Respectful Insolence

Another despicable abuse of a dead celebrity

I was originally going to switch it up and blog about something other than cancer. In fact, there is a particularly juicy bit of anti-vaccine nonsense that I wanted to write about because it shows the utter mendacity of a certain anti-vaccine website that, believe it or not, is not Age of Autism. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, but there actually is an anti-vaccine group that is giving Generation Rescue a run for its money when it comes to sheer crazy. It’ll keep, though, until next week. In the meantime, I have even worse crazy to deal with. In the meantime, I have even more despicable nonsense to deal with. In the meantime, I need to say once again: I hate it when I’m right.

That’s right. Mike Adams is back, and he’s nastier than ever. I guess I’ll just have to make this week the “all cancer quackery” week here on the blog and defer other topics for next week. it’s an appropriate topic, anyway, to finish my sixth year on, as my blogiversary is fast approaching. (More on that tomorrow.)

So, what am I right about? Well, when I wrote my post about the death of Elizabeth Edwards due to breast cancer two days ago, I wrote:

I expect that it will not be long at all before promoters of quackery like Mike Adams come out of the woodwork, as they frequently do when a celebrity dies of cancer, sometimes to truly despicable extremes. They will come out and claim that, because Elizabeth Edwards chose standard-of-care treatment but ended up dying anyway, science-based medicine is useless.

Actually, it took Adams two days, which was actually longer than I expected Adams to take, to post a vile attack entitled Elizabeth Edwards joins long list of victims killed by chemotherapy. I had expected that he’d have had this spittle-flecked screed so typical of his M.O. up and posted before the body even reached room temperature. That’s just the kind of guy Adams is. But it wasn’t enough for Adams to pile on Elizabeth Edwards. Oh, no. He had to do a two-fer yesterday. Apparently, reports from the press that the reason Aretha Franklin had surgery last week was because she has pancreatic cancer. True, these news reports, to my knowledge, have not yet been confirmed, but they are out there, and ol’ Mikey just couldn’t wait to double down on the vileness by writing a companion piece entitled Aretha Franklin dying from advanced pancreatic cancer, say reports. It’s as though Adams lit one of his farts on fire, and the fire was burning stupid.

And Adams had just finished eating a very large Mexican meal beforehand.

Let’s take a look at how he starts his post on Elizabeth Edwards:

Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, died this week following a six-year chemical assault on her body from cancer doctors. Ravaged by the effects of toxic poisons known as “chemotherapy,” Elizabeth even cursed the chemotherapy drugs before she died, saying, “Damn these drugs.”

Actually, John Edwards leaves the full context of the quote out, which is described here:

Two months ago, Elizabeth Edwards was laboring to climb the stairs of the old colonial house she had recently bought in Chapel Hill, N.C., for herself and her youngest two children. Separated from husband John since January, she looked forward to making a fresh start come springtime in this new home.

But even as she daydreamed on this sunny October day, Edwards, 61, gasped for breath with tears in her eyes and cursed her chemo.

“Damn these drugs,” she cried. “Damn cancer.”

Hmmm. One wonders why Adams left out that part of the quote. Clearly, Elizabeth Edwards knew it was the cancer that was killing her, even as she cursed the drugs, which, as we all know, have side effects. Leave it to Adams to start out his article by selectively quoting Edwards. He then leaps into more inanity:

Cancer doctors destroyed Elizabeth’s health for six years and then abandoned her, saying that “further treatment would be unproductive.” This is how conventional cancer doctors operate: They poison your body, take your money, and when it turns out they’ve nearly killed you, they just stop treating you and tell you to go home and die.

Really? As compared to the quacks that Adams champions, quacks who subject cancer patients to snake oil for as long as they can pay, and then abandon them after they don’t get better. I contrasted the case of Elizabeth Edwards to that of Kim Tinkham the other day for a reason, namely because Tinkham’s “practitioner,” Robert O. Young, a man who claims that all cancer is a reaction to too much acid and that the cure is an “alkaline diet” plus sodium bicarbonate, practically spraining an ankle as he backed away from Tinkham after the news spread throughout the blogosphere that she was dying from metastatic breast cancer. Indeed, I even e-mailed Robert O. Young. Believe it or not, he actually responded, and we had a bit of a testy exchange. First, I asked Young why he had removed the videos of his interview with Kim Tinkham promoting his “pH Miracle Plan” quackery. His response:

They should not have been removed

When pressed, he replied:

The videos will be back. Kim and the family are very grateful for the pH Miracle program and what it has done for them.

Later in the exchange, Young even said:

They were to be rotated not taken down.

Seriously, he wrote that. I have the e-mail. I then pointed out that it was indeed a rather odd coincidence that these videos were “rotated out” only after the news of Kim Tinkham’s recurrence had hit the blogs. His response was telling:

Kim is not dying because of the pH Miracle Plan.

Amazing how fast Young was to run away from his most famous client, a woman who had actually been on Oprah Winfrey’s show, once she was no longer of any use to him to promote his quackery. In contrast, the real oncologists who treated Elizabeth Edwards didn’t disavow her when they could no longer help her. Rather, they told her the truth, namely that her cancer had metastasized to the liver while she was on treatment, meaning that the chemotherapy wasn’t working any more. They switched her treatment mode to palliation, as is appropriate. Did they wait too long before switching modes? Who knows? I don’t have enough clinical information even to make a judgment. Moreover, such a decision is a collaborative one between oncologist and patient. Some patients will want to fight to the bitter end; others will accept palliative care and hospice much earlier. None of that stops Adams from being his usual despicable self:

Despite being “treated” by chemotherapy, Elizabeth’s breast cancer spread to her bones in 2007. Even with more “treatments” offered by conventional cancer doctors, cancer continued to spread to her spine, skull and legs. Like millions of other cancer sufferers, Elizabeth was never told the truth about cancer by her doctors. What truth? That there is a cure for cancer.

In fact, there are many cures for cancer. Conventional medicine doesn’t believe in any of them. Rather than curing patients, traditional oncologists poison them with deadly chemicals and call it “treatment.”

One wonders whether Adams means Robert O. Young, who has been featured on multiple occasions as an exemplary “alternative” healer. Perhaps the most hilarious example was this article asking Is modern medicine founded on error?, an article packed full of germ theory denialism. In the article, Young is described as a “scientist,” whne he is anything but.

But Adams is only just getting started. Next, he turns his attention on the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin. He begins by pointing out that the story that Franklin has pancreatic cancer comes from the National Enquirer, even pointing out that it isn’t a particularly reliable source. None of that stops Adams from using that unreliable source as a jumping off point for one of his patented rants against scientific medicine:

The reason her cancer is “advanced,” of course, is because her doctors never told her the truth about pancreatic cancer, which is that through significant changes in diet and lifestyle, even pancreatic cancer can be reversed. I’ve seen numerous pancreatic cancer patients who reversed their condition by turning to natural cancer therapies such as Gerson Therapy, which is based on daily juicing of fresh vegetables and fruit, cleansing detoxification of the body’s organs, and improving the nutritional density of foods. (www.Gerson.org)

Gerson therapy? You mean a therapy that spawned the Gonzalez therapy, a therapy involving various juices, up to 150 supplements a day, all topped off (or “bottomed out”) with coffee enemas? You mean a kindred therapy to the very therapy that resulted in patients living only one-third as long as patients who received that awful, toxic chemotherapy? You mean a therapy that was the “intellectual precursor” to a therapy that is worse than useless?

