Respectful Insolence

Comments

  1. #1 Daniel J. Andrews
    March 9, 2009

    Orac…you have a couple of paragraphs repeated/reworded…they’re after the “Napalm for humans” quote.

    Good post. I agree this is not suitable for Friday woo. This nonsense leads to peoples’ deaths, and should be raged against.

    Glad you wrote about it here. I seldom visit PZ’s site nowadays…PZ is great as long as he sticks to the science, but he often doesn’t and is as misinformed about religious philosophy as the creationists are about biology, evolution and sometimes science in general (which is why I stopped going to creationist sites too). It is just painful to see.

  2. #2 Interrobang
    March 9, 2009

    I think that comment about McDonalds is especially funny since I’m not anything like what a friend of mine calls a “food Calvinist,” and I won’t eat at McDonald’s. As far as I’m concerned, that stuff isn’t food by any rational definition. Sure, you can ingest it, but people eat clay and precious metals too…

    misinformed about religious philosophy as the creationists are about biology

    No, he’s not. I’ve read Aquinas, many of the medieval writers on religion, a couple of the Puritan divines, and some modern philosophers, and there’s still no there there. I’ve also read the Bible, the Qu’ran in translation, and the Torah partly in translation, partly in Hebrew. What he talks about is the reality on the ground in a large part of the United States, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the religious formulations of highbrow philosophers, and is approximately as different as Spinoza and Kramer and Sprenger.

  3. #3 G Felis
    March 9, 2009

    Wonderful science-based takedown of appalling and potentially lethal woo, as always. Thank you, Orac. I consider this sort of thing a public service.

    OT: By the way, The Onion is messing around on your turf. I’m not sure their “Earthquake Denialists” story is quite as chock-full-o’-snark as the Hitler zombie, but it’s pretty close:
    http://www.theonion.com/content/news/san_francisco_historians_condemn

  4. #4 grasshopper
    March 9, 2009

    Beck tells you that his therapy won’t work if you take any other therapy, be it conventional chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, or even any other “alternative” therapy

    What a brilliant way to discover unknown cures!
    If you avoid all known therapies, and the Zapper does not cure you, then there must be an unknown factor in your diet preventing the cure.

  5. #5 alison
    March 9, 2009

    Interrobang – have you read Good Omens (Pratchett & Gaiman)? There’s a nice take on the processed food industry there, via one of the 4 Horsemen…

  6. #6 DLC
    March 9, 2009

    How many people, I wonder, turn to this stuff because they can’t afford a real course of treatment ? Not so many, I’d hope. Usually the reason these quack treatments exist is to rip someone else off, and the more cash they have the better, for the scammer.

  7. #7 gp
    March 10, 2009

    Nice article, objectivity is obviously not your forte.

    The Lexus costs money and the 5 paid trips per year to Las Vegas on Glaxo’s nickel to attend the cytotoxin convention where you learn about the latest neoadjuvant therapy methods (using Glaxo’s products) while betting on black and drinking free Heineken is a nice perk; it keeps the light bill paid and the malpractice insurance in check and maybe every once in a while you sneak a Marlboro Light to live life on the edge.

    Starting with your “microcurrent nonsense” speak, instead of discounting the technology as quackery it might help for you to refute in its entirety why it is in fact nonsense, by specifically replicating the very simple experiment conducted by Dr. Kaali and Dr. Lyman on human blood. I suppose one concession that you gave was recognizing the possibilities for electroporation in cancer treatment, even to a conventional oncologist such as yourself. Regionlized distribution of meds, the ability to reduce by several magnitudes the levels of chemotherapy administered to a patient etc.

    Oh wait, less chemo equals less revenue for your practice, let’s rethink that electroporation thingy again. I doubt that you can downgrade to the Acura again, the Hippocratic Oath simply won’t fit into that small of a trunk next to the Glaxo pens pads and samples AND the golf clubs.

    “One can’t help but note the irony here that gp, being so concerned with diet to treat his wife’s cancer and, presumably, to preserve health, was scarfing down Mickey D’s and Coke, much as I, with my crappy eating habits, probably would have done had I found myself in gp’s position.”

    The irony is that you missed the statement and scenario completely. You can’t get in or out of Moffit Research without passing through McDonald’s. A fast food joint in the lobby of one of the world’s most prestigious cancer treatment centers. A surreal and macabre oasis of fast food peddling of soylent green (extra fries with that?), with the bald and wrecked shells of cancer patients mulling around aimlessly in God’s waiting room with their Big Macs and large Cokes. Absurd.

