but the paper was a complete misrepresentation of the large scale clinical trial. I have written a lengthy rebuttal of the recently published article on our website at: http://www.dr-gonzalez.com/jco_rebuttal.htm.”

Now Gonzalez has gone further; he has written a book: ‘What went wrong – The Truth Behind the Clinical Trial of the Enzyme Treatment of Cancer’.

Dr Paul J Rosch, Clinical Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, New York Medical School writes about the book of the trial as follows:

‘This book is about a $1.4 million grant awarded by the National Cancer Institute in 1998 to do a controlled clinical trial comparing the chemotherapeutic drug Gemzar to Dr Gonzalez enzyme approach in the treatment of patients with pancreatic cancer. Dr Gonzalez documents how the study was mismanaged, how he had no control over the selection of patients, and how the protocol was violated in numerous ways that were subsequently confirmed by regulatory authorities. Nevertheless, a misleading article was published without his knowledge and none of the responsible parties were (sic) ever admonished or held accountable. This tragic tale tends to support a growing suspicion that the cancer cartel of organizations, government agencies and vested interests is devoted more to preserving their enormous profits and reputations than to the prevention and cure of cancer’.

This conversation seems to have become a debate between two or three clearly knowledgable, but diametrically opposed, contributors. Much of the content and links to details are, I would hazard a guess, now beyond the interest of most.
Is this not perhaps a good time to summarise impartially the opposing views for miracle cures (surely “alternative cures” would be a more open-minded description)?
What is badly lacking seems to be any contributions from anyone who has benefitted from such cures – given the anonymity of the conversation this seems a significant factor.

One of the problems is that the narrative is dominated by anecdotes – people who have “benefited” – but the ones who don’t benefit tend to be six feet under and (as the Panorama documentary on the Burzynski clinic showed) even when the treatment clearly doesn’t work, there is a strong tendency to rationalise because the alternative is to accept that you wasted your money and the last months of a loved one’s life.

A few brave people do speak out, Steven Isserlis springs to mind: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/8390542/At-the-mercy-of-a-cancer-guru.html

I have also been following this Conversation with interest but diminishing satisfaction. Perhaps some people open the links but I very rarely do – they’re not really conversational devices [although I appreciate that they are useful as sources and references when scientific or technical issues are raised and there is a need for verificatuoin].

I agree with Malcom and have drawn conclusions from the absence of any corroboration from actual users. Perhaps it would be best if the main protagonists fell silent until such a contribution were posted . . . but that’s asking for a miracle.

Burzynski and Panorama….

Twelve phase 2 clinical trials have been successfully completed under the supervision of the FDA, and they are now conducting three phase 3 clinical trials. Six additional phase 3 trials are also being planned.
“As far as our medical oncology practice is concerned, we treat all kinds of cancers especially patients who have the disease advanced to the point that they were told that there is nothing that can be done. That’s the typical patient who is coming to us, the patient with very advanced cancer who has tried other types of treatment and who are simply told to go to the hospital because there is nothing else that can be done.”

Dr. Burzynski currently has statistics for about 40 different types of cancer, covering close to 2,000 patients. Their oncology practice has an average of 50 to 60 percent success rate for either substantial decrease of the tumor sites or complete remission.

“But you have to understand that these are relatively recent medications. Many of these medications were introduced only about a year ago. For this group of patients, it’s too premature to have long term survival data because the medications are brand new.

On the other hand, if you are talking about the treatment with antineoplastons, for every clinical trial we have separate statistics. The best results were obtained in the treatment of astrocytoma. In clinical trials for astrocytoma… 67 percent of patients obtained objective response, which means the tumors disappeared completely, which is called complete response. (More than 50 percent decrease of tumor size is a partial response.)

The rest of the patients had stabilization of the disease. In this particular clinical trial, we did not have any patient who had progressive disease. Zero progressive disease for this particular trial.”

To put this into perspective, some of the best combination treatments you will currently find for the treatment of astrocytoma have a success rate of approximately 30-40 percent, and a progressive disease rate of about 40 percent, according to Dr. Burzynski.
On the other hand, if you are talking about the treatment with antineoplastons, for every clinical trial we have separate statistics. The best results were obtained in the treatment of astrocytoma. In clinical trials for astrocytoma… 67 percent of patients obtained objective response, which means the tumors disappeared completely, which is called complete response. (More than 50 percent decrease of tumor size is a partial response.)

Since Dr. Burzynski is using genetics, the medical community must laud and support their efforts. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily so.
Back in the 1990’s, the state of Texas tried to take away his medical license, claiming he was a fraud.

“This was based on complete lack of understanding and scientific ignorance,” Dr. Burzynski explains. “Obviously, the people who were persecuting us, most of them did not know what they were doing, but some of them knew very well because they were trying to steal my patents and my invention.

There was a combination of factors. You mentioned State authorities; this was one level of harassment. Another level of harassment was from the Federal government, represented by the FDA. Apparently… it was triggered by a pharmaceutical company, which together with the National Cancer Institute was trying to appropriate our patent. It was very convenient to persecute me and try to put me in prison.

