Respectful Insolence

Back in the 1990s when I first dipped my toe into the pool that was Usenet, that massive, wild, and untamed frontier where most online discussion occurred before the rise of the web and later the blogosphere, I was truly a naif. I had no idea–no inkling–of the depths of quackery to which people would sink. If Usenet was my bootcamp that opened my eyes to the seemingly endless varieties of quackery and, in particular, the flavor of quackery that represents anti-vaccine lunacy and “biomedical treatments” for autism, then my graduate education in the battle for science-based medicine began in earnest when I first dove headfirst into the deep end of the woo pool as a blogger five and a half years ago. Today, I look back at about a decade subjecting myself to the various forms of medical irrationality out there, and I think I’ve seen it all. Although it seems to be happening less often than it did, the Internet disabuses me of that illusion by subjecting me to some new and bizarre form of woo that I’ve never seen before.

Because I’m a cancer surgeon and researcher, of all the quackery that’s out there, there is one form of quackery that irritates me more than any other, and that’s cancer quackery. The reason is that quackery lures cancer patients away from therapy, endangering their lives. Even for patients who are not curable with conventional science-based medicine, quackery can lead them to forego effective palliative therapy. And, make no mistake about it, death from cancer can be horrible and painful. Cancer quacks all too often rob cancer patients of quality of life in their remaining time on earth by subjecting them to ineffective therapies, some of which are not innocuous. For example, Nicholas Gonzalez’s treatment for cancer involves coffee enemas and downing as many as 150 supplement pills per day. Even though his “therapy” is worse than useless for pancreatic cancer, Gonzalez still promotes it, and desperate patients are still lured to their doom by its siren song while useful idiots like Suzanne Somers provide credulous books with entire chapters devoted to claiming that Gonzalez’s woo works.

You can imagine, then, just how I reacted when I came across a free online book entitled Natural Cancer Treatments That Work. Seldom have I seen such a comprehensively wretched hive of scum and quackery with respect to cancer treatments. Weighing in at 420 pages including index and dubious references, so comprehensive is the listing and dense the quackery content per page that I could easily write a dozen of my usual logorrheically sarcastic pontifications and still not cover the full depths of the quackery contained within this e-book. Truly, this encyclopedia of cancer quackery is what a fighter pilot would call a “target rich environment.” I don’t know how much I’ll write about individual sections of this book, but perhaps I’ll keep the PDF containing the book on my computer and return to it whenever I’m short on blogging topics. Natural Cancer Treatments That Work is truly a skeptical blogger’s friend, at least in terms of supplying copious quantities of blogging material.

Not surprisingly, the book starts with the classical quack Miranda warning, you know, the one where the quack writing a book, website, or ad states something along the lines of “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” Natural Cancer Treatments, however, goes beyond the quack Miranda and begins with two quotes. The first is from Paracelsus:

It should be forbidden and severely punished to remove cancer by cutting, burning, cautery, and other fiendish tortures. It is from nature that the disease comes, and from nature comes the cure, not from physicians.

Because we should listen to what a man who was born over 500 years ago has to say about the treatment of cancer. 500 years ago, even the most learned men of science had no idea what cancer does and no effective treatments for cancer other than surgical excision. Given that there was no truly effective anesthesia and no knowledge of antisepsis or antibiotics back then, surgical excision was as likely to kill a patient as anything else, which is why it’s not surprising that someone like Paracelsus might not be too enamored of the results of surgery for practically anything. Next up is this quote:

As if that weren’t bad enough, Natural Treatments quotes Hulda Clark. Yes, that Hulda Clark and that book of hers, The Cure for All Advanced Cancers. Of course, since Hulda Clark died of cancer, she clearly overestimated her capabilities to cure cancer. Still, quacks still think that Hulda Clark could cure cancer (or at least lie about her abilities and conveniently ignore how she shuffled off this mortal coil).

The introduction of the book goes even further, expanding upon the quack Miranda:

This book is a comprehensive compilation of over 350 natural and alternative cancer treatments. It is a result of extensive research of the methods cancer victors have used to make themselves cancer free. Read their stories in I Beat Cancer! which is a directory of over 2,000 people who beat their cancer using the treatments described in this e-book.

The objectives of the book are to:

  • Encourage you to be open-minded and seek ALL the information about your choices of treatments
  • Be a starting point for your discussions with your doctor or with the qualified, licensed physicians who use these treatments in their practices, or your chosen natural therapist. Please do not delay in consulting a licensed physician for an opinion if you suspect you have cancer.
  • Be a starting point for your own research so you can make the best-informed decisions about your treatment plan.

Interesting. The author of this book, Karen Beattie, tells you to seek “all” the information about treatment choices and use them as a “starting point for discussions with your doctor.” Then Beattie writes:

The consensus of the majority of alternative cancer therapists is that, the chance of full recovery using alternative therapies is almost 100%. with a newly diagnosed condition of early cancer, before any traumatic or toxic treatments have been received.

Unfortunately, by the time most patients consider alternative treatments, they have already undergone other treatments.

So what Beattie’s saying (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) is to go to your doctor (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and listen what he or she has to say–and then reject it. The logic is inescapable. After all, these quacks can only cure you of your cancer if you haven’t already been “poisoned” or “traumatized” by conventional medical and surgical therapy. It’s nearly the perfect “out,” because few are the patients who don’t undergo at least some conventional treatment before trying “alternatives,” even if it’s only a biopsy or surgical excision. Of course, even among those who somehow manage not to undergo even a little bit of “conventional” cancer treatment before choosing woo, those who don’t survive generally die in obscurity. They’re never heard from once they realize they’ve been had and that they aren’t going to survive their mistake. Only those who are lucky to have survived much longer than expected (i.e., “outliers”) hang around long enough to become testimonials to sell the quack nostrums they use.

