Respectful Insolence

(NOTE: The videos of Robert O. Young’s interview with Kim Tinkham have been removed, as I predicted in this post that they would be. Fortunately, I downloaded copies before he managed to do that. Part 6 appears to be still there–for now.)

(NOTE ADDED 12/7/2010: Kim Tinkham has died of what was almost certainly metastatic breast cancer.)

I hate stories like this. I really do. I hate them with a burning passion that makes it hard for me to see straight when I first find out about them. They make me want to grab a shotgun and go looking for the quack responsible. It’s a good thing I’ve never by any means a violent person and don’t think I could ever do such a thing. Besides, against quacks my blog is my shotgun, and words are my buckshot, a particularly apt metaphor given my tendency towards logorrhea.

In fact, you might even say that stories like the one I’m about to discuss are a major part of the reason why I do what I do, both here and elsewhere. They’re a major part of the reason why I’ve recently branched out into public speaking, something that used to terrify me beyond belief but that lately I’ve become at least competent at–sometimes even not bad at all. Sadly, the story I’m about to tell is one I’ve told before, most recently at the Lorne Trottier Science Symposium, where I gave a talk on cancer cure “testimonials,” although at the time I gave the talk the story’s outcome, although predictable, was not yet known.

Now it is.

The woman to whom I refer is named Kim Tinkham, who was diagnosed with breast cancer over three and a half years ago. Regular readers may recall that Kim Tinkham achieved fame not long after that when she was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show in an episode about The Secret. I don’t want to discuss the utter nonsense that is The Secret in too much detail here. However, for those unfamiliar with this particular bit of New Age woo, it’s important to know that The Secret’s “Law of Attraction” takes the germ of a reasonable idea (namely that one’s attitudes and wishes can influence whether one gets what one wants in life, something that’s been known for millennia and is so obvious that most people know it intuitively) and goes off the deep end of woo by proclaiming that, in essence, you can get anything you want by wanting it badly enough and thinking positive thoughts, thus “attracting” it to you. Basically “The Secret” is that you have the power to “attract” virtually any good to yourself that your heart desires by thinking happy thoughts (hence “the law of attraction,” which, according to Secret adherents always works).

It’s an idea that resonates in so much of “alternative medicine,” such as German New Medicine or Biologie Totale, both ideologies that claim that cancer is due to hidden “inner conflicts” that must be recognized and overcome before cacner can be cured. Of course, the implication of “Secret” thinking is that if bad things happen to you it must be your fault for not wanting it bad enough or thinking happy enough thoughts, an idea that any Holocaust survivor would find incredibly offensive. In much of “alternative medicine,” though, there is indeed an undercurrent, either implied or explicitly stated that, if you don’t get what you want, it’s your fault. Indeed, a frequent excuse for failure in alternative medicine is that the patient either didn’t follow the regimen closely enough or didn’t want it badly enough.

Basically, The Secret is what inspired Kim Tinkham to eschew all conventional therapy for her breast cancer and pursue “alternative” therapies, which is what she has done since 2007. For those of you who want to review it, here I will note that I’ve discussed her case in considerable detail three posts:

This will be part 4, and part 4 almsot certainly be the last part. This weekend, I learned that Kim Tinkham’s cancer has recurred and that she is dying. On Saturday, a reader of my other blog sent me an e-mail that informed me:

Our dear friend, Kim Tinkham, has been diagnosed with cancer. Kim’s friends and family have established a benefit account at Citibank to assist the Tinkhams with expenses during this difficult time.

The accompanying e-mail referred me to a website called Caring for Kim, which led me to related Twitter and Facebook pages. In addition, on the FaceBook page, there was a flyer:

i-c7f2de771255e02193ecd37949a85d66-Tinkham-thumb-480x741-58788.jpg

I can’t tell you how much this depressed me. Granted, neither the website, the Twitter feed, nor the Facebook page confirmed the details of the story told by the person who e-mailed me. However, the nature of the comments on Facebook page did strongly suggest to me that it is true, as there are a number of supportive posts offering prayers of support and urging Tinkham to “keep up the fight” and be hopeful. At the very least, the Facebook page strongly suggested that something is very, very wrong with Tinkham’s health and that it has to do with her cancer coming back. Over the weekend, I have since confirmed, to the best of my ability, that the story related to me by my reader appears to be true. Kim Tinkham is dying of cancer. Most likely what has happened is that, after nearly four years of quack treatments, Tinkham’s breast cancer finally metastasized to what are, let’s face it, the most common sites to which breast cancer metastasizes, bone, liver, and lung. The reports I’ve read suggest that Tinkham is not expected to see 2011.

And so it goes. Another quack claims another victim.

Unfortunately, fleeing conventional therapy after her diagnosis, inspired by The Secret, Tinkham found one Robert O. Young. I’ve discussed this particular “practitioner” here, at TAM7, and at the Trottier Symposium. Young is a proponent of the pseudoscientific idea that essentially all disease is due to “excess acidity” and can therefore be treated with alkalinization. In essence, “Dr.” Young peddles acid-base pseudoscience and the belief that cancer is a “liquid.” One reason that women with breast cancer who decide to opt for “alternative treatment” come to believe that their treatment cured them is because they have had a biopsy that completely excised the tumor. Remember, radiation and chemotherapy only decrease the chance of the tumor recurring after lumpectomy; the lumpectomy itself cures cancer in a significant proportion of cases. However, Tinkham did not undergo an exicisonal biopsy or lumpectomy, only Young’s unscientific and useless treatments. So, after “hyperalkalinizing” her body by changing her diet radically and imbibing all sorts of supplements, did Tinkham’s tumor shrink radically?

No. At no time did I ever hear any claim or evidence that Tinkham’s tumor shrank.

Nonetheless, a testimony to the biological variability of breast cancer in terms of aggressiveness, Tinkham did do well for well over three years. Indeed, as recently as June, which was the last time I wrote about her, Kim Tinkham appeared hale and hearty in an interview on YouTube with the very quack who had been treating her:

I discussed these videos in detail in part 3 of my series on Ms. Tinkham’s testimonial. Part of that post that I consider to be worth repeating, now that we know the outcome of Tinkham’s cancer, is this:

In other words, quacks are all too often always in error, biologically speaking, but never in doubt. In their arrogance of ignorance, they exude the confidence that patients like Kim Tinkham seek and flock to answers that are simple, neat, and completely wrong.

Quacks like Robert O. Young.

In fact, Kim Tinkham made it explicit by saying that Young and his wife had told her what causes cancer by saying “there is no such thing as cancer.” Again, remember that Young thinks that cancer is the body’s reaction to cells “poisoned” by too much acid, and he really does say that there is no such thing as cancer. He even goes on and on about how acid being “deposited into the fatty tissues” and thereby causing cancer. From a scientific standpoint, it’s a load of rubbish, pure pseudoscience without any good scientific evidence to back it up. But Young can assert his nonsense about tissue being due to acid “spoiling” tissues with utter sincerity. He looks completely convincing–if you don’t know anything about cancer biology, and most people don’t know much, if anything, about cancer biology. Give him a woman who is afraid, who wants concrete answers, and who has demonstrated that she is fairly clueless about breast cancer, and he can convince her that he has the answer and can cure her. The reason, it appears to me, is that Tinkham (and women like her) just want to believe that someone knows what’s wrong with them and how to fix it. Knowing how to fix it isn’t enough.

Never underestimate the power of certainty in convincing patients that they can be cured. Practitioners of science-based medicine are constrained by science, what is known, and the level of uncertainty about what is known and what will work. “Practitioners” like Robert O. Young are not. Indeed, Kim Tinkham’s testimonial still figures prominently on Robert O. Young’s website.

Death by “alternative” medicine: Who is to blame?

Every indication I have been able to find indicates that Kim Tinkham has recently developed lung, liver, and bone metastases. Worse, she is apparently in bad enough shape that she will soon die of her breast cancer. Her friends, family, and business associates have banded together to raise funds for her and her family, which makes me wonder if Tinkham has medical insurance. Given that she ran her own business, it is quite possible that she did not. Whatever the case, if she has insurance, chances are that her final treatment, including, if she desired it, hospice would be covered. Based on that suspicion alone, I’m tempted to donate to the fund myself, because I view Tinkham more as a victim of quackery than anything else. That does not mean that she should be completely absolved of all responsibility for her decision. She is, after all, an adult. However, far more blame should go to Robert O. Young, who claimed he could cure cancer when he can’t and offered Tinkham a false hope of a cure for breast cancer without the pain and difficulty of undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. It’s “practitioners” like Young who see a weakness or a need to believe in someone like Tinkham and then take full advantage of it. I can’t help but wonder if there are family members and friends who, having seen Tinkham’s choice in 2007, feared the arrival of this day. I wonder what they are going through. It must be truly horrible, particularly the guilt from wondering if they could have done something differently to persuade Tinkham not to take the course she took.

Then, let’s not forget Oprah Winfrey. Oprah Winfrey, after all, rewarded Tinkham’s decision to use The Secret as justification for rejecting science-based therapy and choosing quackery. While it is true that during her interview with Tinkham Oprah appeared distinctly uncomfortable that The Secret had lead Tinkham to reject effective therapy for her breast cancer:

This is part of the therapy that Tinkham is following.

Shockingly, Oprah actually sounds almost reasonable here. Almost. Too bad the shock of being confronted by someone who used woo that Oprah promoted instead of effective therapy didn’t keep Oprah from later doing things like promoting faith healers like John of God. More recently, as happened at the Ministry of Truth, all mention of Tinkham on Oprah’s website appears to have been thrown down the memory hole. Search Oprah’s website for Tinkham’s name, and you’ll find nothing other than a couple of mentions in the community forums, such as So, what ever happened to Kim Tinkham? I wonder if Oprah knows what, in fact, has happened to Kim Tinkham. I wonder what she will say when she finds out. If there is time and Tinkham isn’t too ill, perhaps Oprah would send a film crew out to Tinkham’s house to show her audience the result of Tinkham’s choice of eschewing science-based medicine in favor of pseudoscience.

The most depressing thing about this testimonial is that it did not have to be this way. It really didn’t. If Kim Tinkham did indeed have stage III cancer in 2007, she would have had (roughly) a 50-50 chance of beating it if she had only accepted science-based treatment. Not fantastic odds, but way better than the odds she faced by not accepting treatment. By refusing science-based surgical and medical therapy, she reduced her chances to about as close to zero as you can get. Yes, it’s true, even if she had accepted aggressive science-based therapy, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, that Tinkham might still have ultimately found herself in this situation, but refusing therapy guaranteed it. It should also not be forgotten that, as Peter Moran has pointed out for other cancer cure testmonials, it’s very common for the testimonials of people who ultimately died of their cancers to persist long beyond their deaths as “proof” that various cancer quackeries “work.” I expect to see the same thing happening with Kim Tinkham, particularly given that no mention is explicitly made on either Caring for Kim or its associated Facebook page.

Finally, I wonder what we as science-based practitioners can do to reduce the number of Kim Tinkhams being victimized in the future by dubious pratictioners. It’s too late for Tinkham, but it’s not too late for others. Ms. Tinkham has spoken over and over again about how she didn’t like the feeling of “being rushed” and how she wanted to “take control.” Doctors offered her options, but they were not options she liked. So she found others, ignoring that they have no science to support them and no evidence to suggest that they do anything to treat cancer. Even for an intelligent woman, the siren song of quackery can be strong. I’ve written about this question before in a post entitled Death by “alternative” medicine: Who’s to blame?, in which I asked: How much are we as a profession responsible when cancer patients seek out quackery rather than effective medicine? Even now, four years later, I would be lying if I said I knew the answer, but I do believe that we need to do a better job at assuaging the fears of someone like Kim Tinkham.

Kim Tinkham has every appearance of being a lovely and vibrant woman who was only 50 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Potentially, she could have had another 30 or 40 years in front of her, but that’s all gone now. Even in spite of her bad decision, one must note that, after her diagnosis, Tinkham continued to run her own business, edited a local newsletter, and won the First Annual Civility Star Award. She did not have to die, but she is going to die soon. It didn’t have to be this way, but it is.

That is the price of quackery.

Comments

  1. #1 Amy Alkon
    December 6, 2010

    It seems that, consistent with “Secret”-type thinking, would be feeling a lack of a need for medical insurance. (Cure everything with mere positive thinking!)

    This is such a tragic story. Thank you, Orac, for what you do to put the word out about such deadly crapthink.

  2. #2 Tsu Dho Nimh
    December 6, 2010

    whois on caringforkim.org: Created On:03-Dec-2010 20:34:33 UTC

  3. #3 Lawrence
    December 6, 2010

    I truly feel sorry for her family, who are going to lose a wife, mother, and friend because of quack medicine. I understand the desire to be “in control” but when your body is out of control (i.e. cancer) one should make rational decisions on what will produce the best outcomes – and in this case, I’m sure she felt “empowered” but was she ever actually treating her disease? No, she wasn’t.

  4. #4 Elaine Schattner, M.D.
    December 6, 2010

    Hi Orac,
    I share your skepticism about most alternative treatments, but maybe you’re a bit overly confident/secure in your knowledge. You wrote:

    “…in other words, quacks are all too often always in error, biologically speaking, but never in doubt.”

    But don’t you think conventional oncologists, scientists and others get it wrong sometimes, too? Your language about these stories of alternative medicine is venemous, as if they threaten your position/world view. I think we should welcome new ideas and data. Otherwise we risk becoming quacks by another name.

  5. #5 MikeMa
    December 6, 2010

    @Elaine Schattner, M.D
    Two things. First, Orac and the rest here have always welcomed new ideas and data. The data portion is key. Pop culture cures have very little data, none of it good.

    You mention Orac’s venomous attacks with derision. If you are at all familiar with Orac’s body of work, you’ll recognize the need for that venom. The alties are killers, maimers, liars and cheats. Difficult to face that day after day without some venom.

  6. #6 Liz
    December 6, 2010

    At the risk of sounding like a total cold-hearted bitch, why do we all have to come up for money for her & her family? How has she made the world a better place? By spreading bad advice & not having any form of medical insurance? I do feel bad for her. I am sure she believed what these people told her to believe and it is terrible… yet I do not feel the least bit compelled to pony up and chip in for someone who didn’t take any personal responsibility. It’s not like she was poor – she had a business and I am sure she made some money spreading her story.Oh well, sorry.

    @Elaine – Doctors do accept data and change/tweak procedures accordingly. They don’t just accept new “ideas” however, and for that I am grateful… or we’d all be forced to a juicer diet and weekly colonics.

  7. #7 gy5e4jj809
    December 6, 2010

    “But don’t you think conventional oncologists, scientists and others get it wrong sometimes, too? Your language about these stories of alternative medicine is venemous, as if they threaten your position/world view. I think we should welcome new ideas and data. Otherwise we risk becoming quacks by another name.”

    If you can’t tell the difference by a scientist with rigorous standards of evidence making a mistake, and a bunch of nutjob loons who market bullshit like “water has a memory” and such (“new ideas” as you’d like to call it, apparently) nonsense with zero scientific basis whatsover, you’re really fucking myopic.

  8. #8 andre
    December 6, 2010

    Very sad :(

  9. #9 mad the swine
    December 6, 2010

    XKCD seems relevant here.

    But don’t you think conventional oncologists, scientists and others get it wrong sometimes, too?

    To paraphrase Isaac Asimov:

    Some people once thought the planet Earth was flat.

    Others once thought the planet Earth was a sphere.

    Now we know that the planet Earth is slightly lopsided and a little pear-shaped.

    The two former beliefs are both wrong, but one is not as wrong as the other.

    In fact, the third viewpoint is ‘wrong’, too, since better measurement techniques will let us increase the precision of our knowledge of the precise shape of the Earth in future. But that’s what science (and ‘conventional’ medicine) is: not perfect success, but getting closer and closer to perfection. Saying that conventional oncology fails at times, and therefore ‘alternative’ treatments are just as good, is like saying that, since the world is not a perfect sphere, it is just as right to call it flat. Except that the shape of the world doesn’t, you know, kill people.

  10. #10 fgregp0k
    December 6, 2010

    “At the risk of sounding like a total cold-hearted bitch, why do we all have to come up for money for her & her family? How has she made the world a better place?”

    Unfortunately, I’m inclined to agree. Her cancer would likely have been much more manageable had she sought proper treatment earlier. On the other hand, should we blame people when they act like gullible morons? Probably not, since if we happened to be suckered we wouldn’t want to become total pariahs.