However, they were not successful, we won.

The FDA and Federal government allegedly spent about $60 million on the litigation alone (14 years)—just to appropriate his patents for a pharmaceutical company! The pharmaceutical company in question eventually went bankrupt after Dr. Burzynski won the case. According to Dr. Burzynski, the full story will be detailed in an upcoming documentary. At this moment, we have very good cooperation with the FDA. We are working together and hopefully we will have successful phase 3 clinical trials.”

Chris: why does branding himself “alternative” earn Burzynski a free pass form you on all ethical and evidential requirements?

After two decades of selling an unproven treatment as a “cure” for cancer with no good evidence, Burzynski was forced to administer it only under clinical trial. So all patients were enrolled on a trial without any proper ethical oversight, by a review board whose officers were employed by him, and he carried on precisely as before: same charges, same lack of published evidence.

A pharmaceutical company behaving like this would have the alties baying for blood. They would literally face a mob at their next stockholders’ meeting. But Burzynski brands himself as “alternative”, uses the generic SCAM liturgy of “evil big pharma suppression” and goes home to his multi-million-dollar gated mansion happy. And yes he genuinely does live in a gated mansion.

That gleaming glass office building? That was paid for by people notionally enrolled in clinical trials. Trials which were not published, a violation of the Declaration of Helsinki. Trials that are not even publishable due to ethical concerns, bad record keeping and other issues.

I have seen documents under FOI requests which have not yet been published so I will not discuss them here, for Patrick’s peace of mind. I know more about this than you do. You are backing a loser.

I agree Malcolm it is deep but interesting for all that.

I find that for some reason I am unable to log into Which? anymore unless I remove the Which? cookies then briefly I can make an appearance until the new cookies kick in. Does anyone else suffer? I am on Virginmedia.

“The page isn’t redirecting properly

Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete. This problem can sometimes be caused by disabling or refusing to accept cookies.”

There was a back-end problem yesterday I think (page not available for several minutes at a time), which may be related. I suspect their cache servers are playing up.

Also getting a lot of timeouts (page back, click Reply again, the text box is still full – if you don’t click Reply then you end up posting a new comment not a reply)

The rapid timeouts happened after the server was down for an extended time recently. You do need to go back a page and forward again and select which comment to reply to once more – which is slightly irritating. Hopefully the timeouts will be removed soon.

I can only connect courtesy of anonymiser service – have I offended someone.! Or is there a bigger problem. I sent a message to Which? a few days ago regarding the inability to connect to Which? but no reply as yet.

I wanted to reply to GC’ s assertion about the ethics of doctors – which as yet is unapproved so not here – to say I think he oversteps reality:

“Unlike cancer quacks, doctors actually care about ethics. They don’t run trials on real people when there is no reason to believe a therapy will work and decent evidence that it doesn’t.”

Mengele? would be a cheap shot but true. However for a larger sample what about all those US doctors who took money to say cigarettes were fine? Or those medical scientists who bury duff trials. Doctors are no different from any other group in having ethical and unethical characters in their ranks.

I am one of those people who feel that there is the possibility of truth in anything and it comes down to probability and weight of evidence available. Essentially I live in a world of greyness whereas some people can only ever see black and white. I believe it is summed up as “If you are not for us you are against us”. A very poor view for a complex world in my opinion.

Incidentally I understand the BBC has had a doctor on saying research shows that our bodies can self-regulate water requirements. Marvellous isn’t it that for gout the science tends to I must drink 2 litres a day; to find that it is not needed. Perhaps the show is better than the BBC article on the show.


If we were debating doctors or conventional medicine, I expect that you would find that those of us who are strongly opposed to miracle cures and quack medicine would have a lot to criticise. The fact that our doctors and their medicines are not perfect is not a good reason for people making money by subjecting vulnerable people to worthless cures to make money.

Most people seem to be able to self-regulate their fluid intake reasonably well, but for certain medical conditions it can be beneficial to drink more.

Wavechange is exactly right. The figures used by “miracle cure” peddlers to bash mainstream medicine, come largely from critiques of medicine by medical scientists.

Unlike quacks, whose agenda is to replace medicine with nonsense, medical science seeks to improve the practice of medicine. That necessary involves critical examination. That’s how bloodletting and purging were removed from standard medical practice, that’s how Vioxx was exposed, and that’s what has turned medicine from just one more form of superstitious nonsense like the many forms of quackery, into an essentially scientific exercise.

Medicine’s best friends are its strongest critics. People like Ben Goldacre and Margaret McCartney, both of whom have written extensively on manipulation of evidence.

Interestingly, I can’t find a single example of a poor medical practice that has changed as a result of the input of quacks. Only medical science seems to have the power to effect change for the better. Perhaps that’s because medical science seeks to replace poor evidence with better evidence, while quacks seek to discard evidence altogether.

