MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Many cancer patients use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), mostly as an adjunct to conventional cancer therapies to improve the symptoms of the disease or to alleviate the side-effects of the often harsh cancer-therapy. The hope is that this approach leads to less suffering and perhaps even longer survival – but is this really so?

In a recently published study, Korean researchers evaluated whether CAM-use influenced the survival and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of terminal cancer patients. From July 2005 to October 2006, they prospectively studied a cohort study of 481 cancer patients. During a follow-up of 163.8 person-years, they identified 466 deceased patients. Their multivariate analyses of these data showed that, compared with non-users, CAM-users did not have better survival. Using mind-body interventions or prayer was even associated with significantly worse survival. CAM users reported significantly worse cognitive functioning and more fatigue than nonusers. In sub-group analyses, users of alternative medical treatments, prayer, vitamin supplements, mushrooms, or rice and cereal reported significantly worse HRQOL. The authors conclude that “CAM did not provide any definite survival benefit, CAM users reported clinically significant worse HRQOLs.”

Most proponents of CAM would find this result counter-intuitive and might think it is a one-off coincidental result or a fluke. But, in fact, it is not; similar data have been reported before. For instance, a Norwegian study from 2003 examined the association between CAM-use and cancer survival. Survival data were obtained with a follow-up of 8 years for 515 cancer patients. A total of 112 patients used CAM. During the follow-up period, 350 patients died. Death rates were higher in CAM-users (79%) than in those who did not use CAM (65%). The hazard ratio of death for CAM-use compared with no use was 1.30. The authors of this paper concluded that “use of CAM seems to predict a shorter survival from cancer.”

I imagine that, had the results been the opposite (i.e. showing that CAM-users live longer and have a better quality of life), most CAM-enthusiasts would not have hesitated in claiming a cause effect relationship (i.e. that the result was due to the use of alternative medicine). Critical thinkers, however, are more careful, after all, correlation is not causation! So, how can these findings be explained?

There are, of course, several possibilities, for example:

1) Some patients might use ineffective alternative therapies instead of effective cancer treatments thus shortening their life and reducing their quality of life.

2) Other patients might employ alternative treatments which cause direct harm; for this, there are numerous options; for instance, if they self-medicate St John’s Wort, they would decrease the effectiveness of many mainstream medications, including some cancer drugs.

3) Patients who elect to use alternative medicine as an adjunct to their conventional cancer treatment might, on average, be more sick than those who stay clear of alternative medicine.

The available data do not allow us to say which explanation applies. But things are rarely black or white, and I would not be surprised, if a complex combination of all three possibilities came closest to the truth.

206 Responses to Cancer patients who use alternative medicine die sooner

  • Fascinating stuff, and well worth further follow-up. Might I suggest a 4th possibility? That those patients with more severe symptoms (possibly correlating to more significant/advanced disease) are more likely to seek and employ alternative therapies.

    I shall be studying in more detail over coffee later I think.

    • isn’t that the same as my number 3? i.e. being more sick?

      • OOPS! Pre-coffee mistake – you are correct.

      • True, but he states it more clearly. In fact I misunderstood the meaning of 3. until this was pointed out because it doesn’t clearly state the direction of causation – ie that being sicker causes the patient to try alternatives.

    • It should be noted that this is an “escape hatch” used by alt med proponents to excuse the fact that their nostrums do not seem to help cancer patients in any meaningful way. So although it may be true, at least for some, it does not really undermine the fact that there is no evidence that alt med does any good.

      • Yes…it appears that the medical establishment have known for years that chemotherapy a lot of the time kills patients faster than if they were untreated..what’s more,it worsens a person’s quality of life in which many die directly of the severe effects on the endocrine,immune system and more…cancers often return in more aggressive forms metastasising with an increased risk of apoptosis.In other words it makes things worse whereas there are many natural remedies which not only do no harm but accumulating evidence points to their capacity to fight cancer..some of it is bullshit whilst some holds some truth!!So turning away from toxic treatments that kill towards natural approaches that are showing more hope with the backing of trials kinda reverses the whole argument of this article

        • any evidence for your remarkable assumptions?

          • Yes and they are not assumptions but if you’d like me to forward you links to meta analyses of chemo patients I can but need to sift through my saved files…ofcourse there have obviously been remarkable attempts to suppress these findings but not even big pharma could continue doing so and the verdict is out…with regards to herbs or supplements whether preventative or capable of having an effect whether subtle or significant I will forward that too…

          • Yes I will forward you multiple meta analyses and much more aswell as anything else I have in my stash of messy computer files…I need some time

          • This is one of my weaker resources but I’ll find you a recent meta analysis later
            http://www.cureyourowncancer.org/

          • this is not even remotely what one calls ‘evidence’.

          • My question to you I guess is do you have any evidence to negate my remarkable assumptions

          • Any evidence to negate my remarkable assumptions?

          • in the real world, the one who puts forward assumptions needs to substantiate them, not the other way round!

          • Yes sir I would have to agree…whilst I don’t live in the real world I do have a more credible source but I guess that with so many different studies(however dubious or not 100 percent watertight) one surely needs to look at all the combined research which points to the “significant possibility” that chemo poses more problems than it fixes…I think that it is so difficult to obtain evidence with 100percent accuracy that one can sometimes only look at trends even if all the studies are not perfect…I’m not a doctor or scientist like you but if one is too rigid then hardly any evidence is good enough…considering the time and money it takes to put together trials to gather evidence to then have bodies like Cochrane dismiss them for the smallest reason means that we often don’t get exact answers so need to look at trends,accumulating evidence,theoretical reasons,anecdotes,logical reasoning etc…but yes the onus is on me correct

          • Avi Aronstan said:

            This is one of my weaker resources…

            ‘Weaker’ is far too strong a word for that.

        • Here are the parts of your statement that I think are wrong:

          1. “a lot of the time” — Yes. Sometimes the chemo kills the patients. But “a lot of the time”?

          2. “faster” — When paired with “a lot of the time,” it makes it sound like not only does chemo kill the patient, but it does so more quickly than the untreated cancer would have done so. In those instances where chemo outright kills the cancer patient, yes…it is more quickly than the cancer would have done so. These situations are not anywhere close to accounting for most cancer-related deaths. In those cases, however, where the chemo is eventually traced as the cause of a later-developing health issue (another cancer, heart disease, etc.), I think the word “faster” is incorrectly used, here. And given my reading in the cancer medical literature, most of the problems that chemo CAN cause, appear as later sequellae.

          3. “cancer often returns in more aggressive forms metastasizing” — Yes. The chemo kills off the weakest cancer cells, leaving behind the fittest, which eventually can grow again and, due to their fitness, are harder to kill off. This does not mean that chemo CAUSED the re-growth. It simply permitted the re-growth to occur with the hardiest cells. Metastasis can occur from the earliest moment in a cancer’s growth, or later as the cancer has grown and developed for awhile at the original site. The chemo does not cause metastasis.

          4. “metastasizing with an increased risk of apoptosis.” — Here you are just using the language incorrectly, and if you are doing that with basic oncology terms, I have to wonder about your grasp of other matters. Apoptosis refers to the death of a cell. All cells commit apoptosis — programmed cell death. Except for cancer cells, which tend to resist dying at an appropriate time. Which is one of the things that makes them cancer cells and not normal cells. “An increased ‘risk’ of apoptosis” makes no sense. Apoptosis is what you want from a cancer cells.

          5. “there are many natural remedies which not only do no harm, but accumulating evidence points to their capacity to fight cancer.” — Yes. I would say “some” natural remedies, not “many.” And I would say that their ability to fight cancer tends to be better with earlier-stage cancers and less reliable with later-stage cancers. That is not, however, universally true. I suggest reading the book Radical Remission, by Kelly Turner, Ph.D., for some anecdotal evidence that unconventional methods can work against various stages of cancer. The problem with the evidence presented there is not only that it is anecdotal, but you have to pay attention: many of the success stories she relates are people who had conventional treatment as well as the alternative stuff. How those two modalities interconnected for the people involved is, of course, unknown. The bottom line of the book is very interesting, though: We are in the toddlerhood of effective cancer treatment. As the discipline advances, it may well need to do so in a direction that incorporates more of what are currently thought of us non-traditional modalities.

    • If the patients were using conventional therapies first, and we know their success rate isn’t great( even many chemo drugs say they cause cancer and we know radiation causes cancer down the road, and many drugs like tomoxifen are carcinogenic)now the variables change vs. if the patient never poisoned their immune system radically first. Now they go to alternative as a last resort, as so often happens. Please, 80% of doctors in cancer specialty won’t do chemo.

    • Wasn’t that number 3? Or is there a distinction I’m missing?

      • Has Hardin published his research?

        But this raises all sorts of red flags:

        For a typical type of cancer, people who refused treatment lived for an average of 12 1/2 years. Those who, accepted surgery and other kinds of treatment lived an average of only three years!

        Can you see why?

      • @ Jim madigan on Wednesday 18 May 2016 at 14:57

        “http://www.rethinkingcancer.org/resources/magazine-articles/2_1-2/cancer-cures-more-deadly-than-disease.php

        I haven’t reviewed Dr Hardin’s research but it sounds credible to me.”

        Do you mean the quack who died in 1978? Are you a peer reviewer of medical research and you didn’t know he died 38 years ago? What do you mean, “it sounds credible” when you haven’t even “reviewed” it?

        Seriously?

    • Chemo drugs kill-FACT!!!! The body has become overloaded with toxins (usually pharma poison of some kind) so putting an even more toxic substance in the body is stupid at best.Dumbass medical people thinking they know best.When all they do is learn how to become experts in disease and know little about health.For example, ibuprofen will destroy ligaments and joints ,yet gp’s/ md’s continuously dish them out to arthritis patients.It’s beyond stupid.Getting back to chemo drugs, in short they kill not cure.

      • @Darren Briggs on Friday 27 January 2017 at 20:13

        “Chemo drugs kill-FACT!!!! The body has become overloaded with toxins (usually pharma poison of some kind) so putting an even more toxic substance in the body is stupid at best.Dumbass medical people thinking they know best.When all they do is learn how to become experts in disease and know little about health.For example, ibuprofen will destroy ligaments and joints ,yet gp’s/ md’s continuously dish them out to arthritis patients.It’s beyond stupid.Getting back to chemo drugs, in short they kill not cure.”

        What do you know about health? It is obvious you know very little about writing.

        Maybe I should tell my brother-in-law, who is only alive now because of chemotherapy, that he is deluded?

  • Are you familiar with the field cognitive epidemiology? My hypothesis is that CAM users are less intelligent than non-CAM users, and since intelligence predicts longevity, we should expect to see this correlation. So, it’s a self-selection bias-type hypothesis.

    • i am not aware of any comparisons of intelligence between alt med users vs non-users. but there are tons of data showing that users tend to be more educated…not the same, i know, but still…

      • Emil of Denmark wrote: “…since intelligence predicts longevity”

        Do you have a reference for that? I ask because in a survey examining the longevity of chiropractors vs. general population vs. MDs the lifespans of chiropractors turned out to be the lowest of the three groups:
        http://web.archive.org/web/20080828025434/http://www.jcca-online.org/client/cca/JCCA.nsf/objects/V48-3-P217-224/$file/V48-3-P217-224.pdf

        • brilliant!
          i did not know this article; nice one!

        • Looking at the data in this article suggests that the article itself is flawed. The article suggests in the introduction that the mean age at death for medical doctors is 81.5 years. But what is not mentioned is that this is the CURRENT mean age at death, or life expectancy. The data for chiropractor deaths goes back many years. One would expect in any decent analysis, to look at the mean age at death for each year, and compare that to the means for other populations.
          Nor is there any mention in the article of the geographic location of the chiropractors whose deaths were recorded. If we look at table 3 in the article, we find that the mean age at death for medical doctors is based on very little data, and the number chosen was for medical doctors based in 6 different nations, and included only 27 such doctors. A much larger sample of 475 medical doctors located in the UK, having a mean age of death of 75.2 years was ignored. Had the mean age at death for all medical doctors been taken as a whole, that age would have been (off the top of my head) somewhere around 76 years – much closer to the 74.2 years for chiropractors. And given that Table 3 does not reference the years of the deaths of those physicians, it is impossible to do an apples to apples comparison.

          • Another thing is that the statistics they are using are of people who are famous amongst chiropractors. Inovators discoverers people who spent their lives trying bc to better their craft. These are people that would have numerous stressors put upon them their whole lives which could very easily lead to early deaths.

        • Chiropractors would fit in with the less intelligent

    • ah huh…users of CAM are less intelligent. good one idiot.

      • Users of fake medicines are less intelligent than people that use actual medicine, by definition (at least, as far as their medical decisions go).

        • Can I just say that if you are given a death sentence it doesn’t really matter your intelligence. People have seen medicine fail before. These people might have seen it happen one too many times as I know I have or were convinced by people with over glorified research. That means nothing about they’re intelligence just about their desperation. They took a shot and it failed you can’t look down on them for that. The first person who used radiation or poisonous chemo was of the same mindset. To say that these people are less intelligent because they looked for another way other than just going along and just saying yes to the main stream science that has questionable mortality rates anyways just shows not only your lack of intelligence but also your lack of empathy for these poor people who took a chance to better their lives.

        • fake medicines not equal to CAM

          • If you are saying that CAM and integrative medicines are ‘fake,’ then I have to confess that I am one of the “less intelligent” folks who have succumbed to the blandishments of their supporters and actually used some of them. But ssshhhh!!!! Don’t tell! They might come and take back the Ph.D. I got from Duke University in 1998 because I am too “unintelligent” to merit the distinction any longer!

          • @Brenda,
            You are particularly fond of telling people about your PhD and where you got it (though you don’t mention for what it was awarded). You have also said this;

            “Oh…and as for my intelligence… I admit that I am not the sharpest crayon in the box, and less so after my intensive cancer treatments. But I did get my Ph.D. from Duke University, and I had a Mellon Fellowship when I went to grad school. So I’m not a total dolt, I suppose.”
            Let’s see.

            “I see that I was not completely clear, above. Yes, I used the full complement of conventional treatment. I am, today, thoroughly cut, burned and poisoned. I also used the alternative approaches I listed, chosen after investigating what kind of scientific, replicable evidence they had behind them. As well as a bit of mind-body stuff.”
            As this blog has often demonstrated, there is little evidence, if at all, for any of the alternative approaches and you were asked for for the “scientific, replicable evidence” but that is missing.

            “As for which worked…I have no idea. Did the chemo work? If so, which one of the three that I took? How can we tell? Did the surgery work? We only know what it did get out–not what it might have unknowingly left behind. Did the radiation work? Which one of these three “cured” me? What about the supplements? Which one of those “cured” me? How do we tell?”
            This is disingenuous; we can be fairly certain that the combination was recommended so that a complete cure might be found, and it was to date.

            “My supplements (and some changes in my junk food junkie diet) were presented to me in the same way–as my best chance to *support* my conventional treatments, as well as *support* my body in its efforts to weather the assaults of conventional treatment and in its efforts to bring the cancer-supporting processes happening within, back under normal control.”
            Apart from not eating junk food, the notion of “supporting” your body seems more of providing yourself with psychological support during a traumatic time.

            “I had no interest in choosing just one thing and trying it to see if it would bring the cancer under control again. I was fighting for my life, and I was going to try anything necessary — no matter how scary it was for me to put myself in the hands of people I feared more than just about anything else, no matter how strongly I’d always said I’d never do such things as cut/burn/poison. I was going to try anything necessary — provided there was some level of reasonable scientific evidence, publicly available for scrutiny, to back it up. And I wouldn’t change a thing, today.”
            Why do you use the pejorative term “cut/burn/poison” as if it is something that is to be avoided? Many people have their lives to thank for these treatments.

            I don’t know what the PhD was for but it doesn’t seem to have covered critical thinking and the avoidance of logical fallacies.

