cancer

Tag archives for cancer

Five years ago, IBM announced that its supercomputer Watson would revolutionize cancer treatment by using its artificial intelligence to digest and distill the thousands of oncology studies published every year plus patient-level data and expert recommendations into treatment recommendation. Last week, a report published by STAT News shows that, years later, IBM’s hubris and hype have crashed into reality.

Britt Hermes is an ex-naturopath who realized that she had become a quack and had the bravery to quit and study to become a real scientist. Because she is an apostate, the church of naturopathy has a special antipathy reserved for her, which is why a “naturopathic oncologist” named Colleen Huber has engaged in legal thuggery to silence her. Not-a-Dr. Huber has apparently never heard of the Streisand Effect, because a look at her website and her incredibly badly done and incompetent clinical study claiming that her treatments plus eliminating processed sugar results in much better cancer survival would be very embarrassing…to her.

Recently, I came across a news story describing two cancer patients treated by naturopaths in New Zealand. Both died, one almost certainly unnecessarily, the other after enduring more suffering than she likely had to. These tragic cases and others reminded me of why it is so appalling that so many physicians are “integrating” naturopathy into “integrative medicine.” In reality, they are integrating quackery into medicine.

By definition, alternative medicine has not been shown to be effective or has been shown to be ineffective. Thus, alternative medicine is ineffective against cancer and can best be represented as either no treatment at all or potentially harmful treatment. It is thus not surprising that cancer patients who choose alternative medicine have a higher risk of dying from their cancer. A new study confirms this conclusion yet again.

Eleven years ago, Abraham Cherrix and his parents chose quackery over science-based medicine to treat his cancer, and Cherrix was one of the earliest cases of teens who chose quackery to treat a life-threatening disease that I discussed in depth. Recently, I learned that Cherrix is still alive. The reason? He finally realized the error of his original decision and underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

Many are the stories of those who have embraced quackery to treat their cancer. Few are followup stories when such a person realizes she’s made a mistake and returns to conventional therapy. This is one such story, but you’re unlikely ever to see the media outlets that touted Carissa Gleeson’s choice of quackery to treat her cancer run the story of her having changed her mind and saved her life with real medicine.

I recently took a review course in general surgery to prepare for my board recertification examination in December and realized just how much the standard of care had changed in the decade since I last recertified. Then I learned that laetrile is still a thing. If there’s one thing that demonstrates the difference between alternative medicine and real medicine, it’s how no alternative medicine treatment ever goes away, no matter how often it’s shown not to work. Ever.

Paul Davies is a physicist turned Brave Maverick Cancer Researcher who thinks that, as an outsider, he’s had an insight to the origin of cancer. The problem is that his “insight” is 100 years old. Scientists rejected it long ago because it doesn’t fit with the evidence and produces no promising strategies to improve cancer care. Naturally, Davies cries “Big pharma!”

Cassandra Callender made national news a couple of years ago when at age 17 she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and refused chemotherapy. The court ordered that she undergo appropriate treatment, but unfortunately she relapsed and chose treatment at a quack clinic in Mexico. Continuing to progress, she finally chose real medicine to treat her cancer. Let’s hope that it’s not too late to save her.

Since being given a slap on the wrist by the Texas Medical Board for his many years of peddling his antineoplastons, a treatment that’s never been shown to have significant anticancer activity, Stanislaw Burzynski is back in action again, preying on desperate cancer patients like it’s 1999.

This week, the FDA sent warning letters to 14 companies making unsupported claims that their products can treat cancer. Given the new administration’s determination to deregulate almost everything, but especially the FDA, is this the last time in the foreseeable future that such a crackdown will occur?

Ill-advised right-to-try bills are spreading like kudzu through state legislatures. Now federal legislators want to insert right-to-try language into the bill that funds FDA drug approval. Given the support of powerful Republicans for right-to-try, is it too late to stop this juggernaut and protect patients?

Orac contemplates a reason why doctors become antivaccine that he missed the last time he discussed this topic.

If you were to rely on much of what you see in the mainstream media and on social media, you probably have the impression that we are not doing very well against cancer. Indeed, a common trope I see in a lot of articles is that we are somehow “losing” the war on cancer. Just…

Cancer huckster Belle Gibson was recently fined for deceiving the public by claiming that she had brain cancer, a story that she used to sell all manner of dubious treatments. Was she delusional or a run-of-the-mill con artist? Does it matter?

In a forthcoming book The Boy in 7 Billion, Callie Blackwell claims that cannabis oil, which she had started giving her son Deryn to relieve his symptoms during a bone marrow transplant for two cancers, actually saved his life when the bone marrow transplant appeared to be failing. Unfortunately, her story appears to be another testimonial that confuses correlation with causation.

Out of southern California, comes a lesson that something as seemingly benign as turmeric can kill when weaponized in the hands of a quack.

About a week ago, I happened upon a number of stories about a study and project that demonstrates a key difference between science and pseudoscience. They had titles like, “Rigorous replication effort succeeds for just two of five cancer papers” (Science), “Cancer reproducibility project releases first results: An open-science effort to replicate dozens of cancer-biology…

Kellyanne Conaway inadvertently gave us one of the most descriptive terms ever: Alternative facts. Alternative medicine is a lot like alternative facts in that it is unmoored from reality. Like alternative facts, it can also kill.

Naturopathic oncologists think that they’re real cancer doctors, to the point of even studying their specialty as though it were real. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Yesterday, I wrote about alternative medicine clinics in Germany that offer a combination of alternative cancer cures plus experimental therapeutics administered improperly outside the auspices of a clinical trial. In particular, I discussed two cases. The first was British actress Leah Bracknell, who is raising money to go to one of these alternative cancer clinics…

A couple of months ago, I discussed patient deaths at an alternative medicine clinic in Europe, where a naturopath named Klaus Ross had been administering an experimental cancer drug (3-bromopyruvate, or 3-BP) to patients outside the auspices of a clinical trial. 3-BP is a drug that targets the Warburg effect, a characteristic of cancer cells…

It’s time to get this video clip out again: Yes, just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. But who are “they”? I’m referring to the cult that thinks that bleach enemas (and also ingested bleach) will cure children of autism. I was reminded of that cult when ABC News 20/20…

It’s been a while since I wrote about Stanislaw Burzynski, the Polish ex-pat physician who is not an oncologist but treats cancer patients in his Houston clinic with a mixture of a compound he calls “antineoplastons” (ANPs) and “gene-targeted” therapy. The former are really a mixture of various chemicals he isolated from the blood and…

What is it about Florida and quacks? It’s as though it’s the Wild West there when it comes to regulating the practice of medicine. There, quacks can get away with almost anything, or so it would seem. After all, Brian Clement, who isn’t even a doctor and isn’t even really a naturopath either, has been…