    My solution would be to compromise: as long as she’s willing to speak out against (and thus renounce) all of the holistic bullshit up to this point, I’d be more than delighted to support her. However, if it turns out she’s asking for support while still claiming holistic medicine works, she’s simply taking advantage of actual medicine while denouncing it, in which case, she’s on her own.

  11. #11 Orac
    December 6, 2010

    @ Elaine Schattner, M.D.

    You’ve got to be kidding. Seriously. How can you ask that question with a straight face in rebuke to me? Let me just reiterate: Robert O. Young believes that all cancer is in fact a reaction to cells that are “spoilt” due to acid. He believes that the tumor itself is not the disease, but rather the tumor is a reaction those cells “spoilt” cells. His solution to all cancer (and pretty much all disease) is alkalinization with sodium bicarbonate and an “alkalinizing” diet. Indeed, Young also believes that sepsis is not caused by bacteria, but rather–you guessed it!–excess acid.

    A woman with breast cancer believed Young and pursued his alkalinization woo instead of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Now she is dying of metastatic breast cancer. How you can equate an idea like that with no scientific basis with science-based medicine is beyond me. Would you say the same thing if Robert O. Young were a homeopath? Alternative practitioners like Robert O. Young don’t “threaten my world view” because they have zero science behind them. What they do do is to infuriate me at the toll in people with cancer they exact.

    People like Kim Tinkham.

  12. #12 James Sweet
    December 6, 2010

    If there’s anything conventional medicine can do better… The only thing that comes to mind — and everybody already knows this is a problem — is spending more time with patients. Of course, where you get the resources for that, I don’t have answers for… But that seems to be the number one changeable thing that drives people to alternative medicine.

    I think that also some work could be done on finding an “ethical placebo”, i.e. something that can exploit the placebo effect’s powerful ability to give patients the feeling they are doing something, but without the informed consent issues raised by prescribing a traditional placebo. I have floated the idea of “therapeutic spa” on this blog before, only to find some other countries already do this.

    Those are two of the great “strengths” of alternative medicine — more time on average spent with patients, and offering patients something they can do to feel they are exerting control even when the situation is beyond their control — and mainstream medicine may be able to capture those for itself.

    The other two great “strengths” of alternative medicine, the certainty with which cures are presented, and the ability to just Make Shit Up to fit into whatever is most appealing to the cultural zeitgeist — I don’t see any way to fit those into mainstream medicine :) But oh well…

  13. #13 elsworthy
    December 6, 2010

    Hell, let’s call these quacks what they are: Murderers.

    It kills me that these bastards are still out there, coldly siphoning money from vulnerable and frightened people – silly, credulous people, maybe, but still very ill and frightened, and deserving of some compassion.

    @ #4: Saying that some doctors need to work on their bedside manner (I’ve been treated by assholes and absolute darling doctors, and I’ve had many more of the latter than the former) is not the same as saying quacks have anything to bring to the discussion. Criticizing “empathy” issues in the medical community does not mean that we think embracing quackery is a justifiable course of action. Quacks are still wronger.

  14. #14 >>>
    December 6, 2010

    Elaine, I’d advise you to take a look at this website:

    http://whatstheharm.net/

    There are countless people who have been taken advantage of financially, and many of them have ended up dead as well as broke. This is why we have a problem with ‘alternative medicine’. It’s not about a threat to a “position/world view”, it ruins people’s lives.

  15. #15 >>>
    December 6, 2010

    Elaine, I’d advise you to take a look at this website:

    http://whatstheharm.net/

    There are countless people who have been taken advantage of financially, and many of them have ended up dead as well as broke. This is why we have a problem with ‘alternative medicine’. It’s not about a threat to a “position/world view”, it ruins people’s lives.

  16. #16 >>>
    December 6, 2010

    Elaine, I’d advise you to take a look at this website:

    http://whatstheharm.net/

    There are countless people who have been taken advantage of financially, and many of them have ended up dead as well as broke. This is why we have a problem with ‘alternative medicine’. It’s not about a threat to a “position/world view”, it ruins people’s lives.

  17. #17 >>>
    December 6, 2010

    Elaine, I’d advise you to take a look at this website:

    http://whatstheharm.net/

    There are countless people who have been taken advantage of financially, and many of them have ended up dead as well as broke. This is why we have a problem with ‘alternative medicine’. It’s not about a threat to a “position/world view”, it ruins people’s lives.

  18. #18 >>>
    December 6, 2010

    Elaine, I’d advise you to take a look at this website:

    http://whatstheharm.net/

    There are countless people who have been taken advantage of financially, and many of them have ended up dead as well as broke. This is why we have a problem with ‘alternative medicine’. It’s not about a threat to a “position/world view”, it ruins people’s lives.

  19. #19 >>>
    December 6, 2010

    Elaine, I’d advise you to take a look at this website:

    http://whatstheharm.net/

    There are countless people who have been taken advantage of financially, and many of them have ended up dead as well as broke. This is why we have a problem with ‘alternative medicine’. It’s not about a threat to a “position/world view”, it ruins people’s lives.

  20. #20 >>>
    December 6, 2010

    Elaine, I’d advise you to take a look at this website:

    http://whatstheharm.net/

    There are countless people who have been taken advantage of financially, and many of them have ended up dead as well as broke. This is why we have a problem with ‘alternative medicine’. It’s not about a threat to a “position/world view”, it ruins people’s lives.

  21. #21 >>>
    December 6, 2010

    Elaine, I’d advise you to take a look at this website:

    http://whatstheharm.net/

    There are countless people who have been taken advantage of financially, and many of them have ended up dead as well as broke. This is why we have a problem with ‘alternative medicine’. It’s not about a threat to a “position/world view”, it ruins people’s lives.

  22. #22 qetzal
    December 6, 2010

    @Elaine Schattner, M.D

    According to your blog, you’re a “trained oncol­o­gist, edu­ca­tor and jour­nal­ist who writes about med­i­cine.” I don’t see any obvious woo at your site, either.

    So maybe you’re just not awake this morning. Or maybe someone else is posting under your name. Because that was a stunningly dumb comment.

    Sure, oncologists and scientists get things wrong. Sure, we should give new ideas a fair consideration. But nothing in Orac’s post even hints at anything to the contrary. And for you to make such comments in a post about Robert O. “cancer is a liquid” Young is embarassing. Or should be.

  23. #23 Calli Arcale
    December 6, 2010

    There are no perfect answers. It’s a fine line between assuaging fears and falsely misleading someone into thinking everything’s going to be all right when in fact it’s a 50/50 chance.

    I don’t think the situation is as bad as all that in mainstream oncology. I think it mostly works. A significant part of the change needs to come from society; we have very conflicted feelings about the end of life, being handicapped, and hospice care. Perhaps that’s not fixable either; there is a very powerful urge to “rage, rage at the dying of the light”, and the survival of our species to some extent depends on it. There is only so much that better medical care can do; at some level, we are all terrified children howling at the dark, and it can be very hard to think rationally in a situation like that.

  24. #24 stripey_cat
    December 6, 2010

    Elaine: Orac’s language (and his commentators’) is venemous because PATIENTS ARE DYING. Patients that a surgeon like Orac might have been able to save, and might have still been hearing about a decade or more later at follow-up appointments. If people were dying whose lives I could save whose lives it was my job, career and vocation to save, I’d be pretty angry too.

  25. #25 Denice Walter
    December 6, 2010

    As I see it, the primary purpose of blogs like Orac’s, Quackwatch,and What’s the Harm?, is in informing the public ( and that also includes battling commenters who disagree) about the inner workings of woo-world pseudo-science to *prevent* more unfortunate cases like this. A few days ago, Orac mentioned Christine Maggiore, who eschewed SBM for HIV/AIDS, and died, preceded by the death of her HIV-infected, also untreated, 3 year old. Right now, there are two other women, also “poster girls” for HIV/AIDS denialism, also in medically dire straits.

    I speak from experience**: my uncle’s wife, who was neither stupid nor mentally ill, who did *not* avoid doctors, turned against SBM following a diagnosis of *early* breast cancer; she argued with doctors and family, began prayer and healing services *in her house*( my uncle was an atheist and very upset about this), eventually taking her life savings to N.M., then Mexico, for laetrile. Months later, she had to be flown home by air ambulance, finally consented to surgery, and spent the next *year* in the hospital, where she died, rather horribly, I understand. My uncle never got over it. In those days (late ’60’s/ early ’70’s) there wasn’t an internet to spread medical misinformation, so I’m not exactly sure how she got hers ( possibly bad journalism and TV talk shows?). The internet compounds the danger because of its pervasivness and its ability to concentrate the woo from small, diverse sources into easily-accessible gigantic piles of contagious, toxic bs. And yes, we do have woo-consolidators.

    ** I don’t give too many details because I was young and not privy to most of what happened, I learned more second and third hand, years later.

  26. #26 augustine
    December 6, 2010

    [MikeMa: The alties are killers, maimers, liars and cheats. Difficult to face that day after day without some venom.]

    America’s Healthcare System is the Third Leading Cause of Death

    http://www.health-care-reform.net/causedeath.htm

    In Hospital Deaths from Medical Errors at 195,000 per Year USA
    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/11856.php

    FDA Estimates Vioxx Caused 27,785 Deaths

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/vioxx_estimates.html

    Research Ties Diabetes Drug to Heart Woes
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/20/health/policy/20avandia.html

    Hundreds of people taking Avandia, a controversial diabetes medicine, needlessly suffer heart attacks and heart failure each month, according to confidential government reports that recommend the drug be removed from the market.

    Deaths from avoidable medical error more than double in past decade, investigation shows

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=deaths-from-avoidable-medical-error-2009-08-10

    Must be all that SBM application.

    Medical Errors: Are You a Victim or Survivor?

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/397702/medical_errors_are_you_a_victim_or_pg3.html?cat=5

    OK. Now your turn!

  27. #27 augustine
    December 6, 2010

    Stripey Cat:

    Patients that a surgeon like Orac might have been able to save…

    Whatever. Eyes roll.

  28. #28 gpmtrixie
    December 6, 2010

    This is so sad. Thankfully, all the women I’ve known who have been stricken with breast cancer have received conventional treatment. And so far, all of them are still here. They’ve been scared, gone through nasty side effects, but they’re alive and with their families. If I ever end up knowing someone who wants to go the woo route, I’ll show them this series of posts about this poor, misguided woman.

  29. #29 Phoenix Woman
    December 6, 2010

    Ms. Tinkham has spoken over and over again about how she didn’t like the feeling of “being rushed” and how she wanted to “take control.” Doctors offered her options, but they were not options she liked. So she found others, ignoring that they have no science to support them and no evidence to suggest that they do anything to treat cancer.

    1) This being the US of A, cost was probably a factor, most likely the #1 factor, especially if she didn’t have health insurance (and very likely even if she did — many are the cancer patients who’ve been dropped by insurance companies). She was probably staring at costs starting in the low six figures (that’s $100,000 and up), and so went with something that was almost certainly cheaper in terms of cash outlay if not her life.

    2) Intelligent people who are sucky at math and/or lazy (PW points to herself first of all) don’t go into the hard sciences as a rule — they go into fields that allow them to avoid mathematics as much as possible. Unfortunately, the things that most influence our daily lives (from medicine to economics to rocket science) tend to be best understood by people who have considerable (compared to 99% of humanity) mathematical education, so we end up with a non-trivial number of verbally-facile people (like politicians, journalists and celebrities) who couldn’t pass a high school math, physics or biology exam with an open textbook — and thus don’t possess the metacompetence to have a clue as to how much there is that they really don’t know.

  30. #30 ht6rjo
    December 6, 2010

    “Whatever. Eyes roll.”

    In case anyone is curious as to who augustine is, here is a comment of hers from http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/12/the_age_of_autism_counterattack_begins_a.php (see comment #96)

    “Exactly why SBM and Skeptics will stay a marginalized cult.

    So, tell us augustine, what would you have recommended, hmm? Surgery’s apparently not good enough for you, despite it being a proven option unlike something like homeopathy or alkalinity nonsense. Pray tell, what treatment would you seek if you had breast cancer?

  31. #31 speedwell
    December 6, 2010

    I had to watch my mom die of totally treatable breast cancer (they treated it successfully once and it recurred from a place they could not radiate). She believed that intercessory prayer would heal her, and when it did not, she believed God had judged her and found her wanting and she was going to Hell when she died miserably and alone in her hospital bed (her husband had run home for a change of clothes, at her insistence, after living in the same T-shirt and jeans at her bedside for a week). That was about 10 years ago.

    This year, my best friend went to the doctor and they found a suspicious lump in her breast. She is a Secret-proponent and she refuses to get a biopsy or any treatment because she thinks by doing so she is “validating the cancer”. She won’t let her partner or any of her friends or family even talk to her about it because we are “manifesting disease” in her. How do you like that? We can’t even talk about a lifesaving therapy, or mention a useful strategy, or even tell her we love her and we’ll be there for her even if she becomes ill, because she believes it is morally equivalent of murdering her by cursing her with cancer.

    Someone hand me a pillow; I need to scream.

  32. #32 trhijoj
    December 6, 2010

    “Someone hand me a pillow; I need to scream.”

    The only thing you can do sometimes is try to guide them to the appropriate help, and if they refuse, just be there to make them happy until the end. It’s unfortunate when a close friend is the one who happens to be the victim of such nonsense, but it’s unavoidable sometimes.

    And if you she does end up dying of something preventable, you can at least spread her story as another victim on sites like WhatsTheHarm so hopefully someone else in her shoes can avoid the same fate.

  33. #33 Old Rockin' Dave
    December 6, 2010

    In my early days as a physician assistant I was a house officer on a surgical service. One patient I will always remember was a lovely lady of 84 years. I examined her on admission and because of her age I did a quick mental status exam. She had no signs of mental impairment of any kind. She was mentally quick, polite, showed a good sense of humor. She had a small breast cancer of a particularly indolent type. The chief resident (someone I didn’t like, but he was very good at this) sat down and explained the situation to her. He held her hands and looked her in the eye. He spoke in an upbeat manner, using everyday language, as he told her that once removed, the cancer was extremely unlikely to recur within the next ten years, and that being 84, she would most likely outlive the cancer. He took her over everything, point by point, asking her often if she understood each point. At the end, he asked her if she understood everything he told her. Her answer, verbatim, was, “Yes, you told me I have cancer and I’m going to die!” Then she burst into tears.
    My point is simple: any patient, even an intelligent, oriented, mature, mentally intact one, can be overwhelmed by fear and other emotions when a cancer diagnosis is made, and we should not rush to blame those who go looking for miracles and wind up in the hands of woo-meisters, con men and fraudsters.

  34. #34 augustine
    December 6, 2010

    The early detection of cancer: More complicated than you think

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/02/the_early_detection_of_cancer_more_compl.php

    Unfortunately, as we have been dreading for the last four months or so since her relapse was diagnosed, my mother-in-law passed away from breast cancer in hospice…

    Did his mother n law “fall” for alternative cancer treatment? Probably not. Do people who use conventional medicine die in spite of or because of their treatment? Very much so. To assert that medical treatment would have made a difference is just a head game of faith.

  35. #35 sophia8
    December 6, 2010

    she believed God had judged her and found her wanting and she was going to Hell
    That’s probably the worst thing about these death-by-quack cases. The patient is consumed with guilt, convinced that dying from a terminal disease is all her fault; she didn’t believe enough, or have enough faith, or pray hard enough, or meditate often enough, or eat the right supplements….. The one thing they never blame is the quack(s) who murdered them.
    I refuse to abuse this poor woman. Yes, she should have sought proper medical treatment; yes, she was gullible. But abusive name-calling is pointless now. She’s dying terribly and painfully, her family and friends are suffering with her, she perhaps does realise now how horribly wrong she was.
    She’s suffering enough – please don’t insult her now.

  36. #36 Chris
    December 6, 2010

    sophia8:

    She’s suffering enough – please don’t insult her now.

    Agreed. But it should be open season on Robert O. Young.

  37. #37 ghoijo
    December 6, 2010

    She’s suffering enough – please don’t insult her now.

    The problem is that the videos above are not simply an interview, but are being used as advertising and marketing tools by this scam site:

    http://www.phmiracleliving.com/

    It even lacks a Quack Miranda Warning (which is unusual even by woo site standards), and as long as Kim does not speak out against the people who took advantage of her, there’s the chance that even if she is cured by actual medical science that she will continue to advocate for ‘alternative medicine’ nonsense. I would feel much more inclined to sympathize with her plight if her website & Facebook page made mention of how she has been taken advantage by quackery, but this does not seem to be the case at all.