Self-regulating water requirements?
Last time I heard this was called “thirst”, just as you would eat when you are hungry and sleep when the need arises.

“Unlike quacks, whose agenda is to replace medicine with nonsense”.

Statements such as these are quite unbelievable and based on the total ignorance of the facts.

So I suppose these Doctors are all “quacks”…………esp’ this one: Dr. Yoshihiko Hoshino, M.D. Professor of Medicine at Loma Linda Clinic.

The Gerson therapy is practiced in Japan by Dr. Takaho Watayo, Subdirector & Surgeon, Toritsu Ohtsuka Hospital, Dr. Kunihiko Tominaga, Director of the Loma Linda Clinic in Japan and Dr. Yoshihiko Hoshino, M.D. Professor of Medicine at Loma Linda Clinic. Dr. Hoshino actually treated himself for metastasized liver cancer over 15 years ago. Dr. Watayo’s research and documentation of his work is extensive. All of these doctors and the late Dr. Gerson have plenty of casework done to back up treatment of cancer patients who were “cured.”

Here’s another quack, this time a mainstream one: Dr Michael Mosley who endorses Intermittent fasting for health and weightloss, where fasting has never been endorsed by mainstream and dismissed it as “quackery”………………

Chris: Yes, a doctor who practices Gerson therapy is a quack. The evidence shows it doesn’t work.

But there’s something you seem to have trouble understanding: in science, you are allowed to be wrong. What you are not allowed is to continue to be wrong once the evidence shows you to be wrong.

Mosley referenced early results. This is an immature field, and I do not think it is yet settled whether intermittent fasting works or not. Regardless, its validity is totally independent of who believes it and who doesn’t, it’s solely dependent on the evidence. Credible mechanisms have been proposed by which intermittent fasting might work, but there is, as you say, significant dispute about it. As usual, early results are likely to be wrong. If the evidence shows them to be wrong, I am pretty confident Michael Mosley will change his view. And if he continues to advocate intermittent fasting after the evidence shows it doesn’t work, then he will indeed have become a quack.

quack n.
1. An untrained person who pretends to be a physician and dispenses medical advice and treatment.
2. A charlatan; a mountebank.

Whether Mosley does or does not move into quackery (and I think it highly unlikely that he will) really doesn’t matter, because science allows for the fact that individuals may be wrong. Even persistently wrong, as long as they follow the principles of good science until they correct themselves or (much more rarely) find the new information that shows them to be right.

Sagan: “The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

Most people who disagree with the scientific consensus are simply wrong, and if they are good scientists they accept that, by testing their own results and understanding where they went wrong. The striking thing about the Marshall and Warren story is that when their work was originally criticised as lacking rigour, they agreed that it did lack rigour and went on to do more work. Marshall has been interviewed on why it took so long to gain acceptance, and his comments show a humility strikingly absent in quacks.

Compare that with chelation for heart disease, which depends on taking the word of the chelation advocates and dismissing the evidence it doesn’t work because it conflicts with the word of the chelationists. That is a positive-feedback loop and incapable of self correction.

The chelationists were allowed to propose chelation for heart disease (albeit on entirely speculative grounds), they were allowed to be wrong. Trials were done, the result is that chelation is dangerous and does not improve heart disease. The chelationists could go one of two ways: acceptance or denial. They chose denial. They still offer chelation for heart disease. And thus another form of quackery is set on the irreversible path to the intellectual black hole.

Sagan again: “In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.”

He could have added “or quackery” but that would be tautology because most quackeries are in fact religions in all but name. They rely on the same appeals to authority and ancient wisdom as religions, they apply the same techniques to dismiss evidence that conflicts with them, they make identical use of conversion anecdotes and so on.

in answer to your post which begins……..

“Chris: Yes, a doctor who practices Gerson therapy is a quack. The evidence shows it doesn’t work”.

Then you are looking at the wrong evidence, and ignoring the real evidence: astounding!!!!

Denialism is at its very very best.

No, Chris, I am looking at summaries of the totality of the evidence.

Let’s review this.

On the side of Gerson is quackery: Published studies, National Institutes for Health, National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK, NHS, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, American Cancer Society… I could go on.

On the side of Gerson is a miracle cure: Alternative practitioners selling Gerson, conspiracy theorists.

This goes precisely to the heart of the problem.

Your assertion relies on the idea that the entire medical science community is in denial (about Gerson and, from this debate, virtually everything else), and only the lone voices in the wilderness, most of whom have no scientific or medical qualifications, are correct. It relies on the idea that the entire medical and medical science community is compromised by profit motive and cannot assess the evidence objectively, but the people profiting from the “miracle” cures somehow rise above profit motive and objectively assess their own beliefs.

This may even be true in a tiny handful of cases, but you assert it in *every* case. That is statistically implausible. In practice, you have demonstrated that your criteria for selection of sources and acceptance of claims relies more on resonance with your beliefs than on objective fact. That is exactly the problem with the entire SCAM industry, and the core reason why it cannot self-correct for error.