For purposes of this initial post, I don’t know that it would be useful to go into much detail about any one treatment listed within this book of cancer quackery. Perhaps in the future I can do that for selected topics. There’s a lot in the book and on the apparently now defunct website for the book, including claims that cancer is “easily curable,” backed by–what else?–a whole bevy of testimonials. What I find more interesting for the purpose of an overview or introductory post is the rationale for eschewing conventional therapy and choosing “alternatives.” Not surprisingly, Beattie starts right off with a massive strawman:

Cancer is a biologic puzzle. There is no unanimous agreement on what makes cells grow abnormally, in endless, uncontrolled multiplication. There could be many different valid ways to treat cancer.

To conventional physicians, cancer is a localized disease, to be treated in a localized manner. By cutting out the tumor, irradiating it, or flooding the body with toxic (and often carcinogenic) drugs, the conventional physician hopes to destroy the tumor and thus save the patient. But all too often, the cancer is still present and has metastasized, or re-occurs.

In contrast, the alternative physician regards cancer as a systemic disease, one that involves the whole body. In this view, the tumor is merely a symptom and the therapy aims to correct the root causes.

The first paragraph isn’t so bad. True, it exaggerates the lack of understanding science has regarding what causes cancer cells to proliferate uncontrollably. There actually is a fairly broad consensus over general mechanisms that lead to uncontrolled proliferation. True, we don’t understand the biological changes that lead to cancer well enough to produce therapies that can cure cancer 100% of the time, but it’s deceptive to say that there is “no unanimous” agreement over what causes cancer cells to proliferate. Agreement may not be 100% unanimous (after all, Peter Duesberg wouldn’t agree with the current paradigm), but it is broad and it is deep. Scientists are not The Borg (at least not most of the time); they don’t march in lockstep. Not that that matters to Beattie. The only thing she gets right is that there are many valid ways to treat cancer, but that’s a trivial observation, because cancer is not a single disease. It’s many diseases, each with its own set of treatments sufficiently supported by science to be considered standard of care. Saying that there are “many different valid ways” to treat cancer is akin to saying there are many different valid ways to treat disease. It’s so trivial it’s meaningless.

Beattie’s claim that “conventional physicians” believe that cancer is a localized disease to be treated in a localized fashion is, at least as a generalization, the purest bullshit. There. I said it. There’s really no other way to say it. Apologies to those with sensitive ears. Again, cancer is not just one disease. “Conventional” physicians thus don’t treat it as one disease. Whether a cancer is viewed as a local or systemic disease depends on which specific cancer is being considered. Leukemias, for instance, are almost always systemic. Ditto lymphomas. In contrast, other cancers, such as breast, prostate, or colon cancer, tend to be localized, at least when caught early.

But even in these cases Beattie is exaggerating. For example, it’s been debated since at least the 1980s whether breast cancer, even early stage small breast cancer, is a local disease or a systemic disease. The model championed by Dr. William Halsted in the late 1800s was that breast cancer was a local disease that spread in a very predictable fashion to the local lymph nodes and then to the rest of the body. Beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, Dr. Bernard Fisher proposed that even small breast cancers represented systemic disease and that the cancers could spread unpredictably. As a result, more and more chemotherapy was advocated for earlier and earlier stage cancer. Of late, we seem to be modulating our views back towards a compromise between the Halstedian and Fisher view of breast cancer. We’re coming to understand that there is a continuum between the two views. Thus, Beattie is either deluded or lying when she asserts that “conventional” physicians view cancer strictly as a “localized” disease.

Moron.

It really should also be pointed out here that when Beattie says that an “alternative physician” regards cancer as a “systemic disease,” she doesn’t mean “systemic” disease the same way a science-based oncologist does. Note how she says that the tumor is “merely a symptom” and that therapy “aims to correct the root causes.” What she appears to mean by this is the same sort of claptrap that is the German New Medicine, which claims that the tumor is a defense mechanism of the body to protect itself from some sort of undefined “psychic trauma.” Either that, or it’s a manifestation of “too much acid,” which is what the acid-base quack Robert O. Young, who claims that tumors are a defense mechanism of the body to wall off cells “spoiled by acid.”

“Systemic.” You keep using that word. I think it does not mean what you think it means.

Perhaps the most unintentionally hilarious part of Beattie’s introduction is her attack on the dreaded “quackbusters,” in whose company no doubt she would include me:

The research team at Phi Natural Health International found the warmings of the Quackbusters very helpful in the research for this e-book – the more agitated and vociferous they were about particular treatments or individuals, the team knew that it was on to something that has proved very effective!

[...]

Many perceive a very organized worldwide movement to eliminate alternative remedies in favor of pharmaceutical drugs.

One wonders who these “many” are, although I’m sure Bill Maher is among their number. Of course, that’s how I judge the strength of a scientific consensus, by how upset scientists get when it is challenged.

Then there’s this:

This e-book is not meant to provide medical advice. The only advice we wish to give you is this: do not surrender your independent thinking. Reason things out, and make your own decisions. Network with other patients. Consult with researchers and innovative doctors. Search out different opinions. Do not let arrogance, based on fancy titles and institutional authority dictate your most important decisions.

Instead, let the arrogance based on ignorance and fantastical notions of how the body works and what causes cancer dictate your most important decisions.

