When alternative medicine cancer cures fail, it's always the patient's fault. Always.

After a trilogy of posts on the lamentably bad decision on the part of the Tribeca Film Festival to screen a pseudoscience- and misinformation-filled documentary by hero to the antivaccine movement, Andrew Wakefield, that is basically one long conspiracy theory, I thought it was time for a change. I had briefly toyed with the idea of having some fun with the flying monkeys (a.k.a. antivaccine commenters) who've descended upon the Tribeca Film Festival entry for the documentary, but, as of this writing, the total number of comments is over 1,700 and it wouldn't surprise me if it were over 2,000 by the time this post goes live. On the plus side, the crazies are truly out in force, including John Scudamore, the man responsible for Whale.to, one of the oldest and largest repositories of pseudoscience and quackery on the whole Interent. That, and Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism in the form of that old anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. (Indeed, those of us of the pro-science hope that Mr. Scudamore will continue to post, given how outright loony and anti-Semitic he is.)

Instead, I managed to resist one more dip in the well (at least for now and at least until there is a new development worth writing about) and instead move on to a topic slightly less depressing. OK, it's not less depressing; it's just depressing in a different way.

So let's talk about cancer. Not specifically about cancer per se, but rather about cancer quackery. It's a frequent topic of this blog, one with which regular readers have become quite familiar. Be it Nicholas Gonzalez' quackery, the Gerson protocol, Stanislaw Burzynski's antineoplastons, the Hoxsey treatment, or any of dozens of other treatments that claim to be able to cure cancer, they all share one thing in common: The promise far more than they can ever deliver, given that they are based on pseudoscience and/or prescientific ideas of how cancer develops. Another thing they share in common is the reliance on testimonials rather than science as "evidence" of their effectiveness. Finally, given that these treatments don't work, they all have to share something else. Specifically, they all have ready-made excuses for when they don't work and the tumor progresses or the patient dies.

These excuses were on display in perhaps one of the most despicably concise lists of the most common excuses used by quacks when their treatments inevitably fail. Not surprisingly, this list appears on that one of many wretched hives of scum and quackery in the world of antivaccinationism and pseudoscience, Mike Adams' NaturalNews.com in the form of an article by Paul Fassa entitled Seven reasons why natural cancer remedies sometimes fail. After trotting out the usual cancer quack claim that oncologists hide that cancer patients die from the chemotherapy rather than their disease, Fassa proclaims:

On the other hand, those who seek alternative methods of dealing with cancer have a much greater chance of surviving cancer without any adverse reactions or side effects. As an old saying went: with herbal medicine, the disease can kill you; but with allopathic (mainstream) medicine, the treatment can kill you.

But sometimes the cancer survival rate drops from 80-plus percent with alternative natural means to 50 percent or lower. Here's why.

First of all, it is a lie, plain and simple, that those who choose alternative methods fo treating cancer instead of science-based medicine are more likely to survive. Certainly, it's delusional to claim that more than 80% of patients choosing alternative treatments survive. Indeed, alternative medicine is associated, more than anything else, with worse survival or delays in treatment that necessitate more radical treatments to have a reasonable hope of a cure. Indeed, alternative medicine is associated with cancer progression and potentially preventable deaths that are quite often unnecessary.

So what are the excuses reasons excuses that Fassa comes up with for when alternative medicine doesn't work? I bet you can predict what the first one will be. it's one we hear time and time again:

(1) Rushing into mainstream treatments first. When diagnosed with any type of cancer, patients are pressured into starting treatments immediately or face imminent death. The types of cancer that are that threatening, such as pancreatic cancer, are beyond repair within mainstream medicine anyway. So why rush?

The prospects of total recovery with natural methods are reduced considerably by mainstream oncology's harsh "heroic interventions." You have time to research what's best for you. If you're clueless or confused about what's out there, try the Cancer Tutor.[1]

That's right. If you decide to undergo conventional therapy first, the woo won't work. Of course, it won't work anyway, but it's very common for cancer quacks to blame failures of their quackery to eliminate cancer or even arrest its growth on the patient's having used chemotherapy or radiation before. It's a classic "blame the victim" technique, a particularly pernicious and despicable ploy, because many patients who are desperate enough to try alternative medicine only do so after they've exhausted conventional treatment. So basically, Fassa is advocating a strategy in which alternative medicine practitioners give patients who've exhausted conventional medicine false hope and then tell them that the reason that hope didn't pan out was because they chose conventional medicine. Basically, if you try an alternative therapy but don't try it first, then it's your fault that you're dying.

