Respectful Insolence

I wondered how long it would take for someone critical of current cancer care to capitalize on the recently reported health misfortune of a celebrity. The answer, unfortunately, is “not long at all.” I will admit, however, that the source of that use and abuse of the misfortune of a celebrity was not the usual suspect; i.e., Mike Adams, whom I’ve taken to task on many occasions for gloating over celebrity deaths and illnesses, such as those of Tony Snow, Patrick Swayze, and Elizabeth Edwards, as “evidence” that conventional medicine either doesn’t work or kills.

The celebrity to whom I am referring is Robin Roberts, co-host of Good Morning America (GMA), who recently revealed that she had been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and will be undergoing a bone marrow transplant soon. Her MDS appears to be a rare complication of her treatment for breast cancer that she underwent in 2007. I searched the NaturalNews.com website and, shockingly, didn’t find a single use and abuse of Roberts’ plight. I did, however, find someone capitalizing on Roberts’ plight at—where else?—that wretched hive of scum and quackery, The Huffington Post. It’s an article by Margaret I. Cuomo, MD forwarded to me by one of my readers and entitled Why Cancer Treatment Is Fatally Flawed, and it uses Roberts’ case as a lead-in to promote Cuomo’s forthcoming book, A World Without Cancer: The Making of a New Cure and the Real Promise of Prevention, to be released in October.

As always, I find it extremely distasteful when someone takes advantage of the misfortune of another in order to promote her work, and, let’s face it, that’s exactly what Dr. Cuomo is doing in this article. She has a book coming out, and Ms. Roberts suffered a complication that Dr. Cuomo can jump on to illustrate her point (and, not coincidentally, publicize her book). So Dr. Cuomo jumps right on the case. She begins by pointing out that Roberts had said that she had “beaten breast cancer” and had openly discussed her experiences during treatment, after which she labels it “appalling” that Ms. Roberts’ treatment for breast cancer probably caused her MDS. Of course, MDS is an uncommon complication of breast cancer therapy, occurring in approximately 0.2% of cases. Assuming that Dr. Cuomo underwent standard adjuvant or neoadjuvant chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and a taxane, her risk would be roughly the same. The overall tone of Dr. Cuomo’s article makes it sound as though MDS is a much more common complication than it is. In fact, it’s silly of her to imply from Roberts’ extreme misfortune in developing a rare complication from chemotherapy and radiation that our system of cancer diagnosis and treatment is hopelessly “broken.”

Leaping to silly conclusions based on one case appears to be what Dr. Cuomo is about, though:

To those of us in the medical field, this comes as no surprise. The list of drugs that can cause MDS is long — including mechlorethamine, or nitrogen mustard, etoposide, teniposide, chlorambucil cyclophosphamide, and doxorubicin, all of which are commonly-used chemotherapeutic agents. Ionizing radiation, which may also be a part of breast cancer treatment, increases the risk for MDS. Most people, however, don’t realize that cancer treatments can be as devastating and potentially deadly as the cancer itself. As actor Cynthia Nixon so aptly put it in the powerful Broadway revival of Wit, the play by Margaret Edson portraying the journey of a woman suffering from advanced ovarian cancer: “My treatment imperils my health.”

Why is it that our current methods of cancer treatment consist of so many toxic drugs and radiation therapy that are capable of increasing our risk for developing second cancers? Is this the best that we can offer cancer patients in 2012?

Her second question is certainly not unreasonable. We physicians ask that question all the time, and certainly those of us who do cancer research ask it. It’s the very motivation that drives us. The first question, however, strikes me as incredibly naive. As I’ve explained time and time again, cancer is hard. It’s really, really complicated. It’s hundreds of different diseases, and in fact each cancer, thanks to the power of natural selection, is by itself dozens, if not hundreds, of diseases, stymying our best efforts thus far to develop personalized therapies based on targeting oncogene products and other important proteins in the cell. New findings in genomics are humbling indeed to cancer researchers.

Whenever someone like Dr. Cuomo asks a question such as, “Why is cancer therapy so toxic?” i want to grab her by the lapels, shake her, and tell her, “Because that’s all we know right now that works! When we discover something better, we’ll use it!” Seriously, does Dr. Cuomo think we would use such toxic treatments if they didn’t work or if there were a better way? She’s sounding a lot like alt-med purveyors in much of this article, implying that cancer researchers are either too wedded to their own therapies or don’t want to come up with something better. It’s just that, no matter how smart we are, cancer, unfortunately, has thus far been smarter. It’s not as though we like this situation, or accept it, but that’s just the way it is for now, at least until we can figure out something better.

