Respectful Insolence

Around this time last year, the major topic of this blog was the case of a young teen named Daniel Hauser. In fact, right around this time last year, this particular case was approaching its climax. Hauser, as you may recall, was the 13-year-old Minnesota boy diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma who refused chemotherapy. His stated reason was his religion, namely Nemenhah, a fake American Indian religion that his parents joined 18 years ago. However, I had my doubts that religion was the main reason why Hauser was refusing chemotherapy and his mother was supporting his decision to pursue “natural” therapy. Whatever the reason, the result was a court case that made the national news and got even bigger when Daniel and his mother went on the lam from the law. At the time I presumed they were heading for the Mexican border to go to the Tijuana quack clinics. Ultimately, they turned themselves in; Daniel underwent curative chemotherapy for his cancer; and he is currently doing well. There is very little reason to expect that he won’t continue to do well.

The wonders of modern scientific medicine! Another young life saved!

Unfortunately, Daniel has some pretty crappy luck. First, he was diagnosed last year with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. No matter how you slice it, that’s a horrible break for a young kid. Now, today, I’ve learned that his father has been diagnosed with cancer:

Last year, Colleen Hauser was convinced that an all-natural treatment could cure her son’s cancer. A judge disagreed and ordered Daniel Hauser to have chemotherapy.

Now it’s her husband’s turn.

Once again Colleen and Anthony Hauser are vowing to beat cancer without conventional medicine.

Here’s what Anthony Hauser is facing:

Last month doctors told Hauser, 55, that he has a rare and aggressive form of leukemia, but for the moment he said he does not want chemotherapy. Instead, he’s on a strict diet of leafy greens, nuts and vegetables, much like the diet the couple first chose for their son.

It turns out that Mr. Hauser has acute erythroleukemia. This is a fairly rare cancer, accounting for only 3-5% of newly diagnosed acute myelogenous leukemias (AMLs). It’s extremely rare in children but more common in those over age 50, although “common” is a relative term. In fact, this particular form of AML is listed as a “rare disease” by the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) at the National Institutes of Health. The meaning of this definition is that fewer than 200,000 people suffer from this disease in the U.S.

As far as survival goes, a recent paper from M.D. Anderson reported that after induction chemotherapy, 62% of patients achieved a complete remission. Unfortunately, median disease-free survival is only 32 weeks, with an median overall survival of 36 weeks. Not good. In fact, the survival curves looked like this, with the top curve being overall survival and the bottom curve being disease-free survival.

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As you can see, the five year survival is at best 20%, but the survival curve levels off there. Consequently, if you are one of the lucky one in five with this disease and can make it five years, your chances of living 20 years are quite good. Of course, at least 80% don’t survive five years, making it hard to say much about this form of AML other than its prognosis really, really sucks.

Right now, this is how Mr. Hauser is treating his cancer:

Anthony, a man of few words, said he’s lost about 35 pounds since winter. He’s now on a diet that he and his wife developed from their own research: collards, carrot tips, kale and other vegetables, all blended into the consistency of baby food. Now he and Danny both drink it.

Anthony says he’s “not refusing anything,” but that chemotherapy would be a last resort.

“I feel I have time for that,” he said Wednesday.

He admits, however, that his doctors aren’t sure if he has the luxury of time. “It’s up to God, I guess, what happens,” he added.

Ironically enough, the reason the Hauser family decided to disclose his illness was because CNN was preparing a one year update on Daniel’s story.

This case is, of course, very different from that of Mr. Hauser’s son Danny. The reason, of course, is that Mr. Hauser is an adult. From my perspective, a competent adult has the right to choose whatever therapy he wants or even no therapy at all. Moreover, given the crappy prognosis of AML, it’s not as black and white a question as it was with Danny. For Danny, it was a question of an 80+% chance of survival if he took chemotherapy versus what was in essence a zero chance of survival without chemotherapy. For Danny, it was also a question of a minor without the faculties to understand fully the choice he was making. Society defaults to the presumption that children should be treated and should not be allowed to die. For adults, the default assumption is that a competent adult can choose his medical care, which is as it should be in a free society. If that mentally competent adult chooses quackery or no treatment, as long as he is competent, such a choice is entirely within his rights.

Given the poor prognosis of Anthony Hauser’s cancer, I don’t know if I can be anywhere near as critical of him for choosing woo over medicine, particularly since he is still accepting blood transfusions. I can say, however, with a high degree of certainty that this woo will not work. I also have to wonder if financial issues had anything to do with his decision. The article mentions that the family is having financial difficulties left over from Daniel’s ill-conceived and ill-advised legal action and flight from the law. Now Anthony can’t work anymore, exacerbating the financial difficulties. The reason I speculate is because the treatment for AML can be high dose chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant, incredibly expensive procedures. I hope it’s not money that’s the reason. In fact, I doubt that it is, because Anthony appears to believe in the same woo that the Hauser family tried to foist on Daniel when he had lymphoma.

