Respectful Insolence

i-dafc39d1d2dec2fae5bf2bb0862535c3-applegatex.jpgThis is getting to be nauseatingly frequent.

As my blog bud Mark Hoofnagle pointed out, the hard-core “alternative medicine” mavens, in particular that despicable promoter of quackery and distrust of scientific medicine who runs one of the two or three largest repositories of antiscience and quackery in existence, Mike Adams, seem to have decided that a lovely new tactic would be to descend upon every celebrity death or battle with serious disease, ghoul-like, and blame their deaths or suffering on conventional medicine rather than disease. Both PalMD and I noted this particularly vile tactic applied to the recent death of former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, and Adams has done the same thing in response to the deaths of Tim Russert (whose death he blamed on the heart medications Russert was taking), Heath Ledger, and Bernie Mac as well. Oddly enough, the ghoul appears not to have descended upon the corpse of Isaac Hayes yet, even though every indication is that Hayes, having suffered a stroke a while back, died of another stroke. Maybe it’s because Hayes was a prominent Scientologist, and even Adams is afraid of messing with the Church of Scientology. Maybe it’s because, before his turning to Scientology, Hayes was so ├╝ber-cool that even Adams fears messing with his memory. Who knows?

In any case, I don’t know if dancing on the graves of celebrities as “evidence” that conventional medicine killed them is a new tactic, but I do know that I seem to be seeing it more and more. Whether that’s confirmation bias on my part or a true increase in the use of this particularly condemnation-worthy ghoulish gloating I don’t know. What I do know is that Mike Adams and others of his ilk seem to be hovering, waiting for celebrity deaths that they can blame on “conventional” medicine, no matter how much torture they must inflict on science, medicine, and even reason itself to pin these deaths on their hated “allopathic” medicine.

Last week, it turned out that Mike Adams, at least, doesn’t even need to have a dead celebrity as an excuse to torture science. All he needs is a celebrity with cancer who decided to pursue science-based therapy. This time around, in response to Christina Applegate’s battle with breast cancer and decision to undergo bilateral mastectomies, Adams has published yet another of his spittle-flecked screeds, this time charmingly entitled Christina Applegate Maimed by Surgeons with Double Mastectomy Following Breast Cancer Diagnosis. This article is yet more indication that Mike Adams is about as low as they come. The word “scum” is too good for him. Just check out how his article starts out:

(NaturalNews) Following her diagnosis with breast cancer, actress Christina Applegate decided to have both of her breasts surgically removed, believing that physically removing her breasts would save her from cancer. The double mastectomy procedure is an all-too-frequent choice by women who have been scared into limited treatment options by mostly male doctors who think nothing of physically maiming a woman and cutting away organs that are often closely tied to a woman’s self identity.

Of course, Adams has done this sort of thing before with regards to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I expect he’ll do it again come October. One of the most obvious and egregious omissions from Adams tirade is the most important fact that you need to know in understanding why Applegate decided to undergo this procedure. It’s that Applegate’s mother battled breast cancer and that, after Applegate herself developed breast cancer at the tender young age of 36, she underwent genetic testing and tested positive for a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, which results in a very high lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Depending upon the specific mutation (not all BRCA1 mutations produce the same lifetime risk for breast and ovarian cancer), the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer can be as high as 85%.

This is not a case of evil “allopathic” male physicians chuckling and rubbing their hands together lasciviously as they contemplate the opportunity to rip the beautiful breasts off of a beautiful woman just because they can, as Adams implies. (Never mind that many, if not most, breast cancer surgeons these days are women.) No, it’s a rational, science-based approach to trying to obviate the very high risk of breast cancer that possessing this mutation portends. The choices involved when a young woman with breast cancer is found to have this mutation are hard, both for the woman, her surgeon, and her oncologists. By their very nature they involve tradeoffs: “maiming” to decrease the risk of cancer versus, for example, close followup after treatment for her cancer in order to detect new cancers early at the price of living with constant fear of a new primary cancer or that her cancer will recur (more on that later). These are the real issues that must be discussed with women and later agonized over by these same women as they try to decide what to do, and there’s no reason to think that Applegate was any different. Of course, in Mike Adams’ fantasy world, the issues that we practitioners of science-based medicine know to be incredibly difficult to deal with are fantasized to be simplicity itself:

When pushing that high-profit double mastectomy procedure to Christina Applegate, what cancer doctors did not tell her is that breast cancer has many natural cures, and none of them require surgery. In fact, breast cancer is one of the most easily cured forms of cancer, and had Applegate been informed about her options, she might have chosen to avoid being surgically maimed, and she could have lived out her life with her natural-born breasts

.

