R.I.P. David Servan-Schreiber

One of the very first themes I started hammering on in this blog, dating back to its very inception, is the analysis of alternative medicine cancer testimonials. One reason was (and is) that I take care of cancer patients and do research into developing new treatments for a living. Another reason is that, to the average lay person, most of whom don’t have much of an understanding of cancer, alternative medicine cancer testimonials can sound extremely convincing.

For example, if you didn’t know that breast cancer can have a highly variable course spreading out over years, Kim Tinkham’s claim to have cured herself of cancer using cancer quack Robert O. Young’s acid-base woo can appear very compelling. Of course, when it is pointed out that she probably had a relatively indolent tumor and that there were inconsistencies in her story that led me to believe that her tumor was perhaps not as advanced as she liked to advertise in her media appearances, suddenly her prolonged survival doesn’t seem quite so remarkable. And, of course, like so many promoters of cancer quackery who were true believers, ultimately Kim Tinkham appears to have died of her disease last December. No doubt, if it hadn’t been for blogs like mine her death would have gone the way of previous deaths of people who made the tragic mistake of choosing quackery over effective medicine, namely into the great abyss of the forgotten. Fortunately, we were able to let people know what happened so that her death, as horrible as it is to contemplate, will at least not have been totally in vain nor will her cancer quack’s role in her death be forgotten.

Unfortunately, there are many others, some of whom write books about their choice. Some, however, become famous simply for surviving and, rather than attributing their survival to the science-based medicine they underwent plus luck, they attribute their survival to whatever health regimen they decided to undertake. For if there’s one thing that’s axiomatic about alternative medicine testimonials, it’s that the person giving the testimonial attributes his survival to the woo, not to the science. Like David Servan-Schreiber, author of Anti-cancer: A new way of life.

Unfortunately, like many promoters of alternative medicine testimonials, David Servan-Schreiber too has passed away:

David Servan-Schreiber, a psychiatrist and best-selling author whose cancer diagnosis at the age of 31 compelled him to explore and then popularize the use of natural and holistic methods in dealing with cancer and depression, died on Sunday in a hospital near Fécamp, Normandy. He was 50.

The cause was brain cancer, which had recurred last year, his brother Franklin said.

Trained as a neuroscientist, Dr. Servan-Schreiber imbued his books with his own story of surviving cancer for almost 19 years, one of diagnosis, surgery, remission, relapse and redemption.

Servan-Schreiber’s story does indeed have several remarkable elements. The first is how his tumor was discovered. At age 31, when he was a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh in neuroscience, quite by chance he underwent an MRI of the brain for a research project after the intended subject, for whatever reason, didn’t show up. In other words, there were no symptoms and no clinical indications for Servan-Schreiber to undergo an MRI, but he did anyway for his research. Shockingly, the scan showed a tumor described as the size of a walnut.

After this, Servan-Schreiber’s story becomes a bit less clear. He had “conventional” therapy for his tumor, which included surgery, but I’ve had a hard time finding out what kind of brain tumor he had, at least from the material on his own website and in his own book that I can access without paying for it. However, looking around, I find that Servan-Schreiber most likely had glioblastoma multiforme, which is what I would have guessed as the most likely type of brain cancer just playing the odds given that glioblastomas are the most common malignant brain tumor. In any case, after the successful resection of his tumor, according to Servan-Schreiber, doctors told him to eat what he wanted because it “won’t make much of a difference.”

Five years later, Servan-Schreiber’s tumor recurred. This time around, he underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, during which time he became a convert to “alternative” therapies. Ultimately, he wrote his book and became a leading promoter of “integrative” medicine. To his credit, he always told people with cancer that they should seek out scientific medical treatment. Unfortunately, in the process, he also promoted the idea that diet could protect you from almost all cancers, that cell phones cause brain cancer, and that a number of other dubious health modalities could produces a “terrain” that was hostile to cancer, even though evidence supporting such claims was equivocal at best. Even so, his book Anti-cancer became phenomenally successful, being translated into 36 languages and spending several weeks high on the New York Times bestseller list in 2010, while Servan-Schreiber gave interviews in which he said things like this in describing his conversion to “natural” therapies after his cancer relapse:

Servan-Schreiber refused to simply accept his fate. He embarked on his own research and developed a method for helping his body protect itself from the disease. It drew heavily on natural defense mechanisms and a new lifestyle based on a changed diet and plenty of exercise and optimism. But it did not offer total protection, as he told Ode in an interview. “I’m not saying we can prevent cancer, because we may get cancer for reasons that are beyond our control. Even if you do all of the things I talk about in my book, there’s not a guarantee that you’ll prevent cancer. It’s about 80 to 85 percent protection, which is still enormous.”

And giving interviews like this:

One can’t help but note a few howlers in this interview, such as the claim that the reason that cancer is more common is not because the population is aging and must be something else. For one thing, cancer incidence rates, although they did rise in the 1970s, leveled off long ago and have been essentially flat since the early 1990s. In other words, there is no cancer “epidemic” currently detectable. Worse, Servan-Schreiber has been a major promoter of the myth that sugar causes cancer because cancer “feeds on raw sugar.” This is basically just a myth based on a misunderstanding of basic biochemistry. He also spouts misinformation about “toxins” and cancer-fighting foods that supposedly soak up those toxins. All in all, it’s depressing to read and watch him.

In fact, Servan-Schreiber went beyond that. Schreiber promoted a “Secret”-style wishful thinking in which he claimed that fatalism resulted in worse outcomes. In fact, there’s no good evidence that this is true. No matter how much we would like to believe otherwise, the latest research is consistent with the conclusion that patient attitude does not affect his chances of surviving his disease. That’s not to say that having a positive attitude doesn’t have numerous other benefits, but improving the odds of survival is just not among them. Dr. Servan-Schrieber has even gone so far as to write a book entitled Instinct to Heal, which advocates what he calls the “new emotion medicine” and methods that, he claims, can “cure stress, anxiety, and depression without drugs or psychotherapy.” These methods include obvious woo such as heart coherence, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, and even what he calls the control of qi through acupuncture.

His Anticancer website also includes dubious recommendations, such as describing these as “anticancer products“:

  • Natural deodorants without aluminum
  • Natural and organic cosmetics free of parabens and pthalates
  • Pesticides made from essential oils or boric acid
  • White vinegar or natural cleaning products (without pesticides) or the European Ecolabel
  • Glass or ceramic containers for use in a microwave
  • Flawless Teflon, or else non-Teflon pans, such as stainless steel 18/10

It is, of course, a myth that aluminum-containing deodorants cause breast cancer. The idea was first published in the crank journal Medical Hypotheses and spread and metastasized from there. That Servan-Schreiber fell for this story did not give me a high degree of confidence in his judgment. As for the rest, well, they’re, as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would say, mostly harmless. But neither is there compelling evidence that any of these items are powerful anticancer measures, either.

Like many advocates of “integrative medicine,” Servan-Schreiber’s advice is often reasonable. Of course, it’s a good idea to get more exercise. Of course it’s a good idea not to eat so much fatty food. Sure, it’s a good idea to take time to relax. None of this is “alternative” or anything but based on science, but science itself says that this isn’t the anticancer panacea that Servan-Schreiber suggests that it is nor that it is able to treat an already established cancer. Unfortunately, Servan-Schreiber “integrated” a whole bunch of woo into the mix, along with a philosophy that’s uncomfortably close to The Secret in that Servan-Schreiber is saying, in essence, almost that you can will yourself not to get cancer through a positive attitude and the right diet. The flip side of this is the same dark underbelly of much of alternative medicine: It blames the patient. If you get cancer, it’s your fault. Either you ate the wrong foods, didn’t eat the right foods, didn’t get enough exercise, didn’t think happy enough thoughts, or some combination of these. This belief led Servan-Schreiber to write:

This book is above all my testimony as a witness and fellow sufferer. I had cancer. I’m cured now, and I wanted to share what I learned with other people. Being a doctor doesn’t protect you from cancer. But because I’m a doctor and a scientist, I was able to take my knowledge to its limits and learn to look after myself. I wanted to write the book I would have liked to read – the book that, if it had existed, would have helped me to avoid falling ill, and that would have helped me learn very quickly how to give my cancer treatments the best possible chance of working.

Does Servan-Schreiber’s death mean his method didn’t work? Or did it mean that it did work and held his disease at bay longer than anyone would have thought possible. Or was Servan-Schreiber a man who was fortunate enough to have a less aggressive form of brain tumor that responded very well to conventional therapy and was very slow to relapse, taking this latest time 15 years before recurring and then leading to his death? Most likely, it was the latter, because there just isn’t any strong evidence that Servan-Schreiber’s methods are anywhere near as effective as he claimed they are.

One thing that needs to be understood is that glioblastoma is indeed a nasty cancer. Untreated, the median survival is on the order of three months. Even treated maximally, fewer than one in four patients with the disease survive longer than 2 years and fewer than 10% survive five years or more. However, it is known that there are types of glioblastoma with a prognosis that is not quite as grim, although it is grim enough. For instance, younger patients tend to survive longer, as do patients with methylation of the promoter of O-6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase. In the end, however, little is known that can accurately predict who is likely to survive long term after treatment of glioblastoma and why, much as little is known that allows us to predict accurately which women with advanced breast cancer will survive for long periods of time and why, other than very crudely and unreliably.

What this all means is that Servan-Schreiber, for all his scientific prowess, nonetheless ended up behaving like Suzanne Sommers, Lorraine Day, Hollie Quinn, and any number of other cancer patients who were successfully treated with conventional scientific medical therapy and also chose pseudoscience, after which they attributed their good outcome more to the pseudoscience than to the real medicine. Fortunately for him, he did very well and lived a lot longer than the average brain tumor patient. Unfortunately, during that time he promoted a profoundly misleading view of cancer therapy.

Comments

  1. #1 squirrelelite
    August 14, 2011

    Delurked lurker,

    Were you perhaps using verbal text entry which came up with “eschew” instead of “issue”??

    I double-checked at dictionary.com which defines eschew as:

    to abstain or keep away from; shun; avoid

    The fight against cancer is a difficult one, I know, and someone fighting cancer needs a variety of resources to help them cope with the struggle even if those resources don’t specifically help treat the disease. But, I don’t think a book that encourages you to abstain from

    healthy diet and lifestyle it may be considered beneficial

    as you phrased it, would be a useful resource.

  2. #2 Delurked lurker
    August 14, 2011

    @196
    Our little place is our haven away from the cranks and scammers. Its a support group for people who are fighting cancer with SBM. No room for woo it just gets people very upset. No room for debate sunshine there is far too much pain and suffering for that.

    @197
    I blame chemo brain. My mistake so shoot me. Mind you it is a bit of a howler 🙂

    No I don’t care to answer Orac’s criticisms, he is entitled to his opinion and quite frankly I agree with him on a lot of points, but the book is harmless. Orac has my respect and admiration for the amount of energy he expends taking the fight up to the cranks, quite frankly I don’t know how he finds the time.

    Anyway back to lurking

  3. #3 TBruce
    August 14, 2011

    Do you care to elaborate?

    Based on your track record, no.

  4. #4 Will Crowder - Charlottesville
    August 14, 2011

    As noted in my earlier entry, I was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer 18 months ago. My Gleason score is nine. I have worked in a medical university teaching center for 28 years. Although I am not a researcher or a doctor, I consider myself fairly intelligent and capable of wading through most medical literature. I have found the literature on prostate cancer overwhelming, confusing, and contradictory. I believe that I am receiving the gold standard of treatment for my disease. My radiation oncologist recently told me that the six weeks of radiation therapy I endured to my prostate and pelvis has hopefuly rid my body of cancer cells. But then, there is the issue of those evil micro cells and the anxiety (in the back of my brain) what can I do to prevent the return of this cancer. If my cancer were to return, I will follow the recommendations of my oncologist relevant to seeking further treatment, clinical trials, etc. Meanwhile, I live with my diagnosis and the the hope that healthy nutrition, exercise, and mindfulness can play a positive role in preventing the return of my cancer. I realize that there are plenty of “quacks” out there who take advantage of vulnerable and desperate people. Was Dr. S-S really a quack? He clearly states in his book that people should not forsake conventional treatments. I thought his book was well researched and cited. Yes, many of his recommedations are claims founded by associative research, for instance the association between prostate cancer and processed meats. If there is something I can do that might prevent the return of my cancer, albeit small and by association, I am all ears. It cannot hurt and might possibly help. For me, Dr. S-S’s book did a good job breaking down this information for me.

    I have read this blog from beginning to end. What I have found helpful – those entries that discuss this material with a scienctific basis while using layman terms to explain rationale. Not helpful – name calling and mean spiritness. Tell me where Dr. S-S is right; tell me where he is wrong. Yes, much of the material is common sense, but we all need to be reminded once in a while. To those of you living with cancer and seeking means to better manage overwhelming stress and confusion to live a hopefully long and fruitful life, we shall endure.

  5. #5 lilady
    August 14, 2011

    @ Will Crowder: Thank you for your thoughtful posting and for sharing your story.

    I never read David Servan-Schreiber’s book, but I did check his website and found interviews that he gave to various reliable media outlets. Based on my research (albeit) on the internet, he did firmly espouse alternative theories of nutrition, “right thinking” and exercise…and credited these theories with long term survival, after undergoing medical treatments for brain cancer.

    Excerpted from an interview with a Psychology Today reporter “David Servan-Schreiber on Cheating Death-Neuroscientist David Servan-Schreiber on How He Beat Brain Cancer (April 3, 2009)

    Why did you get cancer?

    Exposure to chemicals, pesticides, electromagnetic fields, years in front of a computer screen, what I ate, my inability to deal with stress. There were a lot of things I could have done differently. (Totally dis-proven theory)

    If I want to avoid cancer what should I do?

    Physical activity, which doesn’t necessarily even mean exercise. Women who walk 30 minutes six times a week reduce by half their chance of relapse after breast cancer. So walking to work or biking to work, which I’ve done for years now, makes an enormous difference. (This is news to me and I don’t think Orac, a breast cancer surgeon and breast cancer researcher has ever heard of exercise to reduce by half the recurrence of breast cancer)

    What made you question the advice you got from your oncologist about preventing relapse?

    As a physician I had had that same attitude. Nobody invites us physicians for a week for free to give us a course on the benefits of yoga, jogging, broccoli, and garlic.

    In the conventional model, we turn over our health care to doctors.

    I hope it will change. As it stands now, they do very little to help your body do its part to fight the disease. They do not support the terrain, they only target the tumor. We also need to know we can go further.

    So within that little interview Dr. Servan-Schreiber blames himself (and others facing a diagnosis of brain cancer) for spending time on the computer, inability to handle stress (right thinking), diet choices and living near power lines…he omitted use of cell phones, which he includes on his web page…as causing cancer.

    Furthermore, Dr. Servan-Schreiber attributes his long term survival to dietary restrictions and totally dis-proven “theories” of special cancer fighting properties of certain foods, again “blaming the victim” who has a recurrence of their cancer.

    Dr. Servan-Schreiber wrote a popular “feel-good” book about cancer survival that hit the best seller list. You “read a book about surviving prostrate cancer by a prostrate cancer medical guru at a major medical university. The latter book was, like Dr. S-S’s book is well researched, but does nothing but scare me to see the average time frame that people with my staging have to live (five years)”; that is the difference between “feel good” books and books written by prostate cancer specialists that don’t become best sellers.

    Will, I’m sorry that you were bothered by out resident trolls and the visiting troll who strives to take over the thread…that is what happens when a very popular blog devoted to science-based medicine is targeted by cranks.

  6. #6 Delurked lurker
    August 14, 2011

    Hi lilady

    Honestly I can see the points you are making but I think you are projecting your own thoughts here. After the death of Steven a few people wrote some obits and a few posted to the threads. None of these people ‘blame’ themselves for cancer. All of them are solid members with proven track records in bravely fighting the beast. None of them have gone over to the dark side and they all continue with their treatments. So what’s the big deal here? Most people who have cancer are not as stupid as the trolls that inhabit this blog.

    For the record I have not read the book nor am I likely to. I have been lurking here since I was diagnosed in 2007, I found Orac’s articles very helpful during my chemo and recovery. These comment sections I generally read for a laugh sometimes it just gets too funny 🙂

    Oh in case you ask it was DLBCL stage 2 bulky. 6 R CHOPs and nothing else needed. My cancer responded so well I didn’t need the extra 2 cycles and RT I was told was in the future for me. Don’t anyone ever tell me SBM is not the best approach to my disease.

  7. #7 Richard Lanigan
    August 14, 2011

    @ Bronzed Dog,go on let it all out,my:

    “irrational hatred of randomized clinical trials”?
    “Do you even know what one is”? (Is that what skeptics call an ad homenem attack)
    “you’ve announced that you don’t care about evidence or science”
    “Your hatred and bigotry for skeptics is showing, by the way”.

    You have to laugh. I report how David S-S helped me and suggest you be open minded to his theories and not limit yourself to the results of RCTs in health care and I am the “arrogant bigot” and “hate science”. I hope you read research studies with a more open mind ?

    My health and the treatment of my cancer has been guided by the scientific knowledge available to the oncologists at the Royal Marsden in London. I had a colonoscopy ten years ago which showed nothing. Had another in March and I had a malignant tumour. I had radiation and chemo as advised and I will have surgery on the 24th. My medical care has been fantastic and in the UK this has all been free of charge, I bet you dont get that in Texas.

    As you yourself acknowledge “We aren’t gods. We can’t predict exactly how general statistics will affect a specific individual” so it fair to conclude my treatment is based on a theory based on the best available evidence.
    When you asked me “how do you go from having an idea to knowing that idea is true”? I would answer, they are no absolute truths in health and wellbeing, for the reasons you yourself have put so succinctly . I had an aunt who smoke a Pack of 20 a day and lived to be 90, however the science would suggest most people would be ill advised to follow her example, so we look at the science and see what works best and an experienced clinician can make the changes for the individual patient when the results of an RCT do apply as sometimes happens. So while you would obviously prefer a a doctor who takes a SBM approach to your health and restricts himself to the evidence I want an EBM practitioner and EBM is the principle most clinicians in the UK health care system subscribe to.

