Sharyn Ainscough dies tragically because she followed the example of her daughter, The Wellness Warrior

This being Breast Cancer Awareness Month and all, stories about breast cancer are frequently sent my way. This one is depressing and sad, mainly because it's the story of death from breast cancer. From what I can gather, it is the story of a death from quackery, a death that didn't have to occur. Even worse than that, it appears to be a death facilitated by the daughter of the deceased, a woman named Jessica Ainscough, who bills herself as the "Wellness Warrior." It's a horrifying story, the story of a woman who followed her daughter's lead and put her faith in the quackery known as the Gerson therapy. Unfortunately, it's more than just one story. It's the story of the daughter as well, who, although she has cancer, is still alive. Her story is yet to be finished, but her mother Sharyn's story is over:

As many of you know, my Mum had breast cancer for the past few years. She was diagnosed about a year after I started Gerson Therapy, and seeing how much the therapy helped me, she went straight on it herself. However, unlike my journey, Mum’s was fraught with complications. She had been doing well and seemed to make it through her obstacles, however a few months ago it became clear that the cancer was getting ahead of her. She was in pain, lost a lot of weight, lost all energy, and her health quickly deteriorated. We explored lots of options however Mum choose to see out the final months of her life in a way that was exactly right for her.

Last Friday, after putting up the bravest fight I’ve ever witnessed, my mum passed away. She went peacefully and was comfortable with no drugs, which is what she always wanted. Her whole family was in the room, my dad and I were holding her hands and Edie was at the foot of her bed. She flickered her eyes, took one last gasp and then went off to sleep.

Stories like this sadden me greatly. Even if her mother wasn't potentially curable when diagnosed (and, as you will see, that wasn't the case), to put her through the rigors of a useless therapy like the Gerson therapy through the last stages of her life was criminal, particularly if she wasn't given access to modern palliative therapy, which is frequently the case.

Before I delve into this tragic tale, let me first provide a bit of background. I've written about the Gerson therapy before in the context about a medical propaganda movie extolling its virtues and discussed it again when a clueless Fox News host did a segment It's basically a protocol developed by a man named Max Gerson back in the 1920s that is based on diet and "detoxification." His protocol included a high potassium, low sodium, fatless diet regimen that incorporated mineral and vitamin supplements, and crude liver injections (preparations of raw calves liver). Also included in the regimen were (and are) coffee enemas, sometimes as many as one ever four hours. Gerson's rationale for the enemas was that they helped to stimulate the flow of bile, thereby increasing the rate of excretion of toxic products from the body. As I've discussed before, liver "detoxification" and liver flushes do not do what they are claimed to do; in fact, they tend to be the purest manifestation of quackery. The current version of Gerson therapy, which has evolved since his death, is now claimed to involve an intensive "detoxification" program to eliminate "toxins and waste materials" that allegedly interfere with healing and metabolism coupled with an "intensive nutrition program." As described at Quackwatch, the dietary part of the Gerson protocol involves low-sodium, low-fat, low animal protein foods high in carbohydrates with copious amounts of mineral supplements, as well as pancreatic enzymes and Lugol's solution (an inorganic solution of iodine plus potassium iodide). You get the idea.

Now let's go back to the beginning. To do this, you need to know a bit about Jessica Ainscough. It's actually hard to find much in the way of details on her website and blog. The "about" section, where she tells her story, lacks much in the way of details, but there is an article entitled I'm healing myself from cancer naturally that tells more. Both articles reveal that Ainscough was diagnosed at age 22 with a rare sarcoma known as an epithelioid sarcoma. In 2008, lumps had been popping up on her left arm and hand, and she had them biopsied. Make no mistake, this is a rare cancer; recent figures for incidence are on the order of 0.1 to 0.4 per million. It's a tumor of young adults, which fits with Ainscough's presentation, and it nearly always appears on the upper extremities. Unfortunately, wide excision is the only effective treatment, as Ainscough herself relates:

Epithelioid sarcoma doesn’t respond to chemotherapy or radiation, and my only chance of prolonging my survival would be to have my arm amputated at the shoulder. But essentially, my condition was incurable.

None of this made any sense to me. I felt so healthy, and I looked healthy. I could not understand how my life had come down to a decision about whether to have my whole, fully functioning arm chopped off.

I'm not entirely sure why she would have been told that her condition was incurable unless the tumor had spread to her axillary lymph nodes (the lymph nodes under her arm), because amputation would have been a very wide excision. Be that as it may, it's hard not to feel great sympathy for Ainscough. It's hard to imagine having to lose one's arm at age 22 as the only chance to survive. She was even ready to have the surgery, but her doctors came to her at the last minute with an alternative, which was to do isolated limb perfusion. Basically, this is a technique sometimes used for soft tissue sarcomas of the extremity or multifocal melanoma that can't be resected without amputation to try to destroy the tumor. As its name implies, isolated limb perfusion involves isolating the limb from the systemic circulation and infusing it with very (and I do mean very) high doses of chemotherapy. That's what necessitates the isolation of the limb's circulation; the dose of chemotherapy is so high that if it leaked back into the rest of the circulation the consequences could be disastrous. Isolated limb perfusion can often cause seemingly near miraculous results, and apparently that was the case for Ainscough. Unfortunately, tumors tend to recur, and that's exactly what happened to Ainscough about a year later, which led to the doctors recommending an amputation of her arm at the shoulder again. So this is what she did:

I began looking at the different ways I may have contributed to the manifestation of my disease and then stopped doing them.

I swapped a lifestyle of late nights, cocktails and Lean Cuisines for carrot juice, coffee enemas and meditation and became an active participant in my treatment.

This research led me to Gerson Therapy which ensures you have a perfectly balanced diet for optimum health, assisting your body to flush out nasties whilst feeding it with all the goodness it needs to flourish.

The therapy involves drinking 13 fresh organic veggie juices per day (yes that’s one an hour, every hour of my waking day), five coffee enemas per day and a basic organic whole food plant-based diet with additional supplements.

For two years I devoted my entire life to healing, to the extent that I was effectively housebound.

I am ecstatic to report that it has worked for me. I have had no cancer spread, no more lumps pop up (they were popping up rapidly before) and I can actually see some of my tumours coming out through my skin and disappearing.

Since the Gerson therapy is not an effective treatment for cancer, what we are looking at is basically the natural history of the disease. One thing that is clear is that epithelioid sarcoma is not among the most aggressive of sarcomas. Its ten year survival overall is on the order of 61%, and for patients between 17 and 30 years (i.e., patients like Jessica Ainscough), it's approximately 72%. Of course, that is with treatment with surgery; without surgery, five year survival is 35% and ten year survival is 33%. This implies that there is a subset of these cancers that is fairly indolent, as the vast majority of patients who are going to die of their disease do so within five years, with additional deaths after five years being relatively few. What this further implies, given that Ainscough never underwent surgery, is that she was lucky enough to be in this group. In other words, she's another case in which the quackery didn't save her; she was fortunate enough to have slowly progressing disease. Although her sarcoma is very likely to result in her demise; it may not happen for several more years. Worse, however, by refusing surgery, she decreased her chance of surviving 10 years by at least half. It's very, very hard to say. This tumor is so rare that there just aren't a lot of data about it. It's also unclear what Ainscough's clinical status is; if her tumors are still confined to her left arm, radical amputation might still greatly increase her chances of long term survival or even cure. If they have metastasized, as they are prone to do, then it's too late.

Since 2009, unfortunately Ainscough has built quite the woo empire for herself. I don't know, but I'm told by my Australian friends, that she is quite famous Down Under. Her website, The Wellness Warrior, is loaded with paeans to quackery, particularly coffee enemas, as can be seen in this video:

Note: In this video Ainscough shows how to give a coffee enema, although she doesn't actually take it. I also note that two years ago, at least, she had several clearly visible lumps on her left arm that appeared to be ulcerating.

Unfortunately, Ainscough's propensity for quackery has now claimed the life of her mother, who followed her daughter's example and paid the ultimate price. Here's what Ainscough wrote when her mother was first diagnosed:

My family has been pretty much consumed by this disease for almost four years, so when my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer in April this year we knew exactly how to deal with it. Following her diagnosis, my mum refused any sort of conventional interference. She said no to a mammogram and a biopsy, told them that she wasn’t interested in going down the path of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, and instead chose the same therapy as me.

Which involved:

My mum, who has been my primary carer for the past 14 months, has just been told she has breast cancer. The carer suddenly becomes the patient and the former patient is now gearing up to become the primary carer. And because I’m still on the therapy myself, my amazing dad has stepped into the carer role as well (while still working six days a week). Mum is also on the full Gerson Therapy and she will have to stay on it for the next two years. She is now drinking 13 juices per day, having five coffee enemas per day and – much to her disgust – taking castor oil every second day. We’re now in this together! Our solid routine gets us through, but it’s just days like yesterday when I was sick and mum was feeling crook from castor oil that the pressure is on my dad to care for us both.

But what was her mother's stage when she was diagnosed? We really don't know. The video included with this post is private, and I can't watch it. The best I can do is to make inferences from the limited information on the website. For instance, what we are supposed to learn from this video includes:

  • What my mum believes triggered her cancer.
  • The role hormones play in disease manifestation.
  • Why we believe that mammograms are useless, and even dangerous.
  • Why my mum refused to have her breast tissue biopsied.
  • Why she would refuse to have a lumpectomy (removal of the lump) and a mastectomy (removal of one or both of the breasts), and refuse to have chemotherapy and radiation.
  • Why Mum is so confident that Gerson Therapy will work.
  • The number one message she would like to get out to people watching this video.

From the limited information I can find about Sharyn Ainscough's cancer, it seems to me that it was probably fairly early stage and therefore treatable with multimodality therapy including surgery plus chemotherapy, radiation, and/or hormonal therapy with a high probability of success. Unfortunately, Sharyn Ainscough followed her daughter's path and opted for quackery. Once that happened, the end was inevitable. In fact, the natural history of untreated breast cancer is a median survival of 2.7 years. Her mother was diagnosed in April 2011. She died a few days ago. That's roughly two and a half years, very close to the expected median survival of untreated breast cancer. Along the way, mother and daughter made the same rationalizations that I've seen from people who have chosen quackery time and time again. For instance, a few months after her mother began the Gerson therapy, Jessica Ainscough reported that her mom was having "flare-ups":

When you choose Gerson Therapy as your weapon of choice, you must make peace with the fact that you are going to be in for some whopping healing reactions or “flare-ups” – how, where and the severity of the reaction is exclusive to each person. I guess I have been lucky because my flare-ups have been quite mild. My left arm swelled up (about a year ago and still hasn’t deflated), I’ve had headaches, a little nausea, a few days where I’ve been too exhausted to get out of bed, and countless days where I’ve cried uncontrollably and been moodier than a storm season, but the physical symptoms have been limiting. My mum, on the other hand, is having ALL of the textbook reactions. If we hadn’t gone to the Gerson clinic or spoken to fellow Gerson patients, I don’t think we would have been quite as prepared for what she’s been going through.

That "swelling" is probably lymphedema caused by her cancer obstructing the lymph vessels of the arm; so it's not surprising that it's never "deflated." As for Sharyn Ainscough, she reported:

  • The left boob (the one with cancer) has what mum calls a string of pearls at about 12 o’clock high, a row of three or four small palpable lumps. She can feel action in this boob.
  • The right boob has also flared up, which was frightening at first before we realised that is was a healing reaction. Mum says it feels like a thickening with a swollen gland under the arm. She had a benign lump taken out of this boob about 15 years ago, so it is very likely that this is flaring up again as she heals.

No, what was likely happening is that the cancer in the left breast was growing and forming satellite lesions. What's truly depressing about this post, however, is that virtually anything that a Gerson patient experiences is attributed to a "healing reaction" or a "flare-up." For instance, in July 2012, when her mother wasn't getting any better, a quack did a hair test and claimed that she was "copper toxic." He also did live blood analysis (more utter quackery) and applied kinesiology (even quackier quackery) and concluded that she was suffering from candida. The result? Her mother was subjected to chelation therapy and "anti-candida" treatment, while Jessica Ainscough revealed her utter lack of understanding of cancer:

If Mum had followed conventional orders and had surgery or drug interference, there is no way that these underlying issues would have been addressed. Yet another reason why it is SO important to deal with the cause and not just eradicate the symptom. Lumps in breasts are not the issue. It’s the toxicity and deficiency of our bodies that cause an imbalance and lead to dis-ease.

How many times have we heard cancer quacks say this, that the cancer is not the problem but rather a "symptom" of the "real" problem or a "protective reaction" to the real problem? German New Medicine, Robert O. Young's acid-base woo, Andrea Moritz's quackery, Hulda Clark's claim that liver flukes cause cancer, or many other alternative cancer cures, it's a common theme in cancer quackery to claim that the cancerous tumor is not the "true problem," a theme that the daughter echoes at every turn.

In the end, I have very mixed feelings here. As a cancer surgeon, I've made it very clear, particularly when it comes to Stanislaw Burzynski's patients, that I don't like to criticize cancer patients who choose quackery. I can completely understand why in their desperation they would be vulnerable to the blandishments of preachers of false hope. It's ignorance and desperation, rather than ill intent. That resolve, however, wavers when I encounter a person like Jessica Ainscough. Think about it. She's become a media figure in Australia because of her promotion of "natural" healing. She promotes Gerson therapy to cancer patients, and if you read the comments of some of her blog posts you will find people praising her for "changing their lives" by persuading them to choose "natural treatments" like the Gerson therapy (although how it is in any way "natural" to shoot coffee up one's rectum has always evaded me). That means she might well have led cancer patients with potentially curable cancers to choose quackery instead of effective medicine, leading them to their deaths. Worst of all, her example led her mother, who, unlike her, appears to have had a very treatable, potentially curable breast cancer, to eschew surgery and other effective treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy. The end result was a dead mother, while Jessica Ainscough saying:

I do want to say this though. I know some of you have cancer and are on Gerson Therapy or you love someone in this position, and I don’t want this news to deter you from believing in what you are doing. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the past few years it’s that no one cancer therapy is right for everyone, just the way no one diet is right for everyone. We all have different bodies, different minds, different histories, and different journeys.

As angry as this makes me, surprisingly I still don't have it in my heart to be too hard on Ainscough. You might think that, seeing her mother die might have been a wake-up call that leads her to change the course she's on, but I know human nature. She won't. After all, if she admits that Gerson therapy is useless, even harmful, quackery that failed to save her mother, then she would be forced to acknowledge her role in the death of her mother. She would also be forced to accept that Gerson therapy can't save her, either. These are both conclusions that Ainscough would likely find too painful to accept. On the other hand, such a jolt might be a good thing. She might not be beyond salvaging with a radical amputation. At the very least, it would be a very good thing if Jessica Ainscough stopped dissuading cancer patients from undertaking conventional therapy and persuading them to pursue the same self-destructive path that claimed her mother and is likely to claim her.

Categories

More like this

Two months ago, I took note of a somewhat cryptic blog post by a young woman named Jess Ainscough. In Australia and much of the world, Ainscough was known as the Wellness Warrior. She was a young woman who developed an epithelioid sarcoma in 2008 and ended up choosing "natural healing" to treat her…
Since I've been complaining about credulity in the media reporting on cancer this week, in particular the way local reporters Carol Robidoux and April Guilmet published articles that were nothing more than regurgitations of propaganda from Stanislaw Burzynski, I figured I might as well go all in…
Recent articles in The Daily Mail and The Australian reminded me that it's been over a month since the unfortunate demise of Jess Ainscough, a young Australian woman who was diagnosed with an epithelioid sarcoma of her left upper extremity in 2008. Before I get to the articles, a brief recap is in…
Not being Australian and, for some reason, never having encountered her promotion of "natural health" online before, I first encountered Jessica Ainscough, also known as "The Wellness Warrior" over a year ago when I learned that her mother Sharyn Ainscough had died of breast cancer. Her mother,…

On her website she boasts of taking her health into her "more-than-capable" hands and is gearing up to promote a new book and promotional tour. I also notice that, in her Facebook photos, the left arm is frequently hidden while the ones on the website appear to be retouched.

While it's likely she's in denial about her own illness and her mother's, I still find that horrifically callous and mercenary, coming so close to her mother's death.

By anarchic_teapot (not verified) on 16 Oct 2013 #permalink

This makes me so very, very sad. I'm sad that Jessica's mum passed away, and sad that they didn't make the most of modern medical and scientific advances. My sympathies to their family and friends.

It takes a special mindset to explain away additional tumours as some sort of healing process. I hope other people reading her blog see what really happened and not just the spin that they would like to believe.

"Last Friday, after putting up the bravest fight I’ve ever witnessed, my mum passed away. She went peacefully and was comfortable with no drugs, which is what she always wanted. "
I sincerely hope she doesn't mean that her mother died without analgesia because that would be just cruel.
And as for the bravest fight she has ever witnessed - what does that mean? What sort of brave fight is it when you don't take advantage of all of the options available to you ?

By Maureen Chuck (not verified) on 16 Oct 2013 #permalink

@Kat - frequently in Woo-Circles, "getting worse" equates to "getting better" for some reason....it is truly Orwellian Double-Speak...

Interesting how the alternative tropes play out here. "Individualized treatment for designed for YOU" but the same juice and enema regime for 2 very different types of cancers. "I choose Quality of Life," yet these two women seem to have chosen a life that revolves around juice making, juice drinking, and enemas to the exclusion of pretty much everything else. "What matters is that you believe," but belief didn't do much for the mom, at least. The whole thing is just tragic on so many levels.

I've followed her blog for some time now. I'm a nurse so have been sitting on the fence about her chosen therapy. I've noticed in photos her arm definitely appears to be getting worse and when questioned, assures readers that its from the chemotherapy she originally had.
I do want to point out a couple of things. 1. From what I read on the blog her mother originally came across the gerson therapy and not vice versa and 2. I don't believe she's brain washing people. People still have free will. She is not saying you must go out and do this, she's giving advice as to what she believes has worked for her. Will she still be alive in 10 years time? Only time will tell but I'm definitely interested to see if she will prove the critics wrong. It's tragic what has happened to her mother and although she will never admit it she must question whether her mum might be alive had she done things conventionally. What was to stop her doing both? Adopting the healthier lifestyle after chemo/radiation etc?

She is not saying you must go out and do this, she’s giving advice as to what she believes has worked for her.

Except that it clearly hasn't, and it obviously didn't work for her mother.

Will she still be alive in 10 years time?

Unlikely but not impossible. As I pointed out in my post, this is a fairly slow-growing tumor, and even without surgery the ten year survival is around 33%. Even if she is still alive ten years after her diagnosis, that would not mean that the Gerson therapy helped her.

It’s tragic what has happened to her mother and although she will never admit it she must question whether her mum might be alive had she done things conventionally.

Not knowing the full clinical details of her mother's diagnosis, I can't comment definitively, but from what I've read it certainly seems as though she had a treatable, "curable" cancer. In that case, choosing Gerson therapy over surgery and chemotherapy led to her having a typical course for untreated breast cancer, dying slightly sooner than the known median survival of untreated breast cancer.

The real question is how much she suffered. Untreated breast cancer frequently takes over the entire breast and erodes through the skin to produce an ulcerated, stinking, bleeding, painful mess. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if this is what happened to Jessica Ainscough's mother Sharyn. It's a horrible way to die.

"Lumps in breasts are not the issue. It’s the toxicity and deficiency of our bodies that cause an imbalance and lead to dis-ease."

Dis-gusting.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

Lean Cuisine? I guess my "silent killer" list is out of date.

Oddly enough, tomorrow (October 18) is Max Gerson's birthday.

By Tim Farley (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

@AW

Adopting the healthier lifestyle after chemo/radiation etc?

There is nothing healthy about the lifestyle Ainscough has adopted. Coffee enemas are extremely risky and do not provide any benefit in return. The organic fruits and veggies for the juicing must be costing her a fortune (the Gerson Institute website recommends 15-20 pounds per DAY), not to mention all the supplements. She’d be better off just eating the fruits and vegetables in normal amounts instead. I’m also not sure it’s a good idea for someone with a terminal illness to be restricting their fat and protein intake to the degree required by the Gerson plan.

In addition, she herself says the Gerson regimen keeps her housebound and required her to have a full-time caregiver. I can understand why Ainscough balked at the idea of having her arm amputated, that would give anyone pause. But is her quality of life really better now? Her life is completely taken up with her alternative “therapy” and now she’s lost her mother. I’m not seeing a benefit to any of this.

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

There is nothing healthy about the lifestyle Ainscough has adopted.

Or her mother, who adopted the same lifestyle, complete with four or five coffee enemas per day. It never ceases to amaze me what constitutes "natural" and "healthy" in cancer quack world: Sticking coffee up your butt, taking boatloads of supplements, liver extract injections, pancreatic enzymes, and so much fruit and vegetables that it's hard to imagine how it's possible to consume it all. Then, in the case of Sharyn, there was chelation therapy, which can produce dangerous depletion of key electrolytes in the blood to the point of causing cardiac arrhythmias and even cardiac arrest. It boggles the mind, and it amazes me that she's kept it up for nearly four years.

My wife was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 1995. A friend of the family's of about the same age found a lump in her breast. Both had biopsies to confirm cancer. My wife went on to have a mastectomy with lymph node dissection - this resulted in the 4th stage diagnoses. The family friend chose Gerson therapy. My wife had radiation followed by adjuvant chemo over about 6 months. The family friend died in a little over two years. At that time, after 2 years of good health and a full life, my wife was found to have metastasis in bones, lungs and liver. She started what would be an on again off again regimen of chemotherapy to fight her disease She had some bad months but she had good months too over the next 8 years. She saw two of our 3 kids graduate form high school and even made it to the oldest's college graduation. She went on multiple school trips as a chaperone including to France and Spain. She took her girl scout troop on multiple backpacking trips. In the end it was the metastasis to her brain that ended what was a truly brave fight against cancer. Thank God she didn't spend her days with cancer stuck indoors giving herself enemas.

test

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

"Oddly enough, tomorrow (October 18) is Max Gerson’s birthday."

I'll drink a coffee toast to his memory.

Thing is, a cup of coffee is just the ticket for expelling your toxins, if you know what I mean.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

Unfortunately, her regime sounds similar to those which are advised by the usual suspects, hourly green juices and frequent coffee infusions applied antipodally.

Altho' I am somewhat inured and hardened to testimonials by the woo-entranced, observing this young woman- whose arm's appearance betrays her actual state despite her efforts to hide it- is heartbreaking. I wonder what happens if, and when, she wakes up.

On a lighter note, if you click on "store" at her website, you'll find that she sells 'motivational jewellery" which is based on ayurvedic gemstone healing principles.

-btw- Orac- this post/ link is behaving oddly.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

@Tim Farley

Oddly enough, tomorrow (October 18) is Max Gerson’s birthday.

I don't feel inclined to celebrate it.

By Rich Woods (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the past few years it’s that no one cancer therapy is right for everyone, just the way no one diet is right for everyone. We all have different bodies, different minds, different histories, and different journeys.

Eliminate the word "cancer" and I think you have one of the most popular responses to criticism against alternative medicine. It translates into "stop trying to tell me what's right for me" and it's framed as if the topic was one of preference or life style. It places science into the role of a closed-minded bully. And it's a brilliant all-purpose excuse for failure.

When alt med doesn't work it's never useless. It just wasn't right for that person under those circumstances, is all.