First off, double mastectomies are not “high profit,” at least not for breast surgeons like me. Plastic surgeons’ reimbursement is far higher. Indeed, breast surgery is, alas, one of the lower-reimbursed surgical specialties. I suspect it’s because the surgery itself is not (usually) that technically difficult (although with skin-sparing mastectomies and sentinel lymph node biopsies it has become more difficult), but, as is the case with our primary care colleagues, the level of reimbursement doesn’t take into account the large amount of time it takes to counsel women on these very issues. But that’s just me whining. What’s more egregiously stupid in the above quote is Adams claim that there are “natural” cures for breast cancer that do not require surgery. That’s a lie.

Naturally, to Adams, like woo-meisters ranging from Ryke Geerd Hamer to Robert O. Young, believes that cancer is not the disease itself but rather a “manifestation” of something else wrong, be it a “psychic trauma” a “pH imbalance,” or a liver fluke, except to him it’s much more vague:

Cancer is not defined by a physical tumor. Cancer is a systemic failure of the immune system and cellular communication. You can remove a tumor from one area of the body, but unless you eliminate the underlying causes of cancer, tumors will likely reappear somewhere else.

Thus, by surgically removing Christina Applegate’s breasts, cancer surgeons have misled her into thinking she’s cured, when in reality, she now has the exact same risk of cancer coming back as she did before the surgery.

In other words: She gave up both breasts and still didn’t cure her cancer!

Such is the “treatment” offered by the fraudulent cancer industry.

Such are the lies offered by the fraudulent and vile Mike Adams.

First off, when surgeons and oncologists counsel women about cancer, they rarely, if ever, use the term “cured.” Rather, they talk about long term survival rates. It’s the same when they discuss prophylactic mastectomy or oophorectomy, they do not tell women they are “cured.” They tell women, based on science, that their risk of cancer will be decreased by surgery. How much? First, understand that prophylactic surgery will not reduce the risk to zero, just as a mastectomy with curative intent never reduces the risk of local recurrence to zero. The reason is that it is impossible to remove 100% of breast tissue. If a thin layer of fat, which will contain a small amount of breast tissue as well, isn’t left under the skin flaps left after a mastectomy, the skin flap will die because its blood supply is located in a plexus of blood vessels in the tissue directly underlying the skin. Consequently, for a mastectomy it’s always a balance between making the flap as thin as possible without compromising its blood supply. In the case of women already diagnosed with breast cancer or preinvasive breast cancer (we don’t know which one Applegate has, other than that it’s early stage), there is also always the chance of the tumor recurring, either in the breast or elsewhere in the body, strictly based on its biology. When appropriate, radiation and chemotherapy can reduce this risk further than surgery alone.

How much does prophylactic mastectomy reduce the risk of breast cancer? That’s a tough question. Older studies provide risk reduction estimates between 50-100% at the 95% confidence level. More recent studies suggest a roughly 90% decrease in the risk of breast cancer, and a study presented at the 6th European Breast Cancer Conference in Berlin, Germany earlier this year estimated that the risk of breast cancer in women carrying cancer-associated BRCA1 mutations could be reduces from 85% to 1% by prophylactic surgery. This study probably doesn’t strictly apply to Applegate’s case because she already has cancer and, even if she has stage I disease, her risk of recurrence is greater than 1%. Nonetheless, whatever the true risk reduction, it is true that data from the last ten years or so have demonstrated a very real and very marked reduction in risk for breast cancer in women with BRCA1 mutations who undergo bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, either as part of treatment for breast cancer (in which case one mastectomy is with the intent to treat and cure and the other is with the intent to prevent cancer) or as a preventative measure. Even given the efficacy of bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, only a minority of women with BRCA1 mutations undergo the procedure, which leads in to a brief discussion of other options:

  • Surveillance. This involves very close surveillance for cancer in the hope of catching it early. The up side is that the woman can keep her breasts. The down side is that it is labor-intensive, expensive, and leaves the woman with long-term emotional distress due to worry over the specter of breast cancer that is always haunting her life. Although the exact regimen varies, generally these days it involves yearly mammography and MRI, often staggered so that the woman is getting a screening test every six months, along with physical exaination every six months and monthly self-breast examination. In the long run, especially for young women, this option is very difficult and, now that MRI is routinely recommended on a yearly basis for women at high risk for breast cancer, expensive.
  • Chemoprevention. This generally involves taking either estrogen-blocking drugs such as Tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor for five years to decrease the risk of developing breast cancer. This is not as effective as surgery, and the medications are not without side effects. However, they can reduce the risk of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive tumors, which is the type of tumor that can be treated with estrogen blockade. The problem is that approximately 70% of tumors in women with BRCA1 mutations are ER-negative compared with approximately 30% of breast cancer in the general population, making chemoprevention less effective.
  • Risk avoidance. Avoid risk factors for cancer by exercising regularly and minimizing alcohol consumption. Obesity and alcohol are weak risk factors for cancer (far weaker than BRCA1 mutations or reproductive history), but the NCI recommends this.