    In health care all sorts of people develop theories and scientists are there to do research on them. Conclusions never guarantee results for the clinician, they merely provide information a clinician may try on a patient. Some interventions do not have a mountain of research behind them, however this does not invalidate the theory, it merely reinforces a need for more research into the area, before said treatment could be funded.

    You seem to be getting upset with me, because I would consider thinking outside the box and would try and improve my lifestyle in the hope it may improve my life expectancy.Belive me I would but a stick of dynamite up my ass if I thought it would help. I made quiet clear in a previous comment while Popeye has helped me , it may not work for everybody but the fact remains Popeye the Sailor Man has helped me deal with the consequences of having cancer.

    Anyway I have spent too much time on this, cancer teaches us one thing, that life is short and you should not waste any of it.

    As for me “referencing my statements” would you prefer the Harvard or Oxford method, when I did the dissertation for my science masters at Brunel University (London) I used the Harvard Method .

  8. #8 Richard Lanigan
    August 14, 2011

    @ Bronzed Dog,go on let it all out,my:

    “irrational hatred of randomized clinical trials”?
    “Do you even know what one is”? (Is that what skeptics call an ad homenem attack)
    “you’ve announced that you don’t care about evidence or science”
    “Your hatred and bigotry for skeptics is showing, by the way”.

    You have to laugh. I report how David S-S helped me and suggest you be open minded to his theories and not limit yourself to the results of RCTs in health care and I am the “arrogant bigot” and “hate science”. I hope you read research studies with a more open mind ?

    My health and the treatment of my cancer has been guided by the scientific knowledge available to the oncologists at the Royal Marsden in London. I had a colonoscopy ten years ago which showed nothing. Had another in March and I had a malignant tumour. I had radiation and chemo as advised and I will have surgery on the 24th. My medical care has been fantastic and in the UK this has all been free of charge, I bet you dont get that in Texas.

    As you yourself acknowledge “We aren’t gods. We can’t predict exactly how general statistics will affect a specific individual” so it fair to conclude my treatment is based on a theory based on the best available evidence.
    When you asked me “how do you go from having an idea to knowing that idea is true”? I would answer, they are no absolute truths in health and wellbeing, for the reasons you yourself have put so succinctly . I had an aunt who smoke a Pack of 20 a day and lived to be 90, however the science would suggest most people would be ill advised to follow her example, so we look at the science and see what works best and an experienced clinician can make the changes for the individual patient when the results of an RCT do apply as sometimes happens. So while you would obviously prefer a a doctor who takes a SBM approach to your health and restricts himself to the evidence I want an EBM practitioner and EBM is the principle most clinicians in the UK health care system subscribe to.

    In health care all sorts of people develop theories and scientists are there to do research on them. Conclusions never guarantee results for the clinician, they merely provide information a clinician may try on a patient. Some interventions do not have a mountain of research behind them, however this does not invalidate the theory, it merely reinforces a need for more research into the area, before said treatment could be funded.

    You seem to be getting upset with me, because I would consider thinking outside the box and would try and improve my lifestyle in the hope it may improve my life expectancy.Belive me I would but a stick of dynamite up my ass if I thought it would help. I made quiet clear in a previous comment while Popeye has helped me , it may not work for everybody but the fact remains Popeye the Sailor Man has helped me deal with the consequences of having cancer.

    Anyway I have spent too much time on this, cancer teaches us one thing, that life is short and you should not waste any of it.

    As for me “referencing my statements” would you prefer the Harvard or Oxford method, when I did the dissertation for my science masters at Brunel University (London) I used the Harvard Method .

  9. #9 Delurked lurker
    August 14, 2011

    That should have been David and not Steven…..fark how embarrassing

  10. #10 lilady
    August 14, 2011

    @ Delurked lurker: “Honestly I can see the points you are making but I think you are projecting your own thoughts here.”

    Well, actually no to “projecting”. I learned my SBM in school and practiced SBM in clinical settings and during my career in public health. But, when woo meisters discuss the basics of health maintenance such as balanced diet, exercise and maintaining a positive outlook as “innovative and unique to CAM” and not addressed in “traditional” medicine, it raises my hackles.

    I have been fortunate that I have not (yet) been diagnosed with a devastating potentially life threatening disease, but when you live as long as I have, you have suffered loss of family and friends to these as yet incurable diseases.

    Clinicians acknowledge and advocate for healthy lifestyles and incorporate that knowledge into their practices. And, if the practice of medicine wasn’t so complicated there might be time for educating patients about diet, exercise and maintaining a positive mental attitude. In the “ideal” world that might be a possibility…but I still wouldn’t tell patients that they caused brain cancer based on bogus theories of cell phone use, living near overhead wires, allowed the gardener to spray a pesticide or didn’t eat certain foods. Nor would I tell a dying brain cancer patient that they haven’t been cured because they didn’t follow a restrictive diet, didn’t exercise enough or didn’t think “good thoughts”.

  11. #11 Delurked lurker
    August 14, 2011

    Good for you lilady 🙂 bravo. I have been lurking here long enough to have been expecting that response

    Let’s paint a scenario here:

    You are working in Oncology. You are administering chemo to a patient. The patient is reading David’s book. What if anything would you say to them?

  12. #12 Delurked lurker
    August 14, 2011

    lilady said
    “In the “ideal” world that might be a possibility…but I still wouldn’t tell patients that they caused brain cancer based on bogus theories of cell phone use, living near overhead wires, allowed the gardener to spray a pesticide or didn’t eat certain foods. Nor would I tell a dying brain cancer patient that they haven’t been cured because they didn’t follow a restrictive diet, didn’t exercise enough or didn’t think “good thoughts”. ”

    Funny none of the people who read the book that I know have ever expressed any of those ideas. I suppose they have more intelligence than you actually give them credit for. I have never read the book but I seriously doubt David actually blamed anyone for their cancer. I do see you projecting your fears here ascribing emotions that you expect on people that is contrary to what I have witnessed. Give people some credit for dogs sake

  13. #13 lilady
    August 14, 2011

    @ Delurked lurker: Stop reading in to my comments and stop with the armchair analysis of my “projection”.

    You need to read the book and tell us about your experiences with cancer patients in the clinical setting. I informed you what my experiences are. Good for you that you “know people who read the book” and you run a blog and your interpretation is that everyone who has ever read the book…there are others you know, just discounts the woo science and bogus theories of diet, exposures to electrical fields and cell phones, and exercise as causing cancer and that long time survival of brain cancer depends on plugging into the good doctor’s theories.

    Also, why not provide us with the citation for “David’s” statement in the Psychology Today interview:

    “Women who walk 30 minutes six times a week reduce by half their chance of relapse after breast cancer. So walking to work or biking to work, which I’ve done for years now, makes an enormous difference.”

    (“David” did not provide a citation and I have been unable to find any citation, either)

  14. #14 Delurked lurker
    August 14, 2011

    First I don’t run a ‘blog’ I moderate on a cancer forum. At anyone time there are from 400 to 700 people viewing and we hundreds of active members. It is an active forum and our job is support. Secondly I have cancer and have sat in that chair myself. Thirdly I am also a nurse.

    Why should I provide citations to David’s bloody book ? I have already told you its not the type of thing I would be interested in. I think you fail to realize that we share a lot of the same ideas.

    So I know a lot of people who have read the book. They all have cancer or are the loved ones of those with cancer. None of them have any issues with personal blame and none of them are on their soapboxes proclaiming that the evils of modern life are the root cause of their cancer. Sure its anecdotal but good luck on trying to find a study on the psychological impacts of reading David’s book. They are continuing with their treatments and they continue to provide support without pushing any woo onto anyone. They don’t need someone who hasn’t walked in their shoes telling what they can think. I can assure you lilady that being a nurse with experience in oncology is world’s apart from being told you have cancer. I sincerely hope you never find that out.

    You have all made a mountain out of a molehill here. Let people read what they want without pushing your BP to stratospheric heights. My assertion stands, from my experience this book does no harm. If you have proof to state otherwise then please do and anecdotal evidence is allowed, I promise I won’t scream CITATIONS PLEASE

  15. #15 lilady
    August 14, 2011

    @ Delurked lurker: You have a strange way of posting here…by going into overdrive and “diagnosing” me as “projecting”. But, don’t allow my comments or any other comments here to push your BP to stratospheric heights.

  16. #16 Delurked lurker
    August 15, 2011

    @212

    Not much chance of my BP going up 🙂

    a cut n paste from the current ACS site :

    OK granted the important word here is ‘reduce’ it doesn’t say ‘prevent’. Fix that up and the ACS is basically saying the same thing D.S-S said. Mind you I am only going on your word on what D.S-S says as I couldn’t be bothered even looking at the video. His advice as has been relayed to me is sound despite the woo behind it. Re Cell phones, it maybe BS but if it encourages people to throw them away and start getting some manners back into society then all well and good. RE powerlines, do you want to live under them ? You ever heard the racket they make when it rains? Have you ever stood underneath one with a fluro tube in your hand? Try it I am sure you will be surprised. It maybe BS but I sure as hell would want to bring my kids up under one.

    D.S-S just seems to be regurgitating the accepted advice to live a good healthy lifestyle. Yeah he threw in a bit of woo, big bloody deal, cancer tends to do that to some people. He never ever advocated relying on Alt crap and he took his medicine like any sane person would. His book helped a lot of good people find some hope and steered them to adopt a healthier lifestyle, I fail to see what is so wrong with that.

    Anyway Lilady thanks for the discussion 🙂 As we actually share the same general mindset I doubt we will chat like this in the future, unless of course your alter ego Nurse Cratchit manages to show herself again.

  17. #17 lilady
    August 15, 2011

    @ Delurked lurker: You are a little late with referring to the American Cancer site. I posted @ 192 above their recommendations for decreasing the risk of colorectal cancer.

    Now you are focusing on physical activity…unable to find the theories that “David” advanced to prevent primary cancer or the recurrence of cancer, I presume.

    You state that you have been “lurking” at RI for a few years and that you are a nurse…didn’t you read Orac’s blogs about cell phones and other “theories” causing cancer? As a nurse, you should be able to understand how Orac and posters here thoroughly demolished the pseudoscience.

    “Anyway Lilady thanks for the discussion 🙂 As we actually share the same general mindset I doubt we will chat like this in the future, unless of course your alter ego Nurse Cratchit manages to show herself again.”

    I don’t think we share the “same general mindset”. I have no alter ego that “shows itself” and you can bet that I will have a “discussion” with you when you dish out your armchair analysis of “projection” on my part.

    P.S. Bob Cratchit’s wife/Tiny Tim’s mother was not a nurse.

  18. #18 TBruce
    August 15, 2011

    P.S. Bob Cratchit’s wife/Tiny Tim’s mother was not a nurse.

    Oh snap!

  19. #19 Delurked lurker
    August 15, 2011

    HELLO

    I said the cell phone thing was BS did I not, and yes I have read everyone of Orac’s posts on the subject and I don’t have any issues with them at all ! I don’t believe in David’s woo! I think I told you that 3 times now. Where we differ is in your implication that the book is harmful when my experience points to a different conclusion. So be it. no point in arguing with you.

    BTW it was a reference to Nurse Cratchit from One flew over the cuckoos nest but I am sure you knew that 😉

    One thing that shits Us ( people with cancer) off most is self righteous people who tell us what to do or how to think when they have no experience in walking our road and no amount of nursing experience will do that for you. It doesn’t matter if its some idiot pushing laetrile or some jumped up nurse who thinks she knows best it has the same effect. Once in a while you might want to peak out of your box and acknowledge that you are dealing with human beings who may just think differently to you.
    I come here often and have even emailed Orac for some advice which he kindly gave. This site is important to me not for the opportunity to annoy or troll or even blow my own trumpet but to learn and be able to give reasoned advice to people who are doing it very hard. I must admit I do get some perverse satisfaction at the troll smackdowns but hey I’m only human.

    C’est la vie

  20. #20 Delurked lurker
    August 15, 2011

    Did it again 🙁

    Nurse Ratched.

    Anyway no hard feelings we beg to differ on this. Believe it or not we agree more than disagree, take my word for it. If you can find the forum you will see I tell no lies 🙂

    I don’t like arguing with you because over the years I have grown to respect your opinions and I agree on basically anything, except this one little point. Never mind back to lurking….really this time

  21. #21 lilady
    August 15, 2011

    Hello…It seems that you are getting you BP up…better monitor that. If you are a nurse, then you know that patient education is part of nursing practice. You should also know that nurses (and other clinicians) do not have to be cancer survivors or have a history of other diseases and disorders in order to feel empathy for patients.

    I stated an opinion about “David’s” book and provided instances where “David” has deviated far afield from SBM…indeed instances where he is totally engulfed and wallowing in the woo. I also provided citations…you do know what citations are, don’t you?

    As I recall you went off on your rant when I was addressing my comments to another poster, not you, with accusations of “projecting” and innuendo about a make-believe scenario of encountering a patient reading “David’s” book and what my reaction would be. With this latest posting you continue the personal attacks on my professionalism and my character.

    If you are a nurse then I suggest you return to school to (re) learn what the practice of nursing is all about…it’s not all about working out your issues, not about your ego and it’s not about ambushing another nurse.

    “BTW it was a reference to Nurse Cratchit from One flew over the cuckoos nest but I am sure you knew that” There you go again reading into one of my comments and making an assumption with a snide remark. Do you mean nurse Ratched?

  22. #22 Richard Lanigan
    August 15, 2011

    @ Delurked lurker: Are The “Lifestyle” studies you are thinking of referred to by David Servan Schriber by Dean Ornish a professor doing “lifestyle”research in California eg;

    Ornish D et al. Intensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of prostate cancer. (2005) J Urol;174:1065 -1069.

    Hope it all goes well for you, have you watched the Big C, I loved it, I find laughter great therapy we need more Patch Adams in health care and less academics in my opinion.

    To angry skeptics I would say note the caveat Dean Ornish uses “may affect”.David S-S was a world class scientist in his own field and the suggestion that he thought he had found a “cure” for cancer or the “cause” of cancer is ludicrous. David presented a theory in a book advocating an “integrated” approach to cancer. He talks about “living with cancer” not “curing care”. I am sure if you go through every word he ever said you will find examples of him forgetting to use caveats.

    It seems to me the fact that a “world class scientist” incorporated “woo” into orthodox management of cancer offends many and perhaps suggests prejudices more than skepticism.

    I wish you all well, for those of you interested in Popeye the Sailor Man and me I am doing a retrospective blog about my experience of cancer at ww.rectalcancer.me I am at the start of the experience which has been interesting six months to say the least.

  23. #23 Bronze Dog
    August 15, 2011

    You have to laugh. I report how David S-S helped me and suggest you be open minded to his theories and not limit yourself to the results of RCTs in health care and I am the “arrogant bigot” and “hate science”. I hope you read research studies with a more open mind ?

    You’re the one who brought up RCTs and only spoke in vague insulting language about them, rather than level specific, meaningful criticism of that sort of test protocol. When I brought up the reasons for the different scientific measures taken in an RCT, you ignored that.

    You also compared the test protocol to healthy lifestyles as if they were mutually exclusive.

    What makes you think that I only accept RCTs? That’s a common straw man used to try to discredit skepticism. We know there are other ways to study a treatment. The straw man exists because it’s a convenient lie to avoid honest talk about epistemology.

    You also repeated a lot of other bigoted tropes used by alties to demonize skeptics, such as lying about what we believe about diet and exercise. Just last week, an altie troll just assumed my skeptic friends and I were all fat, lazy, and ate excessive fast food because we’re The Other, and therefore against proper diet and exercise.

    When I (and other skeptics) dared to express an opinion other than the one you gave me, you belittle me for getting angry at you.

    I am open to controversial treatments. That was never the problem. The problem is that I don’t accept anecdotes as verifiying evidence, and, as we’ve seen with lots and lots of alties, plugging a book instead of peer-reviewed journal articles is a giant red flag that someone doesn’t have good evidence.

    Put simply, Richard, it looks more like you came here to provoke skeptics than promote anything. For example, I made it clear what tactics would sway me, yet you ignored my suggestion and went on with the provocative tropes.

    It doesn’t help that one of your more recent posts seems to embrace defeatism as epistemology, which is, of course, something I get angry about.

  24. #24 herr doktor bimler
    August 16, 2011

    Best wishes to Richard Lanigan.

  25. #25 gaiusgracchus
    August 19, 2011

    People like me appreciate these debates — for better or for worse, many of us are trying to make decisions about what treatment to follow for our cancer.

    I did read Dr. Schreiber’s books. We have no way to know for sure if he prolonged his life through lifestyle changes. It seems as though it may have had an effect — his first relapse was within 5 years but after the changes his second relapse took a lot longer to occur. This is not proof, of course.

    You guys should not do ad hominem attacks on the people who are posting alternative viewpoints. Is it really 100% black and white — conventional vs alternative? No synergistic effects possible from combining both? If that is true, evidence is always appreciated.

    But as I search for the right approach for my own cancer (and it would be easier if the conventional treatments for cancer were not so horrific in themselves), I learn from these debates. And the ad hominem attacks really don’t add much to the discussion.

    Thanks for the info and for your posting of ideas and evidence. It is very helpful.

  26. #26 Lawrence
    August 19, 2011

    Gaius – it is a false comparison. If it works, it is “conventional” medicine. The stuff that is considered “alternative” is pure poppycock without evidence of efficacy.

  27. #27 gaiusgracchus
    August 19, 2011

    @lawrence: Good point.