One thing that bothered me about the video included with the story is that Colleen Hauser is now blaming the stress Anthony endured last year during the legal action, Daniel’s flight from the law, and then his subsequent chemotherapy for Anthony’s cancer. If there’s one thing we’re fairly sure of, it’s that stress doesn’t cause leukemia. It’s also annoying that, instead of making this about her husband, who has a greater than 50% chance of dying within the next year and only a 20% chance of being around five years from now–and that’s assuming he changes his mind, relents, and undergoes treatment with chemotherapy– she’s stuck in the past about Danny:

In Danny’s scenario, if I would’ve just let them go what they want to do with him–the standard protocol–there’s a good chance he might not have been here. Because what we did for our son changed his protocol. It took out poisonous drugs, the most toxic ones that made him so deadly sick. They should do that with every child.

Anthony is apparently on board with this, characterizing it as “basic science.” Unfortunately, in pursuing woo over medicine, he is endangering his relatively small chance of surviving his disease and, if he persists, virtually guarantees that his children will grow up fatherless. That decision is, of course, his right. It may even be a rational decision for a man in Hauser’s situation to forego cytotoxic chemotherapy and opt only for palliative therapy, understanding that he was going to die. I honestly don’t know what I would do if faced with this situation, but I do know that, if I opted for no treatment, I would understand that I was going to die soon and that my decision was to opt for quality of remaining life over quantity. I would also understand that quality is a relative thing and that, no matter how good palliative care is, my end would not be free of unpleasantness. Unfortunately, that’s not how he views it. He thinks his woo will help him beat his cancer and survive.

Before I learned of his father’s new diagnosis, I smiled when I thought of the Danny Hauser case because I viewed Danny as a young life saved by scientific medicine in spite of irrational beliefs. I’m still happy that Danny’s alive, but this new news about his father tempers that joy with the knowledge that soon Danny will be fatherless.

Comments

  1. #1 DLC
    May 20, 2010

    He’s lost 32 lbs, but yet he “Feels he has time”.
    Sorry, Mr H, but you haven’t. why, by the way, do you think that stress at any level would cause a rare and horribly aggressive form of cancer ? Second, could you explain to us how this diet is supposed to treat or cure your illness?
    What’s the mechanism of action ? has it been tested under clinical conditions, in a double-blind, peer-reviewed study ?
    Is there even any anecdote supporting your idea, or are you just “eating what’s good for me” in hopes that it actually will do you some good ?
    I realize, it looks grim for you, but proper treatment might give you a slightly better chance. (going by those graphs, not much of one.) At least, if you must eschew proper care, seek palliation. I wish you well, Mr H.

  2. #2 T. Bruce McNeely
    May 20, 2010

    I wonder what Danny would feel if he realizes later that his father refused a 20% chance of 5 more years (at least) to be in his son’s life. Looking back on my teenage years, I would have been bitter if that had happened to me.
    Sometimes you have to consider what your life means to those who love you before you make such a decision.

  3. #3 Jeremy
    May 20, 2010

    Tragic :(

  4. #4 plutosdad
    May 20, 2010

    He has time?

    About 7 years ago my great-uncle felt fatigue for about 2 weeks. He went to the doctor and was told he had acute leukemia. He was scheduled to start chemo, but 2 days later he was dead. It was a shock, he just found out and no one even knew he was sick yet and he was suddenly gone.

    I don’t think Anthony Hauser is reading this, but if he is, no you don’t have time, you don’t know what will happen.

  5. #5 mimi
    May 20, 2010

    “if I opted for no treatment, I would understand that I was going to die soon and was opting for quality of remaining life over quantity”

    I would add that if I opted for no treatment, and for quality over quantity of life, I would most certainly not opt to spend the rest of that life slurping pureed vegetables…

    So I doubt that Anthony’s argument is a rational one. Except, of course, if in his world, existing on baby food and nuts is compatible with “quality of life”….

  6. #6 Orac
    May 20, 2010

    I would add that if I opted for no treatment, and for quality over quantity of life, I would most certainly not opt to spend the rest of that life slurping pureed vegetables…

    Good point. It’d be steak and junk food every day for whatever time I had left or for however long my GI tract could still tolerate it. Heck, I might even take up smoking.