Also remember that none of these options deals with another aspect of BRCA1 mutations: The greatly increased risk of ovarian cancer. It’s not as huge as the risk of breast cancer, but it’s quite elevated, and, unlike the case for breast cancer, there is nowhere near as good a screening test for ovarian cancer. The question of prophylactically or “pre-emptively” removing the ovaries thus comes up, and that question is fraught with difficulty in timing, given that women diagnosed as BRCA1 carriers before they have borne children will have to decide whether to have their ovaries removed and give up their chance of bearing children or to wait until after they have children and take the chance of developing ovarian cancer. There’s also the issue that having the ovaries removed is in essence the same thing as the chemopreventative drugs and renders the need to take them moot.

But, hey, Mike Adams tells us it’s all really, really easy! All Applegate has to do is to exercise, take Vitamin D, eat an “anticancer” diet, and take “anticancer herbs,” and she could have cured her cancer without all that nasty surgery. I really, really hope that women who read Adams’ nonsense who might have breast cancer, or even a BRCA1 mutation, don’t fall for his lies. It could mean the difference between life and death, and I personally view Adams as being just as responsible if women with BRCA1 mutations listen to him and don’t undergo appropriate surveillance or preventative surgery, thinking that they will never get cancer if they just follow Adams’ quackery, as I view antivaccinationists as being responsible for the resurgence of measles and every case of encephalitis and death that will occur in the future because they have frightened parents into not vaccinating. Adams will have deaths on his hands. He probably already has.

While oozing slime as he condenscendingly–even sarcastically–concedes that Applegate is courageous, Adams in his typical fashion of dismissing anyone who decides upon pursuing scientific medicine makes it clear that he views Applegate as hopelessly duped by those same evil “allopathic” physicians–duped to the point that she would submit to being “maimed” by them:

Many women in America today look at Applegate and consider her courageous for making such a decision. She is, indeed, quite courageous. Allowing surgeons to physically maim your body in a desperate attempt to save your own life takes real courage. Applegate is to be commended for that attribute, at least.

But at the same time, Applegate is sadly misinformed, and she has now permanently damaged her body and yet achieved no lasting safety from cancer.

Not surprisingly, according to Adams, all is not lost. He goes on to say that, if Applegate “repents,” rejects apostasy, and converts to his religion of “natural cures,” she can still be saved–yes, saved!–from cancer (yes, I’m intentionally using religious language):

Of course, if she starts taking anti-cancer herbs right now, she can easily prevent cancer for the rest of her life. Preventing cancer is simple and straightforward: It only requires daily exposure to the right nutrients (phytonutrients, vitamin D, etc.) and protection from exposure to cancer-causing chemicals — especially endocrine disruptors like cow’s milk, conventional meats, plastics, pharmaceuticals and food additive chemicals.

I can tell you right now with near-certainty that Applegate is vitamin D deficient. This is what allowed her cancer to grow to the point where it was large enough to be diagnosed. Sufficient levels of Vitamin D in your blood prevent 77% of ALL cancers (including breast cancer). Read that story here: http://www.naturalnews.com/021892.html

That’s correct: One nutrient prevents 77% of all cancers. Yet I’d be willing to bet a substantial sum of money that Applegate’s doctors never even told her about this simple, powerful anti-cancer nutrient that she could get for free!

That’s right. “Repent and worship our natural religion,” urges Adams, “and you will be saved!”

I’ve discussed the claim that vitamin D can prevent “77%” of all cancers in detail before. Suffice it to say that, while there may indeed be a cancer-preventative effect due to vitamin D, it’s nowhere near 77% of “all cancers” and it’s not as crystal clear as Adams claims. He also makes the claim that mammograms cause cancer, which is another of his distortions, particularly in Applegate’s case. Even though cumulative exposure to radiation can increase the risk of cancer, the level of of radiation from mammograms is too low for it to make a significant difference except over many years of screening, and even then the slightly elevated risk of cancer is far outweighed by the benefit. By report Christina Applegate had begun having yearly mammograms at age 30 because of her family history; to think that six years worth of mammography caused her breast cancer, particularly given that she has a BRCA1 mutation, is such a distortion of reality that it’s hard to describe just what a deceptive scumbag Mike Adams is for even making that claim.