Yes, that’s exactly what Adams is talking about. He then goes on to conclude breathlessly:

Aretha Franklin is 68 years old and underwent cancer surgery last week. When being treated by conventional cancer treatments (poisons), the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just 35 percent. That tells any intelligent person that conventional oncology doesn’t work, yet cancer doctors keep doing the same thing, over and over again, killing patients by the hundreds of thousands each year with these toxic chemicals. This is what keeps them in business.

These statistics should tell you the truth about the utter failure of the conventional cancer industry: 43,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in the United States. 37,000 people die each year from it (but all 43,000 pay for “treatment”).

This, doctors claim, represents the greatest health care in the world, all driven by “evidence-based medicine.” But the real evidence says that chemotherapy doesn’t work and conventional cancer patients are dying at an alarming rate. Conventional cancer treatments are, effectively, quackery.

First off, Adams isn’t even quite correct about the five year survival of far less than 35%. That 35% number is only for patients whose cancer is diagnosed at a stage at which the cancer can be completely resected surgically with negative margins. Unfortunately, the vast majority of patients with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed “after the cat’s out of the bag,” so to speak, with metastatic disease or disease that has invaded local anatomic structures to the point where it can’t be resected with negative margins. How’s that for an honesty that Adams doesn’t have, telling him he’s wrong and that the survival for pancreatic cancer is actually worse than his estimate?

Then, there’s the issue of how any people die of pancreatic cancer. Well, yes, it sucks. Pancreatic cancer happens to be a cancer against which we just don’t have any really good treatment. Our best treatment, surgery, only works when the tumor is still localized to the pancreas. But what about other cancers? For example, approximately 180,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the U.S., and around 40,000 die. Such differences are a function of different biology and more effective treatments for breast cancer, but in general roughly 75% of women diagnosed with breast cancer don’t die of it. No doubt Adams would never credit science-based medicine for that. Certainly, Adams engages in black and white thinking where if a science-based medical therapy doesn’t save 100% of the cancer patients it is designed to treat, it’s all crap. And when celebrities die of cancer, to him they represent nothing more than another ghoulish marketing opportunity for his quackery.

Unfortunately, Adams’ gambit after the death of Elizabeth Edwards was to be expected. After all, it’s what Adams did after the deaths from cancer of celebrities, celebrities such as Tony Snow, Patrick Swayze, and Farrah Fawcett, among others. In Adams’ world, science-based medicine never cures anyone, and cancer is perfectly curable with diet and “detoxification.” It’s a fantasy world that can be, as Douglas Adams would say, “mostly harmless” in the worried well or people with conditions that tend to be self-limited. However, combine Adams’ fantasy world, like that of Robert O. Young, with real diseases that can really threaten lives, and people die.

People like Kim Tinkham.

Comments

  1. #1 Ace of Sevens
    December 10, 2010

    My thought on that was that if Aretha Franklin is having surgery for cancer, then it’s not hopeless, otherwise why bother with the surgery? He’s not making a lot of sense.

  2. #2 Supertec
    December 10, 2010

    In his Elizabeth Edwards article, Adams actually makes the claim that chemo drugs cause cancer themselves! And then provides anecdotal evidence of a few people, over 45, who coincidentally work in chemo and developed cancer. How does one man manage to stoop so low?

  3. #3 Lawrence
    December 10, 2010

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – what proof do any of these quacks have that these so-called “treatments or cures” actually work?

    If their results were so “amazing!” – how hard would it be to put together even basic studies to show the efficacy of what they are doing? Shouldn’t be hard right?

    But, if they actually allowed a real medical professional to actively monitor the health of their patients (side by side with the quack), it wouldn’t take very long to show that these “alternative methods” are just a bunch of hooey & don’t do a single thing to actually address the ailment that the patient is suffering from.

    I can’t believe what these people do is legal.

  4. #4 prn
    December 10, 2010

    Does anyone has a link to a summary or timeline of her EE’s treatments?

  5. #5 Pablo
    December 10, 2010

    Did Aretha Franklin have a Whipple procedure?

  6. #6 Matthew Cline
    December 10, 2010

    On the subject of Robert O. Young, take a gander at this blog post of his, where he says:

    First of all, the body runs on electrons not enzymes.
    The enzymes of the body are the exhaust or the acidic waste products of energy consumption. We no more need enzymes to run our body then a
    car needs carbon monoxide to run. They are both acidic waste products of metabolism or energy consumption that need to be eliminated as quickly as possible through their exhaust systems.

    Yikes! Also, according to him, the ideal stomach pH for digesting food is above 7.0, and if your stomach contents are acidic it’s because you ate acidic foods.

  7. #7 Aj
    December 10, 2010

    …following a six-year chemical assault on her body from cancer doctors.

  8. #8 derelicthat
    December 10, 2010

    Wait wait, “We no more need enzymes to run our body then a car needs carbon monoxide to run.” WTF?! How did you get through even a high school biology course without that getting corrected? That people don’t have giant blinkey Danger Will Robinson warning lights blinking off and on at that statement is tragic.

  9. #9 pam ronald
    December 10, 2010

    quackery cures cancer, UFOs sited, GMOs cause infertility, vaccines are bad for you, God created all we know in 6 days.

    When will scientists figure it out?

  10. #10 René Najera
    December 10, 2010

    I have it on good authority that it’s not the Mexican food that gives you the gas, Orac. (I’m Mexican.) It’s the visualization of Mexican food as gas-giving that gives people the gas.

    Now, after my cheeseburger has failed to materialize, I will now eat my bean and cheese burrito.

  11. #11 Denice Walter
    December 10, 2010

    Adams’ posts and Null’s earlier radio remarks, besides sickening me, have led me to speculate about what we can expect next from our reliably despicable and mercenary woo-meisters. Both, as you know, have not met SBM that they didn’t hate and have “practiced medicine without licenses” (or sense) through their internet sites, books, lectures, and in Null’s case, “consultations” with “patients”.

    So cautiously taking on the role of sibyl**, since past is prelude, I foresee: Adams has already recommended Gerson ( Gonzalez), vitamin D as ” cancer prevention”, and has ranted on and on about food and water purity, I predict that NaturalNews will be awash in ads for products that Adams sells in his web store that facilitate these ideas.( True, he does already do that but expect him to be even *more* blatant than usual in his advertisement) And more rants and e-books about “killer chemo”-( sadly, celebrities are hounded by paparazzi in life and written up by Adams when they’re ill or have died).

    Null, lacking the self-control to stop himself from blurting out advice about megadoses of vitamin C as “curative” of stage 4 cancer in the wake of news about Ms. Edwards, is also an avid supporter of vitamin D ( despite his own experiences), Gerson /Gonzalez, “purity”, and has books/ videos on “curing” cancer *naturally*. I fully expect him to initiate a series of “investigative reports” about “corruption in medicine” and “white papers” about “cancer cures” as well as a new “documentary” film. In other words, more of the same but focused on ways to opportunistically trade on potential customers’ recently agitated fears about cancer.