          • Intelligence has nothing to do with resort to witchcraft medicine. Many highly intelligent people smoke, abuse alcohol, take poor care of their diet and general health. As many have already said: some folk turn to sCAM from desperation, others because they deeply fear and mistrust orthodox medicine, others because they have been imbued from an early age with a sense of “spirituality” and the pseudo-scientific guff of altmed attracts them.
             
            @Brenda
            A PhD is definitively not a measure of intelligence. As Frank Collins already pointed out, it’s development of critical thinking that’s important. That and a true sense of scholarship — something I’ve found lacking in many of the PhD theses I’ve read.

          • Ah, touche, Frank. It has, however, been my experience and observation that critical thinking is the stock-in-trade of most advanced degree programs and the fields of endeavor that they support. That critical thinking sometimes seems to become domain-specific, with its practitioners in one field unable to appreciate how it should be applied in other fields and then show themselves able to do so.

            If we accept that “intelligence” is not reflected or even implied by educational attainment…

            And we know that the standard IQ test is not necessarily an accurate measure of global intelligence, but only of “intelligence” rather selectively defined…

            That leaves us with the question of how to define “intelligent”…unless it means “willing or unwilling to use CAM.”

            By that standard, I am a total buffoon, a blithering idiot. And if that is what some folks want to think, so be it. I can live with that.

          • Oh, as for references. I am not going to attempt to debate each of these, but if you wish to do so, fine. Here are a few to give you fodder for many more posts:

            1 Prasad CP, Rath G, Mathur S, Bhatnagar D, Ralhan R. Potent growth suppressive
            activity of curcumin in human breast cancer cells: Modulation of Wnt/beta-catenin
            signaling. Chem Biol Interact. 2009 Oct 7;181(2):263-71; Liu Q, Loo WT, Sze SC, Tong
            Y. Curcumin inhibits cell proliferation of MDA-MB-231 and BT-483 breast cancer cells
            mediated by down-regulation of NFkappaB, cyclinD and MMP-1 transcription.
            Phytomedicine. 2009 Oct;16(10):916-22; Labbozzetta M, Notarbartolo M, Poma P,
            Maurici A, Inguglia L, Marchetti P, Rizzi M, Baruchello R, Simoni D, D’Alessandro N.
            Curcumin as a possible lead compound against hormone-independent, multidrug-resistant
            breast cancer. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Feb;1155:278-83.

            2 Kunnumakkara AB, Anand P, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin inhibits proliferation, invasion,
            angiogenesis and metastasis of different cancers through interaction with multiple cell
            signaling proteins. Cancer Lett. 2008 Oct 8;269(2):199-225

            3 Somers-Edgar TJ, Scandlyn MJ, Stuart EC, Le Nedelec MJ, Valentine SP, Rosengren
            RJ. The combination of epigallocatechin gallate and curcumin suppresses ER alphabreast
            cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Int J Cancer. 2008 May 1;122(9):1966-71

            4 Rahman et al. Cancer Res. 2005 Jan 1;65(1):364-71; Chang et al. Carcinogenesis. 2005
            Apr;26(4):771-8; Hong et al. Carcinogenesis. 2002 Aug;23(8):1297-305.

            5 Dalessandri et al. Nutr Cancer. 2004;50(2):161-7

            6 Conklin CM, Bechberger JF, MacFabe D, Guthrie N, Kurowska EM, Naus CC.
            Genistein and quercetin increase connexin43 and suppress growth of breast cancer cells.
            Carcinogenesis. 2007 Jan;28(1):93-100

            7 Schlachterman A, Valle F, Wall KM, Azios NG, Castillo L, Morell L, Washington AV,
            Cubano LA, Dharmawardhane SF. Combined resveratrol, quercetin, and catechin
            treatment reduces breast tumor growth in a nude mouse model. Transl Oncol. 2008
            Mar;1(1):19-27.

            8 Lin et al. Arch Intern Med. 2007 May 28;167(10):1050-9

            9 Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, Recker RR, Heaney RP. Vitamin D and
            calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin
            Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1586-91.

            10 Senzaki et al. World Rev Nutr Diet. 2001;88:117-25; Senzaki et al. Anticancer Res.
            1998 May-Jun;18(3A):1621-7; Rose et al. Clin Cancer Res. 1996 Oct;2(10):1751-6;
            Rose et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1995 Apr 19;87(8):587-92.

            11 Hardman, J Nutr. 2004 Dec;134(12 Suppl):3427S-3430S; Wen et al. Br J Cancer.
            2003 Sep 15;89(6):1102-7

            12 Yuen JW, Gohel MD. Anticancer effects of Ganoderma lucidum: a review of scientific
            evidence. Nutrition & Cancer 2005;53(1):11-7

            13 Jiang J, Grieb B, Thyagarajan A, Sliva D. Ganoderic acids suppress growth and
            invasive behavior of breast cancer cells by modulating AP-1 and NF-kappaB signaling.
            Int J Mol Med. 2008 May;21(5):577-84. Also see: Kodam et al. Altern Med Rev. 2002
            Jun;7(3):236-9; and Kidd. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Feb;5(1):4-27

            14 Harada et al. Cancer Lett. 2003 Mar 31;192(2):181-7; Chemical & Pharmaceutical
            Bulletin. 1989; 37(2):410-3; Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
            1995;768:243-5

            15 Thyagarajan A, Zhu J, Sliva D. Combined effect of green tea and Ganoderma lucidum
            on invasive behavior of breast cancer cells. Int J Oncol. 2007 Apr;30(4):963-9.

            16 Slivova et al. Nutr Cancer. 2005;52(1):66-73; Masuda et al. Clin Cancer Res. 2003
            Aug 15;9(9):3486-9; Kim et al. J Biol Chem. 2006 Apr 21;281(16):10865-75; Bigelow
            et al. Oncogene. 2006 Mar 23;25(13):1922-30; Waleh et al. Anticancer Res. 2005 Jan-
            Feb;25(1A):397-402

            17 Seely et al. Integr Cancer Ther. 2005 Jun;4(2):144-55; Inoue et al. Cancer Lett. 2001
            Jun 26;167(2):175-82; Nakachi et al. Jpn J Cancer Res. 1998 Mar;89(3):254-61

            18 Garg et al. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2005 Nov-Dec;7(11-12):1630-47; Chan et al. J
            Cell Physiol. 2006 May;207(2):389-96; Sugiyama et al. Cancer Lett. 1998 Nov
            13;133(1):19-26

            19 Stan SD, Hahm ER, Warin R, Singh SV. Withaferin A causes FOXO3a- and Bimdependent
            apoptosis and inhibits growth of human breast cancer cells in vivo. Cancer
            Res. 2008 Sep 15;68(18):7661-9; Also see: Mulabagal V, Subbaraju GV, Rao CV, et al.
            Withanolide sulfoxide from Aswagandha roots inhibits nuclear transcription factorkappa-
            B, cyclooxygenase and tumor cell proliferation. Phytother Res. 2009
            Jul;23(7):987-92; Stan SD, Zeng Y, Singh SV. Ayurvedic medicine constituent
            withaferin a causes G2 and M phase cell cycle arrest in human breast cancer cells. Nutr
            Cancer. 2008;60 Suppl 1:51-60.

            20 Sánchez-Barceló et al. Endocr Relat. Cancer. 2003;10(2):153-9.

            21 Kajdaniuk et al. Med Sci Monit. 2002 Jun;8(6):CR457-61

            22 Sephton et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000 Jun 21;92(12):994-1000

            23 Whiteside et al. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 1998;230:221-44.

          • @Brenda
            Gosh! You’ve put up a huge list of references. But you haven’t done the scholarly thing of citing them as support for specific points you make. From a peep at a couple of the papers on your and from the titles (cancer’s not my field), what you’re citing mostly are papers that show effects of various natural products on cancer cell lines or tumour-strain mice. In what way does that support alternative medicine?
             
            Loads of pharmaceuticals originate from natural products, and their development from molecules that can be extracted from plants, microbes and other living sources invariably involves experiments of the type described in the majority of your references. But there’s a huge difference between a molecule and a drug (including toxicology, pharmacokinetics, formulability, scale-up production and many other factors) so the majority of molecules that work in cell lines and experimental animals never make it into medicine. We’re already fully aware of the ones that do make it; they are prescribed in medicine.
             
            If you wish to suggest that using an altmed modality such as a herb or dietary supplement which contains the molecules discussed in your list is evidenced for clinical efficacy by the studies you cite, you have, with respect, a huge amount yet to comprehend. If you wish to suggest that the molecules diluted beyond availability by homeopathic approaches can work because of these papers, then you’re wildly off base.
             
            Your ref. 9, which describes a clinical trial, is (on a brief look) a perfectly reasonable account of the significance of calcium and vitamin D as cancer preventatives, but this is orthodox nutritional medicine, not Big Snakeoil. The effects are teentsy but statistically significant. Note that figs. 1 & 2 are classic examples of exaggeration by graph (the Y-axis runs only from 90 to 100% for Kaplan-Meier plots!
             
            Please do us all several favours.
            1. Learn the differences between pseudoscientific CAM and orthodox medicine.
            2. Don’t imagine that effects demonstrable in vitro, ex vivo or in experuimental animals equate with proof of clinical efficacy.
            3. Remember how you wrote up your PhD thesis: for each point you make, state the point and cite the literature supporting what you say. If you just submitted a list of references as in your last post you’d fail.

          • OFrank…I have neither the time nor the interest in providing a blow-by-blow, citation-by-citation essay for you. So that takes care of your #3. As I said above, I am not going to debate these articles. You may look at them or not, as you wish, and use them as some indicator of whether CAM may have some demonstrable value…or not. As you wish.

            If you are intent on getting this kind of blow-by-blow, fully cited and referenced set of statements, I suggest you contact Keith Block. I’m sure you know who he is.

            In your #2 request, you make assumptions about what I know and what I believe. I am perfectly well aware of the limitations of the research on CAM.

            And your #1 request is just a re-statement of your own position within this framework: Once research on something proves its value, you deem it “orthodox” and deny its provenance. Until that time, something that is today only partially researched (though with promising early results) remains “snake oil” to you, and unworthy of consideration. I’m grateful that the researchers who are doing this work do not have your attitude, or there would be no work being done in this field at all.

            The field of CAM does indeed contain what, in my opinion, is snake oil. Claims and practitioners that one needs to be very, very wary of. But the entire field does not consist of snake oil claims and proponents. It has some scientific basis. Your mileage, OFrank, clearly varies.

          • @Brenda,
            “It has, however, been my experience and observation that critical thinking is the stock-in-trade of most advanced degree programs and the fields of endeavor that they support. That critical thinking sometimes seems to become domain-specific, with its practitioners in one field unable to appreciate how it should be applied in other fields and then show themselves able to do so.”
            How is that critical thinking? Critical thinking is not “domain specific”, or whatever you mean by that term apart from the meaning I have attached to it, limited to the area of study.

            I know a few PhDs too, as well as a few specialist medicos, and that trait is far from apparent. I don’t believe the academic standing of Australian universities is that much lower than Duke (lol) it would make a difference.

            “If we accept that “intelligence” is not reflected or even implied by educational attainment…

            And we know that the standard IQ test is not necessarily an accurate measure of global intelligence, but only of “intelligence” rather selectively defined…

            That leaves us with the question of how to define “intelligent”…unless it means “willing or unwilling to use CAM.”

            By that standard, I am a total buffoon, a blithering idiot. And if that is what some folks want to think, so be it. I can live with that.”
            If this is an example of your thinking, I’m inclined to agree with your conclusion. You also appear to show a substantial degree of self-affection which I don’t find endearing (but that is only my opinion).

          • @Brenda,
            “OFrank…I have neither the time nor the interest in providing a blow-by-blow, citation-by-citation essay for you. So that takes care of your #3. As I said above, I am not going to debate these articles. You may look at them or not, as you wish, and use them as some indicator of whether CAM may have some demonstrable value…or not. As you wish.

            If you are intent on getting this kind of blow-by-blow, fully cited and referenced set of statements, I suggest you contact Keith Block. I’m sure you know who he is.

            In your #2 request, you make assumptions about what I know and what I believe. I am perfectly well aware of the limitations of the research on CAM.

            And your #1 request is just a re-statement of your own position within this framework: Once research on something proves its value, you deem it “orthodox” and deny its provenance. Until that time, something that is today only partially researched (though with promising early results) remains “snake oil” to you, and unworthy of consideration. I’m grateful that the researchers who are doing this work do not have your attitude, or there would be no work being done in this field at all.

            The field of CAM does indeed contain what, in my opinion, is snake oil. Claims and practitioners that one needs to be very, very wary of. But the entire field does not consist of snake oil claims and proponents. It has some scientific basis. Your mileage, OFrank, clearly varies.”

            No one needs to point out your considerable flaws in logic and thinking, you provide numerous examples at which one can only marvel. You provide references that do not substantiate your claims and then get snotty when it is pointed out.

            As I also said, the condescension is obvious though entirely without worth. Too much self-affection, too little to back it up; spurious PhD or not.

          • Right. I bow out. “Spurious Ph.D.”

            Riiiiggghhhttt. I have a friend like you. He’s a dear friend from decades ago. But I have learned that there is no point in talking to him about certain subjects. Ergo, I will bow out here. My intelligence, my education, and my experience with and ideas about CAM are all suspect and beyond salvage.

            Everyone reading these comments, please disregard all I have written, as it is utterly without merit.

            See you later, Frank.

          • @Brenda,
            “See you later, Frank.”

            It is better to let people condemn themselves by their own words. Thanks.

            No amount of pointing out your illogical thinking and fallacies of logic will make any difference to you, infatuated, as you are, by your immeasurable intellect because you have a …………………………..PhD.

            A PhD is a measure of academic attainment, not a licence to know everything about everything. Did they teach you that in PhD school; they sure didn’t teach you anything about objective analysis. Thanks too for the little folksy “homily” though what it is intended to show is beyond me.

            Bye, bye….bye……………(frantic waving). (LMFAO)

          • @Brenda
            “something that is today only partially researched (though with promising early results) remains “snake oil” to you, and unworthy of consideration. I’m grateful that the researchers who are doing this work do not have your attitude, or there would be no work being done in this field at all. ”
             
            LOL! Just FYI, I spent very many years as one of those researchers. Molecules with pharmacological effects are not snakeoil; they’re research leads. But there’s a massive gulf between investigating natural-source molecules as potential pharmaceuticals and selling people unstandardized, unregulated herbal concoctions (which may or may not contain those molecules) as cures for disease without any evidence they can cure the disease or even relieve the symptoms: that’s snakeoil all right.
             
            The philosophical question nowadays facing discovery of novel natural products that have medical uses is whether or not there are any more waiting to be found. Does the DNA>RNA>protein basis of all kinds of life provide for infinite numbers of pharmacologically interesting molecules or have we now stumbled across most of the possibilities?

        • I wold class most modern alopathic medications as basically fake medicine, or at least medicine severly compromised in almost every case by the profit motive. It’s clear for example that there is a virtual imperative to use sythesized compounds instead of naturally occurring ones, because they ar epatentable and therefore much more profitable.

          I guess i must be dumber than you…

          • Hi Jim,

            You think vendors of Snake Oil operate their business at a loss? The sCAM industry is worth 34 billion dollars a year!

            Natural products are just as patentable as synthetic ones, provided they are novel.

            I do agree with your final comment, however.

          • @ Jim madigan on Wednesday 18 May 2016 at 14:55,

            Well, there is an option for you if (probably when) you develop a cancer. Take your “natural” substances, instead of the “alopathic” (sic), and see how long you last. Good luck.

  • I can certianly see example #2 as being plausible. After all, St Johns Wort is touted for low mood and folk get very low after big, life threatening conditions/ operations.

    It does seem, though, that the numbers suggest CAM doesn’t help at all, but I would like to know how other variables affected the numbers. Stuff like health before cancer, lifestyle post treatment and so on. It may be that believing CAM makes you heal quicker/ better would result in people pushing themselves harder/ too hard during recuperation to their recoveries detriment?

    A breakdown of CAM therapy used and if it was an adjunct or a replacement for regular medicine may show some even more useful data.