Of course, with Adams it’s about ideology akin to a religion, not science. It’s about his hatred of “conventional” medicine, as represented by his finishing with a “greatest hits”-style flurry of claims:

  • “Cancer doctors, you see, are really in the business of keeping patients ignorant and uneducated, corralling them into barbaric treatments that benefit themselves, not their patients. While Applegate has now lost both breasts and undergone an extremely painful, barbaric surgical procedure, her cancer doctors have collected enormous sums of cash that they charged her. The doctors walk home rich, but women walk home maimed and still susceptible to recurring cancer. Is that really the best modern medicine can offer? The answer is yes! — if you limit yourself to drugs and surgery. To get something better, you have to turn to advanced natural medicine, where anti-cancer nutrients are found everywhere in foods, herbs and nature.”
  • “The cancer industry today operates like society in the 1850′s — it’s a male-dominated system run by people who exploit women for their own selfish reasons. Following the Women’s Suffrage Movement, as new rights started to become available to women, more and more women began to attend universities. Education empowered women with new choices, and with that power, they were able to rise to new positions of power, both in the home and the workplace.”
  • “Modern medicine wishes to keep women trapped in a system of ignorance and enslavement. Telling women they need to cut off both breasts to treat cancer is like demanding they stay at home, barefoot and pregnant, serving as little more than servants of their men.”

The stupid, it sears me to my very bones. I do have to doff my hat to Adams for one thing, though. I’ve never seen a “health freedom” rant that likened the freedom to choose quackery to the the women’s suffrage movement. Just when I think Adams has reached the limit for torturing logic and historical analogies, damn if he doesn’t go and prove me wrong by going even further into Woo Land! He also really, really hates that Applegate apparently looked at the evidence, listened to her doctors, and made a very rational decision:

Applegate called the operation a logical decision. Her mother battled breast cancer, and she tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation linked to breast and ovarian cancer.

“I just wanted to kind of be rid of it,” she said. “So this was the choice I made and it was a tough one.”

Fortunately, I think that Applegate will probably do just fine. Is she out of the woods? Of course not. She still has to deal with the very thorny issue of what to do with her ovaries, and there is still a chance her cancer will recur or that she will develop a new breast cancer. Moreover, BRCA1 mutations also predispose to other forms of cancer that can’t be prevented at acceptable cost with prophylactic surgery. Despite all that, she does have a great attitude:

Speaking on ABC News’ Good Morning America in her first interview since announcing her diagnosis earlier this month, the Samantha Who? star said she had a double mastectomy three weeks ago. She’ll undergo reconstructive surgery over the next eight months.

“I’m going to have cute boobs ’til I’m 90, so there’s that,” she joked in the interview, which aired Tuesday. “I’ll have the best boobs in the nursing home. I’ll be the envy of all the ladies around the bridge table.”

And:

The Emmy-nominated Samantha Who? star has kept her sense of humor intact.

“I’ve laughed so much in the last three weeks,” she said. “I love living, and I really love my life, and I knew that from this moment on it was only going to be good that was going to be coming. Yeah, I’ll face challenges, but you can’t get any darker than where I’ve been. So knowing that in my soul gave me the strength to just say, ‘I have to get out there and make this a positive.”‘

That’s not to say that her decision hasn’t caused her the normal emotional difficulties that any decision like this will cause, but she’s appears to be dealing with it quite well in public. No one can know what anguish she endures when she is alone, away from reporters, photographers, and the public.

Perhaps what irritates me the most about Mike Adams and his ghoulishness in pouncing upon every story of celebrities dying or dealing with with life-threatening disease is the sheer opportunism of it all. To him, apparently, suffering and death exist only to validate his belief that all “natural” medicine (whatever that means, given that some of the idiocy on his site isn’t exactly “natural”) is good and all scientific medicine is the darkest of evils. He views them and everyone else through the prism of his never-ending war against scientific medicine. Worse, he runs one of the three or four largest and most heavily-trafficked “natural medicine” sites on the Internet. He is widely read and linked to, with far more reach and influence than all the blogs of all the skeptical docs out there combined, and what he preaches is in essence a religion that is unaffected by data, a religion of quackery of which antivaccinationism is only a part. As with antivaccinationists like Jenny McCarthy, I agree with Mark that it’s time to hold Adams responsible for his contribution to frightening people away from effective scientific medicine. If Adams doesn’t have blood on his hands yet from persuading cancer patients to follow quackery instead of science, he will.