  7. #7 frisbeetarian
    May 20, 2010

    I don’t understand people like this. They are now going to start eating foods that they think can heal? If they really believe these foods are so healing, why don’t they eat them regularly and not get sick in the first place?

  8. #8 Bruce Small
    May 20, 2010

    With that prognosis, I think I’d go for all the junk food I wanted, if only for comfort. I mean, steak and fries followed by a brownie with ice cream has gotta be more soothing than blended veggies.

  9. #9 Pablo
    May 20, 2010

    One thing that I guess I would like to see is the graph for what happens with non-treatment. Any question of whether it is worth it or not will depend on the comparison. Did I miss that?

    I would add that if I opted for no treatment, and for quality over quantity of life, I would most certainly not opt to spend the rest of that life slurping pureed vegetables…

    The wife is a vet, and this is a very common approach to end-of-the-life care for dogs. “Keep them comfortable and give them lots of treats and love.”

  10. #10 colmcq
    May 20, 2010

    I don’t know why, but I think that was one of the best posts I’ve ever read by you.

  11. #11 Anthro
    May 20, 2010

    I don’t for one minute thing that suddenly eating healthy foods (and pureeing them is certainly not appetizing) will help Mr. Hauser. Even a lifetime of healthy eating will not prevent many or most cancers, BUT, eating healthy food will help maintain appropriate weight (especially for those who need to lose weight) which will go a long way to prevent or minimize the severity of heart disease and diabetes. I will take the liberty of offering myself in this case as an anecdote–one that verifies science.

    Is it remotely possible for those of you (including Orac) who deride healthy eating as some kind of nutty notion (pun intended), to accept that some people LIKE healthy food? I would not change my eating habits just because I became terminally ill, although I would go ahead and eat more without worrying about weight gain. I LOVE veggies, nuts, berries, whole grains and beans. I haven’t the slightest desire to eat steak or junk food–now or on my death bed. Really good chocolate might be an exception although I wouldn’t call that junk food unless eaten in excess.

    I don’t care what you eat now or if you are dying, so please extend me the same courtesy and stop being so dismissive of people who like healthy foods, have controlled their weight, reduced or eliminated their medications, mostly reversed their heart disease, and are no longer considered diabetic. I also have a recipe for kale, beet salad that meets with approval from all the carnivores and junk devotees I have served it to and it is definitely not pureed.

  12. #12 Todd W.
    May 20, 2010

    @Anthro

    I don’t think it was denigration of eating healthy in general, but rather eating pureed vegetable smoothies for the purpose of treating the cancer.

  13. #13 Dianne
    May 20, 2010

    One thing that I guess I would like to see is the graph for what happens with non-treatment.

    Not directly obtainable since non-treatment would be unethical to put it mildly. However, in general, it’s my understanding that people with AML used to die quickly-as in weeks. Hauser is almost certainly throwing away some time he could be spending with Daniel and his other children by refusing chemotherapy.

    Two other thoughts:
    1. Two unusual hematologic cancers is a lot. Maybe it’s not just bad luck? Are the Hausers sitting on a uranium deposit? Is there something unhealthy in their supplements? I get the impression that they may not be keeping the closest eye on whether they get their supplements from a legitimate source or not.
    2. The graphs above for treated AML might actually be slightly pessimistic with respect to Hauser’s particular prognosis. If he was feeling well prior to this he presumably did not have prior MDS so might have a better than average prognosis. Also AML in older people, in whom it is harder to treat, is on the rise so Hauser may be relatively young for a diagnosis of AML and so have a better than average prognosis.

  14. #14 Vicki
    May 20, 2010

    Anthro–

    What you’re missing is that if Hauser was at a healthy weight to start with, he may now be underweight, having lost 35 pounds quickly. For cancer, especially if you’re looking at palliative care, keeping the patient’s weight up is useful. It doesn’t sound as though we’re looking at someone who is likely to live long enough to develop diabetes or heart disease if he doesn’t already have them. Worrying about keeping a cancer patient’s weight down for fear that he might develop diabetes seems like not giving him opiates for pain because they might be addictive.

    I wish him all joy of his vegetables–though I don’t like mine pureed–but it’s not as simple as “nuts and vegetables are better for you than beef.” It depends on the “you” and the circumstances: someone losing weight rapidly from cancer likely would benefit from a different diet than someone being treated for gall bladder disease, for example.

  15. #15 Amar
    May 20, 2010

    A co-worker of mine mentioned the other day that she had heard that a vegan diet will not only ‘prevent’ cancer but switching to one after a diagnosis can actually ‘cure’ it. She could not produce the name of the therapy or where she had heard that but as she has been a practicing vegan for 2 or 3 years now its easy to imagine how she could have come across this ‘information’. I’m always amazed at what people will believe.