    It’s certainly fascinating stuff!

    • In regard to whether people use CAM exclusively or as an adjunct for regular medicine–

      A partial answer may be found in Kelly Turner, Ph.D.’s, *Radical Remission*, in which she interviewed many, many people who were given terminal diagnoses and yet entered durable remissions, including disappearance of the disease. She includes the stories of 35 of those people in the book. A surprising number used alternative treatments exclusively when they were diagnosed with a recurrence after their initial diagnosis. Many others used alternative treatments in conjunction with conventional treatments.

      As for myself, I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, Stage IIIB, TNM of 9. I had always sworn I would NEVER cut, burn and poison myself if I got cancer, but the severity of my situation made me know that I would most likely die if I relied exclusively on alternative treatments. So I used diet changes and a supplement regimen chosen in regular consultation with a fully qualified nutritionist–in addition to one very experimental approach for my first chemo.

      It am 5.5 years out, and as far as we can tell, I remain cancer-free. Oh…and as for my intelligence… I admit that I am not the sharpest crayon in the box, and less so after my intensive cancer treatments. But I did get my Ph.D. from Duke University, and I had a Mellon Fellowship when I went to grad school. So I’m not a total dolt, I suppose.

      • I see that I was not completely clear, above. Yes, I used the full complement of conventional treatment. I am, today, thoroughly cut, burned and poisoned. I also used the alternative approaches I listed, chosen after investigating what kind of scientific, replicable evidence they had behind them. As well as a bit of mind-body stuff.

        • Brenda said:

          I also used the alternative approaches I listed

          Just diet and supplements; from a ‘fully qualified nutritionist’? What’s one of them?

          chosen after investigating what kind of scientific, replicable evidence they had behind them.

          And what did that amount to?

          As well as a bit of mind-body stuff.

          What’s that?

          But, which therapies worked?

          • Allan, I used a high-quality Omega-3 fish oil, Co-Q 10, a mushroom mix, Vit D3, alternating green tea capsules (hate the tea!) and grape seed extract, DIM, etc.

            The nutritionist I used got his degree at UNC Chapel Hill, an MPH with a focus on nutrition. He provided me with his recommendations, and I was impressed that he could constantly cite this study or that study as a grounds for his suggestions. He later provided me with a written report from our visit, footnoted with all of the studies in question, so I could look them up and read them if I so chose.

            And I did choose. He never represented to me that these studies were as thorough as studies for, say, using Adriamycin. Of course, there are numerous reasons why the funding to conduct such studies is just not as robust as for a pharmaceutical like that. So of course the studies are limited. But some good, scientific work on these issues is out there, and not all of it is negative. I’m talking about studies published in medical and scientific journals.

            A couple of years later, I consulted with an integrative physician working at my cancer hospital, which, by the way, is a comprehensive cancer center. We went over my list of supplements and he made his own suggestions about which to keep, which to drop and which to add. After consideration, I adopted some of his recommendations.

            A year or two after THAT, I found a diagram published to illustrate graphically the scientific evidence for popular health supplements–in general. Not specifically for cancer patients. This is accessible on InformationIsBeautiful.net. The diagram separates supplements into the categories of strong, good and promising evidence, which it puts above a “Worth it” dividing line, and conflicting, slight and none, all of which categories fall below the “Worth it” line. I checked the list of supplements I’d taken over the years since my diagnosis (the list has shifted, with time, and is now much smaller since I’m in remission). I found that I have taken (and actually, I continue to take) 10 of the supplements above the “Worth it” line, and 10 below that line (taking only 4 of those, now).

            I had some friends who, meaning well, kept sending me stuff about how the evil medical establishment doesn’t want to cure cancer because it’s too lucrative a business, and how baking soda or IV Vitamin C or mistletoe or the Gerson diet — ALONE — could cure cancer. I went into the experience with medical PTSD due to a lengthy and unpleasant hospital stay when I was 5 years old. I was having a hard, HARD time trusting my doctors, and this garbage from my friends was not helping. I found the evidence for the things they were pushing to be exceedingly weak, and the constant harping on the “evil medical establishment” to be psychologically disastrous. So I went off on these friends–big-time. To this day, we remain friends, but we are not as close as we once were. There is a distance between us.

            By mind-body stuff, I mean meditation, relaxation tapes, journaling,… stuff like that.

            As for which worked…I have no idea. Did the chemo work? If so, which one of the three that I took? How can we tell? Did the surgery work? We only know what it did get out–not what it might have unknowingly left behind. Did the radiation work? Which one of these three “cured” me? What about the supplements? Which one of those “cured” me? How do we tell?

            As for the diet, that probably has helped. I lost about 50 lbs by changing my eating habits, and given that the breast cancer I had was 96% estrogen positive, and in post-menopausal women, body fat is a prime source of estrogen, I am sure that the weight loss was a positive thing. Did it, and it alone, cure me? Please…what kind of an idiot do you take me for?

            Chemo, surgery and radiation were presented to me by my treatment team as a synergistic effort–together, they gave me my best chance for becoming cancer free. My supplements (and some changes in my junk food junkie diet) were presented to me in the same way–as my best chance to *support* my conventional treatments, as well as *support* my body in its efforts to weather the assaults of conventional treatment and in its efforts to bring the cancer-supporting processes happening within, back under normal control.

            I came out of the experience with some mild heart damage due to the Adriamycin. A couple of years after treatment, I had cause to consult with a cardiologist, who found the damage noted in my chart. She suggested I start on some medication, but I asked her to check to make sure the damage was still there. No need to take a medication that wasn’t really necessary. And lo and behold, there was no more evidence of damage. Did the Co-Q 10 help that? She said — spontaneously, without my asking — that it might have.

            Allan, I had no interest in choosing just one thing and trying it to see if it would bring the cancer under control again. I was fighting for my life, and I was going to try anything necessary — no matter how scary it was for me to put myself in the hands of people I feared more than just about anything else, no matter how strongly I’d always said I’d never do such things as cut/burn/poison. I was going to try anything necessary — provided there was some level of reasonable scientific evidence, publicly available for scrutiny, to back it up. And I wouldn’t change a thing, today.

            (OK…well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been working on that medical PTSD since it raised its ugly head into the light of day at the time of my diagnosis, and if I could go back and go through the experience without that dogging me, it would be really good.)

  • So this study looks like it says that people who used alt-med felt worse in themselves, and the ones who used prayer had a greater tendency to die. Is that it or did I miss something?

    • essentially correct

      • God squad bulls$&T.
        All this stupid talk about God fixing things in modern day????!!!!!
        Read your bibles instead of bashing people with them and you would soon find that God stopped preforming miracles and using men as prophets agggggggeeeeees ago.

        You seem very intelligent so how did that little inconvenience give u the slip?

  • Is patient locus of control playing a significant role? I suggest that patients having an external locus of control are more likely to believe in fate and use mind-body interventions, other CAM, or prayers; those having an internal locus of control are more likely to believe in evidence-based interventions and take more responsibility for their treatment and quality of life.

    Another factor that could be significant is the patient’s concept of an afterlife: wonderful (something to look forward to) versus non-existent or horrible (something to actively avoid).

    • we can speculate endlessly about the factors involved. the existing data sets are probably not sufficient to address any of them adequately. this means that, if we really want to know, we better do the research and generate more data.

  • So the headline scattered across my twitter feed, which seemed to casually imply that alt med, of any and all kinds, hastens your death from cancer, would be, on closer inspection, a misreading on my part?

  • So it was my misinterpretation. I thought it must have been. Clearly the sentence ‘Cancer patients who use alternative medicine die sooner ‘ in the absence of further explanation, does not in any way imply a causal link between a premature death and alternative medicine. At all.
    I can only console myself that I’m not alone in this misapprehension. Various people have excitedly retweeted this. A Mr Kausic Datta has gone so far as to exclaim ‘quelle surprise’ when confronted with this vague study that really warns us of the apparent danger of prayer when gravely ill, at least as far as the death side of things goes. Perhaps that was what he was referring to and I’m wrong again, after all it wouldn’t be the first time.

    • if you read the title carefully, you will realise that there is not a hint of implication of causality. if you read the article at all you realise that the question was considered in some detail and that causality was rejected by me. so what are you on about? surely not that someone else wrote “what a surprise” [for those you do not read french].???!

    • No, it doesn’t. It does, however, sow that the many tales of mutually contradictory alternative miracle cures are probably wrong.

  • That was meant to be “motivation for use” in the comment above. But, to answer your question, there were 1588 completed survey responders. And the most interesting findings were that 63.6% had some kind of post-secondary education, there was an equal spread of stage I to IV cancer diagnosis, 88% had also received conventional cancer treatment in addition to using the tea blend, almost half had been using the tea blend for more than a year, 50% reported symptom improvements (fatigue, nausea, appetite loss being the top three), 64% discussed their use of CAM with their physicians, and about 5% had some kind of minor side effect like diarrhea or upset stomach. So all in all, it’s more of just a snapshot of who was using it, why, and how they felt it was helping. A self-selecting group with self-reported results but generally positive stuff reported that could help inform other more focused studies. It would be really interesting to have followed mortality rates with usage with this one.

  • Edzard, I am glad you were not my oncologist. What an insensitive title to your post: “Cancer patients who use alternative medicine die sooner”, when as you point out at the end there are many factors which could explain why cancer patients die and somehow I cant see whether they have a massage or not in the Royal Marsden will make a great deal of difference to mortality rates of cancer patients.

    As you know, I was diagnosed with stage 3 rectal cancer exactly two years ago. Radiation, surgery, a colostomy bag and six months chemotherapy, left me with no sensation in my hands and feet, 15 kilos over weight and unable to walk 100 meters without getting breathless. During treatment you just want to feel a bit better, that may be eating sweets, smoking a joint, having a massage anything that might make it a bit easier and help get you to the last session of chemo, I can see why people turn to God for help, I had Popeye the Sailor Man. Then you get to the last treatment and you continue to deteriorate. No statement describes it better; “if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger”.

    So what was I to do? August 30th 2012, I was free of cancer the doctors had done their job and they had nothing else to offer me. Nobody knows if the cancer will stay away or what my prognosis is. I could change nothing and see if I make five years or I could take a proactive approach to my health and well being and see if I make five years. I choose the latter, in four weeks time I hope to complete a Marathon, not just any marathon, a marathon on the Great Wall of China which takes the elite about 4 hours. By any objective criteria I am fitter and happier than I have been in 20 years and CAM played a big role in me getting me here. Am I cured? Who knows the grim reaper sits on my shoulder, motivating me to eat my greens exercise and relax by meditating because I believe it will reduce the odds of the cancer returning, then again perhaps I should not be pushing my body like this, with an arthritic right knee and my back aches after every ten mile run, I see a chiropractor three times a week. What does all this prove? Like the study above; Nothing.

    We are all going to die and for many of us its going to be cancer. Even if I become one of the statistics in the above point of view, they have missed the most important factor in my living with cancer. I always had hope of extra day of life. I will have died happy and given it my best shot to see my kids grow up. If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, my mind, body and spirit are ready, not many can say that.

    • the whole point of the article was to show that causality is NOT established. i think you mis-interpret the article and even the title. i also ask the question whether, had the correlation been the other way round, would the alt med camp have claimed causality. i see this as an exercise in critical thinking. please try to see it that way too.

      • Edzard, you wrote: “…had the correlation been the other way round, would the alt med camp have claimed causality.”

        I must agree with you on that one. The leaps of logic of some of the more populist of the altmed folks and their persistent willingness to vilify conventional medicine in strong (stronger, strongest) terms was very off-putting to me. And continues to be so. The real kicker, for me, is when I see egregious blanket statements about CAM being spouted by the conventional medical community, as well. One side can be just as knee-jerk and blind as the other, sometimes. During the initial stages of my treatment, I wrote a whole little essay about these two “gods” of medicine, and how I despised both of them for their invective against each other.

    • “I see a chiropractor three times a week.”
      Well, at least you don’t have to go very far for that. You are a chiropractor so walking into the next treatment room doesn’t involve much travel. Why did you turn to the so-called allopathy for cancer? According to the claims made chiropractic, it cures most human ills.

      As for sensivity, who cares whether a doctor is “sensitive” or not? The only thing I care about is competency. The reason chiropractors care about “sensivity” is that it builds trust with their “patients” so they can perform more useless treatments and continue to fleece them of their money.

  • What about the quality of life of the survivors?

  • Unfortunately I was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years which had badly metastasized and I was pretty ill but I focused. I did a lot of reading, a lot of talking and then a lot more reading. Using what I suppose is “CAM” therapy, I beat my cancer with a combination of approaches – I still read articles like this with interest because I don’t think we will ever truly find an answer to what works best. For me, it was DCA and I’m thankful every day for reading before deciding anything.

    • Sarah – a survivor said

      Unfortunately I was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years which had badly metastasized and I was pretty ill but I focused. I did a lot of reading, a lot of talking and then a lot more reading. Using what I suppose is “CAM” therapy, I beat my cancer with a combination of approaches…

      So, were you also having conventional treatments as well and how do you know what it was that worked?

      • A combination of DCA, cutting sugar from my diet and IV Vit C. No “conventional” treatment but wouldn’t rule it out in the future. At this point my doctor (NHS) has declared me cancer free but I’ll never rule anything out should the cancer come back.

  • Surely it’s dependent on the patient’s specific cancer, and overall lifestyle. I know people whose cancer has completely disappeared from Gerson therapy alone. I also know people whose cancer had a positive result from chemo/radiotherapy, but of course many who haven’t. I am not taking either side in the argument for or against alternative therapy vs. conventional medicine in treating cancer. However, I believe there should be a choice for the patient when they are diagnosed. They should be told about drugs AND alternative medicine, and the pros and cons of both.

    • yes, cancer patients should be told the honest truth and scientific evidence about all options so that they can make up their own minds. if we do this objectively, we will have to say that there is no alternative cancer cure.

    • M Walker said:

      I know people whose cancer has completely disappeared from Gerson therapy alone.

      You may well know people who have used gerson ‘therapy’ and whose cancer has subsequently disappeared (assuming there was a positive diagnosis in the first place), but I seriously doubt that you know that there was any causation.

      However, I believe there should be a choice for the patient when they are diagnosed. They should be told about drugs AND alternative medicine, and the pros and cons of both.

      So, what do you class as alternative ‘medicine’ and what ‘pros’ do you think those people should be told about them?

  • I’m curious about something. I had cancer some years ago and did everything the doctors prescribed – no CAM for me. I religiously have my ongoing cancer check ups and they tell me I am fully recovered and the chance of recurrence is no more for me than for the general population. One side effect of my treatment (among many, both temporary and permanent) was terrible nausea, vomiting and inability to eat or keep food down during treatment. Even taking the anti-nausea medication they prescribed for me (3 pills a day for two months at $75 a pill!) didn’t seem to work for me. Then a friend gave me some marijuana to try (something I never would have thought of). I totally hated (and still do hate) getting high but it did work – one or two puffs and I actually could eat a modest amount and keep it down. Here’s my question – is using marijuana the way I did considered CAM? My evidence is purely anecdotal. It sure felt like a true physiological effect. Placebo effect? Was I fooling myself? Has marijuana been studied?

    • i am not an expert in the benefits of cannabis; but i think there is quite a bit of evidence that it is effective for nausea. i would not include it under the umbrella of alt med, however.

    • “one or two puffs and I actually could eat a modest amount and keep it down”
      When I was much younger and had the occasional joint, we called it the “munchies”. Dope makes you hungry and sleepy, so you got exactly what most other users get from it. No secret there.

  • If the “whole point of the article was to show causality is not established” perhaps you should have used a question mark in the title, as I said the title was “insensitive” to cancer patients using CAM, I did not try to interpret anything from the study, we both agree it proves nothing one could just as easily argue the people who prayed were happier, because they believe they are going to paradise when they die. I just provided a personal experience of cancer treatment and empathy towards terminally ill people who often just want their spirits raised, something you dont give much thought to, in my opinion.