    The wag in me can’t resist mentioning that Laetrile has cyanide in it. Talk about poison! Perhaps gp can tell me why poison in Laetrile is good, but any toxicity due to chemotherapy is a horror that will destroy the body’s immune system.

    Laetrile contains two sugar molecules and a cyanide molecule. The cancer is attracted to the sugar and injects all three, causing apostasis to the cancer cell and with reports of it additionally causing tumor necrosis in clinical trials. You stuff dollar bills into your bank account by prescribing cytotoxins and nuclear medicine but a naturally occurring substance with cyanic content is poisonous quackery, how quaint.

    The rest of your posting is pro-pharma cheerleading with the occasional attack and insult thrown in for good measure, I don’t have the electrons to spare. Big Pharma have groomed you well, keep up the good work and enjoy those all-expense-paid vacations to learn about the latest and greatest medicine you are required to advocate and sell to your clients. You will eventually retire a wealthy aristocrat, I am sure.

    Cheers

  8. #8 Vasha
    March 10, 2009

    DLC: Just today, an elderly woman of my acquaintance said to me, “I won’t be able to afford to go to the doctor this month if my application for supplemental insurance isn’t approved”, and yet her medicine cabinet is stuffed full of pills, potions, and vitamins that she pays cash for at the health food store. Sigh…

  9. #9 Bronze Dog
    March 10, 2009

    Well, I get up to right about a weird dream in Notepad, and I just had to stop by here with a fresh troll. Now I’ve gotten myself committed to more than just chuckling at a few fellow skeptics making good points with humor.

    While we’re waiting for Orac to respond on the “microcurrent nonsense”, probably by pointing out an attempt to shift the burden of proof, how about you provide decent evidence for the device, instead, gp. Testimonials like those spewed on the latest weight loss “results not typical” commercial don’t count: They’re inherently cherry picking and involve interpretation though bias. That’s why statistics is a very important part of science.

    As for the whole pharma shill gambit, how about you just shut up about that whole thought-stopping cliche. We aren’t conformist drones. That means we aren’t quite as susceptible to such propaganda tactics. So I suggest you stick to the topic of the device’s effectiveness.

  10. #10 Rogue Epidemiologist
    March 10, 2009

    @gp
    It doesn’t matter whether Orac’s richer than Bill Gates. No amount of money in the world changes the argument. You’re still wrong.

  11. #11 Orac
    March 10, 2009

    The rest of your posting is pro-pharma cheerleading with the occasional attack and insult thrown in for good measure, I don’t have the electrons to spare. Big Pharma have groomed you well, keep up the good work and enjoy those all-expense-paid vacations to learn about the latest and greatest medicine you are required to advocate and sell to your clients. You will eventually retire a wealthy aristocrat, I am sure.

    One can’t help but notice that you haven’t refuted any of the substance of my post; I’m guessing my educated guesses about the case were pretty darned close to the truth.

  12. #12 Confused
    March 10, 2009

    @gp

    Nice article, objectivity is obviously not your my forte.

    Fixed it for you.

  13. #13 Tracy W
    March 10, 2009

    macabre oasis

    Let me see. Macabre suggests the horror of death and decay. Oasis means a fertile or green spot in a desert, or more generally a situation preserved from surrounding unpleasantness. So an oasis that is also macabre is indeed surreal. It also implies that the rest of the cancer treatment center is very effective, as you have to go to the McDonalds to get the horror of death and decay.

  14. #14 gp
    March 11, 2009

    Dr. Orac, if you would be so kind to answer this very simple three part question I would be forever in your debt.

    How many medical conventions did you attend in the calendar year of 2008; what were the destinations of said medical conventions; how many of those conventions were paid for by pharmaceutical companies?

    Cheers
    ;)

  15. #15 Damien
    March 11, 2009

    There’s a reason why science is so demanding, and it’s innate human biases. You are a perfect example, gp. Your brain is ignoring the mountains of scientific and clinical evidence that has shown how effective these treatments are, and if you doubt their effectiveness, I gently encourage you to look at the survival rates for cancer over the last few decades. If you believe that these various “alt” therapies, which have existed for hundreds if not thousands of years (less the electroporation, which Orac did mention appear possibly viable), have an iota of affect on these numbers, I happen to have a cancer-curing bridge I’d like to sell you.

    Additionally, might I point out that you are not informed enough about this. So far as I have seen, there is one person on this blog who spent eight years and more intensively learning about cancer and how to battle it; and it ain’t you, buster.