    I agree that it seems reprehensible that some of these quacks are not only giving false hope to cancer patients, but that they may turn them off the course of SMB completely. (Which is generally a dangerous thing to do, I would say.)

    However, there is a point to be made about conventional medicine that is important. What really determines what is considered to be conventional? It certainly helps to have large, repeatable, high-quality controlled, unbiased studies. But this costs money. Who will fund such studies? Although ‘Big Pharma’ gets a lot of criticism that borders on the paranoid, it is the source of a large part of this research.

    The problem with that situation is that pharmaceutical companies are only motivated to study things that will result in a certain ROI. Understandable, but what impact does that have on the realm of possibilities for treatment?

    A good example is DCA. This is from the Wikipedia article:

    “DCA is non-patentable as a compound, though a patent has been filed for its use in cancer treatment.[28] Research by Evangelos Michelakis has received no support from the pharmaceutical industry. Concerns have been raised that without strong intellectual property protection, the financial incentive for drug development is reduced, and therefore clinical trials of DCA may not be funded.[17][18][19][29] However, other sources of funding exist; previous studies of DCA have been funded by government organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and by private charities (e.g. the Muscular Dystrophy Association). Recognizing anticipated funding challenges, Michelakis’s lab took the unorthodox step of directly soliciting online donations to fund the research.[30] After 6 months, his lab had raised over $800,000, enough to fund a small Clinical Phase 2 study. Michelakis and Archer have applied for a patent on the use of DCA in the treatment of cancer.[31][32]”

    See more info here:
    http://www.medicorcancer.com/DownloadForms/DCA-FAQs_form-Medicor.pdf

    They are struggling to get funding for something that may have some real promise for cancer treatment. But the point, again, is that how much of what is offered as conventional is limited by financial interests? Not that pharmaceutical companies are expected to do charitable research, but just that there is an inevitable effect on the SMB treatment landscape that should not be ignored.

  28. #28 Johnny
    August 19, 2011

    But as I search for the right approach for my own cancer (and it would be easier if the conventional treatments for cancer were not so horrific in themselves), I learn from these debates. And the ad hominem attacks really don’t add much to the discussion.

    See http://xkcd.com/836/

    Find courage where you can, but take your weapons from science.

  29. #29 squirrelelite
    August 19, 2011

    Also, gaiusgracchus,

    To know that the combination of intervention A with intervention B has a synergistic effect, you need good data on the beneficial effect of A and the beneficial effect of B. So that, for instance, if for cancer X, intervention A gives a 50% survival time of 5 years and intervention B alone gives a 50% survival time of 1 year but A+B give a 50% survival time of 10 years, that would be a synergistic effect.

    You also need to be very sure that intervention B has a beneficial effect. For a counter example, read the results of the Gonzales study. As another example, if I remember right, the last serious study I read about vitamin C as a cancer treatment showed that vitamin C had a slight effect but much less than could be achieved with conventional chemotherapy. Also, the biochemical effects of vitamin C counteracted the action of the better chemotherapy agents, so adding it to the standard treatment would make results worse, not better.

    Sorry about the lack of reference, because I’m short of time. I’ll try to locate it if someone really wants it.

  30. #30 Krebiozen
    August 19, 2011

    Gauisgracchus,
    DCA has been discussed here many times.
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/05/the_dca_zombie_arises_again.php

    The Phase 2 trial, “The Safety and Efficacy of DCA for the Treatment of Brain Cancer” which was completed last year does not seem to have been published (I can’t find it anyway), and there are no results posted on the Clinical Trials site. That does not bode well as if it was successful I would expect them to be trumpeting it from the rooftops.

  31. #31 lilady
    August 19, 2011

    @ Gaius: I went to the NIH NCI (National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute) and keyed in: “Dichloroacetate”

    I located 5 “open trials”; the one you linked to is listed at #2 in the “open trial” category. There are also 2 “closed trials”. I suggest you review the 7 open and closed trials. BTW, the one you linked to has not been updated with the NCI because the researchers haven’t provided that information.

    I also checked the PubMed website and keyed in “Dichloroacetate Cancer Treatment” and came up with 78 citations from 78 studies from the journals that published them. The oldest citation is from 1991 and the newer ones are dated 2011.

    You are a new poster here, but us regulars always look forward to Orac’s blogs around “grant writing time” because he exquisitely details the onerous task of writing a complicated grant to fund his breast cancer research. Oh yeah, he bitches and moans about it and frets that the grant money will be slashed. Such is the life of our esteemed Orac who has two “day jobs” (breast cancer surgeon and breast cancer researcher).

    During a particularly vicious attack by the anti-vax crowd, it was alleged that Orac was a tool of “Big Pharma” with conflicts of interest. I cannot come up with Orac’s reply about the small amount of a drug that was purchased with grant money and disproved the spurious attack…perhaps one of the “regulars” here can link to the site.

    If you have written a grant to get funding for a program (I have) or for research, then you would understand that it is for legitimate research and not because you have undisclosed conflicts of interest or have sold your soul to Big Pharma.

  32. #32 gaiusgracchus
    August 19, 2011

    lilady: “If you have written a grant to get funding for a program (I have) or for research, then you would understand that it is for legitimate research and not because you have undisclosed conflicts of interest or have sold your soul to Big Pharma.”

    No one is suggesting such a thing, least of all me (re-read post).

    But the bit about Orac is supportive of my point — it is really hard to get funding for things that may not result in patentable, profitable products. Kudos to Orac for his hard work in this area.

  33. #33 Vicki
    August 19, 2011

    Gaiusgracchus:

    What worries me is the possibility that some new treatment (including but not limited to drugs, “supplements,” and other chemicals) could make a known treatment less effective. It’s easy to think that anything added might help and can’t hurt, but interactions are complex, and not necessarily in the directions we’d want.

    For example: grapefruit juice interacts with many (not all) drugs in odd ways, increasing the effectiveness of some and decreasing that of others. In order to avoid or control for that, people first had to discover the effect: it’s not at all obvious that taking your medicine with grapefruit juice would be significantly different from taking it with orange juice.

    I don’t have any easy answers for you, unfortunately: but someone saying “what harm can it do?” isn’t providing evidence that something is safe or effective. Do ask your doctors and pharmacist if they’re aware of interactions, though, with prescription drugs, anything you’re taking over the counter (including painkillers and allergy meds), and any herbs or supplements you use.

  34. #34 Beamup
    August 19, 2011

    It’s really hard to get funding for ANYTHING these days.

  35. #35 augustine
    August 19, 2011

    Liladay

    You are a new poster here, but us regulars always look forward to Orac’s blogs around “grant writing time” because he exquisitely details the onerous task of writing a complicated grant to fund his breast cancer researchSuch is the life of our esteemed Orac who has two “day jobs” (breast cancer surgeon and breast cancer researcher).

    You are a grade A First Class Ass Kisser and Jock sniffer. Can you make it more obvious?

  36. #36 lilady
    August 19, 2011

    Hmm, Ignorant, unemployable, uneducated potty-mouthed boring troll is still etc., etc. Too bad Orac didn’t keep him in moderation purdah.

  37. #37 Olga
    August 22, 2011

    Toda una inspiracion para luchar contra el cáncer y vivir una nueva vida feliz. Gracias, muchas gracias David Servan.
    http://entre-estar-e-ir.blogspot.com/

  38. #38 pela
    September 9, 2011

    what the f*** is wrong with you? the tone of this post is simply disrespectful towards late dr. Servan-Schreiber and the unconventioanl approaches to healing. I just hope you never have to experience the shortcomings of “conventional” medicine when it comes to curing diseases such as cancer.

  39. #39 Chris
    September 9, 2011

    pela, another tone troll. Did you know that the blog owner is an oncologist, and has probably more experience with cancer than you ever will?

  40. #40 blaster
    September 15, 2011

    i tried reading all the comments below, but found that it was simply a game of after school bullying rather then factual commenting.

    from reading the book, the late Dr. was quite clear that you need to follow medical procedures such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. He does not say that you should only do alt-therapy. He does say that ALONG with common medical practices, adding these alt-therapies can help you in preventing many types of illnesses.

    The book discusses eating healthy, as the only sources of energy we receive is from what we eat. This is common sense, our mothers used to tell us to eat our veggies. At no point is he saying ONLY do this, and don’t go see your medical professional. following proper medical advice, along with leading a balanced and healthy lifestyle can help prevent and alleviate many illnesses and diseases. As he states – this does not guarantee that you won’t get sick, or die. our bodies are fallible and will break down. Adding these alt-therapies can help you in potentially avoiding these illnesses.

    it would be nice if people can comment without bringing schoolyard emotions into the mix. let’s see how this comment will be read/misread!

  41. #41 suzanne
    October 1, 2011

    I was very surprised at the first comments on this blog and those are people who obviously know very little about cancer.. indeed Dr Schreiber, is a doctor and he complements and puts ways that you can help your treatment on top of conventional medicine and surgery.
    His books and research has been used in various institues and hospitals providing diet while you go for treatment and when you are not on treatment. You need to read the book and have experienced friends or family members who went through the same thing to value what he has written in his 3 books. He’s a remarkable man. I was very touched when he actually responded to my sister’s mail about a specific question concerning my 5 year old’s newphew’s case with a brain tumor. This man is remarkable, it is not easy to go and do what he has done knowing you have the disease yourself. He’s been a great help for many patients who have gone and how are still here, and the families and friends of those as well. His book is supported with a lot of data and research, this is why I am convinced. I wish we could all take him seriously.
    May he rest in peace and I feel for his family and friends, and his doctors who have treated him all these years and have stayed close.

  42. #42 Chris
    October 1, 2011

    suzanne:

    I was very surprised at the first comments on this blog and those are people who obviously know very little about cancer..

    Would it help you know that the author of the article is a surgical oncologist who perhaps knows a bit more about cancer than a psychiatrist? I have no doubt that Dr. Servin-Schrieber wrote comforting words, as he was a psychiatrist.

    I suggest you read what Orac wrote a bit more carefully.

  43. #43 JD Mitchell
    October 6, 2011

    In the introduction to Anticancer, written before Servan-Schreiber’s final relapse, he says specifically that “the Anticancer program cannot (and does not) claim to hold cancer at bay for everyone” – but it can “help sustain life, whatever the outcome”. The possibility of Servan-Schreiber’s relapse and death from cancer is also mentioned throughout the book. The book’s clear purpose is simply to help people live in as ‘anticancer’ a way as possible, while emphasising that it would be “completely unreasonable” (another quote) to reject surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy as cancer treatments. Also, Servan-Schreiber does not lay blame on patients for falling ill with or succumbing to cancer; the reference to not simply accepting his fate just means that he actively worked to combat his cancer by all the means that seemed scientifically valid to him, including those used in traditional Western medicine. Have you read the book?

  44. #44 Chris
    October 6, 2011

    Mr/Ms Mitchell, Dr. Servan-Schreiber was a psychiatrist. Orac is a surgical oncologist. Which of the two would be better versed on the science of cancer?

    By the way, have you read The Emperor of All Maladies?

  45. #45 Chris
    October 7, 2011

    What great insights into cancer would Orac (a surgical oncologist) get from reading a book by a psychiatrist? Exactly how was Dr. Servan-Schreiber more of an expert than someone who is actually a cancer researcher?

  46. #46 delurked lurker
    October 7, 2011

    Hi Chris

    Take this as a constructive criticism

    Your posts have a faint wisp of sycophancy about them. That makes good troll fodder.

  47. #47 JD Mitchell
    October 7, 2011

    Well Chris, Orac’s specialty is obviously cancer surgery. Arguably, Servan-Schreiber is the more objective assessor here, since his firsthand experience as a cancer patient gave him the desire to explore all potential avenues of treatment, and his medical training gave him the ability to research the scientific evidence behind each avenue.
    I’m sure Orac is an excellent surgical oncologist, but that doesn’t mean that he’s the last word in complementary anti-cancer strategies. Pages 127-132 of the Anticancer book give a persuasive explanation of why well-meaning and brilliant Western doctors would not consider nutrition etc as a potential tool in the fight against cancer. I would be interested to hear a rebuttal of this explanation by a critic.
    I haven’t read The Emperor of All Maladies and I have no medical background. I’m just interested in living a healthy lifestyle and I wasn’t convinced by Orac’s arguments against the Anticancer ‘program’. I’m open to the question though.

  48. #48 Chris
    October 7, 2011

    I have first hand experience as a person who suffers from allergies, that does make me an allergist. I also have first experience giving birth to three babies, but that does not make me a gynecologist.

    I was a structural engineer. I know about forces, strength of materials and structural dynamics. But I am not qualified to design and analyze an earthquake proof suspension bridge over a gorge. I know my limitations, and clearly Dr. Servan-Schreiber did not.

    You said: “Pages 127-132 of the Anticancer book give a persuasive explanation of why well-meaning and brilliant Western doctors would not consider nutrition etc as a potential tool in the fight against cancer.”

    First define “Western doctors.” Does this mean that Japanese and Chinese oncologists are better, even though they practice the same medicine as Orac? Are the varicella and DTaP vaccines not “Western” because they were developed in Japan? Look at the bottom of this page at the map with the red dots, tell us where you think “Western medicine” begins and ends.

    Second, show us the peer reviewed literature cited in the book that shows that nutrition has an effect on cancer. Do double check that they are indexed at http://www.pubmed.gov.

    Be specific on what kind of cancer each nutritional intervention is meant for with the supporting clinical evidence. There is no “one” cancer, it is a collection of diseases with a variety of causes and effects. Just post the type of cancer, the nutritional intervention and the journal, title and date of the papers as evidence that it is a valid treatment.

    The The Emperor of All Maladies is a well written book for any general audience. I suggest you get it from your local library and spend the weekend reading it.

  49. #49 JD Mitchell
    October 7, 2011

    In fact, Anticancer is apparently the top selling cancer book. It seems kind of odd that Orac would not have read it, even if for no other purpose than to confirm its quackery. I’m sure that anyone, especially an oncologist, who could publish a scientific rebuttal of Servan-Schreiber’s assertions would sell really well too!

  50. #50 Gray Falcon
    October 7, 2011

    For many years the majority of people thought that bloodletting was medicine. Does that mean it worked?

  51. #51 Vicki
    October 7, 2011

    JD Mitchell: Fortunately, we don’t need an explanation for why brilliant doctors (Western, Eastern, Northern, or Southern) wouldn’t consider nutrition as a potential tool against cancer, because doctors do consider nutrition. Unfortunately, they keep being disappointed, beyond the general advice that a healthy, balanced diet is likely to be good for you. But that’s a long way from “get more vitamin C” or “eat less dairy” or whatever else is being offered as a one-size-fits-all recommendation.

    Selenium supplements had looked promising as a preventive measure, until a large-scale trial was done. The most promising suggestion anyone can offer now is that maybe the reason the supplements didn’t help is that they were was the wrong form of selenium. Vitamin E supplements may actually increase the risk of cancer.

  52. #52 Chris
    October 7, 2011

    To help you understand the complexity of the diseases that are dubbed “cancer” click on the following link:
    http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1162

    I want you to tell us exactly which cancer, what it effects and how the “nutritional” therapy affects the cell mutations. Make sure to list the clinical trials where these therapies were the main focus, and not an adjunct to chemotherapy, surgery, etc.

    As an example of the types of relevant papers I found some free online papers about laetrile (also known as amygdalin or B17), which was touted as “vitamin” to help cure cancer in the early 1970d. Well, it was studied and was found to not work (mainly because its active ingredient is cyanide, sure it kills cells in a petri dish, but it also kills people!). To get to the papers go to PubMed and put the titles into the search box:

    Failure of amygdalin to arrest B16 melanoma and BW5147 AKR leukemia.
    Hill GJ 2nd, Shine TE, Hill HZ, Miller C.
    Cancer Res. 1976 Jun;36(6):2102-7.

    The nutritionally and metabolically destructive “nutritional and metabolic antineoplastic diet” of laetrile proponents.
    Herbert V.
    Am J Clin Nutr. 1979 Jan;32(1):96-8.

    By the way, “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” might be a good place to start finding those therapies that benefit cancer. They have a website: http://www.nutrition.org/

  53. #53 JD Mitchell
    October 7, 2011

    Chris – first of all, your argument about knowing your limitations would seem to apply to Orac as well as to Servan-Schreiber.
    Secondly, I meant ‘Western’ in the sense that it’s often used, to generally indicate surgical and pharmacological medicine as opposed to other health strategies (proven and unproven). It’s no doubt an inaccurate term, but I didn’t mean it in a geographical or ethnic sense.
    Lastly, I’m in no way qualified to prove or disprove Servan-Schreiber’s advice. That’s why I’m interested in hearing the actual evidence against it. For example, let’s take turmeric – Servan-Schreiber says that it has a proven anti-cancer effect. Can Orac explain why this is or is not true?

  54. #54 Chris
    October 7, 2011

    JD Mitchell, why did you not answer my questions? Did you even try? I have a comment in moderation with examples of papers, and a link to the American Society for Nutrition.

    Going over to Amazon, I checked the book rankings:

    Anticancer, A New Way of Life, New Edition is:
    #505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
    #5 in Books > Health, Mind & Body > Aging > Cancer
    #8 in Books > Health, Mind & Body > Disorders & Diseases
    #29 in Books > Health, Mind & Body > Personal Health

    The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer is: Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
    #239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
    #2 in Books > Professional & Technical > Medical > Medicine > Internal Medicine
    #3 in Books > Health, Mind & Body > Aging > Cancer
    #3 in Books > History > Ancient > Early Civilization

    Really, get a copy of the latter and read it.

  55. #55 Gray Falcon
    October 7, 2011

    So you’re saying that if someone makes a claim, it should automatically accepted as true unless someone provides evidence otherwise? JD Mitchell, you are a warlock. Prove me wrong.