  38. #38 Elaine Schattner, M.D.
    December 6, 2010

    Orac,
    I think there’s a case of confirmational bias on this blog.

    Your viewpoint is valuable and informed, but there’s a pattern of intolerance to unconventional approaches in medicine. Of course I agree with you that Robert O. Young’s ideas about cancer are harmful. My point is that conventional physicians shouldn’t be necessarily, knee-jerk dismissive of other perspectives because sometimes they/we are incorrect.

  39. #39 Chris
    December 6, 2010

    Dr. Schattner:

    but there’s a pattern of intolerance to unconventional approaches in medicine.

    You noticed?

    My point is that conventional physicians shouldn’t be necessarily, knee-jerk dismissive of other perspectives because sometimes they/we are incorrect.

    How are Orac’s long long l..o..n..g articles in any sense “knee jerk”?

    By the way, do you know what alternative medicine is that has been proven to work? It is “medicine.”

    Also, one last item: in what sense would Robert O. Young be correct? Why should he get a free pass from Orac, you, or anyone else?

  40. #40 Triskelethecat Midwife of Death
    December 6, 2010

    @speedwell: sometimes there is nothing you can do or say that is the right thing. (((hugs)))
    MI Dawn

  41. #41 6ebhu65jj
    December 6, 2010

    “Your viewpoint is valuable and informed, but there’s a pattern of intolerance to unconventional approaches in medicine.”

    I prefer to describe them as “things that do not fucking work at all and are not supported by science”.

    “My point is that conventional physicians shouldn’t be necessarily, knee-jerk dismissive of other perspectives because sometimes they/we are incorrect.”

    Yes, because lambasting a con-artist who’s been charged with fraud and denouncing ideas that have no scientific basis whatsoever is so much like being “dismissive of other perspectives”

    Oh, Elaine? The equivocation fallacy says “hi”. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Equivocation

  42. #42 Orac
    December 6, 2010

    @Elaine Schattner, M.D

    You accuse me of “knee-jerk” intolerance and dismissiveness of “alternative medicine.” That leads me to ask: Do you actually read this blog regularly? Let’s find out. Please provide me with examples of my being “knee-jerk” dismissive or intolerant. Seriously. You just conceded that this post is not such an example, despite its vitriol, a vitriol that is well-justified, given that a relatively young woman who had a treatable cancer is now dying because she rejected conventional therapy in favor of Robert O. Young’s acid-base woo. Perhaps you can produce another example.

  43. #43 DonZilla
    December 6, 2010

    “I would be lying if I said I knew the answer, but I do believe that we need to do a better job at assuaging the fears of someone like Kim Tinkham.”

    No you don’t Orac, there’s a whole WORLD of social support available for cancer patients, including oncology social workers, and wonderful organizations like Imerman Angels and Planet Cancer.

    It’s possible these groups don’t do a good enough job of raising awareness and interacting with docs, and Ms. Tinkham’s SBM doc didn’t know to refer her to any of them. Or she’d already made up her mind to go the woo route before exploring that far.

  44. #44 Giliell
    December 6, 2010

    I’m sad to hear that quackery is claiming another victim.
    I’m sad for her family and friends, and I’m wondering whether she has the insight and courage to stand up for a last time and tell the world that she was wrong.
    She is complicit in most likely infecting more people with quackery, but she’s also a victim. Therefore I’m a bit torn about the question how much I actually feel for her (in terms of money I’d rather give to an organisation that helps children with cancer or that conducts blood tests to get people to register for the bone marrow data base (sorry if that’s not the correct term, but I hope you get what I mean).

    I’m glad to live in a country where we still have universal healthcare (I say still, our politicians want to end that, why let the unemployed live). My Mum in law was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 1/2 years ago. As a part-time jaintor it would have been unlikely for her to have adequate coverage in the USA, I suppose we’d still be bankrupt by now. She underwent conventional treatment, we paid for the little “extra” of having a really good wig because the psyche IS important and she would have died out of shame had people seen her bald or with a recognizable wig. And she’s been fine ever since she finished her treatment. But I learned from her that the patient has to be confident and “believe” in the treatment. If your chances are 50/50 you have to be convinced that you’re in the 50% who make it. That may make the difference.

  45. #45 peter
    December 6, 2010

    “Your viewpoint is valuable and informed, but there’s a pattern of intolerance to unconventional approaches in medicine.”

    Lets test the unconventional therapy and after evaluating the data then, and only then, advocate it as a useful treatment.

    If you do otherwise, you treat a trusting patient as guinea pig. How can you, in light of medical ethics you supposedly operate under, defend any such treatment – untested and based on anecdotal evidence?
    I have severe doubts I would choose someone like you as my medical adviser.

  46. #46 gj9j98j98fjw4e89
    December 6, 2010

    Oh my god, I just noticed that this Elaine woman is a breast cancer survivor.

    http://www.medicallessons.net/about-2/

    I’m having serious doubts that the person posting here is actually Elaine Schattner. Most breast cancer survivors would be rightfully pissed at people who sell scam treatments to other cancer patients and are directly responsible for killing people, and would almost certainly never write something as moronic as “Your language about these stories of alternative medicine is venemous, as if they threaten your position/world view.” in response to something like this.

    “Elaine” is either an alt-med trolling deep-cover while pretending to be someone they aren’t, or this actually is Elaine Schattner posting, and she’s unbelievably naive, if not infuriatingly so.

  47. #47 r43tgb83uw98u
    December 6, 2010

    Aaaaaaaaand… she’s confirmed on her own site that it’s her.

    Yes, that’s right. An oncologist who has survived breast cancer has felt the need to post ‘gems’ like “there’s a pattern of intolerance to unconventional approaches in medicine” in response to a thread about a woman who is dying as a result of being taken advantage of becuase of one such “unconventional approach”.

    Scientific medicine that is backed up with hard data is what matters. And I’m sorry Elaine, but as a breast cancer survivor, you should know that more than anyone. Your nonsense about how we’re simply making a “knee-jerk” response, or how we’re annoyed simply because alt-med is a threat to some perceived “position/world view” is not simply stupid, it’s outright asinine. What matters is science, and we hold that standard to alt-med, anti-vaxxers, and all sorts of other nonsense, and we have not bought into them strictly because of the lack of supporting scientific data (there’s a reason their defenders have consistently failed to provide solid scientific data for their positions), regardless of what you perceive to be “confirmational bias”.

    Elaine, to me you are a complete, utter moron, and I have nothing but disdain for someone like you who, especially in your position, should know better than to post such mind-bogglingly absurd comments.

  48. #48 stripey_cat
    December 6, 2010

    Whatever. Eyes roll.

    You stone-cold bastard. You really think a 50% reduction in mortality is only worth an eye-roll?

  49. #49 Chris
    December 6, 2010

    ht6rjo and stripey_cat, remember that Little Augie is a loathsome troll who should be ingored.

  50. #50 Lawrence
    December 6, 2010

    Kill files are wonderful things – seems I get to add a name or two with every one of these topics.

    I don’t get this “oh wow – we need to respect alternative treatments,” when those treatments have no science, no testing & no studies to show that they do one bit of good. If they did, they wouldn’t be “alternative” – they would be mainstream (as has been pointed out numerous times).

    And to top it all off, these individuals like Kim aren’t even guinea pigs – because that would denote some kind of scientific method was being applied, instead, it is nothing but junk mumbo-jumbo & does nothing but hasten the demise of the recipient.

    At the end of the day, we do know that conventional treatments offer the best hope of extending the lives of cancer patients – there are outliers, those that don’t respond or for a variety of reasons, can’t be helped. But, by in large, rates of survival for all types of cancer have risen significantly.

    In this type of situation, do you go out & find the world’s expert – someone with a track record of success or do you pick the guy who reads tea leaves for research?

  51. #51 augustine
    December 6, 2010

    stripy cat:

    You stone-cold bastard. You really think a 50% reduction in mortality is only worth an eye-roll?

    50% reduction? Under what criteria? compared to what? How do you think lead time bias fits into your stat? Is DCIS included which would skew success rate?

  52. #52 Jolo5309
    December 6, 2010

    eventually taking her life savings to N.M., then Mexico, for laetrile.

    I was an early adopter that laetrile did not work. In 1970 my mother got breast cancer and had two masectomies by 1972. In 1974 we moved about 1000 km to be closer to cutting edge cancer treatment. By 1976 she was taking laetrile because there was no other treatment for her as the cancer had spread. She died in 1977 after taking laetrile for a year (provided by the province and the hospital, although we paid a share).

    Since she took laetrile fairly heavily in that final 12 months I came to the conclusion that it was a scam (both a scam and a Crislip SCAM). Since then, I have paid attention to the science behind cancer and developed a certain distaste and disgust at the scam artists behind cancer treatments.

  53. #53 Orac
    December 6, 2010

    50% reduction? Under what criteria? compared to what? How do you think lead time bias fits into your stat? Is DCIS included which would skew success rate?

    Oh, look. Augie is sounding all science-y, as though he even understands the concept of lead time bias.

  54. #54 Travis
    December 6, 2010

    I would love to see augie take a test in order to evaluate their understanding of the terms they use. It is easy to sound sciency but understanding takes much more effort.

  55. #55 augustine
    December 6, 2010

    Chris:

    ht6rjo and stripey_cat, remember that Little Augie is a loathsome troll who should be ingored.

    Coming from someone who believes that humans can be trapped in the wrong body, your contradictory comments don’t mean much.

    I understand that you know it all and that anyone who challenges that library morality of yours is just stupid in your eyes.

  56. #56 Jon H
    December 6, 2010

    r43tgb83uw98u, how about picking a vaguely intelligible name and sticking to it, rather than random characters? Have some respect for your fellow readers, ffs.

  57. #57 iamnothouse.com
    December 6, 2010

    I started at a family medicine clinic today, and while working with the doctor there, I started to see his (admirable) dedication to ‘patient-centered care’ begin to backfire on him. Several times, he capitulated or didn’t press the issue on health interventions which I felt particularly strong about (using supplements of dubious origin, not taking the flu shot, and, in one instance, not wanting her child to get the pneumococcus vaccine).
    My question to Orac/the collected masses: what duty does a physician have to their patient to speak/act out against them pursuing dangerous/ill-informed treatments like the ones I listed above or Kim’s?

  58. #58 Scott Cunningham
    December 6, 2010

    Elaine, your arguments that Orac is somehow being unfair with alties are duly noted, and absurd.

    I am a young student, and have been taken in by several woos before. I have learned some lessons first-hand.

    When I catch someone lying to me, I get angry and dismissive. That is prudent. It makes me less likely to be fooled by them again.

    When I catch someone else repeating the same lie or something simiar, I again get angry. Again, it prevents me being fooled twice.

    Truth or falsehood is not a political right; it is established by evidence. Woo doesn’t have it. It uses logical fallacies and abuses emotions to survive.

    “New ideas” that lack evidence aren’t being unfairly treated when people dismiss them. They already got fair and equal treatment, being judged on evidence. They failed.

    The “I’m concerned you’re being too angry/defensive and are your own kind of extremist” trope is a common concern troll trick to manufacture unreasonable doubt so you can hit the snooze button on what the evidence is telling you. Again, I know that from inside experience. It is not good.

    You’re stepping in common tricks for extending unreasonable belief in things without evidence. There are good critical thinking/scientific literacy resources online. Go get some mental floss.

  59. #59 Giliell
    December 6, 2010

    “Coming from someone who believes that humans can be trapped in the wrong body, your contradictory comments don’t mean much.”

    Uh, do I smell a bit of transgenderphobia?
    So somebody believes (along with psychiatrists) that some people are transgendered and that makes them wrong on any other issue? That’s a lot of bias rolled into so small a sentence.

    @iamnothouse
    I would say it is their duty to inform their patients and speak out. But I think the most important thing happens long before such an event takes place. It happens when a physician, the regular GP, the regular gyn, builds up trust. They should try and use more intelligible language, talk to teh patient and not about them. I know that it’s not easy with the little time left for every patient, but I think that this would maybe help against patients pursuing quack and not listening to their doctor.

  60. #60 augustine
    December 6, 2010

    ORAC

    Oh, look. Augie is sounding all science-y, as though he even understands the concept of lead time bias.

    Why? Is it a science secret? It’s not a difficult concept. You’ve probably cut out a few DCIS yourself.

    Finding More Cancer Isn’t the Answer

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/06/AR2007040601955_2.html

    The problem with over-diagnosis is that it leads to over-treatment. Unfortunately, at the time of diagnosis, we cannot tell who has non-progressive cancer. So we tend to treat everybody — and that’s the real problem. Treatment can only harm people whose cancer is non-progressive — a disease that was never going to bother them.

    So while it’s tempting to think that had Elizabeth Edwards had mammograms before she felt her lump in 2004, she would not have metastatic cancer now, that’s wishful thinking. Given what we know from the randomized trials of mammography, it is likely that she would be in the same situation now even if she had had regular mammography. Unfortunately, people who do everything right — that is, get routinely screened — still get bad cancer. Just ask Tony Snow, who was reportedly screened several times a year. ·

  61. #61 Chris
    December 6, 2010

    Giliell, it is because Little Augie is confused that a person can be both a mother and an engineer. He is little sexist troll who should be ignored.

  62. #62 Giliell
    December 6, 2010

    @Chris
    I’m confused. Does that mean the mother engineer has to give birth to little baby engines? ;)
    I should go to bed now, it’s getting late here

  63. #63 Orac
    December 6, 2010

    Why? Is it a science secret? It’s not a difficult concept. You’ve probably cut out a few DCIS yourself.

    Amazing how Augie hasn’t bothered to use the search box on this blog (upper left hand corner) and search for the term “lead time bias.” If that had been done, Augie would know that I’ve written extensively on lead time bias, length bias, overdiagnosis, overtreatment, and stage migration (a.k.a. the Will Rogers effect). Augie also doesn’t realize that one reason we stage match patients in clinical trials is to try to minimize the effects of lead time bias. No doubt in a few days Augie will repeat that line as though Augie knew it all along.

  64. #64 ferp
    December 6, 2010

    Oh, look: the videos on pHMiracleCenter’s YouTube channel have been removed. Of course, they’ve still got a few other videos there of women speaking about how they’ve been ‘cured’ of breast cancer.

    When reality gets in the way, just sweep it under the rug I guess…

  65. #65 Travis
    December 6, 2010

    ferp, I had been wondering how long those videos were going to stay up. Does anyone know if there were many comments made on them about her dire situation before that happened?

    This sort of makes me want to go write them a couple of strongely worded messages about how dishonest they are…not that they would listen but it would make me feel better and hopefully waste some of their time.

  66. #66 Lawrence
    December 6, 2010

    That’s because it is truth, until it isn’t or becomes inconvenient for them – can’t have “Breast Cancer Survivors” die on us, because they were all “cured” through prayer, anti-acidic diets, etc.

    Right?

    Morons, Loons & Idiots.

  67. #67 ferp
    December 6, 2010

    “Does anyone know if there were many comments made on them about her dire situation before that happened?”

    Nothing except from a few comments on the pro-Young side as far as I remember. I didn’t try posting any comments, but I suspect if they’re smart, they’d do what other woo-pushers do and keep moderation enabled to pick which comments to display (as in only the positive ones).

    However, there’s a damning piece of evidence that they can’t remove so easily:

    http://cancerangel.com/

    According to a WHOIS, it’s owned by Kim herself, and it has a link to the Oprah interview on her own YouTube channel (as well as a blog and such). If they try to deny they ever claimed to have ‘cured’ her, we’ve got this as well as the videos as smoking guns.

  68. #68 T. Bruce McNeely
    December 6, 2010

    50% reduction? Under what criteria? compared to what? How do you think lead time bias fits into your stat? Is DCIS included which would skew success rate?

    No, you idiot. The 50% survival rate with current treatment is for Stage 3 cancer – which is an invasive tumor greater than 5.0 centimeters in any dimension. This is an advanced cancer, and lacking effective treatment, is 100% fatal.
    DCIS, of course, is not invasive.

    You really don’t have a clue. The funniest thing is that you’re completely unaware of how stupid you are.