    Mercola will obviously be talking up vitamin D and sunlight as preventive measures. And selling tanning beds. Let’s see what these three do in the next few weeks.

    ** “Dionysia von Bergen”, perhaps?

  12. #12 Jojo
    December 10, 2010

    Rene @10 – I have anecdotal data supporting your contention. I can feed my husband them same foods, only with small changes to seasonings, and he complains of gas if they are “Mexican” seasonings but not if I leave out the chili powder.

  13. #13 AnneS
    December 10, 2010

    I’m pretty sure all that the awful death rate from pancreatic cancer proves is that pancreatic cancer is an awful disease. If any of these quacks had real cure this would have become apparent by now.

    Speaking as someone with a a whole slew of relatives who are alive today because of conventional cancer treatments including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, I know what I’ll be trying if my number ever comes up.

  14. #14 Vicki
    December 10, 2010

    They conveniently overlook that the death rate for people who have their treatments is still 100%.

    So is the death rate for those who don’t. But real doctors, and most people, don’t actually expect or claim that people will live forever. These quacks act as though the right thoughts and/or foods will produce immortality.

  15. #15 T. Bruce McNeely
    December 10, 2010

    My thought on that was that if Aretha Franklin is having surgery for cancer, then it’s not hopeless, otherwise why bother with the surgery? He’s not making a lot of sense.

    Ther are a few reasons to have surgery other than cure. Surgery may be necessary for a biopsy diagnosis, although usually this can be done by needle aspiration or CT guided core biopsy. Also, pancreatic cancer can have block the common bile duct, producing severe obstructive jaundice, which is a horrible condition to suffer. Bypassing the obstruction with surgery will relieve this.

    Anyway, Mike Adams doesn’t need to get cancer. He’s already malignant.

  16. #16 Erika
    December 10, 2010

    I’m just waiting for Adams & his ilk to start railing against the news of a possible cholera mass-vaccination campaign in Haiti…
    http://n.pr/eyLDNN

  17. #17 Raging Bee
    December 10, 2010

    …I’ve seen numerous pancreatic cancer patients who reversed their condition by turning to natural cancer therapies such as Gerson Therapy…

    What the Hell is “Gerson Therapy?” Making up despicable lies about weapons of mass-destruction and damn near everything else? Oh, wait, wrong transparent despicable liar named Gerson. Sorry.

    On a more serious note, this Adams guy is a truly malignant sack of shit — an alt-med version of Fred Phelps.

    And Robert O. Young said enzymes are unnecessary? That quote of his should be routinely thrown in the face of anyone caught defending him.

  18. #18 Militant Agnostic
    December 10, 2010

    As was pointed out in a previous thread Robert Young is 0.7 Time Cubes insane. He believes elements are transmuted in the body.

    http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Critical-Role-of-Sodium-and-Chloride-%28Salt%29-in-the-Diet!&id=1292668

    I wonder if he actually believes his bullshit or if he takes pleasure at telling such whoppers. Is he deluded or just a cynical sociopath?

    Either way he should be incarcerated to protect society.

  19. #19 Ian
    December 10, 2010

    @Supertec

    Some chemotherapy regimens actually do cause second malignancies (examples include leuprolide, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, methotrexate, and a handful of other breast cancer chemo drugs – probably other sites too but I have the breast sheets in front of me right now). The rates of secondary malignancy are low (all <5%) but they’re real.

    It’s the same thing with radiotherapy and CT – they all carry a risk of causing cancer, even though they are designed to treat cancer. It becomes a question of acting now on a known threat, even if it means a possibility of a subsequent problem.

    Making the statement that chemo causes cancer without putting it in that context is definitely misleading though, I will give you that.

  20. #20 Matthew Cline
    December 10, 2010

    Robert Young opines some more on transmutation, this time from “The Nuclear Transformation of Salt”:

    I have contemplated a new science out of the realm of chemistry and physics that helps to explain the phenomenon that takes place in the body concerning specific foundational elements, such as sodium and chloride. I call this new science “Nuclear Transformation.” The science of nuclear transformation started with a question I had many years ago. The question was, “where does all the calcium come from in the ocean to make the coral and the seashells?” As I contemplated this question and similar questions, such as, “where does all the protein come from, found in an avocado, on a diet of water, minerals and sunshine?” The answer came to me over the years of research that the calcium in the ocean comes from the nuclear transformation of salt. Eureka!

  21. #21 Ian
    December 10, 2010

    “where does all the protein come from, found in an avocado, on a diet of water, minerals and sunshine?”

    Wow, seriously? How do you get through medical school without understanding peptide chemistry? How do you get through high school without understanding that? “Over years of research” could have been saved if he had simply picked up a high-school biology textbook.

    Why do stupid people blog? If you’re going to be an idiot, be a quiet one.

  22. #22 JohnV
    December 10, 2010

    wow … just wow

  23. #23 Denice Walter
    December 10, 2010

    @ Ian : but he *didn’t* get through medical school, ( see Quackwatch) supposedly, he took bio and business in college… well, I can see the business part.

  24. #24 Militant Agnostic
    December 10, 2010

    @22 & 24
    He may not believe his own bullshit. He may just be a sociopath who derives pleasure from convincing his suckers of increasingly preposterous claims.

  25. #25 James Sweet
    December 10, 2010

    Some patients will want to fight to the bitter end; others will accept palliative care and hospice much earlier.

    Apropos of nothing, for me this is one of the scariest aspects of having kids. If I were ever diagnosed with a terminal illness, I would have been very much in the latter category… now I feel like if that were to happen, I’d have to shift quite a bit to the former category, for the sake of loved ones.

    Which means, I didn’t use to be worried about contracting a terminal illness, because the worst case scenario didn’t seem that bad — I’d just palliate and if it got painful enough just hope it would be over soon. Now I feel like I’d be compelled to suffer for a lot longer. Much scarier now. Heh… Funny how things like that change.

  26. #26 Chris
    December 10, 2010

    Ian, that is the type of thinking from someone who bought a diploma from a diploma mill.

  27. #27 MadGav
    December 10, 2010

    @ Ian : but he *didn’t* get through medical school, (see Quackwatch) supposedly, he took bio and business in college… well, I can see the business part.

    Well, that’s at least a little more reassuring.

  28. #28 Dianne
    December 10, 2010

    Some patients will want to fight to the bitter end; others will accept palliative care and hospice much earlier.

    There’s some evidence that, at least for some stage IV cancers, the best alternative in terms of both quality and quantity of life may be to start palliative/hospice care right away but to combine it with palliative chemotherapy and other “aggressive” palliative treatments such as radiotherapy or surgery if appropriate. Unfortunately, many hospice programs won’t accept patients receiving active treatment, even when it’s clearly palliative. They get paid very little by insurance companies and are expected to cover all costs (including chemo- and radiotherapy).

    Yeah, I’m using this as an excuse to rant about insurance in the US and its inadequacies.

  29. #29 Enkidu
    December 10, 2010

    “Why do stupid people blog? If you’re going to be an idiot, be a quiet one.”

    Amen,Ian.