  56. #56 Chris
    October 7, 2011

    JD Mitchell there is only one kind of medicine: the stuff that has proven to work. Orac does not have to explain why it is not true beyond what he wrote above (have you read this article?). You made a claim based in the book, therefore you must provide the evidence for that claim.

    If you have the book in front of you all you need to do is list the papers that show the evidence given by the author to support his contention that nutrition is valid. The journal, title and dates of those paper should be listed in the bibliography or notes section of the paper.

    So please list those papers. Thank you.

    (and I have another comment in moderation, apparently the book I suggested has a better ranking… so go get it and read it)

  57. #57 Chris
    October 7, 2011

    Aagh, typing too fast: Just check the notes and bibliography of the book for the papers that the author uses for evidence.

  58. #58 JD Mitchell
    October 7, 2011

    Regarding the other comments – no, the fact that for many years the majority of people believed in bloodletting doesn’t mean that it worked. But similarly, for many years the majority of people believed that the earth is flat. That argument goes both ways.
    Also, the failure or quackery of some alternative therapies does not disprove the effectiveness of all alternative therapies.
    Again, I’m not qualified to prove Servan-Schreiber’s assertions. His advice is persuasive though, and I am looking for his critics to back up their opinion on why it’s ineffective so that we as lay people can consider both sides of the argument.

  59. #59 Gray Falcon
    October 7, 2011

    Regarding the other comments – no, the fact that for many years the majority of people believed in bloodletting doesn’t mean that it worked. But similarly, for many years the majority of people believed that the earth is flat. That argument goes both ways.

    No, both of those went the same way: Popularity didn’t make something right. Same with that book. Now, prove to me that you aren’t a warlock.

  60. #60 TBruce
    October 7, 2011

    Regarding the other comments – no, the fact that for many years the majority of people believed in bloodletting doesn’t mean that it worked. But similarly, for many years the majority of people believed that the earth is flat. That argument goes both ways.

    Uhh, right. Brilliant example of how “that argument goes both ways”.

    Also, the failure or quackery of some alternative therapies does not disprove the effectiveness of all alternative therapies.

    However, it does suggest that claims for alternative therapies should be demonstrated to work by scientific methods before being accepted.

  61. #61 Denice Walter
    October 7, 2011

    I have heard woo-meisters proclaim *turmeric* as the new cure-all for years- anti-cancer, anti-arthritis, anti-what-ever-ails-ye- yet do we ever see anything substantial come of it?
    The best one yet- use turmeric, ginger, and cayenne for relief of pain- sounds like curry!

    @ Gray Falcon: Watchit there, one of those accused warlocks is liable to turn you into a you-know-what! You’ll get better.

  62. #62 TBruce
    October 7, 2011

    I have heard woo-meisters proclaim *turmeric* as the new cure-all for years- anti-cancer, anti-arthritis, anti-what-ever-ails-ye- yet do we ever see anything substantial come of it?

    Well, it’s pretty – and yummy!

  63. #63 Gray Falcon
    October 7, 2011

    My mother once wondered if the low levels of food poisoning and high levels of stomach cancer in Japan and Korea was due to amount of pickled and preserved food that they ate. Of course, that’s probably just speculation. You’d think eating large quantities of kimchi would have some effect on the human body.

  64. #64 Militant Agnostic
    October 7, 2011

    JD Mitchell

    But similarly, for many years the majority of people believed that the earth is flat.

    I believe this is the old “science said the world was flat” canard. In fact the ancient Greeks knew the world was not flat and Eratosthenes even calculated the earth’s diameter. This knowledge, not a belief that the Earth was flat, is why Christopher Columbus had trouble finding backers for an attempt to sail to the Orient by going west. Columbus believed the earth was much smaller than it actually was. Rather than being a visionary, he was a lucky dufus.

  65. #65 lilady
    October 7, 2011

    @ JD Mitchell: You seem to be all over the lot about nutrition as cancer prevention and now a specific spice “turmeric” as a cancer prevention.

    I suggest you check out PubMed “NanoCurc” (TM) for some ongoing research about this parenteral drug which is being used in addition to other parenteral chemo-therapeutic cancer drugs as treatment for some specific cancers. Please note that this is experimental treatment for cancer not as a preventive for cancer.

    You raised an interesting question about “turmeric” spice as a preventive and you might be interested in the incidence of stomach cancer in Asian countries where turmeric is used extensively in food preparation and ingested as turmeric tea. Why is the incidence of stomach cancer much higher in these countries versus “western” countries…if turmeric has cancer prevention properties?:

    J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010 Mar;25(3):479-86.
    Epidemiology of Helicobacter pylori infection and gastric cancer in Asia.
    Fock KM, Ang TL.
    Source

    Division of Gastroenterology, Changi General Hospital, Singapore. kwong_ming_fock@cgh.com.sg
    Abstract

    In Asia, the prevalence of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection varies markedly in different countries. Higher prevalence rates are found in developing Asian countries while lower rates have been reported in more industrialized and developed countries. Within a country, the seroprevalence rates may vary between distinct geographic regions. H. pylori infection is an important etiological factor for the occurrence of non-cardia gastric adenocarcinoma. The incidence rate of gastric adenocarcinoma in Asia tends to mirror the seroprevalence rate of H. pylori infection; however, there are populations with high seroprevalence rates of H. pylori infection that paradoxically have low incidence rates of gastric adenocarcinoma. These diverse clinical outcomes are related to bacterial virulence factors, concomitant environmental factors, host susceptibility and immune response. This review summarizes the current epidemiology of H. pylori infection in Asia and analyzes these data in the context of gastric cancer epidemiology.

    PMID:
    20370726
    [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

  66. #66 Chris
    October 7, 2011

    JD Mitchell:

    gain, I’m not qualified to prove Servan-Schreiber’s assertions.

    Does this mean you are also not qualified to open the book, find the bibliography and type out the journal, title and date of the references listed there?

    Can you at least tell us if there is even a bibliography? Because if that is missing, then you need to learn how to properly evaluate non-fiction literature.

    About the last quarter of The Emperor of All Maladies is Notes section that lists every reference. If

  67. #67 Denice Walter
    October 7, 2011

    @ TBruce:

    I have a theory about those who regard *spice as medicine* – it is all an excuse to eat Indian food. Probably perpetrated by BigCoriander or suchlike.

  68. #68 Militant Agnostic
    October 7, 2011

    @263

    Oh-Oh it looks like the Reptillians got Chris in mid sentence.

  69. #69 JD "Warlock" Mitchell
    October 7, 2011

    What’s with the vitriol? Surely it’s good to explore both sides of an argument when there’s such a large following for each; it’s not about one person making a random claim in this case.
    To avoid any confusing analogies, let’s put it this way: It’s true that lots of quack medicines were once believed to be effective. It’s also true that lots of theories believed to be indisputable by the vast majority of the scientific community turned out to be wrong (or not the whole picture) in the light of new discoveries, that often took many years to be accepted.

  70. #70 Gray Falcon
    October 7, 2011

    JD Mitchell: This isn’t vitriol, this is the same thing everyone else gets asked, “What’s the evidence?”. Tell me, why were the new ideas accepted? Because they were popular, or because of the evidence? Reality isn’t determined by popularity contests.

  71. #71 JD Mitchell
    October 7, 2011

    Re the turmeric, there’s a page of notes in the book citing Servan-Schreiber’s references, but I’d rather not type them out, firstly because it would be time-consuming and secondly because I wasn’t actually looking for a debate on turmeric; I was just using it as an example of arguing a specific with evidence rather than making general “this is all bollocks” statements. I am neutral about turmeric.

  72. #72 Chris
    October 7, 2011

    Militant Agnostic:

    Oh-Oh it looks like the Reptillians got Chris in mid sentence.

    Actually I forgot and left it there when I put the sentence in the previous paragraph.

    Mr./Ms. Mitchell, have you found the list of references in Dr. Servan-Shreiber’s book yet? Could you please list the papers that he used to support his arguments on pages 127-132?

    Thank you.

  73. #73 Calli Arcale
    October 7, 2011

    Mr Mitchell,

    This isn’t vitriol. It is, in fact, exploring both sides. That’s what all the questions about evidence are about. You don’t explore something by not asking questions. Quite the opposite, in fact. And while you are quite right that lots of theories believed true turned out to be false (and vice versa), it was only by asking questions and searching for evidence that this was found to be the case.

  74. #74 Chris
    October 7, 2011

    Mr./Ms. Mitchell, I am not asking about tumeric, I am asking about the specific pages you noted. If you did not want a “debate” then you should not have come here saying: “Have you read the book?” and basically claiming a psychiatrist was more qualified than an oncologist solely on the basis he was a cancer patient.

    Now please tell us what the journal, title and date of references he used for those pages. You made the claim that he had a persuasive argument on pages 127-132, so please provide the scientific literature he used to support his statements.

    You’ve done enough typing in the past few hours than required to list those papers.

    Another book suggestion: Lies, damned lies, and science : how to sort through the noise around global warming, the latest health claims, and other scientific controversies by Sherry Seethaler. It is a nice short book, you can read it in one rainy afternoon.

  75. #75 Vicki
    October 7, 2011

    JD:

    In that case, I think your question comes down to a tautology:
    Q: “Why doesn’t that part of medicine that consists of surgery and drugs include the preventive use of nutrition?”
    A: “Because if it’s nutrition, it’s not surgery and drugs.”

    If you define “western medicine” to mean surgery plus drugs, of course it’s not going to include the effects of diet. But it’s also not going to include a significant amount of what lots of us get from fairly conventional doctors, which includes advice on exercise, rest, and diet, and referrals to physical therapy.

    Is it “Western medicine” when an orthopedic surgeon says “Get physical therapy. If that doesn’t work, I can give you an injection, and if that doesn’t work we can try surgery”? Or is it only “Western medicine” in the cases where the surgeon’s first suggestion doesn’t work, and he and the patient have to proceed to drugs or cutting? For what it’s worth, the surgeon told me that the PT had a 70% chance of working; I don’t think it makes sense to say that he gives only 30% of his patients with that condition Western medicine.

    The point is, there aren’t sharp lines. The same doctor who gives advice on diet and exercise may hand you a prescription for an antibiotic or steroid; a patient who has recently been released from the hospital may call her surgeon for clarification on what is and isn’t appropriate for her to eat.

  76. #76 Chris
    October 7, 2011

    So I downloaded the electronic version of Dr. Servan-Schreiber’s book, and read Chapter 8. It is just like the news articles that try to divide the world into things that prevent cancer and things that cause cancer. To understand why the whole chapter is fairly meaningless I suggest you read Dr. Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science.

    While it is extensively referenced, many of them are just letters and editorials, some books and actually don’t say what the author claimed they said. For example, the first real reference on green tea was:
    Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Jan 1;167(1):71-7. Epub 2007 Sep 29.

    Which says: “Green tea may be associated with a decreased risk of advanced prostate cancer.” Well, that was underwhelming.

    Then it goes to olive oil and turmeric. I love the observation that Indians have less cancer, though it ignores the less than adequate infrastructure in that country to keep track of diseases and provide medical care, and that India’s life expectancy is under 67 years, which is a full ten years less than the USA (from the CIA World Factbook).

    Not willing to slog through the list of cites to see which were just letters, and one or two epidemiology studies, I searched for a review:
    Curcumin: A review of anti-cancer properties and therapeutic activity in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
    Wilken R, Veena MS, Wang MB, Srivatsan ES.
    Mol Cancer. 2011 Feb 7;10:12. Review.

    It seems the goal is not the eating, but getting the actual chemical into the tumor:

    The lipophilic nature of curcumin and relative insolubility in aqueous solutions, combined with short half life and low bioavailability following oral administration has presented a significant challenge in developing an effective delivery system for its use as a chemotherapeutic agent [183]. In an effort to overcome this obstacle, various strategies are being tried including the use of piperine as an adjuvant agent to slow curcumin breakdown as well as the development of liposomal, phospholipid and nanoparticulated formulations of the compound to enable intravenous administration [183].

    Then he writes in the section “Mushrooms That Stimulate the Immune System” that rate of stomach cancer was as much as 50% lower among Japanese peasants who consume large amounts of these mushrooms. But Cite #43 is:
    Nutr Cancer. 2003;46(2):138-47.
    Cruciferous vegetables, mushrooms, and gastrointestinal cancer risks in a multicenter, hospital-based case-control study in Japan.
    Hara M, Hanaoka T, Kobayashi M, Otani T, Adachi HY, Montani A, Natsukawa S, Shaura K, Koizumi Y, Kasuga Y, Matsuzawa T, Ikekawa T, Sasaki S, Tsugane S.

    It was a case control group of under 1000 and the abstract says: “Although the sample size was limited, subgroup analyses showed that the associations differed with the histopathological subtype. These findings suggest that cruciferous vegetables decrease the risk of both stomach and colorectal cancer, and that mushrooms are associated with a decreased risk of stomach cancer.” I could not get the full paper to really look at the mushroom claim.

    Now as we go through, there is the bit on fruits, and I checked Cite #51:
    Carcinogenesis. 2005 Apr;26(4):821-6. Epub 2005 Jan 20.
    Combined inhibition of PDGF and VEGF receptors by ellagic acid, a dietary-derived phenolic compound.
    Labrecque L, Lamy S, Chapus A, Mihoubi S, Durocher Y, Cass B, Bojanowski MW, Gingras D, Béliveau R.

    It is all done in a petri dish. Again, it is not really the diet but the chemical compounds.

    But, there was a section of a study on mice that were fed instead of injected! What an extraordinary claim, but the reference, The Dietary Flavonols Apigenin and Luteolin Inhibit PDGF-Dependent Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Migration says: “Cancer Research, in submission. The book’s copyright is 2008, surely it should be published. I cannot find this particular paper of Sylvie Levy on PubMed. Well, that was frustrating.

    I did find this paper, which is available to read:
    J Nutr. 2009 Apr;139(4):646-52. Epub 2009 Feb 25.
    The flavonols quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin inhibit hepatocyte growth factor-induced medulloblastoma cell migration.
    Labbé D, Provençal M, Lamy S, Boivin D, Gingras D, Béliveau R.

    What is interesting, it is also a petri dish experiment, but the discussion does refer to other labs results on feeding mice.

    I noticed he discussed Gleevec in the “Spices and Herbs” section. The Emperor of All Maladies has quite a bit about the development of Gleevec. It seems to me that Dr. Servan-Shreiber does not really understand the whole concept behing Gleevec with his claims on the oils of herbs.

    The whole book is full of anecdotes with extensive but pointless references that are more an attempt to “baffle with bovine excrement” rather than educate. Plus he has the whole worthless “Eastern” versus “Western” silliness (that does not go well here).

    So really, get The Emperor of All Maladies. It is a much better book. You should like it, Siddhartha Mukherjee is from India.

  77. #77 Chris
    October 7, 2011

    I got the book from my library as an eBook. I am not impressed. It was annoying that you cannot select and copy from an Adobe Digital Book. Also, while it is cool that the cite numbers are active and take you the cite when you click on them, there is no easy way to get back to the actual page. This what I have to say about eBooks: :-p

    But I did write about my issues with it, and was careful to list the studies without using any links. There is not one link or naughty word in the whole thing. But it is in moderation.

    And this is what I have to say about the moderation here: ;-p

  78. #78 Chris
    October 7, 2011

    An error in my moderated comment: the copyright is 2009. Which is still two years ago.

  79. #79 Chris
    October 8, 2011

    Great! It is still in moderation! Here it is in chunks:

    So I downloaded the electronic version of Dr. Servan-Schreiber’s book, and read Chapter 8. It is just like the news articles that try to divide the world into things that prevent cancer and things that cause cancer. To understand why the whole chapter is fairly meaningless I suggest you read Dr. Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science.

    While it is extensively referenced, many of them are just letters and editorials, some books and actually don’t say what the author claimed they said. For example, the first real reference on green tea was:
    Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Jan 1;167(1):71-7. Epub 2007 Sep 29.

    Which says: “Green tea may be associated with a decreased risk of advanced prostate cancer.” Well, that was underwhelming.

  80. #80 Chris
    October 8, 2011

    Second chunk:

    Then it goes to olive oil and turmeric. I love the observation that Indians have less cancer, though it ignores the less than adequate infrastructure in that country to keep track of diseases and provide medical care, and that India’s life expectancy is under 67 years, which is a full ten years less than the USA (from the CIA World Factbook).

    Not willing to slog through the list of cites to see which were just letters, and one or two epidemiology studies, I searched for a review:
    Curcumin: A review of anti-cancer properties and therapeutic activity in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
    Wilken R, Veena MS, Wang MB, Srivatsan ES.
    Mol Cancer. 2011 Feb 7;10:12. Review.

    It seems the goal is not the eating, but getting the actual chemical into the tumor:

    The lipophilic nature of curcumin and relative insolubility in aqueous solutions, combined with short half life and low bioavailability following oral administration has presented a significant challenge in developing an effective delivery system for its use as a chemotherapeutic agent [183]. In an effort to overcome this obstacle, various strategies are being tried including the use of piperine as an adjuvant agent to slow curcumin breakdown as well as the development of liposomal, phospholipid and nanoparticulated formulations of the compound to enable intravenous administration [183].

  81. #81 Chris
    October 8, 2011

    Third chunk (oh, wow, it was a bit long!):

    Then he writes in the section “Mushrooms That Stimulate the Immune System” that rate of stomach cancer was as much as 50% lower among Japanese peasants who consume large amounts of these mushrooms. But Cite #43 is:
    Nutr Cancer. 2003;46(2):138-47.
    Cruciferous vegetables, mushrooms, and gastrointestinal cancer risks in a multicenter, hospital-based case-control study in Japan.
    Hara M, Hanaoka T, Kobayashi M, Otani T, Adachi HY, Montani A, Natsukawa S, Shaura K, Koizumi Y, Kasuga Y, Matsuzawa T, Ikekawa T, Sasaki S, Tsugane S.