  69. #69 ferp
    December 6, 2010

    http://www.wcmessenger.com/holistic/

    This site (appears to be a newspaper?) has special article about her ‘cure’ that hasn’t been updated or taken down yet. Has some rather embarrassing quotes (from ‘Part Two’):

    “The more this information gets out, we’re going to see better results in the treatments that are being administered. We’re also going to see lasting results. Not only can people reverse their cancer but look at the quality of life,” Young said. “These people are living their life. They’re not in fear or in pain. The quality of life is so much better with this type of approach to health and wellness.”

    Quality of life? She’s dying needlessly right now; real quality for her, I bet.

  70. #70 T. Bruce McNeely
    December 6, 2010

    ferp:

    Well, ultimately, they’re not in fear or pain.
    The “living their life” part, not so much.

  71. #71 iamnothouse.com
    December 6, 2010

    @ Giliell

    Good points about building trust and trying to develop a proper report with patients. Playing devil’s advocate here, though, what if you’re an ER doctor, or some specialist who only sees the patient once a month/year/lifetime. Does the same duty apply?

    (Sorry to hijack the thread; I figure something should try to drown out Augie’s blathering)

  72. #72 Composer99
    December 6, 2010

    The ugh troll’s ability to comprehend words seems to be limited to copy/pasting definitions of them from dictionaries. So I really wouldn’t take his trolling at all seriously.

  73. #73 Lawrence
    December 6, 2010

    I would hope that people would develop a good and proper relationship with their MD, so that they understand the costs/benefits of various treatments and are able to make the best decisions based on facts. Doctors who can develop this kind of relationship with their clients do us all a great service.

    Unfortunately, in the real world of insurance regulations, fewer general practicioners, etc – many people are forced to use the ER for their general medical needs, which limits the attention paid and relationship that can lead to a better understanding by all parties of the issues that could exist.

    What good is the best medical system in the world (up for discussion, I realize) if people can’t afford it?

  74. #74 Lulu
    December 6, 2010

    @ Elaine Schattner, M.D.

    I share your skepticism about most alternative treatments, but maybe you’re a bit overly confident/secure in your knowledge.

    I’m glad you are skeptical about most alternative treatments; you should be able to identify with the thought processes that lead Orac to write these blog posts. However, it is puzzling that you, being familiar with the dubious and dangerous nature of “most” alternative treatments (and Robert Young’s therapy falls squarely into that category), are not likewise incensed by this man’s luring a gullible woman to her death. Doesn’t this story make your blood boil?

    But don’t you think conventional oncologists, scientists and others get it wrong sometimes, too?

    I can’t speak for Orac, but judging from previous posts, he seems to think so. For example, he has spent a considerable amount of time talking about the changing views on the appropriate frequency of mammograms.

    Your language about these stories of alternative medicine is venemous, as if they threaten your position/world view.

    See above. And alternative medicine is threatening and scary. Most people don’t have a great understanding of science, so it is easy to lure people away of evidence and into dangerous quackery. It demands action and vigilance. And zeal, which comes out as vitriol in Orac’s case.

    I think we should welcome new ideas and data. Otherwise we risk becoming quacks by another name.

    I wholeheartedly agree!

    My point is that conventional physicians shouldn’t be necessarily, knee-jerk dismissive of other perspectives because sometimes they/we are incorrect.

    Here is a quote from Robert Young’s “About Us” page: “In 1994, Dr. Young discovered the biological transformation of red blood cells into bacteria and bacteria to red blood cells.” Did you have a knee-jerk reaction to that? Did it sound something like, “Mmmmm no. No, you didn’t.”? Me too! And don’t feel guilty about it! That knee had good reason to jerk, and quickly! You’ll find, though, that Orac almost always writes very long, researched, detailed posts about whatever piques his interest. You would be hard-pressed to say, after reading for 15 minutes, that one of his posts is a flash commentary.

  75. #75 Tsu Dho Nimh
    December 6, 2010

    From her website, cancerangel.com – she wrote / was writing a book about her success.

    CANCER ANGEL is scheduled for release in December 2010

  76. #76 augustine
    December 6, 2010

    ORAC

    Amazing how Augie hasn’t bothered to use the search box on this blog (upper left hand corner) and search for the term “lead time bias.” If that had been done, Augie would know that I’ve written extensively on lead time bias, length bias, overdiagnosis, overtreatment, and stage migration

    RE: #27. You’re mistaken.

  77. #77 novalox
    December 6, 2010

    @augie

    Considering your ignorance of scientific definitions, and your ad homienm attacks, I think you are trying to save whatever little face you have left (of which I think you have nil).

  78. #78 Dangerous Bacon
    December 7, 2010

    Dr. Schattner said: ” I think we should welcome new ideas and data. Otherwise we risk becoming quacks by another name…My point is that conventional physicians shouldn’t be necessarily, knee-jerk dismissive of other perspectives because sometimes they/we are incorrect.

    There was a line in one of the Sherlock Holmes stories where the master detective recommended to Lestrade that he immerse himself in study of the annals of crime, for nothing was new; every foul deed had been attempted before and thus criminal plots could be unraveled by astute observers.

    Acid-base nonsense has been a staple of health quackery for many years, traced back to 1933 in this article by Orac, and I’m sure known well before that. It’s not a startling new revelation that requires respectful attention lest we miss out on something big. It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of acid-base homeostasis in the human body which a college biochemistry student would recognize immediately.

    Knowing the basic history of health quackery is an avocation of mine which does not significantly affect my medical practice (in pathology). As an oncologist who attempts to educate others about cancer, I believe it’s important for you to obtain a basic grounding in the history of quackery, so that you can recognize and distinguish “unconventional approaches” from those trained in the scientific method, as opposed to foolish and exploitative advice from quacks.

  79. #79 Old Rockin' Dave
    December 7, 2010

    Sadly, none of this is new. In the 1920s, my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The only available treatments at that time were Halstead radical mastectomy or radiation, neither of which were ideal, but both of which were a great improvement over what came before and saved many lives. Her brother convinced her that he could cure her with his herbal treatments. When she died in 1927 she left behind two children. My father was only four and the pain of his loss followed him for the remaining 80 years of his life. In a particularly cruel irony, her brother lived into his late 80s as a vigorous man who was a working artist to the end of his life, only to die because he refused surgical excision of a tiny adenocarcinoma (the “good” kind of skin cancer) on his face, which both spread locally and metastasized.

  80. #80 Old Rockin' Dave
    December 7, 2010

    Sorry, in #72, I meant to say my granduncle died of a basal cell carcinoma, not an adenocarcinoma.

  81. #81 Pareidolius
    December 7, 2010

    When I read Dr. Shattner’s posts, I always hear the words spoken in Cartman’s mom’s voice.

  82. #82 Gopiballava
    December 7, 2010

    Everybody makes mistakes. No method of medicine or method of inquiry is perfect.

    That does not mean that quacks who make things up are the same as people applying science rigorously. One of these groups is improving. One of these groups is not. One of these groups does research and writes papers about their failures. The other promotes their ‘successes’ until they die, then pretends they don’t exist.

    Has this quack written anything about working on how to make his treatments easier for patients to follow? That’s what conventional doctors do when patients don’t follow regimens.

  83. #83 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    December 7, 2010

    Given augustine’s serious problem transgendered people, I’m gonna guess he/she had a “Crying Game” moment and can’t get past it.

    And speaking of oxygen thieves, shouldn’t we be getting Smarter Than You’s manifesto about the TRUE CAUSE OF AUTISM soon? IIRC, it was supposed to be out in November.

    Sorry for the OT.

  84. #84 prn
    December 7, 2010

    Re: Elaine

    Perhaps Elaine is decrying the frequent, reflexive, broad condemnation of everything labelled “alternative medicine”. In the US, “standard medicine” has often been (hopelessly?) corrupted by conflicts of interest, to the point were many “standard” treatments have “perizero” benefits (0 +-e), inordinate prices, and sometimes horrific side effects.

    I have witnessed a number of persistent medical failures simply cured by nonstandard or “alternative medicine”. However, in each case there was a clear scientific or clinical basis involved. There has long been a great disconnect between medical science and standard clinical practice, cheaper, better treatments often disparaged as “alternative medicine” or even “quackery.” Certainly injurious quackery is a legitimate target of criticism. However, one has to be aware of where the accusers’ other fingers may point (back to themselves, or your wallet).

    Also I look askance at most claims of “proven” medicine. To me, p=0.05 sounds like, at most, “demonstrated” medicine, while charitably ignoring repeated conflicts of interests and systemic biases, that look like outright misrepresentation or fraud in some cases.

  85. #85 prn
    December 7, 2010

    Re: Elaine

    Perhaps Elaine is decrying the frequent, reflexive, broad condemnation of everything labelled “alternative medicine”. In the US, “standard medicine” has often been (hopelessly?) corrupted by conflicts of interest, to the point were many “standard” treatments have “perizero” benefits (0 +-e), inordinate prices, and sometimes horrific side effects.

    I have witnessed a number of persistent medical failures simply cured by nonstandard or “alternative medicine”. However, in each case there was a clear scientific or clinical basis involved. There has long been a great disconnect between medical science and standard clinical practice, cheaper, better treatments often disparaged as “alternative medicine” or even “quackery.” Certainly injurious quackery is a legitimate target of criticism. However, one has to be aware of where the accusers’ other fingers may point (back to themselves, or your wallet).

    Also I look askance at most claims of “proven” medicine. To me, p=0.05 sounds like, at most, “demonstrated” medicine, while charitably ignoring repeated conflicts of interests and systemic biases, that look like outright misrepresentation or fraud in some cases.

  86. #86 Chris
    December 7, 2010

    prn:

    I have witnessed a number of persistent medical failures simply cured by nonstandard or “alternative medicine”.

    Wow! That is fantastic! Could you tell us what journal and dates of those case studies can be found. Do they prove Robert O. Young’s theories? Because, you just made an extraordinary claim, and well, you need to prove it.

  87. #87 Giliell
    December 7, 2010

    @Iamnothouse
    OK, please note thatr my answer comes from a different cultural/healthcare background. ER doctors here are generally also normal doctors in the different wards of the hospital and we have general healthcare.
    I think the duty of an ER doctor is to get in touch with the GP/gyn/doctors in the respective ward. NOrmally, whenever you go to a specialist or a hospital you get a letter to the GP with you when you’re dismissed so your GP knows what’s been found or done.
    If the ER doc finds that their patient is in danger of faling for serious quackery, they should give the GP a call.
    Also some kind of “talks” should be done by the GP. Say for example the talk to somebody with a heart attack about obesity, blood-pressure, smoking, sports and so on. If given by the hospital doctor, it won’t be very personal, but the GP can really adapt that talk to the individual patient. And I hope that if a GP established trust in medicine, other doctors would have a better standing, too

  88. #88 prn
    December 7, 2010

    @79
    I am not defending RO Young at all, I see no merit there.

    I am simply saying that often, some of what is called “alternative medicine,” has results where “conventional, insured, FDA approved medicine” failed badly, either systematically blew the diagnosis or the therapy, and these cases need to be carefully distinguished.

    My family has had several incidents in the last few years where recovery was prompt on biologically based, advanced “alternatives” after striking out on “conventional”. When our clinical results match what historical or foreign physcian scientists’ papers say, I don’t really care what the doctor’s or FDA’s excuse is.

  89. #89 sophia8
    December 7, 2010

    prn: My family has had several incidents in the last few years where recovery was prompt on biologically based, advanced “alternatives” after striking out on “conventional”.
    You were asked for references. Please provide them, or at least give us details of what these so-called alternative treatments were.

  90. #90 lordsetar
    December 7, 2010

    I am simply saying that often, some of what is called “alternative medicine,” has results where “conventional, insured, FDA approved medicine” failed badly, either systematically blew the diagnosis or the therapy, and these cases need to be carefully distinguished.

    Saying it, yes. Showing it, not so much, and showing it is required when you make the claim that this happens “often”.

  91. #91 Vergil Den
    December 7, 2010

    Probably would have been better off at Lourdes or visited by Aliens. Oprah, please put Dawkins or a Carl Sagan proxy on your show (at least a mention to your book club fans).

    But on a serious note, health science (and supporting industries) has failed to cure and continues to set unrealistic expectations of cure. The search for alternatives is a reaction to that failure. If the focus would simply shift to prevention (i.e., avoidance, subtractive, etc), we would all be better off.

    Vergil Den

    Vergil Den

  92. #92 augustine
    December 7, 2010

    gregarious

    Given augustine’s serious problem transgendered people, I’m gonna guess he/she had a “Crying Game” moment and can’t get past it.

    They’re only transgendered when the medical doctors step in and makes them so.

    Can they logically and rationally be trapped in the wrong body. Come on. Use your skeptic and critical thinking skills and rise above political correctness. Is it a mental illness or is it biological? If it’s biological, where is the pathology?

    Was Micheal Jackson really a white person adopted by a black family?

    Yes, science bloggers have their opinions, prejudices,politics, and philosophies, weaved into what they call SBM. And then they call it objective.

  93. #93 T. Bruce McNeely
    December 7, 2010

    But on a serious note, health science (and supporting industries) has failed to cure…

    Really? Failed to cure anything? Tell me more.

    …and continues to set unrealistic expectations of cure. The search for alternatives is a reaction to that failure.

    Since alternative medicine sets entirely reasonable expectations of cure, right?

    If the focus would simply shift to prevention (i.e., avoidance, subtractive, etc), we would all be better off.

    It would make our jobs as health care providers a hell of a lot easier:
    “So, you’re got cancer? Well, you’re fucked. How about I tell you what you should have been doing to prevent it?
    No? Well, have a nice life. What’s left of it.”

    And what’s with this “simply” shit?

  94. #94 Calli Arcale
    December 7, 2010

    I would agree with prn that there are examples of abuses within mainstream medicine. I would not agree that this happens often, nor that it’s representative of the whole. To argue that it is representative of the whole, or some indication that because mainstream medicine is bad alternative medicine must be good, would require a few more steps in the deductive chain than prn has shared with us. However, I’m sure his/her post was not intended as a dissertation but rather as a casual remark. Still, I’m not going to accept the claims without more evidence. Lots of people claim to have seen someone cured by [insert method here]. A significant fraction of them are lying or mistaken, and that makes it impossible to accept the claim at face value, unqualified.

    The whole point is not that mainstream medicine is saintly and should never be questioned. The point is that all healing arts (no matter what we call them) are vulnerable to abuses and natural human biases, and so therefore we must use a systematic method (i.e. science) to continually evaluate and reevaluate the various treatments and diagnostic techniques offered. Or, to put it more simply, everybody’s selling something.

    Skeptics do not trust mainstream medicine implicitly and make a knee-jerk condemnation of alt med. Rather, they distrust both equally, requiring evidence before provisionally accepting anything. As it happens, the things we usually call “mainstream medicine” more frequently have sufficient evidence to support them, so it can appear that the skeptics have a bias in that direction. But this is not the skeptics’ fault; it is rather the logical result of applying scientific principles and critical thinking.

    The evidence base is constantly changing, as more research is done and pictures become clearer. What seems well supported by evidence today may not be tomorrow. But it’s not possible to predict that — you have to make your decisions based on the evidence which is available to you today. That’s a fact of life. It may seem unfortunate, but it’s a hell of a lot better than giving up on evidence entirely and picking them based on gut feelings.

  95. #95 Vergil Den
    December 7, 2010

    Bruce (85),

    Take a deep breath. My point is to shift focus to preventative measures (when one is healthy) rather than focusing on cures (when one is sick). I am arguing against traditional medicine and alternative medicine because both are focused on curing through additive measures (e.g., take something). What I am arguing is to prevent via subtractive measures (e.g., avoidance). Then we will all be health care providers rather than providing care for the sick.

    Vergil Den

  96. #96 ferp
    December 7, 2010

    Vergil – cancer is not something that can simply be avoided by eating lots of veggies. It is the result of cell mutations, not to mention has many varied causes, and thus will probably never be totally preventable. It is therefore important eo ensure that we work on a cure for when cancer does arise. Another thing you seem to miss is that part of finding a cure can be the actual prevention of it in the first place. It’s not as if finding a way to cure cancer and preventing cancer are mutually exclusive.

  97. #97 Chris
    December 7, 2010

    Vergil Den:

    What I am arguing is to prevent via subtractive measures (e.g., avoidance). Then we will all be health care providers rather than providing care for the sick.

    How do you prevent someone being born with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene?