In the end, I have to give Beattie some props. I must say that I can’t recall having seen such a lengthy and comprehensive list of harmful cancer quackery that should be avoided. In that, Beattie has done a service. If you see a cancer treatment that is in Natural Therapies, you can, as a rule of thumb, safely assume that it is quackery and avoid it like the plague. Indeed, were it not that people predisposed to woo wouldn’t listen to me when I say this, the simplest and most rapid way to counter this sort nonsense would be to tell my readers to read Natural Treatments That Work and then stay away from every single one of the “cures” listed in this fetid swamp of quackery masquerading as a book.

Unfortunately, the simple way probably won’t work. I’ll probably have to wade in deeper.

Comments

  1. #1 Andy
    June 17, 2010

    Orac, you really should read these stories from Australia…

    Penelope Dingle Cancer-Homeopathy inquest

    Then visit Dr Dingle’s website and blog. I think you’ll like him. He’ll certainly keep you busy for weeks. Some say he’s Australia’s answer to Joe Mercola.

  2. #2 Mu
    June 17, 2010

    At least it’s innovative thinking, I’d never thought of using quackwatch as google scholar or wikipedia substitute for successful alternative cancer treatments.

  3. #3 Dianne
    June 17, 2010

    The consensus of the majority of alternative cancer therapists is that, the chance of full recovery using alternative therapies is almost 100%. with a newly diagnosed condition of early cancer, before any traumatic or toxic treatments have been received.

    Then how does he explain Hulda Clarke’s death? She didn’t get any “traumatic or toxic treatment” and died of myeloma anyway.

  4. #4 clayton
    June 17, 2010

    Orac, I’ve been meaning to ask your opinion of cancerdecisions.com.

    Good article, Hulda Clark… what a loon, the cure for all cancers was also the cure for AIDS.

  5. #5 Adam_Y
    June 17, 2010

    Orac, I’ve been meaning to ask your opinion of cancerdecisions.com.

    I’m no psychic but reading the crap on that website I believe the word Orac would use is Moron.

  6. #6 clayton
    June 17, 2010

    oh….oh.
    I used the search feature on the left. Nice to know those facts about Ralph Moss.

    In particular I like this quote from Orac
    “Of course, a lot of the susceptibility of the public to these blandishments comes from the fact that many altie practitioners, lacking evidence-based treatments, provide the “human touch” that patients crave and that conventional doctors have such a hard time providing in these days of declining reimbursements and pressure to see more patients and more patients in a day just to break even. Unless we find a way to improve the system so that there are not such strong disincentives for spending more time with each patient, it is a perception of conventional medicine that will get worse, rather than better.”

    Is it incorrect of me to assume that the largest obstacle to regaining time with patients would be the HMO’s etc?

  7. #7 Dianne
    June 17, 2010

    Of late, we seem to be modulating our views back towards a compromise between the Halstedian and Fisher view of breast cancer.

    Almost off topic, but maybe the answer is that either can be true. Some early breast cancer may be local, some already systemic. It’s already clear that breast cancer isn’t a single disease, why should it have a single universal status as localized or systemic? (It’s another question entirely whether systemic disease always matters: micrometastases may sometimes never result in overt disease. Maybe due to immune surveillance, maybe something else.)

    Also just for fun and to illustrate the levels on which cancer is not a single disease, one of the lessons from the latest ASCO:
    Cancer isn’t a single disease.
    Lung cancer isn’t a single disease.
    Non-small cell lung cancer isn’t a single disease.
    Adenocarcinoma of the lung isn’t a single disease.
    EGFR wild type adenocarcinoma of the lung…probably isn’t a single disease either.

    It’s a lot more complicated than the “alternative medicine” practitioners acknowledge and, really, probably more complicated than anyone knows. Yet.

  8. #8 Jojo
    June 17, 2010

    Why do I get the feeling that the many different cancer treatments have different One True Causes and that there are multiple contradictions between treatments throughout the book? At least when they are only pushing one treatment they don’t have to explain why all the other treatments work.

  9. #9 Denice Walter
    June 17, 2010

    Ten years!How synchronous!I *should* consult my astrology-dependent friend about this!Just after the turn of the millenium, my very elderly father,who had been successfully managing our investments,as well of those of several of my much-older cousins,became too ill to continue.I took on the burden of watching Bloomberg/CNBC around noon(as I had free time) and turned on the radio-*Voila!*- The Gary Null Show-and the most egregious,self-aggrandizing, nonsensial anti-science I had ever heard!It didn’t seem possible.Was it a parody? An ironic send-up, a modern day,”War of the Worlds” equivalent? Had I been transported back in time to a snake-oil show on the prarie in 1900? No,it was real.And horrible.Playing with people’s lives for money.A *commercial* that used the free airwaves of public radio as if it were a public service!

  10. #10 Dianne
    June 17, 2010

    Apologies for the double post (now triple, I suppose.) Not sure how that happened since I thought I only pushed post once…

  11. #11 Orac
    June 17, 2010

    Almost off topic, but maybe the answer is that either can be true. Some early breast cancer may be local, some already systemic. It’s already clear that breast cancer isn’t a single disease, why should it have a single universal status as localized or systemic?

    Quite true. I never quite bought into Bernie Fisher’s promotion of the idea that even a tiny, sub-centimeter breast cancer is almost always already a systemic disease given that a simple lumpectomy has quite a good chance of curing it. Now, for triple negative breast cancer, I can almost accept such a concept, but not for your more run-of-the-mill less aggressive estrogen receptor-positive tumors.

    I do like the way you put it though. Cancer is not a single disease, and individual subtypes of cancers aren’t single diseases. If you want evidence of that, just look at how whole genome expression-profiling has revealed molecular subtypes of cancer, such as luminal, basal, etc. These subtypes of breast cancer can behave very differently.