    It was a case control group of under 1000 and the abstract says: “Although the sample size was limited, subgroup analyses showed that the associations differed with the histopathological subtype. These findings suggest that cruciferous vegetables decrease the risk of both stomach and colorectal cancer, and that mushrooms are associated with a decreased risk of stomach cancer.” I could not get the full paper to really look at the mushroom claim.

  82. #82 Denice Walter
    October 8, 2011

    @ Chris:
    re mushrooms:

    remember prn and PSK?

  83. #83 Chris
    October 8, 2011

    Fourth and penultimate chunk:

    Now as we go through, there is the bit on fruits, and I checked Cite #51:
    Carcinogenesis. 2005 Apr;26(4):821-6. Epub 2005 Jan 20.
    Combined inhibition of PDGF and VEGF receptors by ellagic acid, a dietary-derived phenolic compound.
    Labrecque L, Lamy S, Chapus A, Mihoubi S, Durocher Y, Cass B, Bojanowski MW, Gingras D, Béliveau R.

    It is all done in a petri dish. Again, it is not really the diet but the chemical compounds.

    But, there was a section of a study on mice that were fed instead of injected! What an extraordinary claim, but the reference, The Dietary Flavonols Apigenin and Luteolin Inhibit PDGF-Dependent Vascular Smooth Muscle Cell Migration says: “Cancer Research, in submission. The book’s copyright is 2009, surely it should be published. I cannot find this particular paper of Sylvie Levy on PubMed. Well, that was frustrating.

    I did find this paper, which is available to read:
    J Nutr. 2009 Apr;139(4):646-52. Epub 2009 Feb 25.
    The flavonols quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin inhibit hepatocyte growth factor-induced medulloblastoma cell migration.
    Labbé D, Provençal M, Lamy S, Boivin D, Gingras D, Béliveau R.

    What is interesting, it is also a petri dish experiment, but the discussion does refer to results from other labs on feeding mice.

  84. #84 Chris
    October 8, 2011

    (Denise, not really, I usually skipped their posts — and I actually love mushrooms, I like to slice them up, put in some olive oil with a sprig of rosemary, add some white wine and cook them down — they pick up some nice flavors from the wine and rosemary)

    Last chunk!

    I noticed he discussed Gleevec in the “Spices and Herbs” section. The Emperor of All Maladies has quite a bit about the development of Gleevec. It seems to me that Dr. Servan-Shreiber does not really understand the whole concept behing Gleevec with his claims on the oils of herbs.

    The whole book is full of anecdotes with extensive but pointless references that are more an attempt to “baffle with bovine excrement” rather than educate. Plus he has the whole worthless “Eastern” versus “Western” silliness (that does not go well here, it is pretty close to a form of racism).

    So really, JD Mitchell, get The Emperor of All Maladies. It is a much better book. You should like it, Siddhartha Mukherjee is from India.

    (Oh, look, Orac approved it!)

  85. #85 Bronze Dog
    October 8, 2011

    Plus he has the whole worthless “Eastern” versus “Western” silliness (that does not go well here, it is pretty close to a form of racism).

    From my point of view, there’s no “close” about it. It is outright racist. It’s just so prevalent and indoctrinated that it goes below most people’s radar. It’s a very casual form of racism because there aren’t enough people loudly criticizing it.

    There’s nothing inherently “western” about science. The fact that our philosophy of science got started in the western hemisphere is an accident of historical and geographical forces. Science is largely about rigorously double-checking yourself and others to prevent self-deception. Self-deception is a universal characteristic among humans, therefore science is a human undertaking that’s designed to transcend race and nationality.

  86. #86 Chris
    October 8, 2011

    Bronze Dog, the book discusses so much stuff about the value of Tibetan, Indian, Chinese, etc modalities like acupuncture, ayurvedic,and on and on that if it wasn’t an electronic file on my computer I’d toss it across the room!

    At least I can honestly say to anyone who whines “You did not read the book” that I have, and it is a piece of regurgitated bovine excrement.

  87. #87 JD Mitchell
    October 9, 2011

    Ok! Firstly, thanks for the responses and research re Anticancer’s specific claims. Very interesting and certainly casts doubt in my mind on Dr Servan-Schreiber’s scientific rigorousness in the book – I would not have waded through a renowned doctor’s references to argue against them so good for you. Also good points about the eastern/western thing, in fact I love Bronze Dog’s “Science is largely about rigorously double-checking yourself and others to prevent self-deception. Self-deception is a universal characteristic among humans, therefore science is a human undertaking that’s designed to transcend race and nationality.” I don’t entirely agree with the other comments on this topic, but that’s for another debate.
    Two other things I’d still like to say. One, there really is a nasty edge to a lot of the comments, which I don’t get. I’m not trying to sell leeches here and you can say why you think someone else’s comments are wrong without name-calling and snide remarks.
    Also – and this may trigger some name-calling and snide remarks – it STILL seems to me that Dr Servan-Schreiber’s diet recommendations make sense if you’re trying to lead a healthy lifestyle in general, and there is at least some indication that they MAY assist in preventing and recovering from cancer (although there may be less evidence of their effectiveness than he suggests). So, pending more scientific proving/disproving of what he says, why not follow them – especially if your life is on the line? (And NO, I don’t mean that if you choose to eat whatever you want and ignore nutrition theories, you’re to blame if things go wrong.)

  88. #88 Chris
    October 9, 2011

    JD Mitchell:

    Also – and this may trigger some name-calling and snide remarks – it STILL seems to me that Dr Servan-Schreiber’s diet recommendations make sense if you’re trying to lead a healthy lifestyle in general, and there is at least some indication that they MAY assist in preventing and recovering from cancer (although there may be less evidence of their effectiveness than he suggests).

    Boiled down: his diet recommendations are essentially eat plenty of fruit and veg, stay with certain fats, eat very little meat and not so much wine.

    Which is exactly what the real medical doctors recommend!

    I also have an extensive herb garden, along with aronia, blueberry and raspberries, with chard and other greens as landscape plants we eat. What amazed me about the book was that the diet recommendations were so mundane and mainstream, and what many of us eat.

    What you will find interesting when you read The Emperor of All Maladies is that one of the first treatments for leukemia in children is based on folic acid, a vitamin. Seriously, it is a much better book. A bit long, but a very good read.

  89. #89 Richard Lanigan
    October 9, 2011

    You are so lucky in America to have a cancer expert like Orac to go to, who is so “knowledgeable” on all aspects of cancer and well-being. Here in the UK I have had to see a Dr Welsh for my Radiotherapy, a Dr Bloom to perform the surgery to remove my rectum, Dr Raul who is planning a course of chemotherapy for stage three cancer. A nurse looks after my colostomy. I have no experts to help me with diet and nutrition, exercise and well-being and have had to rely on the writings of David Servan Schreiber and Dr Dean Ornish for things to try which may help reduce the risk of the cancer returning. None of my doctors know whether I will live or die, they seem to think I will live but the “science” says I now have a 55% chance of surviving five years, whats strange, no one can tell me how to improve those odds, beyond stopping smoking and I don’t smoke. To be fair I don’t have to pay for any of these National Health Service treatment’s. Having a doctor who can do everything must be wonderful, is that why Americans are so against socialized medicine? What advice Orac would give me on reducing the risk of my cancer returning, perhaps I should get a second opinion.

    I wonder what a clever guy like Steve Jobs with 6.7 billion in his bank account was doing having dinner with Dean Ornish last week, No doubt we are going to hear he spent the last seven years of his life, deluded into thinking he could beat pancreatic cancer with lifestyle changes. Is it coincidence that both David Servan Schreiber and Steve Jobs prolong their lives way beyond what anyone reasonably expectated by taking an integrated approach to their health and well-being.

    The truth is my doctors have been fantastic and they would be the first to admit they dont know everything and little money is being invested to investigate whether Tumeric can help. Only a fool with cancer would hang around for a “randomized controlled trial” to be published before making lifestyle changes that may help them. As I have said in a previous comment its difficult to understand why the Green tea we drink, the exercise we do and our “delusions” about meditating, provoke such outrage in the skeptic community.

  90. #90 Chris
    October 9, 2011

    I see, Mr. Lanigan, that you skipped past my comments. I listed a review of research on tumeric (curcumin is one of active components of the spice), perhaps you should look it up on PubMed and read the whole article. I tried to list articles that are available free online.

    Mr. Lanigan, could you please tell us exactly how Dr. Servan-Schreibner’s diet advice differs from the standard given by real medicine? I have the eBook from my library for another 19 days, so I can check how they differ.

  91. #91 Lawrence
    October 9, 2011

    In general, we (Americans in general) do a pretty poor job when related to proper diet and exercise. I have yet to meet a medical professional that doesn’t include a discussion about my habits (eating and exercise) and recommendations for improvement.

    So, for the woo-meisters & followers out there, the idea that the medical profession doesn’t consider general health (i.e. diet & exercise) related to things like cancer or just health in general, is a bunch of hooey.

  92. #92 herr doktor bimler
    October 9, 2011

    David Servan Schreiber and Steve Jobs prolong their lives way beyond what anyone reasonably expectated by taking an integrated approach to their health and well-being.

    I am not sure what surprises me most, here… the assumption that Jobs’ variety of cancer was rapidly terminal, or the description of his liver transplant and his previous major operation as “an integrated approach to health and well-being”.

  93. #93 Richard Lanigan
    October 10, 2011

    I am just reporting my experience with cancer, as did David Servan Schreiber. Treating cancer is not looking up a recipe book of treatments and picking one. Turmeric is just an example of a spice that has been reported by some to be helpful, people can try it or not the choice its theirs. A trial may show it to be effective or not, but every individual will not respond in the same as those who were found to be significant.

    There are lots of cancer theories out there, thats all they are theories (no truths) of what might best work for me. Its up to me to read and decide on the treatment I will have. Chemo may prolong my life it may not, exercise and diet may help who knows. The fact is, I know my body and how cancer has effected it better than anyone, medical practitioners and others can give me advice its up to me whether I take it or not. Its not a choice between medicine or “Woo”, its what works best for me.

    I dont think David Servan Schreibers diet advice differs much from “real medicine” and I dont think he thought that it did, he just reported what he found and many are grateful to him for taking the time to do it. Whether you like it or not it has helped me enormously, I have discussed these anecdotal findings with my doctors and they have been impressed by my recovery from the treatment I have had so far .

    AS a trained medical Doctor (psychiatry)David Servan Schreiber recognized that a colon surgeon or an oncologist or a pediatrician is not going to an expert in nutrition and all the aspects of well being that are relevant to cancer.

    Of course Steve Jobs liver transplant and medical treatment was a major factor in prolonging his life, but if as reported Dean Ornish was one of his principle doctors, he was following similar advice to that offered by David Servan Schrieber.(Dean Ornish was in London speaking last April) Dean Ornish is a “real” doctor giving sensible advice to people with cancer, not a “woomeister”. None one I know is rejecting medical treatment, looking for an “alternative”, we are just putting a bit more emphasis on the theory that cancer cells do not divide as rapidly in healthy body that can maintain physiological homeostasis, you may not believe in this theory, however knowing what you now know now I would be very surprised if you ignored Schreibers book if you are ever unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with cancer.

    Thats a choice for you to make. Then again you may be lucky enough to have a doctor who knows everything there is to know about treating cancer and optimizing health and wellbeing.

  94. #94 Beamup
    October 10, 2011

    The fact is, I know my body and how cancer has effected it better than anyone

    Much as we’d all like to believe this of ourselves, it’s simply not true. Certainly we know what we’re feeling better than anyone, but it’s a massive leap from there to believing that we understand the particular biology of our particular issues (cancer or otherwise).

    Richard also appears to fall into the trap of assuming that everything which isn’t 100% effective is equivalent. In particular,

    Chemo may prolong my life it may not, exercise and diet may help who knows.

    When there’s good science to support that the one has good odds of improving outcomes, and no similar evidence to support the other, equating them is just flat-out wrong and completely indefensible.

  95. #95 Krebiozen
    October 10, 2011

    I note that Servan-Schreiber was a proponent of positive thinking as a way of improving the outcome of cancer. I recently came across this article Positive Psychology in Cancer Care: Bad Science, Exaggerated Claims, and Unproven Medicine which looked at this idea and concluded:

    Claims about these areas of research routinely made in the positive psychology literature do not fit with available evidence.

  96. #96 Chris
    October 10, 2011

    Mr. Lanigan, so you agree the book is nothing special? My point was that the nutrition advice was mainstream and mundane, exactly what every doctor has been advising for years. My point on the turmeric is that it was being looked as part of the chemistry for chemotherapy, not as part of a diet in the research cited by Servan-Schreiber.

    Your point about a colon oncologist is just silly, because in my experience after my colonoscopy I got diet advice. The point about pediatricians not knowing about diet advice is just plain wrong, it is what they do every single visit. All of it echoing exactly what Servan-Schreiber wrote.

    What Dr. Servan-Schreiber wrote about other doctors opinions on nutrition was wrong, and very much an ad hominem.

    Really, Anticancer is a terrible book. It is full of false promises, denigration of most of the medical community, racism and the references are misleading. Stop making excuses for it.

  97. #97 Denice Walter
    October 10, 2011

    @ Chris:

    You point out another ruse used by the woos: if a chemical compound present in a food/herb/spice is being studied they will usually extrapolate that large quantities of the food/herb/spice should be included in the diet because of its preventive/ curative properties.

    Turmeric as a health-enhancer is merely an excuse for going out for Indian food.

  98. #98 Chris
    October 10, 2011

    I am not a big fan of curry. It may be because I am among those people where cilantro tastes like soap because my taste buds are sensitive to alkaloids. It seems every chef insists on using cilantro (hubby took me to a very nice Indian restaurant that he had gone to before and raved about, first thing is naan with a cilantro infused dip, and it was difficult finding anything without cilantro!).

    I was mostly disgusted at the fawning Servan-Schreiber did over any culture between Pakistan and Japan. Saying their diet and spiritual traditions were better, yet ignoring the basics like genetics, other issues with their society and differences in infrastructure. His general distrust of any real medical care providers, especially by actually lying on the level of nutrition expertise in real medicine.

    Then he went and tried to equate herbs and spices to Gleevec!

    Oh, and not to mention the pictures om the section called “The Vegetable Cocktail That Fights Cancer” where he described a trial on mice. Yet the reference was “in submission”, and anything I found by the author was on intraveneous use of the chemical compounds, not feeding the mice the solution. It seemed just so false and misleading.

    I don’t think he was purposely trying to delude the readers, he was mostly deluding himself.

    Let it be known, that even Asian doctors make some of the same dubious claims on health. All the more reason one has to look at the evidence.

  99. #99 JD Mitchell
    October 10, 2011

    I share Mr Lanigan’s bewilderment at the outrage and scorn heaped upon any potential treatment enhancer which has not been blessed by the all-knowing Orac, while those potential treatment enhancers are quickly Googled so that people with no medical training whatsoever can explain why it’s all “woo”.
    Anticancer is a useful book in that it doesn’t just give the general “eat more fruit and veg etc” advice, it draws together all the research Dr Servan-Schreiber found on specific dietary sources (and many other aspects of health and wellbeing) that have shown some indication of being helpful in the fight against cancer – along with all the appropriate caveats regarding what we actually know and the difference between a compound in the lab and in a normal diet.
    Dr Servan-Schreiber made a very good point in response to an accusation of making false promises to those cancer patients who dare step beyond what Orac et al say. It was that while he is careful not to give false hope, it’s just as wrong to give false hopelessness and ignore the promise shown by the research to date on specific lifestyle changes (like drinking green tea and eating more turmeric) that are available to the patient.

  100. #100 Gray Falcon
    October 10, 2011

    Mr. Mitchell, is it up to you to prove you’re not a warlock, or up to me to prove it?

  101. #101 Chris
    October 10, 2011

    JD Mitchell, you tell me what specific part of Chapter 8 is not covered by regular medical advice on nutrition. Be specific on the section of that book (unfortunately, due to the ability to change text size, the page numbers change). Skip the section on “The Vegetable Cocktail” because that does not even have a proper reference.

    I checked the references, and they were misleading and crappy.

    My scorn is because Servan-Schreiber wrote a very misleading book.

    Have you found a copy of The Emperor of All Maladies yet?

  102. #102 Krebiozen
    October 10, 2011

    JD Mitchell,

    I share Mr Lanigan’s bewilderment at the outrage and scorn heaped upon any potential treatment enhancer which has not been blessed by the all-knowing Orac, while those potential treatment enhancers are quickly Googled so that people with no medical training whatsoever can explain why it’s all “woo”.

    Since you already seem to know what training everyone here has, would you be willing to share what training and experience you have in this area?

    Personally I have spent more than 20 years working as a trained and qualified biomedical scientist specializing in clinical biochemistry. I have lectured doctors and scientists on the subject of free radicals and antioxidants, and I am familiar with the literature on curcumin and on green tea polyphenols which I have had an interest in for several years. I agree with others here who think that Servan-Schreiber greatly overstated the evidence for the effects of these and other “natural” approaches on cancer and cancer prevention.

    It is extremely unlikely that adding turmeric to the diet could have any therapeutic effects on existing cancers as curcumin (the active ingredient of turmeric) is not absorbed well and has poor bioavailability; large amounts of curcumin (and huge amounts of turmeric) would have to be ingested to increase blood levels to those found to have an effect in vitro.

    For example, one study using curcumin to successfully prevent cancer in hamsters administered 80 mg/kg curcumin. In a 70 kg human that would equate to 5.6 grams of curcumin, and since turmeric contains less than 5% curcumin, a 70 kg human would have to ingest 112 grams (about a quarter of a pound) of turmeric every other day for 14 weeks to ingest an equivalent amount of curcumin.