The classic test for religious faith is to ask the question: "what would it take to change your mind?" If there's any answer at all (there usually isn't), then the more unreasonable or the more 'moral' the response ("I'd have to stop caring about people/myself"), the more likely you've got a faith-based immunizing strategy at work.

bobh,
Thank you for sharing your wife's story. My sister was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer (too near her heart) at 47. She fought it with an experimental chemo/radiation combo at Stanford. After 10 years she discovered that she was the only member of her cohort of 12 to survive, and survive she did, for another seven years. In that 17 extra years she saw all of her grandchildren born, was a daycare grandma to them while their mom's worked, traveled extensively and spent lots of time with my parents. It was also brain metastases that took her (swiftly and painlessly) in the end. The docs warned her about that possibility, but she took every day as a gift after her treatment. I was an alt-med, new age zealot back in those days, but I shut the hell up and never questioned her choice of treatment once. I'm so glad I held my tongue.

My condolences to the Ainscough family for their fear, suffering and loss.

By Pareidolius (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

Denice Walter #14 wrote:

test

It's hard to improve on such a succinct, pithy, and to-the-point comment.

Oh ... if only they would!

@ Sastra:

I aims to please.
- altho' in this case, it was inadvertently...but I do always have preconscious statistical tendencies.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

Going back to Jess' blog, I notice that she is entranced by green juices...
why oh why do these people insist on this nonsense?

Amongst those I survey, green juices ( often one per hour) are *de rigueur*: they believe that green vegetables have a magical healing power- I've heard their benefits extolled as a de-toxifier, an anti-inflammatory agent, a chelator, a strengthener, a rejuvenator and an all-purpose general nutrient. So those who wish to prevent illness or cure their current condition might believe that chlorophyll and other phyto-nutrients are the perfect elixirs - the essence of life, a fountain of youth, as it were.

I wonder where they got that idea?
It hints at mythological beliefs about plants vs animals. Each year the ancients observed vegetation appear to die with autumn's arrival, go through a period of apparent lifelessness and then be re-born again in spring: burgeoning and expanding luxuriantly in the sun. Whereas dead animals stay dead and rot.

Thus, perhaps green smoothies might enable us to join into the myth of eternal return and resurrection: there must be some divine spirit within them- which makes ingesting them raw all the better. Obviously, such power wouldn't be hindered by a simple obstacle like cancer, would it? I have also heard green juices touted for MS, ALS, Alheimer's,CVD, ASD as well as whatever ails ye.

It should be noted that WHATEVER the underlying reasons for believing in 'green power', it carries emotional heft making it suitable as advertising copy. Herbal remedies also figure amongst the green revolution in health..How many liquor companies' products proudly boast ancient herbal formulae sparkling within their distilled essences, infusing them mightily with prowess?

If only someone could bottle this green healing miracle - they'd make a fortune!
Oh wait....

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

This case both saddens (on account of the two cancer sufferers in the family) and angers me immensely.

I'm sure Jessica Ainscough didn't initially set out to build a business empire of the back of her cancer (or have her mother denied even palliative care during the course of a terrible illness & death), but this is essentially what has happened.

I too have read much of the "Wellness Warrior" blog - what remains in the public domain.

It baffles me that this has not yet caught the attention of a reputable national current affairs program. I understand that adults have free will to choose their own treatment or lack thereof, however people who are desperate are incredibly vulnerable.

I believe that if an actual health professional offered quack cures to people, especially the terminally ill for profit in Australia, they would be up before a Tribunal or Court as soon as their activities became public knowledge.
I have even heard of outright "quackery" being prosecuted.

I have never before seen cognitive dissonance receive nothing but positive press on this scale, and it is frightening.

By AntipodeanChic (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

Denice,

Going back to Jess’ blog, I notice that she is entranced by green juices… why oh why do these people insist on this nonsense?

I think it's vitalism, pure and simple, with juices being an excellent source of imaginary life energy. I imagine they would expect blood or fresh raw meat to have the same effect, but are too squeamish in one way or another to take that route. 'Red juice' doesn't have quite the same ring I suppose.

I like to remind raw food freaks of the existence of antinutrients and the many other reasons that cooking foods became popular.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

@ Kreb:

Also blood smells awfully very quickly. Thus religious prohibitions against dealing with it in warmer climes.
( I guess our pristinely clean-minded alties will pass on the sacrificial blood offerings...
D-mn!)

Unfortunately, there are "red juices" ( of non-animal origin) for sale: red (and purple) fruits chock full of antho- and proanthocyanidins, available dried, freeze-dried etc

Now I can tolerate some red juices... just not Merlot.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

It is interesting that the most famous woo based anti cancer guy in Aus Ian Gawler has now been discredited. Yet there's always a bunch of newbies ready to take up the slack. However Orac, from my recent breast cancer experience part of the problem is the poor attitudes of some providing medical scientific treatment. I am 100% anti alt medicine but the rough thoughtless treatment I received would make many run to the touchy freely incence bearing "carers".

Have any of you detractors of Jess Ainscough every actually TRIED Gerson therapy?

I have.

Not for the suggested two years - but for just under 12 months. Not for cancer - but for one of the other 'incurables' - arthritis. I am symptom free (no drugs) for the first time about 4 years - I can lift my granddaughter - something I thought I would be able to do less that a year ago. I can climb stairs when the best I could do before was crawl.

Just in the last seven short days since Sharyn died 140,000 other people have died of various cancers around the world - and you can safely say that 98% of those followed the medical route.

7.6 million every single year. Despite BILLIONS of money going to research. Ever since Richard Nixon made it his mission to 'defeat cancer'

For every advance in treatment another 'rare cancer rears it head and the ratio of people diagnosed and dying of cancers just keeps climbing...

And yet we know that roughly 1 third of all cancers are preventable...by lifestyle changes.

We also know that there are a growing list of known carcinogens finding its way into the food chain and the air we breathe.

I first discovered Gerson therapy when I was sitting in the palliative care ward with a friend who had been misdiagnosed by her doctors and specialists for years until her cancer - which would have been treatable in early stages - was too far gone. She was too sick to do any alternative therapy - but it didn't stop her looking for options when the medical system failed her.

Unfortunately doctors don't get held up to the same standard ORAC has held Jess Ainscough to.

Jess Ainscough's blog is essentially about cleaning up what you eat, knowing it's source and educating people about food and health. As someone who has felt the full force of feeling superbly well under Gerson - I would say.... don't knock it till you have tried it.

My own doctor said when he saw the difference in my BP and weight and blood results - whatever you are doing - keep doing it.

If Jess makes sick people aware that changing there lifestyle might make them one of those people who didn't get one of the preventable cancers - then who are we to suggest that she is irresponsible.

My mother died of cancer. She chose not to be treated with Chemo or radiation to extend her life. While I didn't want her to die I was moved by her ability to make a choice about how she lived - and how she died. She did not want the sickness of chemo and the endless trips to the hospital. She just wanted to potter about at home and spend her remaining time with her family.

Every cancer sufferer has to make choices.
Sharyn Ainscough made her own choices.

Not everyone's choice maybe but HER choice. Her life.

A bit of objective respect would not go amiss here

To qualify, these are some of the systemic issues I think could do with work (although they may not all be possible within the constraints of our health care systems).
1. Treating patients as just an anonymous person in a queue.
2. Minimalist/ mindless information (because all patients are stupid)
3. Underplaying the impact of mastectomies on self image.
4. Treating asking questions as complaining.
5. Failure to address unforeseen or negative outcomes.
6. Those bloody awful pink ribbons.

Although I am currently cancer free I carry an unnecessary anger about the process, and this is what I think drives some people to dangerous non treatments.

Hi everyone! Back again after a while away.

I realise Jessica Ainscough thinks she is doing the right thing, but she angers me greatly. She's started spewing her bile onto Internet forums for illnesses such as fibromyalgia, to the point where I've signed out of a lot of them, because people are swallowing it up. I appreciate when you're suffering you'll try anything to make it stop, but there's a point where desperation becomes stupidity. I'm wondering when she's going to start popping up on inflammatory bowel sites.

The whole "food as medicine" thing for cancer sufferers really, really irritates me. Yes, there's following a healthy diet during treatment, but so many of these regimes strike me as a damn depressing way to live, even when you're healthy.

By Christine (the… (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

YOYO: If you are in Australia, COMPLAIN. Write a letter to the facility where you received treatment, and if you are really upset about it, each state has an equivalent to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission, where you can log your complaint online and even remain anonymous if you want.

By Christine (the… (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

Now I can tolerate some red juices… just not Merlot.

Savage.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

Thanks Christine, I take your point and have. However the issues that are not medical malpractice but more generalised poor treatment of patients are not within their remit. Secondly, as an educated English speaking patient I have an advantage but how hard is it for other patients to get better treatment?
I am eternally greatful for the Aus health system but I think there are definite areas where poor practices drive patients into the arms of woo meisters.

@YOYO I can appreciate how you feel. Fortunately, I do not have cancer, but I have had some horrible encounters with surgeons etc. They can be arrogant, offhand and worse. I actually agree with each of the 6 points in your last post.

You are right - the medical model certainly can drive patients into the arms of woo meisters. I have seen it happen several times.

To anyone else: I have nothing against people seeking complementary therapies. If they appear to work, great. I don't think that medicine is perfect, nor do I seek to make ad hominem attacks on anyone - especially if they are ill.

By AntipodeanChic (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

A commentator above made the point that, far from being an innocent victim, Jessica Ainscough's mother was the person who originally inspired her to seek alternatives.

Frustratingly, I cannot find it on her blog or elsewhere (she may have scrubbed it since going corporate), but as a long time horrified spectator, I do recall Jessica referring to this. Something like, after chemo, bad news, etc, she went back to what her mum originally urged her to do which was to look for alternatives, change her lifestyle, stop drinking/thinking negatively, meditate her way out of cancer, buy crystals etc etc, and that is how she ended up in Gerson territory.

I think the Ainscoughs are more of a classic folie a deux than a Peter/Penelope Dingle scenario (in which one, more powerful and authoritative person leads another disastrously astray).

Mother and daughter both started out pretty far down the rabbit hole if you ask me, and it'll put them both in early graves.

I'm all for freedom of health choice, but what I find unacceptable is that she used the post about her mother's passing to plead for respect and compassion from her detractors; then she pleaded with her supporters/followers not to take any notice of this news of the miracle therapy's utter, unequivocal failure, and to keep buying her shit. Totally amoral.

Krebiozen in comment #25 mentioned vitalism but why no raw meat? This woman *is* advocating Gerson "therapy, which does recommend raw liver extract injections, so it is vitalism mysticism.

Andrea in comment #28. Have you considered looking at the huge improvement in cancer survival rates over the decades due to better medicine? Breast cancer has an almost 80% survival rate. Cancer is not one disease, but a class of over 200 separate diseases, and they each have different treatments and different survival rates, but for many of them, people are living much longer and better lives. I doubt you will examine actual reality-based evidence, given that it would shake your alt-med religion.

Andrea - if you have a link to published, replicated, reliable data showing that the Gerson protocol is more effective than a placebo at curing anything, please share.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

@ Andrea:

"Have any of you detractors of Jess Ainscough every actually TRIED Gerson therapy?

I have.

Not for the suggested two years – but for just under 12 months. Not for cancer – but for one of the other ‘incurables’ – arthritis. I am symptom free (no drugs) for the first time about 4 years – I can lift my granddaughter – something I thought I would be able to do less that a year ago. I can climb stairs when the best I could do before was crawl."

Do you have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and it has the ability to affect major organs and blood vessels. The symptoms of the disease can abate for periods of time and then return ("flares").

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001467/

If, OTOH, you have osteoarthritis, your symptoms are caused by
wear and tear...a degenerative process caused by aging.

So no. Your case study (n=1) is not proof that shoving coffee enemas up your bum is curative.

lilady

Thank you for telling me the ins and outs of my condition...we alternatives are a flaky lot... I forgot to say...

.I have osteoarthritis and various other conditions symptoms of which disappeared completely on Gerson – and I remains symptom free with the basics – organic pesticide free food.

It’s a choice – feel like shit and hobble around in agony hips burning up with pain, or restrict my love of cheese and pinot noir.
Nobody is denying that it would be nice to eat what I want and feed my face with whatever, whenever – but in reality it is not a difficult choice. Organic food tastes better anyway.

Do you believe me? I don't give a jot one way or another....

But I do agree that our bodies degenerate as we age but you seem to deny that our bodies can and do regenerate - when in fact they do that every single minute of every day. It is just that when you feed them properly - they do it far more effectively.

Hell I knew that as a post war child growing up drinking my state funded orange juice in the 1950s... but it seems to be forgotten...

Coffee enemas seem to be most effective at activating denigration in otherwise polite, non excitable individuals.

Yet in Europe where they were most commonly used no-one bats an eye when people use them. must be a cultural thing..

Countless millions of people have died of cancer – and I have only managed to unearth sparse details of two anecdotal accounts of deaths of attributed to coffee enemas… although I believe there was an overdose in one case and the other forgot to use some cold water or something…

I'll take my chances..

Jerry A thank you for presuming to know what I would do if I got breast cancer.

I do agree that there have been improvements of treatment in those who get breast cancers. My concern is that there does seem to be an ever increasing number of human guinea pigs requiring these treatments - for medical science to experiment on.

I do have a healthy respect for medical science - like diagnostics and ....when it works... but given the millions of deaths ...it is not their finest hour - (well actually more like half a century) ...

I come from a family of scientists. So I do ask lots of annoying questions ... .

But the overriding personal reason for looking at alternatives I would say was that at critical health junctures in my life doctors failed to connect the dots ...such as why I was infertile for a while.

So starts a search for answers and a bit of self experimentation ......And becoming a mother in the process..

gynecologists puzzled comment 'was there a star in the east?

Whilst I never did catch on to the point of self experimenting with recreational drugs - I have no qualms about self experimenting with diet - providing I satisfy myself that the risks are manageable.

I cannot see what the big deal is - when people hand over their lives to a doctor - who has no real vested interest in the outcome... he/she will still reap the benefits either way.

I consult a doctor because I want to reap the benefits. That doesn't always happen.

Alcohol, smoking, recreational drugs, industrial contaminants containing scientifically proven carcinogens are all accepted in western culture.

But there is public lynching mentality when some young lass speaks up about her own personal experience - which just happened to contradict medical dogma.

Not medical fact - because nutrition is known to be a key factor in disease prevention ... and reversal (type two diabetes being a classic example)
We already know that more than 30% of cancers are preventable - suggesting that they too just might be 'lifestyle diseases'.

It truly has got me beat..... it is certainly not objectivity in action.

Thank you for writing this article.

By Evidence-based (not verified) on 17 Oct 2013 #permalink

"But there is public lynching mentality when some young lass speaks up about her own personal experience – which just happened to contradict medical dogma."

Let me fix that for you. "There is great public concern when some young lass deliberately makes apparently quite a lot of money (enough to buy a house and brand new car and have an expensive vacation) by claiming she cured her cancer with juice and coffee enemas, while providing no evidence as to the progress/remission or otherwise of said cancer."

Nobody wants to lynch her. They want her to stop endangering vulnerable people's lives.

"“But there is public lynching mentality when some young lass speaks up about her own personal experience – which just happened to contradict medical dogma."

That young lass, who is in denial about her own cancer, managed to convince her mother to shove coffee enemas up her bum and change her diet to juicing...in lieu of proven treatments for breast cancer. That young lass, after causing her mother's death, is now going off on a promotional tour to promote her crappy (pun intended), pseudo-scientific cancer cures. How many more people will she dissuade from getting proper treatment?

Still no reply to the questions I posed at # 38 above, about your n=1 arthritis cure case study.

Andrea, while I'm pleased you are feeling better. IMO what ainscough is doing is the equivalent of rocking into a youth refuge and telling distraught teens that meth is the answer.

@YOYO - I would agree....she is taking one experience (her own - and by the looks of her, it can't be a very good experience at this point, though it is amazing the kinds of physical symptoms denial can cover-up) and taking it "wide" without any sort of real evidence that it works (and plenty of other evidence, including her own mother, that it doesn't).

This woman is dangerous.....

Linda she got a book deal. It is not a book about Gerson - its a book about nutrition. Writing was always her profession.

And she has a long term live in boyfriend who works.

Having stayed at home for the last two years or so on Gerson might explain why they saved enough for a mortgage......and took a holiday, and bought a car - like loads of other young couples of their age. My own son included.
You are demonizing.

How is telling people about nutrition endangering people's lives exactly?

Is she causing an escalation in cancer deaths?

Where is the evidence based proof?

Or could you entertain the idea that maybe just maybe her audiences are coming from those people who have not had satisfactory medical outcomes?

Almost every single on of her 'foodie Friday' guests have claimed to have found solutions to their health problems -by changing their diet.

I have her book in front of me now. I didn't particularly enjoy it to be honest - its a bit (like her blog) geared to her age group - but hey I'm an oldie -so what would I know.

There is not a CHEEP in that book suggesting that other people follow her lead regarding Gerson.

She does give a brief one chapter overview about what she did for sure... gives people just enough to understand something of her journey from age 22 - 27.

That the choice to do Gerson was based on being out of medical options except amputation just to extend her life.

Oh and I read frequent statements that no one treatment will offer 100% success rate. Nothing wrong or manipulative about any of that.

She did however mention why she will not get more diagnostic scans - because they failed to pick up the original cancer in in the first place.

She does have regular blood work monitoring through her Gerson doctors (medically trained) and they can see markers that allowed them confidence that she could go off the rigorous regime.

Another thing she mentioned that the damage to her arm was induced by an experimental intensive chemo procedure isolated to her arm which caused restricted mobility . Not as someone here suggested - evidence that her cancer is still active.

In early videos you can clearly see dark spots on her affected arm - like lesions where the lumps of tumors had been - but these are no longer in evidence.
I'd love to ask her about those.... as lots of other Gerson people report seeing and feeling the physical breakdown of their tumors.

I'm sure the Gerson folks would love someone to provide independent research funding into their nutritional regime - but since research dollars are awarded to pharmaceutical companies - that would seem a step too far to hope for...

Andrea, care to explain to us how coffee enemas manage to detoxify the liver, the pancreas, and the colon, plus cure every type of cancer throughout the body...in addition to repairing your osteoarthritic joints?

After all, you "come from a family of scientists. So (you do) ask lots of annoying questions …"

All that searching on the internet, and you were only able to find two deaths directly associated with quack doctors and amateur lovely lasses providing medical advice to people to eschew proven curative cancer treatments and shove coffee up their bums.

How about looking at these articles written by Dr. Kimball Atwood...which you must have "missed" when you substituted your ignorance of basic science and found your answers on the University of Google?

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-ethics-of-cam-trials-gonzo-part…

The lovely lass is a public health menace.

Seems to me that if coffee enemas were such a panacea for so many illnesses -- or to put it another way, if so many diseases from arthritis to the entire cancer spectrum were basically a form of lower-intestinal caffeine deficiency -- then evolution went badly wrong somewhere.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

Andrea...

"Another thing she mentioned that the damage to her arm was induced by an experimental intensive chemo procedure isolated to her arm which caused restricted mobility . Not as someone here suggested – evidence that her cancer is still active."

That "someone" who "suggested" that her cancer is still active is Orac, who is a breast cancer surgeon and a breast cancer researcher. He (and I), have actually seen fugating tumors on breasts and he (and I) have actually smelled the rotting putrefying stench emanating from those tumors...it is a gag--inducing.

"In early videos you can clearly see dark spots on her affected arm – like lesions where the lumps of tumors had been – but these are no longer in evidence.

I’d love to ask her about those…. as lots of other Gerson people report seeing and feeling the physical breakdown of their tumors."

We are not discussing the discolorations on her left arm; we are discussing the fungating epithlial sarcomas which indicate her cancer is rapidly progressing.

When you ask her all those questions, would you provide her with this photograph and have her explain away the fungating epithelial sarcomas?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2924131/figure/F1/

Sadly, when Jessica Ainscough dies of her cancer, she will almost surely do so much more quietly than she is now "healed" by the Gerson method.
I experienced that on a mailing list - someone was posting about her diagnosis of adrenal fatigue and saying how great ground up thyroid glands made her feel. Later she told me privately that she went to her endocrinologist, who found out what was really wrong with her (she did have a hormone problem).
But only privately. In her shoes I would have felt honor bound to tell people that I'd been misleading them.
That's what people like Orac do, is act as a corrective by publicizing the eventual progression and death from cancer. Only the people who listen to Jenny Ainscough aren't likely to listen to Orac.

YOYO woaw!

Aren't you being just little melodramatic?

She is advocating better nutrition..... you really need to get a grip!

There is an assumption that dullards and gullible fools will blindly follow her example. You would not even give that a second thought if you had any experience of the rigid discipline (not to mention the expense) involved.

The vast majority of people would prefer to take a pill..

Lilady - I did not suggest I was 'cured' of arthitis. I did say I was symptom free (pain and mobility)

I did not set out to provide peer reviewed evidence of the curative powers of Gerson, or any such study.

I did it for the same reason most people go to Gerson - because medical routes are restricted and in some cases non existent.

I did it to feel better. Mission accomplished.

My experience of Gerson exceeded all my expectations - and those of my doctor - so pardon me if I don't share the restricted framework of the 'scientific' view as expressed here.

Even if the 7.6 million dead and rising every year and millions more queuing up to experience cancer for themselves gives me pause to wonder why that scientific view is so restricted...as to not see failure when confronted with the evidence.

One women dies of cancer following Gerson and her daughter is somehow 'dangerous.'

7.6 million die this year NOT on Gerson - and there is not a soul here who can ponder the logic of decrying Jess as a charlatan, whilst science and medicine are handed a get out of jail free pass.

dearie me...

Yet in Europe where they were most commonly used no-one bats an eye when people use them. must be a cultural thing..

Now I am intrigued. Which part of Europe have you lived in where coffee enemas are as accepted as bidets?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

Lilady

I have actually seen these kinds of tumors before (although not on Jess's arms as I was commenting on.)

Gerson 'incurables' describe them in graphic detail - such as the throat cancer victim who felt the mass of tissue loosen and he swallowed it and the stench of it and passing through his digestive system made him ill for a week.

But he survived to tell the tale.

and ....Lilady

I don't always know how my computer works any more than I know the technical ins and outs of chemo or coffee enemas.

But I know the side effects of a Gerson diet and I know that coffee enemas did provide relief. Personal experience...with passing some weird jelly masses followed by feeling a million dollars..

Suggest you not get it from a lay person like me - read Dr Gerson's book if you are genuinely interested.

I did. Even if I can't lay claim to understand why it works.

But I can say it is the most effective fast treatment to relieve a headache I have ever had.

But I have actually read the link you have posted about the dentist Gonzalez, and loads of others besides. Long before I risked embarking on Gerson.

Can I respectfully point out that the patients in this example who died - had CANCER.

They did not die of coffee enemas...

And can you explain to me why advocating an organic predominantly plant based diet makes Jess a public health menace?

Most doctors I know would love their diabetic and overweight heart strained patients to adopt that very sound strategy.

@AW
If you follow the Gerson treatment, I suggest trying to follow it in a way that at least does no harm.
- i.e. in addition to the conventional treatments, rather than replacing them;
- taking supplements so you won't get nutrient deficiencies on such a limited diet. Like a multivitamin-mineral for vegans. The site http://veganhealth.org has good science-based info on nutrient deficiencies on a vegan diet, although the Gerson protocol sounds like it's a lot more limited than just vegan.
I don't think I would squirt coffee up my rear end, though. The caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, it doesn't sound like it would be neutral to the normal functioning of one's colon.

Because she does NOT just spout nutrition bull, she also has views like this about breast cancer :

"Mammograms are not just painful and unnecessary, but they are dangerous!
Many women subject themselves to the torturous ordeal of having a mammogram because they believe the act is the best way to catch breast cancer. Do you want to hear the good news or the bad news first? Good? Good. Mammograms are useless. The bad news is that they are dangerous."