  16. #16 Rene Najera
    May 20, 2010

    They once asked Sen. Joseph Lieberman (when he was running for VP with Al Gore) if he would be able to serve as VP or, God forbid, President on Saturdays since he is a practicing Jew. His response was great. He said something like, “You’re supposed to live for your Faith, not die because of it.”

    That’s great. It’s a point of view more of these “God-told-me-so” people should listen to. How do you serve your religion dead? And, if you think it makes you a martyr, get ready to be laughed at when you show up with the real martyrs and say, “Yeah, I let myself be consumed by a treatable condition because, well, you know how it is.”

    Surely, one decapitated martyr or two will say, “No, tell us about it,” as he/she holds his/her head in her hands.

    Okay, the fever’s getting to me. I need some sleep.

    DISCLAIMER: Something, something, something… uh… Babyface.

  17. #17 Pablo
    May 20, 2010

    Rene – it reminds of the story of how a guy was on the roof of his house during a flood, and…

    SLAP!
    SLAP!
    SLAP!
    SLAP!

    NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. #18 jaranath
    May 20, 2010

    colmcq:

    I would suggest that it’s because the article reinforces what Orac’s all about. This really is about trying to help people, and caring about their happiness and their rights. Orac is not a pharma shill, or a zombie pushing relentlessly for aggressive treatment no matter what the probable benefits are. When confronted with literally the same idiocy and woo from literally the same people, his empathy remains unwavering, but his position adapts to the circumstances, as one ought to expect.

    Of course, this was all terribly obvious back when the son was in jeopardy. But this instance might have a better chance of reaching some who see only a demon inside that plexiglass box.

  19. #19 HellT
    May 20, 2010

    So the Hausers could choose to get appropriate treatment that can’t promise anything more than a poor long-term prognosis combined with near-certain bankruptcy and poverty, or they can limit their expenses and trust in a cheaper and ineffective alternative treatment.

    It’s a very tough decision for a family to make. Should they bankrupt themselves buying the best possible care even though it’s probably futile, or do they minimize their expenses, knowing it means Mr. Hauser will have less time to spend with their children, but there’ll be fewer bills to struggle with after he’s gone?

    Mr. and Mrs. Hauser may be fully aware that this isn’t going to prolong his life, but they probably can’t afford the proper treatment that still won’t buy him much more time. They may have decided upon this course in order to preserve their finances for the family after he’s gone. And rather than telling the kids he’s not getting treatment because there’s no money, they tell the kids he’s decided he prefers the alternative treatment. Nothing to explain, nothing to defend, no guilt for the children to deal with after he’s gone.

    That’s the best possible spin I can put on this, and it’s so terribly sad I think I’d rather they truly believe this is his best chance for a cure.

  20. #20 T. Bruce McNeely
    May 20, 2010

    Amar:

    That sound like the claims made for the Macrobiotic Diet that was touted about 30 years ago. There was a book put out about that time (IIRC) by a doctor who claimed to have cured himself of metastatic prostate cancer by the Macrobiotic Diet. He died a few years later of metastatic prostate cancer.

  21. #21 MI Dawn
    May 20, 2010

    @Anthro (#11) you said, “Is it remotely possible for those of you (including Orac) who deride healthy eating as some kind of nutty notion (pun intended), to accept that some people LIKE healthy food?”

    Orac has NEVER derided healthy eating in all the years I have been reading RI. What he HAS derided is the idea that eating certain thing in certain ways can magically cure whatever ails you. Can you point out to me ONE instance where Orac has derided a healthy diet?

    Orac, like most other intelligent health care providers, promotes a healthy diet while recognizing that a)not everyone will eat a healthy diet and b)a healthy diet will not “cure” your disease. A healthy diet will certainly promote better health, and probably enable one to resist illness beter. However, you can’t cure any cancers with one.

  22. #22 Lawrence
    May 20, 2010

    Anthro – I don’t believe anyone here is denigrating the idea of eating healthy as a means of controlling legitimate illnesses (including diabetes and heart disease). There is plenty of evidence & studies that a healthy diet can be an effective – it is just when people claim it as a cure-all to everything that it becomes a problem.

    I encourage everyone to eat smart, try to get enough exercise and take care of yourself.

  23. #23 A Sodee
    May 20, 2010

    Another heartbreaking story.

    I used to think that people that believed in woo would change their mind if it was their life on the line, but sadly this seems to be untrue.

    My brother is 21 years old, diagnosed in December with Lymphoma. He has refused all tests, all treatments and instead has been taking vitamins and ‘energy balancing’.