Next up:

(2) Not changing to the "cancer diet." All processed foods and beverages should be shunned completely. Organic plant foods should be the dietary staples. One should also stop eating meat, for the most part, especially red and processed meats. Refined sugar and refined carbohydrates create the perfect food for cancer cells' survival.[2]

This is the fallacy of "food as medicine." Basically, although there is no doubt that certain dietary elements can increase or decrease the risk of cancer, once you already have cancer there's little evidence that diet has much impact on its progression. The best advice for cancer patients is to eat a balanced diet with adequate calories to supply the energy they need to fight the cancer.

Of course, there's another aspect to this bit of advice as well. Many cancer patients, particularly those with advanced cancer, can't adhere to the sorts of special "cancer diets" that quacks recommend. It's not their fault, and quacks are often notably silent about what these patients should do.

I'm going to combine #3 and #6 because it shows you how self-contradictory these excuses can be:

(3) Going it alone with only one protocol. The Cancer Tutor recommends three protocols (including diet) if one doesn't go to a clinic that specializes in natural healing, such as the Gerson Clinic, Bio-Medical Clinic, or others in Mexico or Europe. But some manage with only one therapy if they're on a cancer diet.

(6) Mixing protocols. Cancer patients who use cannabis oils are often guilty of this. They tend to look at cannabis' incredible healing powers as a silver bullet and ignore changing their diets, usually continuing to consume junk food with lots of sugar. Then they panic and jump into chemo or radiation in addition to using cannabis oil.

So wait a minute. It's bad to use only one protocol; so you should use different forms of quackery together. But then it's bad to "mix protocols." But isn't combining protocols "mixing protocols"? Eating junk food isn't exactly a protocol either. So isn't smoking weed and eating junk food actually "going it alone with one protocol"? I know, I know. It's only bad to "mix protocols" if one of those protocols happens to be conventional cancer therapy of some kind. Otherwise, mix away!

Here's another "blame the victim" excuse, very similar to #1:

(4) Not following the protocol exactly. The Budwig Diet prohibits using laetrile, an effective therapy by itself. But it allows the natural source of laetrile, apricot seed kernels. The Budwig Diet guide[3] should be followed.

While in France, Dr. Max Gerson was mystified by the lack of progress with some of his patients. He discovered that an assistant was sneaking pastries to them with lots of sugar and refined carbohydrates that helped cancer cells survive and sabotaged his dietary approach.

Essiac tea was recommended to a friend whose dad had cancer. She said he had tried it and it didn't work. Of course, he had never changed his diet and he used over-the-counter Essiac tea, which is worthless. Only a few online providers provide the best Rene Caisse-approved herbs for you to brew Essiac yourself. Here's one.

Of course, this story about Max Gerson might well be apocryphal, but the fact that Fassa tells it tells me a lot. It tells me that even Gerson was blaming the victim when his patients didn't do well. Of course, notice what is left out of this story. It's rather obvious. Fassa doesn't tell us whether Gerson's patients did well after they were blocked from consuming the evil sugar. Then there's the story of Essiac tea. Notice that it has to be only a special Essiac tea provided by a select few quacks and you have to change your diet, or it won't work. Of course, it won't work anyway, but there's always an excuse. For instance, as in #5, you didn't "detox" sufficiently. Or, as in #7, you didn't take care of the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspect of healing.

After at least 15 years of looking at alternative cancer cure claims, onething I've learned is this. Whenever these "cures" fail, it's never, ever the quack's fault. It's always the patient's.