"A safer option
As well as feeling for lumps and changes in your breasts yourself at home, there is another early detection test that is more effective and much safer than a mammogram. However, it doesn’t make anyone as much money as a mammogram and is therefore rarely offered unless asked for. I’m talking about thermography. According to a report by Natural News.com, a breast thermogram has the ability to identify a breast abnormality five to ten years before the problem can be found on a mammogram. "

" Why not raise awareness of the real causes and ways to prevent cancer. Sure, these methods may not be as lucrative as the conventional treatment as it stands today, but they will save a heck of a lot more lives. These include exercise, detoxifying your liver, eating an organic plant-based diet, achieving alkalinity in your body, meditation and relaxation. These methods are not only free (except for food, but everyone has to eat anyway right?) but they will not impinge on your quality of life at all. "

http://www.thewellnesswarrior.com.au/2010/10/%E2%80%9Cshow-us-yer-tits%…

By janerella (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

Andrea wrote:

.I have osteoarthritis and various other conditions symptoms of which disappeared completely on Gerson – and I remains symptom free with the basics – organic pesticide free food.

Andrea,
It is quite possible that you have some kind of bad reaction to foods you eliminated on the Gerson protocol.
Adverse food reactions are an area of ongoing research, and not at all well understood.
However, this does not mean that all the parts of the Gerson protocol, work.
I have osteoarthritis in one of my knees from an old injury. I did a hypoallergenic diet followed by food challenges. I got sick after some food challenges, and I stopped eating those foods.
After that I was able to run without pain (although a doctor told me running was too much impact for me so I stopped).
I don't have food allergies that show up on the usual tests.
If you have nonclassical food allergies, the elimination diet followed by food challenges is the best diagnosis available. And getting a test for celiac disease before doing the elimination diet, in case a gluten sensitivity is causing inflammation.

Andrea,

I’m sure the Gerson folks would love someone to provide independent research funding into their nutritional regime – but since research dollars are awarded to pharmaceutical companies – that would seem a step too far to hope for…

Since they have been treating cancer patients for more than 70 years one might expect them to have kept adequate records so that their methods could be assessed scientifically. They have claimed notable success with melanoma, so Dr. Peter Moran took a close look at the published results of a Gerson clinic treating melanoma. His conclusions:

No convincing effect, and certainly none on more advanced cases. A small beneficial effect not excluded but these are extremely disappointing results for the cancer thought to be most responsive to this very intense and life-consuming treatment method.

CAM-Cancer reports that, "there is no clear evidence that Gerson therapy is an effective treatment for people with cancer".
Also:

My concern is that there does seem to be an ever increasing number of human guinea pigs requiring these treatments – for medical science to experiment on.

Your concerns are misplaced. If you correct for age incidence of breast cancer has been fairly stable for the past ten years. Increase in incidence between the 1970s and 2000 were probably due to improved screening.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

How is telling people about nutrition endangering people’s lives exactly?

Straw man. Telling people about "nutrition" is not the problem. Recommending a pseudoscientific "nutritional" therapy with no evidence to support it as an effective treatment for cancer endangers the lives of cancer patients. Her mother paid the price for relying on "nutrition" instead of surgery, radiation therapy, and possibly (if indicated) chemotherapy.

janerella quotes Jessica about the
"real causes and ways to prevent cancer... These include exercise, detoxifying your liver, eating an organic, plant-based diet, achieving akalinity in your body, meditation and relaxation".

In other words, she advocates several methods without providing evidence of their efficacy. These ideas circle throughout alt media - I'll discuss only the last one:
meditation and relaxation are means to prevent cancer and the related memes, stress causes cancer and dealing with it helps effect cures.

Since at least the 1970s, alt med advocates have latched on to the idea that stress causes cancer and interferes with its cure:
they have never produced any substantial evidence that shows a link between stress and cancer. Quite the contrary, data show no link. Similarly, there have also been beliefs that stress causes SMI without any data to support that.

So why would they believe this? I would guess that lacking knowledge of the intricate biological underpinnings of cancer (often discussed and illustrated here masterfully by Orac) they simply associated negative experiences and negative outcomes, like serious illnesses.

HOWEVER alt med advocates make much of this supposed link and incorporate mind-body solutions as therapy- such as visualisation of the body's killer cells attacking and destroying cancer cells ( part of Josef Issels' therapy), yoga and other forms of meditation as well as 'positive thinking'. I believe Jessica has a connection with the Hay House group.

Obviously, the mind-body idea supposes that we ultimately control our fate: thinking makes it so. So we witness advocates advising their followers to dismiss any doubts about the eventual success of the treatment. And if the treatment does fail, blame can be assigned to the sufferer, not the practitioner.

Interestingly enough, there are/ were a group of hiv/aids denialists who attributed the severe symptoms and deaths of hiv+ individuals to their emotional reactions and the stress of being diagnosed with such a serious illness rather than to a 'harmless virus'.

Woo frequently blames illness on how a person behaves** or thinks despite having no data about these variables' effect on health- which certainly can't make life any easier to people who are unfortunate enough to experience serious and life-threatening illness.

** I'm not talking about realistically dangerous habits like smoking.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

Have any of you detractors of Jess Ainscough every actually TRIED Gerson therapy?

I admit I haven't tried Gerson therapy. That said, did you have a point? Surely you're not suggesting that it's effectiveness can only be assessed by someone who's tried it, or that others are not qualified to comment on it.

Not for cancer – but for one of the other ‘incurables’ – arthritis. I am symptom free (no drugs) for the first time about 4 years – I can lift my granddaughter – something I thought I would be able to do less that a year ago.

I'm glad to hear your symptom free, but don't understand why you've attributed being symptom free to the Gerson protocol. You've some basis other than your own 'n=1' anecdotal experience, I hope?

Just in the last seven short days since Sharyn died 140,000 other people have died of various cancers around the world – and you can safely say that 98% of those followed the medical route.

Which is evidence that cancer is very had disease to treat, not an argument that a) science based treatments are ineffective or b) Gerson therapy is effective.

For every advance in treatment another ‘rare cancer rears it head and the ratio of people diagnosed and dying of cancers just keeps climbing…

But those advanced treatments mean that many people who otherwise would die of cancers (like testicular cancer, leukemia's, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, breast cancers, etc.) will not die of their cancer, while also allowing patients who would die of cancer anyway to live longer with better quality of life.

And yet we know that roughly 1 third of all cancers are preventable…by lifestyle changes.

Lifsetyle changes like reducing your exposure to carcinogens byquitting smoking, for example, yes. But again--did you have a point? Such lifestyle changes represent science based approaches to cancer prevention, and the fact a third of all cancers may be preventable as a result doesn't argue that Gerson therapy works.

We also know that there are a growing list of known carcinogens finding its way into the food chain and the air we breathe.

Which is an argument for increasing funding to the EPA and FDA, and giving them both (especially the latter) more legislative teeth to enforce compliance. Not an argument in support of Gerson therapy.

Unfortunately doctors don’t get held up to the same standard ORAC has held Jess Ainscough to.

Yes, they are. Dr. Gerson for example is held to that same standard, as are Drs. Wakefield, Burzynski, Geir, Simonici, etc.

Jess Ainscough’s blog is essentially about cleaning up what you eat, knowing it’s source and educating people about food and health. As someone who has felt the full force of feeling superbly well under Gerson – I would say…. don’t knock it till you have tried it.

My own doctor said when he saw the difference in my BP and weight and blood results – whatever you are doing – keep doing it.

If Jess makes sick people aware that changing there lifestyle might make them one of those people who didn’t get one of the preventable cancers – then who are we to suggest that she is irresponsible.

My mother died of cancer. She chose not to be treated with Chemo or radiation to extend her life. While I didn’t want her to die I was moved by her ability to make a choice about how she lived – and how she died. She did not want the sickness of chemo and the endless trips to the hospital. She just wanted to potter about at home and spend her remaining time with her family.

Every cancer sufferer has to make choices.
Sharyn Ainscough made her own choices.

Not everyone’s choice maybe but HER choice. Her life.

A bit of objective respect would not go amiss here

Jess Ainscough’s blog is essentially about cleaning up what you eat, knowing it’s source and educating people about food and health.

And about curing cancer by ingestion of nutritional smoothies and coffe enema's. That's a big step departure from simply eating midnfully.

As someone who has felt the full force of feeling superbly well under Gerson – I would say…. don’t knock it till you have tried it.</blockquote)

And again, surely you're not claiming that it's impossible to rationally evaluate a protential cancer treatment unless one has had cancer and tried the treatment themselves,.--are you?

My own doctor said when he saw the difference in my BP and weight and blood results – whatever you are doing – keep doing it.

Post hoc ergo proctor hoc. I, for example, have noticed that when I wear my lucky jersey the Sox play better. If they continue to advance in teh playoffs I expect due credit.

If Jess makes sick people aware that changing there lifestyle might make them one of those people who didn’t get one of the preventable cancers – then who are we to suggest that she is irresponsible.

If that were all she were doing no one would be suggesting she was irresponsibl--but that' <b?isn't all she's doing, is it? She's also convincing people with cancer--like her mom--to eschew science based treatments with demonstrated efficacy in favor of alterantive treatment that for which there is no evidence of efficacy. Some (like her mother) are dying.

And that is irresponsible.

My mother died of cancer.

Mine as well. Surgery, chemotherapy, etc. gave her an additional eight years with her family, another eight summers fly-fishing the Snake River in Montana, etc.

Every cancer sufferer has to make choices.
Sharyn Ainscough made her own choices.

To make their own informed choices however they need accurate information, not misinformation.

A bit of objective respect would not go amiss here.

Respect is earned, Andrea.

So Ainscough saved enough money to buy a house and car in two years by not working and being housebound and eating 22 pounds of organic produce a day? I'm done. Andrea, I don't belive you or your anecdotes. I suspect that you are what we call a shill around here. Not a paid shill of Big Enema™, but a shill nonetheless. I used to be one in my Worried Well™, altie days, it helped bolster my magical worldview. I'd find mainstream articles (I would barely read them so I wouldn't be exposed to too much negativity) and then I'd just make up a great story about a person who knew a person who took a thing and got . . . well, you get the idea. That's why no anecdata is valid. Not mine. Not Orac's, not Lilady's. Nobody's. What is considered evidence worthy of building a plan of action around are peer-reviewed studies and scientific consensus. I'm betting that you're not at all what you're presenting to us here. I'm not even going to bother about how glad I am that you've gotten relief from whatever beacause you did thus-and-such. To quote Tom Cruise, you are glib. We are talking about life and death decicions for people facing terrifying diseases. Your chirpy tales of an innocent, well-meaning, plucky lass are just creepy when we consider how the story will probably end. This is a tragic story of misinformation, fear and delusion to equal that of Christine and Eliza Jane Maggiore.

By Pareidolius (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

This appears to be an earlier e-version of the book she has published :http://shinefromwithin.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/MakePeaceWithY…

" I went to Mexico to stay at the Gerson clinic for
three weeks, and then came home to continue the
therapy with the help of my family. I am ecstatic to
report that it is working. The cancer hasn’t spread,
no more lumps pop up (they were popping up
rapidly before), and I can actually see some of
my tumours coming out through my skin and
disappearing.
The only reason I can come at you with this ‘Make Peace With Your Plate’ talk is because I have
experienced the benefits first hand. Not only have
I reversed my cancer and saved my life, but since
then I haven’t been worrying about whether the
huge amounts of what I’m eating is making my ass
grow. "

So, no not just a book espousing good nutrition. One has to squint really hard to find the disclaimer buried at the end of the document:

"The information in this e-book is based on my personal healing journey and research, which I am sharing for educational and informational purposes only. Please conduct your own research and consult your own doctor or healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for you."

I wonder whether the promotional tour will go ahead.

By janerella (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

@ Pareidolius:

"then I'd just make up a good story.."

I think that that gets to the crux of the issue- so much of what I survey appears to be the same. I probably can recite several tales by heart ( and I HAVE, here at RI) : the altie clinic produces cures for the terminally ill, a particular regime or supplement leads to profound changes, pharma shills threaten woo-innovator, secret documents ad nauseum.

Occasionally, I can spot new additions or changes in the set piece - always exaggerating claims, also adding to the number of cures or whatever is being discussed.

As with testimonials: ANYONE can say that- anyone can say anything. Doesn't make it true or reliable or meaningful.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

Thanks for the article, Orac.

I didn't expect a happy ending for her mother. I didn't get one.

I did get as much truth as you were able to uncover and I am grateful for that. Cancer sucks. People who make a living by spreading misinformation suck even more than cancer.

That is all.

@janerella - thanks for the link, it's quite the compendium of nutri-woo (I see she subscribes to the alkaline diet nonsense as well.) This, however, was the organic cherry on top of the whipped coconut oil sundae:

Wellness Warrior Tip #7

KICK CAFFEINE
Give your adrenals a break and lay
off this socially acceptable drug
for the duration of your self-care
practice. If you can’t give it up
completely, try to have no more than
one a day and don’t have it first thing
in the morning. Waking up to coffee
is like slapping your kidneys awake.

Wha-wha-WHAT? I thought coffee was so healthy that squirting it up your butt five times a day will cure everything that ails you! Or is caffeine only bad if it gets into your stomach?

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

whipped coconut oil sundae

I think I meant whipped coconut milk sundae, but you get the idea.

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

I also note the e-book is lavishly illustrated with photos of Ms Ainscough, and I have to wonder if she'd be taken as seriously if she wasn't a young, beautiful white woman.

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

No drinking coffee because you get way too much caffeine from coffee enemas. That makes sense to me.

@68

Considering that coconut oil seems to be one of the number one new health food fads, complete with glowing testimonials about how it contains every good nutrient known to man and can cure or prevent every common ill, I thought the original usage was perfect.

Though it cracks me up that people believe that something with 117 calories and 12 g of saturated fat (almost 60% of your daily recommended intake) per tbsp. is healthy.

By Indigo_Fire (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

The farce is strong in this one. Unfortunately the farce caught up with her own mother.

also note the e-book is lavishly illustrated with photos of Ms Ainscough, and I have to wonder if she’d be taken as seriously if she wasn’t a young, beautiful white woman.

I took a look at a few months of her website. It looks like a J Crew catalog. With a rare exception, everyone, writers, guests etc. is young, white and gorgeous. Is there anything coffee enamas can't do?

They can't stop women like Sharyn Ainscough from dying from breast cancer. But they'll make absolutely lovely corpses.

"Die young and stay pretty
You got to live fast 'cause it won't last

Folks...here we have Andrea who shoved coffee enemas up her bum and juiced her way to health from an "incurable".

(Osteoarthritis is another "incurable"?)

“Have any of you detractors of Jess Ainscough every actually TRIED Gerson therapy?

I have.

Not for the suggested two years – but for just under 12 months. Not for cancer – but for one of the other ‘incurables’ – arthritis. I am symptom free (no drugs) for the first time about 4 years – I can lift my granddaughter – something I thought I would be able to do less that a year ago. I can climb stairs when the best I could do before was crawl.”

Then we have this testimonial gem...

"Jess Ainscough’s blog is essentially about cleaning up what you eat, knowing it’s source and educating people about food and health. As someone who has felt the full force of feeling superbly well under Gerson – I would say…. don’t knock it till you have tried it.

My own doctor said when he saw the difference in my BP and weight and blood results – whatever you are doing – keep doing it."

There you go folks. Andrea presumes to lecture us about our diets, because she was overly nourished because of poor dietary choices. Her weight loss was accomplished by juicing and by shoving coffee enemas up her bum.

Here's another gem from Andrea...

"and ….Lilady

I don’t always know how my computer works any more than I know the technical ins and outs of chemo or coffee enemas."

Gee Andrea, you could have fooled me. You're the one who
blundered on to this blog defending Gerson's treatment for cancer and Jess Aincough's livelihood of promoting Gerson's treatment to gullible cancer patients.

"But I know the side effects of a Gerson diet and I know that coffee enemas did provide relief. Personal experience…with passing some weird jelly masses followed by feeling a million dollars.."

Really? After passing "some weird jelly masses", you're still of it and there's an explanation for "feeling a million dollars".

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

Suggest you not get it from a lay person like me – read Dr Gerson’s book if you are genuinely interested.

I did. Even if I can’t lay claim to understand why it works.

But I can say it is the most effective fast treatment to relieve a headache I have ever had.

owever, it doesn’t make anyone as much money as a mammogram and is therefore rarely offered unless asked for. I’m talking about thermography. According to a report by Natural News.com, a breast thermogram has the ability to identify a breast abnormality five to ten years before the problem can be found on a mammogram.

The advice to switch to the thermography scam will kill people.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

According to a report by Natural News.com...

Isn't there a Godwin equivalent to any mention of Natural News?

My own doctor said when he saw the difference in my BP and weight and blood results – whatever you are doing – keep doing it.

So you lost weight after starting the Gerson treatment? Are you aware that weight loss alone can improve pain and disability in osteoarthritis?http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130308143846.htm
I suppose you could credit Gerson for the weight loss, but there are safer and more tolerable ways to lose weight.

@ Andrea (post 53)

About those headaches... Caffene is proven to help relieve migrae headaches (really, real doctors say so and it's in many over the counter headache medicines). The thing is, you can just swallow it in pill form or drink a tasty beverage, it doesn't require hoses, buckets, towels, and your rear end.

@Andrea

"Is she causing an escalation in cancer deaths?"

Unless her mother is cured, I'd call that a fairly obvious yes.

PS. All you've done is stop eating whatever you're allergic to. Stop pretending there is a shred of evidence to suggest the same regimen cures anything, including all forms of cancer, because there isn't and it doesn't.

By Mark McAndrew (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

Her de facto partner is the owner of a very popular bar/restaurant (non organic) on the Sunshine coast, I know this because I live around the corner from it. So indirectly she is profiting off of binge drinkers, which I'm pretty sure is against the lifestyle she promotes. I do enjoy her blog but there does seem to be hypocrisy going on there.

"I have to wonder if she’d be taken as seriously if she wasn’t a young, beautiful white woman"

"With a rare exception, everyone, writers, guests etc. is young, white and gorgeous."

Both of you:

I don't believe that is respectful discourse. It's a snide form of racism combined with a snitty attitude.
If anything, the site is missing some cues. Serious People are expected to be older and look slightly worn, and white => eebil pharma etc. If the woo-seller were more sophisticated, she would feature Tibetians or some other group the target audience has no actual knowledge of but who can be sold as having the secret to inviolate health.

Young and beautiful people will be old and perhaps sick one day. If you are jealous of their short time in the sun it is about you, not them.

By Spectator (not verified) on 18 Oct 2013 #permalink

Andrea, I think my analogy is sound. If you tell fearful scared people that you can save them with a health dose of woo and veggies if only they deny treatment from the "mean callous medical system" you are exactly doing the same as telling scared and lonely teens that meth or some other drug will save all their problems.

Btw, I hated my breast cancer treatment and my miserable SOB surgeon. But despite the medical mishaps and the rudeness I have a very good chance of staying alive for my family, much better than coffee up the bum.

No spectator, I think you may be missing the point. The whole thing about the alt medicine, anti vacs , chiropractic e meme is that it keeps you young youthful and beautiful. In cultures with white privilege that means young white thin and pretty. (Although a token mystical other may be wanted).

lilady - the point at which I disengage or refuse to engage with posters on the internet is when they condescendingly expect me to deny the evidence of my own experience. I've no desire to mess with arrogance - especially not from 'health care professionals' who should know better.
Mark Mc Andrew - doctors lose cancer patients all the time. Would you also then say that they too are causing an escalation in cancer deaths?
And where did you read anywhere that Jess Ainscough was treating her mother??
Where then is the logic for attributing her death to her daughter.
She died of cancer like millions of others- treated or untreated.

As to my diet - you could well be right there. Totally agree in fact that aspects of my diet are eliminating symptoms. It could be eliminating - or it could be nutritional supporting health - both scientifically supported phenomenon.
It is somewhat self-evident given the change in my health that something I'm doing now is working,
My point though is that when I went to numerous medical doctors with the science at their fingertips - why wouldn't/couldn't they tell me that??
I was forced to either get a wheelchair - or wander off and look elsewhere …

Lina, I don't drink coffee. When I did way back in the 90's I was having regular migraines - until a medical doctor told me to try cutting it from my diet.
I can say that upside down coffee, whilst it seems a tad primitive - doesn't have the same effect at all…..but I respect anyone's right not to try it. Saying I've used it and read about it does not mean I care one way or another if anyone else does.
Luara I agree with you too that diet and nutrition go a very long way to keep human beings healthy. And I've had lots of personal experience with auto immune dysfunction, celiac disease and hypothyroidism as well.
But I would never ever advise anyone to go on Gerson without reading every one of their publications. My understanding why the protocol is not advised as an adjunct to drug based therapies is that Gerson was trying to activate the bodies own immune defense functions. It needs an active lymphatic system, kidneys and liver not processing drugs. I do know that those unfortunate people who do end up at Gerson after having every available medical treatment - don't get put on the full regime.

Pareidoliu
You demonised me as ‘not what I appear ‘- here for daring to admit that despite my first port of call for health ALWAYS being my doctor - and my second and my third - but when they can’t provide the answer to MY health issues - I don't rush to fulfil my bucket list - I go looking for answers somewhere else.
That doesn't make me a 'shill' or a confidence trickster. Or Glib.
Here’s my best explanation as to why I stepped into this and admitted openly that I had tried Gerson and found it helpful.
As a mother who is a little older than Sharyn Ainscough – with a son the same age as Jess – I was moved to tears that the first thing that jumps up for Jess when her mum's name Sharyn Ainscough is googled (I googled to post a condolence message) is this blistering, denigrating and ridiculing series of unrelenting attacks on a young woman whose entire adult life has been shaped by cancer.
This supposedly intelligent ‘discussion’ coming just days after her mother’s death – when she is in no position to even respond.
Bullying and insensitive doesn’t even begin to describe this behaviour. It disgusts me.
I was overwhelmed by the cruelty and lack of compassion or empathy.
I am staggered at the arrogance of posters here who have openly described Jess Ainscough as a dead women walking without even knowing the specifics of her case.
Torn her apart for having the audacity at 27 to buy herself a new car and a house –a home for herself – hoping no doubt for a future. Something most young people aspire to.
And for daring to expose herself and her dietary choices for public scrutiny.
This discussion has sod all to do with science.
A lot more to do with cold clinical inhumanity.

such as the throat cancer victim who felt the mass of tissue loosen and he swallowed it and the stench of it and passing through his digestive system made him ill for a week.

Am I the only one who gagged violently after reading Andrea's little comment up there? This was supposed to help convince us that Gerson isn't terribly cruel, useless, and murderous. This was supposed to be better than SB treatment. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

@Andrea
I probably have celiac disease, and I do have Hashimoto's - an autoimmune thyroid disease that tends to cause hypothyroidism. I take Synthroid to normalize my thyroid levels and decrease the autoimmune response.
Many, perhaps most people with celiac disease may have these nonclassical food allergies - perhaps a consequence of the increased intestinal permeability that occurs in celiac disease. It may be that people with both allergic and autoimmune tendencies, tend to have nonclassical food allergies. I have huge problems with inhalant allergies as well.
People rave about how they feel on many different special diets. Raw vegan diets, paleolithic diets, low-carb diets, etc. etc.
What they are describing is very likely the result of eliminating common allergens on those diets, such as gluten, dairy, soy, fish ... it doesn't mean the entire diet protocol is helping.
It may be possible to figure out which foods are the problem with a hypoallergenic elimination diet followed by food challenges. For me, the food challenges gave clear results - either I got quite sick starting about half an hour after eating the food - or I didn't.
If the results of an elimination diet followed by food challenges aren't clear, then perhaps going on the hypoallergenic elimination diet then reintroducing the foods one per month and observing any changes, would do it.
If someone with celiac disease eats gluten, it raises the risk of several kinds of cancer.
But I don't know if a gluten-free diet increases the likelihood of recovering from cancer.