    His one year old son lives with me. Bro has lost 62lbs, and finally got scared enough to go to the hospital. I am still waiting to see if he follows through and gets treatment-if it is not already too late for him.

  24. #24 Pablo
    May 20, 2010

    A Sodee – that’s awful. In particular, not for him, but for his son.

    Does he care so little about his son that he doesn’t want to do what’s best to be alive for him?

  25. #25 Scott
    May 20, 2010

    A healthy diet is entirely distinct from the kind of ultra-restrictive foolishness quacks often promote.

  26. #26 jaranath
    May 20, 2010

    Speaking from similar experience in my family, pablo, I doubt it’s because his brother doesn’t care. He’s just blinded by something else, such as fear.

  27. #27 DLC
    May 20, 2010

    Orac @6:

    Good point. It’d be steak and junk food every day for whatever time I had left or for however long my GI tract could still tolerate it. Heck, I might even take up smoking.

    Heh. I agree. I’d probably also find me some good booze to go with it. Although, I am reminded of the guy on death row who ordered a cigar to go with his last meal, and was turned down because they’re bad for your health. LOL

  28. #28 The saddest part
    May 20, 2010

    I’d bet this family has some contamination in their water supply or environment. Anyone checking into that?

  29. #29 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    May 20, 2010

    Cinnabon. I’d spend my last days in a Cinnabon.

  30. #30 goatgirl
    May 20, 2010

    Sadly, the theory that stress causes cancer, or at least predisposes one to cancer, seems to be rather widespread among the lay public. I’ve wondered myself whether my high-stress, chaotic workplace is setting me up for a recurrence of lymphoma… but then I shrug and figure I’ll just deal with whatever happens.

    With two hematologic cancers in the same family, you do have to question whether there’s some familial or environmental connection. Or maybe it’s just bad, horrible luck. IIRC, the father supplemented their dairy farm income with an off-the-farm job at a printing plant. There’s some nasty chemicals used in printing and in cleaning the printing presses.

    It’s just really really sad. With all those kids, including the latest one born this past year, and an unfortunate history of not-so-good choices in life, I can’t imagine how Colleen Hauser is going to be able to cope.

  31. #31 Anthro
    May 20, 2010

    I don’t have the energy to respond to each of my critics except to say that I think they missed the point and or didn’t read the post very thoroughly. I wasn’t really speaking to Hauser’s situation and clearly stated that I didn’t find pureed greens appealing. I also clearly stated that diet can’t cure or treat many cancers, even if practiced for a lifetime, nor can it even prevent most.

    My point, perhaps off-topic, is that people who eat meat regularly and see it as their dream food, often (perhaps unwittingly) treat people who do not, as slightly batty at best. This has come up in a number of posts and I have been taken to task each time. Sorry for getting into another area, but I’ve become weary of this in my old age. I’ll try not to respond to it again and I’ll scour for some examples to post when I have some time.

    I wasn’t picking on our beloved ORAC, whom I appreciate as much as the rest of you, but it can be tough (and I’ve said this before) to try to participate here if one even appears to have criticism of ORAC. I am perfectly aware that ORAC promotes “healthy” eating as part and parcel of practicing medicine and resents the alt meds for co-opting that theme, as do I, but I also get the feeling that (and I will look for examples) being a veg or vegan is equated too much with “wacky” thinking. By the way, I do eat grass-fed bison now and then as well as fish once-in-a-while. I just hate factory farming and can’t afford the calories in meat.

    I’m not coming back here for awhile (again). These responses really bug me.

  32. #32 Ian
    May 20, 2010

    @Antho (and others)

    I read an article in the paper this morning talking about a resurgence in esophageal cancers in Canada, theorized to be linked directly to obesity (by way of gastric reflux). Healthy eating is definitely cancer-preventing.

    Anthro, we’ll be sorry to see you go because I (and I think I can speak for others) do really like getting your educated perspective both as a person with some personal experience but also a non-clinical academic background.

    Your point about meat-eaters contempt for vegans/vegetarians was definitely not clear from your original post. People here are also reacting to the extreme version of that argument, whereby vegans view those who eat meat as being cruel and gullible saps. Also the fact that many groups claim ridiculous health benefits from specific dietary supplements and regimens which, ultimately, are not supported by evidence.

  33. #33 Militant Agnostic
    May 20, 2010

    Anthro

    I do eat grass-fed bison now and then

    Grass-Fed Bison = Food of the Gods
    Definitely not batty.

    A few years ago, the Town of Peace River in Northern Alberta had an auction to raise money for DCA research at the University of Alberta and one of the donated items was an entire bison, cut and wrapped.