The reason it’s virtually impossible to find examples of SCAM discarding a treatment based on evidence it doesn’t work, is precisely because the SCAM mindset rejects disconfirming evidence simply on the basis that it is disconfirming.

In engineering, this is called a positive-feedback loop. It is inherently unstable, a system with positive feedback cannot self-correct.

No amount of evidence will stop the Oasis of Hope from selling Gerson because they already know the evidence contradicts it, that’s why they had to move to Tijuana in the first place – they simply don’t care. Their belief is essentially religious; they only see that which their beliefs allow them to see.

I recommend Stephen Law’s book “Believing BS – how not to get sucked into an intellectual black hole”.

why do you seem to have a problem with this comment? perhaps it doesn’t fit squarely with your own belief system?

Dr Willner, M.D., Ph.D. (The Cancer Solution) writes, “Numerous, independent clinical studies published in major medical journals world-wide confirm Dr. Budwig’s findings.

Willner, where have I heard that name before? Oh yes: “Willner’s Florida medical license was suspended in 1990 following a Florida Board of Medicine ruling that Willner had made inappropriate medical claims for food products”. He crossed the Woobicon in the 1970s and early 80s, as far as I can tell.

He was also an AIDS denialist.

So, I have a problem with it because it is a statement by a lone crank which is contradicted by the best available evidence, a summary of which I have already linked. This is basically the same problem I have generally with the sources you select, as they tend to be self-serving. “Miracle cure” books, crank websites and so on all have exactly the same issues: they assert a conclusion contradicted by the totality of evidence, and are used by others through the fallacy of appeal to authority in order to assert parity between lone voices and the scientific consensus.

It’s exactly like getting Monckton on the TV to “balance” the scientific consensus on climate change.

So you are essentially saying that everything Dr Willner has to say is nonsense and untrue.

Clutching at straws springs to mind here.

Let me just remind you what he has to say on the Budwig protocol……………
“Numerous, independent clinical studies published in major medical journals world-wide confirm Dr. Budwig’s findings”.

Quite a “whopper” wouldn’t you say?

Actually what I am saying is that given the documented facts about him, his opinion is unreliable so should be ignored.

Just that.

A specific claim: “Numerous, independent clinical studies published in major medical journals world-wide confirm Dr. Budwig’s findings”.

There are precisely two references to the Budwig diet in the indexed literature. One is Budwig’s original paper, the other is a recent summary that states:

CONCLUSION: There is no indication to consume a “cancer diet”. In some cases adverse effects can occur. Cancer patients who are discussing nutrition should be warned about taking up a “cancer diet”. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23152069

This is entirely consistent with the well-documented fact that most early findings are wrong.

So, as might reasonably be predicted from Willner’s status as a struck-off advocate of discredited therapies, his claim does not hold water.

I admire your tenacity Guy, but not your belief-system, which doesn’t alter the facts of the matter.

You have obviously ignored the evidence I have submitted, as you probably ignore the posts that I make, so further posts/discussion will be a futile exercise, as you are impervious to the evidence and reason.

Nice article in PubMed about cancer diets, but then you are not going to find anything within mainstream journals regarding any accuracy on this.
Cancer diets, or more accurately anti-cancer diets, are well known in non-mainstream accounts as being very effective against cancer and that includes the Japanese Medical profession who could easily counter that argument.
It is pointless to search for any effects of diet within mainstream journals, so I am not at all surprised they are absent.
You are referring to PubMed as an “authority” on the subject of diet when they are mostly concerned with medical matters as opposed to health matters; the two terms are not necessarily synonymous.
So this Mainstream Doctor must be wrong then?……………..

Here’s another one placing a spanner in the works of the medical community (and you especially)…………….

You would be wise to view the Rick Simpson Story as to how Hemp Oil eradicates cancers……

But you won’t find any of this in any mainstream oncology unit because it is not “acceptable” therapy. Acceptable cancer therapies in mainstream are only drug-based. Nothing else counts to the detriment of cancer patients.
You really need to “wise-up” to the influence of pharmaceutical companies who have such a stranglehold on medicine generally.

you may find this to be of interest…………

The Anti-Cancer Diet (references at the end of the article….all 45 of them)

or this diet as a cancer treatment……………

or this one……….
“when this article first appeared, I received several letters of praise from oncologists in America, where it seems to be quite a ´hot topic´. Thank you”.

and diet is so ineffective a treatment of cancer that the ketogenic diet is being used in conjunction with standard treatments and currently being explored in several trials funded by the National Cancer Institute.

The Ketogenic diet places the body into a state of ketosis or the burning of ketone bodies instead of glucose as its primary fuel source. Glucose is the main source of fuel for cancerous tumors and the method used in PET scans to discover their location.
All of this is essentially old news to those of us who know about the history of therapeutic fasting on water only, where ketone bodies are used almost exclusively as fuel and why there is an autolytic disintegration of tumors.
But I suspect you wouldn’t know anything about this as you are an advocate of pharmaceuticals and real medical science.