@ Andrea
The Gerson protocol apparently also includes large amounts of iodine.
If you have Hashimoto's, large amounts of iodine are probably not a good idea - they may increase the activity of the thyroid and make the autoimmune response worse.
With Hashimoto's, you can turn off the autoimmune activity to some extent by taking Synthroid - so the thyroid doesn't have as much work to do. I read that a TSH < 1 indicates you're getting enough Synthroid to turn down the autoimmune response.

Ah, but she died healthy. That's got to count for something.

@Spectator - my reference to her whiteness was meant to highlight her privilege more than her race. Maybe I should have said "wealthy" instead? That's another issue that gets glossed over by the alties. Only people with substantial disposable income can afford 3-week stays in Mexican clinics, vast amounts of organic produce, and be able to give all their waking hours over to juicing and giving themselves enemas.

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

Spectator:

My comment was meant to be disrespectful. You say that like it's a bad thing.
Mine was an observation that everyone appearing on the Warrior's blog constituted a very small proportion of the population that just happened to look like Young Hollywood or the student body of modeling school. Oh yes, and they all appeared to be white. Just a coincidence, right?
I agree with Edith Prickly, my observation in total referred to privilege, with race only a part of that. I guess I could have left it out, but I didn't because I don't believe it was racist.

Andrea: Let me remind you that you're the one who claimed a miraculous cure for an "incurable" (Osteoarthritis is a degenerative aging disorder, made worse by obesity...hardly an "incurable").

You claim you have more ability to ambulate and less pain...good for you. Juicing and shoving coffee up your bum caused you to lose the weight, that you could have and should have lost, when you were first diagnosed with osteoarthritis.

Your hip joints are still the same and they show osteoarthritic loss of cartilage. So no. There is no miracle cure and if juicing and coffee enemas are your pleasure, please continue. Meanwhile there are people on this thread who have undergone treatment, are undergoing treatment and who have lost love ones to cancer.

Even though Jess Ainscough has put her own life in jeopardy by her refusal to face the reality of her diagnosis, she's a scam artist who makes her living by selling false hope to vulnerable gullible people.

such as the throat cancer victim who felt the mass of tissue loosen and he swallowed it and the stench of it and passing through his digestive system made him ill for a week

Am I the only one who gagged violently after reading Andrea’s little comment up there? This was supposed to help convince us that Gerson isn’t terribly cruel, useless, and murderous. This was supposed to be better than SB treatment. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!,/b>

Oh yes, me too. Why let real doctors "cut, burn and poison" your tumour away when you can nearly choke on it and have it sit in your digestive tract for days instead! It's a perfect illustration of why people who are untrained in both medicine and nutrition should not be giving advice on treating cancer.

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

Why let real doctors “cut, burn and poison” your tumour away when you can nearly choke on it and have it sit in your digestive tract for days instead!

I watched PART of a BBC documentary, it was about raw-foodism. It started with a woman drinking her urine first thing in the morning.
I prefer caffeine,actually.
Then she went to her job. Where she gives colonics or enemas or something.
Blobs of sh*t appeared traveling down a clear tube. At this point, I could watch no more :(
Movies should have ratings for grossness as well as for violence!

Lina, I don’t drink coffee. When I did way back in the 90′s I was having regular migraines – until a medical doctor told me to try cutting it from my diet. I can say that upside down coffee, whilst it seems a tad primitive – doesn’t have the same effect at all…..but I respect anyone’s right not to try it.

Andrea, if that statement means you think you're not absorbing caffeine from the coffee when it's ingested through your nether regions, you're wrong. I'll repeat my warning from above about the risks of taking advice from people with no medical training.

If you want to find what you're actually doing to your body with coffee enemas, I suggest you read this.

By Edith Prickly (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

Andrea, I know I'm a big ol' snowman melting meanie, but the point is, don't come in here throwing around anecdotes and attitude. They're useless and I, for one, don't believe your interpretation of your experience (if, indeed that is your experience and not a shore story). Take your "jellylike masses" that you passed. It's nothing weird. It's just intestinal mucus congealed with water, or, in your case, coffee, probably lending it a lovely mahogany hue. Learn some anatomy. As for us being "clinical" and "inhuman," that's what I would always resort to when my tales were countered with facts. I've read the posts of the RI regulars for years, and they are, to a person, deeply humane and caring people, many of them in Teh Big Medicinz™. That goes doubly for our host, who I can fall friend and whose life's work is saving lives from breast cancer.

By Pareidolius (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

Call. I can call him friend.

By Pareidolius (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

Gerson was trying to activate the bodies own immune defense functions. It needs an active lymphatic system, kidneys and liver not processing drugs. I do know that those unfortunate people who do end up at Gerson after having every available medical treatment – don’t get put on the full regime.

So when Gerson's snake-oil doesn't work, it's because the reciients have already destroyed their chances by following conventional treatments? Imagine my surprise.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

I do know that those unfortunate people who do end up at Gerson after having every available medical treatment – don’t get put on the full regime.

Here an excuse is being implied -- if patients at the Gerson clinic don't get any better, it's because they can only receive an incomplete form of the treatment, so there is no reflection on the *full* Gerson regime, which *would* work.

Consider the further implication... Gerson staff are administering an incomplete regime which even by their lights doesn't work.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

This discussion has sod all to do with science.
A lot more to do with cold clinical inhumanity.

beyond wrong

By al kimeea (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

Andrea,

the point at which I disengage or refuse to engage with posters on the internet is when they condescendingly expect me to deny the evidence of my own experience. I’ve no desire to mess with arrogance – especially not from ‘health care professionals’ who should know better.

You might benefit from learning about cognitive biases. We all, without exception, suffer from them, and they mislead us into unshakeably believing things that aren't true, "the evidence of my own experience". What is truly arrogant is for any of us to believe we are immune to these biases. They are well known, well understood, and are the main reason we use controlled randomized clinical trials to determine whether meical treatments are safe and effective. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that "the evidence of my own experience" can be extremely misleading. If you are interested in the truth then you need to be aware of your own cognitive biases and how they may mislead you.

At risk of boring the regulars here, the example I like to give is that of Benjamin Rush, one of America's Founding Fathers. He was by all accounts an excellent doctor, but he firmly believed that bloodletting and purges were effective in treating a wide range of illnesses. He based this on the evidence of his my own experience. It's worth reading Rush's 'A Defence of Blood-letting, as a Remedy for Certain Diseases'. He writes, for example:

"If ever bleeding kills," says Bottallus, either directly or indirectly, through the instrumentality of other diseases, "it is not from its excess, but because it is not drawn in a sufficient quantity, or at a proper time." (Cap. viii S 4) And, again, says this excellent writer, "One hundred thousand men perish from the want of blood-letting, or from its being used out of time, to one who perishes from too much bleeding, prescribed by a physician."

We now know, from randomized clinical trials, that far from being beneficial, removing several pints of blood from very sick people is almost always a very bad idea. George Washington was very probably killed by his doctors who removed the half the blood in his body over the course of a single day. It's ironic that on the day Washington died, Rush was successful in sueing a journalist who criticized his zeal in bloodletting.

My point is that an excellent physician like Rush was deceived by his cognitive biases into believing that an actively dangerous treatment was beneficial. How much easier is it for any of us to convince ourselves that a relatively benign treatment like Gerson's is beneficial?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

@Luara #92,

I read that a TSH < 1 indicates you're getting enough Synthroid to turn down the autoimmune response.

For what it's worth, I'm currently working with a biochemistry consultant on a paper about thyroid function tests. She has run a thyroid clinic for the past 20 years and her current target TSH is 0.04 to 0.4 IU/l for best control of hypothyroidism. Any higher suggests inadequate replacement, any lower suggests over-replacement. These guidelines do change from time to time, but this is apparently the current evidence-based recommendation.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

her current target TSH is 0.04 to 0.4 IU/l for best control of hypothyroidism.

The most recent lab test I got, gives a normal range of 0.5-6 mIU/L for hypothyroidism. In that range, I've read that a target of < 1 mIU/L is good to control autoimmune activity. That's different from the TSH that indicates normal thyroid hormone levels. The idea is to replace enough so the thyroid isn't doing much work, so it stimulates less of an immune response.
I've been getting my thyroid peroxidase antibodies measured and I'm slowly raising my levothyroxine to get my TSH < 1, and I'll see if that reduces my antibodies.

I meant, 0.5-6 mIU/L is the normal range for TSH on the lab report.

an excellent physician like Rush was deceived by his cognitive biases into believing that an actively dangerous treatment was beneficial.

He was wrong according to our best current knowledge, but that doesn't mean he was deceived by cognitive biases.
The bloodletting probably has some immediate result that was interpreted as beneficial. He may have been suffering from inadequate knowledge, that's all.

Sometimes bloodletting may be beneficial, as a result of removing heme iron from the body:

http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2012/05/30/Study-Bloodletting-may-be-ben…

http://men.webmd.com/news/20040910/bloodlettings-benefits

Although when it was used in Rush's day, the "beneficial" effect was probably more to lower blood pressure, calming the sick person, who was upset because they knew that death often followed on illness despite the best efforts of doctors.

@Yoyo, EdithP
O/T, but I don't want to post and run.
I may have misread your intent, tone and intention don't transfer well to internet comments .

As a marketing strategy, it's up to the marketer to guess what will move the most product. When selling anything to sick people who retain some hope of leaving that club you'd want to use healthy-looking models. I'd hazard a guess that the target audience is white and maybe spending their parent's money.

I agree that altie stuff appears to be more of a white thing. My area is about 60% anything other than white, but when I hear altie-spew it's 80% coming from someone white, often educated.
All of the successful non-white people I've met laugh at altie stuff - they own businesses and property and are not into magical thinking.

The whole "white privilege" thing does rankle though, bc it's another form of racism with an added dose of snark.
Being white, rich and connected probably gives a number of advantages. Can't testify from experience tho ;-).
----
The other 80% or so are waiting for their job to be offshored, outsourced, rightsized or obsoleted and when that happens they will get no protection, preference, or protest from anyone. I'll take your word that it's not your intention, but some of those comments imply that they are somehow defective since they were not able queue onto the mythical skin color ==> success conveyer belt.

By Spectator (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

Hemachromatosis is much too rare to explain any perceived benefit from bloodletting, and I find it hard to believe that lowering blood pressure that much was ever beneficial. At most, it was an elaborate placebo -- as you say, calming the person, but this had nothing to do with the actual therapy being attempted. The placebo effect *is* a cognitive bias, after all, so I'm afraid your last point really doesn't support your contention that Rush wasn't guilty of cognitive bias.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

"People rave about how they feel on many different special diets. Raw vegan diets, paleolithic diets, low-carb diets, etc. etc.
What they are describing is very likely the result of eliminating common allergens on those diets, such as gluten, dairy, soy, fish … it doesn’t mean the entire diet protocol is helping.
It may be possible to figure out which foods are the problem with a hypoallergenic elimination diet followed by food challenges. For me, the food challenges gave clear results – either I got quite sick starting about half an hour after eating the food – or I didn’t."

I wonder if there may be something to be learned indirectly from the alt universe. Not from copying its ideas or using its methods, but from looking into diet interaction with chronic disease.

People in good health seem to do fine on a wide variety of diets, perhaps with poorly understood chronic diseases a person's needs change to some restricted subset of a reasonable diet, but to what specific diet is not obvious.

By Spectator (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

Bloodletting can produce dramatic relief in acute left heart failure with pulmonary edema. It doesn't of course deal with the underlying problem, but I can imagine that the occasional episode would reinforce the impression of bloodletting as a "miracle cure".

He was wrong according to our best current knowledge, but that doesn’t mean he was deceived by cognitive biases.

But there would have been enough information available to him to see that bloodletting was killing patients, in the form of his patients' statistics, if his observations had been sufficiently objective.. He could have counted the number who died or didn't die after bloodletting, for comparison with the results otherwise. Instead he relied on his "clinical experience", which amounts to his selective memory of spectacular anecdotes, which is exactly a cognitive bias.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 19 Oct 2013 #permalink

Instead he relied on his “clinical experience”, which amounts to his selective memory of spectacular anecdotes

Probably more like, people were calmer after bloodletting, and the doctors interpreted that as an optimistic sign. If the person was calmer afterwards they would feel better. Also they would feel better because they had had medical care.
The doctors presumably did not have experience with what happens when bloodletting was not done because they weren't doing clinical trials.
Most likely bloodletting was also done on animals, but similarly nobody was doing systematic experiments with animals.
The first reference I gave mentioned metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance - not rare - which benefited from bloodletting, which isn't rare now. The second mentioned bloodletting helping with a bacterial infection - starving staph bacteria of iron.
Since a lot of the people who were sick back then, were sick from bacterial infections, it's also possible that bloodletting helped sometimes with illnesses for which antibiotics would be used nowadays.
Ascribing Rush's beliefs to "cognitive bias" is also an assumption. The causes for which people were sick in bed were different back then. Just because you have a skeptical "hammer", doesn't mean that everything is a "nail".
Also, I didn't say that cognitive bias was not involved. I said that Rush may have been drawing the most logical conclusion from the available evidence.

delete that "which isn't rare now" from the above ...

I wonder if there may be something to be learned indirectly from the alt universe. Not from copying its ideas or using its methods, but from looking into diet interaction with chronic disease.

Definitely. There is often some element of "altie" protocols that helps people (not just placebo effect). And if researchers ignore that possibility, it only perpetuates the delusional aspects. Many people are not cautious about drawing conclusions, and if mainstream medicine is ignorant of what is genuine in these "altie" methods, these people are left to their own devices and prey to charlatans.
For example, the celiac researcher Alessio Fasano says in an interview

Some people eventually fail to be diagnosed with celiac disease because they don’t fit the criteria, but because they were desperate because nothing else explained their symptoms, they decide, despite the negative results, to try the diet no matter what. And some of them, sure enough, had their symptoms improved or completely resolved. ...When we saw this critical mass of people come into our clinic, at the beginning we sent them away. We said, you know, you don’t have celiac disease. You have no reason to be on a gluten-free diet. But when we saw this phenomenon to take great proportion, we asked ourselves: Is that possible that all these people are nuts? Are they all responding as a placebo effect? So we started to dig into this situation a little bit more, and sure enough, we discovered that there is another form of gluten reaction that we don’t call gluten intolerance anymore because we went through a revision of nomenclature, but we call it gluten sensitivity.

I am not arguing for medical research money to be spent on things that according to basic physics, almost surely can't work, like homeopathic remedies diluted past the point where any atoms of the "active ingredient" remain.

Luara,

He was wrong according to our best current knowledge, but that doesn’t mean he was deceived by cognitive biases. The bloodletting probably has some immediate result that was interpreted as beneficial. He may have been suffering from inadequate knowledge, that’s all.

Nonsense! It was pointed out to him by a journalist that more of his patients died than those treated by doctors who didn't use bloodletting as much. His response was to sue the journalist. If that's not a cognitive bias, I don't know what is!

Sometimes bloodletting may be beneficial, as a result of removing heme iron from the body:

Not in extremely ill anemic people, like those Rush especially recommended it for. As I wrote, "removing several pints of blood from very sick people is almost always a very bad idea".

The first article you linked to suggests that bloodletting in obese people with metabolic syndrome may be beneficial. In these patients, "300 milliliters of blood removed at the start of the trial and between 250 ml and 500 ml removed four weeks later" was beneficial.

Firstly, how many how many obese people with metabolic syndrome do you think there were in the 18th century when Rush was practising?

Secondly, how does removing less than a liter of blood over the course of a month compare to removing 3.75 liters over the course of 10 hours, as in the case of George Washington?

The seond article you linked to suggests that starving Staphylococci of heme iron may make bloodletting a way of reducing infection. They give no evidence for this, "Skaar's team didn't address bloodletting", apart from speculation that bloodletting, "may have been an effective mechanism for starving bacterial pathogens of iron and slowing bacterial growth". This sounds about as likely as insulin shock therapy curing cancer by starving it of glucose. It also ignores the evidence from early clinical trials that found mortality in patients who were bled was about ten times higher than those who were not.

Although when it was used in Rush’s day, the “beneficial” effect was probably more to lower blood pressure, calming the sick person, who was upset because they knew that death often followed on illness despite the best efforts of doctors.

You mean Rush was so impressed by the patient calming down (i.e. going into hypovolemic shock) that he failed to notice them dying? Are you serious?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 20 Oct 2013 #permalink

" His response was to sue the journalist"

There is nothing new under the sun, Mr Wakefield.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Oct 2013 #permalink

@ Pareidolius #102

Thanks for the Kenny Loggins aural memory prompt. :)

By Scottynuke (not verified) on 20 Oct 2013 #permalink

Denice,

There is nothing new under the sun, Mr Wakefield.

Indeed. Sadly, in the Rush case the journalist, lost the case - medicine decided by the legal system even back then. There is some good news, since Cobbettt fled to England and never paid the $8,000 judgment awarded against him.

A little more on the subject for anyone interested:

There's an account of the death of George Washington here that makes ones extremely grateful not to have been around in those days. If the bleeding didn't kill you, the mercurous chloride (calomel), antimony potassium tartrate (emetic tartar which induced vomiting) and "blisters" on the extremities (raising a blister and then bursting it) would, or at least would ensure that process of dying was exremely unpleasant.

There is a good chapter on bloodletting and early clinical trials in 'Trick or Treatment' by Edvard Ernst and Simon Singh . Some apposite quotes:

However, WilliamCobbett ,who had a particular interest in reporting on medical scandals, was convinced that Rush was inadvertently killing many of his patients .Cobbett began examining the local bills of mortality and, sure enough, noticed an increase in death rates after Rush's colleagues followed his recommendations for bloodletting. This prompted him to declare that Rush's methods had 'contributed to the depopulation of the Earth' . Dr Rush's response to this allegation of malpractice was to sue Cobbett for libel in Philadelphia in 1797.

Having the consequences of your actions pointed out to you, yet refusing to see them because you are so sure that you are right is the very definition of a cognitive bias.

On the subject of clinical trials of bloodletting Ernst and Singh wrote:

In 1809, just a decade after Washington had undergone bloodlettig on his deathbed, a Scottish military surgeon called Alexander Hamilton set out to determine whether or not it was advisable to bleed patients.
[details of the trial design omittted]
The death rate for patients treated with bloodletting was ten times greater than for those patients who avoided bloodletting. This was a damning indictment on drawing blood and a vivid demonstration that it caused death rather than saved lives. It would have been hard to argue with the trial's conclusion, because it scored highly in terms of two of the main factors that determine the quality of a trial
[it was randomized and cases were matched as far as possible].

It is hard to see how any doctor could miss a ten-fold increase in mortality due to a specific treatment he was giving, but that is exactly what did happen. I see no reason not to believe those treating themselves and others with CAM are misleading themselves and their patients in exactly the same kinds of ways. We know that depending on our own observations and experience in this way is misleading, and we know ways of getting around these problems (the RCT for example). I find it extraordinary that despite this knowledge, some people continue to behave in this way, and continue to defend others who do so.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 20 Oct 2013 #permalink

I screwed up the links, sorry - it should read:
"Sadly, in the Rush case the journalist, William Cobbett lost the case - medicine decided by the legal system even back then. "
And:
"There's an account of the death of George Washington here that makes ones extremely grateful not to have been around in those days."

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 20 Oct 2013 #permalink

lilady,

Polycythemia Vera is another condition that is treated by bloodletting…I doubt that physicians back then knew anything about PV:

I had a friend and colleague who had hemochromatosis due to repeated blood transfusions for beta-thalassaemia major. We would monitor her ferritin and from time to time when it got too high she would have a pint of blood removed - it was almost 'in one arm and out the other'.

I suppose in some rare cases bloodletting in the 18th and 19th centuries and before was beneficial, but not in the vast majority of cases.

The recent use of bloodlletting in metabolic syndrome is interesting. It might reduce blood pressure and improve other markers in the short term, but I wonder if this is simply cosmetic. What will the long-term effects be? Surely losing some weight and getting more exercise would be better!

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 20 Oct 2013 #permalink

Interestingly enough, a few weeks ago I attended an historical presentation that examined 17th-18th century life- including householding, business, war and medicine in authentic period buildings.

A guy dressed in costume ( who was actually a modern day doc) discussed and showed remedies - herbs, sulfur, fluids, leeches etc- and demonstrated ( in the *air* w/o subjects, thankfully) various instruments- much to the horror of spectators- lots of shrieks for the forceps, syringes and knives.

This was quite primitive stuff.

I can't imagine that a medic in those days would be any less subject to cognitive biases. Indeed, SBM and EBM were non-existent - observation itself would certainly not be free of self-confirming judgment; science itself - meaning setting up controlled experiments and analysis by probability- was in its infancy.

We humans are subject to faulty reckoning partially due to how cognition( memory, attention, problem solving) itself functions and I doubt that that has changed much in 2 or 3 centuries.

Rush was a 'big name' with a reputation to protect: motivations like those haven't changed much either.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Oct 2013 #permalink

Are you paying attention, Dr. Gordon?

Denice,

I can’t imagine that a medic in those days would be any less subject to cognitive biases.

Nor scientists, I think it's part of the human condition, and only partly alleviated by scientific training. I remember reading at university about the gold-leaf electroscope*, a bottle with two pieces of gold-leaf inside on the end of a piece of wire. When charged with static electricity the two pieces of gold-leaf repel one another, and when discharged the pieces of gold-leaf come back together.

In historical descriptions of this phenomenon, people consistently reported seeing what was consistent with the beliefs of the time, not what we now know actually happens. IIRC they reported seeing the pieces of gold-leaf slowly come back together, but it really happens instantly. I wish I could find details of this somewhere. I thought it was in Kuhn, but it isn't, and I can't find it anywhere (I'm moderately certain I didn't imagine it).

* Nerd confession - I made a crude version of one of these when I was a kid, using two pieces of very fine silver foil from a cigarette packet. It worked perfectly.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 20 Oct 2013 #permalink

One of the main concepts from Piaget - that children experiment with their environment and as naive scientists, come up with testable hypotheses to try out- even if they're really bad at it- in order to adapt and construct reality.

As adolescents, they begin to think abstractly which includes knowledge of combinational possibilities, systematic trials, 'controls' and 'operations on operations" - e.g. thinking about thinking-
and even self-questioning in their search for identity ( as social cogniition research illustrates).

I'll stop because this stuff can be endless.

So we DO have cognitive biases as a matter of course and also the abilities ( perhaps innate? certainly it occurs globally) to self-correct or at least self-monitor / self-evaluate holding their biases constant ( at least ideally). I believe it is also part and parcel of being human.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Oct 2013 #permalink

@Krebiozen
Well think what you like - but you are judging someone from a long time ago, in a different time when the typical diseases were different, who's dead now and not around to defend himself. Again, I never claimed he didn't have cognitive biases - but I don't think it's the simple story you tell. One could write a skeptic-simulating computer program to come up with such claims.

My cognitive bias is to see cognitive biasses everywhere.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 20 Oct 2013 #permalink

Luara,

Well think what you like – but you are judging someone from a long time ago, in a different time when the typical diseases were different, who’s dead now and not around to defend himself.

He doesn't have to defend himself, since no one knew about cognitive biases back then, and he did the best he could based on his own personal experiences. There is nothing to be ashamed of having cognitive biases, we all have them.

Rush was a great physician who was responsible for some important developments in medicine. He was also human, and basing his treatments on his personal experiences resulted in him making, and defending, some disastrous decisions. He didn't know any better. The CAM brigade have no such excuse.

I find it interesting that you seem to think that pointing out that someone has deceived themselves in this way means I am insulting them. There is a common faith in "the evidence of my own senses" that is disturbingly common in some CAM circles, and which is responsible for the perpetuation of treatments that should have been abandoned decades or even centuries ago.

Again, I never claimed he didn’t have cognitive biases – but I don’t think it’s the simple story you tell.