    Last April on Twitter you described a terminally ill elderly man who decided not to have chemotherapy as a “victim of CAM”, were my cancer to come back as terminal and I decided that I could not face another 18 months of treatment, would you also describe me as a victim of CAM? As I think it would be very hurtful to my family, you being a doctor and everything.

    • yes, i could have put a “?” on the other hand, i could also have used a “!”
      what you do not seem to realise is that this blog is for critical analysis of alt med; it is not a patient support group exercise. and what i said on twitter some time ago has little impotatnce for this blog or much else. twitter has a different purpose again, in my view.

      • What this blog seems to promote are two things:

        1) agree with Professor Ernst and get a pat on the back from him and his regular commentators
        2) disagree with Professor Ernst and his sensationalist headlines and have fun made at your expense

        • Which comment do you perceive as making fun at anyone’s expense?

        • I disagree. To me,

          1. If the pat on the back means that he gives a supportive comments in return to the ones he likes, that makes sense, don’t you think? That’s what happens when people agree with one another; it provokes a positive reaction. I don’t know that that would be any different on any other blog, regardless of topic.

          2. Ernst has said repeatedly that this article and the studies cited are food for thought, and that he’s written this piece because the question is interesting to him, as a scientist and a skeptic. He states in the article, “So, how can these findings be explained?” And then offers three *possibilities*.

          ‘These findings’ is not the same as ‘this fact’; he’s analyzing the results of studies as they raise important questions. “The authors of this paper concluded that “use of CAM seems to predict a shorter survival from cancer.” Obviously he has a slant because he is a skeptic, but he never says, “This is true. I KNEW it!” Both in the article and in his comments, things are left in the air as inconclusive, and reason for further discussion and study. To be honest, I found his approach fair and rather refreshing.

          3. I am not crazy about the title, either; I do think it was irresponsible.

          I don’t see where he’s made fun of the people who disagree with him, though. Which comments did you mean, exactly?

          I think that as blog posts/opinion pieces go, the author has been a generally good and respectful sport.

          Are the exchanges in CAM-supportive blogs usually different somehow? Not sarcastic; it’s an honest question because I don’t know.

        • In other words, if you:

          1) agree with the requirement for evidence of efficacy then you may get a pat on the back.
          2) disagree with scientific evidence then you then you will likely be thought of as a numpty.

          Simples, innit?

  • 4) Use of alternative medicine crowds out the conventional kind. This is a variant of #1, whereby alternative medicine patients are not as meticulous with regards to following treatment protocols as other patients.

    5) Physicians who tolerate alternative medicine are less apt to apply aggressive conventional treatments. Or maybe they outsource some of their pain management, to the detriment of the patients.

    Overall, I wasn’t surprised by the longevity results. Quality of life is another matter: I would have thought that the extra attention paid by alternative medicine practitioners would help. It might be interesting to replicate the study in a US region that practices aggressive managed care.

    At any rate, this is an interesting study: it’s worth drilling into a little.

  • CAM users reported significantly worse cognitive functioning … than nonusers.

    I suppose a causal relationship there is at least plausible…

  • I realise your blog is not a support group, however you are aware your opinions and statements are widely circulated because you are a professor and a doctor. Not sure I would call your “imagination” getting ahead of the study “critical analysis” when you stated “I imagine that, had the results been the opposite (i.e. showing that CAM-users live longer and have a better quality of life), most CAM-enthusiasts would not have hesitated in claiming a cause effect relationship” . They may have done and they may not have done, its just pure speculation on your part.

    • critical analysis can, of course, include imagining what might have happened, had the results be different – not least because in the last 20 years i have come across uncounted occasions where unwarranted conlusions have been drawn based on flimsy data. several previous posts on this blog bear witness of this phenomenon. in contrast to my critics, i do tend to differentiate clearly between imagination and fact.

  • Okay, you are an MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd heh! How long would you cure flu or cold with your conventional method?

    Me, am none of the above MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd. I’m a researcher. Without a researcher, none of your MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd work anyway.

    To prove who can cure a common cold or flu quicker, Let both of us have a contest. We both catch flu at the same time. Who can cure the flu faster win. You are an MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd and I’m just an ordinary researcher. I already know your answer, There is no cure for flu, WRONG! There is and it took less than three days to cure it.

    ANY, MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd up for a challenge? For better proof, get all the major broadcasters like CNN, ALJAZEERA and ABC document both of us 24/7.

    I have been testing this cure for the last 10 years and it still work to this day 2013, September 01. I will proof your worlthless MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd to the dirt!

    Ek Sangha

    • Ek Sangha,
      I am waiting in breathless anticipation for your flu cure. When will it be available for sale?

      What, you mean it doesn’t really work at all and you made it all up? 🙂

  • You have such a chip on your shoulder. I wonder what terrible thing happened to you to fill you with such vitriol. I assume you don’t believe in prayer, but I will pray for you anyway. Just like acupuncture and herbal medicine prescribed and administered by an appropriately trained and skilled practitioner, you don’t have to believe in it in order for it to work.

    🙂

  • The real comparison shoul be done between conventional medicine and each of the protocols of alternative medicine, exactlying replicating the protocol (not doing as Mayo Clinic did with Dr. Ewan Cameron and Dr. Linus Pauling when they did not replicated the protocol of those two doctors to study the role of Vitamin C). There are many useless alternative medicines as you say in your post, but the real and relevant question is to be made by conventional medicine and it seems they don´t want to do so. How and why people cured from cancer without conventional medicine? This question has never been investigated. Why? These two videos may give a clue to the answer:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBUGVkmmwbk
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWLrfNJICeM
    This is a statement from someone who took vit B17 to treat a cancer with an expected life very short and lived 27 years. Obviously besides vit. B17, the protocol has other substances. If one wants to be honest should compare the exact protocol and not a different version to achieve the results that best meet the hidden objectives like Mayo´s clinic did with Pauling:
    http://nancysniche.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/my-mother-survived-cancer-without-chemotherapy/
    We should not be talking about conventioanl and alternative medicine. We should be talking about what is better for each situation and unfortunaly I think that this is not what it is done. If there is a cure all the focus should be in: What happened? I don´t believe in miracles or spontaneous remissions. A reason must be found. But it seems that no one looks for that reason. No looks no findings. The intelligent people from this forum can anser me why?

    • Gawd … Burzynski, laetrile* and vitamin C for cancer. And YouTube videos for “evidence.” You think we don’t know about Burzynski and Eric Merola, the advertising man who made the two infomercials for Count Stan?

      You forgot Gerson. And Hulda Clarke’s zapper. And Robert O. Young alkaline pH “miracle.” Hey, I heard iscador (misletoe) works. And what about cannabis?

      They all have videos too. That’s all they have.

      *There is, and has never been any such thing as “vitamin B17.”

  • The last line SHOULD have read ‘there is NOT, and never has been …”

    • Sorry Woo Fighter, but you didn’t understand anything of what I wrote. It is not my job to make you think and understand.

      • @ Joao
        You seem to think that you have discovered a hidden secret in a couple of youtube videos and an anecdote.
        We know such mistakes all too well. This is what we are dealing with daily in our fight against health fraud and misinformation. The two videos are good examples of charlatanry and outright lies that we already know very well.
        Dr Burzynski is a well known false and fraudulent cancer doctor and you can find a lot of material to confirm that. Watching Eric Merola’s film will not show you the truth about Burzynski. As for the other film, just go to wikipedia and look up the list of ineffective cancer therapies. There you will find out what is with all these supposedly hidden miracles.

        We know very well the real, sad truth behind these two propaganda videos. They are simply fake and full of misrepresentations of the truth.

        If you read the anecdote about Laetrile/B17 again you may notice that the lady had real, modern (at that time) treatment. She both had surgery and very strong radiotherapy. The operation is what saved her life and perhaps the two massive doses of postoperative radiotherapy. The doses used at that time were not small.
        Her longevity was not due to a silly diet and apricot kernel extracts. She was simply lucky to have a cancer that was removed properly.

        • This is my last post. You still don´t understand. I am a conventional doctor and my experience is similar to the link below but not equal. My results show an improvement in chemotherapy so this data is out of date, although I still think that doing nothing is in the majority of the cases (excluding some blood cancers) better than being treated:
          http://www.rethinkingcancer.org/resources/magazine-articles/2_1-2/cancer-cures-more-deadly-than-disease.php

          Do you know that chemoterapy is the only medical treatment that has never been compared to placebo? The new drugs are only compared to other chemoterapies or to the same with different doses? Do you know what means a cure (survival rate after 5 years)? And there is nothing said about the rate of death before 6months, one year or two years? Do you know how many die sooner because of conventional therapies? And the guilt is always the cancer (poor cancer). Oncologists have permission to kill and give the excuse of a rapidly metastatic cancer or failure of the heart or lungs or another excuse to blame. They don´t ever say the patient has died because of chemoterapy or consequences of it, or that the cancer spread quickly because of the destroyed immune system of the patient or because of the killing of the red cells by chemotherapy and less oxygen for the body that is like sugar to cancer cells. Do you know how cancer cells appear and grow? Do you know that the malignant stem cells who are responsable for the metastics are resistent to chemoteraphy? Do you know that for the majority of cancers the metastics are the cause of death and not the size of the tumor? Do you know that in many autopsies (I personally made) the patient had a cancer that was not known in life (lucky guy, because he lived longer doing nothing)? I always asked myself since 30 years ago when I graduated, why it was so difficult to cure a cancer. If you have a depressed imune system you can get cancer or an infection. But if you recover, your body can beat the infection (even ebola) but for the medicine this could never occur with cancer. Why? This is was very strange to me. We know cancer cells appears every day, but our body get rid of them without us knowing. Cancer cells are anaerobic, acid and need sugar to survive. Why is so difficult to cure it with nontoxic therapeutics? My professors could not give me an answer. It seems a paradox. With so many papers written in literature over the years (just go to pubMed) about many and many substances with anti-cancer properties, why the treatment over the last 70 years is still the same unproven and very toxic treatment? Have you ever enter a clinic to see what the treatment does to people?
          Regarding wikipedia and Burzynski just read:
          http://www.burzynskimovie.com/index.php/frequently-asked-questions#.VE0StBavw1o
          There you find some research published with antineoplastons made in Japan.

          I am not going to answer no more replies. If you are happy with the official “truth” so be it. I can’t do anything. Big Pharma love good and ingenuous people like you.

          • I am a conventional doctor…

            I really hope this is a bad joke. Perhaps something similar to the sour humour of “The Landover Baptist church” website, which in rather poor taste ridicules religious extremism.

            Because if “Joao” really is a doctor of medicine, people with real and serious diseases might be going to him/her for advice and trusting him/her. Judging from what “Joao” has written we are dealing with a rather serious peril. If “Joao” really is a physician, then he/she has clearly abandoned the profession and disregarded medical science in favour of imaginative make believe truths outside proven knowledge and rationality. “Joao’s” rambling list of erroneous notions about cancer is a truly sad reading.

            Oncologists have permission to kill and give the excuse of a rapidly metastatic cancer or failure of the heart or lungs or another excuse to blame. They don´t ever say the patient has died because of chemoterapy or consequences of it, or that the cancer spread quickly because of the destroyed immune system of the patient or because of the killing of the red cells by chemotherapy and less oxygen for the body that is like sugar to cancer cells.

            This example is only one of many that indicate not only deep contempt for fellow humans but complete lack of knowledge and understanding of medicine in general and cancer in particular, its nature and modern therapy.
            Referring to Stanislaw Burzynski as someone to go to with cancer is like suggesting you go to a butcher to mend a broken hip. Burzynski might have had a medical education as a young man and been a promising researcher 30 years ago but since early in his career he has been nothing more than an outright and demonstrable swindler. There is ample evidence for that.
            Also, believing the blatant lies from mountebanks like Hardin B. Jones and similar health-deceivers, that the sum result of modern cancer treatment is negative i.e. more people die of the treatment than would have died without it, is similar to claiming that more people die every year in plane crashes than the number who travel annually in aeroplanes. Grade school education should be sufficient to understand the irrationality of such a notion.
            How in the world would oncologists, surgeons, nurses, physiotherapists and anyone working with cancer therapy, for many decades be able to hide and falsify results on a global perspective? Doctors and their loved ones get cancer too and it is completely impossible that we all in unison would have been able to swindle and defraud our patients year after year if modern medical cancer treatment was so dismally dysfunctional.

            I have given up trying to exhibit tolerance and respect towards individuals like “Joao” who maintain the ridiculous view that since medicine isn’t perfect then there must be an alternative perfection to be found in anything that the cat brought in.
            I do not care didley squat if he/she had ten doctoral degrees and a nobel price or two. He/she is WRONG. There is no “alternative” or “complementary” truth or reality out there to fill in the voids.
            A person, presenting drivel as in the comment above, is either seriously dishonest or simply not sound.
            I have all my life been a philanthropist and a true believer in the good and honesty of my fellow human beings. I have always tried to be polite and considered it wrong to use derogatory words to describe any shortcomings of the character or honesty of my fellow human beings. But what else is there to fall back on in a case like this?
            I have myself recently lost loved ones to cancer. I have spent a good part of my professional life treating cancers and other dismal diseases, using all my dexterity and skill to whittle out tumours and my intellect, education and skills together with other experts to choose at any time the best available treatment alternatives for every patient. I have saved lives and I have not saved some. I have spent hours, day and night, in agony and elation operating victims of cancer. The net result of my efforts and the collected, credible and repeated medical and scientific evidence tells me that modern cancer therapy is on the right track. Although not perfect as we all agree, the progress has been and still is nothing less than astounding.

            To me and all other health professionals, writings such as those of “Joao” and his/her likes are a dismally deep and dishonest insult!
            Should I perhaps be polite and deviously diplomatic in my verdict of “Joao’s” dangerous drivel and simply be content with paraphrasing W.S.Churchill’s evaluation of T.E. Lawrence about whom he said: “He was not altogether in harmony with the normal”?
            No, I do not see any reason to be polite or diplomatic when confronted with an obviously unsound health professional (or one pretending to be one?) who promotes perilous doings.
            Promoting quackery like Burzynski’s or advising against proper modern cancer therapy is demonstrably very very wrong and may prove to be nothing less than life threatening to people seeking help for cancer.
            I will let you guess what I could be tempted to call “Joao”. This is after all a public and civilised venue.

  • Björn Geir:

    Did you see “Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business part 2?”. It is now in Vimeo.
    Go to the seconds between 1:29:00 and 1:29:25. My answer to your post is there.

    • You know what “Joao”… You missed!
      If you had done a little bit of homework (like simply google the name of the young woman) , you would have saved yourself a lot of embarrassment.
      The 25 second part you refer to of this terribly tasteless propaganda movie, shows a young couple at a critical period in the young woman’s life. She is suffering from a deadly disease and they have put their faith in the piss-products that Burzynski has been poisoning his poor patents with for almost four decades.
      In the 25-second part, which you thought would be a fitting put-down for me, the couple, who spent a fortune on treatments by Burzynski, tell his critics to “f..ck off”. I guess you were meaning to tell me to do the same but there you failed, miserably. I can well understand their sentiment at the time because the old idiot had led them to believe that she was getting better.
      Instead of getting better Laura died a few months later.
      The young woman, Laura Hyman, whom Burzynski used as a success story in that tasateless and blatantly deceiptful propaganda film, died last spring only a short while after Burzynski had told her she was cured. They were so happy and got married a few months later. Three weeks after that she was dead.
      So much for the success of “antineoplastons”.
      Laura’s brain tumour, which was cystic at first, went its usual, deadly course and the cyst seemed to recede on scans. Not because the tumour was receding but because it was getting more aggressive.
      She was used by Burzynski and Merola, who even today uses this case for money making propaganda. Burzynski charges his patients fortunes for his therapy, which he is allowed to perform because he promises they are a part of clinical trials. That is the trick he has been using for decades to be able to take the money from patients with deadly diseases and deceive them, one after another.
      Now does he finish these trials and publish the results? NOPE. He has NOT published ONE SINGLE paper about the results of his ancient “invention”, the antineoplastons.
      No one else has been able to use the stuff for anything good either.
      Out of 61 clinical trials of Burzynski listed here, ONE single trial out of the 61 is registered as completed but there isn’t even any results listed and nothing published!!!
      But Burzynski has their money, lots of it, and part of it he has used to pay Eric Merola well for producing the films so that he can continue to lure patients to his false treatments. On Vimeo they are even asking people to contribute to the “cause”!!! That is what I call evil.