  16. #16 Orac
    March 11, 2009

    How many medical conventions did you attend in the calendar year of 2008; what were the destinations of said medical conventions; how many of those conventions were paid for by pharmaceutical companies?

    Three.
    San Diego, Chicago, and New York.
    Zero. Nada. Zip.

    Now you are forever in my debt, and I will collect.

  17. #17 Prometheus
    March 11, 2009

    Electroporation into eukaryotic cells requires electrical fields on the order of several kV/cm. I doubt that this “device” is capable of generating the required voltage.

    Drug (or, if you like “herbal remedy”) delivery by electrical charge (iontophoresis) requires a lower voltage, but is generally only effective for charged (or highly polar) molecules.

    Finally, gp makes the common wackosphere assumption that anyone who takes money from “Big Pharma” is forever in their control – sort of like getting a loan from The Mob (or TARP). He forgets that the scientists who get those grants also get grants from other sources (e.g. NIH, NSF, ACI, AHI, etc.) that would not award grants to someone who was “biasing” their results toward “Big Pharma”.

    Of course, gp may have swallowed the “Big Lie” and assume that everyone who disagrees with him is part of “The Massive Conspiracy to Hide the Truth”. In that case, nothing will convince him that the voices in his head are wrong.

    Prometheus

  18. #18 gp
    March 11, 2009

    Dr. Schandl’s CV and a list of peer-reviewed research was posted earlier today and then subsequently deleted, nice.

    One can’t help but notice that you haven’t refuted any of the substance of my post; I’m guessing my educated guesses about the case were pretty darned close to the truth.

    Ok, for starters:

    Remember, surgery is the main curative modality in breast cancer that is curable.

    Blatant lie. Surgery is NOT the main “curative modality” for breast cancer, neoadjuvant chemotherapy is the requirement now. Moffitt WOULD NOT remove the tumor from her breast, they REQUIRED neoadjuvant chemo prior to surgery. To the uninformed reader, the lay translation of that is leaving a cancerous tumor in the breast while they administer cytotoxins to shrink the tumor, all the while it is emitting cancerous microtumors (onco’s words, not mine) into the blood stream and increasing the possibilities for a metastatic spread to other parts of the body.

    Further research we did into neoadjuvant chemotherapy showed that there is actually an increased possibility of a reoccurance of cancer with that method based on the fact it shrinks the tumor to the point where there is a higher probability of leaving a remnant of the tumor in the body at the eventual surgery stage. That goes without stating the obvious fact that you are destroying the immune system with chemo while a tumor is still present in the body.

    Her oncologist at Moffitt couldn’t even cite any relevant statistics for adjuvant chemotherapy mortality rates based upon the prevalence of neoadjuvant chemotherapy regimens being peddled by oncologists worldwide. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is a big steaming pile of horse manure propagated by the pharmaceutical industry to sell more cellular toxins while using humans for their clinical research studies.

  19. #19 Orac
    March 11, 2009

    Dr. Schandl’s CV and a list of peer-reviewed research was posted earlier today and then subsequently deleted, nice.

    I deleted nothing. I almost never delete anything, no matter how critical it is of me. I’ve been in the OR all day until now. I just checked my spam filters, too. It wasn’t caught in the spam filters.

    Blatant lie. Surgery is NOT the main “curative modality” for breast cancer, neoadjuvant chemotherapy is the requirement now.

    Wrong.

    Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is only recommended in general for two reasons: Locally advanced tumors to render them resectable (think inflammatory cancer or cancer adherent to the chest wall) or to shrink tumors in order to make breast conserving surgery possible. Granted, the indications for neoadjuvant therapy have become a bit more liberal than they used to be, but by no means is neoadjuvant chemotherapy the primary curative modality for breast cancer. That you would think this to be true shows that you clearly do not understand the very concept of neoadjuvant therapy in the first place. Here’s a hint: It wouldn’t be called neoadjuvant therapy if it were the “main curative modality.” It’s an adjuvant therapy, with the word “neo” pointing out that it is being given before, rather than after, surgery.

    As for the claim that neoadjuvant therapy leads to an increased possibility of recurrence, perhaps you’d like to show me the peer-reviewed literature that says that. In general, the consensus from randomized clinical trials is that neoadjuvant therapy produces equivalent survival and disease-free intervals. What I think you are referring to is a meta-analysis by Mauri, Pavlidis, and Ioannidis that found a statistically significant risk of local recurrence in patients who underwent neoadjuvant chemotherapy with radiation and no surgery.