Categories

More like this

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. - attributed to Hippocrates Who said anything about medicine? Let's eat! - attributed to one of Hippocrates forgotten (and skeptical) students   Who hasn't seen or heard Hippocrates' famous quote about letting food be your medicine and your…
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.…
The conspiracy deepens. What conspiracy? You ask. Haven't you heard? Big pharma is out killing alternative medicine doctors! Or at least that's what you'll be told if you venture towards the deep dark underbelly of quack websites. Up until now, the most prominent "victim" was autism quack, Jeff…
We get hate mail. Or I do. True, I don't get an inordinate amount of hate mail, but I do get some. A lot of the time, it's rather boring and predictable, which is why I don't often respond to it on the blog, although sometimes against my better judgment I respond by e-mail. That happens less and…

It is not surprising. Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. Strict adherence to procedures is the main feature of magic thinking. If you do not pronounce abracadabra the right way, it does not work. For me, the belief of institutional scientists in the magic power of procedures and methods combined with the misunderstanding of theory is much more worrying.

By Daniel Corcos (not verified) on 25 Mar 2016 #permalink

I'll strongly disagree with the quack on his insistence on not mixing weed and junk food. As far as palliative care goes it might be a winning combo!

I lost count of the number of cancer patients I visited who were all told the same thing: if you received chemo or radiation, the remedy (pau d'arco, Essiac tea, reishi mushroom, and sundry other substances) would be less effective because of the damage to the immune system. When the patients died, it was blamed on the use of conventional therapies, never the failure of the unconventional. For loved ones who dared to convey the lack of benefit to others, there was always someone to tell them that they just used the wrong product; the 'correct' one being whatever the marketer or some gullible soul was led to believe was any better. The relatives who acquired the products then feel guilty. Invited into their homes, one is inevitably faced with an enormous supply of products, enough to fill a large garbage bag, which is usually where they end up. When asked if perhaps they chose the wrong products, all I can do is to assure them that the claims are unfounded and that if anyone should feel guilty, it was whoever promoted them as effective in the first place. Some feel anger, but the majority, still grieving the loss of a loved one, console themselves with the idea that they had fulfilled the wishes of dying relative, regardless of the expense, which ends up in hands of quacks and those who supply them.

By Lighthorse (not verified) on 25 Mar 2016 #permalink

One has to wonder, if all those alternative cures are so wonderful and efficent and so much better than "evil allopathic medicine", why is it so easy to interrupt them. I meach chemo may or may not help any given case, but at least it is dependent on the stage and type of cancer, not on taking into account the spiritual aspect of it.

If the therapy has a long list of things that patient can do wrong and by just leading normal life, it does not sound like the be all end all cure that quacks are trying to sell it as.

But of course seeing the ease if "interrupting" them as a proof of alternatvie therapies being junk is too big of a logica leap....

By The Smith of Lie (not verified) on 25 Mar 2016 #permalink

There is one other important reason why alternative cures fail - and this involves the altie version of what some surgeons refer to as "pi**-poor protoplasm".

Plenty of alt med supporters pride themselves on having "superior immune systems" or are otherwise fantabulous physiologic specimens, never get sick, don't need meds etc.

It's similar to their attitudes on infectious disease - only the weak or genetically inferior are really at risk, so don't compel _our_ children to be vaccinated.

If the Gerson cure didn't work on you, either you ruined your system with processed foods and evidence-based treatments, or you were just too weak and inferior to begin with.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 25 Mar 2016 #permalink

Strict adherence to procedures is the main feature of magic thinking. If you do not pronounce abracadabra the right way, it does not work.

Exactly. Other than the intended result, how do these protocols differ from a rain dance? If you do the dance just so, the rains come. If the rains don't come, you didn't do the dance correctly. We Westerners take pride in having moved beyond rain dances as a means of inducing precipitation, but we haven't really moved that far beyond that point, and in some ways we haven't moved beyond that point at all.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 25 Mar 2016 #permalink

Unfortunately, I know of a public example- a woman who was talked out of using SB cancer therapy and has embarked upon a woo-fraught path. This has been going on at prn.fm for about a year. A former political radio host - from the Caribbean- who continues on that internet outlet had/ has ovarian or uterine
( reportage changes its locus) that was "stage 4" : after surgery, she was told it was too advanced for treatment, given meds and told that her time was very limited.