  12. #12 AJ Milne OM
    June 17, 2010

    The consensus of the majority of alternative cancer therapists is that, the chance of full recovery using alternative therapies is almost 100%. with a newly diagnosed condition of early cancer, before any traumatic or toxic treatments have been received.

    Just. Wow.

    Translated: ‘We can save you, brother… But only if you use only woo. If you’re silly enough to talk to an actually qualified practitioner who might treat you with genuinely effective therapies and take their advice, we wash our hands of you…’

    … and, apparently, the fact that if anyone’s stupid enough actually to take this claim at face value and run with it, it is very likely to have the charming effect of turning a treatable if dangerous condition into a sentence to death by slow and incredibly painful torture, apparently this does not bother the authors.

    Scum does not cut it. These people are miserable, vicious bastards.

  13. #13 DonZilla
    June 17, 2010

    Everyone knows the cure for cancer is asparagus. Asparagus is a yummy tasty fuzzy cuddly vegetable and doctors like Orac are cold and nasty and use words that are way too big. Lots and lots of big, big words that take to long to read.

    (Oh man, sounds like Orac has found the motherlode. I hope he’s taken adequate steps to protect his brain before going in.)

  14. #14 Jane
    June 17, 2010

    I have a theory that in about 50 years or so, everyone will know someone who tried all those other methods, including just believing they can beat cancer, and died.

    I knew a very strong woman who tried all those other methods and still died. I think it’s important to think those things, and be open-minded about other treatment options but only because we’re still alive.

    I don’t know what this means for books like this, but, they should definitely be taken as a supplement.

  15. #15 Mojo
    June 17, 2010

    I have a theory that in about 50 years or so, everyone will know someone who tried all those other methods, including just believing they can beat cancer, and died.

    I have another theory: that a significant proportion of them will still swear blind that they work.

  16. #16 Andreas Johansson
    June 17, 2010

    One of their examples of localized treatment:

    flooding the body with toxic (and often carcinogenic) drugs

    (ie., chemotherapy)

    So, precisely, which parts of the system does this fail to address? The soul?

  17. #17 raven
    June 17, 2010

    I have a theory that in about 50 years or so, everyone will know someone who tried all those other methods, including just believing they can beat cancer, and died.

    Many of us have already seen that.

    Patient in a high risk group was picked up by screening with early stage breast cancer. Age 33. The statistics say she had a 90% chance of a cure.

    She went alternative and died of metastatic breast cancer 18 months later, age 34. The stuff she was taking make herbal remedies look like real medicine. It didn’t have to happen.

  18. #18 bluedevilRA
    June 17, 2010

    I am disappointed Orac. I thought this article was going to be about Jawas peddling herbal nonsense at Mos Eisley Spaceport.

    But I guess Jawas and “all-natural” quacks aren’t all that different. I can’t abide by them. Disgusting creatures.

  19. #19 Jawa Doctor
    June 17, 2010

    @bluedevilRA

    UTINNI!

  20. #20 liverpool
    June 17, 2010

    Middle class ‘Enlightened’ Americans eat this stuff up. My one friend tells a story of how Reiki caused an acquaintance’s brain tumour to disappear. DISAPPEAR. REIKI!

    Such a very dangerous path we are heading down.

  21. #21 Jojo
    June 17, 2010

    Donzilla

    Everyone knows the cure for cancer is asparagus. Asparagus is a yummy tasty fuzzy cuddly vegetable and doctors like Orac are cold and nasty and use words that are way too big

    You are mistaken. Asparagus is a bitter, stringy, standoffish vegetable and therefore could never cure cancer. Plus, Asparagus is a pretty big word as well. I think you were talking about peas. Now there is a cute and rolly polly veggie if I’ve ever seen one. Now there’s your cure for cancer.

  22. #22 Robyn
    June 17, 2010

    The kicker is that I am not intrinsically opposed to considering “alternative” treatments to cancer…if and only if they have been subjected to (and passed) rigorous scientific testing including double-blind placebo-controlled trials. I am happy to keep an open mind. Part of that, though, is knowing when a philosophy holds water vs. when the jury’s still out (or laughing in their sleeves).

    I am pretty much immediately skeptical of any one treatment of a complex, multifaceted disease such as cancer that claims near-total effectiveness. I tend to think that statistic says more about the quality of the data than the quality of the treatment.

    As usual, Carl Sagan’s words remain my mantra: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I can be convinced, that means…but it’s going to be tough to do without solid, airtight, testable proof.

  23. #23 Andreas Johansson
    June 17, 2010

    The kicker is that I am not intrinsically opposed to considering “alternative” treatments to cancer…if and only if they have been subjected to (and passed) rigorous scientific testing including double-blind placebo-controlled trials.

    By that point the treatment is no longer “alternative”.

  24. #24 T. Bruce McNeely
    June 17, 2010

    You are mistaken. Asparagus is a bitter, stringy, standoffish vegetable and therefore could never cure cancer.

    – and chemo doesn’t make your urine smell funny.

  25. #25 Dianne
    June 17, 2010

    and chemo doesn’t make your urine smell funny.

    Actually, that kind of depends on the chemo.

  26. #26 Donna B.
    June 17, 2010

    I have a different theory about people who say their cancer was cured with quackery: They never had cancer, or had a type that spontaneously regressed.

  27. #27 Angela Sodee
    June 17, 2010

    Wouldn’t it be great if these quacks were held responsible for their actions?

    @Donna B I have anectodal evidence for your theory. My brother recently told me that his scan showed his ‘chest and stomach cancer was gone’ and that only his armpit still showed cancer. I asked him when it had been established that he ever had cancer in his chest or stomach. (Aside from the initial biopsy he had refused ALL tests until this scan he mentioned above).