      There is not one confirmed and credible case of a successful Burzynski’s therapy to be found anywhere. There are a lot of anecdotes, many of them (like Lauras’) hampered by the Burzynski propaganda machine, but none that can be independently confirmed as successful.
      Typical reasons for cases that seem to be successful but cannot be confirmed or are later shown to be failures (like Laura Hymas’) are:

      –The patient never had cancer.
      –A cancer was cured or put remission by proven therapy, but questionable therapy was also used and erroneously credited for the beneficial result
      –The cancer is progressing but is erroneously represented as slowed or cured. (Like Laura Hymas’ case)
      –The patient has died as a result of the cancer (or is lost to follow-up) but is represented as cured.
      –The patient had a spontaneous remission (very rare) or slow-growing cancer that is publicized as a cure.

      If you want to read more credible anecdotes about the results of Burzynski’s cancer treatments, why don’t you look here:
      http://theotherburzynskipatientgroup.wordpress.com/

      Tell you what “Joao”… You are plain and simple WRONG.

      Next time you write on this web, do your homework, like a proper physician would do.

      • Who calls to the most cruel and barbabrian chemoteraty a treatment? Hitler? Staline? You know very well that returning cancers are frequent when doing “treatment” with chemoterapy. Laura did chemoterapy. You forgot to say that Burzynski treatment allowed by FDA is a poison gift (if you are a real oncologist you know what I am talking about). You forgot to say that the link you sent to me says: “Laura had been completely clear [of cancer] for 18 months. Even her oncologist here said she was an exception” or “When we found out the cancer had come back we asked for the same treatment but Laura was denied it. We were in contact with her doctor in America and he applied for the legal right to treat her again but this was declined. We could have fought it legally but we just didn’t have time.” OOps you “forgot”.
        If you are a real oncologist you know every thing I said in past posts are truth. If you are a real oncologist you know that it is more and more frequent to see someone with a second cancer, a third cancer or even a fourth cancer simultaneously after beginning treatment. Bad luck???? That didn´t happen 20 years ago with the same frequency, and chemotheray was already given. Why??? You are being dishonest and you know that. When people want to talk bad about someone they emphasize the failures. But they never tell the truth about conventional “treatments”. If you are a real oncologist and no alternative medicine works or lifestyle or nutrition or something else, then do nothing. Let the patients live longer and with more quality.
        And yes I am a man. And yes, my name is Joao. In reality it is João. I don’t put the accent when I write in English. And if I am a doctor, yes I am. And if I heal people, no I don’t. I only see the mess oncologists do to patients when they die. Unfortunately the majority of “deaths from cancer” don’t go to do an autopsy. But many have already gone by my hands. I don’t know which is the better treatment for each cancer but what I know is that medicine is allowing people to be murdered legaly with treatments that were never been tested for security and effectiveness. I repeat: there is no evidence of security and effectiveness for conventional “treatment”. Correction, there is clear evidence that they are dangerous, cruel and will be in the future in the number one top list of the most barbarian and cruel treatments from the past. They will call us barbarians.
        I have already answered too much. I will not replie any more to your posts because it is worthless and I know from your answers that you are not a doctor. We both know who you are. My previous answer applies.

        • So, where are the “clear evidence” ?
          How about stop your load of fallacy (one godwin point for you) and show the clear evidence about the inefficiency of modern medicine cancer treatement ?
          How do you explain that the cancer rate are declining from the past 10 years ? (Last report of american cancer society http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140107102634.htm)
          Why are you mixing “alt med” with lifestyle or healthy diet ?
          Why are you so dull about the antineoplaston bullshit ? Proof are here : it’s money-money. Or do you have some evidence ? (I mean, no youtube video seriously lol ! You have for sure been taught about how to do proper reference during your M.D !)

        • I made one small mistake in my comment above, which might make it difficult for the audience to Google the case.
          Please note that in one place I wrote Laura Hyman The correct spelling of her name was Laura Hymas.
          It is easy to confirm with a little web-search that the confused nonsense in Joao’s reply is mostly copied directly from Bursynzki’s propaganda material.

  • I see in the comments the “it worked for me” crowd is up in arms.

    Statistically you are better off with conventional treatment, just because something works for you doesnt mean when applied to the population at large it will save the maximum number of lives.

    Also please read up on post hoc fallacy. You can never know what exactly killed your cancer.

    Then there is the uncomfortable fact that many champions of the movement for CAM vs cancer, after years of blogging and promoting, come out and admit their cancer returned and they now have to relent and try some chemo.

    “It works for me” is not something any responsible clinician could ever accept as evidence. And how would you even know the cancer truly is gone if you hadnt gotten some medical radiation in the form of an XRay to find out?

  • I am an oncology nurse who has watched many, many people die from cancer, patients and my own family members. I am inclined to believe that a majority of the people using CAM as an ADJUNCT to traditional treatments (chemo/radiation/surgery) have probably tried everything else already. They are at the end of their ropes. They are suffering and willing to try ANYTHING for a small amount of relief. They are already dying. By the time I see these people they are usually past the point of hope for a cure, so I can’t speak to how often traditional treatments are curative, although I believe there are a great many Americans living today who have been successfully treated for cancer. I don’t believe in CAM really myself, but I think if a patient finds any relief or even relaxation through massage, meditation, acupuncture, or any other form of CAM that couldn’t be harmful, it should be encouraged. Traditional medicine works sometimes, but the cure rate is really not good. CAM doesn’t cure anything, but it might help believers with symptom control when cure is no longer a possibility. I really hope that someday (hopefully soon) we have a real cure for cancer and we can look back at chemotherapy as the barbaric treatment it is, but for now it is the best hope we have.

  • 4) pure coincidence.

    5) in a weird twist: mind over matter. patients abstaining from alternative treatments might simply have a higher will to live, and confidence in their treatment and themselves, than those reaching to something alternative to perhaps increase their odds of survival in their own mind. with a better outlook on their odds from the start, medical treatment users could achieve a better state of emotional health, reduced stress/anxiety/fear, and in turn be more likely to report higher quality of life. Alternative users would have looked externally for this boost, but by nature of their outlook can only have as much confidence in those treatments as they did for the medical treatment, resulting in poor mental health and quality of life which could effect their already compromised physical health in the same way chronic stress/anxiety or depression effects otherwise healthy people. which in turn could effect medical treatments’ effectiveness, or simply amplify the negative effects of treatment, long-term and short term. (though if this is the case it would be worth reevaluating the numbers without considering psychological/psychiatric therapy an alternative, as it would be the effective means of boosting patients emotional health to avoid these negative effects — actually as a branch of medicine, why is therapy considered separate/alternative from medical treatment at all?)

    6) the risks of exposure to harmful viruses/bacteria could be much higher by nature of the treatment, and the user has compromised immunities. for example: encountering more people with varying degrees of hygiene; herbs and whatnot from areas the user doesn’t normally eat from, that have been cleaned to standards below typical food they’d eat.

  • They don’t even say what alternative medicines they are talking about here

    The PROPER source of this is PubMed -as referenced and that most people never bother to click and read- tells a different story. This article is biased to ignorant interpretation.

    They don’t even tell what alternative medicines they are talking about here

    Bullshit piece. ‘I read it on the Internet so it must be true’

    Facts are here for interested parties
    PubMed is THE ONLY source for such data.
    Make your own interpretations from it yourself.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9708945

  • https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/27713298/Web/cure/How_It_Works.html

    How Cannabinoids kill cancer, by retired Biochemist and prostate cancer survivor (thanks to Cannabis oil), Dennis Hill.

    “Cancer-specific Cytotoxicity of Cannabinoids

    First let’s look at what keeps cancer cells alive, then we will come back and examine how the cannabinoids CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) unravels cancer’s aliveness.

    In every cell there is a family of interconvertible sphingolipids that specifically manage the life and death of that cell. This profile of factors is called the “Sphingolipid Rheostat.” If endogenous ceramide (a signaling metabolite of sphingosine-1-phosphate) is high, then cell death (apoptosis) is imminent. If ceramide is low, the cell is strong in its vitality.

    Very simply, when THC connects to the CB1 or CB2 cannabinoid receptor site on the cancer cell, it causes an increase in ceramide synthesis which drives cell death. A normal healthy cell does not produce ceramide in the presence of THC, thus is not affected by the cannabinoid.

    The cancer cell dies, not because of cytotoxic chemicals, but because of a tiny little shift in the mitochondria. Within most cells there is a cell nucleus, numerous mitochondria (hundreds to thousands), and various other organelles in the cytoplasm. The purpose of the mitochondria is to produce energy (ATP) for cell use. As ceramide starts to accumulate, turning up the Sphingolipid Rheostat, it increases the mitochondrial membrane pore permeability to cytochrome c, a critical protein in energy synthesis. Cytochrome c is pushed out of the mitochondria, killing the source of energy for the cell.

    Ceramide also causes genotoxic stress in the cancer cell nucleus generating a protein called p53, whose job it is to disrupt calcium metabolism in the mitochondria. If this weren’t enough, ceramide disrupts the cellular lysosome, the cell’s digestive system that provides nutrients for all cell functions. Ceramide, and other sphingolipids, actively inhibit pro-survival pathways in the cell leaving no possibility at all of cancer cell survival.

    The key to this process is the accumulation of ceramide in the system. This means taking therapeutic amounts of CBD and THC, steadily, over a period of time, keeping metabolic pressure on this cancer cell death pathway.

    How did this pathway come to be? Why is it that the body can take a simple plant enzyme and use it for profound healing in many different physiological systems? This endocannabinoid system exists in all animal life, just waiting for its matched exocannabinoid activator.

    This is interesting. Our own endocannabinoid system covers all cells and nerves; it is the messenger of information flowing between our immune system and the central nervous system (CNS). It is responsible for neuroprotection, and micro-manages the immune system. This is the primary control system that maintains homeostasis; our well being.

    Just out of curiosity, how does the work get done at the cellular level, and where does the body make the endocannabinoids? Here we see that endocannabinoids have their origin in nerve cells right at the synapse. When the body is compromised through illness or injury it calls insistently to the endocannabinoid system and directs the immune system to bring healing. If these homeostatic systems are weakened, it should be no surprise that exocannabinoids are therapeutic. It helps the body in the most natural way possible.

    To see how this works we visualize the cannabinoid as a three dimensional molecule, where one part of the molecule is configured to fit the nerve or immune cell receptor site just like a key in a lock. There are at least two types of cannabinoid receptor sites, CB1 (CNS) and CB2 (immune). In general CB1 activates the CNS messaging system, and CB2 activates the immune system, but it’s much more complex than this. Both THC and anandamide activate both receptor sites. Other cannabinoids activate one or the other receptor sites. Among the strains of Cannabis, C. sativa tends toward the CB1 receptor, and C. indica tends toward CB2. So sativa is more neuroactive, and indica is more immunoactive. Another factor here is that sativa is dominated by THC cannabinoids, and indica is predominately CBD (cannabidiol).

    It is known that THC and CBD are biomimetic to anandamide, that is, the body can use both interchangeably. Thus, when stress, injury, or illness demand more from endogenous anandamide than can be produced by the body, its mimetic exocannabinoids are activated. If the stress is transitory, then the treatment can be transitory. If the demand is sustained, such as in cancer, then treatment needs to provide sustained pressure of the modulating agent on the homeostatic systems.

    Typically CBD gravitates to the densely packed CB2 receptors in the spleen, home to the body’s immune system. From there, immune cells seek out and destroy cancer cells. Interestingly, it has been shown that THC and CBD cannabinoids have the ability to kill cancer cells directly without going through immune intermediaries. THC and CBD hijack the lipoxygenase pathway to directly inhibit tumor growth. As a side note, it has been discovered that CBD inhibits anandamide reuptake. Here we see that cannabidiol helps the body preserve its own natural endocannabinoid by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down anandamide.

    This brief survey touches lightly on a few essential concepts. Mostly I would like to leave you with an appreciation that nature has designed the perfect medicine that fits exactly with our own immune system of receptors and signaling metabolites to provide rapid and complete immune response for systemic integrity and metabolic homeostasis.

    ~Dennis Hill”

    • Oh, and b.t.w. Cannabis not ‘alternative’ medicine, it is THE MOST NATURAL medicine there is on Earth for humans. (and all mammals with an Endo-Cannabinoid System)

      FACT!

  • A variation on 3) is patients who use CAM perhaps tend to be late detected rather than early detected patients.

    I’ve seen patients newly diagnosed with late stage cancer hurl themselves headlong down the alt med route having never previously tried any CAMs. That could be quite common, particularly among older patients. Instances I’ve seen are often at the instigation of younger family members.

    I’d also propose a variation on 2) in that patients diagnosed suddenly adopt a raw/organic/vegan/juice diet for the first time in their lives – or start cleansing, fasting, detoxing or what not – which we know are useless, if not harmful. The last thing people already sick and weakened by cancer need is a diet that’s difficult to digest or nutritionally deficient. It may also make them miserable, accounting for the low quality of life scores.

  • In response to this pingback, I posted this on the website. Let’s see how it fares after moderation.

    Pingback: 15 things wrong with the Vox article – Naturopathy can be science-based | Fifty Shades of Naturopathy

    *****************************************************************
    “Very amusing.

    If this is meant to a defence of naturopathy, you have done your self a disservice. Your responses are riddled with poor reasoning, a lack of logic, and ludicrous examples, typified by the following;

    “we’re just not qualified to practice medicine

    Mm… yes we are.”

    Do you regard fiddling about with quackery as “practising medicine”? When was the last time you ordered a blood test, had an MRI done for diagnosing, diagnosed and treated a serious illness, spoke to a relative about the imminent death of their husband due to cancer, or cut into human flesh to excise a tumour? Never? Then what makes you thing you are involved in “medicine”?
    *****************************************************************

    • Not appearing yet…

      I did think of posting but thought it wouldn’t be worth the effort.

      I have pointed it out to Brit Marie Hermes. She said it was a very silly rebuttal and that her favourite part was:

      when she states that Vit C IV is the appropriate tx for cancer pts. She clearly hasn’t read my blog

  • I can’t believe this. A great testimony that i must share to all herpes patient in the world. i never believed that their could be any complete cure for Herpes or any cure for herpes,i saw people’s testimony on blog sites and Facebook page of how Dr olodumare prepare herbal cure and brought them back to life again. i had to try it too and you can,t believe that in just few weeks i started using it all my pains stop gradually and i had to leave without the herpes the doctor gave to me. Right now i can tell you that few months now i have not had any pain, and i have just went for text last week and the doctor confirmed that there is no trace of any herpes system on my body. Glory be to God for leading me to this genuine Dr Olodumare I am so happy as i am sharing this testimony. My advice to you all who thinks that their is no cure for herpes that is Not true ,just contact him and get cure from Dr Olodumare via his email realherpestreatment1@gmail.com and you will be free and free forever, Try it and you will not regret it because it truly works. One thing i have come to realize is that you never know how true it is until you try.

    There is no harm in trying. Remember, delay in treatment leads to death. Here is his email: realherpestreatment1@gmail.com Contact him and be free from herpes!

    thank you for helping me to cure my HERPES am so grateful to you Dr Olodumare make god bless you for you work.

    THERE IS NO HARM IN TRYING..because he can and he will… message him and await his responds

  • So, in a thread titled, “Cancer patients who use alternative medicine die sooner”, you post some scamming spam about a miracle herpes cure?

    You’re right about one thing though, “I can’t believe this”.