    I have looked at dozens of studies on green tea and cancer, and the results are equivocal at best. Several large epidemiological studies done in Japan and China show no protective effects against cancer at all. Other smaller studies show small positive or even negative effects. I think that telling people that drinking tea may or may not have some small protective effect against cancer and that it is unlikely to do any harm would be fair, but to make any greater claims than that would be misleading. It is important to note that green tea can interfere with bortezomib, a drug used to treat some cancers, especially multiple myeloma.

    I haven’t read Servan-Schreiber’s book, but I have read several of his on-line articles and interviews with him and although I don’t think his approach would do too much harm, it definitely overstates the evidence, and propagates several myths about cancer.

  103. #103 Krebiozen
    October 10, 2011

    My last comment has disappeared into moderation, despite my omission of links to try to prevent that. Here are the links I would have added:
    Hamster cancer prevention with curcumin
    Green tea and cancer review

  104. #104 Richard Lanigan
    October 10, 2011

    @Beam up I know my body and how cancer has effected it better than anyone. If you know someone who knows it better I would love to speak to them. As I have pointed out there are a number of experts who know lots about the way parts of my body are responding treatment For example they advised me not lift much for six weeks,. It is now six weeks since my surgery and I swam 20 lengths yesterday, I played tennis today. They were not even close on the way I have recovered from surgery.

    I have played football at a high level and I repeat I know my body and how it responds better than anyone. I would be amazed to hear an experienced doctor to claim otherwise and I know some of the best, I went to a very good school in Ireland. You don’t need to understand how a car works to drive it or to know there is something wrong with it.

    “Richard also appears to fall into the trap of assuming that everything which isn’t 100% effective is equivalent”. That’s your interpretation not mine Exercise and chemotherapy affect the body in entirely different ways. Using the car analogy again, water performs a very different role to petrol, they are both important for different reasons, one is free the other expensive. Dean Ornishs research estimates that 30minutes exercise every day may reduce risk of developing prostate cancer by 25%. “Completely indefensible” get a grip man?

    @ Krebiozen, I don’t like the term “being positive” for me it could suggest going into denial. One of my biggest fear on being diagnosed was that I would never laugh again. That has not happened for a variety of reasons. Many refer to my “positive thinking”, I believe its my personality rather than something I do consciously not to forget the music on my I pod and I get hypnotised occasionally. Either way, I sleep well every night and that’s vital to someone who has cancer. I would say to anyone do whatever works for you to have a good nights sleep and prevents thinking about death.

    @ Chris I did not say the book is “nothing special” I don’t think his nutritional advice is controversial and by the sound of things either do you. The fact is David Servan Schreiber and I have had a different experience to you with our doctors. My surgeon was fantastic, but he did not talk to me about nutrition, I am reporting my experience, hardly an “ad hominem” . If your paediatrician is also a nutritionist you are very lucky ours is not and would not claim to be.Then you claim to have read the book and I am not sure you have.

    You state “Anticancer is a terrible book. It is full of false promises, denigration of most of the medical community, racism and the references are misleading. Stop making excuses for it”

    I have found the book helpful and you would deny me this help. Its not for me to “excuse” an eminent professor like the late David Servan Schreiber. You write as though you have read the book so I find your last comment strange, perhaps you missed page 134 as the red mist descended as you read his comments on Tumeric and so decided the advice was “misleading”

    On page 134 chapter 7, David Servan Schreiber clearly states : “Avoid practitioners who refuse to work in collaboration with an oncologist and recommends stopping conventional treatment. Avoid practitioners who suggests a treatment which has not been proven to be effective and which has proven risks; Avoid practitioners who suggests treatments where the price is out of proportion to the expected benefits; and finally avoid practitioners who promises that their approach is guaranteed to work, as long as you have a true desire to heal”. As for the book being “racist”. Racist books can not be published or sold in the UK, Is that not an “ad hominem” on your part. Lets just agree to disagree about David Servan Schreiber. I dont have the time to continue with this, life is too precious to waste.

  105. #105 Chris
    October 10, 2011

    It depends on your definition of racist. Dr. Servan-Schreiber stereotyped whole swaths of peoples, including the Tibetans at the beginning of Chapter 8, and the how he discussed doctors in his anecdotes (like the one under the section “People Don’t Want to Change”). That is a form of racism.

    It is not an ad hominem, but an observation. It came from what Dr. Servan-Schreiber wrote. It is the old “Eastern versus Western” adage, which has been discussed often on this blog. It is a notion that should be stamped out.

    There is only one medicine: the stuff that has been proven to work. It could be the vaccines developed in Japan, the surgeries pioneered in Argentina, the simple ways to avoid guinea worms in Egypt, and on and on.

    Here is some of that stereotyping in the beginning of Chapter 13:

    My Tibetan colleagues willingly admit that Western medicine treating a specific disease with a specific drug or intervention is marvelously effective in a crisis. Every day it saves lives, thanks to an operation for appendicitis, penicillin for pneumonia, to epinephrine for an an acute allergic reaction.

    Then a paragraph discussion someone in an emergency room with a myocardial infarction…

    And yet beyond this stunning success, the disease itself—the progressive obstruction, by cholesterol plaques, of the coronary arteries in a state of chronic inflammation— has not been affected by the emergency room intervention. Even the use of a stent, an act of technical prowess that consists of inserting a small tube inside the obstructed coronary artery to restore blood flow, is not adequate protection from relapses. In order to avoid them over the long term, the terrain must be changed: diet corrected, mental attitude altered and body strengthened by exercise.

    Ah, if only it was that simple! Most of the book reads like that. (and dare I mention that I have a kid with hypertrophic cardimyopathy with obstruction, that stuff ain’t gonna reduce the size of the overgrown heart muscle, nor fix the screwed up electrical signals, and yes he has been told multiple times about his diet)

    Also, noting that he misuses references is also not an ad hominem. It is a statement of fact. If you look above you will see I discussed many of them. The data for green tea is very underwhelming, yet he wrote he could not find green tea in the cafeteria.

    I am glad it made you feel better. But I don’t think that book is the only reason. It has nothing really new

  106. #106 Chris
    October 10, 2011

    Answer in moderation, possibly because I quoted a bit out of the book. Actually it sounded like you agreed the diet stuff was nothing special.

    Oh, and go to the handy dandy search box on the upper left hand side of this page. Insert these words: western eastern racist. Read the results, you will see that it has been discussed here often. One hit will be:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/06/removing_science_from_anthropology_paral_1.php

    It says:

    How many times on this blog have you read my rants against the term “Western” applied to science and medicine. My argument, of course, is that not only is referring to “Western” medicine and science not unsubtly racist in that it implies that “Eastern” people prefer fuzzy science lacking in rigor and that indigenous peoples are incapable of science, neither of which is true, but that there is some irreconcilable difference between East and West or “Western” scientists and indigenous peoples in how the world is viewed.

  107. #107 Richard Lanigan
    October 11, 2011

    @ chris
    I wish your son well.

    You must be aware that there is a very big difference between a congenital anomaly of cardiac tissue, and a heart defect brought on by say smoking, a bad diet and no exercise, which is what David Servan Schreiber was refering to, this is not new in fact you can go back to the 60s Ken Cooper in Dalas who pioneered much of this research.People like Dean Ornish and Schreiber are just putting more emphasis on it than perhaps other practitioners in disease managment. All Schreiber is saying that after the By pass surgery or whatever “the terrain must be changed: diet corrected, mental attitude altered and body strengthened by exercise” I dont think you disagree with that statement, so its starting to sound like you just dont like the man for some other reason. Perhaps because you think Schreiber is a racist? Because the accusation of “racism” was “discussed here” does not make the man a racist or a member of the KKK.I think you are confusing Schreibers “generalisations” with racism.

    You have not explained why you concluded that David Servan Schreibers makes “false promises” and “denigrates” “most of his own medical profession” when the actual advice he gives to his readers on page 134 was:

    “Avoid practitioners who refuse to work in collaboration with an oncologist and recommends stopping conventional treatment. Avoid practitioners who suggests a treatment which has not been proven to be effective and which has proven risks; Avoid practitioners who suggests treatments where the price is out of proportion to the expected benefits; and finally avoid practitioners who promises that their approach is guaranteed to work, as long as you have a true desire to heal”

    So Chris would you consider that to be good advice and if not why not. Surely that advice would protect anybody stupid enough to single out any of the suggestions in the book and assume say tumeric alone would cure cancer.

  108. #108 Chris
    October 11, 2011

    Mr. Lanigan, the false promise is implicit in the wonky use of references. Sure, he gives some good advice, but I showed you upthread how a slight epidemiological study is contorted past its underwhelming results (just search for the word “underwhelming”). I also showed you that the reference for the “The Vegetable Cocktail” section does not exist.

    I am tired of reading and looking up the (sometimes nonexistent) references if you are going to refuse to read what I wrote. It is now time for you to do some work:

    Go and find the PubMed identification number of the paper used for the “The Vegetable Cocktail” section. It was last noted in 2009 as “in process.” It should be finished now, go find it and post the PMID.

    While you are working on that get the following books that will help you understand how to look at and interpret scientific references:

    Bad Science by Dr. Ben Goldacre

    Snake Oil Science by R. Barker Bausell

    Lies, Damned Lies and Science by Sherry Seethaler

    The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

    The same goes to JD Mitchell. Both of you prove to me you are willing to learn, rather than just spouting off your unsupported nonsense in support of the expertise of a psychiatrist over an oncologist (Orac) in the science of cancer.

  109. #109 Richard Lanigan
    October 11, 2011

    @ Chris, So David Servan Schreiber does give “some good advice” I bet you like picking cherries.

    I dont think I have much to learn from you Chris. You make far to many assumptions about people, I have a masters in Health Promotion and am well able to read a scientific papers thank you very much, whats your qualification as you are asking. Looking at your list of references and I have read three of them, they all seem to have one think in common, they dont like CAM practitioners. I would expect a good reading list to be more balanced. Have you ever considered that you may be prejudiced and there are other valid opinions beside Orac.

    You would have been one of the ones calling for the head of A scientist whose work was so controversial he was ridiculed and asked to leave his research group and guess what? this year he won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

    The UK Guardian newspaper Daniel Shechtman, 70, a researcher at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, overcame huge scepticism about the existence of quasicrystals received the award for discovering seemingly impossible crystal structures in frozen gobbets of metal that resembled the beautiful patterns seen in Islamic mosaics.

    Trust me even Orac does not know everything about cancer, I hope he lets you down gently when he lets you in on this.

  110. #110 Chris
    October 11, 2011

    Where is the PMID of that paper that describes the experiment in Chapter 8 under the heading “Vegetable Cocktail”?

  111. #111 Lawrence
    October 11, 2011

    Yes Robert, actual scientists & researchers tend to look down upon CAM – because if something actually worked, it wouldn’t be CAM, it would be medicine.

  112. #112 Chris
    October 11, 2011

    Mr. Lanigan, I also suggest you read what Orac wrote with an open mind. Including this paragraph:

    To his credit, he always told people with cancer that they should seek out scientific medical treatment. Unfortunately, in the process, he also promoted the idea that diet could protect you from almost all cancers, that cell phones cause brain cancer, and that a number of other dubious health modalities could produces a “terrain” that was hostile to cancer, even though evidence supporting such claims was equivocal at best.

    I spent too much time showing what that “equivocal” evidence was, and you don’t seem to understand it. I can’t help that. You asked me what my background was, yet if you have read my comments from less than a week ago you would know that. It is obvious you have not fully read what I wrote.

    I downloaded that blasted book from the library. I slogged through it and typed several sections… and yet you refuse to read what I wrote.

    Multiple times I noted that the references were limited or just not there. Go find that missing reference. It makes an extraordinary claim (with pictures of mice!), so that paper should exist. Go find it.

  113. #113 Beamup
    October 11, 2011

    I would expect a good reading list to be more balanced.

    Only true when there is legitimate disagreement. When one side has all the facts and science, and the other has only myths, wishful thinking, and outright fabrication, a good reading list will reflect that asymmetry.

  114. #114 Chris
    October 11, 2011

    The funny thing is that the author of Snake Oil Science explains how to find a good alternative medicine practitioner.

    Oh, and loved the Galileo Gambit. Now I assume that Shechtman is going to replace Dr. Barry Marshall as the scientist who took a while for his ideas to be accepted. The difference between them and CAM is that they actually have data and evidence. Unlike that missing paper from Chapter 8’s “Vegetable Cocktail” study. Now, where is that again?

  115. #115 Richard Lanigan
    October 11, 2011

    @ Beamup no one is saying you have to attach equal weight to the “myths” “wishful thinking” and “outright fabrication”, however, I would have thought an intelligent skeptic could work that out for themselves and does not need to be told what are, “myths” “wishful thinking” and “outright fabrication”, you need to be aware of both points of view to decide which is right. If you present both points of view from the same perspective, you end up with Fox News and the O Reily factor.

    @ Chris: “Galileo Gambit” have you a text book, with little slogans for those who dont agree with you.

    Did you not notice ( or are you cherry picking again) that Servan Schreber introduced the chapter on the “Vegatable Coctail” page 166, with the words “If Beliveau’s hypothesis is correct, the synergy among anticancer foods consumed daily ought to significantly slow down the development of cancers. Thus it makes sense to combine all these components in a vegetable cocktail”.

    Presumably he does not have a reference for the “cocktail” because there isn’t one, it is a merely a “Hypothesis” based on the work of a R. Beliveau and D Gingras which is referenced in the book, its in French: Cuisiner avec les aliments contre le cancer (Outremont Canada: Trecarre 2006.

    Schreiber clearly stated the “Vegetable cocktail” is only a hypothesis and if you dont know what a hypothesis is you are reading the wrong books. I dont have time to explain it to you however I can recommend a good Science Masters course which may also help with your reading list.

    I dont have any more time to keep correcting these cherries Chris keeps picking, so check whats actually in the book first and remember it is just a book, not a scientific paper published with peer review in mind.

  116. #116 Lawrence
    October 11, 2011

    Exactly Robert – it isn’t a scientific paper & shouldn’t be held up as something that people should adopt without consulting proper physicians.

  117. #117 Gray Falcon
    October 11, 2011

    Mr. Lanigan, if you bothered to read anybody elses’ comments, you’d have noticed Chris also mentioned several other references that didn’t match what Servan-Schreber claimed.

  118. #118 Chris
    October 11, 2011

    Well, in the beginning Mr. Lanigan accused us of not reading the book. So when I do download and actually check several of the references and find several are not what they are portrayed by the author, Mr. Lanigan reacts with: La la la, I can’t here you!”

    There is no point. Mr. Lanigan has a closed mind and refuses any information that goes against what he wishes to believe.

  119. #119 Chris
    October 11, 2011

    Sorry, end of day wearies. What we are witnessing is a grown man essentially putting his fingers in his ears and screaming: La la la la, I can’t hear you!

  120. #120 Chris
    October 12, 2011

    Out of curiosity I decided to check out some book reviews. The only time I had heard of the book was this article, and then downloading it from the library after Mitchell and Lanigan chastised us for not reading it.

    So the first Google hit is from the New York Times in 2008:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/07/health/07book.html

    Some key quotes:

    Unnerved but undaunted, Dr. Servan-Schreiber underwent the recommended surgery and returned to his usual routines. His life remained a high-stress, low-exercise affair; lunch was a bowl of chili, a bagel and can of Coke. Five years later the tumor recurred, and in the course of enduring a second surgery and a round of chemotherapy he saw the light: the red meat, white flour and soft drinks were going to help the cancer do him in. He had to detoxify his body.

    Rah, rah! I think I have seen this before. But it continues…

    This familiar terrain encompasses the antioxidants, the good fats, the whole grains and the green teas. There are the combinations essential to maintain (you must take your turmeric with pepper) and the ones to avoid (no milk with your dark chocolate). Cancer “feeds on sugar” but supposedly not on agave nectar; on omega-6 trans fats but not the omega-3s. The blanket of body fat in the obese creates a giant repository of fat-soluble carcinogens.

    By the way, agave nectar is just a syrup that turns out to have just as much fructose and as little glucose as high fructose corn syrup. It is nothing special, and is still sugar. Sugar is the the combination of fructose, glucose, maltose, galactose and sucrose that comes from a variety of sources. The ratios just depend if they are from apples, corn, beets, sugar cane, maple trees or agave.

    And the review continues:

    For each of the foods on his anticancer shopping list there is a shred of scientific evidence — usually from experiments done on cells in culture, sometimes from studies of mice with cancer, and occasionally from small studies on actual human beings. For none is there the kind of data that would support, say, the licensing of a new drug.

    Why does that sound familiar? Oh, I know… I wrote the same exact observations in comments 274 to 282 (the first one got moderated because it was too long, so I broke it up into chunks).

    The review ends with:

    So these folks find control by heading determinedly to the supermarket and the refrigerator and the stove, the support groups, the treadmills and the massage tables. When it comes to cancer, these comforts are unlikely to hurt much, but the evidence is still out for whether they help.

    And that, folks, is why I read the Tuesday New York Times at my local library. They still do science reporting.

  121. #121 lilady
    October 12, 2011

    @ Chris: Kudos to you once again for your research skills.

    I found a book review of the “New Edition” of Anticancer: a new way of life…where the author adds some additional notes about the body’s ability to prevent re-occurrence of cancer:

    Summary of Anticancer, A New Way of Life, New Edition Reviews for Anticancer, A New Way of Life, New Edition An Excerpt from Anticancer, A New Way of Life, New Edition
    The New York Times and international bestseller-now updated with the latest research

    Anticancer has been a bestselling phenomenon since Viking first published it in fall 2008. Now, a new edition addresses current developments in cancer research and offers more tips on how people living with cancer can fight it and how healthy people can prevent it. The new edition of Anticancer includes:

    • The latest research on anticancer foods, including new alternatives to sugar and cautions about some that are now on the market

    • New information about how vitamin D strengthens the immune system

    • Warnings about common food contaminants that have recently been proven to contribute to cancer progression

    • A new chapter on mind-body approaches to stress reduction, with recent studies that show how our reactions to stress can interfere with natural defenses and how friendships can support healing in ways never before understood

    • A groundbreaking study showing that lifestyle modification, as originally proposed in Anticancer, reduces mortality for breast cancer by an astounding 68 percent after completion of treatment

    (Penquin.com)

    I think that Orac or his “colleague” at SBM would have blogged about the “groundbreaking study” about lifestyle changes reducing the mortality rate of breast cancer.