    Turns out that someone (applied kinesiology or w/e) did an ‘energy scan’ on him and told him that he had cancer in his chest in stomach as well as his lymph node. But that the cancer in his chest and stomach was too small for a doctor’s tests to find.
    And now that the doctors test did indeed not find any such thing, months later, she is claiming she cured him with vitamins. (but somehow did not cure the lymphoma)

    Neat trick that..

  28. #28 Travis
    June 17, 2010

    Angela, I am not surprised to hear that story. It seems to be a very common variety of fooling yourself, or fooling others. I remember seeing an episode of The Fifth Estate on the CBC a few years ago that dealt with Benny Hinn, the televangelist, and they looked into some of the cases of healing from the show. Aside from finding that a few had died since being “cured” they also found that a fairly large number of the people never actually were diagnosed with the cancer they were cured of.

  29. #29 jaranath
    June 17, 2010

    Sometimes true, Donna B, but often not. To the best of my knowledge, the most common route is to seek full or partial real treatments before, during or after woo treatments, and then credit only or mostly the woo for the cure. And then there are those who go into spontaneous remission as one would expect statistically, and those who report being “cured” who later die of the disease. Faith healers and some of the quack clinics are especially fond of the last tactic.

  30. #30 Clementine
    June 18, 2010

    I’d never really thought much about alternative medicine until 12 years ago when a close relative contracted cancer. At first she had chemotherapy but the snake-oil salesmen got to her and next thing we knew she was buying a ‘quantum booster’ machine at ENORMOUS expense; money she could ill-afford to spend. Predictably the seller of this ridiculous contraption (which my husband described as something a little boy would build in the garage with his father’s DIY scraps and bits of old wire) told my relative that chemo would no longer be neccessary in order to effect a cure – so she gave it up – despite a relatively positive prognosis. Needless to say, she died.

    Yesterday this very topic came up at a lunch I was attending and I was telling my story. One woman was busy murmering about ‘the many things we just don’t understand,’ which is always a good sign that a person is credulous and gullible. Sure enough, she asked me: “How long after buying the Quantum Booster did this lady die?” When I replied that it was approximately 6 months this woman declared, “Well it obviously worked then. Without it your relative would have died much sooner!”

    I really despair for the future of civilisation sometimes!

  31. #31 Clementine
    June 18, 2010

    Sorry, just a small correction to that quote: What she said was “How do you know that without the machine she wouldn’t have died much sooner?”

  32. #32 Andrew
    June 18, 2010

    Jane wrote:

    I have a theory that in about 50 years or so, everyone will know someone who tried all those other methods, including just believing they can beat cancer, and died.

    One problem is that we’ll probably also know someone who tried real medicine and still died.

  33. #33 clayton
    June 18, 2010

    Andrew,

    Really, so MD’s aren’t perfect. Hmm, surprise. I would rather work with someone like Orac if I had cancer than any ND whether they trained at Bastyr or got a MAIL IN DIPLOMA. The nice thing I’ve learned from reading Orac is that while the medically community is fairly confident in their attempts to treat illnesses they lack the hubris of claiming 100% cure rates. And this coming from a guy who sells supplements. He may have disdain for supplements, but not nearly as much as I do working with customers and manufacturers when I managed a health food store. At least Orac is willing to write about the errors in medicine and look for solutions, instead of scrapping the whole system. thats just plain childish.

  34. #34 J. J. Ramsey
    June 18, 2010

    DonZilla: “Oh man, sounds like Orac has found the motherlode. I hope he’s taken adequate steps to protect his brain before going in.”

    I have this awful picture in my mind’s eye of an office in an oncology ward with fragments of Plexiglas and blinking lights strewn all over the floor, leftovers from a poor computer reading through explosive levels of stupid.

  35. #35 Doctor Smart
    June 18, 2010

    Hmmm. One name comes to mind. Suzanne Summers.

    Graviola is a strong cancer fighter, but yet the Fascist Drug Agendancy (FDA) will not allow Graviola inside the United States. Of course you can get the supplements, but it’s not the same as growing your own.

    Vitamin D and Gamma E as well as Resveratrol, Selenium, and a few other supplements do indeed cut your risk of cancer significantly.

    In order to battle cancer you must first repair your damaged immune system. You have cancer becuase your immune system did not do its job. Therefore you have to first get your immune system to working properly again before cancer can be destroyed.

    Chemo further weakens an already devastated immune system.

    Cesium Chloride works with some late stage rapid growing “terminal” cancer patients. It is dangerous and Potassium levels need to be monitored, but it works if properly administered.

    The fact of the matter is this. Every single person who exists will have cancer somewhere in their body in their lifetime. It only continues to develop and become a problem when the immune system fails. Repair the immune system and then you can eliminate the cancer. Chemo just makes the cancer hide in another location.

  36. #36 Chris
    June 19, 2010

    “Dr. Smart”, Medicien Man, Ferhan Isis (yes, he used that name on the WhiteCoatUnderground blog, he is one of the more idiotic trolls):

    I suggest you use the handy search box on the top left part of this page and look up Suzanne Somers (it helps if you spell her name right).

  37. #37 David N. Brown
    June 19, 2010

    “Dr. Dumb”,
    How, exactly, does a strong immune system fight cancer? The primary function of the immune system is to attack matter FOREIGN to the body. Cancer cells, on the other hand, originate within the body. Having the same DNA as every other cell, they do not set off immune system “alarms” the way a microorganism or transplanted human tissue would. So, while it is certainly preferable to choose cancer treatments that will do less harm to the immune system so that a patient is not left vulnerable to prosaic infections, there is no reason why the health of the immune system will make any difference against the cancer itself.
    Also, a further drawback to your handle: It is very similar to “IM Smart”, perhaps the most obnoxious troll to show up here. If you aren’t in fact the same person, it would behoove you to make it clear.