Once again, Chris, you cite crank and polemical websites in support of a position that is contradicted by the best available evidence. CANCERactive has a particular problem with reality. It describes founder Chris Woollams as “the UK’s number 12 cancer researcher” – yet he has published nothing whatsoever in the peer reviewed literature.

But I have found a quote that I think you will agree sums up your view:

“What’s true is true for you. No one has any right to force data on you and command you to believe it or else. If it’s not true for you, it isn’t true. Think your own way through things, accept what is true for you, discard the rest”.

Do you think that’s a fair summary?


Glucose is always present in the bloodstream. It is needed for the brain. This why it is not possible to deprive cancers of this carbon and energy source. Very simple biochemistry.

“Many scientists have tried killing cancer cells by taking away their favorite food, a sugar called glucose. Unfortunately, this treatment approach not only fails to work, it backfires—glucose-starved tumors actually get more aggressive.”


The “glucose starvation” theory is just another one of the long litany of facile claims by miracle diet hucksters. Pity, if it were true then it would be a really powerful weapon in the arsenal of cancer doctors. Unfortunately it’s not only not true, but it’s the opposite of true.

This comment of yours Guy…………..

“What’s true is true for you. No one has any right to force data on you and command you to believe it or else. If it’s not true for you, it isn’t true. Think your own way through things, accept what is true for you, discard the rest”. Do you think that’s a fair summary”?

No, not at all.

But should more accurately be stated as………………..

What is true for me is true for me because I have examined and taken into account ALL of the available evidence that you have willfully ignored. Everyone has the right to submit data to me of course, and allow me to evaluate this data as to its trustworthiness and factual accuracy: I do not edit and cherry-pick information for any agenda, but assess this on merit and merit only, whether this is sourced from mainstream, or alternative medicine.

“Glucose is always present in the bloodstream. It is needed for the brain. This why it is not possible to deprive cancers of this carbon and energy source. Very simple biochemistry”.

I agree with you that glucose is always present in the blood stream and needed for the Brain and other organs, but while in a state of ketosis (using ketone bodies as a main fuel source in the absence of nourishment in the stomach) and after 3 days on water-only, glucose production is kept to an absolute minimum via the breakdown of amino acids from muscle tissue. This is known as “protein sparing”: this conserves/preserves the vital organs from harm. This is an evolutionary biological adaptation common to all animals in times of food scarcity or famine, or in times of sickness/injury when animals will voluntarily abstain from food. This will starve the cancer cell by depriving it of its main fuel source (glucose).
Very simple biochemistry

There’s enough terminological hair-splitting in this Conversation already and I hesitate to enter the fray, but I do think the use of the word “evidence” is controversial, and in this Conversation at least, not sufficiently indisputable.

This depends on what is meant by glucose starvation Guy.

If we allow the body to enter ketosis via the ketogenic diet, or through water-only-fasting, and burning fatty acids or ketone bodies as the main fuel source, it actually holds much promise as I have stated earlier……………………………

There is a switch from glucose to glutamine when cancer cells are deprived of glucose, but that is triggered by low oxygen (Warburg and Budwig) which allows cancer cells to thrive and proliferate in an environment with minimal glucose, though it is not clear how this is done.

Depends whose “science” we look at to determine the truth of this or otherwise.

Chris, to summarise:

1. Science-based medicine. Begins with prior probability, thus there is no reason to consult field studies in order to know that homeopathy, reiki etc. are ineffective, because their underlying theories are known to be entirely wrong.

2. Evidence-based medicine. Medical practice informed by the ongoing process of medical science. Ineffective treatments are discarded over time. Can be fooled by placebo effects and other confounders, but beginning to wise up.

3. Eccevide-based medicine, from the Latin “Ecce! Vide!, Behold! I have seen!”, also known as anecdote-based medicine, treats all opinions as equally valid and does not recognise that opinion and anecdote are not evidence.

4. Ecnedive-based medicine, where perceived legitimacy is inversely proportional to evidential support. This is based on the belief that evidence is a conspiracy and the better a treatment is, the more strongly it is suppressed by the mainstream.

I use the first two, you seem to prefer the latter two. Hence the problem.

No, it doesn’t depend on “whose science”, because there is only one science. The cargo-cult imitation of it by proponents of disproven therapies is not science and that’s why it’s not in the literature.

The only reliable place to go to establish whether something works or not is the peer-reviewed literature and the reputable organisations which summarise it, such as Cancer Research UK, the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.

Unlike us, they have access to *all* the data and have the expertise necessary to understand it.

I’m perfectly happy to defer to them where my opinion is different (but funnily enough that doesn’t happen very often).

And speaking of experts, there’s a very good analysis of a misleading “miracle cure” story in the Telegraph recently: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/10/22/four-misleading-cancer-testimonials-and-reverse-balance/ – it points out very well why there is a problem with giving equal parity to anecdote and evidence.

academia regarding evidence does not overrule the most vital evidence of all………patient outcomes.
This is all that matters, and what we should all be trying to achieve.