You wrote, "He was wrong according to our best current knowledge, but that doesn’t mean he was deceived by cognitive biases", and "Rush may have been drawing the most logical conclusion from the available evidence". Rush wasn't blindly following the accepted treatment of the time, he was an innovator and he refused to stop using bloodletting even when other doctors had abandoned it because it was becoming clearer that it wasn't as effective as once thought.

I assume you have another explanation for Rush's failure to notice that the treatment he was giving his patients was killing them, even when a journalist pointed this out to him, with evidence from the local bills of mortality. The "available evidence" told him he was killing hs patients in droves, but he was unwilling or unable to aknowledge this. He thought that his personal experience trumped objective evidence like bills of mortality i.e.he was blinded by cognitive bias. I can see no other explanation for this extraordinary behavior. What is your alternative explanation for it, if not cognitive bias?

One could write a skeptic-simulating computer program to come up with such claims.

I don't wish to be rude, but it seems to me that is an idiotic statement that is not based on any evidence whatsoever.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 20 Oct 2013 #permalink

I have been angry about the Wellness Warrior site for months now. Being a pro science based medicine cancer patient, still in treatment, and now unfortunately unable to work and struggling financially, the fact that Jess requested "donations" from her readers to help with the expense of Gerson made me furious! Sure, she withdrew it soon after due to a backlash but how dare she ask for money to line the pockets of the likes of Charlotte Gerson and her horrible son as well as helping her buy all those vegetables, coffee and supplements.

I also found it interesting that she rarely answered questions that made her uncomfortable, particularly in regard to her mothers wellness and how she knows she has 'cured' her. Cancer without further testing.

I may be asking a dumb question now, but all the wonderful (life saving) doctors on this blog will surely put me out of my misery and tell me how a doctor based in Mexico at the Gerson clinic can give Jess a blood analysis. Surely blood in not sent via FedEx courier .. They keep tell her she is doing great from these blood tests... Huh?

By Rose Taberner (not verified) on 20 Oct 2013 #permalink

Rose Taberner,

Surely blood in not sent via FedEx courier ..

Probably. The laboratories I have worked with in the UK send blood samples through the mail all the time at room temperature, or if necessary packed in dry ice (occasionally liquid nitrogen) by courier. There are plenty of laboratories in the US that you can send blood to and get whatever tests you want done, for a fee of course.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 21 Oct 2013 #permalink

Hey everyone, I just passed a jelly-like mass! Without the aid of coffee shoved up my bum! Perhaps my body is miraculously healing itself!

Or maybe it's just the Crohn's Disease....

By Christine (the… (not verified) on 21 Oct 2013 #permalink

And in the time since Andrea asked if anyone has actually tried Gerson therapy... well I haven't, because even alt-meddlers recognise coffee enemas make inflammatory bowel disease worse, but when I was in my 20's I did try a raw, vegetarian diet. I did this with the aid of a proper dietitian (the ones in Australia who actually have to have some sort of qualification before they can claim the title). Within a week I was feeling much sicker - bloated, stomach cramps, no energy. I abandoned that and went back to eating meat (in moderation). And lo, I started getting better. But I wasn't juicing so maybe that was the problem.

And in my office, we have me, with Crohn's Disease and fibromyalgia. I have chunks of small intestine missing, including most of my caecum. I'll admit - my diet isn't great. I drink far too much tea and coffee, I'm fond of sugary/salty snacks from vending machines and I don't eat enough veges. One of my colleagues recently decided to follow a raw vegan/juicing diet because she read too much about how meat/wheat/milk/preservatives/salt/sugar/whatever were poisons. She insists she's never felt healthier.

Now, of the two of us, me, with health problems, not great diet and missing chunks of intestine, or her, with her raw food and juicing, needs regular vitamin B12 shots? Hint: not the one missing most of her caecum....

By Christine (the… (not verified) on 21 Oct 2013 #permalink

lilady – the point at which I disengage or refuse to engage with posters on the internet is when they condescendingly expect me to deny the evidence of my own experience.

Your own experience, however, isn'tevidence, any more so than my own experience which tells me I can directly affect the outcome of sporting events by wearing the right team jersey on game day. It's anecdote.

JGC,

Your own experience, however, isn’tevidence, any more so than my own experience which tells me I can directly affect the outcome of sporting events by wearing the right team jersey on game day. It’s anecdote.

And it's another example of a cognitive bias making personal experience unreliable.

I think it's a good thing that we now know that our personal experience (and intuition) is unreliable, yet some people seem to think it's a terrible insult.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 21 Oct 2013 #permalink

There's such a thing as over-sharing, public servant Christine...

D'oh! Sorry about that JGC. Still, I notice "wellness" blogs often obsess over bodily excretions to a disturbing level. Perhaps it's yet another sign of psychological imbalance.

By Christine (the… (not verified) on 21 Oct 2013 #permalink

all this woo is part of the population control program by the illuminati which are actually controlled by aliens. that was a joke by the way

@ Andrea- I have battled rheumatoid arthritis since my teens. It improved dramatically with the oh-so-horrible "medical" stuff. Yes, real medicine. And remained in remission for years. Even without the meds, however, many people experience times of spontaneous remission in between flares. Your "miracle" alternative "cure" may have simply been spontaneous remission. I know that several foods have anti-inflammatory properties, but my God, to cure RA...do you know how many pounds of that stuff we would have to eat every single day?

By Leigh Ann (not verified) on 22 Oct 2013 #permalink

@Andrea

Leigh Ann is correct in what she says about RA. I was also diagnosed with RA a few years before my HER breast cancer late last year and my Oncologist told me that the RA could very well get better with the chemo for the BC. Low and behold, I have not had one stiff joint since the chemo. Sure, I have had and still have side effects from this terrible stuff but with a dramatic change of diet including green and other coloured juices (because I also like the taste of them) and more exercise I am restoring my body to (probably) a better condition than it was pre chemo. I still enjoy my good shot of coffee in the morning (orally). Without the Poison, Cut and Burn, I fear I may have ended up like poor Sharyn Ainscough.

By Rose Taberner (not verified) on 22 Oct 2013 #permalink

Back when I was in my 20s, my boyfriend was diagnosed with acute myloid leukemia. He immediately started chemotherapy, and spent the next year of his life in and out of remission. Along the way, a "friend" suggested the Gerson diet. My BF took it up (not enemas, though). He ate only raw food and wheatgrass juice, etc. He quickly became skeletal and also developed septicemia. He was on death's door, literally, when I got so pissed off, I brought him in a burger. He smelled it, it eyes lit up and he devoured it. He gave up the Gerson's and ate normally again, and managed to live on long enough to knock me up! Sadly, he died before our son was born, but if not for the chemo, he would have been dead in weeks, if not days. So in my opinion, recommending the Gerson diet to someone on chemo is dangerous and irresponsible. They need as much nutrition/calories and protein as they can manage.

Regarding Jessica's cancer: I did some research and talked to a doctor about it and yes, indeed this kind of cancer does not respond very well to chemo or radiation. The problem is that it's very slow growing and chemo and radiation both work by targeting rapidly-dividing cells, which is what most cancer is composed of.

That's also why, without treatment, it's possible to live for years, but most don't.

It's not a good way to go, either. I mean, cancer rarely is, but what happens is this cancer just spreads slowly from an extremity into the body cavity. It kills once you start to get tumors in a life-critical structure. More often than not, it's the lungs. Once it gets to the lungs, things get very very bad. It slowly consumes the lungs, makes breathing more and more difficult.

So that is one reason why such radical surgery may be called for. It's difficult to get rid of it by other means and if it spreads, it's damn near impossible to stop.

By Steve Packard (not verified) on 26 Oct 2013 #permalink

Andrea has osteoarthritis, not the far more serious rheumatoid arthritis. She's an older woman (with at least one grandchild) and osteoarthritis in the hip(s) is caused by wear and tear on aging joints.

She also described her diet of juicing and shoving coffee enemas up her bum, which caused her to lose weight...thus relieving stress on her hip(s) and every other weigh-bearing joint in her body.

I had to come back to this. In the interim I have been in the hospital for Colitis. Yes, I allowed myself to be treated with (gasp!) Drugs! (/gasp) and given pain meds. (gee. when you walk in the ED door and tell the clerk you're having bloody diarrhea you get bumped right to the front of the triage line, who knew?) I have survived, and am back at home. But why I came to this thread was thinking of the Gerson protocol, with it's 13 juices a day and 5 coffee enemas a day, and comparing that to the horrible sensations, cramping and pain I experienced with my illness. I cannot imagine even dimly inflicting that on yourself every day for years. Years... of pumping your bum full of coffee and your gullet with juices, only to have it all come shooting out again. it utterly boggles the mind.

I know of dozens of women who died from breast cancer AFTER receiving conventional treatments of radiation and chemo - and only know of this one woman, sharyn ainscough, who died after foregoing the former.....think about it

Christine -

that was a lot of information, indeed. Quite alright, of course!

Many diets which are intended to be healthy, are flawed in one way or another, that is true. Vegetarian diets are of course known for causing B12 deficiencies. All the same, there is obviously a diet thinkable that is healthier than what most of us usually eat - including fast food, sodas and other heavily sugary foods. Surely that would be a good option?

But if someone chooses to eat foods of lower quality, fine. That's everybody's own decision. Nonetheless, I don't think one should be critical of those who try to improve their diets. And vegetable juices are a good option in such a scheme.

@C.L. - Out of curiosity, how many women do you know of who survived breast cancer in total, and how many do you know who survived it without conventional treatment?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 31 Oct 2013 #permalink

"I know of dozens of women who died from breast cancer AFTER receiving conventional treatments of radiation and chemo – and only know of this one woman, sharyn ainscough, who died after foregoing the former…..think about it'

I did and your comment is stupid. A small sample size leading you to an irrational distorted and stupid observation.

I also thought about C.L.'s comment. It could easily mean that people dying after conventional treatment is considered news; people dying after forgoing conventional treatment is not considered news.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 01 Nov 2013 #permalink

Note that my previous comment was not a reflection of my own opinions, but on a possible editorial policy that I am not necessarily attributing to any particular news organization.

C.L.'s comment might as well refer to his/her own confirmation bias and memory.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 01 Nov 2013 #permalink

Dog bites man; people who don't get proper treatment for deadly diseases die.

I can't believe how naive some people are! How anyone ultimately decides to manage any disease they have is up to them.

It doesn't matter if you agree with Jessica Ainscough or not. She is sharing her journey and people VOLUNTARILY follow her by choice!

Lots of educated people have come to understand how the pharmaceutical companies rule the world with the $ power, how they skew their results of testing, and how they ultimately are not curing diseases despite millions of $ being donated.

So if Jess and her Mum want to try something new then all power to them - they are selflessly following their beliefs AND in the process Jess has shared her knowledge gained so that those of us who want to try and prevent disease and overall improve our health can pick up many health tips along the way.

Jess is only one of many following this path of juicing, smoothies, increasing organic fruit and veg, reducing stress and preservatives and chemicals. (Don Tolman, Cyndi O'meara, Kris Carr, Jason Vale, Curtis and Candace, etc)

Lots of this makes sense - its not how we used to eat, our ancestors couldn't get all this food so its new that we have the access and information to help our bodies heal ourselves. I wouldn't be so comfortable with the chemical cure - just like the natural cure - its not one size fits all for diseases or diets or people!

People may 'voluntarily' follow her choice, because she is telling them they can be cured if they follow her regime, which is a lie.
So it's the task of people who know more about cancer, than you and I, to tell the people why it's not wise, to follow her choice and that is exactly what Orac and several others are doing.

I can’t believe how naive some people are! How anyone ultimately decides to manage any disease they have is up to them.

It doesn’t matter if you agree with Jessica Ainscough or not. She is sharing her journey and people VOLUNTARILY follow her by choice!

No one ever said that a fully competent adult can't choose whatever treatment he or she desires or choose not to undergo treatment at all for any disease, as long as there is informed consent and the consequences are understood.

Nor did I say that Jessica Ainscough couldn't "share her journey." That's freedom of speech. However, it's equally freedom of speech for me to criticize Jessica for using her "sharing" of her journey as a tool to make money. She's made a career out of this "sharing" of her journey, and a career that has potential to do a lot of harm to a lot of people. It's also freedom of speech for me to point out that her "sharing" of her journey is also clearly meant to discourage people from undergoing effective cancer treatment and encourage them to choose ineffective treatment and outright quackery (like the Gerson Method) instead. It's also freedom of speech for me to point out that Jessica's mother died because she chose to treat her cancer the same way her daughter chose to treat hers.

Funny how you get so indignant about freedom of speech only when it's someone criticizing Jessica for persuading people to "voluntarily" follow her bad advice, potentially to their deaths. The funny thing is, the reach of my little blog is so much less than that of Jessica; I'm surprised you even noticed.

People may ‘voluntarily’ follow her choice, because she is telling them they can be cured if they follow her regime, which is a lie.

Exactly. Sadly, it's a lie that Jessica believes, and, through her actions, is persuading others to believe, even if it kills them.

Juices and smoothies to cure cancer? I didn't think Orange Julius was covered by my medical plan.

Jess does not say that she is cured - she doesn't know that! What she does know is that she was given no options for cure so has equipped herself to heal her body using the bodies inbuilt mechanisms to do so.

Her message is all about how to best look after ourselves to help prevent cancer.

People make all sorts of careers out of their skills, talents and "tools". I daresay this was an unexpected outcome of sharing her experience. Why? Because people are looking for options and alternatives because modern medicine isn't cutting it with the results OR because some people are simply not able to be helped any further down that path. If people will pay for what you are offering - well that's simple supply and demand isn't it? She is offering Health information and you have obviously missed the Health revolution that is happening right now. She doesn't work in isolation - so best you spread your criticism to her many co-partners!

Jessica's mother may have died anyway - we don't know the full story. No method - natural or chemical - has a guarantee....so you don't need to pounce as soon as this has happened as people die all the time from your preferred treatment!

"Funny how you get so indignant about freedom of speech" - really? Indignant? I didn't mention this phrase once but you have harped on about in a patronising way.

How dare you patronise the general population by saying that she is convincing people to follow her. People aren't stupid!

Juices and Smoothies don't cure cancer - they help keep the body healthy and increase fruit and veg intake. When the body is in optimal health cancer is less likely.

Anyway - you just keep lining big pharma's pockets! They will love you for it :)

Your'e right Sarah Jessica doesn't say she is cured but she certainly doesn't deny it either when she is billed as a cancer success story. Her entire persona is promoted as a young lady who took her health into her own hands and beat cancer. In all likelihood she will die within the next few years however as long as her story is told as being someone who beat the odds by taking her health into her own hands then desperate and impressionable people will fall for it with terrible consequences. The fact that she offers no proof of her current health situation should be a red flag for people.

Breast cancer detected early and treated with science has a good success rate. I don't know the details of Sharryns cancer but given that it took so long it may have been a small tumor to begin with.

You mentioned Cyndi Omeara who is a nutritionist and jessica ainscough associate. Keep in mind cyndi promotes a 'diet' called the hcg protocol weight loss diet which consists of putting people on 500 calorie a day diets then selling them homeopathic pills ( which have nothing in them ) and saying that they will reduce hunger when in fact it is the body going into ketosis that reduces hunger. Starving someone at 500 calories a day is dangerous. Jessica hardly keeps good company and her beliefs are blinded by her own zealous ideology.

People make all sorts of careers out of their skills, talents and “tools”. I daresay this was an unexpected outcome of sharing her experience. Why? Because people are looking for options and alternatives because modern medicine isn’t cutting it with the results OR because some people are simply not able to be helped any further down that path. If people will pay for what you are offering – well that’s simple supply and demand isn’t it? She is offering Health information and you have obviously missed the Health revolution that is happening right now. She doesn’t work in isolation – so best you spread your criticism to her many co-partners!

Making a living by lieing to people about their health, is not something I consider a respectable job.
You are right i you say no method is a garantied cure for cancer, but drinking smoothies and shoving coffee into your ass, certainly isn't.

@Sarah - at least we know that people are alive today that wouldn't have been in the past, due to the research by "Big Pharma."

Please point us to the population of people that are alive today because of "Big Altie.,..."

People die from conventional cancer medicine all the time so does this therefore make modern medicine 'quackery'? It's about 'Choice'. I find this article to be a scathing attack on a wonam who has chosen to take her like into her own hands - her choice, her life.

@Dynella - no, it is about a woman who's "choice" has led others down the path of quackery...there is a difference.

It is also about making choices based on investigating different options. People volutarily follow conventional medicine and still die. This is not a cult - it is intelligent people looking at all different options for their diseases and making informed decisions on THEIR treatment.

@Dynella

Except that there is evidence that conventional cancer treatment can actually help fight the cancer. What Ms. Ainscough promotes does not have quality evidence to show that it actually works.

Now, if someone chooses to follow her path, that is, indeed, their choice. However, it's one thing to say that people have a right to choose what they want to do for themselves, and quite something else to say that quacks should be able to promote their nonsense unchallenged.

@dynella

Sure, it's her choice. But that doesn't mean giving misinformation about treatment that hasn't been proven at all to be effective. Information, that has, from what it looks like, led to the premature death of her mother and potentially others. She shouldn't lead others to a premature end.

People do die, yes, but more people survive longer with conventional treatments, ones that as far as we know, are the best treatments we have. Can we do better? Sure, but that's what actual scientists, doctors, and researchers are doing, finding new ways and treatments that can be proven, not some quack treatment by woo pushers.

Sarah: "Jess is only one of many following this path of juicing, smoothies, increasing organic fruit and veg, reducing stress and preservatives and chemicals...
Lots of this makes sense – its not how we used to eat, our ancestors couldn’t get all this food so its new that we have the access and information to help our bodies heal ourselves."

I've never heard that our ancestors consumed smoothies, scarfed down the massive amounts of fruits/vegetables/juices/supplements demanded by the Gerson protocol, nor did daily coffee enemas.

While good diet may reduce risk of some cancers, the unfortunate truth is that adopting better eating habits once we develop cancer is not an effective means of treatment.

This case and the latest incursions in the comments provides a reminder that while it's tempting to have the U.S.-centric view that Americans are especially prone to embracing quackery (and profiting from it), Australians may have us beat, at least on a per capita basis.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 03 Nov 2013 #permalink

path of juicing, smoothies, increasing organic fruit and veg, reducing stress and preservatives and chemicals. (Don Tolman, Cyndi O’meara, Kris Carr, Jason Vale, Curtis and Candace, etc)

Good company there! Tolman espouses the Doctrine of Signatures (carrots are good for vision because "A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye") -- this level of magical thinking is, quite literally, medieval. Cyndi O’Meara will sell you "HCG" drops consisting of magic water, which makes her a fraud plain and simple. A grifter. A scamster. Her whole Changing Habits company is devoted to selling crap to people who never seem to feel well enough to stop buying crap.

you just keep lining big pharma’s pockets!
Repeated without comment.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 03 Nov 2013 #permalink

@ Robert – no Jess doesn’t deny it but she doesn’t need to! She believes it and by being subtle about that it is absolutely respectful to the people who believe in the medical/chemo route. I agree that the lack of proof should be a flag and I hope that it is but I take that as her not sensationalizing her situation. She believes – it’s that simple, and we need people like this because sometimes it’s these courageous people that discover something amazing that hasn’t yet been worked out!
I will take on board what you have said about some of Cyndi’s philosophies – I don’t follow ALL of what any one person says, I just take the bits I like! What I love about Cyndi is her relentess pursuit of “outing” commonly consumed food products as the chemical laden cocktails that they are.
@Lawrence – I am not anti medicine. I agree – we have a lot to be thankful for with medicine. I just think that the current cancer treatments are poisoning the healthy cells as much as killing off the cancer cells. And this damage is causing secondary cancers to reoccur in the future. If you actually looked into it you would find lots of successful stories of survival.
@ToddW – new approaches will always start with a smaller population sample size. When your belief in drug companies gets shaken then you don’t necessarily believe what their results are saying. Yet when I read a story of an actual individual and their experience and outcome – that is more powerful for me. (It’s resources like Food Matters, Forks over knives, Cancer is curable, Hungry for Change, Fat, sick and nearly dead – that have slowly impacted my thinking). And I am not alone…..my mother is a nurse and was a hard core promoter of medical, evidence based scientific EVERYTHING. I introduced her to a few resources and she has gone right past me – she has done a 180 degree turn in regards to her beliefs. And she follows through – she walks the talk! I am a work in progress!
@novalox – she is not a wizard! Or a hypnotist! People express their beliefs everywhere – this is no different.
I hope that in the future Medically trained people combine both schools of thought to come up with a better result. Reducing toxicity and deficiency is the heart of what the healthy body needs and the future solutions should incorporate the best of that philosophy alongside of drug treatment. Too many doctors are ignorant of that. I would not suggest that my 38 year old cousin stop her Parkinsons drugs as she then wouldn’t be able to work and her quality of life would deteriorate but a Dr that I would want to be treated by would be incorporating a healthy diet and supplements to help her in combination with pills. What if juicing or reducing preservatives and eating organic just did cause dramatic improvements! OMG!

@sarah

You do know that there are two types of medicine, the ones that are known to work, and the ones that are known not to work.

Right now, Ms. Ainscough is following the branch of medicine that is known not to work, and publicizing her story to convince other people to use the gerson protocol is at best, clueless, at worst, irresponsible.

And as said before, changing one's diet after being diagnosed with cancer isn't really going to change the course of cancer. Unless, of course, you have some actaul information that would support your view.

@Dangerous Bacon – you missed my point completely. I didn’t say our ancestors did any of that – in fact, the opposite. They didn’t have a long life span – obviously searching for food and not having a supermarket to get to – they were probably stressed, nutrient deficient and in dangerous situations frequently. We are in the best position now in regards to our education and resources to truly find a better way.
“While good diet may reduce risk of some cancers, the unfortunate truth is that adopting better eating habits once we develop cancer is not an effective means of treatment.”
I completely disagree with your statement – did you not see Catalyst and what they were saying about Cholesterol and drugs? Diet can absolutely reduce the need for drugs – not in every area but it is happening.

Anyway - debate is healthy and personally, I am not sure what I would do if I got a cancer diagnosis. But the alternate route is not just the domain of the "worn out hippies" or "quacks". I look forward to a future where the 2 schools of thought work better together!

@novalox - the actual information is in the resources I mentioned which include many discussions with medical Dr's who are on board with this.

It doesn’t matter if you agree with Jessica Ainscough or not. She is sharing her journey and people VOLUNTARILY follow her by choice!...

So if Jess and her Mum want to try something new then all power to them – they are selflessly following their beliefs AND in the process Jess has shared her knowledge gained so that those of us who want to try and prevent disease and overall improve our health can pick up many health tips along the way.

Jess is only one of many following this path of juicing, smoothies, increasing organic fruit and veg, reducing stress and preservatives and chemicals....

Lots of this makes sense – its not how we used to eat, our ancestors couldn’t get all this food so its new that we have the access and information to help our bodies heal ourselves. I wouldn’t be so comfortable with the chemical cure – just like the natural cure – its not one size fits all for diseases or diets or people!....

Jess does not say that she is cured – she doesn’t know that! What she does know is that she was given no options for cure so has equipped herself to heal her body using the bodies inbuilt mechanisms to do so.

Her message is all about how to best look after ourselves to help prevent cancer.

People make all sorts of careers out of their skills, talents and “tools”. I daresay this was an unexpected outcome of sharing her experience. Why? Because people are looking for options and alternatives because modern medicine isn’t cutting it with the results OR because some people are simply not able to be helped any further down that path. If people will pay for what you are offering – well that’s simple supply and demand isn’t it? She is offering Health information and you have obviously missed the Health revolution that is happening right now. She doesn’t work in isolation – so best you spread your criticism to her many co-partners!