  38. #38 Don Cox
    June 19, 2010

    Does this book cover cael urine? This seems to be a very popular cancer cure in the Middle East.

  39. #39 Don Cox
    June 19, 2010

    Sorry, “cael” should be “camel” of course.

  40. #40 Doctor Smart
    June 19, 2010

    Chris, aka, my stalker:

    Please stop following me. it’s creepy.

    _______

    David “evil Possum” Brown:

    It would behoove me to what? It doesn’t matter if you do not beleive me. The world keeps turning and the truth keeps on going. I don;t care if modern “science” picks and chooses what makes the cancer industry profitable, the fact of the matter is that if the cancer industry does not look at why the immune system is failing in cancer patients, the the disease will never be cured. Then again, why would a multi-billion dollar sick industry want a cure for anything when they can make more money by keeping people sick? That’s the million dollar question. I think medicine research should not only be done at universities and high dollar labs with political connections. Private individuals should be able to access grant money to do research for themselves as well. Then maybe when the politicians and big pharma get out of the picture we can obtain a real cure and not just a treatment.

  41. #41 David N. Brown
    June 19, 2010

    Dr. “Smart”,
    You made a major medical/scientific claim: That the immune system can fight cancer the same way it would fight a conventional disease. If you cared to offer any defense of this idea, it might be worth further discussion. It is duly noted that you do not.

  42. #42 Clementine
    June 19, 2010

    It takes a very long time to navigate through all the flowery, often meaningless – prose and endless references to godesses and blissfulness on this very over-the-top website, but I’d be curious to know if you think Ani Kasper actually even had breast cancer, Orac? I can’t help feeling there’s a touch of Suzanne Somers about it! http://pelicanscoconutsandbutterflies.com

  43. #43 Chris
    June 19, 2010

    Again, you morphing idiot troll, I cannot stalk you when you show up at blogs that I regularly read and comment on. I use this thing on Firefox called “Bookmarks” so that I can visit both blogs at will. It is like being accused of stalking when you show up at my local grocery store where I shop multiple times a week, point at me and yell “Stalker!”

    You are also an easy target because of the absolute inane and fact free comments you make. Especially the pointing out commercial herbal supplement websites as proof there were natural cures for Type 1 Diabetes.

  44. #44 Doctor Smart
    June 19, 2010

    Oh dear Lord. You are still on the diabetes thing? Gimme a break. We already went through this about a dozen times. I cannot help it if you refuse to read links.

    David Brown:

    You are just as capable of reasearch and reading as I am. I found out this information for myself. it’s quite simple. Ignore big pahrma and the FDA and think for yourself. Start researching diseases like a detective would investigate a crime. Find out what is common – in this case, cancer – to the disease and everything that has remotely helped in the situation at hand – in this case, boosting the immune system.

  45. #45 David N. Brown
    June 19, 2010

    @45:
    You are still not addressing the fundamental problem: How can the immune system fight a cancer, when the cancer cells are identical to the body’s healthy tissues? The idea would appear to be a nonstarter even in theory. For that matter, if the immune system could be made to attack cancer cells, what would keep it from attacking the rest of the body (a favorite hypothetical of the anti-vaccine movement)?

  46. #46 Chris
    June 20, 2010

    Morphing troll:

    I cannot help it if you refuse to read links.

    I read the links, idiot. They were commercial herbal supplement sites that stated they could help Type 2 Diabetes, not Type 1 Diabetes.

    The only reason I mention is that you promised to provide a cure for anything:

    Go ahead Chris, name me your ailment, I’ll fix you up with a remedy that will be equal to or better than big pharma can deliver (in most cases).

    I gave you one… and you failed.

    And you still fail. And you fail to understand that you fail, and why you fail.

  47. #47 Chris
    June 20, 2010

    Looking down that list of comments, I see you latched onto diabetes and never even attempted the other options:

    Here is the ailment that I encountered with my son: seizures, with no known reason (stopped with phenobarbital).

    And here is another one: infection with group A streptococci bacteria, commonly known as strep throat.

    And then there is leprosy, also known as Hanson’s disease. Please tell us how you would cure that (which has been cured quite well during the later half of the twentieth century).

    What happened to those sure fire cures? Oh, wait… on this thread you referred us to the writings of a woman whose name you could not even spell correctly! I guess your answer will be as illuminating as before — a complete dark blank of nothingness.

  48. #48 Meg Thornton
    June 20, 2010

    “The consensus of the majority of alternative cancer therapists is that, the chance of full recovery using alternative therapies is almost 100%”, provided, of course, that you classify “death” as a “full recovery”. After all, a corpse is no longer suffering from the symptoms of cancer.

    There, fixed a small editing error for them.

  49. #49 Dr. Steve
    June 22, 2010

    Oh dear Lord. You are still on the diabetes thing? Gimme a break. We already went through this about a dozen times. I cannot help it if you refuse to read links.