It’s also not as though Dr. Cuomo has anything better to offer. She thinks she does, but if her HuffPo article is any indication, her book is certainly not likely to provide any answers. She might think that it will, but it doesn’t. Think I’m being too harsh? Then take a look at this passage by Cuomo:

The evidence is clear: The system designed to study, diagnose and treat cancer in the United States is broken, and it is in urgent need of reform.

The solution, I believe, lies in a critical restatement of our mission. Prevention of cancer should be a national goal. A recent study in Science Translational Medicine reported that at least 50 percent of all cancer cases are preventable. Smoking and obesity are responsible for a little over one-half of all cancers. The effect of diet, nutritional sources and physical activity levels require much more attention and public health advocacy. Environmental exposures have been inadequately investigated as cancer agents. In the case of MDS, at least 13 cancer risk factors, including organic chemicals (such as benzene, toluene, xylene), heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, exhaust gases and petroleum and diesel derivatives, are listed by the National Cancer Institute.

And then take a look at Dr. Cuomo’s proposed solution:

It is time for a bold new approach to the “cancer culture” as we know it. If our cancer treatment puts us at risk for the development of a second cancer, there is something fundamentally flawed about that approach. “Above all, do no harm” should always be our guiding principle in the treatment of any disease, and especially in the case of cancer. Research dedicated to effective new screening tools for cancer, and new methods of treating cancer early, before it has a chance to spread, are needed now.

I was half-tempted to ask you, my readers, to list all the wrongness in this last paragraph, but that would involve my restraining myself from listing the wrongness myself, and you all know that I normally can’t restrain myself. So I won’t. The best I can say about Dr. Cuomo’s proposal is that, as a cancer biologist and oncologist, she was probably a good radiologist back in her day. Early detection? Seriously? That’s the best she can come up with? Clearly, she has never heard of lead time bias. Relying on ever earlier detection is a recipe for overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Indeed, using current technology now, as many as 1 in 3 mammographically detected breast cancers could be overdiagnosed and that as many as 1 in 5 such cancers might spontaneously regress. These observations do not mean that screening is useless, as quacks like Joe Mercola try to argue, but they do mean that the interplay between early detection, improvements in survival, and overdiagnosis and overtreatment are complex. Beyond a certain sensitivity level, it is not at all clear that diagnosing breast cancer earlier will actually result in improvements in survival. It very well might, but there is a price to be paid, and that price is overdiagnosis and overtreatment. In other words, Dr. Cuomo’s solution is a simplistic solution that we might expect from a radiologist who hasn’t taken the time to understand cancer biology. Of course, the really disappointing thing is that radiologists should understand better than anyone else the issues of overdiagnosis that result from too-sensitive test being used to screen asymptomatic populations.

Then there’s the issue of prevention. Obviously, preventing cancer is better than having to treat cancer, but what, exactly, does “prevention” mean? For example, how, specifically, does Dr. Cuomo propose to get everyone to stop smoking and lose weight to realize that magical 50% reduction in cancer incidence? We’ve been trying to get people to stop smoking for nearly 50 years, and we can’t seem to get the number of people who smoke much below around 20% in this country. It’s not for lack of trying, either. Massive public health campaigns trying to persuade people to stop smoking have been pretty much a constant feature in my life as far back as I can remember. Lifestyle changes are very difficult, and smoking is addictive. It’s also not as though we haven’t been trying to get people to eat better and lose weight for at least as long, and yet we have more obesity now than ever before. Twenty years ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger was chair of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, a council that first came into existence in the 1950s during the Eisenhower administration in order to encourage people to eat better and exercise more, and, of course, that’s not the only government program designed to encourage more fitness. Again, getting people to change their diet and lifestyle is very, very hard, perhaps harder than developing new targeted therapies.