Instead she chose the protocols of her woo-meister and embarked upon a journey of vegan delights, supplements and exercise. Supposedly she lost 80 lbs and became an ex-diabetic ( couldn't that be cancer?) but is "thriving". I doubt that this can end well and I can imagine how the woo-meister will explain her 'failure'.
AS I've said, this will be public. ( It's also most likely not made up because she has appeared on his show describing her progress a few times).

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Mar 2016 #permalink

It's just so sad. I've mentioned this before, but one of my best friends (who lives in Madison) lost a good friend (through the Vipassana retreat center in Onalaska, WA) to cannabis oil quackery. She was just devastated, and scared, too.

I imagine the Buddha would have had none of this nonsense. He was a pretty smart guy. Heck, if the medics of his day had a better handle on food poisoning*, he could have lived to teach a few more years.

*Historical documents suggest that Siddharta died after eating contaminated food, either pork or some type of mushroom which is named for its similarity to pork.

Both sides err in completely dismissing the other and not learning to choose components eclectically. In my observations, mCRC mets are pretty tough customers. It takes the best of both "worlds" to reverse the cancer biomarkers that otherwise double every 5 weeks, mets that try to sneak in another pathway, and to dissolve radiographic features in bad places, and still generate a party quality life.

Straight cyclic chemo - severe GI distress, disabling neuropathies, blow your WBC, RBC and/or platelets where you'll likely either die from chemo complications or the mets start ignoring $50-60,000 per month of chemistry and you die of cancer complications. hmmm.

Straight natural immune therapies, great quality of life, and the last decile or 1% that you didn't kill (or surgically remove) right off the bat, kills you.

To marry them, everybody hates you. Your altmed MD criticizes the chemo and wants to stop it, the oncologists snicker about everybody, everything not board certified and NCCN/ASCO standard of care. Only at 2-3x published extinction, do they admit they don't have any patients like that. If they're honest.

I haven't heard about essiac tea since the good old days of misc.health.alt! It's worth pointing out that "caisse" is French for cashbox or cashier.

So woo scammer Hulda Regeher Clark died September 3 2009 of multiple myeloma (a blood and bone cancer). However, she claimed that she could cure cancer & many other diseases. Funny that on her deathbed after much suffering, she even blamed herself as a patient & practioner / inventor for not doing the woo treatment correctly or soon enough. I thought I read that a brother of hers also died of a cancer. Not a very good track record. I know people that bought into her zapper, which of course did not work to stop the person's cancer & the cancer victim was also blamed for not using the zapper correctly, then that person's zapper was defective, so here try another one, & then well, you used the working zapper too late. No refund was given for the "defective zapper". No blame by the cancer victim's family ever associated to the zapper being junk & it sits in the person's drawer, probably now needing a new 9 volt battery, waiting, although still not able to not cure cancers etc.. There must be some psychological illness that controls these bizarre beliefs

http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Cancer/clark.html

"Only a few online providers provide the best Rene Caisse-approved herbs for you to brew Essiac yourself."
If only there were some kind of agency that could monitor medicinal product suppliers and tell us which products were safe and effective.

prn, you clearly know little about the state of modern cancer treatment. " [C]ancer biomarkers that otherwise double every 5 weeks" would imply a cancer with a doubling time of 5 weeks, in other words highly aggressive disease. Anyone familiar with the natural history of cancers knows that the most aggressive cancers are the ones most likely to respond dramatically to treatment before they come roaring back. If you think any of the alternative "therapies" can fix that then publish your paper.
I can't say which meds and what protocols you are referencing when you state "you’ll likely either die from chemo complications..." after listing some side effects. You obviously are not aware of the great strides made in ameliorating/eliminating some of those side effects. Such things as bone marrow transplantation, colony-stimulating factors, more effective anti-nausea drugs, regimens changed to reduce the dosages of chemo drugs, various kinds of rescue interventions, more targeted drug delivery modes, and more have come along since your picture of chemotherapy side effects was crayoned (I won't say painted.). I'm not saying it's all a picnic today, but even thirty years ago I saw patients undergo treatment with some of these changes in place sail smoothly through what a few months before would have been an ordeal at best.
All the alternative alleged treatments have one thing in common: they are all based on outmoded or sometimes bizarre premises about cancer specifically and about physiology and biology in general. I devoutly hope that for the sake of the public that you are not in a medical profession.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 25 Mar 2016 #permalink

#9 a-non
Woo hardly starts to describe it. That boy looks like a dangerous idiot.