  34. #34 Rincewind'smuse
    May 20, 2010

    you said,

    Is it remotely possible for those of you (including Orac) who deride healthy eating as some kind of nutty notion (pun intended), to accept that some people LIKE healthy food?

    , then said that he promotes healthy eating; I can’t speak for anyone else, but the first comment sounds like a dig, not an acknowledgement on his position(the second statement).I’m not trying to take the piss out, just trying to highlight what caught my eye. I will say that some seem to blithely discount the clear health benefits of a reasonable diet ,it’s true by my own general recollection(not thinking of anyone in particular). If nuts and grain are your comfort, go-to, foods at your end of life I don’t think anyone would slight you for it, but you have to admit, they’re not the first foods a lot of people put in that category, that’s all.

  35. #35 WeWee
    May 20, 2010

    In Italy, yesterday, a couple of parents was convicted for homicide for the dead of his daughter with diabetes. A healer prescribes to stop insuline and to take vitamines and after 15 days the girl get on diabetic coma, after two days the dead. A sad history, here in italian (Google translate utility on the sidebar):

    http://medbunker.blogspot.com/2010/05/che-male-vuoi-che-faccia3.html

  36. #36 Rincewind'smuse
    May 20, 2010

    Again, I’m not trying to be harsh, I enjoy your posts and wouldn’t want you to go. You might be a little defensive that’s all I meant to say, and not perhaps without reason.

  37. #37 Seamus Ruah
    May 20, 2010

    God’s punishment for getting chemo?
    /sarcasm

    This is unfortunate, good luck to them.

  38. #38 derelicthat
    May 20, 2010

    Anthro, flounce posts are never elegant. You blundered in saying that Orac and his readers deride healthy diets. You were shown that you were in error. Shrug and move on.

    As to the Hausers, what awful timing for them. Perhaps with all the attention they generated before, they can find some financial assistance, if that is the reason for their current choices.

  39. #39 jaranath
    May 20, 2010

    Anthro:

    Look, I really may have missed it, but it seemed to me you were reading way too much into the comments here. The criticism was levelled at the specific, unappetizing diet they were using. I didn’t see connotations there of general anti-veggie or anti-healty attitudes. At most, I saw a basic assumption that meat-fat-junkfood was preferred if the consequences were not an issue.

    Honestly, no offense or attack meant, but could you provide a good example of this article or its comments “derid[ing] healthy eating as some kind of nutty notion” as you said? I get the feeling you are, probably quite understandably, projecting derision you’ve observed or received elsewhere into this article.

    By the way: To add to the bison discussion, the one time I’ve ever had it was a grass-fed steak with sauteed morels. Remains the best meat I’ve ever eaten. Not sure how much of that was morels vs. bison vs. grass-fed, but…was indeed divine.

  40. Is it possible that the cancer has a genetic cause? They sound like quite similar kinds, if not exactly the same.

    Anthro, I think you’re going too far. So what if Orac’s preferred “bad for you” food is a big steak? That says nothing about what your preference is or should be. In a sort of related note, I’m having a kidney function test, which hopefully will be negative. But if I do have a problem I’m really NOT looking forward to the management diet, in which I’d have to give up nommy grainy seedy bread and eat white bread. Pooh.

  41. #41 MI Dawn
    May 20, 2010

    @Anthro: I’m sorry if I misunderstood what you said. That’s why I quoted what, from your comment, I was responding to. To be honest, I was quite surprised (and maybe a bit more defensive for it), since I have read comments from you in other posts and enjoyed what you have to say.

    I’ve also had bison. Very tasty. To be honest, I’d be happier on a less meat-intensive diet, but due to surgery, have to get my protein from meat because I can’t eat enough other foods to get sufficient proteins from non-meat sources. But I am perfectly happy to have a meatless meal, or even a meatless day (on the other hand, my husband feels a day without meat is not worth living).

  42. #42 Cat
    May 20, 2010

    I really wish I understood the current mania for extreme dietary changes.

    It’s good that people are listening and perhaps changing their diets (in a moderate fashion) to improve their overall, long-term, health. However, the second my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, relatives descended with all sorts of advice on fruits and vegetables to eat. I found it nonsensical and, in a way, blaming the victim.

    Too little, too late.

  43. #43 Daniel J. Andrews
    May 20, 2010

    Of all the damn shitty luck…. :-((

  44. #44 Joshua Zelinsky
    May 20, 2010

    Rene, that wasn’t original to Joe. That’s an old Jewish proverb. The Talmud specifically says that for almost all Jewish laws, saving lives takes priority over them. The exceptional set only has three things: Can’t murder to save a life. Can’t worship idols to save a live. Can’t engage in forbidden sexual relations to save a life. Even then, most of these have exceptions (so for example killing someone who is trying to kill someone else is ok).