Then, of course, that leaves the evil chemicals, which must be giving us all cancer, if Dr. Cuomo is to be believed. Of course, it’s not as though we’ve been ignoring those, either. Not too long ago, the President’s cancer panel issued a very long report on that very issue. It was a mixed bag, with some reasonable ideas and some highly dubious ones (i.e., that cell phones are in any way a risk factor for cancer). I say this as someone who actually does think that research into environmental factors causing or contributing to cancer is worthwhile, but also as someone who gets annoyed by people who claim without evidence that chemicals caused their tumors.

So what we have here is a radiologist, who happens to be the daughter of Mario Cuomo and the sister of the current governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, who for whatever reason has decided that, even after not having practiced radiology for quite some time and now working primarily as the president of the Italian Language Foundation in Manhattan, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting Italian language education in the United States, she is somehow uniquely qualified to pass judgment on the entire cancer care system in this country. Amusingly, she appears to be married to Howard Maier, who is known for producing the “Buns of Steel” video series. (I’m sorry; I just couldn’t resist mentioning it after I learned of it.) Why has Dr. Cuomo now decided to write a book assailing the “cancer culture” as “broken” and, if this HuffPo article is any indication, to promote unimpressive solutions? I have no idea. Perhaps she’ll explain in her book. For now, the only explanation I’ve been able to find is this:

As a diagnostic radiologist who has watched patients, friends, and family suffer with and die from cancer and who was deeply affected by the enraged husband of one patient, Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo is inspired to seek out new strategies for waging a smarter war on cancer.

Don’t they all? Unfortunately, what Dr. Cuomo has proposed, at least in this article, doesn’t strike me as particularly “smart.” It strikes me as simplistic. Of course, I’d love to be proven wrong. Maybe Dr. Cuomo knows something that I don’t.

I wonder if she’ll send me a review copy of her book.

Comments

  1. #1 idlemind
    June 25, 2012

    A 50% reduction still leaves an awful lot of cases of cancer. How does she propose we treat it?

  2. #2 Anj
    June 25, 2012

    Yes.

    “Whenever someone like Dr. Cuomo asks a question such as, “Why is cancer therapy so toxic?” i want to grab her by the lapels, shake her, and tell her, “Because that’s all we know right now that works!” ”

    We are doing the best we can. (And I feel the urge to kick people in the ‘nads when they toss the word “cure” about.)

  3. #3 dingo199
    June 25, 2012

    And when clinicians do want to prevent cancer by using effective vaccines (hepatitis B, HPV) then all hell breaks loose.

  4. #4 palindrom
    June 25, 2012

    If this is all Cuomo’s book has to offer, it strikes me as exceptionally thin. I commented over at the hive that, if we lived in magic land where cancer was easy to cure, she might have a point. But we don’t, and it isn’t, and she doesn’t.

  5. #5 Jojo
    June 25, 2012

    It seems to me that she’s basically saying that we should be doing the things we are already doing, but she wants the results NOW. Not very helpful really.

  6. #6 lilady
    June 25, 2012

    Obviously the book was completed before Robin Roberts revealed her recently diagnosed MDS. Dr. Cuomo and her publisher Rodale Press were ghoulishly awaiting an *angle* (the death of public person from breast cancer or the announcement of treatment-related complications from breast cancer treatment). How *fortuitous* for them, to have Robin Roberts’ rare complication from successful breast cancer treatment, *drop in their laps*.

    We shouldn’t have to wait too long for Dr. Cuomo to be making the rounds of daytime TV talk shows. My money is on the Dr. Oz show…with an even more *sensational* announcement about losing the *war on breast cancer*.

    Also expect an extensive review of the book to appear shortly in “Prevention” magazine…Cuomo’s book publisher, Rodale, also publishes “Prevention”.

    It’s pretty sad that a radiologist who has not practiced in years, has to use her Cuomo Clan connections to garner publicity for her book:

    http://www.nypost.com/pagesixmag/issues/20110908/Meet+new+Kennedys

  7. #7 Dianne
    June 25, 2012

    It’s not so much the fact that every quack out there talks about focusing on prevention that drives me crazy as the fact that they all say it like it’s a new concept that no one has ever considered before. Doctors have been telling their patients to stop smoking since before I was born. And trying to help them do so. Discussion of diet and exercise are important parts of any routine “check up”. Along with discussion of birth control and STD prevention, accident prevention (gun safety, driving habits, etc), and vaccination. This is not new and not an “alternative” concept.