I do, however, like the castor oil packs that Edgar Cayce recommended. Nothing like having the assurance of a top-notch, albeit deceased psychic vouching for a treatment.

I believe castor oil was used in WWI airplane engines too.

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 25 Mar 2016 #permalink

#15 jrkrideau

It's still used in model airplane glow engines that use a mixture of nitromethane and castor oil fuel.

jrkrideau, it was used in those planes as a lubricant. The pilot would get its fumes in his face with an effect similar to ingesting it.
Pilots of the Royal Flying Corps claimed that the best antidote was raspberry brandy. Placebo or not, at least it did something useful.
Folk medicine at its best.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 25 Mar 2016 #permalink

Castor oil, no.

On the other hand The Jimmy Castor Bunch will cure whatever ails you: https://youtu.be/Z5ekjL9-uWc?t=12s

And if it doesn't, yes, the Funk deficit is your own damn fault.

I've seen what happens when alternative medicine and New Thought spirituality team up. They'll still claim that there's sufficient 'scientific' evidence that alternative medicine works -- but if faced with too much disagreement they flip happily into the idea that we create our own reality. There is no so-called 'material' so-called 'world.' It's all Consciousness and Intention. Truth is whatever you believe it is -- and therefore alternative medicine works if and only if you think it will.

If it didn't work, then you failed to believe hard enough, your hope and faith were weak. Although that may sound like 'blaming the victim,' it's not because this is 'Spirituality' and therefore there is no judgement on anyone. *

It's a whole 'nother level of mind f*ck.

*(Except for mainstream medicine and the pharmaceutical companies, which are run by Evil.)

Paul Fassa is dedicated to warning others about the current corruption of food and medicine and guiding them towards direction for better health with no restrictions on health freedom.

Fassa writes for "realfarmacy.com", a site so packed with mendacity and shrieking lunacy as to be widely mistaken for satire:
http://realorsatire.com/realfarmacy-com/

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 25 Mar 2016 #permalink

guiding them towards direction for better health

Yet more evidence against the odd notion that woo-ists tend to have majored in English.

prn, you clearly know little about the state of modern cancer treatment.
You make me laugh. Actually I intensively read the literature for myself, with different focus and goals. I've followed a lot of smart, motivated patients' global experience with MSM and their aggressive efforts. There is lot of important literature that I see oncologists often aren't familiar with, better technology or inexpensive opportunities. I see mCRC acquaintences, doctorates from HYPS schools or pharma researchers etc, start high with their hopes about putative superiority of insured MSM protocols and trials. They die hard despite much better starting prognosis, only attenuated with the doping by hospice. Their prime extensions of life for "overtime", are in fact, with CAM maybe combined with things considered aggressive for MSM.

...before they come roaring back. If you think any of the alternative “therapies” can fix that then publish your paper.
No successful roars, despite the attempt. Actually I've got several behests, but the previous oncologists and places like this make me question if it is worth the effort in time, costs, and flak.

I can’t say which meds and what protocols you are referencing when you state “you’ll likely either die from chemo complications…” after listing some side effects.
Folfox and Folfiri, standard insured US stuff, with the approved biologicals

You obviously are not aware of the great strides made in ameliorating/eliminating some of those side effects.
Your ideas of acceptable side effects or amelioration are barbaric, ineffective, extraordinarily expensive; rapidly dumped at my house. Come to think of it, the first five years, no oncologist ever made it past the first date with me. When I asked one surgeon about oncologist recommendations, he said two things in the second year: "You're doing fine (technically)" and "Outside this office, no one will believe you." At my house, we require the picnic option.

All the alternative alleged treatments have one thing in common: they are all based on outmoded or sometimes bizarre premises about cancer specifically and about physiology and biology in general.
An expression of your bias and belief system with incomplete subject knowledge.
However (un)common it may be, there is such a thing as biologically based CAM.
Of course, what is MSM vs CAM also partly changes with locale.

I devoutly hope that for the sake of the public that you are not in a medical profession.
I am not, although many of my spouse's friends with medical relatives have expressed the wish.