  98. #98 T. Bruce McNeely
    December 7, 2010

    Vergil Den:

    What pisses me off about your comment is that it sounds like the same old shit that we’ve been fed for the last 30 years at least:

    “If we all used prevention, we wouldn’t need medical care.”

    Preventive measures are good, and I’m all for them. However, they only go so far. People who lead healthy lifestyles and do all the “right” things still get sick. They still need care.
    I guess I was set off by your use of the word “simply”. There’s nothing simple about it. Maybe you could tell us how to “simply” shift the focus. A lot of people have been trying for a long time. Success is incremental (gradual reduction in smoking, for instance), and setbacks happen all the time (increasing obesity).

    And of course, you’ve got saboteurs like the anti-vax idiots…

  99. #99 Dianne
    December 7, 2010

    I think we should welcome new ideas and data. Otherwise we risk becoming quacks by another name…

    Are you serious, Dr. Schattner? Are you really claiming that “conventional medicine” is not open to new ideas? It’s quite the opposite really. While “alternative medicine” is busy recycling tired old claims about laetrile, pH, and positive thinking-claims that have been disproven multiple times, conventional oncology has been moving on at an incredible rate.

    Are you still in practice? What’s your first line treatment for CML? A TKI or busulfan? The first TKI came out in 2001, making it quite a new idea. Do you use cetuximab in colon cancer? Are you aware of the completely new idea of genotyping the tumor to ensure that your therapy will help and not harm the patient?

    Yes, you might say, but conventional oncology blows off the possibly useful aspects of alternative medicine. Laetrile doesn’t work but maybe something else would. Say, for example, there might be a traditional Chinese medicine with efficacy in APL. As it happens, there is. It’s now part of the conventional oncologic treatment for APL, under the name Trisenox in the US.

    Most oncologists are quite aware of the lack of perfection in their field and willing to take their new ideas where they can get them. But only if these ideas come with data. If Young had been able to demonstrate that his method provided even a marginal improvement in any sub-population of breast cancer patients, Orac’s attitude towards him would be very different. He didn’t. Instead he spends his time pedaling false hope and encouraging people to forgo potentially curative treatment. He deserves scorn.

  100. #100 T. Bruce McNeely
    December 7, 2010

    He deserves scorn.

    Also prison.

  101. #101 Dangerous Bacon
    December 7, 2010

    Virgil Den: “But on a serious note, health science (and supporting industries) has failed to cure and continues to set unrealistic expectations of cure.”

    Really? Beyond the inaccuracy of the blanket claim that “health science” doesn’t cure anything, let’s look at the “unrealistic expectations” part.

    Evidence-based medicine is quite candid about its potential benefits and limitations in treating disease, notably chronic/degenerative ailments and cancer. This leads to condemnation from alt med advocates, who continually promise “cures” and attack physicians for supposedly giving cancer patients X months to live.

    Alt med is famous for telling people that if they change one thing about their diet or lifestyle (using coconut oil, ridding their bodies of Candida, taking one (or a myriad) of miracle supplements or (as in Kim Tinkham’s case) fixing a nonexistent acid-base problem) they can vanquish disease.

    Talk about “unrealistic expectations”.

    Tinkham would have had a fighting chance if she hadn’t listened to these people. She deserved better.

  102. #102 Vergil Den
    December 7, 2010

    Ferp (89),

    Agree it is cell mutation – so perhaps we all have cancer but a healthy body under normal conditions (not living in Chernobyl in 1986, healthy diet, normal catabolic processes) can control it. Why is the control mechanism breaking down?

    Bruce (91),

    Yes, we have been talking preventation for years but have we walking it. What is clear is that billions (I am sure trillions at this point) have been spent on cures and yet people are sicker then ever.

    Chris (90),

    Nice preventative medicine. Using BRCA1 or BRCA2 corollary logic, “people that eat food, also die – therefore let’s stop eating”. 100 years from now, people will look at lopping off appendages as the fear pseudoscience of our times.

    Vergil Den

  103. #103 ferp
    December 7, 2010

    “Why is the control mechanism breaking down?”

    It’s called a mutation for a reason – in cancer, the cells happen to change in a way that the body cannot respond and fix the problem itself. Finding out why exactly it happens and how to resolve the problem with medical science are a part of the process of finding a cure to cancer.

  104. #104 T. Bruce McNeely
    December 7, 2010

    What is clear is that billions (I am sure trillions at this point) have been spent on cures and yet people are sicker then ever.

    No, they’re not.

  105. #105 Vergil Den
    December 7, 2010

    Ferp (96),

    Mutations occur all the time and are controlled by the body (e.g., Autophagy).

    All,

    My final comment (one that I think we all can agree on) is that one needs to be skeptical of both traditional medicine and alternative medicine.

    I hope that real/testable/effective science prevails.

    Enjoyed the discourse,

    Vergil Den

  106. #106 Jon H
    December 7, 2010

    #68 “CANCER ANGEL is scheduled for release in December 2010″

    It’s not on Amazon, which it likely would be if it’s due out some time this month.

    Either they’re doing it through a vanity press, or it died on the vine.

  107. #107 Scott
    December 7, 2010

    Agree it is cell mutation – so perhaps we all have cancer but a healthy body under normal conditions (not living in Chernobyl in 1986, healthy diet, normal catabolic processes) can control it. Why is the control mechanism breaking down?

    You ask the question, and yet still make the unsubstantiated claim that one can prevent said mechanism from breaking down. Maybe it can, maybe it can’t. Today, nobody knows how or if it’s even possible. Therefore today we have no choice but to focus on those preventive measures we know work (e.g. smoking cessation), treat those cases which weren’t prevented, and try to understand more about cancer so that we can come up with better preventive measures and treatments.

    What more, exactly, would you like to see happen?

    Nice preventative medicine. Using BRCA1 or BRCA2 corollary logic, “people that eat food, also die – therefore let’s stop eating”. 100 years from now, people will look at lopping off appendages as the fear pseudoscience of our times.

    You have completely missed the point, I think. BRCA* mutations predispose to cancer. How do you propose to prevent that?

  108. #108 Chris
    December 7, 2010

    Vergil Den:

    Nice preventative medicine. Using BRCA1 or BRCA2 corollary logic, “people that eat food, also die – therefore let’s stop eating”. 100 years from now, people will look at lopping off appendages as the fear pseudoscience of our times.

    That doesn’t even make sense. You do know that there are people born with gene sequences that make them more prone to cancer? Right? All of the preventative measures will not stop that.

    And, when your claims are challenged you do a Sir Robin and run away!

  109. #109 ferp
    December 7, 2010

    “one needs to be skeptical of both traditional medicine and alternative medicine.”

    When has anyone stated anything to the contrary? Why would you feel the need to state this as though someone has said otherwise?

    Besides, look out your window; see that big glowy thing in the sky? Now look at the ground. Ever hear of radon gas or uranium? Yeah, we’ll always be bombarded by some natural radiation, so it’s silly to assume that a totally healthy person will never ever get cancer. That’s just how radiation works.

  110. #110 Dianne
    December 7, 2010

    What I am arguing is to prevent via subtractive measures (e.g., avoidance).

    Prevention. What a novel idea! No one in conventional medicine has ever thought of that possibility! (/snark)

    Seriously, what did you think all that nagging about smoking was all about? Why do some clinics screen patients for excess alcohol use, discuss diet, and encourage exercise? Why do healthy people (in certain demographics) get pap smears or colonoscopies? For that matter, why treat high cholesterol or blood pressure and what are those HPV and hep B vaccinations all about? It’s all about prevention. And it works. Smoking rates are going down and we’re starting to see lung cancer rates go down as well. Cervical cancer rates have been dropping for years and may go down further. Colon cancer rates are lower now than in the past (especially on the left side of the colon).

    So, no, prevention is not an original idea. If you have a specific idea for improving current preventative measures, present them and your evidence that they work.

  111. #111 Chris
    December 7, 2010

    Dianne:

    what are those HPV and hep B vaccinations all about? It’s all about prevention.

    Also, some cancers may be from some low lying virus that has not been discovered, or isolated. Since lots of our genome contains remnants of past viruses, it could be any one of them reactivating. Though that latter was just a wild guess, but the point is it is complicated. There is no “simply” about it!

    But Mr. Den has run away. He probably had no idea what I meant by BRCA1. I was at this lecture, which includes family trees to trace cancers. If Mr. Den decides to come back, I suggest he watch it.

  112. #112 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    December 7, 2010

    @Vergil Den Vergil Den:

    Agree it is cell mutation – so perhaps we all have cancer but a healthy body under normal conditions (not living in Chernobyl in 1986, healthy diet, normal catabolic processes) can control it. Why is the control mechanism breaking down?

    I’m not entirely sure what you’re saying here. Is it that only sick people get cancer (technically true, I suppose, in the same sense that all people who have cancer are sick)? Or is it that “in olden times” there was no cancer (demonstrably false from the historical record)? Or are you saying that a normal body can always control cancer unless it is in some way otherwise ill?

  113. #113 Seraphina
    December 7, 2010

    Unfortunately, Kim’s way of thinking about cancer – and the quacks that prey on it – is a huge phenomenon. The power of denial mixed with the belief that people can somehow heal themselves through magical good thinking and fairy dust is dangerous beyond belief.

    My friend J’s mother, for example, had period bleeding for ten months before she went to see a doctor. Turns out she has uteran cancer. She’s had ovarian cancer twice before and beaten it with chemo and other medical therapies. This time around, though, she’s cutting out sugar and seeing a reiki healer. This woman is going to die. There’s no way around it. And I try to comfort J, but I won’t lie to her. I personally believe that it’s criminal what her reiki healers and hippie nutritionists are doing to her, but there is very little that I can do. If I had access to chemotherapy I swear I would sneak into her house and hook her up to it every night.

  114. #114 Calli Arcale
    December 7, 2010

    Vergil Den @ 95:

    Agree it is cell mutation – so perhaps we all have cancer but a healthy body under normal conditions (not living in Chernobyl in 1986, healthy diet, normal catabolic processes) can control it. Why is the control mechanism breaking down?

    Cell mutation happens all the time, of course. Many mutations are not viable; the mutated cell simply dies. Others are incapable of reproducing. And many are ones which the body’s own built-in systems will detect and annihilate as you described.

    But not all mutations are like that. Once in a while, a mutation will come along which is viable, is able to generate a blood supply for itself, is able to reproduce (sometimes at a terrifying pace), and which the body fails to recognize as a tumor. Immunologically, the tumor looks too much like the body for the body to recognize it as hostile. You can even get evolution within a tumor, as populations of tumor cells continue to mutate, and a tumor may gradually increase its resistance to the body’s attacks.

    A breakdown of the control mechanism can lead to increased cancer, but it is not a requirement. A person who lives a completely healthy lifestyle can get cancer. The risk is never zero. Some of it is radon gas, the leading cause of lung cancer other than tobacco. Some of it is solar radiation. (One of the most common cancers is skin cancer, and it is usually caused by solar radiation.) Some of it is even cosmic radiation. Even ignoring genetics, unfortunately you cannot eliminate all of the risks.

    Healthy living will help, of course, but it can only go so far.

  115. #115 augustine
    December 7, 2010

    Brucy

    No, you idiot. The 50% survival rate with current treatment is for Stage 3 cancer – which is an invasive tumor greater than 5.0 centimeters in any dimension. This is an advanced cancer, and lacking effective treatment, is 100% fatal.

    Did you actually read that from the original source or did you take it on authority? Could you cite some of those articles and experiments that followed untreated breast cancer patients? What is/was the diagnostic criteria?

    On that 50% survival number, what is that criteria? Also if they died at 5 years 1 day is that still considered 50 percent treatment success? Is there any real time data that updates these numbers or are they static until some drug funded researcher decides to change them?

  116. #116 No Support
    December 7, 2010

    Sorry but you get what you deserve in a case like this. Disregarding science in persuit of seemingly magical cures is blatant fucking idiocy. I am very sorry for your families future loss but as for you, I have no sympathy to give.

  117. #117 Chris
    December 7, 2010

    No Support:

    I am very sorry for your families future loss but as for you, I have no sympathy to give.

    Who is your comment directed towards? Orac?

  118. #118 ferp
    December 7, 2010

    Why yes, augustine, we should all question what a trained oncologist (who specializes in breast cancer) gives as a prognosis, because we all know you’ve demonstrated yourself to be such an expert on the subject.

  119. #119 Chris
    December 7, 2010

    Oh, “No Support”, if it is directed towards Ms. Tinkham, perhaps you should actually try posting it on her websites. Though the last report is that she is not really reading anything now.

  120. #120 Orac
    December 7, 2010

    On that 50% survival number, what is that criteria? Also if they died at 5 years 1 day is that still considered 50 percent treatment success?

    Oh, my lordy, are you just naturally that ignorant or do you have to work at it?

    Here’s a primer on survival curves. Seriously. If you don’t know the answer to the question you asked, you really look bad pontificating about lead time bias as though you knew what you were talking about.

    http://cancerguide.org/scurve_basic.html
    http://cancerguide.org/scurve_km.html
    http://cancerguide.org/scurve_tails.html

    In any case, when I made my rough estimate of Tinkham’s chances, I wasn’t referring to five year survival; I was referring to ten year survival, which is generally what we use more often in breast cancer because it’s a disease that is prone to late recurrence (i.e., later than five years). I also actually took a fairly pessimistic estimate of the likelihood of Tinkham’s survival if she accepted therapy. Not all stage III is the same. Depending on other characteristics of her tumor, Tinkham might have had as high as a 70% chance of surviving 10 years or as low as a 30-40% chance. So I split the difference in my very rough estimate. Looking over her story again, I think that, in retrospect, Tinkham probably had one of the more favorable stage III tumors, which, if true, would mean that her chances were probably on the order of 60%, possibly even higher.

    Of course, 60% is a lot better than nearly zero percent. As you might imagine, survival data for untreated breast cancer is hard to come by in this day and age, but we do have some data on the natural history of breast cancer. For instance:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/03/does_alternative_medicine_use_result_in.php

    Bloom and Richardson looked at overall survival for all comers with untreated breast cancer between 1805 and 1933. This was before mammography; so all of these tumors were no doubt diagnosed as palpable masses. That means they were probably stage II and III cancers. In any case, the ten year survival for untreated breast cancer was 3.6%, and every single woman was dead within 19 years.

    Hmmmm. A 50-60% chance of surviving 10 years versus a 3.6% chance (probably less, since stage III by definition is advanced) of surviving ten years without treatment? I know which one I’d take. In fact, we don’t even know for sure that Tinkham’s cancer was stage III, as I discussed earlier. It might well have been lower stage, in which case her chance of survival with treatment would have been even higher.

  121. #121 Sibyl
    December 7, 2010

    My guess is that Dr. Elaine indulged in some woo along with her science-based cancer treatment. That would explain why she’s rushing to defend ALL woo against being called quackery.

    She doesn’t actually seem interested in this acid-base theory of cancer nonsense or the fact that Kim Tinkham is dying because we can’t find a way to stop unscrupulous people from pretending to be medical practitioners.

  122. #122 JT
    December 7, 2010

    Come on now, sure, the quack is part of the problem, but we have a fully grown adult who believes in absolute bullshit. The real enemy here is religion, which has conditioned people to believe in completely batshit ideas with absolutely no proof whatsoever.

    This vulnerability to idiocy just comes with that territory. People who demand evidence for their conclusions aren’t “hoping” cancer goes away, because that’s a nice way to send yourself to a grave. Intelligent people understand this.

    The fault for this lies with the idiot who thinks “despite cancer being such a massive killer, and scientists saying there is no cure, I HAVE FOUND THE CURE, I AM SMARTER THAN SCIENTISTS”. Someone like that is bound to have a short lifespan.

    Get her out of the gene pool before her insanity can contaminate others and ruin more lives.

  123. #123 augustine
    December 7, 2010

    JT:

    The real enemy here is religion, which has conditioned people to believe in completely batshit ideas with absolutely no proof whatsoever.

    Just another confirmation of my assertion that this is an ideologically atheist forum wearing a banner of science and a crown of critical thinking. Atheist first. Science second. Or is it science first. Atheist second?

    At least JT admits what he stands for.

  124. #124 ferp
    December 7, 2010

    JT – there are plenty of atheists who do or believe stupid things. I’m sure there’s some out there who’ve fallen for woo as well. Being gullible is something that isn’t purely limited to religious people because, well, we’re human.