  30. #30 DonZilla
    December 10, 2010

    René @ #10, are you still waiting for your cheeseburger from yesterday? Maybe the cheeseburger intention is too selfish! I think you should “intend” the cheeseburger for yourself and your Mom and Dad. How about some for your colleagues at work? And see what happens!

    I’m intending cures for all the cancers in the world, so Orac can take a break from blogging about teh stoopid. But it’s still not working. There must be something I’m not doing right. Maybe I need to send my chakras in to the shop for an alignment. Anyway, I hope your cheeseburgers show up soon.

  31. #31 madder
    December 10, 2010

    @Lawrence, way up at #3:

    But, if they actually allowed a real medical professional to actively monitor the health of their patients (side by side with the quack), it wouldn’t take very long to show that these “alternative methods” are just a bunch of hooey & don’t do a single thing to actually address the ailment that the patient is suffering from.

    This has been done, you see. The NCCAM has so far spent about a billion dollars examining those treatments. Watch your newspaper for all the groundbreaking reports on the fabulous success of alternative medicine!

  32. #32 Dangerous Bacon
    December 10, 2010

    It’s interesting that while Mike Adams is lambasting chemotherapy using selective quotation and damning it as toxic, his website promotes an unproven alt med chemotherapy agent which sounds equally unpleasant:

    “Typical side effects for those who do experience them can include mild fever, headache, diarrhea, nausea and sometimes, vomiting.”

    The treatment being touted by one of Adams’ pack of “citizen journalists” is “oleander soup”, a brew made from a highly toxic plant that you’re supposed to cook up in your kitchen.

    The difference between “oleander soup”* and standard chemo is that the latter has been demonstrated to show effectiveness by sound research.

    Take NaturalNews’ advice and you get nasty side effects without any realistic expectation that the drug will do any good.

    If some form of oleander extract ever gets properly tested and makes it into a legitimate cancer treatment program, you can bet Adams and his cohorts will drop it like a hot potato.

  33. #33 J. Camp
    December 10, 2010

    Why don’t prosecutors simply start prosecuting all these people for practicing medicine without a license? I see clerks at Whole Foods (I like the produce–it’s hard to find fresher in the midwest in winter) all the time actually diagnosing people and then recommending all manner of “treatment”. This is ILLEGAL.

    Quackwatch notes that Young has had run-ins with the law, but he (and others) seem only to get warnings and wrist slaps. If some of these people were thrown into jail for a few (or a lot of) years, the rest might start to think twice about peddling their snake oil–er, supplements.

  34. #34 Matthew Cline
    December 10, 2010

    The difference between “oleander soup”* and standard chemo is that the latter has been demonstrated to show effectiveness by sound research.

    Plus with standard chemo the dosage is exactly controlled.

  35. #35 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    December 10, 2010

    René – apparently you can not “has” cheeseburger.

  36. #36 Laura
    December 10, 2010

    “Adams actually makes the claim that chemo drugs cause cancer themselves! And then provides anecdotal evidence of a few people, over 45, who coincidentally work in chemo and developed cancer.”

    Actually, go look up the prescribing information for some chemo drugs and you will see that yes they do themselves cause cancer.

    And read here:

    http://157.166.255.31/2010/HEALTH/expert.q.a/10/06/non.hodgkins.lymphoma.brawley/index.html

    … where Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer, American Cancer Society, says that “It is ironic but true that many cancer chemotherapies are known to cause cancers. It is something that the physician must consider when recommending treatment. Nurses and pharmacists who mix and administer cancer chemotherapies take precautions to minimize their exposure to these drugs because of the potential for harm.”

    Although I agree that Mike Adams is extreme and he seems to get more and more so with time, there are always 2 sides to every story.

  37. #37 Vicki, Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief
    December 10, 2010

    No, there are not always two sides to every story. Sometimes, there are more than two. Other times, the only way to get two sides is if one side is “Here are the facts” and the other is “So-and-so is lying.” For example, standard chemistry and biology versus Adams’s ideas about calcium. (OK, maybe the other side is “Adams is a deluded fool who needs to retake high school science.” But it’s not “maybe your body really is transmuting other elements into calcium.”)

  38. #38 Arallyn
    December 10, 2010

    I’ve been reading this blog for quite a while, but never posted…I’m just so angry that people like this are allowed to make claims like this! If it were in some third-world country where scientific knowledge and medical care were both lacking, I might be more understanding (though admittedly, witch doctor prices tend to be more reasonable than these guys).

    But here! The United States! I feel like General Ripper from Dr. Strangelove has set up a medical school for these sociopathic jerks, and it infuriates me.

    I have had so many relatives live through cancer because of SBM. Thanks to genetic testing, we know that 4/7 of my aunts have/had both BRCA1 + BRCA2 mutations, and because of that, more than one of them has had early-stage cancers detected and removed, and they live on and are amazing and productive members of society!

    Not that they were all so lucky. Many years ago, one of my aunts developed breast cancer, and it was caught at stage II and removed via radical mastectomy with some minimal restorative plastic surgery. She underwent chemo and went into remission. Eighteen months later, the cancer was found again in her lymph nodes under her right arm. For the next fifteen years, she had intensive chemo and radiation therapies when cancer was detected, but she would go into remission then relapse time and again. It was a horrible battle, but all the while she successfully raised two sons, and worked at Abbott Labs as a biochemist, developing drugs that (in the case of two of them) would go on to prove their usefulness in safely reducing nausea and increasing appetite for children suffering from cancer and needing non-interacting drugs to go along with their chemo.

    If it weren’t for SBM, I have no doubt that she would have died far sooner than she did. Before her death, I grew up enough to get to know her well, and she’s a huge inspiration to me and my going into working at a biochem research lab. The time afforded her by the aggressive treatment allowed her sons to grow into good and productive men, her drugs to be patented (though they weren’t approved until after her death), and her younger nieces and nephews to get to know her.

    TL;DR version: I’m not a regular poster here, but fuck this quackery; if my aunt had followed quackery instead of SBM, children suffering from blood cancers would have two fewer drugs to help with side-effects, the country would be less two well-adjusted men (her sons), and I would have never stepped into a lab and found how gratifying that kind of work is.

  39. #39 Arallyn
    December 10, 2010

    “It is ironic but true that many cancer chemotherapies are known to cause cancers. It is something that the physician must consider when recommending treatment. Nurses and pharmacists who mix and administer cancer chemotherapies take precautions to minimize their exposure to these drugs because of the potential for harm.”

    Just anecdotal, but the radiation from one of my aunt’s earlier jousts with breast cancer is believed to have caused a later liver cancer. However, she also had to work with drugs used for chemo for childrens blood cancers (I don’t know if they’re different from standard treatments; I’m not terribly current on cancer drugs) to ensure that the drugs she was developing at Abbott Labs and later Takeda didn’t have interactions with them. It IS ironic, and it is unfortunate, but it’s not the case in the majority of cancers, and it’s certainly not reason to forgo it.

  40. #40 MikeMa
    December 10, 2010

    Rene,
    Sorry that the cheeseburger didn’t appear. The ‘Secret’ is to wish for what you already know is coming anyway. I have been fervently wishing for a weekend and look what I’ve got in just a few minutes!