Jessica’s mother may have died anyway – we don’t know the full story. No method – natural or chemical – has a guarantee….so you don’t need to pounce as soon as this has happened as people die all the time from your preferred treatment!

“Funny how you get so indignant about freedom of speech” – really? Indignant? I didn’t mention this phrase once but you have harped on about in a patronising way.

How dare you patronise the general population by saying that she is convincing people to follow her. People aren’t stupid!...

It doesn’t matter if you agree with Jessica Ainscough or not. She is sharing her journey and people VOLUNTARILY follow her by choice!...

Does this take care of the cast of character?

Jessica’s mother may have died anyway – we don’t know the full story. No method – natural or chemical – has a guarantee….so you don’t need to pounce as soon as this has happened as people die all the time from your preferred treatment!

We do know that her mother's chances of avoiding death and beating her disease would have been much, much better if she had used effective medical treatment, including at least surgery, rather than choosing instead a lot of juicing and shooting coffee up her bum four or five times a day. The ultimate course of her disease, as far as I can tell, was very much consistent with that of untreated breast cancer, which is what she had, because none of the "treatments" she used has any detectable therapeutic effect against breast cancer.

@Sarah

Yet when I read a story of an actual individual and their experience and outcome – that is more powerful for me. (It’s resources like Food Matters, Forks over knives, Cancer is curable, Hungry for Change, Fat, sick and nearly dead – that have slowly impacted my thinking).

Yes, personal stories and emotional appeals can be very convincing. They are also exceptionally prone to being wrong. Scientific approaches may not be perfect, but they work a lot better than uncontrolled stories at figuring out what is actually due to the treatment and what is due to the various biases inherent in personal accounts (recall bias, confirmation bias, etc.). It doesn't help matters that scientific evidence is often dry and boring to read, not to mention difficult to understand at times. So, yes, personal stories and emotional appeals are much more powerful, because they play on what we want to hear, rather than explaining reality.

@39
Andrea, here in Europe, we don't do coffee enemas. I haven't heard about them from the most notorious coffee consumers, the Finns, or people from other areas of this continent and while I cannot vouch for inhabitants of, say, some remote village in the French Jura, I am perfectly sure that coffee enema is not a common practice by any means even among those with interesting sexual mores.
I'm afraid that I wouln not only bat my eye upon hearing that someone is using it, I'd react with much more intensity and that's what I can say about most of my social circle.

If, historically, coffee enemas were used for just about anything more than nowadays... well, historically, people burned other people at a stake and we don't do it anymore either even though public executions certainly did have a positive impact on social cohesion.

If you prefer getting your caffeine fix by the anal route, it's your coffee and your posterior but don't blame us Europeans for this habit.

By Kultakutri (not verified) on 04 Nov 2013 #permalink

@Todd - yes, stories of faith healing can be extremely emotional & potentially convincing...until you look at the actual evidence....

Sort of interesting that Sarah thinks our ancestors were handicapped in fighting cancer due to deficient diet, when the standard altie line is that people didn't get cancer in the old days due to their wonderful eating habits and lack of toxins (never mind the widespread malnutrition, use of poisonous pesticides like arsenic, exposure to heavy metals in mining and other industries, terrible air pollution etc.).*

"I am not anti medicine. I agree – we have a lot to be thankful for with medicine..I hope that in the future Medically trained people combine both schools of thought to come up with a better result. Reducing toxicity and deficiency is the heart of what the healthy body needs and the future solutions should incorporate the best of that philosophy alongside of drug treatment. Too many doctors are ignorant of that."

Aren't you ever struck by the incredible arrogance of your telling physicians how to approach cancer treatment?

"I am a work in progress!"

True dat.

*Probably Sarah _does_ simultaneously believe that our ancestors were cancer-free and sees no contradiction with her other statements.

**I'd love to see a list of those "medical doctors" who are supposedly "on board" with the Wellness Warrior and her quacky advice.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 04 Nov 2013 #permalink

Dynella (and Sarah),

This is not a cult – it is intelligent people looking at all different options for their diseases and making informed decisions on THEIR treatment.

I disagree, I don't think anyone would make an informed decision to reject conventional cancer treatment and use alternative treatments instead. Please take a look at this site, where a conventional doctor assesses the results of a number of alternative cancer treatments using their own figures.

For some peculiar reason CAM practitioners are seldom able to keep records of their patients, what diagnosis they had, what conventional and CAM treatments they had and how well they do, but when they do keep such records the results are not at all encouraging.

Also please look at the results of controlled clinical trial of the Gonzalez protocol, which is almost identical to Gerson's. Gonzalez claimed his treatment was superior to conventional treatment, but when tested his patients died three times sooner than those on chemotherapy and reported a much worse quality of life.

I wish it were true that you could cure cancer by boosting your body's defenses with fruits and vegetables and, indeed, coffee enemas. But it isn't.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 04 Nov 2013 #permalink

Maybe Jess does believe, Sarah. That's not exactly a virtue here, as no degree of faith (however sincere or deeply held) is sufficient to establish what one believes to be true actually is true, and the end result is that's she's promoting something for which there's no evidence of efficacy as as a viable alternative to conventional medicine where there is evidence of efficacy.

And people are listening to her and suffering as a result.

Sarah:

Anyway – debate is healthy and personally, I am not sure what I would do if I got a cancer diagnosis. But the alternate route is not just the domain of the “worn out hippies” or “quacks”. I look forward to a future where the 2 schools of thought work better together!

Out of curiosity, which two schools are you referring to? Obviously I know one of them has to be conventional medicine, but what's the other one?

Is it homeopathy?
Naturopathy?
Reiki?
Therapeutic touch?
Sweat lodges?
Th Gerson protocol?
Acid/base mainpulation?
Hypobaric oxygen?
Intravenous hydrogen peroxide?
Iridology?
The Secret?
Faith healing?
Intercessory prayer?
Bee venom?
Ayurvedic medicine?
Acupuncture?
Chiropractic?
Reflexology?
Candidasis treatment?
Cranio-sacral manipulation?
Herbalism?
Humoral theory?
Exorcism?

All of these offer some form of treatment or remedy or theory of cancer. Most are incompatible with most or all of the others. So you see, it is not two schools of thought. It is many schools of thought. Which one of these do you wish would work together with conventional medicine?

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 04 Nov 2013 #permalink

I swear to Crom, the next person who tells me they're a 'warrior," I'm going to ask to see their discharge papers.

@sarah

Care to pint out those resources? Because you haven't pointed out any in your posts.

@ Calli Arcale
I think you forgot GNM (German New Medicine)

Yes, I am remiss in not mentioning that one Renate! Though there is probably a near infinite list, really.....

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 04 Nov 2013 #permalink

Just wanted to say that even if there were 100 RCT's and 10 Cochrane reviews which suggested coffee enemas were equally efficacious as chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, I would rather undergo a chemo and/or radio regime than a coffee enema regime.

Thankfully this is entirely hypothetical given that there is absolutely zero evidence at all that coffee enemas do anything other than provide an onerous, revolting, uncomfortable and dangerous caffeine fix.

Sharyn and Jessica Ainscough did what they wanted to do to try and cure their cancer. It worked for Jessica but not for Sharyn. Sharyn is my cousin and she saw her mother have chemotherapy for breast cancer and she saw how sick she was. She always said she'd never go through that herself. Her mother died from Liver Cancer after all the pain and suffering she went through with her conventional treatment for Breast Cancer. The doctor's didn't diagnose the Liver Cancer until it was too late to do anything. The kept telling her it was a stomach virus and gave her antibiotics to cure it. So sometimes that doesn't work so well either.
It is not up to any of us to say what she should have or have not done. It was up to the family and to Sharyn. Just remember that you are the one to say what treatment you will have when you get diagnosed with cancer. It is not up to me or freddy up the road to tell you what you believe is right.
What treatment works for one doesn't always work for another. Just remember that Sharyn and Jessica did what they believed was right.
Jessica is a beautiful strong girl with 2 arms. She wouldn't have had 2 arms if the doctors had their way. They said the only way to get rid of the cancer was to amputate her arm. She proved them wrong. How afraid would you feel if you had to make that choice at the age of 22.
Sharyn's brother has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and he let them operate. The prostate cancer was contained until they operated now it has gone into his bones. So he did what you all consider "right" and it didn't help him.
I have said my piece and hopefully when you all feel like it is you right to bag someone else's decision on what they should or should not do. Think about it and just remember it is their decision NOT YOUR'S
Thanks Dynella from South Australia for at least being open minded and defending every one's right to do what they choose and what they feel is right for them

By Diane Legros (not verified) on 10 Nov 2013 #permalink

Choose what you want - just don't encourage others to follow your example.......that's what this woman is doing & it is despicable.

And don't make a second career out of selling woo based on your example and promoting quackery like the Gerson method to cancer patients, which is what Jessica Ainscough has been doing.

Diane there is nothing wrong with criticising someone who makes claims about a treatment for cancer which don't work. You don't know that Jessica was cured by Gerson therapy as she by her own admission does not have scans or even know if her cancer is still active. She may still die from her cancer in which case those nasty doctors would have saved her life.

About Sharyn, I am sorry for your loss but when treated early breast cancer does have a good survival rate. If your cousin choose another path which lead to her death but was ok with that then no one would criticise her, but blogging about it and saying it was a better choice may have lead others to make similar choices which may have resulted in more deaths. That's not ok and deserves to be criticised. This is not a heartless post the driving force behind this forum and most of the responses here is concern about the dangerous influence jessica has over her followers.

Regarding prostate cancer, for it to spread to the bones it must have been quite advanced.

Sharyn and Jessica Ainscough did what they wanted to do to try and cure their cancer. It worked for Jessica but not for Sharyn. Sharyn is my cousin and she saw her mother have chemotherapy for breast cancer and she saw how sick she was. She always said she’d never go through that herself. Her mother died from Liver Cancer after all the pain and suffering she went through with her conventional treatment for Breast Cancer. The doctor’s didn’t diagnose the Liver Cancer until it was too late to do anything.

So if a doctor had been mor alert to the likelihood of this, she could have been treated conventionally and benefitted, but because the diagnosis was delayed it was too late? That doesn't sound like a good reason to dismiss conventional medicine, or to promote quackery.

The[y] kept telling her it was a stomach virus and gave her antibiotics to cure it. So sometimes that doesn’t work so well either.

Well clearly it wasn't a "stomach virus", so why would antibiotics have worked. And anyhow, antibiotics only work for bacterial infections, and not for "stomach viruses" anyway. It sounds like the doctor wasn't up to scratch here is that is what he claimed. So that is not reason to dismiss the value of antibiotics if appropriately prescribed, either.

It is not up to any of us to say what she should have or have not done. It was up to the family and to Sharyn. Just remember that you are the one to say what treatment you will have when you get diagnosed with cancer. It is not up to me or freddy up the road to tell you what you believe is right.

OK, but what if what you believe is right is in fact wrong, and you acquired that belief because someone has deliberately misled you into that belief. Isn't that a reason to be concerned?

What treatment works for one doesn’t always work for another. Just remember that Sharyn and Jessica did what they believed was right. Jessica is a beautiful strong girl with 2 arms. She wouldn’t have had 2 arms if the doctors had their way. They said the only way to get rid of the cancer was to amputate her arm. She proved them wrong. How afraid would you feel if you had to make that choice at the age of 22.

Not an easy decision, but also not easy to advise upon for the same reason. It's hard as a doctor to advise a patient to do nothing, when to do so could result in death of the patient. Jessica has been lucky so far, but it still looks like her disease is present, and it could still spread.

Sharyn’s brother has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and he let them operate. The prostate cancer was contained until they operated now it has gone into his bones. So he did what you all consider “right” and it didn’t help him.

Removal of the primary tumor is important and prolongs survival. Metastases from Prostate cancer can be latent and present later on (some breast cancers exhibit this same phenomenon). Prostate cancer like this is almost always susceptible to hormonal therapy and can be usually readily controlled. I am sure no doctor would ever have guaranteed a cure following surgery only - if they did then they deserve to be sued for being brash and stupid and acting in contradiction of what is basic oncological knowledge.

There is a new photo on Jessica's facebook page showing her signing some of her books. I am quite alarmed by the lesions on her left arm. I know that she attributes these to the chemotherapy she had a few years ago, but her arm seems to be getting worse compared to earlier photos. What do the doctors here think? Would the sort of chemotherapy she had cause this sort of damage?

By Evidence-based (not verified) on 10 Nov 2013 #permalink

I took a look as well - that kind of "getting worse" has nothing to do with Chemo (that she hasn't had in, how long now?)....

"What treatment works for one doesn’t always work for another."

This could serve as an epitaph for woo-seekers, who are encouraged to try one useless form of quackery after another until something works (or realistically, until they go broke and/or die, possibly of a treatable cancer).

It's one of the basics of alt med , used to explain their treatment failures* and discourage evidence-based medicine.

*along with "you came to us too late", "you didn't do it right" and "toxic chemo poisoned your system so we couldn't help you".

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 11 Nov 2013 #permalink

@DB - it is definitely a "blame the victim" mentality when it comes to woo.....(when it doesn't work).

Blockquote> It worked for Jessica but not for Sharyn. “
But there’s no real evidence that it workd for Jessica --that she benefited in any way from the alternative regimen she embraced and promotes--is there?

Just remember that Sharyn and Jessica did what they believed was right.

That they believed what they’re doing is right isn’t a plus—alt med has a long and deep history of people doing what they believe is right that is in fact either completely ineffective (e.g., homeopathy) or is actually harmful (e.g., MMS).

She proved them wrong.

The evidence that she’s cancer free because of the alt med regimen she embraced rather than simply lucky enough to be part of the 33% of all epithilioid sarcoma patients whose disease is slowly progressing would be what, exactly?

Very sad about her mother. Ive been quite interested in her "healthy lifestyle" for a while now and whilst im happy to introduce some of her practices into my life, there is no way I would shun traditional treatment if I was to suffer a life threatening illness.

What you are forgetting is that, it is personal choice at the end of the day. How do you know what is best for another person? You don't. If that is what someone chooses to do, then you need to respect it. Disagree as much as you want, but at the end of the day it comes down to personal choice.

Zoe: I absolutely respect the right to personal choice. However, I do not respect the willful propagation of dangerously false advice. I see people who follow this path as victims.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 15 Nov 2013 #permalink

Zoe:

Your argument implies that Jessica Ainscough should not be giving people advice on how to treat their cancer, because "how do[es she] know what is best for another person? [She doesn't.]" If even having a medical degree doesn't mean Orac knows what's best for another person, not having one certainly doesn't mean Ainscough knows.

Yes, we have the right to ignore advice, even good advice. That doesn't mean we have the right not to be told "you are giving bad advice." Freedom of speech doesn't just mean that the first person to discuss something is allowed to say whatever they feel like; it includes the right to say "you're wrong" and "if you follow her bad advice, you are more likely to die."

Hi All. I'm a director of the Grace Gawler Institute and a partner to Grace Gawler. Grace was the devoted wife and care giver to the cancer cult figure Ian Gawler. She is approaching her 40th year of cancer service.
Grace became widely attacked in the media after highlighting errors in Ian Gawler's medical journal article (MJA) of 2008. She was motivated to go public because she saw the problems myths and inaccuracies created for patients. (similar to Jessica’s mother). The MJA report implied meditation and a vegan diet cured Gawler’s cancer along with coffee enemas etc only after chemo and radiation failed.
Grace pointed out that Gawler was never a vegan and that in truth he tried the chemo and radiation after the vegan diet and meditation failed to relieve symptoms – not as it was written in his MJA report. Since his secondary cancer was never biopsied and since he concurrently had TB, (which was omitted from his books) it can’t definitively be proven that he had secondary bone cancer and was cured from it in the way he describes.
Yet millions have read his books and he was elevated to guru status, enhanced by his signature robes or kaftans. Gawler has also been a proud promoter of young Jessica Ainscough because she champions veganism and the Gerson Diet, even though both failed to work for him.
As Orac points out, we can’t definitively say that Jessica is curing herself from a slow growing cancer but meanwhile, like Gawler, she is rapidly attaining cult figure status.
The problem has grown so big that In our charity we provide an ‘alt/med rescue service,’ nursing patients back into the best of the medical system while providing support and guidance. We are fortunate to view the scans and blood tests of many who followed extreme diets like Gerson and have frequently witnessed horrifically constipated and semi blocked colons above the point where the coffee enemas have reached.
It appears too much fibre is problematic like too little. In fact that sums up diet for cancer patients. I. It must be personalized for the bio-individuality and ability to absorb certain foods and 2. It must be personalised for the individual’s psychological makeup. Cancer patients suffer from both the cancer itself and the varying forms of trauma induced disorders linked to the fear of the big C.
The good news is that new cancer medicines that are less invasive are approved and in use in Europe. The future looks good for cancer patients
I only hope balance can return to the cancer self help forum and patients can learn to spot flimsy evidence in the miracle cure stories that abound, especially if they are about to do a ‘trial and error’ experiment with their own lives – like Jessica Ainscough’s mum.

By pip cornall (not verified) on 01 Dec 2013 #permalink

I am very sad to read this article. Jess is a wonderful woman and I believe her Mum was actually the one that suggested Gerson Therapy to her in the first place. Jess's Mum chose to do this treatment herself and that is in no way Jess's fault.

This therapy is working well for Jess. We are all unique and our bodies react so differently to treatments. I know for me, changing my entire lifestyle has lead to me finally being free of Myasthenia Gravis.

I would also like to mention that people die from having conventional treatment as well and the ones who dont often have serious complications later in life from what radiation and chemotherapy has done to their bodies.

We are all entitled to make up our own minds and do what works best for us.

I hope Jess doesn't see this article. Can you just imagine for a moment how she is feeling after loosing her Mum. As I read this article I felt as though it was very much saying this may as well be her fault. I think you could have been more sensitive with this.

By Kristen Graham (not verified) on 02 Dec 2013 #permalink

Thanks for posting Pip, I admire the work you and Grace are doing and I think you are in a strong position to counter the growing status of "the wellness warrior". Have you tried contacting her ? It is sad to see how many people are drawn in by this kind of holistic natural healing message when it comes to cancer. Given she is about to do a book tour I'd suggest getting your message out there to the same media outlets that might be inclined to promote her new book. It's dangerous the way various media keep calling her a cancer success story with no proof or even attempt to show the other side of the story.

I wish people would do some home work before commenting in the negative to the decision Jess's mum made. If you research for yourself you would find that the chance of dying with current day pharmaceutical type medicine including chemo and drugs is far higher and short term and consistent to fail. Some gain short term health with usually a retracted lifestyle until the day inevitable comes. If we to look to more of a lifestyle in which our for fathers lived we would require less if not no pills as we would have a body that will heal itself as it was designed in the first place!

This therapy is working well for Jess.

But we don’t know that, do we? And the lesions on her left arm visible in her facebook photos argues strongly against such a conclusion.

We are all unique and our bodies react so differently to treatments.

With respect to many characterisitics we’re unique as individuals but in terms of human biology, biochemistry, physiology, etc.—all the parameters relevant to health and medical intervention—we’re all far, far more nearly identical than otherwise.

I know for me, changing my entire lifestyle has lead to me finally being free of Myasthenia Gravis.

I’m curious how you know this—the basis for your being diagnosed as having MG, how it’s been established you no longer have MG, and how it’s been demonstrated these life style changes are responsible for your cure?

I would also like to mention that people die from having conventional treatment as well and the ones who dont often have serious complications later in life from what radiation and chemotherapy has done to their bodies.

It’s neither surprising that we lack the ability to cure every single disease or injury human beings suffer. The fact that we do doesn’t argue that alternative therapies like the Gerson-like protocol Jess is following are capable of curing anything.

And yes, conventional chemo and radiation may cause complications later in life, but the key phrase there is “later in life”, not “complications”. Surely you’ll agree it’s better to live long enough with good quality of life to have to address these potential complications than to avoid them by dying much younger of the original disease?

We are all entitled to make up our own minds and do what works best for us.

The question then becomes “How can we determine what works best for us?” Science based medicine does so by carefully and continually comparing outcomes across large populations receiving treatments, determining which are safe and effective and which are not. Alt med does so by—well, I’m not convinced that it does so at all rather than taking claims “This works best for me, and it will for you too!” on faith.

As I read this article I felt as though it was very much saying this may as well be her fault.

If she was influential in her mother’s decision to eschew standard of care medical intervention and instead pursue unproven alt med treatment she does bear at least some responsibility. That may indeed represent a painful realization, but that’s simply reality.

Making a personal choice is one thing (as uneducated as that choice is), but encouraging others to make the same choice, without the evidence that it was be effective (at all) is what puts the responsibility firmly on the side of the recommending party.

That's why Jess has a measure of responsibility here - and why her recommendations to others is dangerous.

If you research for yourself you would find that the chance of dying with current day pharmaceutical type medicine including chemo and drugs is far higher and short term and consistent to fail.

Citations needed, please: exactly what evidence argues that science based medical intervention (including chemotherapy) conveys a greater chance of dying than either no treatment or alt med intervention? Be specific.

If we to look to more of a lifestyle in which our for fathers lived we would require less if not no pills as we would have a body that will heal itself as it was designed in the first place!

The human body did not arise as the result of a design process, and does not possess the ability to heal any disease or injury it might experience. It certainly does not possess an innate ability to heal cancers. If either was the case there would have ben no need to develop science based medicine in the first place.

And that ‘golden age’ lifestyle you advocate—the onr our fore fathers supposedly lived—demonstrably resulted in greater infant and child mortality, shorter adult lifespans, more frequent chronic illness than is the case today.

dang! Blockquote fail.

How come no one blogs about all the daily horrible deaths people have suffered while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. Have any of you worked at a cancer clinic or seen the state of patients that have "survived"? Every single member in my family that has been diagnosed with cancer has been treated with conventional treatments and died within the year of treatment. I'll take my chances with Gerson therapy.

Most common chemotherapeutic drugs targets fast dividing cells which include, not just the cancer cells, but also hair cell (loss of hair), cells on the lining of the stomach (causing nausea and vomiting), red blood cells (anemia), white blood cells and other immune system cells (causing you to be susceptible to a host of other disease) and don't forget the chemo and radiation itself are carcinogens.

I'm not ignorant on the subject. I'm a medical student. Most of the drugs used today for chemotherapy are derivatives of pesticides and other chemicals. Chemotherapeutic drugs have the lowest safety index (that is the difference between the amount of the drug you need to fight the disease and the amount that can kill you). There are plenty of studies in medical literature citing "spontaneous regression" of cancer when in fact the patients made extreme dietary changes very similar to the Gerson diet. As far as I'm concerned when it comes to chemo and radiation it is a matter of what will the chemo and radiation kill first, the tumor or the patient. Unless you've been in an oncology ward (which I have) and/or had family go through chemo/radiation and subsequently die a very painful death from symptoms of these therapies (which I've also experienced), you should not judge others who choose a different route.

Have any of you worked at a cancer clinic or seen the state of patients that have “survived”?

Um, helloooo! I'm a surgical oncologist and have spent my entire post-graduate career working at NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers, where I've both run labs and taken care of cancer patients and (most recently) become highly involved in a statewide quality improvement initiative. I have lots of patients who survived their cancers and are doing just fine.

I’m not ignorant on the subject.

Gee, you could have fooled me, what with your endorsement of the quackery known as the Gerson protocol and all.

I’m a medical student.

I'm so sorry for your medical school.

There are plenty of studies in medical literature citing “spontaneous regression” of cancer when in fact the patients made extreme dietary changes very similar to the Gerson diet.

Oh, really? Cite a few, and let's see if they are of any scientific value.

@Jenny - it really pays to figure out who you are talking to before you spout off a bunch of easily debunked nonsense.

Perhaps jenny is studying acupuncture or homeopathy, and believes this entitles her to call herself a medical student.