    Which actually argues that surgery is the primary modality, because just using chemotherapy and radiation results in a higher recurrence rate.

    That goes without stating the obvious fact that you are destroying the immune system with chemo while a tumor is still present in the body.

    Actually, it doesn’t. The question is whether the tumor is destroyed more than the immune system and which recovers sooner. It’s a lot more complicated than your painfully simple-minded understanding.

  20. #20 gp
    March 11, 2009

    Orac,

    Again, Moffitt would NOT PERFORM SURGERY without neoadjuvant chemotherapy. This is a REQUIREMENT by Moffitt, and they were the second opinion we received.

    This isn’t “simple-minded” understanding, this is both her and I sitting across the table from a senior oncologist from Moffitt telling us they WILL NOT OPERATE AND REMOVE THE TUMOR without neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

    In your infinite wisdom, wit, and scientific grace, please explain to me how surgery is the “main curative modality” for breast cancer when the administration of at least six months of cytotoxins are REQUIRED by Moffitt prior to performing surgery to remove the tumor?

  21. #21 gp
    March 11, 2009

    Ten minutes later with Google:

    Results using the present analysis suggested that primary chemotherapy delayed early death rates, without significantly modifying long-term event rates. It emphasizes that a short-term effect which is not necessarily associated with a long-term benefit may be seen at an early evaluation and disappear later on.

    Smith IE, Lipton L: Preoperative/neoadjuvant medical therapy for early breast cancer. Lancet Oncol 2:561–570, 2001 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10674880?dopt=Abstract

  22. #22 gp
    March 11, 2009

    5-year actuarial reporting, 5-year actuarial reporting, 5-year actuarial reporting.

  23. #23 gp
    March 11, 2009

    The data revealed a higher cancer recurrence rate in women who had chemotherapy before surgery, although this did not affect survival rates, which were similar for both groups.

    Mieog JSD, van der Hage JA, van de Velde CJH. Preoperative chemotherapy for women with operable breast cancer (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 2. http://www.hbns.org/getDocument.cfm?documentID=1510

  24. #24 Orac
    March 11, 2009

    That’s exactly the same thing that can be said about lumpectomy compared to mastectomy for breast cancer. Local recurrence rates are higher after lumpectomy, but the survival is the same. It’s not surprising that you zeroed in on the only possible downside of neoadjuvant chemotherapy and ignored all the upsides–cited in that very article:

    Giving chemotherapy to women with operable breast cancer before they have surgery — not after — helps physicians pin down the best treatment regimen and can reduce the extent of surgery, according to a new systematic review.

    Preoperative chemotherapy reduced chemo-related infections by 4 percent and the need for mastectomies by 17 percent when compared to postoperative chemotherapy, found reviewers led by Sven Mieog, M.D., of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

    Mieog and colleagues looked at 14 studies that included 5,500 women with operable breast cancer. Half of the women received preoperative chemotherapy and the rest received chemotherapy after surgery.

    The data revealed a higher cancer recurrence rate in women who had chemotherapy before surgery, although this did not affect survival rates, which were similar for both groups.

    “Ten studies reported overall survival data on 4,620 women involving 1,139 estimated deaths,” the authors write. “There was no detectable difference between preoperative and postoperative chemotherapy.”

    The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates research in all aspects of health care. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing trials on a topic.

    One reason for giving chemotherapy first is to shrink tumors before surgery, the researchers say.

    Moreover, preoperative chemotherapy allows doctors to see if a tumor is resistant to a particular drug and thus adjust the dose or switch to another drug after surgery. The patient might avoid toxic side effects while getting another chance to receive appropriate systemic treatment, Mieog said.

    After surgery, doctors can no longer gauge chemotherapy’s effect on tumor size.

    “Concerns could be raised on the postoperative and thus ‘blind’ administration of chemotherapy to patients with tumors resistant to a specific chemotherapy regimen,” Mieog said. “These patients will receive all chemotherapy courses while only experiencing the harmful side effects.”

    Side effects such as hair loss, cardiac symptoms, nausea and vomiting, and white blood cell disorders were similar for both groups, the Cochrane reviewers found.

    “Initially, preoperative chemotherapy was set up to improve overall survival by not waiting for the surgical procedure and the subsequent recovery — a couple of months means one or two [cancer] cell divisions,” Mieog said.

    He added, “The chemotherapy also increased the breast conservation rate; it is well known that conserving the breast as compared to mastectomy is associated with an increased recurrence rate, without, however, hampering long-term overall survival.”