    David Brown:

    You are just as capable of reasearch and reading as I am. I found out this information for myself. it’s quite simple. Ignore big pahrma and the FDA and think for yourself. Start researching diseases like a detective would investigate a crime. Find out what is common – in this case, cancer – to the disease and everything that has remotely helped in the situation at hand – in this case, boosting the immune system.
    ============
    Sorry, but “boosting the immune system” is a gross oversimplification. Read the 4-part series on the immune system published in the New England Journal from aroud the year 2000. Re-read it until you understand it, then realize this is only a the tip of the iceberg.
    Your own body supresses your immune system – you even have cells, CD8+ T-cells specifically, to supress it. A lack of activity in CD8+ T-cells leads to lovely problems like rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, and many other auto-immune diseases, where the immune system attacks self-antigens and creates ongoing damage.
    So, unwarranted “boosting” of the immune system is just as bad, and causes just as much disease as suppression of the immune system.
    Of course the immune system can be boosted in very specific ways, like vaccination, without stimulating the entire system and inciting auto-immunity – although that still does sometime happen (Guillane-Barre). Which is why vaccine based treatment for melanoma and prostate cancer have shown some promise, and there is a vaccine in mouse trails to treat breast cancer which also looks promising.

  50. #50 Lung Cancer Stories
    June 24, 2010

    We make sure to provide you the best options for how to survive lung cancer. If you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with lung cancer, then this would be the right place for treatment of lung cancer.

  51. #51 Kate
    July 14, 2010

    The treatment of Cancer by chemotheraphy brings into the medical community from 300,000.00 to 1,000,000.00 dollars a year per patient. What else type of answer could one expect from a cancer surgeon. Sloan Kettering a top if not the top rated cancer center ( not sure who rates them), has for its board, members of the drug company community. Try to debunk all you can, traditional cancer doctors are life threatening to a cancer patient. The drug companies rule. Be informed to stay alive. You have to co-doctor with your doctor to get well. Drug companies control the doctors and hospitals so all you will get from the are drugs.

  52. #52 Kate
    July 14, 2010

    The treatment of Cancer by chemotheraphy brings into the medical community from 300,000.00 to 1,000,000.00 dollars a year per patient. What else type of answer could one expect from a cancer surgeon. Sloan Kettering a top if not the top rated cancer center ( not sure who rates them), has for its board, members of the drug company community. Try to debunk all you can, traditional cancer doctors are life threatening to a cancer patient. The drug companies rule. Be informed to stay alive. You have to co-doctor with your doctor to get well. Drug companies control the doctors and hospitals so all you will get from them are drugs. Use your own research to supplement your cancer care.

  53. #53 Chris
    July 15, 2010

    Kate, why do you think a cancer surgeon would rely on chemotherapy?

    And folks, can you think of something more original than the Pharma Shill Gambit?

    Come on! Do something different!

    Like actually reading the articles. Yes, I know they are long… I usually take them in small pieces, often between reading online comics and other little blogs. Then commenting on the actual content of the article with some actual evidence to support your claims.

    Oh, wait. That requires actual work and thinking, and will detract from being a drive-by troll.

    It was just a suggestion. Do try it. It makes you look less like you live under a bridge.

  54. #54 Composer99
    July 15, 2010

    Kate, real, effective medical care is expensive. It really is that simple. Of course, it would help if you could provide a source for your dollar values instead of expecting us to take your word (aka unsubstantiated assertion) for it.

    You could opt for no care or ‘meta’ treatment (the Doctor Smart recommendation, apparently, wherein simply ‘boosting the immune system’ will do the trick and no actual cancer treatment is required). This would, I am sure, be quite affordable. If you are fortunate, your cancer will spontaneously go into remission or you will have a particularly slow-growing cancer. If not, you can at least feel comforted that you are leaving more assets behind for your heirs.

    You could opt for quackery. It might cost less, overall, than real cancer treatment. You might pay more out of pocket if it is not covered by insurance (and why should insurers pay frauds and scam artists?), of course.

    On the whole, if you are not going to opt for real medicine then the do-nothing option seems to be the best bet over paying for expensive urine (supplements) or quackery.

  55. #55 stuart large
    December 13, 2010

    Hi. I wont comment on alternative medicine, instead on conventional doctors and oncologists.
    I spent several weeks with my wife (who was diagnosed stage 4 colon cancer)being messed around my doctors and onc’s, who finally decided colostomy and palliative chemo, I said no thank you, and told my wife we will look somewhere else, that was oct 2009.
    I was eventually able to find a doctor (surgeon actually) who was prepared to listen to me and work as a team.
    We decided mild chemo, and I added immuno stimulating supplements, now over a year later my wife is fine, dont know is she still has cancer as we have run out of money, and no point checking, until we have money for treatment.
    However I strongly believe if we had followed the original advise my wife would have died a long time ago.
    Dont trust alternative medicine and dont trust conventional medicine either, my famous oncologist didn’t even know what beta-glucan is.
    Stuart

  56. #56 stuart large
    December 13, 2010

    Hi. you cheated a bit, your interpretation of cancer being a syptom is wrong. if cancer was caused by, say by heavy smoking, or working with X rays, and with allopathic medicine it’s cured, but the patient is still a heavy smoker and still works with X rays, what then.
    Plus your comments on immunostimulating products is also not true, there are proven supplements that help and are immunomodulating, without causing problems.
    I can send thousands of pages on some of them,researched by universities and even the US army, and things like cimtidine that suppress T suppressor cells

  57. #57 Steve
    March 3, 2011

    When you doctors cure cancer i will listen to your every word, until then your comments carry no more weight than anybody else. Until then do your job, find a cure for cancer, good people are dying.

    Steve MSPE

  58. #58 Chris
    March 3, 2011

    Steve, can you be specific on which kind of cancer? There are several.

  59. #59 Antaeus Feldspar
    March 3, 2011

    When you doctors cure cancer i will listen to your every word, until then your comments carry no more weight than anybody else. Until then do your job, find a cure for cancer, good people are dying.