It’s only a matter of time.

MORE INFORMATION:

  1. Why an actress would remove her breasts
  2. Christina Applegate’s Breast Cancer: FAQ
  3. Prophylactic Mastectomy in Women With BRCA Gene Mutations Reduces Risk for Breast Cancer to Less Than 1%
  4. Genetic testing for breast cancer: What the results mean
  5. Genetic Testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2: It’s Your Choice

Comments

  1. #1 I am so wise
    August 25, 2008

    This isn’t quackery so much as much as it is high quality gibberish. Seriously, that rant about cancer doctors sounds good, until you realize oncologists get cancer too. If Adams is to be believe then we have to assume oncologists are not only willing to sacrifice friends and loved ones for their “cause” but also themselves.

    “Modern medicine wishes to keep women trapped in a system of ignorance and enslavement”

    Yeah, that’s would be believable if 25% of doctors didn’t have a penis (http://archive.southcoasttoday.com/daily/03-03/03-25-03/l02tr026.htm)

    I am all in favor the 1st amendment, but at some point when stupidity costs lives, penalties need to be enacted.

  2. #2 trans guy
    August 25, 2008

    High profit my ass. I don’t know about the cost for a cancer patient, but a double mastectomy with nipple reconstruction on a healthy person comes to about eight thousand bucks — not a bad deal for life-saving surgery — life-saving meaning either cancer avoidance or, for a person dealing with gender dysphoria, suicide prevention.

  3. #3 PalMD
    August 25, 2008

    Indeed, breast surgery is, alas, one of the lower-reimbursed surgical specialties. I suspect it’s because the surgery itself is not (usually) that technically difficult (although with skin-sparing mastectomies and sentinel lymph node biopsies it has become more difficult), but, as is the case with our primary care colleagues, the level of reimbursement doesn’t take into account the large amount of time it takes to counsel women on these very issues

    Amen

  4. #4 zy
    August 25, 2008

    At least he’s not quoting the Conservapaedia on how being a Hollywood celebrity increases one’s risk of breast cancer. (I’m still not sure what they are implying but they make it sound all very spooky and hush-hush and covered up if not for their courageous efforts.)

    Adams seems unaware modern medicine has given women options in their lives, like birth control. Or for that matter, surviving. Let’s see, 5-year survival rate for breast cancer with 21st century medicine, over 80%. Anybody know what it was with pre-modern methods like vitamins and spiritual chants?

  5. #5 Eric
    August 25, 2008

    This is just one of many, but: “I can tell you right now with near-certainty that Applegate is vitamin D deficient.”

    I just love how Adams makes his diagnoses just like that, out of thin air…WITHOUT HAVING READ THE CASE HISTORY! It’s flat out amazing.

    I mean, how does he know what Applegate and her doctors spoke about? How does he know whether or not she was presented with all the options, the risks, and the complications? Was Adams present in the exam room? Was he asked to consult?

    The stupid really does burn.

  6. #6 Interrobang
    August 25, 2008

    What’s with this “cancer is a failure of the immune system” stuff? Not that I know anything much about it, being neither an oncologist nor a biologist, but from what I’d read, that seems a little bit…off the rails to me.

    A friend of mine was just running this number on me, saying that cancer is primarily caused by a depressed immune system, and that people with healthy immune systems often develop cancers which their immune systems then fight off somehow, and that “most doctors don’t know that cancer isn’t one disease,” which I know is flat-out wrong. The other stuff doesn’t just sound wrong, it sounds biologically implausible to me, I’m having a hard time imagining how one’s immune system would know whether or how to go about attacking cancer in the first place.

    She also was citing some book by a Susan Love. I can’t find much on her other than that she seems to be another one of these crunchy-granola medical self-help-book writers and a (former?) MD, and one very credulous review article from the otherwise excellent CMAJ that was flinging the usual wooish “doctors don’t treat the whole patient” BS, so alarm bells are ringing, if quietly.