@Denice Walters: A friend of mine was just officially blocked by Natural News after posting cogent explanations and refuting erroneous claims. None of his postings were inflammatory or rude. Has that been your experience?

By Lighthorse (not verified) on 26 Mar 2016 #permalink

prn, you clearly know little about the state of modern cancer treatment.
Make me laugh. Actually I intensively read the literature for myself, with different focus and goals for methods. I've followed a lot of smart, motivated patients' global experience with MSM and their most aggressive efforts. There is lot of important literature that I see oncologists often aren't familiar with, better technology or inexpensive opportunities. I see mCRC acquaintences, doctorates from HYPS schools or pharma researchers etc, start high with their hopes about putative superiority of insured MSM protocols and trials. They die hard despite much better starting prognosis (3c, 4a, markers), only attenuated with the doping by hospice. Their prime extensions of QOL and life for "overtime", are in fact, with CAM maybe combined with things considered aggressive for MSM.

...before they come roaring back. If you think any of the alternative “therapies” can fix that then publish your paper.
Pulling teeth on the roar. Actually I've got several behests, but the previous oncologists and places like this make me question if it is worth the effort in time, costs, and flak.

I can’t say which meds and what protocols you are referencing when you state “you’ll likely either die from chemo complications…” after listing some side effects.
Folfox and Folfiri, standard insured US stuff, with the approved biologicals

You obviously are not aware of the great strides made in ameliorating/eliminating some of those side effects.
Your ideas of acceptable side effects or amelioration are pretty barbaric, ineffective, extraordinarily expensive; rapidly dumped at my house. Come to think of it, the first five years, no oncologist ever made it past the first date with me. When I asked one surgeon about oncologist recommendations, he said two things in the second year: "You're doing fine (technically)" and "Outside this office, no one will believe you." At my house, we require the picnic option.

All the alternative alleged treatments have one thing in common: they are all based on outmoded or sometimes bizarre premises about cancer specifically and about physiology and biology in general.
That's an expression of your bias and belief system with incomplete subject knowledge.
However (un)common it may be, there is such a thing as biologically based CAM.
Of course, what is MSM vs CAM also partly changes with locale.

However (un)common it may be, there is such a thing as biologically based CAM.

Such as...?

As you're arguing that not all alternative (alleged) treatments are not based on commonly accepted premises about biology/cancer/physiology, can you help us out and name a few....

And what better example of this - Jess Ainscough and the Gerson Institute.

When Jess passed, their comment to my tweet was that they were sad but she had not been in their therapy for 2 years.

Mind you, of all patients, I believe Jess had followed the protocol to a tee and in fact did it longer than required.

Ah ha.... there you have it.. she did it longer !!!

By Rose Taberner (not verified) on 26 Mar 2016 #permalink

For 20+ years, Life Extension Foundation has advocated off label use of drugs, like cimetidine and COX2 inhibitors, and "nutraceuticals" for mCRC for marker targets and pathways or various indications of cancer inhibition or amelioration.

As of 2016, I can still get a good snicker on cimetidine from the unexposed oncologist although cimetidine has now made the ReDo list for formal testing, as funding allows.

Likewise, our host is not too keen on any benefits from IV vitamin C, although it has literature suggesting benefits for HIF-1a, excess histamine, cytokines and cancer inhibition, especially in combination with other neutracuticals. In real life, I would extend that to "and with unapproved adjuvants" based on lab tests on surgical material, and blood tests.

Sadmar: Yeah, analysing literature tends to develop one's bullshit detector (says the person with a degree and a half in English literature).

I know when reading misinformation about scientific/medical topics, even where I don't know much about the subject in question, I often get a little warning bell going off in the back of my head, like "Something's just not right here!" I can usually figure it out by poking around and finding some credible sources on the subject (and yes, I do know how to find credible sources).

By Interrobang (not verified) on 27 Mar 2016 #permalink

prn: First off, where did I say anything about what side effects are "acceptable"? Even thirty years ago, I saw numerous successful innovations make chemotherapy regimens more effective and more tolerable, and it hasn't stopped with the ones I worked with?.
Second, which alternative modalities do you believe to be of value and why do you think so? What is the rationale underpinning them? Extraordinary claims require an extraordinary level of proof, so go ahead, offer some.