  41. #41 Dangerous Bacon
    December 10, 2010

    Laura cites the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society in noting that chemotherapy can cause some cancers, and urges us to consider the “2 sides to every story”.

    The “other side” this quote does not take into account is that Dr. Brawley is a strong supporter of chemotherapy when indicated for the treatment of cancer. Here he takes on Suzanne Somers, actress and quackery enabler for her opposition to chemotherapy:

    “…she’s right when she says that only some leukemias, lymphomas, and testicular cancers can be cured with chemotherapy,” Brawley says. “We admit that many conventional treatments are not as beneficial as we would like. But that doesn’t dismiss evidence that screenings have reduced the death rates of breast and colon cancer, or that the lives of other patients with cancer can be saved with early treatment or that chemo prolongs lives. Even in cases of stage IV breast cancer, or lung or prostate or colon cancer, when the cancer has spread throughout the body and particularly into the bone, we can’t cure people with chemotherapy, but we can prolong life and increase their quality of life.”

  42. #42 harold
    December 10, 2010

    In his Elizabeth Edwards article, Adams actually makes the claim that chemo drugs cause cancer themselves!

    Unfortunately, this is the only thing the nutjob may have gotten partly right.

    Many chemotherapy regimens do create a very highly elevated risk of secondary cancers down the road, for example myelodysplasia (a class of bone marrow malignancies) and some types of leukemia. I am a board certified pathologist who specialized in malignancies of the bone marrow and immune system. Many of these are curable, but the patient is often at a high risk of dying of something related to the cure years down the road. I have also seen cured pediatric leukemia relapse well over a decade after cure.

    It sucks. Cancer sucks. Other than detection at an early stage and complete surgical resection and/or local radiation, and there are many cancers for which this is impossible, or even this doesn’t work very well, our treatments are highly imperfect.

    They are also a lot better than paying for fraudulent irrelevant (or harmful) regimens while not treating the underlying disease at all. (I’ll be super-generous and concede that the most benign quacks might provide placebo, stress relief, although many seem to do the opposite of that.)

  43. #43 prn
    December 10, 2010

    Various system failures drive people into looking for alternate answers. Young, et al are tragic symptoms.

    Deficiencies in critical thinking, literacy, real world interactions, math and basic science education have been growing in the general American population for several decades. These are bigger, more fundamental consumer problems than opportunistic morons and sociopaths.

    Centralization, rent seeking, regulation, interference, and lack of meaningful accountability seem to plague the medical industries. More centralization and regulation do not seem like useful answers.

    We need to fix the system in a (least) non-coercive way.

  44. #44 todthegod
    December 10, 2010

    rent seeking…

    Huh?

  45. #45 D. C. Sessions
    December 10, 2010

    todthegod@44:

    “rents” is economist-ese for collecting money without providing value in return. The classic example is the extra that a monopoly can charge above free-market prices; other examples are the “rents” that a favored industry or company can extract thanks to the government tipping the scales in their favor.

    “rent-seeking” is when someone goes looking to collect rents. A good example is Disney’s continual push to extend copyright terms.

  46. #46 harold
    December 10, 2010

    prn –

    I’m an advocate of evidence based medicine.

    Maybe if I live an incredibly long life, some day I’ll see evidence based economics.

    Every rich country has a universal health care system.

    The US has one, but only for people 65 and over, or with certain disabilities.

    The US has the most expensive medical system in the world, and gets mediocre results.

    That’s the data. It’s not a controlled study, but it suggests what it suggests and it doesn’t suggest the opposite of what it suggests.

    Lest anyone be confused, I think that physicians should be well payed, and I think that they should always be paid for the work they do. That’s one reason why I like the idea of everyone being able to have their medical care paid for.

  47. #47 Denice Walter
    December 10, 2010

    As if yesterday’s posts are not enough to convince us of his fabulous** intellect, Mikey continues enlightening us today with, ” US life expectancy falls as failure of conventional medicine becomes obvious” ( NaturalNews) revealing that the government and the “sick-care industry” are indeed, in cahoots. ” We seek to empower individuals to take charge of their health, learn about nutrition, and become independent thinkers who can dismiss the manipulations of Big Pharma and Big Government”. Yes, so that readers are then intellectually available to be manipulated by woo-meisters exclusively.

    ** in its original sense, i.e. characterized by fables.

  48. #48 harold
    December 10, 2010

    Arallyn –

    Great posts, your aunt’s story is very inspiring.

    It’s not that complicated. Chemotherapy can be very tough and can predispose to cancer many years later. However, one thing that usually sucks even more than chemotherapy is completely untreated cancer, which can often be alleviated if not cure by chemotherapy.

    Quacks tend to love false dichotomies. Medicine offers a perfect cure or else it’s no good at all. It doesn’t work that way.

  49. #49 Lucario
    December 10, 2010

    prn (#43, above) says the big problems are a lack of critical thinking, math, and basic science education. How could the average person help teach these skills to a large enough group of people?

    And seriously, Mr. Young really needs to crack open any good biology textbook and do some serious reading. Nuclear transformation, indeed. If that were really what was going on, then the sea would be awash in radiation.

    The stupid, it burns. Thermonuclear.

  50. #50 prn
    December 10, 2010

    @47 Harold

    I’m an advocate of evidence based medicine

    I prefer SBM, that incorporates and broadly recounciles prior knowledge and less than “perfect” data.

    I have found numerous instances of “EBM” deficient in science, or integrity. As implemented, I see EBM as more a “big guy” catch phrase, a barrier to entry against smaller competitors, and a means of disposing of cheap, generic treatments that have no financial backing to counter thinly disguised marketing attacks with really poor science.

    Every rich country has a universal health care system.

    I suspect many countries with universal health care won’t be considered rich, or medically adequate, much longer.

    After several problems dealing with such “standard care” like elder abuse, polypharmacy, nausea and vomiting, violent shaking, elevated glucose, chair bound, facial mucin pad build up, and fast decline, I learned to do my own homework, pay cash for labs, nursing and consulting, and avoid Medicare like the plague.

  51. #51 prn
    December 10, 2010

    …big problems are a lack of critical thinking, math, and basic science education. How could the average person help teach these skills to a large enough group of people?

    In this day and age, an average person would be doing well to educate themselves and their family, along with taking more self-responsibility. Creating an environment that affordably fosters these precepts in children is non-trival. Crusading, top down approaches often fail even for far-above average persons.

  52. #52 T. Bruce McNeely
    December 11, 2010

    ” US life expectancy falls as failure of conventional medicine becomes obvious”

    It does? I don’t think so.
    I do know that life expectancy in those countries that have a universal health care system continues to increase. You know, where everyone has access to health care without worrying about bankruptcy.

    Of course, they have abandoned conventional medicine, haven’t they? Oh, I guess I should check – why, no they haven’t!

    Please explain again, Mr. Adams, about the “failure” of conventional medicine being “obvious”

  53. #53 ferp
    December 11, 2010

    “I suspect many countries with universal health care won’t be considered rich, or medically adequate, much longer.”

    England, France, Germany, Finland, Italy, Denmark, and Canada (not to mention countless other countries I haven’t thought of) would all like a word with you.