  122. #122 Richard Lanigan
    October 12, 2011

    @ Chris “These folks find control….” There it is in black and white in the New York Times and you still dont get it. Its not a case of whether David Servan Schreibers HYPOTHESIS,is right or wrong its about me being control of my life and illness not you, not Orac, not David Servan Schreiber. I sleep good, enjoy my life and dont have all that anger inside of me, you guys seem to have. Being happy is what is important, quality of life is far more important to me than quantity. You may see it differently, opinions are like noses we all have one.

    I am truly amazed anybody would put so much time and effort trying to stop me drinking Green Tea, I could care less what you eat or drink. Forgive me for putting my fingers in my ears and singing La la la la, I know its rude, but you do go on a bit. Good job we did not get into my sex life that may have really upset you, its also unconventional, best not mention that book.

    Chris I think you need to get out more. Cest La Vie

  123. #123 Beamup
    October 12, 2011

    You are not “in control of your illness.” I’m sure you’d like to think otherwise, but it’s simply not true. Wishful thinking doesn’t change the course of biology. Only good science can do that.

  124. #124 Chris
    October 12, 2011

    Mr. Lanigan, pot, meet kettle. I believe you blasted in here in August with long rambling evidence free posts telling us how bad we are to even question Dr. Servan-Schreiber. It is obvious that you have not only a closed mind, but are as delusional as he was.

    And there is no denying that the super duper experiment on mice with the “Vegetable Cocktail” was presented with out any real references. You were asked to find the PMID, but it seems it does not exist.

  125. #125 Calli Arcale
    October 12, 2011

    Richard Lanigan, it is true that people like to feel more in control of their lives, and it is true that some interventions can give you the feeling that you are Doing Something For Yourself and are therefore In Control. But this is a perception; do not mistake it for reality.

    Do you know how many thousands of people feel they have some control when they go to the casino to pull that arm on the slot machines? Very nearly all of them, or they wouldn’t do it. And they do feel they can influence it. They’re not stupid; they wouldn’t play the slots as much as they do if they didn’t think they could somehow influence the outcome. But it is of course pretty much as blind as chance can be. Unless they’re hiding magnets in their clothing (not that that works anymore, now that slots have gone digital), they have no control whatsoever, and thousands of broken dreams can attest to that.

    Yes, lifestyle changes do give people a sense of control over their health. Just as religion can give people a sense of control over their destinies, and lucky underwear can give athletes as sense of control over the outcome of the next game, and gripping the knob a certain way can give people a sense of control over what shapes come up the next time they pull the lever. But these are all just perceptions. What’s the reality?

    At worst, the reality is that you have gained no control at all — slot machines are the analogy for that. At best, you may be able to influence your odds — lifestyle changes in some cases may be like blackjack, where knowing what your doing will improve your odds. (For instance, learning not to say “hit me” when you’ve got 20 will improve your odds.) But there’s still a lot left to chance or the casinos would never run blackjack tables. Steve Jobs did all the lifestyle stuff — nearly vegetarian (he ate fish), took supplements, exercised regularly, and he still died of cancer. Stuff happens to the best of us, and though we want to believe we can find the magic formula to ensure peace, health, and prosperity, it just doesn’t exist.

    None of that means it’s hopeless, of course, and that you should just do whatever you feel like because in the final analysis it doesn’t matter. It *does* matter, though perhaps for different reasons and to different degrees. Do the best you can, find the best balance that works for you, and try not to regret the might-have-beens.

  126. #126 Richard Lanigan
    October 13, 2011

    Hi Calli,
    I have had radiation and chemo during the summer, I had surgery to remove my rectum, I am facing six months of chemo.Thats not leaving things to chance. I chose to have that treatment because the prognosis is good 55% five year survival and it is wishful thinking that I make a complete recovery. If they had said 5% I may have chose differently and overdosed on tumeric and green tea as chris seems so concerned about, that would also have been wishfull thinking.

    Common sense told me to be as healthy as possible before I started treatment thats what I have done and so far I have responded well to treatment. There is no science or great Doctor who can predict for certain what the final outcome will be, we are all just playing the odds and taking chances based on evidence and peoples experiences. The pathology may progress it may not, I do not fear death, its the only certainty in life. If I am delusional as opposed to being frightened and angry long may it it last, the only think I have no control of is when I die, how I live, I control.

  127. #127 Eliezer
    October 30, 2011

    I think that your attitude towards David Servan-Schreiber’s “Anti-Cancer” is UNFAIR, UNETHICAL and FANATICAL.
    UNFAIR, since you gloss over the fact that his statements are supported by solid research (unless you claim that NATURE and NEW ENGLAND J. OF MEDICINE publish junk. The book cites 388 research papers.
    UNETHICAL, since your article can act to convince cancer patients to adopt a passive attitude towards their illness and forgo the benefits of healthy way of life, and supplement their chemotherapy and surgery treatment with alternative means that have strong indications of being helpful in aiding the effectiveness of the conventional medicine. Anti-Cancer repeatedly states that the means he recommends do not constitute replacement for the usual medical treatment.
    FANATICAL since you do not consider the possibility of being wrong. You attack statements made in the book as having insufficient scientific evidence. However you don’t show any conclusive anti-evidence. You seem to pick out of about a hundred different pro- and anti- cancer factors listed in the book some of those that seem most problematic, and ignore the main points which are indisputable: for example smoking, sugar, stress, mediterranean diet.
    I don’t like fanaticism and don’t like insolence. Therefore I will not impute that (the anonymous)you are acting as a front for the big drug companies. I don’t think it is true.
    What I do believe is that you like many (not all) scientists, most doctors and most of the Western public are deeply committed to the ideology of SCIENTISM. Scientism is not identical with Science. Rather it is an IDEOLOGY that believes that science in its mathematical form is the only way to learn truth, that plausible evidence, intuition, feeling and love should be regarded as “quackery”.
    Medical science has put itself into a very constrictive strait-jacket. Of course it is a good principle to use airtight double-blind methodology to pursue scientific knowledge. But in fanatical adherence to admit NOTHING BUT double-blind, huge scale, 500-million dollar studies, leaves out many natural means which can not be double-blinded (the is no placebo jogging or apple), and leaves out also treatments for which there is not enough funding for a test on such a scale.
    Indiscriminately condemning all such means as “unsupported” denies the patient the possibility to be helped by them. Even if a treatment or behavior is supported only by epidemiological, animal,in vitro or small studies it could still be considered by a patient to be worthwhile to use.
    For two reasons:
    1) They are suggested as a supplementary to chemo, not a replacement.
    2) Most of them are natural an so are not damaging to the body as are most of the conventional cancer drugs.
    3) Those means that deal with behavior, physical activity do improve considerably the quality of life which is a non-less important goal of medicine than defeating the tumor.
    I have a feeling that the real reason that natural treatments are not in favor with a large part of the public is the VANITY and PRIDE in the glory and efficacy of man-made gadgets. A natural means gives unnecessary advantage to Nature (= the Creator is you are a believer) in the competition for the crown of achievement.

  128. #128 Chris
    October 30, 2011

    A couple of suggestions from someone who actually waded through Dr. Sevan-Schreibner’s book:

    1. Actually read what Orac wrote.

    2. Actually read the comments that followed.

    3. Find the paper about the mice being fed the “Vegetable Cocktail.”

    4. Take note that the references are superficial and often do not say what the author claimed they did in his book.

  129. #129 Richard Lanigan
    November 8, 2011

    Chris, Eliezer put it beautifully, you are deeply committed to the ideology of SCIENTISM.

    Hope you dont mind me stealing your previous comment: “What we are witnessing is a grown man essentially putting his fingers in his ears and screaming: La la la la, I can’t hear you!”

  130. #130 David I
    November 10, 2011

    I’m deeply amused at many things about medicine. If anyone dies after follwing an unconventional therapy, it is counted as evidence against the unconventional. When they die after following conventional guidelines, it isn’t counted against the conventional therapy.

    One of my favorite lines is “Don’t abandon conventional medicine in favor of unproven alternatives. You could die!”

    I see. And if I just follow the guidelines of conventional medicine, I won’t die?

    I’m sorry. My training is in physics. I don’t consider any of the work going on in medicine today to be science. It’s a bunch of (usually outdated) opinions, heavily swayed by financial considerations.

  131. #131 Dominique Adey Balinova
    November 10, 2011

    As someone who has read some of David Servan-Schreiber’s books and listened to some of his lectures, partly because of having to cope with the trauma of seeing one of my relatives deal with lung cancer, and then die, I would like to comment that, there is absolutely no proof that David Servan-Schreiber (or any other patient who has undergone radiation/chemotherapy) could not perhaps have had a better chance of survival had they diligently implemented other, dietary/detox/lifestyle change methods INSTEAD of bombarding their already struggling immune system with chemotherapy/radiation. Sadly, there are numerous studies which show that ‘survivors’ of chemotherapy and other conventional treatment methods usually die after a brief period of ‘remission’, and that such ‘survivors’ often live no longer than those patients who opt not to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment for the cancer. Therefore, perhaps a great deal of expensive treatment (and the associated trauma) could be saved? Perhaps we would achieve more satisactory, more positive results if we changed the healthcare policy (and made it actually promote health).

    There are also studies which show that an appropriate diet, lack of exposure to toxins, and a healthy lifestyle CAN provide the necessary pH in the body which prevents cancer cells from developing in the first place, and that an appropriate diet and detoxification, if achieved swiftly enough, can REVERSE the growth of cancer cells. Sadly, these treatments are ignored by mainstream medicine and various ‘authorities’ and not publicised to the general public (or made available to them). Check out “The Beautiful Truth” by Gerson, http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Truth-Worlds-Simplest-Cancer/dp/B001J66JQ8 as well as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCrsn8ziGWU because the fact is, we humans have bodies which react to the way in which we – and our environment – treat them. If we treat them well and provide them with appropriate nutrition and input, we stay healthy. If we bombard them with junk food and toxins from our environment, soaps/shampoos, mercury in vaccinations and fluoride in drinking water, toothpaste, etc., … at some point our bodies are unable to deal with the toxic overload we provide, and we become ill. Some of us develop cancer. Some of us provoke auto immune disease. http://www.burzynskimovie.com/ shows very clearly how a doctor, using medicines available to him, manages to help patients to heal, and yet his success is not (yet) applauded by mainstream medicine, but rather criticised unfairly. Of course, if the cures for cancer became freely available, some people would earn less, wouldn’t they?

    Personally, I found David Servan-Schreiber an interesting, delightful human being. His passing is a great loss to this world and, had he followed a course of treatment more in tune with nature from the beginning, and avoided bombarding his precious body with certain toxic ‘medicines’, perhaps he would be with us, working and happy, today. My brother, too, may have been able to reverse his illness had he been encouraged, also by the doctors who treated him, to change his lifestyle and diet, and clean up/heal his gut flora. Sadly, this did not happen and he died – perhaps not just of lung cancer but, more exactly, of the after-effects of chemotherapy (and cancer). People – wake up! Check out the excellent work of Charlotte Gerson, Max Gerson, David Wolfe, Gabriel Cousens, Joachim Mutter, Hal A. Huggins, Consumers for dental choice. Check out the work of Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride http://www.gaps.me “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”. See how our bodies can be healed if given an optimum environment and optimum nutrition so that disease, including cancer, cannot exist. Ask why food companies are permitted to flood our foods with toxins. Ask why mercury is still allowed to be used in dental fillings, light bulbs, why fluoride is in toothpastes, … and insist that these practices be stopped and that the victims of such practices be assisted instead of ignored by the ‘authorities’ and ‘experts’ who have poisoned them, and who continue to poison others. Wake up! Take action – lobby ‘decision makers’ and ensure that healthcare is truly that – something which promotes and safeguards health, dignity and human life.

  132. #132 amanda
    November 16, 2011

    Just discovered that David Servan-Schreiber died this year and found link to your Blog. I find it very sad that the death of any human being can be lost in the ego-driven need to be ‘right’ more than compassionate. I include both the men of science and those advocating solely alternative/complimentary healing methods. This is just the result of fear and both parties needing their chosen path to be the only true way. My observation is that Science that allows for nothing other than empiricism and the followers of the Alternative path allowing nothing but ‘belief’ are no different from religious fanatics. David Servan-Schreiber advocated both alongside each other and was perhaps the more balanced and wise a person than most on this site.

  133. #133 RR
    December 4, 2011

    @amanda – absolutely agree with you. Dr Servan’s book needs to be read in its entirety – it is his story , the lessons he learned . I don’t think he is preaching or selling anything – he is just trying to show what seemed to have worked for him. I am sure people who are struggling with their loved ones battling cancer found a measure of comfort in his story. It is quite clear that he was trying to make the best of both worlds – dissecting his story and suggesting that he is intelligent ( because he used chemo/radiation ) and rest of it as “woo” stuff is really being disrespectful to him . Sad . But conventional medicine is tuned that way – dissect , analyse and lose track of the big picture.

    It has been decades since the medical establishment have been striving to find a “magic bullet” for cancer – personally I don’t think we will find it. It will probably take a multi-pronged attack – chemo , right diet/food and other “woo” stuff as well to beat it.

  134. #134 lilady
    December 4, 2011

    I find it very interesting that some posters make assumptions about researchers who study cancer, the oncologists, radiologists and surgeons who treat cancer and medical staff who care for cancer patients.

    None of these medical professionals ever stated that there is a “magic bullet”…quite to the contrary they state there is no magic bullet, but rather it is the intensive research to understand the nature of individual cancers, the development of accurate tests to diagnose these cancers, “targeted therapies” to treat cancer and drugs to ameliorate many of the side effects of radiation and chemotherapeutic anti-cancer drugs.

    Suggestions and assisting people to make lifestyle changes for their general wellness throughout their lives, is all part of the care that doctors, nurses and registered dieticians provided to their healthy patients…as well as patients who are diagnosed with cancer.

    There is some limited valid research that a healthy well-balanced diet to maintain a trim and fit body, may prevent certain cancers…and that research is ongoing.

    Once a patient is actually diagnosed with cancer…a change to a “special diet” or the addition of so-called “anti-cancer” supplements, herbs and other alt/cam “natural” products will not change the course of the disease…and that has been well researched.

    Undergoing the rigors of cancer treatment…surgery, radiation and chemotherapy is very stressful to the human body. Unfortunately, some patients (the very elderly, those with pre-existening co-morbidities), cannot receive some of these therapies. But for those who are in general good health, appropriate targeted therapies do provide long term remissions and cures. The need to provide good nutrition to these patients is paramount. Self-styled “nutritionists”, “supplement salesmen” and other unqualified practitioners have no place in the care of a cancer patient.

    If a particular herb, plant or chemical substance shows promise for treating of cancer patients it undergoes rigorous testing, paid for mainly through grants from the NIH-National Cancer Institute and by studying their effects on actual cancer patients. The ones that prove to be effective are labeled as “anti-cancer” or chemotherapeutic drugs, not “woo”.

    No “magic bullet”…just dogged research by competent and dedicated researchers, oncologists and surgeons.

  135. #135 Debra
    December 7, 2011

    I just spent the last two days reading every positive and negative comment on this blog. The extraordinary amount of controversy caused by Dr. Servan-Schreiber’s book sparked my curiosity which led me to purchase and begin reading this book. I do feel very prepared thanks to all of you and will soon report my opinion. However, it is clearly obvious that consuming organic foods, regular exercise, sufficient sleep and stress management are all keys to optimum health, including prevention and management of cancer. In my experience with most Doctors, they seldom make these recommendations. Most are indifferent to any modifications in lifestyle. Personally, I’m glad I have followed these important keys to good health for at least half of my life. I’m now in my 50’s and many people say I look 20 years younger. Many friends my age are sick and several now have cancer. If only they had changed their lifestyle, perhaps they would not be sick. I don’t regret adopting a healthy lifestyle and truly believe my odds of getting cancer are greatly reduced as a result. Of course, there are no guarantees and I realize that entirely. I am finding this book interesting and enjoyable to read. Actually, I consider myself lucky to be reading this book while I am healthy. I’d rather consume more turmeric and drink more green tea then take the chance of not doing anything at all or worse, eating a fast and constipated food diet. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to confirm that a healthy lifestyle will likely prevent cancer and help manage cancer as well. I find the Author of this blog and those in agreement with him are trying to discourage people from eating healthy, balance organic food diet. I wonder if they are experimenting with their own bodies. Are they eating fast food and vegetables with pesticide residue? Are they eating animal foods raised with growth hormones? If they are and you know who you are, then you should be checking your armpits, neck, groin and rectum for any unusual swellings. If on the other hand you are secretly buying your food at Whole Foods, then you are a hypocrite and should back off of Dr. Servan Schrieber, who at least made a positive impact on so many people before he died. The critics here need to ask what have they done with their life? What have they done to help people? It appears they have encouraged people to eat fast and fried food, drink soda pop and become one with their couch. I can only imagine what the critics here must look and feel like. I’ll now return to working in my organic vegetable garden, enjoy an evening yoga class and yes, drink some green tea after I have my dinner seasoned with turmeric. I’ll be on the phone to many of my friends sharing these wonderful health tips to them so that they can stay healthy as well. I’d rather do what I’m doing that what the critics are doing.