  8. #8 Renate
    June 25, 2012

    @ Dingo
    Of course they would say one could prevent those vaccin-preventable form of cancer by not having sex.

  9. #9 Marry Me, Mindy
    June 25, 2012

    I wonder, what did Robin Roberts do to cause her breast cancer? Cuomo better have an answer, or the point is completely moot.

    But as for why we have to use such nasty stuff to kill cancer…as Orac notes, cancer is a very diverse beast. However, all cancers have one thing in common: the cells proliferate like mad. They are especially good at replicating. So good, in fact, that they are out of control. That’s what makes them cancers.

    It only makes sense that you have to get pretty nasty to beat something that, by definition, is especially great at proliferation. If mild stuff were to stop it, it wouldn’t be cancer in the first place.

  10. #10 Denice Walter
    June 25, 2012

    Dr Cuomo, like many alt med folk, relies upon an oft-tested method used in advertising and woo: highlight one side of the data to push your own message. If SBM cancer treatments are to be depicted as “dangerous”, talk about the negative outcomes EVEN if their liklihood is non-representational. So if the therapy is effective 80% of the time but has a secondary cancer develop 1% of the time, discuss the 1% not the 80. We’ve seen this used to discourage vaccines, pharmaceuticals and SBM in general. It is the communication style of choice at PRN, Natural News and Age of Autism. Reverse this to focus on your own faves’ pros sans cons.

    Those who study social cognition have postulated that social sterotypes are created and strengthened by similar methods that make use of how memory itself works: if you discuss and accentuate Group A’s negative characteristics whilst failing to integrate their positive attributes, you get distorted, unrealistic assocaitions efixed into memory. Similarly, highlighting emotional aspects of the story makes it more likely to be recalled this way.

    Honest reportage would always include the *actual* numbers so that the reader might decide for him or herself.

    As children enter adolescence, the integration of contradictory information into more complex ideas becomes easier: younger children sometimes become focused on one side and get ‘stuck” in black-and-white, heroes-and-villians style thinking. Which,-btw-, we see all over regardless of age.

  11. #11 Denice Walter
    June 25, 2012

    @ Pablo (MMM):
    I’m sure that woo-meisters can articulate an entire list of what she did wrong: bad foods, bad water, bad thoughts, toxic relationships, what-have-you ( all non SBM).

    @ lilady:
    RODALE PRESS?

    In other news:

    Because the alt med ALIVE! conference has gone belly-up, Mike Adams will stream the entire woo-stravaganza from Natural News this weekend free of charge ( details at site)

    Fontunately, I shall be otherwise engaged on other shores with other cliffs.

  12. #12 lilady
    June 25, 2012

    @ Denice Walter:

    Yes, Rodale Press!

    I’ve been posting on Cuomo’s book for days at the Ho-Po and linked to a SBM article written by Orac’s *friend*.

    Go visit the link to see how Kelly M. Bray and I are now posting about Orac’s excellent analysis of the book.

  13. #13 Politicalguineapig
    June 25, 2012

    Marry me Mindy: Well, I suspect Ms. Roberts chose to be born into a family with a high risk of developing cancer. I have the same problem; my grandma and a great aunt (who I never knew) died of breast cancer.

  14. #14 lilady
    June 25, 2012

    Try “Googling” the title of Dr. Cuomo’s book “A World Without Cancer”.

    How dumb of her and her publisher to pick that title, that was already used for another book about Vitamin B-17 (Laetrile) cancer cures.

  15. #15 Denice Walter
    June 25, 2012

    @ lilady:

    Unfortunately, I know more about the Rodales than I would like because one of the cousins works for one of them ( in a totally non-woo enterprise)…
    come to think of it, I could probably get the Six Degrees game down a notch or two because of various cousins’ interesting- and sometimes bizarre- interconnections through work and marriage. Five degrees of DW?

  16. #16 loren russell
    oregon usa
    June 25, 2012

    …and let’s all imagine the “meeting cute” scenario when Dr. Cuomo reviewed the Xrays of mr. Buns of Steel!

  17. #17 Black-cat
    June 25, 2012

    Re: The solution, I believe, lies in a critical restatement of our mission. Prevention of cancer should be a national goal.

    I am so sick of statements like this. I have had numbskulls ask me what did I do to cause my cancer as if getting cancer is my fault and I had the power to prevent it.