  54. #54 augustine
    December 11, 2010

    I think the trolls should have a vote for who is the dumbest and most emotional science blogger. I vote Bruce McNeely, the idiot of science blogs.

    Come to think of it we should have more categories. Bruce could actually be pushed for his idiocy. Sorry Chris.

  55. #55 prn
    December 11, 2010

    Sweden, Russia of course had big collapses in the 80-90’s. Some might really like sunny Cuba.

    Spain, Italy. You mean the desiccated PIIGS?? Europe is not financially reassuring in general, floating a lot of debt and unsupportable promises, kind of like an advanced stage past the US.

    Formerly Great Britain looks like already there – not rich, the NHS not satisfactory either, IMHO. An example:
    Two “cousins-in-law” were talking on the phone, one an American doctor, the other a tech professional living in UK, recovering in an NHS hospital. The doctor realizes the sibling has a serious systemic infection and needs an IV antibiotic, stat. NHS, well, they tease these things out, waiting for more salient events. Dead in 24 hrs.

    I guess IV phenol and glutaraldehyde are the de facto standard of care there.

  56. #56 ferp
    December 11, 2010

    “Spain, Italy. You mean the desiccated PIIGS?? Europe is not financially reassuring in general, floating a lot of debt and unsupportable promises, kind of like an advanced stage past the US.”

    http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html

    Gee, Europe’s healthcare must really suck for it to be consistently ranked above the rest of the world.

  57. #57 ferp
    December 11, 2010

    And more recent data, going up to 2008:

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.LE00.IN?cid=GPD_10

    Wow, Europe sure is screwed; its countries have been consistently ranked higher than the United States for the past decade, guess that means they’re financially screwed any year now, huh?

  58. #58 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    December 11, 2010

    “‘I suspect many countries with universal health care won’t be considered rich, or medically adequate, much longer.’

    England, France, Germany, Finland, Italy, Denmark, and Canada (not to mention countless other countries I haven’t thought of) would all like a word with you.”

    ferp, i live in Finland and am a native of the UK – both of which have universal health care. sadly, neither system is doing great just now. but that is not because the principle of universal health care is stupid you’ll be pleased to know); that principle is never stupid. the problem with these systems has always only been to do with politicians and their propensities to fuck about with the finances of the services. when those bastards stop trying to bugger them up, these systems will do well again. i know a number of people in Finland who are from the US, and they all say that – even though the system here is far from great – it is still a better thing that they’ve experienced in the US.

  59. #59 BillyJoe
    December 11, 2010

    Rene Najera,

    “I have it on good authority that it’s not the Mexican food that gives you the gas, Orac.”

    I think Orac was referring to the inflammed anus you get from eating mexican food and how lighting a match to the gas emanating from that inflammed anus would likely aggravate the resulting burning sensation. ;)

  60. #60 Travis
    December 11, 2010

    ferp, while I agree with you and I think prn is overplaying how bad things are in Europe (though there are some major economic problems in some countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, well, other countries to) I think you are missing their point. You are bringing up lists of health rankings, heath performances. This is not what prn appears to be saying, I do not think they are denying this. What I see is that they are indicating that the systems that perform better than the US system are unsustainable. That the economic outlook is bad for these countries and the systems will eventually fail.

    Now I live in Canada, so the situation is different. Our healthcare system is not perfect by any means but I have no interest in seeing it change to something like the US and I have yet to meet anyone who, when push comes to shove, would give it up. Our economy is also fairly strong and we are not about to fall apart. While the 1990s were very difficult for the healthcare sector (and well, every sector, massive cutbacks, stopped deficit spending etc.) it appears to have stablized. The cost is a challenge, we are spending more and more but it is hardly about to fall apart. And healthcare funding here is a bit more than half the US total per capita so we are still spending less per person.

  61. #61 Der Bruno Stroszek
    December 11, 2010

    Living in the UK, you do hear a lot of talk about how the NHS is “destined to fail” – I think it started shortly after it was founded over 60 years ago, and continued unabated up to the present day, like a doomsday prophet who cannily neglects to set a concrete date.

    Ironically, my impression from studying its history, talking to patients and people who’ve worked in the NHS is that it really started going downhill from the 1980s onwards, when the obsession with “competitive” “market solutions” led to the government forcing them to rely on outside contractors for things like their IT systems. The result, especially in the case of the IT contract, was to force the NHS to stop relying on efficient in-house talent and pay obscene amounts of public money to have the same jobs done to a much worse standard. All in the name of cutting public spending. How’s that for irony?

    Nobody denies that many Western European countries have an enormous debt problem, but even the Tory party in the UK isn’t laying the blame at the foot of the NHS, because it is self-evidently absurd. A system that’s been in place since 1948, that exists to return people to the workforce and continue being a productive member of society, suddenly caused a multi-billion pound defecit? Rather than, say, unprecedentedly lax top-end tax rates and quantative easing? Utter rot.

  62. #62 Lucario
    December 11, 2010

    prn (#50, above) said:

    “In this day and age, an average person would be doing well to educate themselves and their family, along with taking more self-responsibility. Creating an environment that affordably fosters these precepts in children is non-trival. Crusading, top down approaches often fail even for far-above average persons.”

    What exactly do you mean by “taking more self-responsibility”? Also, what should one educate one’s self and family about that fosters critical thinking and science skills, and how would one extend the same to children?

    You say it’s “non-trivial”, but you don’t say how.

  63. #63 Lucario
    December 11, 2010

    prn (#50, above) said:

    “In this day and age, an average person would be doing well to educate themselves and their family, along with taking more self-responsibility. Creating an environment that affordably fosters these precepts in children is non-trival. Crusading, top down approaches often fail even for far-above average persons.”

    What exactly do you mean by “taking more self-responsibility”? Also, what should one educate one’s self and family about that fosters critical thinking and science skills, and how would one extend the same to children?

    You say it’s “non-trivial”, but you don’t say how.

  64. #64 prn
    December 11, 2010

    @59 I did give an example of apparent NHS failure, unnecessary death of a productive professional despite an outside alert, with what might be easy fodder for “conventional” malpractice in the US.

    Your IT example, an eventual politicization of procurement, is precisely a strike against government centralization of medical services.

  65. #65 T. Bruce McNeely
    December 11, 2010

    I think the trolls should have a vote for who is the dumbest and most emotional science blogger. I vote Bruce McNeely, the idiot of science blogs.

    So do I!!!

  66. #66 prn
    December 11, 2010

    @58 Thanks, Travis, for helping notice the discussion’s economic aspect. However, medical choice is still part of it.

    One of the problems I have with both European and US insurance systems, is that they are frequently political captives of overpriced, underperforming treatments. Where informed choices, let’s call, “SBM advanced alternative,” may have significant medical and economic advantages, acknowledged in one or more major jurisdictions. For instance, mushroom extract in Japan.

    Yet (extraordinarily?) informed families would not be allowed any earned merit for choice, at all, even if it saves money for all, AND the “conventional route” is demonstrated likely less effective OR actually harmful in the specific case. We should pay twice(*) or three times AND suffer forseeable damage??? Pay twice or three times, when standard of care is more than most people’s life savings for once through the system with several lines of treatment?
    *Once, pay for insurance and copays; twice, pay for partially uncovered “conventional” treatments; thrice – escape, and concretely address the problems with nonstandard SBM, full payment.