    Augustine – “Blah, blah, blah, you’re all evil atheists so nothing you say is valid and you’re all biased and you murder puppies”, etc.

  125. #125 novalox
    December 7, 2010

    @116
    Another ad hominem attack from the troll, how expected from one who cannot defend his/her/it’s position…

  126. #126 Tobinius
    December 7, 2010

    ferp, I think you would have been more correct in saying:

    Augustine – “Blah, blah, blah, you’re all evil atheist science geeks so nothing you say is valid and you’re all biased and you murder puppies”, etc.

    I base that on his response @116 to JT.

  127. #127 Angela Squires
    December 7, 2010

    “Then, let’s not forget Oprah Winfrey. Oprah Winfrey, after all, rewarded Tinkham’s decision to use The Secret as justification for rejecting science-based therapy and choosing quackery. While it is true that during her interview with Tinkham Oprah appeared distinctly uncomfortable that The Secret had lead Tinkham to reject effective therapy for her breast cancer: Shockingly, Oprah actually sounds almost reasonable here. Almost. Too bad the shock of being confronted by someone who used woo that Oprah promoted instead of effective therapy didn’t keep Oprah from later doing things like promoting faith healers like John of God.”
    Oprah Winfrey should be financing Tinkham’s palliative care, compensating her family financially for their loss and actively promoting science-based medicine, not quackery. Celebrities must take responsibility for their actions because people are so influenced by their statements and validation of ideas like alternative medicine and the Secret. When it comes to life-threatening disease nobody should be influenced by a celebrity, authoritarian figure and so on to eschew science-based treatment. I would have died long ago if I took people like Oprah seriously. Orac, I shall be consulting with Crommunist on what I plan to do about this. I am a bilateral mastectomy, a big-mouthed Brit living in Canada, Media savvy and utterly appalled by the fate of Kim Tinkham.

  128. #128 prn
    December 8, 2010

    @113 re: staging correction
    Thanks Orac for the interesting reference on Bloom and Richardson …1805 and 1933. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1925646/pdf/brmedj02981-0019.pdf

    This was before mammography; so all of these tumors were no doubt diagnosed as palpable masses. That means they were probably stage II and III cancers. In any case, the ten year survival for untreated breast cancer was 3.6%,

    97.6% presented with stage 3 or 4 breast cancer: 74.4% presented as stage 4, 23.2 % presented as stage III, at admission using the Manchester classification system (Table IV)

    My grandmother, shortly before her golden wedding anniversary, survived 14 yrs following BC surgery (1960s) for an occluded nipple with no recurrence.

  129. #129 augustine
    December 8, 2010

    My grandmother, shortly before her golden wedding anniversary, survived 14 yrs following BC surgery (1960s) for an occluded nipple with no recurrence.

    Yes, I actually saw this. So to demonstrate the awesomeness of science based medicine and it’s progressive results, tell us how much better she would have faired with these “scientific” advancements of today. Obviously, with 50 years of improvement we should see much greater results today. So do you believe your grandmother would have lived 20 Years? 30 years? 60 years with SBMs awesome improvements?

    The real question is was she up to date on her vaccinations?

  130. #130 Tim
    December 8, 2010

    I’m probably going to receive a slew of negative responses to this comment, but oh well. I think too many people on this blog are specifically against alternative medicine as though it has absolutely nothing to bring to the world of medicine. I can understand people thinking that if a cure for cancer was found that it would be used, but this is disgustingly not true. There is money to be made in the cancer industry and as foul and horrendously inhumane as it is, industries like the AMA and the FDA (yes the FDA is an industry in my opinion, only nominally part of our government) stand to gain monetarily by there being no cure for cancer. That is not to say that every individual in these corporations (what they truly are) are in and of themselves evil, rather that the heads of these corporations know full well what they are doing, and what they are doing is trading American lives for money. The FDA has the word cure guarded (understandable if you know the basis for this) and it abuses it’s authority in guarding that word. I am not grandiose, and by no means feel like the government is out to get any of us, I say these things because flat out, THEY ARE TRUE. These observations can be made when looking at chronic dehydration, discovered by MD Batmanghelidj. He discovered that dyspeptic pain and colitis pain (among other ailments) are the result of chronic (long term & cellular) dehydration, different from typical dehdyration as one would receive within a 48 hour period. He comes to this conclusion after having successfully treated over THREE THOUSAND patients. Even though he sent his results to the AMA sometime in the 80’s, they never published his results or did anything to study this phenomenon, and we STILL don’t see water being used as a treatment for these conditions. Why is this? Such is a rhetorical question, to which the answer is that the AMA stands to gain financially from promoting drugs INSTEAD of water because the pharmaceutical industry is huge, and water? Water is borderline free here in America.

    My point being: The AMA and FDA are against anything that won’t make money, INCLUDING cures for cancer–that exist. Don’t ask me what they are, because answering that question is illegal (almost rightly so). Alternative medicine has cures that Allopathic medicine is unaware (key word) of however and should by no means be cast aside. I agree with Dr. Orac that alternative should not exist, that it should simply be “Medicine,” and it is my goal to one day achieve this goal for all medical doctors, but until then, “alternative” medicine is and will be a VERY real part of practical medicine. The word quack should be used cautiously, although in this case I think it is rightly used, do not so quickly deny an alternative medicine as false because it has been “proven in studies” not to work, as often times, the institutions behind such studies have agendas and aren’t doing studies so much as lining their pockets.

  131. #131 ferp
    December 8, 2010

    Tim – your post is tl;dr, the only medicine that counts is the one that has proven itself through rigorous testing, otherwise you might as well grab pills at random and hope for the best. When we’ve determined a treatment works, it loses the idiotic title of ‘alternative medicine’ (i.e. shit that does not work) and becomes part of conventional science.

    I mean, this says it all really: “Alternative medicine has cures that Allopathic medicine is unaware of”

    ORLY? It seems odd that, y’know, ‘alternative medicine’ practitioners never seems to be able to provide evidence of such claims with hard data.

  132. #132 Triskelethecat
    December 8, 2010

    @Tim:
    Water IS used to treat dehydration, but usually with the addition of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, etc) because those items are also lost in fluid loss. Not plain water, because when you are dehydrated you don’t need just water. But sugar water, Pedialyte, Gator Ade, anything a person can drink AND RETAIN. My grandfather, a physician of the old school, would use salt-water retention enemas for dehydration if someone could not be hospitalized and could not keep down oral fluids. IVs are the last resort, and usually are simply water with additives (electrolyes, sugar, etc). Any physician that I know of usually will encourage oral fluids to a possibly dehydrated person before any other treatment.

    Tim also said:

    My point being: The AMA and FDA are against anything that won’t make money, INCLUDING cures for cancer–that exist. Don’t ask me what they are, because answering that question is illegal (almost rightly so).

    Citation needed, please. And the AMA and FDA only effect the USA. There is a whole other large world out there (ever heard of Canada? The UK? France?) where if the cures for cancer existed, they would be trumpted and people would be flocking there from all over the world. And if it was a US doctor with the cure, he/she would readily move to where they could treat and cure people.

    As for cancer cures: you are so naive. Do you honestly think ANY physician who finds the cure for a cancer wouldn’t become famous? He/She would win a Nobel prize and become world famous. Do you honestly think if Orac had or knew of a cure for breast cancer that he wouldn’t have used it on his beloved family members?

    BTW – a cure for which type of cancer? There is no such thing as “cancer” in the whole; there is breast cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, blood cancers – all with different causes and treatments. There is also no cure for “cancer” as a single entity. Only treatments/possible cures for specific cancers.

  133. #133 Scott
    December 8, 2010

    I think too many people on this blog are specifically against alternative medicine as though it has absolutely nothing to bring to the world of medicine.

    By definition, that is true. Any “alternative” approach demonstrated to work becomes regular medicine; “alternative medicine” therefore consists strictly of methods that are not known to work. This means that it is purely fraud and quackery.

    I can understand people thinking that if a cure for cancer was found that it would be used, but this is disgustingly not true.

    Evidence needed.

    The FDA has the word cure guarded (understandable if you know the basis for this) and it abuses it’s authority in guarding that word.

    This is completely false, made up by quacks who would like to claim they have a “cure” despite having not a shred of evidence to demonstrate that it works. The FDA does NOT “guard” the term “cure”. Instead, there is the very general principle that false advertising is illegal and that you cannot claim something is a “cure” unless it actually is.

    I am not grandiose, and by no means feel like the government is out to get any of us, I say these things because flat out, THEY ARE TRUE.

    Then you should have no trouble providing the actual evidence supporting these claims, as opposed to unsubstantiated conspiracy-mongering.

    Even though he sent his results to the AMA sometime in the 80’s, they never published his results or did anything to study this phenomenon, and we STILL don’t see water being used as a treatment for these conditions.

    And here we see complete cluelessness at work. Hint – the AMA isn’t responsible for publishing somebody’s work! The scientist is responsible for submitting it to journals in an appropriate form.

    What this sounds like actually happened is that he put together some unsubstantiated garbage, submitted it to JAMA, it was rejected, and then you’re trying to place the blame on the journal instead of the scientist…

    My point being: The AMA and FDA are against anything that won’t make money, INCLUDING cures for cancer–that exist.

    Quite the incredible conspiracy – hundreds of thousands of people necessarily involved, and yet not a hint of it leaks? You seriously think that’s the least bit plausible?

    Don’t ask me what they are, because answering that question is illegal (almost rightly so).

    That’s a lie. It is not illegal. You just know that you don’t have any actual answer to the question.

  134. #134 Militant Agnostic
    December 8, 2010

    We need a version of Godwins law for the use of the term “allopathic”.

    Hint to Tim – no one has practiced allopathic medicine for years. Allopathic was term coined by the early homeopaths to describe the practices of the “conventional” doctors of the day.

  135. #135 Dianne
    December 8, 2010

    He comes to this conclusion after having successfully treated over THREE THOUSAND patients. Even though he sent his results to the AMA sometime in the 80’s, they never published his results or did anything to study this phenomenon,

    The AMA is not a journal. Sending a manuscript to JAMA (the Journal of the AMA) might have been more effective. Well, maybe not since the three thousand patients he “treated” were prisoners in Iran with “ulcer symptoms” (not cancer) and he was only able to follow at best 600 of them. So his data came from a population that did not give informed consent for experimental therapeutics (an automatic exclusion in any respectable journal), did not have a confirmed diagnosis, and at least 80% of them had no follow up. Any further questions about why the manuscript, if sent, wasn’t taken seriously?

    Finally, even if water were effective for ulcers, what does that have to do with cancer?

    Source:http://www.quackwatch.com/11Ind/batman.html

  136. #136 T. Bruce McNeely
    December 8, 2010

    Tim:

    Did you really think that anyone would be convinced by your silly conspiracy theories and your citing a “researcher” whose claims could be falsified by five minutes on Google?
    It’s all bullshit.

    Most of us have seen claims like this over and over again for years, and it’s ALWAYS bullshit. Every single time.

  137. #137 stripey_cat
    December 8, 2010

    I’d just about believe that in the specific case of prisoners in an exceedingly abusive regime, chronic dehydration could be contributing to chronic digestive problems. Certainly horses (having a very different physiology from humans, I’m aware!) who are stressed emotionally and physically are more prone to a wide range of gut issues, and chronic dehydration is a major risk factor for acute colic. That said, to actually demonstrate that the dehydration was a factor, separate from the stress, overcrowding, lack of exercise or any other factors that might affect prisoners in poor conditions, would be an interesting exercise in experimental design and analysis.

  138. #138 Francois T
    December 10, 2010

    @ Elaine Schattner, M.D.

    Orac wrote;
    “Indeed, Young also believes that sepsis is not caused by bacteria, but rather–you guessed it!–excess acid.”

    With this particular bit of quackery, “Doctor” Young earns a lower position on the medicine’s totem pole than Molière’s doctors, a rather difficult feat, don’t you think?

    At the very least, these colleagues from a past long gone noticed that bloodletting was detrimental to the progressions of infections. Turns out they were on to something, since bacteria cannot function without iron. I’ll go further by stating that a non-negligible sample of these healers would have embraced antibiotics wholeheartedly if they had the chance to know about them. Confronted with the necessity and sincere desire to help, faced with a shortage of results with their usual fares, they would’ve give it a try. After all, this is how Ambroise Paré revolutionized wound treatment.

    Not so “Doctor” Young who CHOSE to stay a dangerous ignoramus in spite of all the knowledge already available to him.

    THAT is the difference between quackery and the vagaries of conventional medicine. Willful ignorance v. acknowledgment of ignorance.

  139. #139 Tamakazura
    December 14, 2010

    The “let’s just focus on prevention” people are making me have to post.
    I tend to think of a disease like cancer in terms of probability. There is nothing that will guarantee that you will get it, and there is nothing that will guarantee that you will not. You have a chance of getting it simply by living, and every time a cell in your body divides, there is a chance that it will screw up and start something. Biology is pretty much an ongoing game of russian roulette.
    There are things you can do to nudge that probability in either direction, but you can never make it to 100% certainty that you will not get it. You could be a “smoker from Chornobyl” and not get cancer. You could get cancer and have it not be caused by either smoking or radiation, although the odds are fairly high that one of the two caused your disease.
    There are a lot of things that are conventionally viewed as “healthy” that have an unknown or negligible impact on the probability. ie. zinc and vitamin c, or cutting sugar and gluten out of your diet.
    It really bothers me when people say that prevention is everything–it implies that the people who got cancer did something to deserve it. This view is pervasive in American society. If someone gets cancer, and they admit they have donuts for breakfast once a month, this must be a causal relationship! I’ve had people who consider themselves rational, skeptic, atheist and all of the above say stuff like that, and it’s sickening because you know deep down, if you get sick they’re going to blame you for some moral failing.
    It’s hard to accept a lack of certainty about things. It’s very hard to accept that you cannot control even your own biology…because we think that if anything, we ought to be able to at least control our physical selves.

  140. #140 tamakazura
    December 14, 2010

    Saying that a person got cancer because they didn’t jump through enough hoops to prevent it is like the modern lefty equivalent of telling a person they got bubonic plague because they pissed off God.
    I also need to clarify that if you live in Chornobyl and smoke, the probability of you getting some sort of cancer has been nudged pretty heavily towards the “yes” side.

  141. #141 BB
    December 17, 2010

    As someone who has a daughter with breast cancer, I applaud her for seeking a different approach. For over three years she has done without the pain associated with chem, radation, etc. It is a life filled with just getting through the day. Yes, she might have lived slighly longer, thousands of dollors spent and still the odds are that you will die. All the doctors know how to do is kill the patient along with the cancer cell. As I said, Kudos to her for having the guts to try to live without it.

    What is tragic is that with all the money spent for research, cancer patients are suppose to be happy for a medicine that extends your life for at least 3 weeks if you can live through the side effects for that long.

  142. #142 Calli Arcale
    December 17, 2010

    Kudos? She would’ve been in less pain had she not been deceived into thinking her cancer could’ve been cured by these supplements.

    Breast cancer in many cases CAN be cured. It’s not all as depressing and dismal as you make it sound, where thousands of dollars are spent and the patient still dies of cancer. Of course the patient will die eventually; we’re all mortal. But if it’s detected early enough, it can be completely removed or destroyed and then the patient will survive it. I’d spend thousands of dollars and undergo chemo if it meant dying of heart disease 60 years later. You betcha.

    People frame this as a brave, gutsy choice, but it’s not. Gutsy would’ve been saying “I know I’m gonna die, and I don’t want to burden anyone or waste money that could go to my kids’ inheritance, so I’m refusing all treatment except palliation.” What Tinkham chose was not an act of bravery. It was an act of deception, only she didn’t know that. She picked what looked like the easy road. I can’t fault her for that — everybody wants the easy road, because you’d have to be an idiot not to. Trouble is, that road didn’t go where she was told it would go, and now she’s dead.

    My aunt had ovarian cancer. She went for *aggressive* chemotherapy. She managed to last 14 years before it finally killed her. Was that a waste, just because she ended up dying of it? No. She got to see all of her daughters graduate from college and get married, and even meet some of her grandchildren. Had she listened to quacks, she likely would not have lasted the first year.

    My godmother had breast cancer. She had surgery and chemotherapy. Maybe you don’t think she had any guts to have chosen that, but it’s why she’s alive today.

    Chemo and surgery are not the right path for everyone with cancer. It depends on the cancer, it depends on the stage, it depends on what’s going on in the patients’ life, and it depends very much on what the patient values in life. Therefore, everyone should make their own decision across the whole spectrum of available options. I applaud whatever choice they make.