    All medicine is a weighing of risks versus benefits. At the very least, neoadjuvant chemotherapy is equal to standard postoperative in the one measure that matters the most: Survival rates.

  25. #25 Militant Agnostic
    March 12, 2009

    Orac said

    It’s a lot more complicated than your painfully simple-minded understanding.

    Tip – you should save that sentence for handy copy-paste since it can be re-used nearly every day on this blog.

    The Lexus costs money

    Being from Michigan, Orac wouldn’t drive a Japanese car. By the way Orac, is your Ford GT faster than Steven Novella’s Ferarri?:)

    gp – if you were at all familiar with this blog, you would know that Orac recently lost 2 family members to cancer, so your “he’s in it for the money” fallacy is particularly idiotic.

    @prometheus – several kV/cm for electroporation into eukaryotic cells – is that the right units? If so, that is in the being struck by lightning range. However, this sort of several orders of magnitude too small to be effective error is typical of woo devices.

  26. #26 Prometheus
    March 12, 2009

    Militant Agnostic,

    Early electroporation of eukaryotic cells used ~8 kV/cm – now we use 0.2 – 2 kV and a 0.4 cm inter-electrode distance. I seriously doubt that this device is even approaching those voltages.

    Prometheus

  27. #27 Cams2
    December 2, 2009

    Well, you can ignore the US Patents – which are legal documents that hold up in a court of law that must serve a “useful” purpose before even being considered to be approved – until the cows come home but that does not change the facts.
    There are several US Patents (which can be provided) that specifically deal with diseases via electrification of the blood as well as magnetic pulsing so unless the legal team and the Patent examiners decided to simply grant these Patents willy-nilly, you can rest assured that they are genuine. Patents go through stringent testing, cost thousands and thousands of dollars is R&D, application and processing fees and can take years before Patent is granted and as mention must be “useful”. Why would anyone bother going through any of the above if the patent did not work?

    Anyway, here is another US Patent, unrelated to electrification. US Patent 6063770 – Tannic acid compositions for treating cancer .
    Note how real people (ie not lab rats) were used in the 20 plus examples of patients being “cured” of cancer.
    Don’t argue with me because if you have a problem speak with the US Patent office who grant these legal documents.

  28. #28 Antaeus Feldspar
    December 2, 2009

    you can ignore the US Patents – which are legal documents that hold up in a court of law that must serve a “useful” purpose before even being considered to be approved

    Patents go through stringent testing, cost thousands and thousands of dollars is R&D, application and processing fees and can take years before Patent is granted and as mention must be “useful”.

    Obviously you have no idea of the reality of the US patent system. Patent examiners don’t always even discover prior art, which is why patents not infrequently get overturned when someone turns up that prior art. The idea that patent examiners, who can’t always get the relatively simple issue of prior art right, will be better judges than actual scientists in the field, on the usefulness of an invention – that’s really hilarious! Not to mention easily debunked – or are you claiming that this anti-gravity patent that effectively constitutes a claim of perpetual motion is on the up-and-up? Or how about patents on compression of random data? I realize that you may not understand why that’s mathematically impossible, so I’ll put it this way: if it’s possible to losslessly compress all files by one bit, it’s also possible to gather together a group of people, have them empty the change from their pockets into a big bowl, and then redistribute the change to the people so that each person has more change than was in their pocket originally.

    Why would anyone bother going through any of the above if the patent did not work?

    Why would a poker player raise heavily if he knows his hand is worth nothing? Because by acting as if it’s worth something might fool the others, and allow the player to win by psychological means, when he is unlikely to win on the strength of his hand alone. It’s called “bluffing”. This fully accounts for why someone would bother going through a patent process with a patent that did not work — even before we consider the fact that many people are unrealistic about the things they create, and that many an inventor who thought he had the most perfect invention in the world’s history really didn’t.

  29. #29 Xiaoding
    February 20, 2011

    “As for colloidal silver, apparently gp is unconcerned with the Blue Man syndrome that can occur as a result of its use, more properly known as agyria.”

    This is BS. People use silver every day, no one who is ingesting a teaspoon of 10ppm silver solution per day is going to get agyria. Your sentence implies that ANY dosage is bad. You have comitted WOO yourself.

  30. #30 Chris
    February 20, 2011

    Dear Xiaoding, Necromancer Troll, why did it take you almost two years to come up with that evidence free comment? And no, the sentence does not imply what you claim it does.

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