  • Further to my post above, the exact text above was posted on this website; http://www.myhomeremedies.com/remedy.cgi?remedyid=28200&page=7

    Here in full;

    “Submitted by Elizabeth
    2015-07-04 05:29:50
    I can’t believe this. A great testimony that i must share to all herpes patient in the world. i never believed that their could be any complete cure for Herpes or any cure for herpes,i saw people’s testimony on blog sites and Facebook page of how Dr olodumare prepare herbal cure and brought them back to life again. i had to try it too and you can,t believe that in just few weeks i started using it all my pains stop gradually and i had to leave without the herpes the doctor gave to me. Right now i can tell you that few months now i have not had any pain, and i have just went for text last week and the doctor confirmed that there is no trace of any herpes system on my body. Glory be to God for leading me to this genuine Dr Olodumare I am so happy as i am sharing this testimony. My advice to you all who thinks that their is no cure for herpes that is Not true ,just contact him and get cure from Dr Olodumare via his email Orikiolodumarespelltemple@gmail.com and you will be free and free forever, Try it and you will not regret it because it truly works. One thing i have come to realize is that you never know how true it is until you try.

    There is no harm in trying. Remember, delay in treatment leads to death. Here is his email: Orikiolodumarespelltemple@gmail.com Contact him and be free from herpes!

    thank you for helping me to cure my HERPES am so grateful to you Dr Olodumare make god bless you for you work.

    THERE IS NO HARM IN TRYING..I can’t believe this. A great testimony that i must share to all herpes patient in the world. i never believed that their could be any complete cure for Herpes or any cure for herpes,i saw people’s testimony on blog sites and Facebook page of how Dr olodumare prepare herbal cure and brought them back to life again. i had to try it too and you can,t believe that in just few weeks i started using it all my pains stop gradually and i had to leave without the herpes the doctor gave to me. Right now i can tell you that few months now i have not had any pain, and i have just went for text last week and the doctor confirmed that there is no trace of any herpes system on my body. Glory be to God for leading me to this genuine Dr Olodumare I am so happy as i am sharing this testimony. My advice to you all who thinks that their is no cure for herpes that is Not true ,just contact him and get cure from Dr Olodumare via his email Orikiolodumarespelltemple@gmail.com and you will be free and free forever, Try it and you will not regret it because it truly works. One thing i have come to realize is that you never know how true it is until you try.

    There is no harm in trying. Remember, delay in treatment leads to death. Here is his email: Orikiolodumarespelltemple@gmail.com Contact him and be free from herpes!

    thank you for helping me to cure my HERPES am so grateful to you Dr Olodumare make god bless you for you work.

    THERE IS NO HARM IN TRYING..”

  • BS & MS in statistics, the field which teaches how to do studies. The 25 years as an actuary determining health care costs and life insurance rates and statistics. The conventional therapy is chemotherapy. Yet I have seen 3 studies on the subject of life expectancy of a cancer patient who goes on chemotherapy and the life expectancy of a cancer patient who does nothing at all. The first 2 studies I saw showed no significant difference btwn those two life expectancies, meaning that any benefit of chemotherapy is short lived, then it comes back with a vengeance. The third study showed that the life expectancy of the cancer patient who does nothing at all actually lives longer than the cancer patient who goes on chemotherapy. Also the 5 year survival rate of the cancer patient who goes on chemo is about 2.1%. This is well known in the medical industry. Chemotherapy reduces the size of the cancerous tumor (which the dr’s call a success) but does not affect the stem cells, where the cancer originates. This is why it always comes back & usually more vicious than the first time.

    The other problem with the logic above is that the studies did not include alternative health care treatments that have been proven to be effective. Doing a study on the “alternatives” is obviously only as useful as how many alternatives to chemo therapy are tested.

    • I suspect that these studies are cherry-picked. in any case, please cite the references so that others can scrutinise the data.

    • Val Smith.

      A couple of swallows do not a summer make and the couple of studies you seem to have taken to heart prove nothing by themselves. There is a lot of negative studies out there and that is a good thing because then we know someone found that the particular method under scrutiny did not work for them.
      Before you start informing others about the nature of cancer and its treatment, please educate yourself from reliable sources such as this one for example. At least you should read the book “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” by Siddharta Mukherjee. It is an essential read for all who are interested in this field.

      In addition to being so obviously ignorant about the reality of cancer research and treatment, you are also ignorant about alternative medicine. You missed a very important point about its nature when you say “…include alternative health care treatments that have been proven to be effective”
      There is no such thing as alternative (cancer) therapies that have been proven effective. Therapies are “alternative” for the very reason they are not useful. The notion that anyone can suppress effective, useful therapies for cancer is an impossibility.
      It is not possible to hide working cancer therapies all over the world, especially ones that are readily available like most “alternative” cancer therapy forms are. People will not only want to use them, they will be desperate to use them and the big bad companies and FDA and whatever imagined enemy of the alternative your conspiracy theory friends feed you with, do not have the power or global influence to stop such sought after miracles if they existed.

      Or as so beautifully put in words by Tim Minchin in his masterpiece “Storm”:
      “You know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? – Medicine.”

      • People will not only want to use them, they will be desperate to use them and the big bad companies and FDA and whatever imagined enemy of the alternative your conspiracy theory friends feed you with, do not have the power or global influence to stop such sought after miracles if they existed.

        And not just that: those big bad companies would be absolutely falling over each other to take all those “incredible secret cures” and market them themselves before their competitors do. The idea that any successful business would leave vast amounts of free money just lying there on the table for a bunch of scruffy losers to steal is very silly indeed. There’s a reason Big Pharma is a trillion-dollar industry while AltMed is a paltry thirty-six-billion one, and it’s because they know how to take stuff and turn it into sales better than anyone.

        • Oops, my bad: the quoted $1Tn figure is for global turnover, but the $36Bn is for the US only.

          Derp, I thought the latter sounded too low too: IIRC CAM’s turnover is something like a tenth of the size of Big Pharma’s, so the above should say “while AltMed is a paltry [approx] hundred-billion one”. Or, if we compare the numbers for the US only: Big Pharma = $330Bn vs. Big Quacka = $34Bn (2013).

          Either way, no prizes for working out which of them knows more about converting products into profits. SCAM’s a bunch of pikers by comparison.

  • Oops, so much discussion.
    Just a short comment on the original article. There is a famous study by Spiegel et al (Lancet, 1989, 14, 888-891) into the survival effects of group therapy (and hypnosis against the pain), versus a control group which got conventional therapy. It found a significant survival advantage for the experimental group. One of the explanations was that some of the patients in the group therapy group decided against treatment as usual such as chemo which would have shortened their lives. This possibility seems lacking in this article.
    In order to say more, the differential effects on patients who used alternative therapies as either adjunct or alternative should be made clear. Unfortunately it isn’t.
    To be sure: to the extent this possibility would be included, the results of alternative therapies would be even worse than they already seem.

  • What was the CAM therapy? What was the lifestyles? How did they live? Sooo many things influence this, it’s not so straightforward

  • This write up is laughable. Let me use the conventional medicine approach. The study only shows a correlation and not causation of increased death with use of CAM. Typical Quack Dr. Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy!

    • can you read?
      “There are, of course, several possibilities, for example:

      1) Some patients might use ineffective alternative therapies instead of effective cancer treatments thus shortening their life and reducing their quality of life.

      2) Other patients might employ alternative treatments which cause direct harm; for this, there are numerous options; for instance, if they self-medicate St John’s Wort, they would decrease the effectiveness of many mainstream medications, including some cancer drugs.

      3) Patients who elect to use alternative medicine as an adjunct to their conventional cancer treatment might, on average, be more sick than those who stay clear of alternative medicine.

      The available data do not allow us to say which explanation applies. But things are rarely black or white, and I would not be surprised, if a complex combination of all three possibilities came closest to the truth.”

      • I can agree with your logical response. BUT why is the success over exaggerated of chemo and radiation? We know now that the immune system plays a huge role in fighting cancer so how can something that destroys the immune system be considered a treatment? One example I can give of an “alternative” cancer treatment would be the Montana or Pacific Yew Tree. Conventional medicine today (mainly quack MD’s) will try and discredit it as a treatment when at one point the bark was harvested by pharmaceutical companies to create what is still today one of the most popular chemo treatments. The problem being that when Taxol is altered and treated to make the chemo many unwanted side effects become the reality of administering the drug. When used in its natural form whether as a powder a tea or a tincture it performs the same without having the horrible side effects.

        • Try reading Roberta Bivins, Alternative Medicine?, Oxford University Press, 2007. A great, great read.

        • We know now that the immune system plays a huge role in fighting cancer so how can something that destroys the immune system be considered a treatment?

          Cancer means the immune system has already lost. So whatcha gonna do, whine about how cancer keeps cheating? Or go get yourself a BFG?

          When used in its natural form whether as a powder a tea or a tincture it performs the same without having the horrible side effects.

          As the kids say: [Citations needed]. Otherwise you’re just blowing coffee and carrot juice up your ass.

        • …why is the success over exaggerated of chemo and radiation?

          Who is exaggerating and what is your proof of that?

          We know now that the immune system plays a huge role in fighting cancer so how can something that destroys the immune system be considered a treatment?

          You obviously know practically nothing about the subject you are criticizing. I suggest you start learning by reading the book “The Emperor of all maladies: A biography of cancer by Siddharta Mukherjee.

          One example I can give of an “alternative” cancer treatment would be the Montana or Pacific Yew Tree. Conventional medicine today (mainly quack MD’s) will try and discredit it as a treatment…

          What do you mean “mainly quack MD’s”?? Do you have a grudge against medical doctor’s in general? Who are you calling quacks, all MD’s or only those who treat cancer?

          The Yew tree derived medicine is used to help many cancer patients and it is still being harvested for production of this medicine even if it can be made synthetically as well. Just have a look at these firms that harvest yew for medicine production:
          http://landscapehub.co.uk/forum/topics/yew-clippings
          http://limehurst.co.uk/v3/
          http://www.friendshipestates.co.uk/

          …when Taxol is altered and treated to make the chemo many unwanted side effects become the reality of administering the drug. When used in its natural form whether as a powder a tea or a tincture it performs the same without having the horrible side effects

          You are so abominably wrong. Where do you pick up such nonsense?
          Taxol is a potent poison and it is very important that it is dosed correctly to minimise side effects like hair loss etc.
          Any herbal potion or powder made from yew that does not have such side effects simply does not contain the correct chemical or too little of it and is therefore useless for cancer treatment.
          The real drug is potent stuff and whether made from the plant or synthetically it is a poison that needs to be made correctly and dosed exactly so it has the desired effect with minimal adverse effects . Yew tree is nothing for quacks to play with.
          The reason Taxol is made by special firms is not economics but the simple fact that we need to be able to know it contains the correct molecules in known quantities, is free from impurities and the poison can be dosed reliably so it treats the cancer with minimal harm to the patient.

          • Why are so many individuals immune systems compromised in the first place? Why are we not moving forward with research on the enzyme Nagalase that renders the immune system useless? The proof that chemo and radiation success is over exaggerated is by walking into one of the 280+ cancer centers and ask them how they are going to treat you. Not to mention the chances of secondary cancers from chemo http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/medicaltreatments/secondcancerscausedbycancertreatment/second-cancers-caused-by-cancer-treatment-chemotherapy We don’t need PhD’s or continued education to see that the approach currently being used is not working. I have had 4 family members battle cancer all of them went for conventional treatment using chemo, surgery, and radiation. Out of the 4 one survived and is now dealing with the permanent damage caused by the treatments. That’s the problem with MOST modern doctors is they do not listen to the patient they depend only on reading charts and test results. You judging by your comments are just as smug as the rest and fail to see what is really happening. If chemo is so great why are we so quick to claim CURE when in remission for 5 years? One of the companies that harvested Montana Yew bark for a pharmaceutical company is right down the road from me and I have had lengthy discussions about the process. The reason most companies went to synthetic production of Taxol was that the Yew tree population was going to be wiped out since once the bark was harvested the trees died. It does not take rocket science to look at the #’s and stats that do not get pushed into the public’s perception to know that after 2 billion+ dollars and an ever increasing rate of cancer in the population that I have come to two conclusions. A-Our current medical system has not one clue on what it is doing or B-It is intentional that we use treatments that do not work.

          • “Keep in mind that the 5 year mark is still used as the official guideline for “cure” by mainstream oncologists. Statistically, the 5 year cure makes chemotherapy look good for certain kinds of cancer, but when you follow cancer patients beyond 5 years, the reality often shifts in a dramatic way.”
            John Diamond, M.D.

            Proof is in the pudding Bjorn! Not all MD’s are hell bent on keeping people in the dark. I worked in an industry that used stats to sway Gov. and the populace in one direction or the other. Once you have been apart of that dirty work it is very easy to spot in other industries.

            The five year cancer survival statistics of the American Cancer Society are very misleading. They now count things that are not cancer, and, because we are able to diagnose at an earlier stage of the disease, patients falsely appear to live longer. Our whole cancer research in the past 20 years has been a failure. More people over 30 are dying from cancer than ever before…More women with mild or benign diseases are being included in statistics and reported as being “cured”. When government officials point to survival figures and say they are winning the war against cancer they are using those survival rates improperly.
            Dr J. Bailer, New England Journal of Medicine (Dr Bailer’s answer to questions put by Neal Barnard MD of the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine and published in PCRM Update, Sept/Oct 1990)

      • I find it interesting how intestinal permeability or leaky gut has been increasingly heavily researched and been part of mainstream medicine for 100 years…it coincidentally fell out of fashion when pharmaceuticals came on the scene and then became a “quack diagnosis” because the treatments are natural(and backed by science)…doctors just refuse to do a simple google search because no pharmaceuticals can treat it…now dysbiosis and the vast array of microbiota are being linked directly or indirectly to many disease states…they are being considered more important than genetics and even encode them…so the many pharmaceuticals that try to suppress the symptoms don’t even work and do more harm yet who needs science when big pharma benefit…anacdotes between a few doctors are enough to use a drug off label with no evidence but two billion Chinese who swear by acupuncture are dismissed…if science is so objective where is a governing body holding it accountable and ensuring it operates with honesty and integrity?It this then is merely a pseudoscience like the ones it critiques which ironically have more evidence of efficacy and at least do no harm and just suppress symptoms with side effects much worse that merely allow them an existsance and not a life

  • @Avi Aronstan

    You obviously know very little if anything at all about medicine (the real kind). I do not have time to go through the fallacies and nonsense you write but I want to quickly point out that the Chinese are not two billion, they are less than 1.4 billion and they by far do not all “swear by” acupuncture. Different surveys have found the use of “traditional” medicine in Taiwan and China to be far less than generally expected. ten percent, more like 5-8% if I remember right.

    • Ok cool…but please address my other points and tell me the “real medicine”…In fact tell me how any western medicine “works” by barely suppressing symptoms and causing more problems than they are worth based on botched underlying theories…pick any area of medicine

      • Provide me evidence please that microbiota are not being linked to an increasing number of diseases and that leaky gut is not a major underlying cause of most autoimmune diseases and many other maladies?

        • @ Avi Aronstan on Sunday 17 July 2016 at 20:35

          It is up to you to provide evidence it is. Reversing the onus of proof around here will get you laughed at, and rightly so.

          I did a quick Google search and plenty of references to (real) research by undertaken. Science isn’t what alt-meds think; you can’t just throw words around and expect it to be applicable.

          • Look…onus this onus that it’s all science claptrap…microbiota and their links to many disease states is now causing s complete paradigm shift on medicine(I can’t be bothered to send you 1000000 double blind water tight trials for you to then say the onus is on me to prove they are all watertight)…it’s a transparent way of not having your beliefs challenged…leaky gut has been increasingly heavily documented for the last 100 years in MAINSTREAM MEDICINE and coincidentally fell out of fashion exactly around the time pharmaceuticals came along…it was then deemed a “quack diagnosis” because only natural remedies and dietary modifications could heal it….these supplements are all backed by science and passed by Cochrane…leaky gut now proven to be at the root of all autoimmune diseases and many many more…do me a favour and find one study to negate this rather than making me send you so much research it will take me ten years to scrape the surface…there isn’t much proof that Wrstern medicine works but a lot that it actually hurts and barely suppresses symptoms affording the person a poor quality of life made worse by side effects…your “real medicine” is ironically the real quackery

          • no need to show us all the “1000000 double blind water tight trials” – just cite the Cochrane review you mentioned.