    What I don’t applaud is those who take advantage of people trying to make that choice, who deny them their right to an informed choice by lying to them and offering them will-o-the-wisps.

  143. #143 Todd W.
    December 17, 2010

    @BB

    All the doctors know how to do is kill the patient along with the cancer cell.

    You imply that the doctors who treat cancer don’t really care about prolonging the life or improving the quality of life of their patients. That simply is not true.

    Here is at least one trial currently going on that is looking at whether a reduced dose of radiation in the treatment of medulloblastoma in children is at least as effective as the standard dose (overall survival and event-free survival), but with fewer side effects, like stunted growth and decreased IQ.

    In other words, they know that there are certain bad risks with the treatment, and they are trying to make the treatment better. Sounds like they care about the patients and want the best outcomes possible for them.

  144. #144 Tim
    December 19, 2010

    @ ferp:
    I guess MD’s use a lot of alternative medicine then by your definition. Your view is extrodinarily ignorant, and I am 100% certain that you have not actually PERSONALLY seen whether or not any “alternative” treatments work.

    I have used water and salt to treat my asthma with INSTANT results. Would an MD tell you to do that for asthma? I have nothing to gain by lying to you, I tell the truth. Don’t you dare say the word “placebo” either, as I’ve tried plenty of other things that I “thought” might do the trick and did not.

    @ Triskelethecat
    All cancers can be cured via conglomerate means of treatments. There are however different causes for the same cancers, as there are many carcinogens, so not necessarily all treatments will work for all people. Also, your type of thinking is the same type of thinking that has prevented the spread of any kind of knowledge regarding a cure. Also… what makes you think there aren’t those outside of the US who cure cancer? Have you done a THING to check if such a community exists? Or do you assume that such a thing does not because it hasn’t been reported on fox or msnbc?
    You call me naive? You do not understand corporate America.

    @ Dianne:
    Why was no additional research done by the AMA regardless? How expensive could it possibly be to test whether or not water works? Isn’t it at least worth checking out?

    @ Scott:
    Acupuncture is considered alternative. Are you really going to say that acupuncture doesn’t work? Really? Honestly?
    When my friends become sick with a common cold, where it would frequently last for around 1 to 2 weeks, I can get them better within 24 hours EVERY time. I do not know any MD’s who can do the same. Would I lie about this? What would be my motive? I tell you, I promise I am not lying about this, and placebo is not powerful enough to shorten a cold by even 3 days let alone up to two weeks.
    And wtf? Calling something a cure for anything without it being considered a cure or having been researched as a cure IS ILLEGAL. It’s a lie? Who are you? Are YOU a troll? Are YOU part of the FDA or AMA? Such a thing is inarguable, after reading that, I contemplated not even responding to you for your incredible ignorance. In fact, incredible is an understatement, I just can’t think of anything better to say. Your ignorant statements disturb me greatly.

  145. #145 MartinM
    December 19, 2010

    Tim – lots of words, no data.

  146. #146 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    December 19, 2010

    @Tim,

    Look up acupuncture in Orac’s blog. You’ll find links to studies that show that the supposed acupuncture points are no more effective in treating whatever they’re supposed to treat than points believed to do nothing. You’ll find links to studies that say that it doesn’t matter whether you insert a pin or poke the skin with a toothpick. The Qi “theory” behind acupuncture has no evidence behind it.

    So I’ll step up and say there’s limited evidence that acupuncture is anything more than a highly theatrical placebo.

    If you have evidence to the contrary, please share. Such evidence should be at least as good as you’d need to accept that a drug is both safe and effective.

  147. #147 Militant Agnostic
    December 19, 2010

    Even though he sent his results to the AMA sometime in the 80’s, they never published his results or did anything to study this phenomenon, and we STILL don’t see water being used as a treatment for these conditions. Why is this?

    Your story about somebody sending their wonderful results to the AMA sounds just like the old stories about somebody who invented a 100 mile per gallon carburetor. Results are sent to journals and the AMA does not do research and has no obligation to study the hypothesis of every dodgy crap study they get. Dianne answered you very clearly.

    Are YOU part of the FDA or AMA?

    Tim – are you wearing that hat shiny side in or shiny side out.

    If you looked outside the USA, you would notice that most developed countries (and many not so developed) all have some form of socialized medicine. If these low cost alternatives worked, several of these countries would be all over them.

  148. #148 novalox
    December 19, 2010

    @137

    Loads of unsubstantiated claims, conspiracy theories, ad homienm attacks, unsupported claims with not a shred of evidence, the old “Big pharma” gambit….

    Just why in the hell should we believe any of your comments?

  149. #149 a-non
    December 19, 2010

    When my friends become sick with a common cold, where it would frequently last for around 1 to 2 weeks, I can get them better within 24 hours EVERY time. I do not know any MD’s who can do the same. Would I lie about this?

    Because I bet that you don’t dispense this advice for free.

  150. #150 LW
    December 19, 2010

    All cancers can be cured via conglomerate means of treatments. There are however different causes for the same cancers, as there are many carcinogens, so not necessarily all treatments will work for all people. Also, your type of thinking is the same type of thinking that has prevented the spread of any kind of knowledge regarding a cure. Also… what makes you think there aren’t those outside of the US who cure cancer? Have you done a THING to check if such a community exists? Or do you assume that such a thing does not because it hasn’t been reported on fox or msnbc?

    Tim, in case you hadn’t noticed, many Americans travel. Many non-Americans travel to the States. Many Americans have non-American family, friends, or business acquaintances with whom they communicate. If there were something as important as a genuine cure for all cancers out there, we’d hear about it. The news media and corporations could not keep something like that quiet. After all, we hear about the *fake* cures for all cancers.

    If you want to convince us, present your evidence. There are lots of scientists outside the U.S. They know how to do experiments. They know how to report results. Show us where they’ve reported cures for all cancers. You have that evidence, right?

  151. #151 Ace
    December 26, 2010

    Relying on “law of attraction” must be in line with conservative treatment. If not, everything will be too late. So, keep the spirit…

  152. #152 holisticpractitioner
    January 6, 2011

    Finally finish reading your posts on Cancer stories …. This is the part which I never know.
    It is real good and provides an opportunity for broader consideration. Glad that cancer series has been of some value =)Thanks : )

  153. #153 hilli
    January 9, 2011

    hello.

    I am so sorry about Kim..as I am about the thousands who die from breast cancer every year. Will you write about those who die under the care of conventional medicine also?
    I would love to see some numbers,, it is really sad.

    Make sure that the information is real, so that we can compare .

    Hilli

  154. #154 Chance Gearheart, AAS, NREMT-P
    January 9, 2011

    @Hilli:

    You’re creating a false dichotomy with that question. The real question you should be asking is can you demonstrate any cancers that have been cured by “alternative medicine”, especially since it’s proponants purport to be able to do as such. Cancer is not one single disease, and some cancers are extremely resistant to treatment – meaning detection and early treatment is key.

  155. #155 Chemmomo
    January 9, 2011

    hilli, read the links at comment #113.

  156. #156 Chris
    January 9, 2011

    Also watch the second video here titled “2010 Lorne Trottier Public Syposium.” Pay close attention to the second talk, it is specifically about breast cancer survival.

  157. #157 Hilli
    January 10, 2011

    @ Chris and Cahnce

    talk to Doc sutter , at http://www.docsutter.com
    he knows very much about cancer survival. He himself had stage four liver cancer.
    I know a guy personally that used chlorella in massive doses to rid of leukemia.
    I know two that had breast cancer, that is fine now. You will not read about this in medical journals, where are you looking?

    I know we are all different.

  158. #158 Chris
    January 10, 2011

    The plural of anecdote is not data. I am not buying Sutter’s book to read more anecdotes. If you have evidence that any kind of alternative methods cure breast cancer please present it, and it has to to be real evidence. If you make a claim, then you must prove it.

    You may have noticed that whatever Ms. Tinkham did failed.

  159. #159 Tami C.
    March 20, 2011

    Microbiology of living systems is extraordinarily complex and current technology is still quite limited. This leaves the door open for all sorts alternatives, quasi science and metaphysical solutions.. There is no substitute for sound scientific research. Progress is continually being made on many fronts. Examples include ultrasound technology to replace breast-smashing X-rays for breast exams ( see Quantason, LLC ) and nucleic acid vaccines, which are showing some early progress in activating natural immune pathways (a huge subject).

    Robert Young needs to stick with diet advice (some of which appears reasonable). Unfortunately, he and his followers push it too far with his supplements, live blood analysis, etc and make unfounded healing claims based on his personal theories. If he has a theory, there is usually a product to sell behind it. I had the experience of a “live blood” analysis from one of his followers. This is a qualitative test subject to many interpretations, and she clearly did not what she was doing. I also tried a “hair” analysis, highly recommended by this practitioner, and the accuracy of the results was generally unacceptable for determining anything. This practitioner’s background had no technical credentials beyond having taken a “Robert Young course or two”. Unfortunately, the zealotry behind Young can amplify through his followers, making the situation worse. And he is a layer removed from potential litigation from any malpractice.

    I am an optimist that advances in medical science, balanced lifestyle (diet, exercise, stress control, common sense living etc) and self-responsibility will eventually root out the quacks, ineffective treatments, etc.

  160. #160 T. PhD.
    March 20, 2011

    Microbiology of living systems is extraordinarily complex and current technology is still quite limited. This leaves the door open for all sorts alternatives, quasi science and metaphysical solutions.. There is no substitute for sound scientific research. Progress is continually being made on many fronts. Examples include ultrasound technology to replace breast-smashing X-rays for breast exams ( see Quantason, LLC ) and nucleic acid vaccines, which are showing some early progress in activating natural immune pathways (a huge subject).

    Robert Young needs to stick with diet advice (some of which appears reasonable). Unfortunately, he and his followers push it too far with his supplements, live blood analysis, etc and make unfounded healing claims based on his personal theories. If he has a theory, there is usually a product to sell behind it. I had the experience of a “live blood” analysis from one of his followers. This is a qualitative test subject to many interpretations, and she clearly did not what she was doing. I also tried a “hair” analysis, highly recommended by this practitioner, and the accuracy of the results was generally unacceptable for determining anything. This practitioner’s background had no technical credentials beyond having taken a “Robert Young course or two”. Unfortunately, the zealotry behind Young can amplify through his followers, making the situation worse. And he is a layer removed from potential litigation from any malpractice.

    I am an optimist that advances in medical science, balanced lifestyle (diet, exercise, stress control, common sense living etc) and self-responsibility will eventually root out the quacks, ineffective treatments, etc.

  161. #161 Jerry
    August 3, 2011

    I lost my mother to cancer it is a nasty disease.

  162. #162 Kevin
    May 10, 2012

    You really dont know what you are talking about, you need to have a look and talk to some of the people who Robert Young has helped before you slander someone. If you want to know why there is a relative lack of studies into his work you should look at what drives scientific research in medicine, namely “Patented drugs” being the only ones likely to make any profit after investing the hundreds of millions of dollars proving their effectiveness. All effective approaches to healthcare have there limitations no matter how scientific they are and none deliver 100% of the time; you just need to accompany your choices with a large dose of common sense.

  163. #163 Beamup
    May 10, 2012

    So, threadomancer, got any actual EVIDENCE that Young has ever actually helped ANYONE?

  164. #164 JGC
    May 10, 2012

    If you want to know why there is a relative lack of studies into his work you should look at what drives scientific research in medicine

    That would be evidence, Kevin. So-do you or Robert Young have any to offer?

  165. #165 Kevin
    May 12, 2012

    Evidence is not what drives most scientific research, in today’s world, money is. Evidence gained in a laboratory will add credibility to a patented drug and convince the FDA, for example, it can be used on the public, but this is where the real ‘Evidence’ is gathered. Once the drugs are used on the public and their effects viewed in a holistic context; if the side effects don’t turn out to be too server, it will lead to the drugs commercial success. If you want to see the ever-growing list of drugs which have been ‘Scientifically Tested’ and gained your definition of ‘Evidence’ and later been recalled due to their severe adverse effects, often deadly, then perhaps you should take a look at the Recalled Drug List on the FDA website.

  166. #166 alison
    May 12, 2012

    uhuh, Kevin – if Robert Young is really able to help people with his ‘treatments then you should be ble to provide evidence of that.

  167. #167 Kevin
    May 12, 2012

    I know he’s submitted studies in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, but a good starting place would be to look at the testimonial videos on his website phmiracleliving.com and do your own research, as I have, into their validity. I’ve also had experience with a family member and a close friend, plus the positive effects his diet has had on my own health.

  168. #168 Kevin
    May 12, 2012

    There are also countless studies and books which support his work in the reference section of one of his most well known books, pH Miracle.

  169. #169 Agashem
    May 12, 2012

    Kevin, books are not evidence. Furthermore, you really think you can change your pH? Think again or better yet, take a basic physiology course.

  170. #170 kevin
    May 12, 2012

    I said studies and books, take a reading course!

  171. #171 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    May 12, 2012

    Kevin,

    Please belive this: it is BIOLOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to safely change your blood’s pH.

    Nothing you eat affects blood pH. Please read this until you understand it.

  172. #172 Agashem
    May 12, 2012

    Kevin, generally speaking it is up to you to quote the relevant studies that support your position. Also, testimonials are not evidence either. As a health care practitioner, I would never rely on anything published in a journal that celebrates alternative medicine such as the one you cited as a publication that Young has apparently appeared in. I can only speak for myself, but my guess is the other health care practitioners on this site would feel the same. So try again.

  173. #173 kevin
    May 12, 2012

    I said ‘studies’and books, its obvious the books are not evidence but the research supporting them is, take a reading course!

  174. #174 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    May 12, 2012

    Kevin: there has never been one real scientific study anywhere that supports Robert O. Young’s nonsense. Not one. Anyone with high school biology or chemistry can tell you it’s total garbage.

  175. #175 lilady
    May 12, 2012

    kevin: here’s a very simple article for you about alkalosis and acidosis. It’s from a commercial laboratory site and it contains valid information:

    http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/conditions/acidosis/

    So, where are your citations? Remember if you come to a science website and you post something, you should be able to provide citations, to back up what you stated.

  176. #176 Kevin
    May 12, 2012

    All medicine is alternative until its accepted as mainstream, Edward Jenner would have never proven the value of Vaccination if people hadn’t opened their minds and read his work, thank God everyone’s not like you or we would never have any progress.

  177. #177 janerella
    May 12, 2012

    For the theory of diet changing blood pH to be accepted, Kevin, massive expanses of all the physics, biochemistry, and biology rules so far documented in the history of science would have to be not just wrong, but blindingly, extraordinarily wrong.

  178. #178 Anonymous
    May 12, 2012

    Thanks Lilady ‘Figure 1, below). Acidosis occurs when blood pH falls below 7.35. It can be due to increased acid production within the body, consumption of substances that are metabolized to acids, decreased acid excretion, or increased excretion of base’
    Maybe Marc S II with reference to 164 should read the article as well!

  179. #179 lilady
    May 12, 2012

    “There are also countless studies and books which support his work in the reference section of one of his most well known books, pH Miracle.”

    If you have his book then, why don’t you provide us with a few of the “countless studies”…from the reference section?

    If you don’t provide the “countless studies”, then we will assume you are just an ignorant troll.

  180. #180 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    May 12, 2012

    Anonymous: I said “safely” change your blood pH. Acidosis is not safe. It is a medical condition that needs immediate intervention.

    As someone else posted, of course you can change your blood pH. But you’d die.

  181. #181 Amenhotepstein
    May 12, 2012

    Anonymous:

    Look up “alcoholic ketoacidosis”. It’s a great way to change your blood pH.

    It’s also a great way to die.

  182. #182 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    May 12, 2012

    Yes, you can overdose on aspirin, or drink antifreeze and lower blood pH. The point is that the kidneys and lungs, in a healthy person, are not challenged by anything in a normal diet, with or without a few spoons of baking soda.

    So eating anything off Young’s list of “alkaline” foods will not change the blood’s pH one fraction of a percent more than that person’s blood would vary anyway.

  183. #183 hoary puccoon
    May 12, 2012

    Okay, anecdotes are not data. But surely I’m not the only person who knew women who had breast cancer, got mastectomies, and then died– years later, of heart disease, as very old women. (My aunt died at 88, thirty two years after her cancer was discovered and treated. So, science-based medicine gave her *more than 1/3* of her total life!)