    The fallacy that Goofus is using here is called “the Nirvana fallacy.” It relies on the false premise that only two alternatives exist in a given situation, perfection and imperfection. By this sort of “logic”, Pee Wee Herman and Michael Jordan are equally good at the game of basketball, because neither is 100% perfect.

    Anyone who has actually looked into the question “why hasn’t cancer been cured yet?” has found out early – as Goofus clearly has not – that there is not a single monolithic disease called “cancer”; it is more realistic to talk about cancers, plural. Some cancers are more amenable to treatment than others; survival rates for thyroid cancer are very high, for example. The 5 year survival rate for thyroid cancer is 99% with appropriate medical treatment. Realistic people would call that pretty damn good, and they would give the appropriate credit to the doctors who brought it up that high.

    Goofus, though, would probably say that bringing that survival rate up to 99% is nothing whatsoever, because it isn’t “curing cancer.” Which is kind of like saying that Michael Jordan’s words about basketball have no weight until he’s perfect at playing every sport every time. Rather ridiculous, but that’s what we expect from Goofuses.

  60. #60 Fritz Sandoz
    April 13, 2011

    If conventional MDs would subscribe to Alternative Medicine newsletters (written by MDs looking for answers) instead of blindly sticking with Big Pharma,there would be a lot more healthy people. There is an herb called Graviola that breaks down the outer wall of a cancer cell-allowing your immune system to attack it.There is even a conventional drug called Naltrexone (Revia),that when given in 3-4MG doses before bedtime,has eliminated Breast,lung, kidney and prostate cancer in several patients.Take the AMA and shove it!

  61. #61 Fritz Sandoz
    April 13, 2011

    If conventional MDs would subscribe to Alternative Medicine newsletters (written by MDs looking for answers) instead of blindly sticking with Big Pharma,there would be a lot more healthy people. There is an herb called Graviola that breaks down the outer wall of a cancer cell-allowing your immune system to attack it.There is even a conventional drug called Naltrexone (Revia),that when given in 3-4MG doses before bedtime,has eliminated Breast,lung, kidney and prostate cancer in several patients. Take the AMA and shove it!

  62. #62 ArtK
    April 13, 2011

    @Fritz

    Evidence please.

  63. #63 Fritz Sandoz
    April 13, 2011

    Sorry I forgot to mention that the Graviola bush-tree that was found by Big Pharma in South America in the 70s was abandoned because they couldn’t isolate the element that made it work against cancer. If you can’t isolate the element,you cant get a Patent on it.Thus, goodbye profit. It was lucky that one their researchers blew the whistle on them or we would never have known about Graviola!

  64. #64 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    April 13, 2011

    Fritz,
    Are there studies you of the safety and effectiveness of Graviola as a cancer therapy? The same question for Naltrexone – are there studies that show it to be safe and effective as treatment for breast, lung, kidney, and prostate cancer? If so, have the findings been reproduced by an independent team?

  65. #65 schleef
    September 11, 2011

    What really irks me is the reality that there will never be a ‘cure’ for cancer. With the science and technology we have in the 21st century, a cure should exist and likely does. Sadly the drug companies will continue to keep a lid on this solely to protect their profits. Breast cancer alone has raised billions of dollars with nothing to show but pure lip service.

    Robert
    Small Cell Lung Cancer

  66. #66 Marcelo
    February 25, 2012

    There are some good people doing “the right thing” and the others that try to make money out of other people’s desperation and suffering. If you are a cancer patient, please give yourself a chance and try some alternative treatment. Do your research and stay away from those who want money for their secret cures.
    Cancer cells are produced by our own body and it is precisely our body what can destroy them as easily as it has produced them. The answer is in our diet.
    The relationship between nutrition and health is a fact that has been known for long; however, it is not well defined which components of our diet are biologically active or how they exercise their functional effect.
    Nutritional genomics is the study at a genomic level of the influence that nutrients have over our health. Even when there is a well accepted metabolic individuality that prevents us from obtaining a general answer that could satisfy every human need for nutrition, there could exist a selection of nutrients or basic elements common to every individual that are an essential part in every diet.
    There exist genes that can be related directly with the risk of contracting certain illnesses and it is known that the expression of those genes can be modified by nutrition. Genes interact with elements in human diet modifying cellular metabolism and generating a metabolic change that may be associated with the predisposition and the risk to develop common illnesses.
    Human tendency to certain illnesses has changed considerably in the recent years due mainly to the changes in nutrition and most of all to processed food. Refined foods that constitute a high percentage of our diet lack many of the nutrients they should contain and with inadequate processing they could even generate substances potentially dangerous for our health. Cooking, canning, storage, freezing and other forms of handling our food eliminate many nutrients in most cases. In particular, enzymes are very sensitive to heat as many vitamins and some amino acids; consequently, processed food lacks that original nutritional value that it normally has in its non-processed state.
    Enzymes are proteins produced by our body that act as bio-catalyzers that perform structural and metabolic tasks, stimulate or inhibit hormonal functions, regulate physiological response, control the speed and transmission quality of our nervous system’s signals and control waste secretion. Enzymes are bio-catalyzers that allow the transformation of large quantities of substrates utilized in the production of the different components that are essential for the whole vital process.
    For these processes to occur, every enzymatic system requires the participation of co- enzymes, that is, oligo elements, vitamins and minerals that allow them to fit exactly in the substrates. In contrast with enzymes, co-enzymes degrade with their activity and for that reason they must be constantly replenished. An oligo element deficit could inhibit some enzymatic system resulting in the development of an adverse condition.
    Find that combination and your body will defend itself against most illnesses.
    Give yourself a chance.

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