From what you have written before now it would seem you place evidence (although useful) as being of more importance than patient outcomes which is patently absurd.

Chris, evidence in health care takes into account all aspects, including patient outcomes.

The crucial difference is that it also takes into account the notorious unreliability of people’s own beliefs. By controlling for placebo effects, expectation effects, cognitive biases and so on, scientists work out whether the treatment actually works or whether people only think it does.

The truly shocking thing is that people who use alternative remedies for cancer *believe* they are less likely to die but *actually* die sooner.

That’s why the difference actually matters, for all the knockabout fun of debating between different worldviews.

I’m getting quite tired of seeing nearly the whole “Latest Comments” column taken up by the ding-dong battle between Chris and Guy on the subject of alternative medicine. This column is what I read first as I like to see what people are talking about. As very few other people are still engaging in this debate, would it not be possible to leave further comments on this subject out of the “Latest Comments”? This would leave more room to see comments on other more recent topics and on topics of more general interest.

Sorry, but it’s not about alternative medicine, it’s about standards of evidence. However, I agree that it’s become boring.

Thanks for the comment Esther. I’m afraid it’s not possible to do that.

However, I have removed the ability to both Chris and Guy to add comments straight away. Chris and Guy you have forfeited the right for your comments to go up immediately. Instead they will stay in our pending queue for us to check before they are published.

If that means I no longer have to rebut quack apologia, I’m happy.

Can you make it topic specific? I can’t discuss other areas of interest to me.

It would be a great help if we could scroll down and see all the comments posted during the past 24 hours. Like Esther I like to keep in touch with what is being discussed.

if diet has little effect on cancer, perhaps you would like to explain why the National Cancer Institute is using the ketogenic diet in conjunction with standard treatments which are currently being explored in several trials funded by the National Cancer Institute.?

#1. Because they would like to waste alot of money perhaps?
#2. Or they think it is going to be a pointless exercise?
#3. Or because the evidence points to how effective the diet can be in combating cancer?

Why have you cited a site advocating the low-glucose diet that has been proven not to work, as supporting early trials by NCI on ketogenic diet, that have as yet produced no results?

Nobody said diet has “little effect” on cancer. What is clear, and supported by a very substantial body of evidence, is that “miracle” cancer diets don’t work. If they did, every oncologist would recommend them. Every cancer unit I know of has qualified dieticians.

For anyone who’s interested, here are the details of the NCI’s trial of ketogenic diet from the original source: http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/search/view?cdrid=742309&version=HealthProfessional

“The purpose of this study is to determine the safety and tolerability of a modified low carbohydrate diet, determine if quality of life is improved and to determine if the diet has any effect on tumor growth (size or spread) and or to determine if there is any effect on progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) of subjects enrolled in the study.”

This is not quite the same as the glucose starvation theory, which is currently understood to be not just ineffective but counterproductive: http://beaker.sanfordburnham.org/2013/01/cancer-cells-rewire-metabolism/

“Many scientists have tried killing cancer cells by taking away their favorite food, a sugar called glucose. Unfortunately, this treatment approach not only fails to work, it backfires—glucose-starved tumors actually get more aggressive.”

What’s interesting here is the statement: ““If we can find an effective way to add PKCζ back to tumors that lack it, we’d make them less suited for survival and more sensitive to current therapies,” – in other words, the use of glucose by cancer cells is *already* exploited by current therapies, but glucose starvation is not, because it doesn’t work.

This is in contrast to a number of “alternative” sites which promote sugar starvation as effective. At least one of these asserts that polysaccharides cannot be metabolised into glucose by the body – this is wrong, they can be and are.

What I don’t understand yet, because I haven’t yet traced the full timeline, is how the research on the role of glucose in cancer came to be plucked from its context in mainstream cancer research, crafted into a simplistic “miracle cure” and thus morphed into the narrative of suppression of “natural cures” despite the obvious fact that it began with, and is still part of, entirely mainstream scientific investigations.

the study you have quoted on the ketogenic diet has this to say………..

“Studies in animals as well as in tumor tissue models show slowing of tumor growth, and in some instances also showed tumor shrinkage. Human case reports and a small study of 16 patients show tumor shrinkage and stable disease while on the diet”.

And if the Gerson therapy does not work I suggest you contact: Dr. Yoshihiko Hoshino, M.D. Professor of Medicine at Loma Linda Clinic who actually treated himself with the Gerson therapy for metastasized liver cancer over 15 years ago. Including Dr. Takaho Watayo, Subdirector & Surgeon, Toritsu Ohtsuka Hospital, Dr. Kunihiko Tominaga, Director of the Loma Linda Clinic in Japan.
Dr. Watayo’s research and documentation of his work is extensive. All of these doctors and the late Dr. Gerson have plenty of casework done to back up treatment of cancer patients who were “cured” using the Gerson Therapy.