    I do wish Richard L on this post well and hope he is effectively managing his cancer and enjoying a positive quality of life. I hope my friend with Lymphatic cancer will make changes and try his best to manage his cancer and extend his life. All of us can only do our best, it is our best that we should be doing.

  136. #136 Richard Lanigan
    December 13, 2011

    Thanks for asking Debra, I am doing fine.I find it hard to update the blog because it requires me to think about the cancer, which can get me down and its not where I want to be. Chemo is a bit like being pregnant. All the healthy foods I have been eating the last six months now make me nauseous and I get these cravings for Big Macs and KFCs. Did a course in Indian cooking a few months ago and now the thought of curry makes me sick. So recently I have not been able to follow much of Davids advice, but he never claimed it was a cure, just advised people to adopt healthier lifestyles and find a good oncologist which I have. After that you just cross your fingers and hope. Even if I were to live another twenty years, it will flash by as have the last twenty, so the key must be to have lots a love and happiness in life as quality of life is far more important than quantity, if my number comes up prematurely, I will have had 54 great years and some more. However I will never understand why some people on this blog got so angry and are so dismissive of what are basically common sense theories to complement orthodox treatments for Cancer. Oh yes its because I am not intelligent enough to decide for myself what makes me feel good and I need a few skeptics to protect me from quacks who will take advantage of me.

  137. #137 Chris
    December 13, 2011

    Mr. Lanigan, I hope you will improve. I especially hope that you find an appetite for the good food that is available (and simple is often better, I just had salad of spring greens with seared scallops).

    I did read the book, and I found it lacking in real data. I am not angry, nor am I dismissive. If you can provide the actual data and present it truthfully, I will accept it. As I wrote above, many of the references in the book were misrepresented and were actually missing.

    That is not “scientism”, that is an observation from actually reading the cites in the book’s bibliography. What is actually science is understanding that cancer is not one disease, but several. This means that chasing solutions based on little evidence will not get you far.

    And I still think The Emperor of All Maladies is a much better book.

  138. #138 Richard Lanigan
    December 14, 2011

    Chris, I would also recommend Dr Mukherjee book, however they are very different. One is explaining cancer, the other giving people hope that there are things you can do to improve the quality of your life while undergoing cancer treatment.You may thing its wrong to create hope for people with cancer I disagree. In the Emperor of all Maladies Dr Mukherjee makes the point “that being positive is not a cure for cancer no more than being negative is a causes cancer”. No one disagrees with the fact that cancer is multifactoral and caused by many factors, however if you are stressed and worried, your adrenals produce cortisol and adrenaline which will keep you awake and affect your health and well-being and no doubt the immune systems ability to deal with rogue cancer cells. In treating cancer focusing on the pathology is only a part of the treatment, in a few months time my chemo is finished and I will be discharged cancer free with a 50% chance of it returning within in five years. There are many options open to me after that, if I believed in God I could join a church which I am sure gives peace of mind to millions and aids recovery. I could buy a dog and walk him every day. Medicine has very to offer for this stage of my recovery, however, I can read lots of books and take on board anecdotal experiences that make physiological sense to me and I can write about my experience for others, to try or reject, this may not get me very far, but as we can draw more and more on a body of knowledge outside the medical paradigm, it may help other get further. All this was very new twenty years ago when my mother died from the cancer I have, and i have been able to deal with it much better than she did thanks to people like David Servan Schreiber and I am not the only one who has been helped by his advice. Absence of evidence (“real data”)is not evidence of absence, all scientific truths began life as someones theory which skeptics would have dismissed. Sometimes the skeptics are right other times wrong, the key to clinical science is keeping an open mind, because unlike say water, the human body does not always respond the same way to external stimuli, the body has the ability to adapt and change when challenged and I would argue that is crucial in recovering from all diseases.

  139. #139 Michael J Gonzalez
    December 15, 2011

    Which side is the woo side? Have you guys have seen the Cancer mortality stats over the last 50 years when compared to heart disease and other diseases? All deaths have gone down but the cancer deaths! Sorry but what we have now as treatment needs vast improvement to be called effective medicine.
    Sources:
    1950 Mortality Data CDC/NCHS,NVSS,Mortality revised.
    2005 Mortality Data: US Mortality Data 2005 NCHS,CDC 2008.

  140. #140 Dominique Adey Balinova
    December 17, 2011

    – “I find it very interesting that some posters make assumptions about researchers who study cancer, the oncologists, radiologists and surgeons who treat cancer and medical staff who care for cancer patients.

    None of these medical professionals ever stated that there is a “magic bullet”…quite to the contrary they state there is no magic bullet, but rather it is the intensive research to understand the nature of individual cancers, the development of accurate tests to diagnose these cancers, “targeted therapies” to treat cancer and drugs to ameliorate many of the side effects of radiation and chemotherapeutic anti-cancer drugs.”

    Interesting? I find it scandalous that genuine ways of avoiding and/or reversing cancer are being deliberately kept from general use: “Burzynski, the movie – cancer is serious business”, and Charlotte Gerson, “The Beautiful Truth” are just two examples of safe and effective treatments which should be more widely available, and yet they are ignored by mainstream medicine whilst chemotherapy is touted as the ‘preferred option’. Preferred by whom? Presumably not by those who suffer the chemotherapy and the families and friends who watch the suffering and anguish. Cancer does not have to exist and when it does exist it can be beaten. Nutritious food and a non-toxic environment plays a huge role in preventing and reversing cancer.

    As for ‘assumptions’ about medical staff involved in treating/scientists involved in researching cancer, … sadly, many of them have apparently not questioned the safety of the chemotherapy touted by mainstream medicine, nor researched the efficacy of what nature offers us compared with pills and potions created by the pharmaceutical industry and sold for tremendous profit. Where are the ‘enquiring minds’ of the researchers and scientists when it comes to that, please?! How many people are ‘making a living’ from cancer ‘treatments’ … and from ‘junk food’ full of things which nature would never offer us for consumption and which make the product actually only ‘junk’ as it is not truly food at all …. Let your food be medicine, … as someone wise is believed to have said … people, please listen to Dr Stanislaw Burzynski, to David Wolfe, Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, Dr Mark Hyman, Robert Scott Bell, Dr Joseph Mercola, Dr Joachim Mutter, …and all those who genuinely work to promote health!

  141. #141 Chris
    December 17, 2011

    Mr. Gonzalez:

    Have you guys have seen the Cancer mortality stats over the last 50 years when compared to heart disease and other diseases? All deaths have gone down but the cancer deaths!

    At what age? What is the average lifespan between 1950 and 2008?

    Dominique Adey Balinova, I suggest you read the more recent articles in this blog. Also use the handy dandy search box on the upper left side of this page on those names. You’ll be surprised.

    Mr. Lanigan, I am sorry that you find it so difficult to read with an open mind what I wrote about Dr. Servan-Schreiber. Whether you think it helps or not does not change the fact that the references he cited did not match the prose “based” on those references, especially the one that was missing.

  142. #142 augustine
    December 17, 2011

    Chris

    At what age? What is the average lifespan between 1950 and 2008?

    Lifespan is about the same. The genetics of humans haven’t changed much in the last 50 years or thousand years for that matter.

    Oh, you mean average life expectancy? If you’re trying to play the cancer is just a function of healthy normal aging card, then life expectancy isn’t going to help you very much. The massive amount of confounders would be impossible to tease out and most likely lead to erroneous conclusions.

  143. #143 Antaeus Feldspar
    December 17, 2011

    If you’re trying to play the cancer is just a function of healthy normal aging card, then life expectancy isn’t going to help you very much. The massive amount of confounders would be impossible to tease out and most likely lead to erroneous conclusions.

    Except that the burden of proof is upon those who claim that the increase in cancer deaths must be from modern cancer-causing diets and lifestyles and inadequacy of modern medicine to prove their own claims. Until they rule out the very plausible hypothesis that cancer deaths go up as life expectancy does because advancing age makes cancer more likely, the burden of proof is not met. The massive amount of possible confounders are what make the argument “Cancer deaths are going up, therefore something must be wrong with the way we prevent and treat cancer!” dubious.

  144. #144 LW
    December 17, 2011

    “I find it scandalous that genuine ways of avoiding and/or reversing cancer are being deliberately kept from general use”

    Dominique Adey Balinova, you seriously should take a look at a globe some time. One of those ones that has names on it like “China” and “Indonesia” and like that. See, each of those names represents a different country, and each of those countries has a large population, in which cancer does occur.

    Most of those countries are not subject to the authority of the FDA — in fact only one is — and most of them do not like America or the West in general. So scientist in those countries have the means, motive, and opportunity to properly test claims of people like Burzynski and Gerson, to prove that their approaches are sound, to rake in money from desperate cancer patients, to prove that they can do better science than the West …

    There are all sorts of reasons for scientists in those other nations who could *prove* claims of people like Burzynski and Gerson. Do you have any idea why *not one of them* has done so in the decades that they’ve had to achieve that?

  145. #145 augustine
    December 17, 2011

    Except that the burden of proof is upon those who claim that the increase in cancer deaths must be from modern cancer-causing diets and lifestyles and inadequacy of modern medicine to prove their own claims.

    I don’t have any burden. But I’ll raise you another strawman. The burden of proof is on those who say medicine is winning the war on cancer to prove that. Maybe you’d have a better chance in proving that we’re “winning the war” in Afghanistan and we just need more money more guns and more bombs and more terrorists.

    Medicine/pharmaceutical corporations have lost the “war on cancer” in spite of it’s massive arms funding. It’s next warmongering consolation strategy on the human body is “containing and managing cancer”.

    Chemicals cause cancer! Sticking more chemicals into the body doesn’t prevent more cancer.

    Medicine will NEVER prevent cancer. Never ever EVER. Never say never? Yep! Never.

    Can medicine cause cancer? You bet it can.

  146. #146 augustine
    December 17, 2011

    Until they rule out the very plausible hypothesis that cancer deaths go up as life expectancy does because advancing age makes cancer more likely, the burden of proof is not met.

    That’s not theory. That’s an observation. Child hood cancer rates have also gone up. How does your “theory of cancer” account for that?

    Some say diabetes is a function of aging also. When you don’t know something in medicine you can always say “genetics” as a non answer way of answering.

  147. #147 Kelly Whitworth
    December 18, 2011

    If you are going to write about glioma brain tumors, please educate yourself on the factual points regarding the terminology and forms of tumors in the glial family. Your comments regarding glioblastoma multiforme are misinformed and incorrect. GBM is the name of a primary brain tumor once it is a grade IV tumor REGARDLESS of what subtype of glioma it began as. You have used the wrong terms in your article and have given misleading information regarding prognostic survival times of glioblastoma.

    Glioma is a term for a group of primary brain tumors (grades I, II and III) subtyped by what cell type is involved. To give name to some of them, they can be astrocytoma’s, oligodendroglioma’s, mixed oligoastrocytoma’s, ependymoma’s – they are named for the cell type they share histological features with. There are many people diagnosed with grade I, II, and III glioma subtype’s that are living many years beyond diagnoses. While glioblastoma does have a 3 to 15 months prognosis, it ONLY refers to grade IV tumors. Median survival for other forms of glioma vary based on their grade, subtype and genetic factors.

    In your article you wrote, “One thing that needs to be understood is that glioblastoma is indeed a nasty cancer. Untreated, the median survival is on the order of three months. Even treated maximally, fewer than one in four patients with the disease survive longer than 2 years and fewer than 10% survive five years or more. However, it is known that there are types of glioblastoma with a prognosis that is not quite as grim, although it is grim enough. For instance, younger patients tend to survive longer, as do patients with methylation of the promoter of O-6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase. In the end, however, little is known that can accurately predict who is likely to survive long term after treatment of glioblastoma and why, much as little is known that allows us to predict accurately which women with advanced breast cancer will survive for long periods of time and why, other than very crudely and unreliably.”

    I myself am a grade III Anaplastic Oligodendroglioma patient. This form of glioma (NOT GLIOBLASTOMA – which as I pointed out earlier is a term for all grade IV tumors regardless of what subtype they began as) is the ONLY type of tumor that, depending on a person’s genetic factors (methylation and deletions on the 1p and 19q chromosomes – which only some people have) improve prognostic statistics. This is because specific genetic factors make ONLY oligodendroglioma tumors ultra-sensitive to chemotherapy. When an oligodendroglioma reoccurs as a grade IV tumor it is no longer called an oligo. It is called a GBM and has a 3-15 month median prognosis, at that point genetic factors are irrelevant. It is very important to remember prognosis is not an individual diagnoses. Genetic factors (if present) improve progression free survival and overall prognosis of oligodendroglioma’s at lesser grades.

    It would be miraculous if Dr. Schreiber survived as long as he did if his initial diagnoses was GBM. When glioma’s reoccur, they most often are more aggressive (a higher grade tumor) and less responsive to treatment due to their infiltrating nature. There can be exceptions, but they are rare. I do not know either what type of tumor Dr. Schreiber had or it was a glioma at all, but I am certain IF he did pass from GBM, it did not begin as GBM. It began as a lower grade tumor that had a subtype name (for what cell type it arose from) and upgraded upon recurrence to eventually become GBM.

  148. #148 Luiz
    December 28, 2011

    When he says:
    “Does Servan-Schreiber’s death mean his method didn’t work? Or did it mean that it did work and held his disease at bay longer than anyone would have thought possible. Or was Servan-Schreiber a man who was fortunate enough to have a less aggressive form of brain tumor that responded very well to conventional therapy and was very slow to relapse, taking this latest time 15 years before recurring and then leading to his death? Most likely, it was the latter…”
    He seems to forget that 5 years after the first surgery he had it again, so the logic of his argument is failed.
    Dr. Servan-Schreiber never said in his book to abandon regular treatment. He never did. He only decided to adopt a healthier life style to reinforce the traditional medical treatment. and he only adopted this life style after the 2nd surgery.
    He was only one and could gain 20 (TWENTY) years in life expectation. That is remarkable.
    Just show me 2 people in the entire brain cancer universe, who did the same with only surgery and killing drugs.

  149. #150 Julia Andino
    March 16, 2012

    I was juts talking to one of my patients of the advantages of doing a healthy diet/health plan in order to prevent complications with her medical treatment; and in the process found out of Dr.Servan-Schreiber death. Then I saw this blog, read it and its sad, really sad, that there are so many individuals that don’t believe in the possibility of healing through unconventional methods. Do we need proof? do we need to be so science-driven? The Mind-body-spirit connection is not a quack, its real..and as long, as we keep denying it, we will continue to foster ‘scietifically proven treatment’ that will poison our mind, body and spirit. Dr. Servan-Schreiber, as a scientific trained professional,had the courage to take his life on his hands and to proof to the world what is possible when you open your mind and heart.

  150. #151 ken
    March 16, 2012

    @346 Bravo Luiz!

  151. #152 novalox
    March 16, 2012

    @ken, julia andino

    Any reasons you necromancers decided to necro a 3 month old thread?

  152. #153 ken
    March 16, 2012

    @novalox Why did you comment? My friend just gave me the book-interested in what
    orac had to say.

  153. #154 ken
    March 18, 2012

    How Orac has the audacity to criticize this book is beyond me.
    It offers hope and healing to the cancer patient.

  154. #155 ken
    March 18, 2012

    How Orac has the audacity to criticize this book is beyond me.
    It offers hope and healing to the cancer patient.

  155. #156 Chris
    March 18, 2012

    No it doesn’t, ken the Necromancer troll. Really, ken, how old are you. You write and act like a ten year old.

    I read the book, and it does no such thing. He cherry picked papers, misrepresented them, and even included cites that do not exist.

  156. #157 ken
    March 18, 2012

    @Chris –
    If that’s all you can get out of that book I pity you and your heartlessness.
    Stop projecting your immaturatity and lack of wisdom unto me,
    You have a constipated mind sans heart.

  157. #158 ken
    March 18, 2012

    Yes I can spell-immaturity

  158. #159 lilady
    March 18, 2012

    “How Orac has the audacity to criticize this book is beyond me.
    It offers hope and healing to the cancer patient.”

    No it doesn’t Troll. It offers FALSE hope and FALSE information to the cancer patient. Servan-Schreiber (deliberately) misquoted the science behind cancer research treatment and the research about cancer prevention.

    Necromancer, why don’t you point out to me where I have been mistaken with any of my posts on this thread…with citations to prove that Servan-Schreiber’s “advice” book is correct…and I am not?

  159. #160 ken
    March 18, 2012

    @lilady-reread @211 @213 and really really think about what she says.

  160. #161 lilady
    March 18, 2012

    ken…re-read my replies to that particular poster.

    Tell us where and how Orac (or I), went off the rails, with our critiques of Servan-Schreiber’s book…be sure to provide citations from reputable web sites.

  161. #162 ken
    March 20, 2012

    According to the American Cancer Society’s National Toxicology Program 12th Report on Carcinogens
    “Reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens” One of which is Tetrafluoroethylene- used in Teflon pans.

  162. #163 ken
    March 20, 2012

    “The American Cancer Society recommends that cancer survivors follow the same nutrition guidelines as those recommended for cancer prevention. The same factors that increase cancer risk might also be important in promoting cancer recurrence after treatment. For example, breast cancer research has supported dietary effects by suggesting that the risk of recurrence might be higher in women who are obese and do not eat many fruits and vegetables. Prostate cancer recurrence might be increased by high saturated fat intake.”

  163. #164 ken
    March 20, 2012

    “All truth passes through three stages:
    First, it is ridiculed;
    Second, it is violently opposed;
    and Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

  164. #165 Narad
    March 20, 2012

    In other news, Schopenhauer never said this.

  165. #166 Andrew
    May 12, 2012

    It concerns me how some medical professionals and other sceptics have such a “blinkered” view. Of course comtemporary medicine is the most important intervention, but what Dr David Servan-Shreiber communicated about other healing practices is also important. Shame on you people who have attempted to blast him out of the water. Open your eyes!

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