    Any help, here? My friend has a family history of breast cancer and just got a negative BRCA1 screen (other people in her family have it), and I’d hate to think she’d eventually opt for eating flax seeds and multivitamins instead of regular medical screening. So far so good, but… I also never quite know what to say when she starts up with this stuff — she seems so trusting. I don’t think she’d quite believe me if I said, “You know Susan Love is a quack, right?” *sigh*

  7. #7 Kemist
    August 25, 2008

    “What’s with this “cancer is a failure of the immune system” stuff? Not that I know anything much about it, being neither an oncologist nor a biologist, but from what I’d read, that seems a little bit…off the rails to me.”

    It is. Some cancers do provoke a specific immune response (and it is beginning to be exploited in cancer treatment using monoclonal antibodies), but it is not that simple. Specifically in the case of breast cancer, for example, there is evidence that components of the immune system actually help cancer cells to metastasize. Cancer cells are very crafty in manipulating their environment, including the immune system.

  8. #8 AnnR
    August 25, 2008

    She also was citing some book by a Susan Love. I can’t find much on her other than that she seems to be another one of these crunchy-granola medical self-help-book writers and a (former?) MD, and one very credulous review article from the otherwise excellent CMAJ that was flinging the usual wooish “doctors don’t treat the whole patient” BS, so alarm bells are ringing, if quietly./

    I don’t think Susan love is crunchy-granola. Christine Northrop (Oprah’s GYN) may be, but not Susan Love. She’s Ms – Every Patient Belongs in a Clinical Trial.

    Nowhere in her book does she imply that you can cure your cancer with Vitamin D or somesuch nuttiness. IMO she’s fairly mainstream. She’s written a long but readable “Breast Book” that is most useful to a woman who is interested in an in-depth look at breast cancer and conventional treatments. Yes, she covers non-conventional treatments, but she doesn’t say do this instead of chemothearpy!

    I guess my bias is showing because I too agree that medicine doesn’t treat the whole patient. My take is that until “medicine” becomes counselor, lawyer and parent they shouldn’t even try.

    If you want to have a clue about what is in store for you after a positive biopsy for breast cancer Susan Love’s book is a good one to check out of the library. One of my peeves about Internet Medical information is that you get little screen-sized blurbs of information. Her book is reasonably conversational and goes into the numbers behind various treatment options in an in-depth but understandable way.

    Something that isn’t often mentioned about bilateral mastectomies is that if you are doing implant reconstruction, as Ms. Applegate, who is thin, most likely is, you’re more likely to get better symmetry. It is my guess that this is probably going to be the end of her career as breast cancer/mastectomy in Hollywood stars is not usually a billing point.

  9. #9 Blake Stacey
    August 25, 2008

    Isn’t Mike Adams basically insisting that a woman is defined by her breasts? Creepy bastard.

  10. #10 Interrobang
    August 25, 2008

    Thanks for the answers, by the way.

    One of my peeves about Internet Medical information is that you get little screen-sized blurbs of information.

    Most of the medical information I’ve ever gotten off the internet has been full-text papers off of PubMed, FWIW. I’m kind of hardcore that way, but I figure since I’ve got all this education, I might as well use it.

    The article in CMAJ did definitely mention her in the context of other pushers of woo (cite), namely Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra, so I was wondering whether she belonged in that set too. Just the fact that someone else might associate her with Deepak Chopra makes me highly suspicious right off the bat, but I’m known for my deeply paranoid nature when it comes to sources…

  11. #11 KC
    August 25, 2008

    @ ZY:
    I’m really curious to know that too. It’d be a good statistic to have on hand. I tried poking around, but I don’t know where to find it. I’m hoping Orac, or some other helpful soul, can give a pointer.

  12. #12 Carlie
    August 25, 2008

    Oh, I hope she has enough energy to tackle this. Christina Applegate could chew him up and spit him out for breakfast.

  13. #13 Karl Withakay
    August 25, 2008

    I have seen credible claims(with some study support) that Vitamin D can help prevent/ reduce incidence of some cancers. I have seen plausible claims that Vitamin D can help treat cancers. I have not seen any credible or plausible claims that Vitamin D can cure cancers absent of other conventional medical treatment/intervention such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, etc.

  14. #14 Aaron Golas
    August 25, 2008

    “… cutting away organs that are often closely tied to a woman’s self identity.”

    Adams must be personally terrified of getting colon cancer, then.

  15. #15 khan
    August 25, 2008

    (NaturalNews) Following her diagnosis with breast cancer, actress Christina Applegate decided to have both of her breasts surgically removed, believing that physically removing her breasts would save her from cancer. The double mastectomy procedure is an all-too-frequent choice by women who have been scared into limited treatment options by mostly male doctors who think nothing of physically maiming a woman and cutting away organs that are often closely tied to a woman’s self identity.