“Nobody said diet has “little effect” on cancer. What is clear, and supported by a very substantial body of evidence, is that “miracle” cancer diets don’t work. If they did, every oncologist would recommend them. Every cancer unit I know of has qualified dietitians”.

I agree with you that “miracle cancer diets” do not work either, but then I have never endorsed them; I suppose you are referring to the Budwig Protocol, the Gerson Therapy, the ketogenic diet or the Hoxsey treatments, as “miracle cancer diets” which they are not, but they are significant dietary interventions in the cure of cancers.
Comprehension issues seem to be running rampant.

On the subject of dietitians, I would say beware of people with nutritional qualifications such as these who recommend refined white sugary junk foods that are devoid of any nutrition to cancer patients at The Royal Marsden Hospital, who really need to have a rethink about their advice.

“Around the world, a growing body of expert opinion – the ‘No Sugar’ movement – is leading a global fightback and warning that our sweet habit is completely out of control, leaving a nasty taste in the mouth of the body public. Refined sugar, whether added to food by you or the manufacturer, is the greatest threat to human health, bar none, they say”.

You may also want to read these………..

Nicholas A Graham, Martik Tahmasian, Bitika Kohli, Evangelia Komisopoulou, Maggie Zhu, Igor Vivanco, Michael A Teitell, Hong Wu, Antoni Ribas, Roger S Lo, Ingo K Mellinghoff, Paul S Mischel, Thomas G Graeber. Glucose deprivation activates a metabolic and signaling amplification loop leading to cell death. Molecular Systems Biology, 2012; 8 DOI: 10.1038/msb.2012.20

A Low Carbohydrate, High Protein Diet Slows Tumor Growth and Prevents Cancer Initiation; Victor W. Ho et al; Cancer Res July 1, 2011 71; 4484;

Is there a role for carbohydrate restriction in the treatment and prevention of cancer? Rainer J Klement and Ulrike Kämmerer; Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011; 8: 75; Published online 2011 October 26. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-8-75 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3267662/?tool=pubmed

Sure, you can believe advocates.

Or you can believe CRUK (http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/about-cancer/treatment/complementary-alternative/therapies/gerson-therapy), NCI (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/gerson/patient/), ACS (http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietandnutrition/gerson-therapy), MSKCC (http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/gerson-regimen) etc., all of whom could and would use it if it worked, all of whom say it is dangerous and ineffective.

I recommend this 2008 summary, which is very thorough: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/canjclin.23.5.314/abstract

Any chance we could stop discussing Gerson now? I think the jury really is in on that one!

“we should stop discussing Gerson now? I think the jury really is in on that one”!

Depends on whose jury we are referring to?

I endorse the point raised by Esther and and the further suggestion from Wavechange above. By my quick-&-dirty comment-count, after four weeks’ of this Conversation we have seen 538 comments contributed by 21 people [excluding our esteemed moderator’s interventions], but 379 of those comments [and all of the longest posts] have been submitted by two contributors. It looks as though a number of individual correspondents who have nosed into the Conversation out of a genuine interest in the efficacy of treatments – and sometimes a direct personal interest having regard to a medical condition suffered by themselves or their relations – have given up and gone away. Perhaps they are still reading the postings but feel they have gone so far away from the issue and into abstruse polemical realms that they no longer have anything to gain from staying with this thread. I feel that we have collectively let those people down. I applaud Patrick’s action in imposing a détente on some contributions but I fear the argument will persist but through a time warp which might make this Conversation even more incoherent.

Two things seem to me to be largely missing from this conversation – independent authoritative comment on the “evidence” presented by the opposing parties (have we heard from Cancer Research UK for example?) and, secondly, experiences from people who have tried miracle cures.
Apart from this the conversation looks like continuing as a ping pong game. Time to summarise it perhaps – good luck to whoever tries!

“continuing as a ping pong game”

Please don’t call it that. Health and cancer treatments aren’t a game.

Let them talk about it as much as possible.

wev, I was referring to the conversation, not to health, as my comment states.
I would like to see some proper evaluation of information, not ( or perhaps as well as) a continuing exchange of opposing views. As John Ward has diligently researched (see above) 379 comments from just two contributors suggests stalemate on that front – how do we move forward constructively?

Malcolm: You’ve put your finger on it.

As a Which? subscriber, I find it offensive when claims are made that endorse treatments that are contradicted by the best available evidence and in some cases have been found by courts to be fraudulent.

This results in stalemate when people sincerely believe in treatments that are contradicted by the evidence: neither Chris nor I feels the other should have the last word.

I’m happy for any of the other regulars here to draw any discussion to a close with a balanced review of the claim and the evidence for and against. I will abide by that.

I have been thinking about cancer recently, since a friend died as a result of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. People who knew him assumed that he had cancer, but we only found out after his death. Two months ago we had a fit man in his early eighties, who walked miles every day.