    I always maintained a great BMI, exercised way more than the average person,, ate a wide variety of nutrient dense foods, never smoked and passed yearly physicals with flying colors. I hardly ever got sick and never had an operation in my life. . Not even minor surgery. I never took medication, not even aspirin because I never got headaches. Needless to say, friends and family were shocked at my diagnosis. I was the last person they expected to get breast cancer. I did nothing to cause my cancer. Sh*t happens.

  18. #18 palindrom
    June 25, 2012

    Black-cat @2:33 — Along those lines, one thing that irks me is the idea that if you just have a positive enough attitude, you can beat cancer. A positive attitude might be helpful (and it’s certainly more pleasant for everyone else), but for many it’s a short step from this truism to blaming victims because their Bad Thoughts are what’s making the cancer worse. As if biology didn’t matter.

  19. #19 Black-cat
    June 25, 2012

    @palindrom,

    The idea that negative thoughts can cause your cancer to spread really irks me too. I’m always reminded of a picture that Kim Tinkum put up on her site that is of her laughing with a clown nose. She took time out every day to think good thoughts and laugh as much as she could because she believed in the power of the Secret. Needless to say it did not work.

    It also irks me that her site is still up promoting Robert O Young and her book, which was never published. It’s really dangerous stuff.

    http://cancerangel.com/Resources.html

  20. #20 lilady
    June 25, 2012

    @ Black Cat: Thanks for your cogent observations about the breast cancer treatment *debate*. The quacks and their groupies would like to make it a *debate* by pushing their quackery.

    I’m busy posting at the Ho-Po at a twit, who has, in the past, undergone successful breast cancer treatment and who has, in the past, recommended a book written by a doctor of Chinese medicine. Just for laughs, I found this interview with the Chinese medicine quack…on Gary Null’s blog…and posted this link back at the twit:

    http://www.garynullforum.com/GNthisArticle.php?article=168

    Cripes, I am furious about these unwarranted attacks on science and I haven’t been diagnosed with breast cancer, and gone through the rigors of treatment.

  21. #21 bad poet
    June 25, 2012

    Why do woo addicts sound like 1960s commercials? “Constipation is disaster!” “Fried fish last night, dear?” “I thought George gave up cigars…” Seriously…

  22. #22 Politicalguineapig
    June 25, 2012

    Palindrom: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/02/cancer-positive-thinking-barbara-ehrenreich

    I keep forgetting to read the book, but I suspect it’s a doozy.

  23. #23 Black-cat
    June 25, 2012

    @lilady.

    Gary Null really is a pig. Denise Walters has educated me on him. His groupies on BCO seem to love him and refer to him simply as “Gary”. Funny, they don’t call Robert O Young, Bobbie. It’s Dr Young. They also gush how good looking he is. I just saw a video of him the other night. He would fit in as an extra for “The Walking Dead” Would not even require makeup. He has a pasty white horse face with little beady rat eyes. Looks like he’s wearing an ill fitted rug on his head too.

    That chinese quack is hilarios. Gotta love this part:

    Q: WHAT IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF BREAST CANCER ACCORDING TO TCM? HOW LONG HAS TCM BEEN TREATING THE ROOT CAUSE?

    A: THE ROOT CAUSE OF BREAST CANCER IS LIVER FUNCTION DISORDER CAUSED BY INTERNAL FACTORS OF EXCESS EMOTIONS LIKE CHRONIC ANGER AND OUTSIDE FACTORS LIKE STRESS. TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE UNDERSTANDS THE LIVER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ORGAN FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH. ACCORDING TO TCM, ALL WOMEN’S DISEASE IS DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY RELATED TO LIVER FUNCTION DISORDER.

    TCM HAS UNDERSTOOD AND HAS BEEN TREATING THE ROOT CAUSE OF BREAST CANCER FOR MORE THAN 500 YEARS. TCM HAS TALKED ABOUT CANCER IN ITS MEDICAL TEXTS FOR MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND YEARS.