    What the does he know about a woman’s self identity?

    I’m a 57 y o female and sometimes think I would just like to have them removed as they serve no function and they make it difficult to buy clothes and sometimes I roll over on them at night (ouch).

  16. #16 RE
    August 25, 2008

    A question of general interest related to the post: as a surgeon and as a physician, what do you think of prophylactic mastectomy generally, for those who test positive for BRCA1/2 mutations or have family histories of breast cancer?

  17. #17 Phoenix Woman
    August 25, 2008

    What’s with this “cancer is a failure of the immune system” stuff? Not that I know anything much about it, being neither an oncologist nor a biologist, but from what I’d read, that seems a little bit…off the rails to me.

    That’s been around ever since it became known that some cancers can be caused by viruses. A lot of people, who know about viruses mainly from getting colds, figure that if you can fight off cold viruses with Vitamin C (which is debatable, to put it very mildly), then you can stop other things, including cancer, with massive doses thereof.

  18. #18 TexDoc
    August 25, 2008

    I wonder what Mike Adams would do if he got testicular cancer. Watch it grow and admire his increasing manhood?

  19. #19 curious
    August 25, 2008

    I wonder what the health food fans would call Jenny McCarthy’s implants, maiming? I call them ugly.

  20. #20 tim gueguen
    August 25, 2008

    No matter how this story played out, and may play out in the future, Adams can twist it to suit his nonsense. Ms. Applegate gets lucky and avoids further cancers? The horrible allopathic doctors mutilated her for no good reason! She gets cancer? The horrible doctors mutilated her for no good reason! She decided not to have her breasts removed at this time and got cancer? Those horrible allopathic doctors failed to help her! And of course if someone does go on some woo treatment and dies its never the treatment’s fault, while if someone dies after taking a conventional treatment its always the fault of mainstream medicine.

  21. #21 sophia8
    August 25, 2008

    Isn’t Mike Adams basically insisting that a woman is defined by her breasts? Creepy bastard.
    Not only that, he’s insisting that all us women are weak, easily-lead, fluff-brained creatures who don’t know what’s best for us until some man tells us.

  22. #22 DLC
    August 25, 2008

    My understanding is that Ms Applegate is actually highly intelligent and widely read. (whereas she became famous playing a vacuous blonde bimbette.) If my information is correct, I expect that she made an informed choice based on the best information available. I highly doubt that Adams’ lunacy was even on her reading list.
    As for my opinion of Adams — He’s a cretin barely capable of understanding the fundamentals of science.

  23. #23 Karl Withakay
    August 25, 2008

    Actually in regards to cancer being due to a failure of the immune system, what I have heard mentioned most often is in regards to it being a failure of the immune system to recognize the cancer cells as hostile (damaged cells that should be attacked by the immune system), and letting them go unchecked.

  24. #24 Craig Willoughby
    August 25, 2008

    I still think she’s hot

  25. #25 NM
    August 25, 2008

    Can we nominate Blake Stacey and Aaron Golas for some sort of comedy award?

    Thanks guys. I just snorted two doses of tea into my keyboard.

  26. #26 Charlotte
    August 25, 2008

    As others have said, there’s something of a disconnect between the patronising “organs that are often closely tied to a woman’s self identity” and “modern medicine wishes to keep women trapped in a system of ignorance and enslavement”. I don’t want to make light of the decision to have a mastectomy, it must be an enormously distressing situation and a horrible decision to have to make, but as organs go they’re not the most vital. I’m reasonably fond of mine, but I don’t tie my ‘self identity’ to them as I’ve always thought I had some value beyond my physical assets.

  27. #27 Dr Aust
    August 25, 2008

    It would be very tempting to start a campaign to always refer to Adams as:

    “Pro-cancer activist Mike Adams”

    (though you could always throw in: “… and “natural therapy” quack…” for good measure

    ..in the same way as the Anti-Vaccine / “Green Our Vaccines” crazies are “pro-viral disease campaigners” or just plain:

    “pro-disease campaigners”

    Speaking as old Married with Children fan, I’m sorry to hear the news about Applegate. But at least it sounds like she is got the right advice and acted on it. Let’s hope it works out for her.

    As you say, though, folk like Adams who crow about people dying following conventional treatment as some kind of “moral victory” for their delusional worldview are beneath contempt.