By Old Rockin'Dave (not verified) on 27 Mar 2016 #permalink

Made a few typos on that last post. I'm contending with a small and unfamiliar keyboard and a degree of apraxia.
(If you want to know what terror is, try tying one shoe and seconds later being unable to bring forward the knowledge of how to tie the other one for five minutes.)

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 27 Mar 2016 #permalink

@ Lighthorse:

Sorry, I didn't see your comment until now.

I don't comment anywhere except SB sites/ travel reviews . I don't want any real connection with the loons although I read their swill and report about their tripe.

So far not one of their scurvy lot has ever contacted me or attempted to interfere with my life and I wish to keep it that way.

A few of Orac's other minions** have commented on awful sites like AoA, TMR and Jake's pile though

**Narad, Alain, JP, PGP, Lawrence amongst others

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Mar 2016 #permalink

@Denice Walter:

Thanks for your reply.

Adam's site if laughable, if not dangerous. I suggested to my friend that he could keep posting and retain copies to chronicle and comment on posts blocked by Natural News as examples of what they obviously do not want readers to consider or know. With that, he could create a site on crank censorship with no end of subject matter to expose.

The same practice of blocking posts with facts that refute falsehoods or help to reveal obfuscations is found at Dr. Mercola's site. I have no doubt there are others, none of which I care to visit. As you intimate, it occurred to me contact with them may not be safe.

By Lighthorse (not verified) on 27 Mar 2016 #permalink

prn: First off, where did I say anything about what side effects are “acceptable”?
When you first chided me (#14), you were implicitly accepting the results of current standard of care, and with your laundry list, too.

Second, which alternative modalities do you believe to be of value and why do you think so?
For starters, cimetidine, celecoxib and IV vitamin C, among several dozen items added to 5FU. From MSM, only 5FU-LV has been required, and my choice there is non standard too.

Maybe 3 /4ths of ingredients came off of Life Extension articles' reports and their medical references. Others I have found from my own reading of literature, some of them originally from Japan. "I know" from medical literature, unusual biopsy results, tissue lab tests, imaging, intensive blood work, analysis, observation and unusual OS and QOL.

What is the rationale underpinning them? Extraordinary claims require an extraordinary level of proof, so go ahead, offer some.
First I don't really consider my experience "extraordinary claims" like fuel/source free energy.
My commentary is for communication and your reflection, not FDA approval.

Most of my components are already reported in the medical literature for modulating inflammation, various blood parameters, immunity, cytokines and/or cell death. I just didn't use cut n' paste answers, along with accreted MSM errors, politics and artifacts. I applied basic science and design as I learned them and developed them in real life, including industrial scales under radical circumstances. I also use more thorough blood data for better predictive stratification, personalization and monitoring.

prn, I did not say that the current standard of care in managing effects of chemo regimens is perfect, or even acceptable. Medical personnel are constantly striving to improve the experience for patients as well as outcomes.
Now, what makes a trial use of cimetidine, celecoxib, or IV Vitamin C "alternative"? "Alternative" as commonly understood refers to such happy horses**t as homeopathy, reiki, or the Gerson protocol.
I will not speak to the merits or otherwise of the usages you mention, but if you are raising questions regarding trials/off-label use of actual real-life medication based on evidence, or at least a plausible mechanism of action, you should not lump yourself in with believers in nonsense. It can only hurt your case. Do you really want to stand alongside characters like Emanuel Revici or Andrew Conway Ivy?
My comment still stands: "All the alternative [as commonly understood] alleged treatments have one thing in common: they are all based on outmoded or sometimes bizarre premises about cancer specifically and about physiology and biology in general."

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 31 Mar 2016 #permalink

So how does one reason with a loved one who has decided to treat her cancer with alternative medicine? Are there suggestions for effectively educating someone in the areas critical thinking, the scientific process, and understanding the difference between anecdotal stories and science-based results? How does one overcome the bias and prejudice against conventional medicine?

By Gina La Machina (not verified) on 03 Apr 2016 #permalink

The only thing I can think of to try is asking her what is she afraid will happen if she choses real medicine.