    This whole thing with the Hauser’s is really very sad. Even if they had not had tried to alternative treatment for Danny, this would have been awful. A young child with cancer, who then gets cured only to find out that the father has it? I’m literally trying not to cry. And while I was earlier angry at the parents for risking their son’s life, now I’m just incredibly saddened. No one deserves this sort of thing. I just hope that the rest of the family makes it through ok. I really hope the father has his affairs set in order, and has his will and living will all set up. Unfortunately, given his attitude, it seems likely he has not. And the difficulties of dealing with an intestate estate are utterly not fun also. The whole situation sounds like something out of Job.

  45. #45 Rene Najera
    May 21, 2010

    @Joshua Thanks! I had not read into that. I will now. I like the part about “can’t engage in forbidden sexual relations to save a life.” There goes my one and only excuse for acquiescing to the demands of one Dominique Swain.

  46. #46 dt
    May 21, 2010

    So if Scarlett Johannsen ever begs me to sleep with her or else she will kill herself, I’ll just have to let her go I guess.

  47. #47 Kristen
    May 21, 2010

    Anthro,

    I hope you at least read some of the comments following yours, to see that many of us don’t feel the same as the few who have derided you for your diet choices.

    I study nutrition, and just about any kind of diet whether it be vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, omnivorous or otherwise are okay (I do, however, encourage all those who follow a vegan diet to make sure to supplement b12). Every type of diet can be very healthy or very unhealthy. It does speak to your personal character that you have managed to improve your health so dramatically.

    It is sad that so many refuse to change their lifestyle. I have a good friend who went into marketing because she couldn’t stand to continue counseling cardiac patients on nutrition and watching them ignore her advice and die.

    But at the same time; I have to eat as much as possible to keep my weight up. I know this isn’t a common problem in our society of excess, but some with chronic (like me), or acute health problems just can’t thrive on a vegetarian diet (trust me, I’ve tried).

    That said: I do think you may have read too much into what Orac has said in the past about diet. I don’t recall him ever implying that diet is unimportant. To the contrary, just above he said he would eat unhealthfully if he were dying. I am betting he tries to eat well most of the time (sorry if my assumption is off).

    I also enjoy vegetables, especially cruciferous, but I wouldn’t want them pureed.

  48. #48 Vicki
    May 21, 2010

    Anthro–

    If nobody got your point, maybe you need to think again about how you’re stating it.

    That doesn’t mean you’re wrong; it may mean that you are offering the wrong evidence for a valid point. You’re not going to convince me of the merits of any diet or other program by saying “this will help someone keep his weight down” in the context of someone dealing with unplanned weight loss due to cancer, for example. In fact, if someone were to say “the weight training is good, it will help him keep his weight down” in the same context, I would be pointing out that the person in question should talk to his trainer about a program to help maintain or even regain weight. Weight training is a regular part of my life, and I enjoy it: but if someone says “weight training is good because X” and the X in question is a bad result, that’s not an argument for weight training.

  49. #49 Molok
    May 22, 2010

    Orac,

    This seems kind of related to the greens/alkaline diet of “Dr” Robert O Young.

    One of the people taking *his* advice set up a site a few years back, doing detailed logs of his attempt to beat bladder cancer through natural means and an alkaline diet.

    http://www.stopdoingcancer.com/

    But there has been absolutely nothing happening on this site since his condition got radically worse. I think he popped on once in january 2009, but that was it.

    It would be interesting to see if he is even alive any more.

    And if one checks his logs in detail, it is clear that he was consulting Robert Young and getting recommendations to continue the alkaline diet. I wonder if that would be grounds for an investigation of the good doctor ;)

    While I agree that adults must be allowed to make their own health decisions, it is a problem that people get lured into accepting pseudoscience.

  50. #50 Doazic
    May 22, 2010

    What a fun little experiment. If Dad dies and Son lives; can we agree Chemo works?

  51. #51 Dan J
    May 23, 2010

    I was diagnosed with Stage III Hodgkins lymphoma this past week. The biopsy was on Monday, and (what did you expect?) I had my first chemo treatment on Thursday. Friday and today there were already dramatic reductions in the swollen lymph nodes in my neck.

    Of course, chemotherapy is poison, and I should have kicked the bucket the natural way.

    The man’s an adult, but that doesn’t mean he’s not an idiot. I wish him well, and I’ll probably be there to see his final few days. My final days are probably well into my future.

  52. #52 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    May 23, 2010

    @Dan J.