  28. #28 Liz S
    August 25, 2008

    Given a choice between a life-threatening disease and breasts that, quite frankly, can be replaced…well, that’s not a difficult choice. I would make the same decision as Applegate with, I would hope, the same good humor. I have met few women who place such importance on their breasts. It’s just not something we spend a lot of time thinking about. It seems to me that breasts are far more important to Adam’s image of women than they are to women themselves. Perhaps if he listened to women rather than speaking for them, he might come to some understanding in the matter.

  29. #29 Nico
    August 25, 2008

    “It is my guess that this is probably going to be the end of her career as breast cancer/mastectomy in Hollywood stars is not usually a billing point.”

    AnnR, maybe I’m reading this wrong but are you implying that her career is over DUE to the mastectomy, or her career AS a mastectomy patient ( such as one could be?) is over?

    I confess to being a bit stunned if it’s the former.

  30. #30 tresmal
    August 26, 2008

    Orac, and your friends at DenialismBlog and your allies:

    I spend most of my blog time at sites that deal mostly with the evolution vs. creationism debate. But I have spent some time reading your blogs and I have to say that as ignorant and malignant as creationists can be, the people you fight against are just plain evil.

    Keep up the good work!

  31. #31 Natural Born Liars
    August 26, 2008

    I had never heard of Mike Adams before this (luckily for me, it seems) and I am utterly appalled by his ghastly ranting. What an evil (and unattractive) piece of work he is. This creepy expoitation of vulnerable women is no doubt aimed at selling something. What’s bet he markets his own ‘supplements’ or some other kind of fraudulent product. Having been aware of mad Dr Mercola and the even madder Kevin Trudeau, I think I must already know the answer to that!

  32. #32 DrFrank
    August 26, 2008

    @Natural Born Liars

    As far as I could find he doesn’t have a shop, but he has written some BS-filled books that could help you slowly kill yourself for a nominal fee.

  33. #33 Orac
    August 26, 2008

    I don’t think Susan love is crunchy-granola. Christine Northrop (Oprah’s GYN) may be, but not Susan Love. She’s Ms – Every Patient Belongs in a Clinical Trial.

    I missed the comments about Susan Love earlier.

    Susan Love is a well-respected member of the breast cancer community. Although I’ve neer met her, I’ve seen her gives talks at at scientific meetings. I may not always agree with her approach, but her approach is most definitely not woo.

  34. #34 Richard Eis
    August 26, 2008

    Vitamin D is one of the easiest vitamins to get “naturally”. Through the skin and included in fortified foods.
    I’m sorry but does she look like she is getting rickets Mr Adams.

  35. #35 Karl Withakay
    August 26, 2008

    “Vitamin D is one of the easiest vitamins to get “naturally”. Through the skin and included in fortified foods.”

    Except that a large number of Americans have little or no exposure to sunlight these days, and not many foods beyond fortified milk contain any appreciable vitamin D.

    Also, IF (and that’s a BIG if) the current USRDA for D turns out to be as low as some believe it to be, you won’t be able to eat your way to a good D level.

    I have a friend who is a family physician and retired Air Force flight surgeon who a big D proponent. I remain intrigued but secretly skeptical on D.

  36. #36 Calli Arcale
    August 26, 2008

    Nico sez:
    “It is my guess that this is probably going to be the end of her career as breast cancer/mastectomy in Hollywood stars is not usually a billing point.”

    AnnR, maybe I’m reading this wrong but are you implying that her career is over DUE to the mastectomy, or her career AS a mastectomy patient ( such as one could be?) is over?

    I confess to being a bit stunned if it’s the former.

    Not to speak for AnnR or anything, but to be perfectly frank, Hollywood does indeed choose talent based on physical assets. Some of this is understandable — they are hiring people to perform using their bodies, and so their bodies have to be suitable for the desired effect. Some of it is just plain shallow — for instance, the rarity of women finding top-notch leading acting gigs after they turn 35 (apart from a few notable exceptions).

    Any kind of major surgery becomes a career decision when one is an actress. It is much like athletes. Their body really is a major asset. But it is not their only asset, and their careers will end by a certain age if they don’t have any real acting chops. If Applegate is unable to get good gigs in Hollywood, she has alternatives. Stage, for instance, where roles are more likely to be cast based on the quality of the performance than on the performer’s physical attributes. Even major disabilities aren’t always an impediment on the stage, although they can still affect casting. Counting in her favor is that a flat chest is easy to fix in costuming — even if she doesn’t opt for reconstructive surgery, a padded bra is a relatively simple fix.

  37. #37 TomJoe
    August 26, 2008

    @Craig: I still think she’s hot.

    Damn skippy.