    This is not a theoretical discussion. It is rough reality for our family members, at least twice in two years now. Who gets to choose in an over-regimented system, and what about Rights?

    Clearly some people have better track records than others. The worst failures should remove rights from more diligent, informed or successful individuals?

    Is our US system to be only one authoritarian Medica, or, can there be real informed choice under any circumstances?

  67. #67 T. Bruce McNeely
    December 11, 2010

    Two “cousins-in-law” were talking on the phone, one an American doctor, the other a tech professional living in UK, recovering in an NHS hospital. The doctor realizes the sibling has a serious systemic infection and needs an IV antibiotic, stat. NHS, well, they tease these things out, waiting for more salient events. Dead in 24 hrs.

    Please explain why this is a failure of NHS, rather than a failure of the attending physicians. Is it a cost issue?

  68. #68 Luna_the_cat
    December 11, 2010

    @prn Gee, shall I bore you with the stories of my sister-in-law aspirating my father herself as he choked on his own vomit in an ER, after a serious seizure event, without the aid of even a nurse, because the ER was too busy for anyone to be there paying attention…and the subsequent 18-hour wait for medical attention? How many people simply die under such circumstances, if they don’t have a family member there to save them?

    How about the friend of mine in Florida, who with insurance was still sent home with an un-X-rayed, unset broken leg, because the ER was too busy, or couldn’t be bothered?

    How about the time a friend of mine nearly died of blood loss and shock in an Ohio hospital, because the attending physician didn’t bother to check the depth of that small cut in her neck?

    How about the last couple of years, where there have been actual news reports of people dying after waiting to be seen by anyone at all for more than 24 hours in an ER?

    I could go on. There are a lot of these stories, this barely scratches the surface.

    There are incompetent doctors both sides of the Pond. The question is populational: how many of the population still have access to healthcare, and what are the outcomes.

    I’ve lived in both the US and the UK. I have relatives in both the US and the UK, and recent medical experience in both the US and the UK. And I pity the people stuck with healthcare as it is for the majority in the US, and wouldn’t go back. The NHS is far from perfect, and it does have its problems, which I am all in favour of addressing! But I have to condemn anyone who claims it doesn’t work as being out of touch, and we as a population would happily string up anyone who tries to take it away from us — especially if we end up with something like America instead.

  69. #69 Lawrence
    December 11, 2010

    Because of the lack of health insurance in the US (about 50mil without coverage), too many people use the ER as their primary means of receiving basic medical care.

    Overall, this drives up the total cost of health care for everyone & does result in less effective treatments – since ER docs are forced to run numerous tests that the average GP could avoid, because they would actually know the patient history.

  70. #70 Denice Walter
    December 11, 2010

    @ T. Bruce McNeely- Adams quotes CDC figures that decrease from 77.9 to 77.8 ! ( 37 days?) Seriously,I don’t read him so much for the *content* as for the conspiracy mongering. He can take a minute change like this and then, jumping to major conclusions in a single bound, arrive at his usual rant: just as our woo-meisters jump from ” in *vitro*” studies to ” Total cure!!!”

  71. #71 Xplodyncow
    December 11, 2010

    Totally OT: Orac, are you at SABCS?

  72. #72 ferp
    December 11, 2010

    “even though the system here is far from great – it is still a better thing that they’ve experienced in the US.”

    That was my whole point. I’m well aware that people in countries like Canada have their complaints about their own healthcare systems (like wait times, etc), but the point is it has consistently proven itself to be a far more desirable option to the United States.

  73. #73 Vicki
    December 11, 2010

    Yes, life expectancy has gone down slightly in the United States in the past year. During a “recession” that I suspect an honest economist would call a depression.

    Poverty kills. People who lose their jobs can’t afford things like food, mortgage and rent payments, heat, and basic medical care. This is no more evidence that medicine is getting it wrong than it is that the building industry has been lying to everyone and we don’t really need roofs.

  74. #74 Militant Agnostic
    December 11, 2010

    “Sunny Cuba” has a lower infant mortality rate than the USA. Not bad for what my father described as a second and a half world country after he visited it. He said the universal health care and universal education were what kept it out of the third world. Not bad for a country with an inefficient economy that has been embargoed by what would logically be it’s largest trading partner.

    As a self employed Canadian there is no way in hell I would want to give up our health care system for something market driven.

  75. #75 Luna_the_cat
    December 11, 2010

    @Lawrence — sorry, you are absolutely correct. Looking at my post in retrospect, it seems like I’m blaming the ER failures on incompetent doctors, and that’s wrong. It’s a system failure, there, and I largely agree with you for the reason for it.

  76. #76 T. Bruce McNeely
    December 11, 2010

    Poverty kills. People who lose their jobs can’t afford things like food, mortgage and rent payments, heat, and basic medical care.

    Good point. They also get depressed, drink to excess and commit suicide. Also, loss of medical coverage is linked to earlier loss of life: http://ezinearticles.com/?Americans-Without-Health-Insurance-and-Life-Expectancy&id=4259930

    So, Mike Adams once again scores an own goal. Seems to happen a lot with these Alties.

  77. #77 harold
    December 11, 2010

    Prn’s answer to the fact that all other rich countries’ heath care systems, and some poor countries’ health care systems, do better overall by outcome measures, more cheaply, is to make the ludicrous claim that systems which have been stable for decades, are “unsustainable”.

    This is a direct evidence denying strategy. It simply amounts to an unsupported claim that the evidence will somehow be opposite, at some unknown time in the future.

    I suspect it is the US system which is unsustainable and verging on collapse. Luckily, I am a dual citizen.

    This is sad, because there are many things the US system actually does very well, almost all of which are not related to the ridiculous health insurance system.

    I’m about as moderate as you can get on this issue. I believe it is rational for every society to prioritize access to health care, and as much independence of the health care system from macroeconomic variability as possible, and that relatively well paid and satisfied doctors who are free to concentrate on patient care are the best people to provide this. That is why I support the concept of universal health care. Since extreme change is both frightening and unnecessary, and since physicians and others who have invested much of their lives into their careers rightfully demand continuity, I recommend that the US achieve universal health care by expanding the familiar and fairly efficient Medicare system to all citizens, at current reimbursement rates. The incremental cost of doing so would be moderate, since the oldest and sickest are already on Medicare. This has a snowball’s chance in Hell of happening in the current political environment, but it’s what I recommend anyway.

    Naturally, if there are glaring flaws in some current universal systems, those should be acknowledged and avoided.

    It is obvious that countries with and without universal health care systems suffer periods of economic slowdown; it would be the height of grotesque hypocrisy to blame this on universal health care. Which doesn’t stop some people.

  78. #78 prn
    December 12, 2010

    @77 Thanks, Harold for the answer.

    I suspect…the US system which is unsustainable and verging on collapse.

    I agree. Luckily, I have technical knowledge to absorb research materials and have broad access to fairly inexpensive generic materials, medical help and supplies. I, of course, have moved outside Europe and N America. I certainly do not want the emerging American police state to spread its habits elsewhere.

    is to make the ludicrous claim that systems which have been stable for decades, are “unsustainable”.