    How come the woo-meisters can cite anecdotes, and SBM can’t? Because, excuse me, but all the data that go into statistical studies *are* anecdotes– more than anecdotes, life stories– to the patients and their friends and family. A few anecdotes don’t make data. But hundreds or thousands, with appropriate statistical controls, actually do.

  184. #184 TBruce
    May 12, 2012

    Here comes the evidence:

    I know he’s submitted studies in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,

    Ha ha ha ha.

    but a good starting place would be to look at the testimonial videos on his website phmiracleliving.com and do your own research, as I have, into their validity.

    Ha ha ha ha

    I’ve also had experience with a family member and a close friend,

    Ha ha ha ha

    plus the positive effects his diet has had on my own health.

    Ha ha ha ha.

    There are also countless studies and books which support his work in the reference section of one of his most well known books, pH Miracle.

    Ha ha ha ha.

    Sorry, you fail.

  185. #185 lilady
    May 12, 2012

    hmmm, I see that other posters have already responded to the post from “anonymous”.

    Just look up each of the following “anonymous”

    Metabolic Acidosis

    Metabolic Alkalosis

    Respiratory Acidosis

    Respiratory Alkalosis

    Especially delve into Metabolic Alkalosis to see where Young’s “treatments” with bicarbonates can cause this disorder.

    Oh here is Dr. Young’s miraculous treatment to prevent cancer and other “dis-eases”:

    http://articlesofhealth.blogspot.com/2009/08/sodium-bicarbonate-in-prevention-and.html

  186. #186 Kevin
    May 12, 2012

    Jenerella, You can change your blood pH with your diet, read the link in 168
    173, 174 and Lilady of course you can be too alkaline as well, the point is the fluids of the body need to be slightly alkaline (7.365) our western diet tends to push towards being acidic, you would only die if you became too alkaline or too acidic
    175 ok that’s good, so we can all eat as much processed food as we like and not worry about eating vegetables, maybe just take vitamin supplements, good luck with that!!
    177 the evidence is there if you look for it, its not up to me to spoon feed you, no doubt you won’t look for it because you’d rather stay convinced you’re right than care about what is right. Like I said in 158 there’s an ever increasing list of drugs which have had to be recalled because the evidence gained on a drug in a Laboratory often doesn’t stand up when trialed on the public and its effects seen on the person holistically.

  187. #187 novalox
    May 12, 2012

    @kevin

    You brought up the points, it’s your responsibility to bring up the evidence to prove your point. So, post some scientific evidence, or we can assume that since you have not presented any evidence for your point, you have none and forfeit your argument.

    (Oh BTW, read up on some basic biology and physiology textbooks, especially the part on Metabolic Acidosis, Metabolic Alkalosis, Respiratory Acidosis, Respiratory Alkalosis and compensation).

  188. #188 Chris
    May 12, 2012

    Kevin, on what planet are lemons considered “alkaline”? Mr. Young thinks they are, but those of us who actually know how to cook on this planet like them for their acidity.

    And do list the title, journal and dates of the PubMed indexed journals that show Mr. Young has anything useful to say. Because, as a former engineer who likes to cook, it is my opinion that thinking lemons are not acidic is interlaced with the rustle of chiropteran flapping in campanological spaces.

  189. #189 Krebiozen
    May 12, 2012

    Kevin,
    I have measured the blood pH of hundreds of people of varying health, and I can assure you that Robert Young is not just wrong, but spectacularly wrong about pH. Vigorous exercise generates far more acid than any food, yet our bodies effortlessly excrete this. I have seen many people with low blood pH, but they have almost always been on their way to intensive care or the morgue. High blood pH is just as dangerous, and several years ago I was involved in the case of a patient who died after an accidental overdose of IV sodium bicarbonate.

    There’s a hilarious clip on YouTube of Robert Young doing live blood analysis and explaining that the red blood cells dehydrating under the hot light of a dark field microscope are actually fermenting and this is what gives rise to high blood sugar in type 1 diabetes – it’s actually a lack of insulin that causes this. He says that “diabetes mellitus” means “melting into sugar” – it actually means “sweet urine”. He claims that red blood cells transform into or “give birth to” bacteria, which is nonsense, and points out a “heterogeneous symplast” which is remarkable since I’m pretty sure symplasts only occur in plants and the object he points out is actually a bit of dried up plasma.

    That clip alone is enough to convince me that this man doesn’t have the faintest idea about human physiology or biochemistry. Young also claims, on his blog, that our stomachs should be alkaline, that red blood cells are made by our guts, that our brains don’t require glucose, that fat is stored acid that our bodies can’t excrete, that urine pH is an accurate measure of tissue pH, that diabetes is caused by fermentation of red blood cells and makes dozens of other mind-bogglingly idiotic claims.

    I’m sure there are a lot of people who feel significantly better when they eat a healthier diet and get a little exercise. That doesn’t mean that Robert Young’s ridiculous claims about alkalinity have any merit. They don’t.

  190. #190 Kevin
    May 12, 2012

    He doesn’t think they’re alkaline. Quote from his website “While lemons are acidic at a pH of 3.5 they contain an alkalizing compound of potassium bicarbonate which interacts with the body’s metabolic acids to have an alkalizing effect on the bodily fluids helping to contribute to a balanced alkaline body pH”

  191. #191 Chris
    May 12, 2012

    Kevin, it is still a stupid statement to think that a tiny amount of that will make a fruit good or bad. And it is also stupid to think you can safely change your blood pH.

    And it is silly to believe anyone who bought a degree from an internet site.

  192. #192 TBruce
    May 12, 2012

    the point is the fluids of the body need to be slightly alkaline (7.365) our western diet tends to push towards being acidic

    Normal body pH sits in a range between 7.37 and 7.43 (meaning 95% of the healthy general population has a measured pH in this range). Your figure of 7.365 is slighly out of the normal range, and in fact, is considered physiologically acidotic. So your statement that the western diet makes the body acidic is nonsense. Why should I pay attention to anything else that you have to say on this subject when you get the basics so wrong?

    BTW, what is the western diet – beans, coffee and steaks from a Texas longhorn steer?

  193. #193 Chris
    May 12, 2012

    No, TBruce, a western diet is corn, beans, squash, potatoes, fish, bison, deer, llama, camas root, and all the other stuff that was for a while only found on the American continent.

    (Why, yes, I did recently finish reading 1493)

  194. #194 Agashem
    May 12, 2012

    I haven’t heard such nonsense from a troll for a while. He makes the Thing that shall not be named seem positively brilliant!! How, Kevin old bean, does this alkalizing effect make it through the digestive track and into the bloodstream?

  195. #195 Kevin
    May 12, 2012

    Sorry should have been clearer I thought it was obvious we talking about the blood taken in most medical blood tests ie. Venous blood, you seem to be including Arterial blood.

  196. #196 Gray Falcon
    May 12, 2012

    Kevin, do you know why vaccines and antibiotics have been accepted into mainstream medicine? Because we have strong evidence that they work. Your “proof” is equivalent to the kind used by nineteenth-century patent medicines, which were composed primarily of alcohol and didn’t stop everyone from dying of consumption.

  197. #197 Chris
    May 12, 2012

    I am still baffled why anyone would give credence to a guy who bought his PhD from a diploma mill. That is equivalent to thinking whale.to is a viable source for information.

  198. #198 Narad
    May 12, 2012

    Sorry should have been clearer I thought it was obvious we talking about the blood taken in most medical blood tests ie. Venous blood, you seem to be including Arterial blood.

    Ahh, Kevin, you merely specified “the fluids of the body.”

  199. #199 TBruce
    May 12, 2012

    I was referring to arterial blood pH. Venous blood pH is about 0.03 less. That still puts your ideal pH at the acidic end of the range. There is no evidence that diet has any significant effect on body fluid pH, or that we “westerners” are walking about in a state of chronic acidosis. Body pH is tightly regulated by normal physiologic mechanisms by way of the urinary and respiratory systems.

    Also, just in reference to the other howlers that Krebiozen mentioned: When someone is underpants-on-the-head crazy, his references are probably worthless.

  200. #200 Krebiozen
    May 12, 2012

    Kevin,

    Sorry should have been clearer I thought it was obvious we talking about the blood taken in most medical blood tests ie. Venous blood, you seem to be including Arterial blood.

    Blood pH is almost always measured as part of blood gases which are done on arterial blood. Venous blood is only a little (pH 0.02 or thereabouts) more acidic than arterial blood.

    A little thought reveals that the idea a ‘western’ diet generates more acids than the body can deal with is nonsense. Running generates a huge amount of metabolic acid, as much as 320 mEq of lactic acid every hour (note this is in addition to the acidic CO2 eliminated through respiration). Compare this to the acids generated by food. The most acid generating food is hard cheese (PMID 7797810) which generates about 30 mEq of acid for every 100g (about 4 ounces) eaten. Why would our bodies be able to easily excrete hundreds of mEq of acids from exercise but accumulate far less acid derived from food? It makes no sense at all.

    By the way acidosis induces hyperventilation – patients with metabolic acidosis have a very characteristic deep sighing respiration. I have never seen anyone outside an emergency room or an ITU breathing like that. Have you?

  201. #201 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    May 12, 2012

    This illustrates Kevin’s warped way of thinking:

    I wrote:

    So eating anything off Young’s list of “alkaline” foods will not change the blood’s pH one fraction of a percent more than that person’s blood would vary anyway.

    And his non-sequiteur (look it up, Kevin) response was:

    ok that’s good, so we can all eat as much processed food as we like and not worry about eating vegetables, maybe just take vitamin supplements, good luck with that!!

  202. #202 Kevin
    May 12, 2012

    We know that vaccines work because they were shown to work on individuals case by case; the idea seemed absurd at the time and was met with much the same resistance as some other alternative therapies that are shown to work today. You’re saying we have “strong evidence” that they work, then you show me the “Evidence”

  203. #203 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    May 12, 2012

    One more point, Kevin:

    The pH of stomach acid is between 1.5 and 3.5. How can any food possibly stand a chance (or buffer) such strong acid? As soon as anything hits those gastric juices, the extremely acid environment of the stomach renders the food’s initial pH moot.

    (Cool food experiment: ever cover a leftover lasagna with aluminum foil? The acid in the tomato sauce eats its way through the foil and creates little holes.)

  204. #204 Gray Falcon
    May 12, 2012

    Kevin, the evidence for vaccines working is incredibly strong, with very careful research and documentation. You have “I felt better”, which is the exact same thing someone taking heroin might say. You haven’t even bothered to measure people’s blood pH to see if what you claim actually happened! Would you trust a plumber who doesn’t bother testing his work? No? Then do the work, you lazy fool!

  205. #205 Kevin
    May 12, 2012

    194 I was being sarcastic, maybe you should look that up.

  206. #206 Kevin
    May 12, 2012

    193 You haven’t taken into account raised metabolism not only during exercise but also post exercise and also the elimination of acid through sweat

  207. #207 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    May 12, 2012

    I’m sorry I missed your feeble attempt at sarcasm.

    Protip: sarcasm doesn’t play well in written forums, unless you use some sort of indicator. That’s why the Poe law was invented, and you certainly fit the bill for a potential Poe, but you are way too earnest.

    And it was still a non-sequiteur, as your response had absolutely nothing to do with my statement. It made no sense. It did not follow.

    But why am I debating English language skills with someone who can’t even punctuate properly?

  208. #208 Shay
    May 12, 2012

    Kevin, the evidence that vaccines work is the significant decrease in mortality and morbidity rates from once-common diseases like measles among vaccinated populations.

    Don’t take my word for it; according to the World Health Organization, vaccination resulted in a 74% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2010 worldwide. Measles is still a leading cause of death for small children in countries where an underfunded or overburdened health care system limits vaccine availability.

    Now, the evidence for Dr-by-internet Young’s methods…is where, exactly?

  209. #209 TBruce
    May 12, 2012

    Re evidence that vaccines work:

    Whatever happened to smallpox?

  210. #210 janerella
    May 12, 2012

    And just where did 95% of the those Hib meningitis cases in under 5’s go after introduction of the vaccine?? That would be – oh – evidence that it works, right?

  211. #211 Kevin
    May 15, 2012

    We all know vaccines work beyond any shadow of doubt but no one is really “showing the evidence” you’re just telling me what you know about the statistics, and making very reasonable logical assumptions. We all know that evidence gained in a Laboratory, however compelling, can sometimes fall short when actually used on patients individually and their effects seen holistically. (again, FDA website, list of recalled drugs)
    All I’m saying is that when people on this site don’t agree with someone all they get back is “show me the evidence”. When something is in its infancy the evidence is often anecdotal but none the less, easily verifiable. If you take the case of Maggot Therapy, there are reports of its use by some native American Mayan tribes; there are many reports from during the Napoleonic Wars by Napoleon’s General Surgeon, reports from the American Civil War and World War 1, all describing the amazing effects maggots have on cleaning wounds and removing dead flesh, all anecdotal evidence but again powerful and compelling. However it took until 1931 for any formal study to be published and it was only in 2004 that the FDA approved its use and the NHS in the Britain finally started to using it. When things are seen and witnessed by individuals to work and if there’s money to be made and a drug that can be patented the clinical trials will often rapidly follow. If there is no drug to be patented then this fast track to mainstream acceptability is stifled, I don’t think there’s any great conspiracy, that’s just human nature. I’m not someone that thinks alternative medicine is the only good form of medicine, I know there are way too many people out there posing as alternative and or holistic and just ripping people off but just shouting everything down that hasn’t been fully accepted into mainstream medicine even though its effects may have been witnessed by thousands of people just seems to lack vision, creativity and I belive, very unscientific

  212. #212 Chris
    May 15, 2012

    So what you are saying is that they heard some stories, did some tests, and after gathering the evidence created a treatment. And sometimes they make money off of it.

    So you don’t like it when people expect compensation for the work they do? But it is okay dokay for Boiron to make sugar pills and sell them at inflated prices, without ever showing that their homeopathic remedies work?

  213. #213 Chris
    May 15, 2012

    Even worse: It is okay for someone like Robert Young to just make up stuff and charge thousands of dollars without any evidence.

  214. #214 JGC
    May 15, 2012

    All I’m saying is that when people on this site don’t agree with someone all they get back is “show me the evidence”. When something is in its infancy the evidence is often anecdotal but none the less, easily verifiable.

    As far as vaccines go, however, we’ve moved far beyond something in its infancy, and the anecdotal accounts anti-vaxer’s embrace are easily falsifiable by rather than verifiable. As a result people aren’t asked to ‘show us the evidence’ smply because we don’t agree with them, but because they’ve made extraordinary claims.

  215. #215 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    May 15, 2012

    There’s a fascinating thread going on at Orac’s “friend’s” blog SBM concerning Robert Young. A woman with breast cancer is relying on his alkaline quackery instead of real medicine and her husband is trying (badly) to explain their rationale for eschewing gold standard care.

    The husband claims to have a masters degree and spent “thousands of hours” researching Young’s garbage. They both seem to really realy believe in Young’s crackpot theories and will not be swayed by the dozens of posts begging them to reconsider before it’s too late.

    She’s a young woman with four kids.

    An incredible glimpse into the thinking process (or lack of thinking process) of the desperate and gullible.

  216. #216 Shay
    May 15, 2012

    I know there are way too many people out there posing as alternative and or holistic and just ripping people off but just shouting everything down that hasn’t been fully accepted into mainstream medicine even though its effects may have been witnessed by thousands of people just seems to lack vision, creativity and I belive, very unscientific

    Like the thousands of people, medical practitioners included, who for centuries would swear on a stack that leeches actually worked? A very bad belief held by a lot of people for a long time is still a bad belief.* It’s not evidence.

    (*that’s a mis-quote from somebody but I forgot who).

  217. #217 MI Dawn
    May 15, 2012

    Well, kevin does have a point. Modern medicine *does* use leeches at times. They are specially bred to make sure they are free from any diseases, and are used, especially after re-attachment of traumatic amputations of digits to keep blood flow going until the veins heal. But they didn’t just go out to some swamp and slap on leeches. They tested the theory, and found it worked, posted the study for others to replicate and see if the results were the same. They were, so leeches became an accepted medical treatment for specific situation. Hey – that’s Science Based Medicine! How very cool!

    Now, kevin. Your turn. Give us the theory, the testing, the posted studies AND the replication for Young’s work. We’ll wait….

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