Aye, I agree. If someone has an inherent bias and prejudice against SBM that is quite a nasty bugbear to overcome, as cases like that usually means you're dealing with a True Believer in whatever alt-med quackery/woo is involved...

I agree with both replies. Can anyone direct me to publications or first-hand accounts of CA believers who converted to SBM and how they got there? Thanks.

By Gina La Machina (not verified) on 04 Apr 2016 #permalink

Gina: Can anyone direct me to publications or first-hand accounts of CA believers who converted to SBM and how they got there? Thanks.

Sigh. Medicine is not something you convert to. People who use conventional medicine do so because they look at the evidence. There's a blog from a former naturopath, (can't remember the address) who smartened up and got out of the scam business, but for the most part, people who use alternative medicine have remarkably thick skulls.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 04 Apr 2016 #permalink

Gina La Machina, the former naturopath that PGP mentioned is Britt Hermes, and her blog is www.naturopathicdiaries.com. There's apparently a Dr. Natalie Grams in Germany, but the one that came to my mind first was Edzard Ernst. A few minutes' poking about at edzardernst.com and at Britt Hermes' place should produce plenty of what you're looking for.

Britt Hermes' new article warning people away from naturopathic "treatments" of bipolar disorder is quite good.

I'll stick with my shrink. Time will tell, wounds all heels, etc.

Gina - you're in a tough place, I'm sorry. Even more unfortunately reason rarely has any place in these discussions.

What I've seen is that fear often motivates folk into alternatives. S'CAM artists speak in certainties while health care professional speak the truth. Which is rarely certain. Who can blame somebody facing something new and scary for wanting some certainty?

If you're in a position to make an appointment with a MD and accompany your loved one, just in a "let's go talk, no commitment" spirit that can help. If your loved one won't do that go yourself so you can get the information you need. Look for support groups run by reputable groups ( i.e. the hospital, or VNA).

If you have any control over purse strings, refuse to pay scam artists. You will come in for heavy hate if you do this.

Here's a newsweek article about Buryzinski http://www.newsweek.com/2016/03/04/stanislaw-burzynski-cancer-medical-m….

Sorry I don't have any magic bullets for you.

Thanks everyone for your input and ideas (and empathy). I really appreciate it!

By Gina La Machina (not verified) on 04 Apr 2016 #permalink

@ Gina:

Another convert is Dr James Laidler who followed woo protocols with his autistic children, even lecturing about it until he observed that dietary improprieties caused no problems with how they behaved. see Autism Watch.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 04 Apr 2016 #permalink

Dave,
Now, what makes a trial use of cimetidine, celecoxib, or IV Vitamin C “alternative”? “Alternative” as commonly understood refers to such happy horses**t as homeopathy, reiki, or the Gerson protocol...if you are raising questions regarding trials/off-label use of actual real-life medication based on evidence, or at least a plausible mechanism of action, you should not lump yourself in with believers in nonsense. It can only hurt your case

The "big tent" version of CAM is an operational reflection of real life.

If you go to several oncologists and they all laugh at you for things that are published in the literature and work just as described, you've entered that twilight zone of experimental SBM and CAM.

Of course, I know I'm science based, albeit different than most here. It's the "right thinking" working MSM practitioners and specialists that dump you in the CAM category with all the rest.

Oddly enough, that's exactly what I got told when various alternatives did sweet foxtrot alpha for my (non-cancer) condition too. This was before I decided to trust the science and figured "well, it can't hurt to try"... It really can.

To be fair, the proponents of using cannabis IN cancer treatment are not advocating 'smoking weed' except as a way of offsetting nausea from chemo. Using cannabis AS a cancer treatment is accomplished by ingesting upwards of 1gram of purified extract per day, usually orally.

Since cannabinoids have actually been demonstrated to have anti-tumor capabilities, unlike the other bullcrap discussed, it's hard to dismiss that they could be an effective treatment for some forms of cancer, at least as an adjunct. The endo-cannabinoid system is still poorly understood but that it plays important roles in human physiology is undeniable at this stage.

It's unfortunate that there are many woo-meisters pushing it as a cure-all though as that's what the general public is being exposed to.