    In my view, the points of failure in many “rich” countries have escalated beyond the medical system but include it broadly. It kind of works, takes care of a lot of immediate problems, but is inadequate to some kinds of users (looking at actual treatments) and still has high costs (inefficiencies and rents). I might suggest age distribution, national debt ratios, and native stock birth replacement as a few, useful but incomplete, surrogate indicators of the overall sclerosis problem. By no means do I exempt the US from such criticism.

    The recommendation of expanding Medicare? Medicare is expensive, and on close inspection, ineffective for many people, and easy to abuse by various (equipment, drug) providers. After correcting for multiple systemic failures, I have to totally walk away from it, as is, and pay cash elsewhere. I have to acknowledge those that do try to make it work. However, I brook no more persistent incompetence or interference, and I can still find or make more competitve arrangements.

    Many of the current economic and technical medical problems, as well the various universal care proposal seem appear to be built, or persist, on abridging foundational American principles.

  79. #79 Berynice
    December 12, 2010

    I’m not convinced that his mistake about 35% survival rate is mendacious – I would think it is more likely ignorance. The author’s assumption that it is, is unscientific. Denigrating Vitamin D as a potentially helpful tool against cancer is also unscientific. I’m pretty sure that in 100 years (if we’re still around as a race) people will look back and think that cancer treatment was pretty primitive and violent. But I think it’s the best we’ve got now, and it’s what I would choose if I liked the odds.

  80. #80 Lawrence
    December 12, 2010

    Displaying my nerdness – if you remeber the scene with Dr. McCoy in the 20th Century Hospital from Star Trek IV, he acted with shock & revulsion to the medical practices of the day (where are we, the Dark Ages?!?!?!).

    Of course, treatments, drugs, surgical procedures, etc. will continue to improve as time goes on. A hundred years ago, medical science was really still in its infancy, but it did lay the groundwork for the continual improvement to where we are today – just as the research and work being done in hospitals and labs across the globe will further refine our knowledge moving foward.

    Once particular troll around here (that I’ve conveniently kill-filed – oh the joy) seems to enjoy condeming medical science because “they don’t know everything today!” so they must be wrong!

    Of course, that attitude would have kept us in the trees or caves as a species – as our understanding of disease and the human body (especially through the understanding of the underlying genetics) hopefully we can become less invasive, more proactive, and keep improving the odds of survival across the board, and not just for cancer.

    The measured approach of modern medicine has been wildly successful (the elimination of smallpox, the #1 killer of humanity through the ages – goes into the top ten medical successes of all time, probably near the top), but not without its setbacks. The fact that we can admit our mistakes and take corrective action should never to viewed as a flaw, but instead as a decisive edge over any of the “woo-meisters” out there, who claim 100% success on whatever it is that they are preaching, with no proof to actually back up what they are saying.

    In today’s consumer driven world, we want everything “right now,” and since medicine doesn’t work that way, it does lend some people to embrace false-beliefs of things that can “cure them right now” with little or no actual work on their part (except keep writing those checks).

    Every single day, we are learning more, understanding better what we are dealing with – so that overall, we continue to move forward, instead of backwards.

  81. #81 sophia8
    December 12, 2010

    Somebody sent me this link to a Mike Adams article; he’s claiming that this study proves that is astrology is right!
    Now I can understand how an ordinary guy with no science education could be confused – the article mentions “the influence of season on neurobehavioral disorders in humans” and is full of difficult sciencey words like “circadian”. But I’m a little puzzled that he couldn’t find the space for a link to the original article, in case any readers are interested enough to investigate further.
    (There are plenty of links within the article, but they all mysteriously point to other pages in his site. How very strange.)

  82. #82 Denice Walter
    December 12, 2010

    @ sophia8 : Mikey never disappoints! But on a more serious note, he pontificates about mental health issues** and even ((shudder)) *cognitive* psych. As those without much education in bio and medicine often accept (medical) woo, I venture that those who buy into mysticism ( ESP, spirits, fortune-telling, etc.) are deficient in even basic understanding of human psychology. One woo-meister/wannabe-psychologist describes three disparate human interactions (e.g. professor/ student, a sexual relation, and parent/child) and declares them all simply *energy exchanges*! However, he sells books.

    ** he has lauded CCHR ( Scientology) and decries the use of any/ all pharmaceuticals for serious mental illness and LD.

  83. #83 ken n
    December 13, 2010

    Good word “despicable”. It should be kept for the very worst cases and not spoiled by too frequent use.
    I cannot think of a more appropriate use of the trem than this one.
    Well done orac.

  84. #84 Geetanjali Sinha
    December 14, 2010

    Bad to hear this. it is happening now a days. its bad nesw for the whole world.

  85. #85 Graham King
    December 17, 2010

    I was intrigued enough by the above (never having heard of Robert O. Young) to have a look for myself at this guy’s “Articles of Health” (sic) blogspot.

    In his blog “Can You Over Alkalize? No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (presumably he believes you cannot over-emphasize, either) he states:

    “The human cell cannot tolerate low alkalinity and can never tolerate ANY acid condition. The cell begins its biological transformation becoming bacteria in the first stage; then yeast in the second stage; then mold in the 3rd stage of transformation until the anatomical elements of the organized cell (microzymas) are released to become part of some other organized cell.” ( http://articlesofhealth.blogspot.com/2009/02/can-you-over-alkalize.html )

    So… I see you are right about Robert O. Young.

  86. #86 The Blind Watchmaker
    December 19, 2010

    Guys like Adams make me so angry that I am reduced to thinking that I can change the situation by yelling at my computer screen.

    I hope for his sake that he is delusional.

    If not, then there is no system of morality in the world that could find his “work” excusable.

  87. #87 LW
    December 19, 2010

    I tried to read the drivel at Graham King’s link, I really did. I don’t know how people get through that stuff. But before I gave up, I found Young saying this:

    Thoughts require energy and when you are using energy you are producing metabolic acids. If you want to maintain the alkaline design of the body, yu need to have less thoughts.

    It’s remarkable that Young would actually come out and say that he would prefer that you refrain from thinking, though the benefit to him is obvious.

  88. #88 tc
    December 21, 2010

    Not a comment as such, but I think you made typo that doesnt look too well.
    Quite early in the post you write “Actually, [b]John Edwards[/b] leaves the full context of the quote out, which is described here:”.
    Her ex-husband’s name seems to have slipped in instead of the Adams’, I believe?

    Sorry if this has already been commented and/or if I am mistaken.

  89. #89 Chris
    February 24, 2011

    Hah! The most recent entry that mentions the vile and despicable quack Nicholas Gonzalez and Suzanne Somers!

    So I watched the recent Dateline episode of Somers and her endorsement of certain alternative cancer quacks. What I was especially enthralled with was how the hair analysis was done for the guy who required the useless torture of his patients with coffee enemas (folks, it is torture… it stresses the liver and makes sure that a sick patient does not get the sleep he/she needs!).

    The thirty hairs (they are quite specific) are sent to a spa in the deep south, where a certain woman uses her intuition and an electric-free machine determine the “toxins” in the hair. It is all explained in this MSNBC video.

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