Oh, jenny? Every single member of my family who has been diagnosed with cancer and treated with conventional treatments has survived. My anecdote trumps yours.

@Jenny - I have numerous friends (and now a couple of family members) who went through conventional Cancer treatment & are still alive today (years after the fact)....

How come no one blogs about all the daily horrible deaths people have suffered while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.

Feel free to link to your blog where you do that.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 04 Dec 2013 #permalink

I'm not ignorant on the subject. I'm a medical student

And I'm Batman! Isn't the internet fun? Rather than unverifiable claims and anecdotes, how about some links to those studies you mentioned?

@ Jenny

Unless you’ve been in an oncology ward (which I have) and/or had family go through chemo/radiation and subsequently die a very painful death from symptoms of these therapies (which I’ve also experienced), you should not judge others who choose a different route.

You clearly aren't familiar with this blog, its author, and its readers and commenters. I am typing this from my desk at the NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center.

Pop quiz hot-shot medical student! Name those other "immune system cells" affected, and which chemo regimens reduce them. I've never heard them described with such lack of specificity if they're mentioned at all. And....GO!

Also, *sigh*, [citations needed]

By AnObservingParty (not verified) on 04 Dec 2013 #permalink

jenny: "Have any of you worked at a cancer clinic or seen the state of patients that have “survived”? "

Here is some reading for you:
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/category/cancer/

jenny: " I’m a medical student."

Woot! So you would prefer the result without chemotherapy?

By the way, click on the author's name under the title. Then think very carefully about where you do your residency.

@ Jenny

How absurd. You have had the wrong calling in life. I pity your future patients.

Yes, I have spent time in an Oncology Ward, in fact I have seen the four seasons through the window of one and am about to start the seasons all over again. The patients there are suffering from a horrible illness but heck, they all have big smiles. laugh, interact with the wonderful nurses and we have a camaraderie that is palpable. How much more pleasant and social this is rather than sitting on a toilet numerous times a day.

Coffee...yes please!

By Rose Taberner (not verified) on 04 Dec 2013 #permalink

@Jenny you don't seem to have robust enough research skills to find out who authored this blog post, let alone support your statements with evidence.

Either you're lying your head off about being a medical student, or you're not going to make it thru training. Both of which are good news for health consumers.

Well said Russell! The outcome is not certain via either avenue but the pain and trauma path can be vastly different.

@Jenny - you are a breath of fresh air and the knowledge and experience you have in both medical and natural medicine is a credit to you - hopefully more like you in the future....don't let these fools deter you!

@Orac - you are an arrogant person. Who would blog about the tragic chemo related deaths - seriously - Doctors and Pharmaceutical companies have a beautiful marriage involving prescribing drugs and making money. Of course there are exceptions - I am not anti-drug for all cases - but its a drug giving easy answer out there in most cases!

Love how the scientists are asking for citations but aren't offering any themselves. There is not likely going to be the research into the alternative route for cancer because there is no money in it - some courageous people are going to be the human research purely due to their educated decisions that the usually adopted path is not working....the accumulation of this evidence will take time.

The people choosing the alternative path or semi alternative path are not attacking the scientists - they are defending their CHOICE - despite your "certificates" you do not know everything but the all-knowing attitude will only prevent you from discovering the real cures. Chemical Poison doesn't cure in all cases! Seems logical doesn't it?

And as for some you who continue to criticise Jess Ainscough........Anyone can promote what THEY BELIEVE in - what is despicable is that an air of arrogance, superiority and narrow mindedness seems to come with your education.

Discussion and information equals progress - you can't stop this revolution! You miss the point with Jess - her information about true inner health will help so many people to avoid cancer....and that is news worth spreading! She is not a cancer fighting expert - she is a healthy person promoter!.

You scientists / oncologists / Drs - have nothing to challenge her on - she shares her experiences - you don't need to feel threatened and attack her!

*sigh*

……..Anyone can promote what THEY BELIEVE in – what is despicable is that an air of arrogance, superiority and narrow mindedness seems to come with your education.

Once again...."you are entitled to your opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts."

Also, there's that pesky word, "believe." It does not belong in a science-based discussion. Also, the citations have been given many, many times in this blog, by Orac and commentators. We've read them. You are free to use the search button, and visit PubMed.

By AnObservingParty (not verified) on 05 Dec 2013 #permalink

Sarah, well, you would know arrogance, superiority, and narrow mindedness, wouldn't you? Facts don't sway you. Evidence doesn't sway you. Conformity to your expectations, however, that *does* sway you. I would not call that open minded or humble.

"her information about true inner health will help so many people to avoid cancer"

Yeah, about that . . . you'd have a point if she really had true health (or I guess you do have a weasel word there, with "inner" -- is "inner health" different than actual health?) but she clearly doesn't, and her advice has killed her mother already. How many more have to die because it's "arrogant" to point out when someone is giving dangerous advice and that their "evidence" appears to be a combination of wishful thinking and denial?

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 05 Dec 2013 #permalink

@Sarah

If there's no money in alternative treatments, how come (just one example) Gerson treatment costs tens of thousands of dollars (the info is provided on the wellness warrior's website, if you want a reference)? PLUS the cost of organic vegetables, expensive juicers, and all that wasted (organic!) coffee (all self-administered of course)?

Who gets those tens of thousands of dollars? Nobody knows, because there is no accountability. One thing is certain - someone's raking in the dough by giving false hope to desperate people.

I'd much rather people like Orac and pharmaceutical researchers make a living from providing treatments, because they're 100% accountable for their failures as well as their successes.

Most of the drugs used today for chemotherapy are derivatives of [...] chemicals.

Repeated for hilarity.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 Dec 2013 #permalink

No, I don't attend a "quack" school or a naturapathic school. I have a Bachelor's in chemistry.I'm enrolled at a 4 year allopathic u.s. school. I obtained a 35R on my MCATs. I worked for over 5 years in toxicology as a necropsy technician doing preclinical trials on many of the drugs being sent into the market by many pharmaceutical companies. I worked on mice, rats, rabbits, even primates and I've seen the toxicity of many of these drugs. The data I collected was made part of the reports being sent to the FDA.

I spoke in lay terms, because I'm speaking to a general audience here. I guess if you want to test me on immunology I'll list the 5 basic leukocytes (aka while blood cells) : Let's see, let me pull out my immuno book: we have lymphocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils.

I'll mention one drug used on my aunt for her lung cancer carboplatin (Paraplatin)- cis-Diammine(1,1-cyclobutanedicarboxylato)platinum(II)- causes low platelets and neutropenia.

The oncologists here cannot deny that they have to employ the most toxic drugs that we have in our arsenal.

Here is an nci citation on Gerson therapy:

In 1995, the Gerson Research Organization did a retrospective study of their melanoma patients who were treated with the Gerson therapy. The study reported that patients who had stage III or stage IV melanoma lived longer than usual for patients with these stages of melanoma. There have been no clinical trials that support the findings of this retrospective study.

•A case review of 6 patients with metastatic cancer who used the Gerson therapy reported that the regimen helped patients in some ways, both physically and psychologically. Based on these results, the reviewers recommended that clinical trials of the Gerson therapy be conducted.

Of course no one will fund a dietary regimen to treat cancer. Who will make money from that?

I have professor who is a retired urologist who believes in many cases patients are better off without chemotherapy.

I won't argue with the oncologist here, but if I'm striken with the big "C" I will take my chances with the Gerson therapy.

jenny: "I have a Bachelor’s in chemistry.I’m enrolled at a 4 year allopathic u.s. school"

So why can't you provide a proper citation? It should at least clearly show the title, journal and date.

By the "allopathic" is an insult term invented by Hahnemann. If you wish to be taken seriously here you would not use that term, use actual citations, and would not depend on anecdotes.

@Jenny - anyone using the term "allopathic" just can't be taken seriously.....

@Jenny

I'll accept it, even though macrophages are only macrophages once monocytes enter the tissues from the blood.

Everything else, however, is suspect. And what makes you think you're speaking to a general audience?

By AnObservingParty (not verified) on 09 Dec 2013 #permalink

On a sadder note. I am surrounded by the big "C."

I have another family friend that was just diagnosed 4 weeks ago with lung cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. She will be undergoing chemotherapy this Wednesday. I'm already feeling depressed. I'll just pray for her and pray she does well. They removed the tumor, but she will undergo chemotherapy as a precaution.

My Mom has a friend that was diagnosed this summer with stage III lung cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. At the moment, he is too weak to talk and lies in bed all day. He can't eat, has mouth sores and developed a liver infection during treatment. The good news is that his tumor markers are going down, hopefully he will be able to handle the next few rounds of chemo he has left. We are just keeping our spirits high and praying that he does well.

I also know someone who's friend passed away 2 weeks ago from cholangiocarcinoma. Only lasted 8 weeks after chemo began.

Forgive my cynicism on the miracles of chemotherapy and radiation. Maybe the oncologist here is 100% right and my family friends will be just fine. I hope so. I truly hope so.

@AnObservingParty thank you for correcting me and yes I do know that macrophages start out as monocytes. Would you like me to send you a scanned copy of my student i.d. or maybe email you a copy of my CV? Obviously, I would not recommend to patients to do Gerson therapy. I have to follow protocol. I am excited that many reputable cancer centers, including Yale Medical Cancer Center, are focusing on the nutrition of their patients. I know a few doctors and nurses that have switched to plant based diets to treat their type II diabetes and cholesterol, but they can't really recommend diet to patients and many patients are not willing to make major lifestyle changes. I think we all need to become a little more open minded and explore other options for treating cancer. At least fund studies to examine therapies like Gerson, because from my personal experience, when chemotherapy doesn't work it is a horrible and painful way to die.

I thought I was speaking to a general audience, but I see that I'm not.

@AnObservingParty I have not always felt this way. I'm currently studying for step I. I plan to take it next summer. I've been using the First Aid book throughout my classes. I only want to take it once.

Originally I wanted to specialize in oncology, but every single person that has been close to me that has been diagnosed with cancer, has been treated with chemotherapy and subsequently died. I have seen people deteriorate after just 1 round of chemo. If I had 1 personal survival story to tell you, I might agree with everything you're saying. I have not had the pleasure of seeing 1 person I know survive cancer.

As a result of my personal experience I don't plan to get into oncology. Now I just want to do internal medicine and maybe affect some change in patients before cancer and other chronic disorders develop. My internist told me I should definitely specialize in something beyond internal medicine. We'll see what I do, but it definitely will not be oncology.

@Jenny - I now know numerous individuals (both friends and family) that went through conventional Cancer treatments, including extensive treatments with Chemo - and with one exception (because my friend had multiple aggressive Cancers and was already end-stage by the time he finally went to the hospital), all of them are alive and well today.

@Jenny - when you come to a blog run by a Cancer Surgeon, you should expect that the level of discussion by the regulars is going to be somewhat elevated over the general population....not a put-down, just reality.

Love how the scientists are asking for citations but aren’t offering any themselves. There is not likely going to be the research into the alternative route for cancer because there is no money in it

jenny, you seem to be suggesting that people who are skeptical of alternative treatments should be conducting studies to assess if's efficacy, but won't because they don't see a profit in it. Surely you realize that it's the proponents of alt med who should be conducting studies to prove it's efficacy?

And clearly their reluctance to do so isn't because they don't see profits to be made, since hundreds of purveyors are already marketing alt med (homeopathic solutions, MMS, black salve, etc.) aggressively.

Of course no one will fund a dietary regimen to treat cancer. Who will make money from that?

Someone is clearly funding such studies, jenny--typing 'diet' and 'cancer' into Pubmed brings up more than 34,000 publications.

@JGC - people who don't consider "alt-med" to be big business are idiots....supplement manufacturers alone generate billions of dollars in sales every single year, not to mention all of the money wasted on homeopathy, etc....all of that garbage you see crowding up the Pharmacy shelves nowadays is basically pure profit - since it isn't like these guys are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on research, clinic trials, and safety trials, right?

@jenny

At least fund studies to examine therapies like Gerson, because from my personal experience, when chemotherapy doesn’t work it is a horrible and painful way to die.

They funded these studies, particularly about one big aspect of Gershon therapy, the coffee enemas: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=coffee+enema+cancer

Your subsequent comments are a far cry from your original post. And, since we're going for anecdote here, I invite you to contact any NCI-designated cancer hospital to find out when their "Survivor's Day" is. The most moving ones are those who suffered from, and beat, cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. Without any further clinical knowledge, I would venture a guess that those you witnessed were very far along in their cancer, perhaps even end-stage. But chemotherapy has given many a chance at life, and I'd thank you to realize that if you are going to come here and make statements like what you did, realize that many of us are health/STEM professionals who will call you on it.

And please, look up a survivors day celebration and attend.

By AnObservingParty (not verified) on 09 Dec 2013 #permalink

jenny:

Originally I wanted to specialize in oncology, but every single person that has been close to me that has been diagnosed with cancer, has been treated with chemotherapy and subsequently died

I am sorry to see that, but the plural of anecdote is not data.

Here are a couple of articles by the blog owner you might want to look at:
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/10/30/so-chemotherapy-does-work-…

and:

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-not-so-beautiful-untruth-about-…

I would also suggest during the winter holidays that you get a copy of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Then find a cozy spot to read the entire thing.

I hope that the chemotherapy works for my mom's friend (with stage III lung cancer) and for my family friend (recently diagnosed with lung cancer and going into chemo this Wednesday). I'm only voicing my personal thoughts on the subject here. I would never suggest anything other than the standard route to anyone. I'm not supposed to. I hope @Lawrence that I see recovery and remission in the most recent people in my life diagnosed with cancer. I'm happy to hear that most of your friends and family faired well with standard treatment. I haven't had the pleasure yet. I hope I get to post a success story very soon. I truly mean that from the bottom of my heart.

@Jenny - I hope so as well - remember that she has access to the best treatments that we currently have available, that have been rigorously tested and are known to be effective....that's something we can't say about the alternative treatments you mentioned - not that they haven't been tested, but that they have & have not been shown to work....big difference.

There are plenty of studies in medical literature citing “spontaneous regression” of cancer when in fact the patients made extreme dietary changes very similar to the Gerson diet.

So you pretty much made this up then? Wow, I'm shocked.

@AnObservingParty I like the idea of attending a survivor day event. I'll look it up at my hospital. It's a good suggestion. I really need to see some successes, because I'm honestly losing my faith. It's one thing to read about the side effect of chemo drugs and it's a whole other ball game to see it in your loved ones. I'm just praying for my family friend and for my mother's friend, because at the end of the day, no matter what we do only God knows. My friend is going into chemo this Wednesday and I've been putting on a very brave face and telling her that everything is going to be fine. I'm just going to pray that it is.

@AdamG.
I guess I misrepresented. They're not from the bible (aka JAMA), but peer-reviewed journals nevertheless.

Regression of choriocarcinoma during diet theraphy. Journal of Nutritional Medicine, Sep 1, 1991, Vol. 2, Issue. 4, p411-415, 5p

Foster, HD, Lifestyle influences on spontaneous cancer regression, Int J Biosoc Res, 10:1:17-20, 1988

"There are plenty of studies in medical literature citing “spontaneous regression” of cancer when in fact the patients made extreme dietary changes very similar to the Gerson diet."

Perhaps the chemistry undergrad would like to explain to us just how the Gerson Therapy works;

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/gerson/patient/page2

"....The Gerson therapy is based on the idea that cancer develops when there are changes in cell metabolism because of the buildup of toxic substances in the body. Dr. Gerson said the disease process makes more toxins and the liver becomes overworked. According to Dr. Gerson, people with cancer also have too much sodium and too little potassium in the cells in their bodies, which causes tissue damage and weakened organs.

The goal of the Gerson therapy is to restore the body to health by repairing the liver and returning the metabolism to its normal state. According to Dr. Gerson, this can be done by removing toxins from the body and building up the immune system with diet and supplements. The enemas are said to widen the bile ducts of the liver so toxins can be released. According to Dr. Gerson, the liver is further overworked as the treatment regimen breaks down cancer cells and rids the body of toxins. Pancreatic enzymes are given to decrease the demands on the weakened liver and pancreas to make enzymes for digestion. An organic diet and nutritional supplements are used to boost the immune system and support the body as the regimen cleans the body of toxins. Foods low in sodium and high in potassium are said to help correct the tissue damage caused by having too much sodium in the cells..."

Here's the problem with personal stories-
esp when they're about people we know -
they're emotionally loaded and we may wind up giving more weight to their significance IRT estimating general rules about treatments' efficacy than to those about people we don't know. One person knows of three cases with awful outcomes, another has three cases with much better results- still, that's only a minuscule sample.

That's why it's important to look *dispassionately* at DATA- a collection of myriad personal 'stories' controlled for cognitve biases as well as the many vicissitudes of illness and treatment: the measures are applied and recorded by people who DON'T have an emotional relationship to the patient ; outcomes are not based on what someone feels but upon measurable events for the most part ( altho' 'quality of life" may be used surveyed).

Research is a way for anyone- including physicians who actually work with people- to go beyond one's own personal experience into the realm of *populations*-
we know that large samples will more nearly approximate what transpires in 'reality' because at some point, sample size hypothetically increases enough to include ALL of the population being studied.

Thus if you want to know about a group of patients who are diagnosed with a specific type of cancer, you need to look at research which includes a very large sample and examines different stages, differing groups of patients as well as diverse variables that could conceivably affect outcomes as well as variables which might be implicated in causation. All of which necessitates LARGE NUMBERS of subjects.

One of the major flaws in altmed proselytisation ( perhaps by design) is reliance upon stories, testimonies and the limited experience of specific, single providers / observers. That's why these proponents ALWAYS scoff at SBM's methods- because large and repeated studies hint at reality whereas small samples and n-1 stories never will.

First Rule of Woo:
get your audience to doubt the valiidity of large trials and consensus information, Keep them AWAY from the data.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 09 Dec 2013 #permalink

the first article is actually from the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental medicine, and it certainly isn't JAMA or the equivalent--isn't indexed onPubmed.

It's a case report describing a single 31-year old patient who'd had previosuly undergone chemotherapy, and reports only that a biomarker (beta HCG) became stable and remained stable for a year after opting for a dieatary alt med regimen. Hardly strong evidence that the diet chosen (Soemthing called a Moerman diet) is effective treatment for choriocarcinoma.

The second journal similarly isn't indexed on Pubmed, and author Harold D.Foster is a Geologist, not a phsyician, who believes AIDS; Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer's and Schizophrenia are all caused by improper diets

For example, his book What Really Causes AIDS?

"[P]roves that while HIV plays an important role in the causation of AIDS, it is only one factor, and perhaps least important, since it only attacks in the absence of the essential components of glutathione peroxidase, especially selenium, the key variable. Much as the addition of niacinamide in 1942 to white flour by the US government eradicated pellagra from the South East United States, so will the addition of selenium to our staple foods lead to the eradication of AIDS. The virus may still spread and attack, but in the presence of ample amounts of selenium and three amino acids in the body it will do little harm."

I have to believe that you never actually examined either citation yourself before offering them, or you would not have cited Foster to support your position--he goes beyond simply failing to be evidence that dietary changes are effective treatments for cancers to bringing the crazy home big time.

Obvious blockquote fail should be obvious (I hope)

@Jenny

I like the idea of attending a survivor day event. I’ll look it up at my hospital. It’s a good suggestion. I really need to see some successes, because I’m honestly losing my faith.

Please do, from a center who uses evidence-based treatment. Nobody is saying chemo is a picnic, but it has been shown to work. Two people who both survived long-term on the same regimen may even have different impressions of how the chemo was, because as Denice said in #255, experiences are emotionally charged, whether we see them from the inside or the outside. That's why we look at the data, rather than the anecdotes.

Something else, The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, gives a decent background of cancer treatments for the masses. He's a hematologist and writes a biography of treatments and non-treatments, and is very uplifting when he discusses just how far the science has come for being as efficient as possible.

By AnObservingParty (not verified) on 09 Dec 2013 #permalink

Jenny: "I’m only voicing my personal thoughts on the subject here. I would never suggest anything other than the standard route to anyone." (followed by a dubious journal citation involving a single patient whose choriocarcinoma supposedly regressed during "diet therapy").

Seeing that uterine choriocarcinoma is a an aggressive disease with high metastatic potential (but which is extremely chemotherapy-sensitive and curable in 90-95% of cases), it is extremely irresponsible to promote "diet therapy" when a good life-saving treatment is available.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 09 Dec 2013 #permalink

the first article is actually from the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental medicine

It looks like it was the Journal of Nutrional Medicine when the article was published, but changed to its current name in 1995.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 09 Dec 2013 #permalink

jenny,

I know a few doctors and nurses that have switched to plant based diets to treat their type II diabetes and cholesterol, but they can’t really recommend diet to patients and many patients are not willing to make major lifestyle changes.

Have you ever actually gone to a doctor? Or at least talked to someone who has? "They can't really recommend diet to patients"? Doctors recommend better diets to patients all the time. Of course, it is in fact true that "many patients are not willing to make major lifestyle changes", which may, you know, explain why something like the Gerson protocol -- which is astonishingly difficult, grueling, and time-consuming -- would be unlikely to be used even if it worked, which it doesn't.

I guess if you want to test me on immunology I’ll list the 5 basic leukocytes (aka while blood cells) : Let’s see, let me pull out my immuno book: we have lymphocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils.

(...must not snark...must not snark...)

I don't think I've ever *not* been told to eat better and lose weight by a doctor.

I'm always amazed by people like jenny, who pronounce so confidently that doctors can't do this and must do that in talking to patients, when anyone who's actually been a patient knows that nothing could be further from the truth. And she claims to be a medical student? Let's just say that I think she needs some practical clinical experience.

jenny@216:
I’m not ignorant on the subject. I’m a medical student. Most of the drugs used today for chemotherapy are derivatives of pesticides and other chemicals.

jenny @234:
I’ll mention one drug used on my aunt for her lung cancer carboplatin (Paraplatin)- cis-Diammine(1,1-cyclobutanedicarboxylato)platinum(II)

This might be a good time to tell us which pesticide gave rise to the whole Cisplatin family of chemo drugs.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Dec 2013 #permalink

jenny

I know a few doctors and nurses that have switched to plant based diets to treat their type II diabetes and cholesterol, but they can’t really recommend diet to patients and many patients are not willing to make major lifestyle changes.

I am sure the paleo diet crowd also have their share of anecdotes about treating type II diabetes.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 10 Dec 2013 #permalink

What a joke! How is Gerson therapy "death from quackery," when dying from chemo (much more prevalent), is not? Are you insane?

@robert

[citation needed] for your claims.

Also, how in the world is putting coffee up one's bum supposed to help? Unless, of course, you're just a sadist who enjoys doing that.

@Robert,

Do you have anything of substance to say? Something which wouldn't show your total ignorance about research protocols and clinical trials or else, your curiosity to learn about these subjects.

Alain

Novalox -- only a sadist would do that to a nice cup of coffee.

WOW I am shocked by your negativity on such an empowering and inspiring young woman! Life is about choices and Jess has made a choice to share her experiences which have changed her life and thousands of others..... it is up to people to research and then make up their own minds. Blaming her mothers death on her is disgusting and unfair! Her family have been through enough and writing these hurtful comments saddens me. I know so many people that have turned their and their families health around from Jess..... Carry on Jess you are an amazing young lady!!!

By Nikki Otto (not verified) on 14 Dec 2013 #permalink

Blaming her mothers death on her is disgusting and unfair!

Well, leaving aside the question who was the more credulous of the two to start with, if the cancer was treatable (you did read the post, right?), she effectively takes credit for it: "She was diagnosed about a year after I started Gerson Therapy, and seeing how much the therapy helped me, she went straight on it herself."

Of course, Jess's story is itself incoherent. On the one hand, her mother "was in pain, lost a lot of weight, lost all energy," yet "she went peacefully and was comfortable with no drugs."