    IN TCM, THERE ARE THREE CRITICAL FACTORS THAT CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT TO ALLOW CANCER TO TAKE HOLD AND GROW. THEY ARE: QI OR ENERGY DEFICIENCY, COLD WITHIN THE BODY, AND BLOOD STAGNATION. WHEN THESE THREE CONDITIONS ARE PRESENT, THE TRIGGER MOST OFTEN IS CHRONIC OR EXCESS EMOTIONS, ESPECIALLY ANGER, FRUSTRATION, WORRY, OR OVERTHINKING

    I have never been over to the Huff Po but I will join you there in a couple of hours. IMHO, alties that have had evidence based treatment that render them cancer free, who try to kick out the ladder for anybody else trying to get that same treatment are beneath contempt.

  24. #24 lilady
    June 25, 2012

    @ Politicalguineapig: I love reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s books and essays, especially this one:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_and_Dimed

  25. #25 lilady
    June 25, 2012

    @ Black-cat: I linked to that Gary Null interview, just for you.

    I’ll be waiting for you, along with the other RI Regulars at the Ho-Po. Your skillfully worded nuanced comments (“Gary Null is a pig”), plus your post-grad studies (“Denise Walters has educated me on him.”), will be a welcome addition at the Ho-Po.

  26. #26 Denice Walter
    June 25, 2012

    @ Black-cat:

    You’re hilarious!
    However, here is the awful truth: he is a dangerous idiot who profits by capitalising upon people’s fears and using their mis-guided worship of his miserably deficient self to spread his calumny and prevarication across continents via facebook et al. To spectacularly deleterious effects. His vanity channel is more than just that: he provides a platform for anti-vaxxers, HIV/AIDS denialists, anti-psychiatry advocates, cancer cure liars and SBM deniers.

    What’s even worse is that he and his evil ( but younger) twin, Mikey, have political aspirations amongst their diverse delusions of grandeur. People listen to them. People buy their products and brain-dead ideas. They fancy themselves to be leaders of men, desired by women and educators of the masses.
    When what they really are rhymes with truckers and bankers.

    To repeat the quote:
    ” Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive”.

  27. #27 bad poet
    June 25, 2012

    “Eye of newt, toe of frog, and 10,000 times the overdose of vitamin A I already recommend in my nauseatingly ‘healthy’ supplement drink mix…Maybe I’ll be a multimillionaire before all the lawsuits come rolling in!” – Gary “Da Void” Null

  28. #28 Black-cat
    June 25, 2012

    @lilady;

    I just went over to Huff Po for the first time. Yee gads, I felt like I was back at the altie forums at BCO. I don’t see a big difference. It’s the same old anti science, anti big pharma paramoid rants.

    I don’t even know where to start.

  29. #29 Black-cat
    June 25, 2012

    @Denice Walter

    We still have HIV/AIDS denialists? I thought those theories were dead and buried with that crazy old fart Alan Cantwell and his now out of print books. He was the dermatologist from San Francisco that thought HIV was a plot by the government to rid the world of homosexuals.

    It’s just amazing how gullible Adams and Null’s groupies are. They can say anything and get away with it. In reality both men should be sitting in jail, preferably with long prison sentences to give them time to sit and think of all the harm they have caused. They could meet men with names like BIG BUBBA and become their personal wiitches.

    They really are just a couple of mother trucker bankers.

  30. #30 Cath of Canberra
    June 25, 2012

    I hate these people with a passion. A passion that has redoubled and ignited in intense fury now that a friend has been diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer. The quacks hover like vultures.

  31. #31 lilady
    June 25, 2012

    @ Black-cat:

    “I don’t even know where to start.”

    I have a post up near the top of the blog with links to the “What’s The Harm” website and the “American Cancer Website”. You could start there with a reply :-)

  32. #32 lilady
    June 25, 2012

    @ Cath of Canberra: I’m so sorry for you and your friend; just “being there” and being a good listener for a good buddy is the best you can do.

  33. #33 Cath of Canberra
    June 26, 2012

    Thanks lilady. She’s a sensible person, and will ignore the laetrile pusher, but it’s a bad prognosis.

  34. #34 lilady
    June 26, 2012

    Cath…I’m sure she appreciates your friendship.

  35. #35 elburto
    June 26, 2012

    Hugs for you Cath. I know how frustrating it is when all you can do is sit and watch.

  36. #36 Shmorac
    June 26, 2012

    Orac-Schmorac, you are so cute…
    Silence of the corrupted, ah?
    Nothing to write about Merck sued for Mumps vaccine fraud by former employees?