    • What is real medicine Bjorn? If you are referring to toxic chemical “medicine” pharmaceutical companies produce then I am afraid it is you that is mistaken. You obviously are a chemical pusher just like the rest of those today hurting cultures all over the world. I care not what you claim the chemical is capable of doing it is a chemical that has a negative effect on the body. Drugs, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, chemical cleaners in homes, every by product from petrochemical refining is poisoning us all. That is the only thing 100% for certain that has changed in the last 100yrs or so. How are you so blind to the fact that you support a system that was founded by the Rockefeller family who throughout history have proven they only care about profit and power. I am sure you will attack this post like you do the rest but I see it everyday from yahoos like yourself who are in denial and have a major ego problem. No matter how you criticize and try to “debunk” what has been said it is the truth weather you choose to believe it or not. http://changingaging.org/aging101/the-flexner-report/

      • @ Nick on Monday 18 July 2016 at 17:31

        I went to the linked website and read about Dr Bill Thomas. I even started to watch one of his videos.

        His credibility crashed to zero when I saw his support for homeopathy and his labelling of medicine as “allopathy’, and while yours couldn’t get much lower, it has; you are a conspiracy theorist loon posting crap for which there is no point posting a response.

        • Frank, What you consider credible or not makes no difference to me. Your opinion has no effect on what I know and I will continue to educate others about. I could care less if you think the reasoning I use to expose the corrupt side of medicine is “conspiracy theory” or whatever. The facts are anyone who uses critical thinking is labeled, anyone who questions mainstream is labeled……. so what? Funny how you had nothing to say about my previous post exposing the snake oil that is chemo. How convenient huh.

          • “I could care less …” So you do care a bit, then. If I wanted to express my contempt, I’d say “I couldn’t care less…”, but I guess US idiom knows better.

      • We seem to have another belligerent paranoid on our hands. Impossible to carry an intelligent conversation with such types, especially when they demonstrate such total lack of insight into modern medicine and science. Better not to feed his frenzy any further.

        • Be nice Bjorn – you might hurt Frank’s feelings.

        • Bjorn, you are so well educated that you resort to name calling? Not surprising, very typical of someone who has no response or answer to what was pointed out. Hide behind calling someone a name and then state you are so much more intelligent that you cant even answer LOL. Sorry bud but you are the one looking like a complete boob. I would suggest that you quack doctors come up with a better way to handle those questioning your approach to medicine and what you publicly support. Trust me all of your education, and dollars spent to get that education and indoctrination doesn’t mean diddly squat. Your arrogance and ego make you a dangerous person I hope it doesn’t effect your quality of work when performing surgery. Please change my mind and educate me on the topic of cancer treatment and how chemo is so superior to anything else. From all of the info coming out today and the many many MD’s coming forward and stating what has been obvious for awhile now its only a matter of time before that ship sinks.

          • I counted eight (8) different derogatory remarks about my person and two seriously ignorant statements about medicine in “Nick’s last comment. Might that be a record?

  • @ Frank Odds Thank you for adding your expertise to the subject. I really feel that chemo is the way to go now!

    • When I was diagnosed with an aggressive, Stage IIIB breast cancer, I was terrified of chemo, surgery and rads–the standard of care for the kind of cancer I had. I went on a quest to find someone local, whom I could talk to face-to-face, who was sympathetic to alternative medicine and could give me some advice. I knew that it would be dangerous for them to respond to a question like, “Do you think I should try to treat this holistically? Do I have a chance of beating it, if I do?” So I asked a simpler question that did not rely on opinion or what they thought. It just relied on the facts.

      “Do you know of anyone with a more aggressive cancer, like the one I have, who has relied exclusively on holistic methods of treatment and been ‘cured’? How many such people have you encountered?”

      And I specifically targeted professionals — not just lay people with a good internet connection — but professionals who might be likely to be highly sympathetic to alternative treatments or whom I had heard were very pro-holistic medicine.

      My nutritionist, who has worked with many, many cancer patients and is (as I now know for sure) extremely holistic in his approach to life in general, said he knew of no one.

      A chiropractor who works with an alternatively-minded MD and who does breast thermography imaging said no. She told me about a woman who came to her for treatment advice and imaging. The woman had decided not to do what her oncologists told her to do for an earlier-stage cancer. Instead, she had read up on the Internet about alternative treatments and been “treating” herself holistically for more than a year. The cancer had marched right on ahead, anyway, and by the time the woman came to see this chiropractor for treatment ideas, the chiropractor told her to go back to her oncologists and do whatever they said. The cancer was looking pretty gnarly, by that point.

      A Ph.D. counselor who has worked with lots of cancer patients in her practice said no. There was only one person who had had some long-term success following a partially holistic approach, and that was her own sister, who had had surgery but refused radiation in favor of a holistic approach. I decided that I wanted this woman to be my therapist, as I faced cancer. We were together for about 3 or 4 years. She finally quit her practice so that she could more easily travel across the country to take care of her sister, who had recurred with metastatic disease. I had to find another therapist.

      And there were the anecdotal stories I heard from other people in general, as time passed.

      The friend with Stage IV breast cancer who had one shot of chemo and decided she didn’t like it. So she quit and relied on energy healing and diet/supplements. She died a year later. Up until 10 days before she died, she and her husband refused to believe that the cancer was getting worse and she was, in fact, dying.

      The mother of a childhood friend of my son. She was a practitioner of Reiki. When she got cancer, she relied on Reiki. She died.

      The father of a current friend of my son. He was diagnosed with a fairly small and minor cancer on his tongue. The doctors wanted to remove it surgically. They said they could cure him, because the cancer was small, very localized, and the excision wouldn’t be terribly disfiguring or problematic for the man. But the man said no. He would treat this little, insignificant cancer with holistic methods. It didn’t work. By the time he went back to his doctors, the cancer was widely disseminated and there wasn’t much they could do to try to help him. He died.

      On the other hand, an oncologist friend of mine told me about a patient who came in with cancer that they couldn’t cure, but they were convinced they could help her live longer and with more comfort before the disease took her. She ultimately refused their treatment and dropped off their radar. She came back about a year and a half later and wanted their advice, so they re-imaged her to see where the cancer was at by then, and it had radically shrunk. She refused to tell them what she had been doing. My friend was distraught because he said with the cancer shrunk that much, they were certain that they could cure the remaining disease. Still, she refused again and, as far as I know, dropped off their radar again. What was she doing, that shrunk her cancer? No one knows. She refused to discuss it. Was it alternative medicine? Presumably. But no one knows, for sure.

      I, like many cancer patients, relied (however reluctantly) on conventional treatments supplemented by holistic measures. I chose to take anti-oxidants because a former boss of mine who had chosen not to take them, died anyway. He had done a lot of reading in the medical literature and decided not to take them. So I just relied on the fact that he no doubt did a thorough job of it (he had a Ph.D. in experimental developmental psychology), but I made the opposite decision that he did. And I also tried something that is just in the experimental stages, in the conventional cancer world — a dosing method that I could control — when I was getting my chemo.

      For whatever combination of reasons (conventional care, holistic supplementary care, experimental dosing of chemo), I am now 7 years out and still alive. The 5-year survival rate for the kind of cancer I had is 40%, so I figure I’m doing pretty good. And when people ask me about relying just on holistic treatments, I say, “It depends. If you have a slow-growing, fairly non-aggressive and early-stage cancer, you probably have some time and space to try alternative if you want to. It requires a lot of self-discipline to do many of those regimens, but they might work. But if you have a fast-growing, aggressive, or late-stage cancer, I think you’re taking a chance with your life. As my nutritionist said, when I asked him, mid-treatment, if he really thought I was doing the right thing… Sometimes you just have to pull out the big guns. And once the big guns have done as much damage to the cancer as they can, you focus your effort on maintaining those gains and improving upon them with less harsh methods.”

      Or as my oncologist friend said… This is a barroom brawl. You go into it knowing that you’re going to get hurt. The objective is for you to hurt the other guy (the cancer) more.

      So far, I have hurt the other guy more. Time, of course, will tell. The cancer I had has a 90% recurrence rate. I remain at risk. But we shall see…..

  • A lot of the comments on this website appear to me to be lacking in compassion and rather pedantic.
    From a punters point of view, it’s good to have well conducted scientific research to help with treatment choices but it’s results are generalised to the population at large and not to ‘me’ personally. Anecdotal, personal stories about healing are often appealing because they are just that, personal and offer an alternative approach to health and illness. Both approaches can be helpful, I think, if presented to people in an open way.
    Some people, perhaps most, might prefer to take conventional medical treatment, some may not.
    Healing from illness is an experience of the heart as well as the mind, so I think that the intention behind the information you present to people (patients?) is important. If your intention is to compassionately present all types of evidence, the pros and cons of it etc, then that will support the patient in their decision then good! If ones intention is just to be proved right then any patient that chooses an alternative to your view could end up being judged harshly which is an uncompassionate approach.
    In my opinion all discussions about healing should be conducted with a compassionate intent because when you are discussing research and numbers you are essentially talking about people, sometimes very sick, people.
    I would love to see less judgment and pedantry and more compassionate curiosity on this website from some of the main contributors.
    Thank you.

    • you should read up about the aims and purposes of this site. IT IS MOSTLY ABOUT CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE. if you want compassion, anecdotes, etc. look elsewhere. these issues are clearly important, but they are not the subject here.

      • Yes I understand that however, I am suggesting that you could still encourage a compassionate tone as it is clearly being read by people who are experiencing cancer and not just academics.
        The initial study, by the way, what kind of study was it? Again, not being an academic, I may be asking a daft question. But did it have any placebo group? I wouldn’t imagine so, considering the type of patients, but if it did, how did they fair? If it didn’t, does that reduce its credibility as a piece of research?
        Also, the quality of life measurement tool – did it include pain levels and anxiety? These are important to people’s overall suffering. If it did, which group came out best?
        Could cultural difference be a factor in anything?
        I wasn’t able to tell from reading the article you posted, on average, exactly how much longer would I be likely to live if I chose chemotherapy over CAM? This would be very useful to know if I was a patient or healthcare worker.

        Jane

        • I am sorry, but you are really on the wrong site.
          this was a survey and not a clinical trial, as such the placebo question does not really come into it.

        • @Jane Flowers
          Thank you for your comments which, I suspect, reflect the thoughts of quite a few readers of this blog. First, let me say I empathise with your request for a compassionate tone. I suspect that many of us who come over to you as callously negative posters on this blog don’t in fact lack compassion. Here’s the reality of the situation.

          If someone came into your town with a horse-drawn caravan, stood on the rear step waving a bottle she claimed to contain an elixir that could cure all ills, you would recognize her as a vendor of snake oil and — not that we do things this way anymore — you would want to run her out of town, tarred and feathered.

          In the 21st century, the snake oil vendors would never dream of working so crudely. Instead, they appeal to people’s sense of compassion. Particularly to those who suffer long-term from potentially incurable diseases. You talk of ‘quality of life’. That’s an eminently reasonable matter to raise. Patients undergoing the horrors of surgery or chemotherapy, just as you say, experience pain, anxiety and, of course, the profound fear of death.

          Please compare this situation with people investing their life savings in a pension fund. They (normally) don’t experience pain but they often experience anxiety: exactly where should they put their money? There are so many options on offer. Would you regard it as acceptable if they were exposed to individuals or organizations who (for reasons ranging from sincere belief to outright fraud) entice them to invest their savings in schemes that sound plausible but are doomed to failure? Wouldn’t you want someone to raise a red flag if the recommended investment appeared suspicious?

          Many dubious investments (pyramid selling and Ponzi schemes, for example) are supported by testimonies from people who’ve made money, and the web doesn’t offer any guidance to help you distinguish the genuine from the fake. In matters of financial investment, the average person relies entirely on the plausibility of strangers. But in the case of investments you are, at least, protected by regulations that prohibit certain forms of fraud. These protection may not be perfect, but they help.

          For medical treatments, there are also legal protections from fraud in most countries but, once again, the protections are imperfect. Those who wish to persuade people to undergo an unproven course of treatment are sometimes motivated by genuine compassion and sincere belief in what they offer, sometimes they are simply frauds. In either case, we can use the tool of science to better our understanding of what’s truly medically effective and what’s not. That’s what this blog is about.

          Real medicine rejects things that prove not to work and embraces things that do. It inevitably makes mistakes but, in the course of time, it learns. It progresses. It improves, slowly but surely. That’s why we now live longer on average than at any previous time in human history. That’s why the survival prospects for people with so many forms of cancer are better, decade on decade.

          But the snake oil salesmen still persist. They appeal to very sick patients with little ability to distinguish real science from pseudoscience. They say things like ‘our treatments may help’ with something you’re experiencing, and ‘what’s the harm?’ Edzard Ernst’s post in this blog thread (and, of course, in all the threads) is an attempt to shine the light of reality on such claims.

          • @ Frank Odds – “if someone comes into your town……..waving a bottle…….that could cure all ills, you would recognise her as a vendor of snake oil ……….. ” yes I think we are all aware of the traditional account of a snake oil salesman. How does that apply to those in present day you frequently tar with the same brush? The skeptics take great pride in accusing chiropractors, homeopaths, acupuncturists, nutritionalists, etc – well all CAM practitioners – of being snake oil salesman. I don’t get it, but then I wouldn’t as my experiences of CAM practitioners tell me they are the opposite of that description. However, your caveat is that they currently would not work so crudely instead they appeal to people’s sense of compassion. I don’t get that either: I am sure you will enlighten me?

            In my 40 plus years of using CAM I don’t recognise your accusations. This blog does cause me to reflect and rationalise my experiences : after all its’ purpose is to change CAM supporters’ minds, make converts as it were: how sad when in reality CAM and conventional medicine can hand in hand work so well. Truthfully, there is nothing that I have read that can negate my experiences, or indeed stop me using CAM that works. The choice is all mine : no snake oil salesmen in my world, or indeed in the world of many people I know who benefit from CAM. Of course, there are con men in every field – indeed your analogy on financial systems is on point.

            Do you seriously propound that all medical doctors, scientists are perfect? I Don’t think so. Very recently a new mother visited her GP for her 6 week check up. The first words from the GP were not ‘how are you?’ but ‘ you can get your baby vaccinated in the next room when you leave here’ There was no interest taken in the mother’s welfare , but a prolonged statement ensued about how all his children had been vaccinated; all the GP’s children in the Practice had also been vaccinated. This is a GP with a good reputation and recognises he doesn’t have the answer to everything; he recently referred a patient to a chiropractor for a diagnosis, We all know there is controversy around vaccination : read the right press and one gets the full picture, but instead there is denial and suppression by certain organisations. However, I would not call that GP a snake oil salesman……

            CAM practitioners are often accused of being anti vax and I am sure I have posted before that in the many years of using CAM not one practitioner has raised vaccination. However, Professor Ernst has previously said they should be promoting it. Why? We are all capable of doing resesrch and reaching a considered decision, Interestingly, many of these practitioners have had their children vaccinated. When I have appealed for a balanced debate on previous threads I have been told ‘ there is no point in debating with the equivalent of the tooth fairy’ and have been accused of being disingenuous. How can we move forward on the serious subject of people’s good health, the best methods to address Cancer and other serious conditions with this attitude?