Moreover, she urges other people to persist with this entirely useless "therapy": "I know some of you have cancer and are on Gerson Therapy or you love someone in this position, and I don’t want this news to deter you from believing in what you are doing."

If you're looking for something "disgusting," you need look no further than that last bit.

Nikki @271:

I am not interested in inspiring people to die of curable diseases. "Empowering" sounds good, but like a lot of other personality traits, it is not actually a virtue. Diligence in trying to dig a hole to China with a toy shovel would be sad. The same diligence applied to undermining people's homes with a steam shovel would be a bad thing.

It isn't sufficient to encourage, inspire, or empower people to decide what to do, if you give them no information on which to base that decision. It isn't as simple as deciding you don't want to die of cancer, if you have no idea what actions make you less likely to do so, and no idea of how to find out.

"She has a nice smile" or "she seems so sincere" may be a good basis for asking someone to dance; it's not evidence of medical knowledge or good judgment. Being sincere isn't evidence of being well-informed or having good judgment: different people sincerely believe any number of different things that cannot all be true because they contradict each other.

Another rare left-arm FB photo was uploaded November 10. I can't tell in comparison with the video, but might the hand be an excision scar rather than ulceration?

@Narad

Apparently Jess and Nikki think that evidence to the contrary should not deter someone from believing in nonsense.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 14 Dec 2013 #permalink

I am shocked by your negativity on such an empowering and inspiring young woman!

Positivity and empowerment worked so well for her mother.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 14 Dec 2013 #permalink

@Nikki Otto - Evidence suggests that Jessica Ainscough's choices will lead to an early, painful, and possibly unnecessary death.

If you have evidence to the contrary, please share.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 15 Dec 2013 #permalink

@ Nikki..............WOW I am shocked as well. BUT shocked at how you can defend untested, misguided mumbo jumbo that is the Gerson Therapy.

I agree that Jess is a beautiful, vital woman and I have even taken dietary hints from her site in order to improve my health..... post chemo, surgery and radiation. I even enjoy the daily green juice. BUT I also know Jess is in dangerous territory when she actively preaches to cancer patients telling them to avoid the science based route and opt for natural healing. How on earth is sitting on a toilet 5-6 times a day, taking a truck load of supplements natural?

I don't dispute that people have to make their own choices, but to operate a forum with over such a huge cult like following applauding her bravery and suggesting that her choice can cure cancer is bordering on criminal.

Sadly, its too late for Sharyn but its not too late for some others that are focusing on her blog and taking her advice. This sort of quackery kills!

By Rose Taberner (not verified) on 15 Dec 2013 #permalink

I am a believer in Gerson therapy for many illnesses, but not everything works for everyone the same.
One person goes to Gerson with cancerand they die? And now the treatment is bogus? I have friends who have died from breast cancer and the "traditional therapy" so, are the Doctors that administer chemo, rad and other dangerous treatments, all fraudulant criminals? Please. get a grip! Cancer drugs are big business out there. Stop slandering Gerson!!! There are many folks who have been helped by Gerson, but I see that no where in this one-sided, closed minded and shut down post. I cannot believe this. Reminds me of a bunch of old hens trying to tear someone to shreds

Janet - Gerson therapy is considered bogus because there is insufficient data that shows it provides any useful benefit and because of evidence that it can be harmful. If you have high quality evidence to the contrary, please share.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 26 Dec 2013 #permalink

@Janet - people do get sick and die all the time - the difference between the quack Gerson & conventional therapies is that we know that conventional therapies can be extremely effective, because there is actual evidence....something that Gerson has never had.

Fortunately it is not necessary to be a "believer" in mainstream medical treatments which have been shown to work by research studies and good clinical followup.

"not everything works for everyone the same"

...is the standard altie excuse when quackery is ineffective. We are not all unique little snowflakes; evidence-based therapy proves itself in large populations.

If you'd like more evidence that Gerson-style therapy is useless and harmful, here's what happened when pancreatic cancer patients were enrolled in a study comparing mainstream therapy with Nicholas Gonzalez's Gerson-inspired supplements and coffee enemas - the Gonzalez group died more quickly and with significantly worse quality of life.

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/09/14/the-gonzalez-protocol-wors…

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 27 Dec 2013 #permalink

Stop slandering Gerson!!!

"Libeling," Janet. And truth is an absolute defense to claims of libel.

Reminds me of a bunch of old hens trying to tear someone to shreds

Better an old hen than a gull.

Wow. From the vast majority of comments bashing Jessica, I'm not only incredibly embarrassed by society today but also amazed at your ignorance. Having both of my parents within 2 years of one another both get stage IV cancer, I watched my father go the traditional route because that's what he wanted to do. Within 3 months of diagnosis, he was gone. My mother chose Gerson two years later when she was diagnosed. I helped her with the therapy for 2 years. Along with Gerson, she did a few other alternative things but she STUCK with Gerson 100%. She did not do ANYTHING conventional. No radiation, no chemo, not even an Advil. She had stage IV bone cancer with no pain solely from juicing and changing her eating. A few months ago, we found out that her cancer is gone. Might it come back? Sure. We live in a pretty toxic world but she did exactly what she wanted to do. Just like Jessica's mom did exactly what she wanted to do. Shit, we ALL do what we want to do. After watching both of my parents struggle with death, I will always pick nutrition over medicine. Guaranteed. Each one of us is different. What works for one may not work for another. Every one needs to do what they think is best for themselves. All of you saying how green juices are ridiculous, essentially saying that Jessica "killed" her mother, that all of this is quackery, you need to get a life. People get so butthurt when others try new things, when someone changes their diet, when anybody tries to do ANYTHING different. What a disgusting article to read and a disgusting slew of comments (with the exception of a few). I'm surprised there's actually people that still think like this.

" People get so butthurt when others try new things"

Since when is Gerson "new"? Gerson himself died in 1959, surely in the last sixty years of his protocol there would be some evidence. And the pain in the butt must be from the coffee enemas.

Could someone provide us with the scientific relevance and data that taking coffee up the bum is effective? This is the part of the Gerson protocol that baffles me the most.

@Chris - unfortunately, with quacks "everything old is new again."

@Chris Oh sweetie, sorry for the miscommunication, I wasn't referring to the Gerson as being new. I'm saying people get so uncomfortable (kind of like your response) when others do things that they are unfamiliar with. You guys sound like the quacks. If you want to pick apart another piece of what I said, feel free.

@ Lee - 2 questions.
Your mother didn't have chemo, radiation or an Advil. Did she have any surgery?
If you were diagnosed with an aggressive type cancer and had targeted scientifically proven therapy (not chemo) that had statistics available of its effectiveness available to you, would you consider it? Keep in mind that 2 years, even 1 year of Gerson would be too long due to the agressivness.

By Eose Taberner (not verified) on 27 Dec 2013 #permalink

@Lee - doing something that is unfamiliar, versus doing something that has been shown to have no supporting evidence is two different things.

" Each one of us is different. What works for one may not work for another."

Ah, someone else who religiously reads the altie playbook.

What this meme translates to for altie devotees is "Keep trying one useless remedy after another while your cancer has a chance to further invade and metastasize. We're all different, one of these products might work someday if you're not dead, dead broke, or both."

According to the American Cancer Society:

"The Gerson Institute estimates the start-up cost and the first month or so of home treatment to be over $2000 to $4,000 for equipment, supplies, supplements, organic foods, etc., depending on the type of equipment purchased. Given the frequency and involvement of the juicing, meals, enemas, etc., most people will need help with shopping and preparation. In addition, the Gerson Institute recommends buying a second refrigerator to store the produce."

Add in costs for Gerson clinic treatment (can be over $5,500 _per week_, not including expenses for travel and stay in Tijuana or Hungary), and we're looking at lots of money wasted on quackery.

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementarya…

And no, your anecdote about an alleged Gerson cure is not evidence of anything but human gullibility.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 27 Dec 2013 #permalink

Lee,
Most of the commenters here are all too familiar with Gerson's methods. The only objections I have are:

a) as I pointed out at #57 above it doesn't work, even according to their own numbers,

b) it can distract people from getting life-saving treatment and

c) it can ruin the last few months of a person's life. As someone else pointed out, a clinical trial of the Gonzalez protocol which is more or less identical to Gerson's, found that not only did those on chemotherapy live longer, but they had a better quality of life.

I pity those poor people who spent the last months of their lives juicing, cleaning their juicer, popping pills and having coffee enemas, in a desperate attempt to defeat the inevitable. I would prefer to be told I only had a few months, given effective palliative care and to spend those months with my loved ones, not cleaning a juicer and enduring countless enemas.

You said your mother's Stage IV bone cancer was cured using Gerson therapy. I find this very hard to believe. What type of bone cancer was it, and how was it diagnosed? Where had it spread to (metastasis is the definition of Stage IV)? Have these tumors also gone? How do you know the cancer has gone, particularly the metastases?

If you can't answer these questions I don't think you should be spreading information that could encourage people to make very foolish decisions about their health. There are many testimonials like yours around, but in almost every case we find that either the patient may not have had cancer in the first place, or they had conventional treatment which may have been effective, or there is no good evidence their cancer is gone, so there is no good reason to think the alternative treatment they had did any good.

You wrote, "She did not do ANYTHING conventional", but did your mother have surgery? We often see people who have surgery and refuse radio and chemotherapy, using alternative treatments instead. What they don't realize is that surgery is the most important part of conventional treatment, and the other therapies contribute relatively little to its success.

I’m surprised there’s actually people that still think like this.

I'm surprised and saddened that in the 21st century there are still people who reject science based medicine, despite its many astonishing successes. Why rely instead on a treatment that we have no reason to believe will be of any help at all? In 1975 two thirds of people diagnosed with bone cancer were dead five years later, today two thirds pf those diagnosed are still alive after five years. That doubling in survival is because of science based medicine; it certainly isn't through eliminating imaginary toxins, drinking gallons of vegetable juices, swallowing handfuls of enzymes that get destroyed by the digestive system and squirting coffee up people's rectums..

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 27 Dec 2013 #permalink

Could someone provide us with the scientific relevance and data that taking coffee up the bum is effective? This is the part of the Gerson protocol that baffles me the most

I think it has to do with coffee stimulating the gall bladder or the intestinal tract to excrete Teh Ebil Toxins. Coffee enemas were also mentioned in the Merck Manual many years ago. What more proof does anyone need?

The thing I find ludicrous is "juicing". What does "juicing" do besides getting rid of fibre and nutrients? You might as well claim that white bread cures cancer.

Lee does not seem to be aware that "cancer" is not a single disease. There are stage 4 cancers that are lethal in months, no matter what treaments are given. There are others that will progress very slowly or not at all for years without treatment (low grade lymphoma, smoldering myeloma, low grade prostate cancer for example). What type of cancer is he talking about here?

I guess you could sum up Lee's advice for cancer patients as: "Shoulda had a V8 - and a coffee enema."

Lee: " I’m saying people get so uncomfortable (kind of like your response) when others do things that they are unfamiliar with."

Oh, sweetie Lee, you may notice that this is blog run by a surgical oncologist who has been writing about cancer treatments for almost a decade (see his former blog home http://oracknows.blogspot.com/ ). I have asked many proponents of Gerson/Gonzalez many times what are the benefits of pushing coffee up their bum, and none have answered with sufficient science.

It gets even more baffling after reading Gulp by Mary Roach. She writes that actually very little nutrient value is absorbed anally, though some does happen. It is just a waste of good coffee.

Sure the Merck manual mentioned it years ago. But like all science, things change when you get more information. So when further research shows that shoving stuff up the bum does not cause much to absorbed, and that it can cause more harm than good... it gets dropped. Just anything else should be stopped because it is dangerous and ineffectual. Things like bleeding, mustard plasters, etc.

@lee

[citation needed]

@lee

[citation REALLY ****ing needed]

There is now another "wellness warrior" in Australia by the name of Belle Gibson who has supposedly "treating" herself for a rare brain cancer through a natural diet. She started an app call " the whole pantry" and has an even bigger following than Jess. The app itself is going International. What concerns me about Belle is there seems to be very little details about her illness. It would be interesting to hear your take on her. Perhaps, if these natural cures are so miraculous it would be good if Jess or belle would be willing to do an interview?

I'm really fascinated by the assertion, especially the stage IV bone cancer - i.e., how it was staged, etc.

There is a friend of ours who developed pain in several bones and decided she had bone cancer after a few weeks of it. She says she never asked doctors to treat it, because it would have shown she didn't have faith in God. She just fasted and prayed and Jesus took it all away... ~sigh~

TBruce,

What does “juicing” do besides getting rid of fibre and nutrients?

It does enable people to ingest large quantities of antinutrients that have unknown and very probably damaging effects. There are good reasons for humans having cooked food for the past couple of million years.

Fruit juice contains a lot of high GI carbs too, with a high proportion of fructose, which I really don't think is very good for us. For example fructose is converted to triglycerides, unlike glucose, IIRC. I don't understand why some people think that a huge dose of sugar is OK in a juice, but deadly in a candy bar. Or why a baked potato is considered so much healthier than sugar, when it has a higher GI, for that matter.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 28 Dec 2013 #permalink

It gets even more baffling after reading Gulp by Mary Roach. She writes that actually very little nutrient value is absorbed anally, though some does happen.

I bought the Frau Doktorin a copy of Gulp for $mas. I am looking forward to reading it myself.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 28 Dec 2013 #permalink

Herr Doktor

Be advised that Gulp starts slow, but picks up. Don't give up until after 3 or 4 chapters. In fact, as I remember, you could skip the first 2 chapters and not miss a lot.

@Chris in #248

Thank you for your winter break reading suggestion to Jenny of The Emperor of All Maladies. Definitely not light reading, but it's been quite the education.

(Blast not having a preview function! I think I figured out how to properly format comments, but I suppose we'll find out as soon as I hit 'submit'.)

By Maned Wolf (not verified) on 01 Jan 2014 #permalink

People are so quick to stick their nose in other peoples business. Free will is a luxury most of us enjoy in Australia/America... it is our decision as individual to do with our body what we like.. weather that be squirting coffee up our arse, in our ears, mouths or nose..doesn't matter really its our choice!. Why don't people who are making judgements on jess and her mothers decisions forget about it and focus on your own health?

By sophie shepherd (not verified) on 05 Jan 2014 #permalink

Why don’t people who are making judgements on jess and her mothers decisions forget about it and focus on your own health?

Why doesn't Jess focus on her own health instead of peddling false hope to the uninformed?

@sophie

Simple, because the pseudoscientific and false information that she spreads is liable to cause someone to die from something that can be treatable with proven treatments.

Also, since she is the one peddling this nonsense, we have to right to speak out against this nonsense.

Unless of course, you're one of those nutters who believe that speaking against pseudoscience and nonsense should be censored.

Ms. Shepard, would you prefer the Interne and World Wide Web be limited in Australia/America (wherever that is)?

@Ms. Shepard, I am all for a lack of censorship & "freedom of Health choice" but it seems very much to me that Ms. Ainscough is quite intent on "converting" as many people as possible to her way of life - particularly so if they just happen to purchase items of dubious provenance & quasi-medical usefulness via her website.
She is doing this from behind the ethically reprehensible shield of "being a Cancer victim": behold all of her activity seems to gone ahead with nary a word of concern from the Australian media. Indeed, too many of them seem to court her appearances "shilling her wares" - for example Channel 7 in Queensland & their irresponsible "interview" on "The Great South East" where she was allowed to rant, unchallenged, straight to camera for around 10 minutes about how she had "cured her cancer" in front of a "Health Food Store" (which I'm pretty sure she must have a fiscal interest in*).

This particular TV appearance notwithstanding, I hope I don't have to spell out how dangerous allowing people to promote their pet quackery on the Internet, complete with a swathe of products to use at home could potentially be to the most vulnerable members of society.

*I could, of course, be mistaken...

By AntipodeanChic (not verified) on 05 Jan 2014 #permalink

How can anyone, ANYONE claim with a straight face that carrying out a 'coffee enema' is a legitimate therapy? Honestly, how CAN they? A coffee enema... The sheer juvenility is astounding.

And then this bullshit argument from antiquity... How exactly were out 'ancestors' - at least the western Europeans among us - even going to come by coffee to introduce to their anus?

People certainly have a right to choose this for themselves. Other people have the same right to campaign against this pretentious madness.

By Gemman Aster (not verified) on 08 Jan 2014 #permalink

I have seen Jessica several times in person and her arm is definitely getting worse.

Thank you so much for the fascinating blog!

I am currently 1/3 of the way through my chemo treatment - Carboplatin (was excited to see the shout out above!), Docetaxel, with some Herceptin on the side, which is the chemo I chose for myself - with my oncologist's approval, of course. I'm sure I don't need to tell anyone here what type of cancer I had.
I say had, because I had a lumpectomy with clear margins, nodes were cancer-free, and my PET scan was clear. I'm aware this is not a guarantee.
Chemo was not an easy decision, and one which I was on the fence about for some time. This blog entry along with the "Chris Beat Cancer" one has helped me feel 100% confident in my choice, and for that I am very, very grateful. Thank you, Orac!!!

It's saddening that the people challenging this blog can't even form proper sentences or spell words correctly. It takes the excitement out of their attempted debate. Doesn't it bother anyone else? Or was it useless to even mention?

I browsed around Jessica Ainscough's blog, and found this gem:

"What about mastectomies?
I’m so shocked to read about women who actually have their breasts removed as a preventative measure against breast cancer. And so many other women are saying that they would do the same thing if breast cancer ran in their family. As a result of mammograms and MRI’s, many women, with the advice and consent of their doctors, opt to have radical mastectomies, which involve removal of one or both breasts along with underlying muscle tissue and lymph nodes under the arm. Gosh. Not only is it extreme mutilation but, again, it is unnecessary.

A study of 1,851 women at the University of Pittsburgh found that having a mastectomy would barely improve chances of survival. According to researchers, survival does not depend on such surgery because breast cancer is fundamentally a systemic disease, not one that simply spreads from an initial site. Duh!

So here’s my idea. Why not raise awareness of the real causes and ways to prevent cancer. Sure, these methods may not be as lucrative as the conventional treatment as it stands today, but they will save a heck of a lot more lives. These include exercise, detoxifying your liver, eating an organic plant-based diet, achieving alkalinity in your body, meditation and relaxation. These methods are not only free (except for food, but everyone has to eat anyway right?) but they will not impinge on your quality of life at all. They will actually improve it. So let’s raise money for appropriate charities like the Gerson Institute and the Gawler Foundation and host Girl’s Nights In where we indulge in healthy food, organic teas and fresh organic veggie juices. That is what Breast Cancer Awareness Month should be about."

Did I mention I am BRCA1 as well as BRCA2?
Even though the BRCA2 mutation I have has no known risks associated with cancer, what are the odds? I should be winning the lottery any day now, right?

Obviously the plan for me is a bilateral mastectomy (not radical). I am 30 years old, and a few months ago could have easily fallen prey to Jessica's blog (thank goodness I didn't see it then!), in the confusion and time-constrained panic to make treatment choices. I am someone who rarely takes a painkiller; accepting chemo was a challenge. It terrifies me that there might be other girls like me out there, less inclined to research aspects of their disease, and more susceptible to regarding her blog as truth.

I wrote a post underneath, essentially asking for advice, genuinely concerned if she would actually advise someone who is BRCA1 and BRCA2 to NOT get a bilateral mastectomy at age 30, with already one cancer occurrence under her belt.

I have seen 2 people post in the comments on Jessica's blog that their mothers have passed after doing Gerson's for breast cancer as well.

It's all so mind-blowingly frustrating! For me, anyway...

Thank you again for the fantastic read!

this bullsh1t argument from antiquity

If Spike Milligan is to be believed, the bullsh1t is a time-honoured Ayurvedic treatment for baldness, though turmeric is also part of the recipe.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 08 Jan 2014 #permalink

Ah, well, argument from Montypythoniquity is always valid.

By janerella (not verified) on 08 Jan 2014 #permalink

Or should I say - Gooniquity!!!!!

By janerella (not verified) on 08 Jan 2014 #permalink

Fingers crossed, Amanda.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 09 Jan 2014 #permalink

Best wishes Amanda. I just had a nosey at the wellness warrior site and now I need some brain bleach...

@ Liz
Try some MMS :)

@ Renate, in order for it to reach my brain, do I administer it to my ears or do I snort it? Or are we talking eyeballing (where you do shots via your eyes rather than drinking them...and end up blind the next day.) :p

Thanks guys :)

Lisa, I'm sure somehow administering it rectally would be the ideal option, if this thread has taught you anything.

Liz! Autocorrect massive fail, sorry.

Sadly I really can't see Jessica lasting much longer. Here is a photo of her recently at a launch for an organic cafe notice her arm. The man she is talking to is from foodmatters. Another beacon of absolute nonsense. Her arm is now rapidly getting worse. In public she is quite shy about it and covers it but this is much much worse than it was even 6 months ago, she still attributes the damage to chemo but that line is getting hard to use now. I really really wish she would see reason. Although it doesn't excuse her damage she is actually a very nice person but she needs rescuing from her own self assembled cheer squad and her own ideology.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=357669094377574&set=pb.14401507…

@Amanda - best wishes on the fight! Lots of cancer in my family, and my mother's sister is a breast cancer survivor (mother passed of lymphoma in the 70s). I'm astonished at how much better cancer treatment is currently, and grateful for this blog, as well. Not only does it give me numerical data about some 'alternatives,' it, plus witnessing first hand cancer success stories in recent years gives me a lot more hope for a positive outcome if I am ever diagnosed.

@Tom - thank you. That photo does look much worse...

Thanks Mrs Woo! My grandma is a 25 year IBC survivor - sans BRCA, believe it or not.

Thanks for your comment Warren. As we can see from the 325 so far comments this is a very emotive topic. Can we bridge the great chasm that separates conventional medicines from alternative or even CAM?
As usual we humans often have the same goals but differ on the methods of achieving them. I’m assuming we all wish to prevent or heal from cancer but many of us are dismissive to those with differing points of view.
I'm guilty of that. I had organic farms, extremes diets, spent decades in Oregon where the 'consensus reality' supported ‘natural medicines’ and slammed ‘big bad pharma.’
That changed after working alongside Grace Gawler at her institute. As I said in my last comment (Dec 1) most of our new patients had tried all the latest ‘natural’ diets and supplement regimes. We never observed any notable slowing of tumour progression despite the time and money they had spent.
I had to change my views faced with such overwhelming evidence.
One German doctor we work with said recently...”Nobody should give cancer healing advice unless they are prepared to be responsible for the person they are advising. Will they look after them if the advice fails to work – pay their medical bills - look after their children – help pay their expenses?
Another doctor said... “It troubled him to see cancer patients experimenting with their one precious life, based on what a friend told them or they had read from a cancer entrepreneur whose credentials were questionable.”
A study by BR Cassileth et al (from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in NY) supports what I have observed in hundreds of patients and what Grace has observed in thousands patients she has worked with in her 40-yrs of cancer service. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12565991
My personal story shows we can hold strong beliefs about cancer healing and ‘proselytise’ same without medical training or the experience gained from working with cancer patients.
When my beliefs did not hold up working at the cancer coalface with Grace, I had to adapt and examine my long held and deeply cherished assumptions.
Upon closer examination, the miracle cancer cure stories that sound too good to be true are just that – too good to be true. This was the case with Australia’s most famous cancer patient – Ian Gawler.
Based on what I’ve witnessed it will be the case with Jessica Ainscough. It will be the case with the raw vegan marathon runner whose breast cancer was likely cured by surgery and removal of her ovaries. Like Ainscough and Gawler she too has written a book about her cancer cure – Raw Can Cure Cancer
I rest my case.

By pip cornall (not verified) on 12 Jan 2014 #permalink