    Well, chemotherapy is poison, hopefully more for the cancer than for you. Always a bit of race there, but then what is the alternative?

    I’m sure the woo-peddlers will be by to tell you all about their alternatives.

    Based on my family history, I’ll probably get chemo some day as well. I hope you tolerate the chemo well. Best of luck to you.

  53. #53 Phoenix Woman
    May 23, 2010

    Two other thoughts:
    1. Two unusual hematologic cancers is a lot. Maybe it’s not just bad luck? Are the Hausers sitting on a uranium deposit? Is there something unhealthy in their supplements? I get the impression that they may not be keeping the closest eye on whether they get their supplements from a legitimate source or not.

    2. The graphs above for treated AML might actually be slightly pessimistic with respect to Hauser’s particular prognosis. If he was feeling well prior to this he presumably did not have prior MDS so might have a better than average prognosis. Also AML in older people, in whom it is harder to treat, is on the rise so Hauser may be relatively young for a diagnosis of AML and so have a better than average prognosis.

    I didn’t want this to get lost in the thread, because point #1 is particularly worthy of examination, especially if the Hausers are into ayurvedic treatments. (Google ‘ayurvedic lead poisoning’ and the first page of hits includes studies going back to 1995.)

  54. #54 Dianne
    May 24, 2010

    If Dad dies and Son lives; can we agree Chemo works?

    No. They’ve got different cancers so it doesn’t follow.

  55. #55 paulmurray
    May 25, 2010

    @31 “My point … is that people who eat meat regularly and see it as their dream food, often … treat people who do not, as slightly batty at best. … I wasn’t picking on our beloved ORAC, ”

    Well, the difficulty is that that is not what you said. You said this:

    @11 “Is it remotely possible for those of you (including Orac) who deride healthy eating as some kind of nutty notion (pun intended), to accept that some people LIKE healthy food?”

    You said that Orac derides healthy eating as some kind of nutty notion. Is it any wonder people think that that’s what you meant?

  56. #56 squirrelelite
    May 25, 2010

    As long as we’re making wild guesses, maybe they eat lots of Brazil nuts. They have lots of radium 226.

  57. #57 Mellers
    June 5, 2010

    Thank you for this thorough post-I’m curious for an update to Anthony Hauser. The one thing I have to dispute is the comment about “one thing we know, stress doesn’t cause Leukemia.” I’m 32 years old and was diagnosed with APL, a subset of AML, a type of Leukemia. Luckily for me, it was also rather uncommon but fairly treatable, with a 92% remission rate 5+ years. However, I was stressed due to working full time and volunteering full time. I didn’t know I had Crohn’s disease, and landed in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer. No one has directly stated that stress caused the ulcer, but stress reduces one’s immune system, and the double-whammy of my lowered immune system (stress, Crohn’s) likely lead to me getting cancer. Of course, I’ll never know if I would have gotten cancer without Crohn’s and/or stress, but there’s at least a strong possibility that it was partially linked.

    I just celebrated 3.5 years of remission. I’m counting on at least 40-50 years more!!

  58. #58 Mellers
    June 11, 2010

    As far as high cancer rates are concerned, we’re talking a family who just produced their 9th child, 11 people in the family in all. If cancer strikes 1-in-3, that means up to 2 more of the family members, statistically speaking, will have cancer in their lifetime. I heard for Minnesotans it’s one-in-two, but haven’t necessarily found facts to back that up (stated from another cancer survivor).

  59. #59 Michelle
    July 29, 2010

    One news story on this family reported that the Hausers have nine children and that two are autistic.

  60. #60 Calli Arcale
    July 29, 2010

    Yep. One of them is actually Daniel Hauser himself, IIRC.

  61. #61 UnoWho
    September 1, 2010

    So…where is the update that states Anthony is dead???…or did his “apparent” whacky diet actually “Cure” his Cancer without using Toxic Chemicals…There are many many ways to cure “All” Cancers Naturally…just the uninformed…mindlessly nod yes to “Legal Drug Dealers” (GP’s/PsychoANALysts) and “Glorified Car Mechanics” (Surgeons)…

  62. #62 Scott
    September 1, 2010

    So…where is the update that states Anthony is dead???

    Even with no treatment at all, this soon after diagnosis he’s expected to still be alive.

    …or did his “apparent” whacky diet actually “Cure” his Cancer without using Toxic Chemicals…

    No indication it did anything, and no diet doesn’t contain “Toxic Chemicals.” Everything can be toxic.

    There are many many ways to cure “All” Cancers Naturally…

    Please provide your evidence for this assertion.

  63. #63 Beth
    August 28, 2011

    Anthony Hauser died August 25, 2011.