    What a loser…

  37. #37 Renate
    June 26, 2012

    I still think ‘The spare room’ by Elisabeth Garner gives a nice insight in the frustration one might feel if they see a loved one in the hands of a quack and defending every action of the quack. It’s a novel, but still a book I remember vividly.

  38. #38 puppygod
    June 26, 2012

    This is a little bit off-topic, but relevant enough. Besides, I really can’t stop myself from posting it here.
    http://www.gocomics.com/brevity/2012/06/26.

    I think somebody is reading RI blog.

  39. #39 Antaeus Feldspar
    June 26, 2012

    This is apparently what idiot troll at 3:45 was referring to:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20120622-710001.html An initial glance doesn’t give much clue whether there’s any real issue here, but as usual, the Wretched Hives like Age of Antivaccination are a) already assuming that they know what the truth of a just-filed suit is and b) making it out that this is second only to Jeffrey Dahmer in the annals of depravity. Don’t they ever get tired of crying wolf?

  40. #40 Denice Walter
    June 26, 2012

    @ Antaeus:

    Well, we know what he’s reading: Olmsted and Blaxill were already on the case yesterday ( AoA) and there’s a piece today at Natural News.

    @ Black-cat:
    If you are correct, that would make me feel sorry for Big Bubba.

  41. #41 Politicalguineapig
    June 26, 2012

    Lillady: That’s one of the few college books that I kept. It’s in permanent residency at my home.

  42. #42 lilady
    June 26, 2012

    @ Antaeus Feldspar

    @ Denice Walter

    Actually…The dynamic Blaxsted team was “on the case” and blogged about it on Saturday, June 23rd at 5:47 AM. Blaxsted claims that the document was released “Friday” (June 22nd?)…which leads me to believe that they were in touch with the two plaintiffs or their attorneys, long before the release date. I read the entire U.S. District Court-Eastern District, Pennsylvania “Amended Complaint-Jury Trial Demand” motion. IANAL, but the case seems to lack much evidence. Blaxsted has revved up the AoA groupies by emphasizing that the Department of Justice has not joined the two *whistle blower* plaintiffs against Merck.

    Blaxsted also *syndicated* their AoA blog to “The Refusers”

    http://therefusers.com/category/refusers-newsroom/

    Beneath the Blaxsted article…see Refuser/Financial Adviser Michael Belkin on Fox TV…what a buffoon.

  43. #43 dingo199
    June 26, 2012

    It would appear that lack of exercise is a reason for getting breast cancer
    http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/PressRelease/pressReleaseId-103919.html

  44. #44 Politicalguineapig
    June 26, 2012

    Dingo: breathing seems to cause cancer these days. Exercise has it’s benefits, but anyone can prove anything with statistics.

  45. #45 Denice Walter
    June 26, 2012

    @ Politicalguineapig:

    Although I haven’t read it yet, I would guess that exercise might have something to do with lower weight and hormones like estrogen so there might be a mechanism.

  46. #46 lilady
    June 26, 2012

    Overweight women during their reproductive years, and after menopause have a higher level of estrogen than thinner women. Even though estrogen levels drop dramatically after menopause, estrogen is still produced in fat tissue stores:

    http://www.cancer.gov/ncicancerbulletin/111511/page3

    (It’s interesting that researchers are studying the effects of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, as decreasing the risk of breast cancer).

  47. #47 Politicalguineapig
    June 28, 2012

    Dingo: I apologize.

    Denice: I really should have looked at it. I admit to being skeptical because it sounded like another way to shame overweight people into exercising.
    Lilady: Interesting, but see above. I don’t really need another reason to hate and avoid my doctor. (I’m slightly overweight, exercise like a fiend, and have always thought of fruits and veggies as delicious. And yet, every single physical is an exercise in humilation.)

  48. #48 lilady
    June 28, 2012

    “Lilady: Interesting, but see above. I don’t really need another reason to hate and avoid my doctor.”

    I see my G.P. every 3 months. I haven’t stepped on his scale for at least 5 years :-)

  49. #49 Politicalguineapig
    June 29, 2012

    Unfortunately, I have belly weight. Even avoiding the scale wouldn’t stop the tsking. And, wow, a male doctor? You are far braver than I am.

  50. #50 lilady
    June 29, 2012

    Ladies of a *certain age* who are post menopausal do tend to store fat in their bellies. I gave up my bikini bathing suits about twenty years ago.