Thankfully, we can do more for cancer sufferers than in the past and we need to support the best scientists to try to achieve more successes.

If alternative therapy is to be taken seriously, it has to provide evidence that is acceptable to oncologists. With a funeral to attend on Monday, I really don’t want to read more about worthless cancer treatment. Let’s show some respect to those living with cancer and their friends and family. As Wev says, cancer treatment is not a game.

I empathize with your feelings wavechange, and my sincere condolences at what must be a difficult time for you, and I too have lost a close friend to bowel cancer which spread to his Liver; I have also lost two close neighbors who died of inoperable brain cancer, with another who is waiting to die from pancreatic cancer. My father died of multiple myeloma discovered accidentally from a blood test after a varicose vein removal. His treatment protocol included bonefos. My wifes uncle died from stomach cancer, and well I could go on and on. They all died within 3 years of diagnosis.

It has been under these circumstances that I and many people like me have become frustrated with the failure of current cancer treatments, and why we have sought other avenues of help outside of mainstream oncology.

There is now no doubt in my own mind that some of these alternative anticancer therapies are successful, and in part accepted and utilized by some highly qualified medical Doctors, but it is has been a frustrating exercise in trying to convince anyone here that that is indeed the case.

Wavechange: You are exactly right. The problem is that “alternative” means, by definition, that it doesn’t have evidence acceptable to oncologists.

To quote Minchin’s Law, “You know what they call “alternative medicine” that’s been proved to work? Medicine.”

Guy, I think this is playing with semantics. If someone comes up with an idea – in whatever field, including healthcare – that has not previously been thought of, or explored, then it is worth looking at and investigating further if it seems to have any possible merit. Whether you call this “alternative”, “blue sky”, doesn’t really matter. Using mould to cure infections might have been described as “alternative” and derided when first mooted. Darwin’s origin of the species probably met with this sort of opposition.
The key is to look at the sense behind the proposal – what suggests it may have some merit? – and then to subject it to scientific scrutiny. What seems to bedevil some of the comments is an unwillingness to use or accept scientific scrutiny as a necessary step in their evaluation.

That’s a fair point, but a treatment isn’t “alternative” by virtue of being new.

Consider the role of glucose in the growth of cancer. Findings about glucose metabolism and the fact that a high proportion of cancer cells cannot metabolise other energy sources appears, as far as I can tell, to have originated in orthodox cancer research. As a result, some people seized on it and write popular books promoting glucose-free diets as a “miracle cure”. In the mean time, further investigation showed that glucose free diets not only didn’t slow cancer down, it made cancers grow more aggressively.

It seems likely to me that at some point in the not too distant future cancer researchers will work out how to exploit the role of glucose in cancer metabolism. Actually they already are: it’s used as a mechanism to target therapies, and other researchers have identified genes which distinguish cancers that metabolise only glucose form those that don’t metabolise glucose at all.

The situation now is that because the glucose-free anti-cancer diet is “alternative”, this is perceived as an “alternative” treatment that is now being investigated by science, but my understanding of the timeline is that this impression is completely wrong – it is not an alternative treatment being investigated by science, but rather an alternative treatment that has spun out of a misunderstanding from early reports.

Early reports are very often wrong. Usually wrong, actually. But the “publish or perish” culture produces lots of lovely headlines. Here’s an interesting take on this problem: http://www.healthnewsreview.org/toolkit/tips-for-understanding-studies/7-words-and-more-you-shouldnt-use-in-medical-news/

I’d be really interested to hear of any discoveries in the last 25 years that have originated in the alternative field, not from the alternative field taking on a result of normal scientific investigation, and which have led to a clinically useful result.

Nobody denies that the natural world is a fertile source of inspiration, I read that most new drugs begin with an analogue of a naturally occurring compound, but what’s missing, for me at least, is any evidence that the alternative world (rather than patient scientific exploration) brings any new insight.

Malcolm R,
I do agree your comments that include: ” What seems to bedevil some of the comments is an unwillingness to use or accept scientific scrutiny as a necessary step in their evaluation.”

The successful use of the Gerson protocol by mainstream medicine in Japan is a case in point, and to my own knowledge has not been properly investigated or evaluated by oncology generally; this is most likely because of the opposition to it on the grounds that it is implausible and therefore quackery, as has been reiterated here, requiring no investigation.

your comment that….
“Consider the role of glucose in the growth of cancer. Findings about glucose metabolism and the fact that a high proportion of cancer cells cannot metabolise other energy sources appears, as far as I can tell, to have originated in orthodox cancer research”.

Is true, because in 1931 the Nobel laureate in medicine, German Otto Warburg, Ph.D., first discovered that cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells. The crux of his Nobel thesis was that malignant tumors frequently exhibit an increase in anaerobic glycolysis — a process whereby glucose is used as a fuel by cancer cells with lactic acid as an anaerobic byproduct — compared to normal tissues.

But this has been ignored by Mainstream oncology for reasons unknown.