    Why not a male doctor? He’s a very competent physician, who is nearly retired (he’s younger than me)…his associates (doctors married to each other) will be taking over the practice.

  51. #51 Politicalguineapig
    June 29, 2012

    Lilady: Thing is, I’m 27. I’ve kinda reconciled that I’m gonna be alone forever, and that I’m gonna be fat, but I do not enjoy the tsking. I’m glad you’re happy with him, but I avoid male doctors for two reasons: I find any medical exam to be humiliating enough already, and I try to avoid putting myself in situations that might lead to sexual assualt. I even try to avoid hugging my male relatives.

  52. #52 lilady
    June 30, 2012

    @ Politicalguineapig: You exercise, your diet is great and you are still hearing tsk, tsk…when you go to your doctor? Perhaps it is time to find a new doctor.

    Many women are more comfortable with female doctors…especially for gynecological exams. If they are referred to a specialist for a specific medical problem, who happens to be male and who happens to be the foremost expert in the area, wouldn’t it be foolish to demand a referral to a female doctor?

    If you have issues in your past, please get some help for yourself and stop selling yourself short…”I’ve kinda reconciled that I’m gonna be alone forever, and that I’m gonna be fat, but I do not enjoy the tsking.”

    You are the same age as my petite daughter was when she met and married for the first time…it was a disaster. She waiting 14 years to find her partner. In the interim, she gained weight and still managed to find the right guy.

  53. #53 Politicalguineapig
    June 30, 2012

    Lillady: Well, I always figured it was something doctors do. I’m a little bit worried about switching, as I’m certain the next one would be worse. I have seen a few male specialists in the past- I’m ok with them as long as I don’t have to take my clothes off. I think I really confused the last doctor- a neurologist. (I’m sure he was expecting me to be forty years older from my name and being referred for Bells Palsy.)
    As for the other thing, well, it’s mostly panic about not being able to straighten my head out. Sex would be nice, love is worrisome (don’t like being weak) and marriage is something Republicans do : )

  54. #54 lilady
    June 30, 2012

    @ Politicalguineapig:

    I hope you have fully recovered from Bell’s Palsy…and it is not just older people who experience it. In Lyme disease-endemic areas, the infection commonly presents as Bell’s Palsy.

    “Sex would be nice, love is worrisome (don’t like being weak) and marriage is something Republicans do : )”

    Sex is wonderful and love is not weakness…How did you ever get the impression that marriage is a “Republican” commitment? :-)

  55. #55 Politicalguineapig
    July 1, 2012

    I did recover- still a few worrying twinges, but nothing major.
    I know that it’s not just older people- the first person I knew who had it was middle-aged, and my current employer had it when she was a kid.
    In my case it appeared to be shingles that was causing the flare-up. I didn’t think of asking to be screened for Lyme disease. We do have problems with ticks up here, and I used to spend a lot of time with my aunt’s dogs, so it could’ve been that.
    As for marriage, I dunno, maybe the fact that there’s going to be a marriage amendment on the state ballot in November?

  56. #56 lilady
    July 3, 2012

    @ Politicalguineapig:

    (I’m not diagnosing here)…you would have exposure to a wooded area that is known for having infected deer ticks…usually an area that is heavily populated with deer, as well.

    If you go for testing for Lyme disease…make certain that you don’t get wrapped up with a LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor)…who uses bogus tests such as the Lyme urine antigen test…and who DON’T use the two step ELISA-Western Blot test. Check out this site from the IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America) for the standards of testing and the treatment protocols:

    http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/43/9/1089.full

    “As for marriage, I dunno, maybe the fact that there’s going to be a marriage amendment on the state ballot in November?

    Do you mean this….

    http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Minnesota_Same-Sex_Marriage_Amendment_%282012%29

    How ridiculous that any State is trying to legislate the love and devotion that two people feel for each other.

  57. #57 thenewme
    July 14, 2012

    @Renate – I want to thank you for your recommendation of “The Spare Room” by Helen Garner!

    I picked it up at the library a few days ago and couldn’t put it down! It’s fantastic in a tragic sort of way, and I can totally relate to the character, with regard to my interactions at the breast cancer support forum! She describes it amazingly well. Thanks again for the rec!