            There are other reasons we are living longer – real medicine with all its complexities – is not the sole reason. We are more educated in health-enhancing foods; there are undoubted benefits in CAM usage which millions take advantage off. I will not denigrate here conventional medicine and there is no doubt, as you say, it progresses and learns from mistakes : 30 years ago someone I know was newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and when telling the dietician ( this blog advocates dieticians above nutrionalists) that white bread raised blood sugar levels, was told it was nonsense. His experience told him the truth and many years of reading, resesrch and consultations with knowledgeable nutritionaists was extremely helpful in management of diabetes. Oh and just recently it is all over the press the dangers of processed carbs. This experience tells me we need to take responsibility for our own health, do the resesrch, use CAM practitioners alongside conventional medicine that support our health, and not assume medicine and science have all the answers : otherwise we need to widen that expression this blog likes so much – ‘snake oil salesmen’ – to include those disciplines you support. Honestly, that would displease me, but maybe I have been having too many debates with the equivalent of the tooth fairy.

          • “… CAM and conventional medicine can hand in hand work so well…”
            this is a therapeutic claim as so many other. and for it to be credible, you need to supply the evidence.
            ” How can we move forward on the serious subject of people’s good health” … by supplying the evidence, I’d say.
            “There are other reasons we are living longer – real medicine with all its complexities – is not the sole reason” … nobody says otherwise as far as I can see.
            “… white bread raised blood sugar levels…” I learnt that in med school >40 years ago.
            “…not assume medicine and science have all the answers …” sure, but it has more correct answers than alt med.

            “…

          • @A

            You seem to have focussed on many things my comment doesn’t say, or even imply.

            I agree my words might have given the impression I believe that modern medicine alone is the underlying cause of our current increased average life spans. I agree that “There are other reasons we are living longer – real medicine with all its complexities – is not the sole reason.” But those reasons nearly all relate, directly or indirectly, to health care in the broad sense of disease prevention and treatment. ‘Real’ medicine is not solely a matter of prescribing pills, as so many comments on this site seem to imagine.

            The biggest single historical advances in disease prevention were public health measures, in particular separating fresh water supplies from sewage and, later vaccination. These followed from the (biomedical) discovery of micro-organisms and the fatal diseases they can cause.

            Dietary measures, as you say, are also important determinants of health. Historically, the discovery that eating citrus fruits prevents scurvy was one of the earliest advances in biology and medicine, and led ultimately to the discovery of vitamins. However, your statement that “We are more educated in health-enhancing foods” is NOT something I blindly accept.

            If you are deficient in a dietary component — a vitamin, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, a trace mineral or anything else essential to bodily function — then foods that make up those deficiencies are indeed health-enhancing. Otherwise, there are no single foods that enhance health. Maintaining a well-balanced diet ensures good health and prevents many diseases, but ‘health supplements’ and the like fall under my heading of snake oil.

            “…in reality CAM and conventional medicine can hand in hand work so well.” I fully agree with Edzard’s reaction to this claim.

  • Professor Ernst I get your point re evidence. It is a ‘biggie’ isn’t it? Your blog incessantly discusses how this RCT’ or that RCT results in a particular discipline of CAM efficacy being disproved. Maybe there needs to be different ways of investigating this evidence. On this blog without exception, CAM is deemed a nonsense; respectfully, I think very few users of CAM look to this blog for guidance. That is because people’s personal experience is enough to tell them a therapy works or it doesn’t. I know what works for me and my family – homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, cranial osteopathy to name a few.

    I know you and your fellow skeptics like to talk of regression to the mean – honestly I have looked at this and it doesn’t work; the evidence is that if I can’t get an appointment with my chiropractor for a few weeks, I suffer until the adjustments are carried out, and judging by her popularity her clients are like minded.

    So the only way to move forward re people’s health or for CAM and conventional medicine to work together is if there is evidence. Maybe for the sake of people’s good health there needs to be a different avenue for collating evidence. From where I am looking, the evidence for efficacy is there but it is ignored. I get that – I do – you must have your trials and your empirical evidence, but it is unrealistic within the vast realms of CAM usage. Surely there is another way?

    I do think Frank Odds said people are living longer because of real medicine – and I was addressing that comment.

    Sadly. your knowledge all those years ago did not translate to those that were advising patients; how many people took that advice and their medical condition was compromised? The point I was making is that this blog denigrates nutrionalists and advocates dieticians who are knowledgeable: this is evidently erroneous.

    My wish is, as I said before, that patients’ health can be enhanced by Conventional medicine and CAM working together. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be a process supported on this blog. I respect this is your blog, Professor Ernst, but I am a mere poster with no power to effect change, but I so desire for a better way forward for those that are unwell. Hence, my comments that support CAM through my and others’ experience. However, respectfully, it is apparent that intransigence persists to the detriment of CAM.

    • @A. on Sunday 29 January 2017 at 19:52

      As with many supporters of CAM, you post out of ignorance. CAM persists because people, such as you, either, do not understand how frail human logic is, or do not want to know. Because you “know”, all else is irrelevant, even studies which remove the human aberrations and find conclusively the “treatment” is nonsense. Take cranial osteopathy for example; in adults, the bones of the skull do not move, so all you get is a scalp massage. While pleasant enough, it does nothing apart making you feel good.

      As for your other comments;

      “Maybe there needs to be different ways of investigating this evidence.”

      No, there isn’t, because any other method induces problems caused by human frailties. One of your frailties is “relativism”, that is, because it is your opinion, you are correct, notwithstanding all evidence showing the contrary. Science takes the view that it may be wrong and needs to prove it may be right. Conversely, you take the view you are right and need to be proven otherwise. When you use all of the modern technology at your disposal, such as writing on this blog, you benefit from the rigours of science,but you won’t accept it for something more important; your health.
      If you get a cancer, which of the CAMmers will cure you, or will you seek out real medicine?

      “On this blog without exception, CAM is deemed a nonsense;”

      For good reason. If it works, it is medicine.

      “respectfully, I think very few users of CAM look to this blog for guidance. That is because people’s personal experience is enough to tell them a therapy works or it doesn’t. I know what works for me and my family – homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, cranial osteopathy to name a few.

      This is the nub of the problem; you think personal experience is all that is required, without realising human perception is very poor and heavily influenced by emotions. Even the Chinese tried to get rid of acupuncture, but it was salvaged as a cynical measure to quell disquiet at the lack of medical treatments by the butcher of his own people, Mao Zedong.

      You need to research Logical Fallacies (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies) to discover why you are more likely to be wrong about what you believe. You must also have the mindset that you may be wrong if you are ever going to learn anything.

      “I know you and your fellow skeptics like to talk of regression to the mean – honestly I have looked at this and it doesn’t work; the evidence is that if I can’t get an appointment with my chiropractor for a few weeks, I suffer until the adjustments are carried out, and judging by her popularity her clients are like minded.”

      This is a prime example of why you are wrong. You claim to know more than nearly every medical researcher in the world; either you are right or them. It does seem highly unlikely for them to be all wrong.

      “So the only way to move forward re people’s health or for CAM and conventional medicine to work together is if there is evidence. Maybe for the sake of people’s good health there needs to be a different avenue for collating evidence. From where I am looking, the evidence for efficacy is there but it is ignored. I get that – I do – you must have your trials and your empirical evidence, but it is unrealistic within the vast realms of CAM usage. Surely there is another way?”

      No, there isn’t, unless you want to include all other forms of “alternate” medicine. Some people believe in voodoo; are they right too?

      “My wish is, as I said before, that patients’ health can be enhanced by Conventional medicine and CAM working together.”

      There is only medicine and not-medicine. If it works, it is medicine. If there was any evidence for the efficacy, do you think medicine would purposefully ignore it? It is ignored for only one reason.

      “Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be a process supported on this blog. I respect this is your blog, Professor Ernst, but I am a mere poster with no power to effect change, but I so desire for a better way forward for those that are unwell.”

      If you want to “effect change”, the first thing you must do is educate yourself; not with some CAM website that proliferates and perpetuates CAM but with information that has been gained through “Critical Thinking” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking). You must face the prospect you may be wrong; unless you do (as does science), you will not ever educate yourself.

      “Hence, my comments that support CAM through my and others’ experience. However, respectfully, it is apparent that intransigence persists to the detriment of CAM.”

      This has been addressed above, however, to put it clearly; anecdotes are worthless, people are easily fooled and ignorant of their own failings, other explanations account for your experiences, and you have experienced the placebo effect (and others) which you need to examine.

      Stand in front of a mirror and you will see a person whose perception is as faulty as everyone else.

  • Frank Collins 29th january,, thank you for your response; and making it clear who you are accusing of ignorance. One can always rely on Frank to be clear what post he is responding to;unfortunately it is increasingly difficult on this blog to know which post is being responded to and it gets a little confusing. So thank you FC for always being vigilant in this area.

    At least you haven’t accused all CAM supporters of posting out of ignorance so that is a step forward. As I read your post I was waiting to see the lines denoting censorship by EE and it was a surprise to see there was none. It’s good to have a more reasonable debate.

    How can all CAM treatments be nonsense? I understand it is your view but many would disagree. I actually agree with you re cranial osteopathy for adults; I should have qualified the previous comment by saying it’s effective in babies, especially after birth and to address reflux and colic. It is very effective and popular and used by many new mums; I saw a cranial osteopath a few times and he was honest in saying he couldn’t help. However, chiroopractic is effective. So you see – we actually are capable of judging what is good for us despite ignorance?

    So you think personal experience is the nub of the problem. Please enlighten me how this is so? In your view there is science and non-science, medicine and not-medicine. Meanwhile, in everyday life, experience is all people have. When I have acupuncture and my body tells me it is working and I feel better, what part of that scenario tells you I know more than most medical researchers in the world? I do not purport to know everything but it is also apparent that there is a lot of confusing evidence around RCT’s which results in misinformation. That’s why in my previous post I asked for a different way of collating the evidence: different trial procedure, because evidently something is amiss when millions use CAM to their benefit, but the likes of you call us ignorant. Your world may be black and white: mine isn’t. I have never said I am against conventional medicine; there is a desire for complementary and conventional to work alongside each other. Any one with a serious disease will presumably be under the guidance of a qualified medical professional. Where have I argued against that? It is called sensible choice. Quoting voodoo ( which incidentally historically and currently is used in many parts of the world) serves little purpose in civilised health care, but one cannot say it hasn’t occurred. Quoting what happened by the Chinese re acupuncture has no bearing on current practise: my acupuncturist trained in China and is doing her PhD in China. It’s a polarised debate, seemingly the issues around CAM on this blog will never move forward whilst you talk of logical fallacies, human perception being very poor and influenced by emotions. If it wasn’t such a serious issue, it would be amusing.

    There are millions of people using various CAM: do you seriously accuse them of the above? In my circle alone, there are those that are anti CAM, visiting the GP frequently (no I don’t snake oil vend CAM to them); others who have been doubtful it will work and are then surprised when it does; I have scientist and engineer friends who use CAM. Every one different but critically thinking, experiencing and making choices. I have never consulted a website to learn about CAM: it is usually word of mouth recommendation: I sometimed reflect, especially with the inane accusations on this blog, the time when I was very young, knew nothing about homeopathy, let alone any other disciplines, and I was advised to see a homeopath to address a health condition unresponsive to allopathic medicine. There could be no placebo effect because I had no expectation it would work; it did, I was impressed and the rest is history,

    You say I have to have the mindset that I may be wrong if I am ever going to learn anything. Oh I am often proved wrong – it comes from actively listening and being open minded. Many of us have used CAM for decades: discernment is key : I struggle to understand why you so blatantly accuse us of ignorance etc – well anything negative would fit from your vocabulary. I am sorry but with my critical thinking hat on it makes little sense. Do you seriously negate anyone’s experience because you disagree with it? A child who says that nice lady put her hand on my knee and the pain disappeared – would you conduct an investigation and say that is nonsense? I am astounded that every CAM trial flagged on this site shows it in a bad light. Really – even when those who know more than me argue some points within that particular trial are questionable, you skeptics never meet their views. Thankfully, even though I may be perceived as ignorant, I am tolerant of others’ views to the point of looking at their (perceived?) facts,

    You say stand in front of the mirror and you will see a person whose perception is as faulty as everyone else’s. Well I am standing in front of the mirror ( won’t joke about what I physically see, I guess you mean reflection) I am fine with my perceptions; you make many assumptions about me because you disagree with me and that is fair; however I am not ignorant, I am considered, I have been very fortunate to make choices, as have my family. In healthcare, whether it is conventional or CAM. You tell me I have a lot to learn and have to educate myself, yet I have done very well and happy with who I am. What do you see in the mirror, Frank? I don’t make assumptions so you may be a perfectly pleasant man, although some of your comments in the past to me have not reflected that. In fairness, I sense your anger at all things CAM, and in this free world order (currently) that is your perogative, wishing you well

  • @A. on Monday 30 January 2017 at 14:36

    Well, I won’t have to say any more; you have illustrated my point very well. You didn’t read the links and continued with the same rationalisation as before.

    You need this too; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance.

  • Frank Collins 31st January – well that is a pretty predictable reply, Frank. You say I didn’t read the links etc – you sound like an ego driven headmaster whose pupils must obey. I don’t need to read the links because I am aware, not only of the definitions, but the fact that these are on the list used by the skeptics when met by a poster who disagrees with them.

    Cognitive Dissonance – another on the list. No I don’t need to access Wiki – it is covered in counselling/psychotherapy. I respect Professor Ernst’s reports : I check in to see if there is anything within to change my mind. Sadly, in the main, and because health issues are so important, I conclude I am no further educated.

    Very few posters here are supporters of CAM – one understands why when they are met with such derisory comments. There is no true open mindedness here, just a vehicle for upbraiding them for their alternative views. You obviously perceive, Frank, you have knowledge of my thoughts: that is a bit scary; you know as much about me as I write. Little wonder there is a dearth of posters supporting CAM. Meanwhile, in the real world, despite accusations of dis-res, lack of critical thinking and so on ad nausea, my experiences count, not just this present one, but the previous 70 years’ worth, it cis quite a rich tapestry, but more importantly I am open minded enough to be willing to have my mind changed, but sadly Frank you fail at every hurdle. Wishing you well.

    • Oops – a faux pas – dis-res is a term I use with a different hat on – I meant cog-dis

    • @A on Tuesday 31 January 2017 at 10:28

      “you sound like an ego driven headmaster whose pupils must obey.”

      From where do you drag this crap? (It’s alright, I know.)

      “I don’t need to read the links because I am aware, not only of the definitions, but the fact that these are on the list used by the skeptics when met by a poster who disagrees with them.”

      The reason they are used frequently for people like you is that you keep committing the same errors of logic and reason. All you demonstrate is wilful ignorance, not some superior knowledge,

      “Cognitive Dissonance – another on the list. No I don’t need to access Wiki – it is covered in counselling/psychotherapy. I respect Professor Ernst’s reports : I check in to see if there is anything within to change my mind. Sadly, in the main, and because health issues are so important, I conclude I am no further educated.”

      The difference between the wilfully ignorant and sceptics is we know we may be wrong so rely on evidence, while you continue with your ignorance premised on knowing. Are you aware of epistemology?

      “Very few posters here are supporters of CAM – one understands why when they are met with such derisory comments.”

      What do you expect from stupidity, to be praised for it?

      “There is no true open mindedness here, just a vehicle for upbraiding them for their alternative views.”

      Open mindedness is accepting you may be wrong and relying on the best evidence available, devoid of human frailties. Wilful ignorance is pretending to know you are right despite the best evidence. Do you see a pattern?

      “You obviously perceive, Frank, you have knowledge of my thoughts”

      No, it is the same drivel all supporters of alt-med drag out of their ar…..; you are no different, only more arrogant.

      “Little wonder there is a dearth of posters supporting CAM.”

      “Meanwhile, in the real world”

      Since when?

      “despite accusations of dis-res, lack of critical thinking and so on ad nausea, my experiences count, not just this present one, but the previous 70 years’ worth”

      Oh gawd, an old know-all, the worst kind. At least there is an upside; the likelihood of you developing a cancer increases rapidly and then you can go to your alt-med witch doctor and ask them to cure you? What, you’ll go to a real doctor when you have a real and potentially fatal disease? Do you see why sceptics laugh at you hypocrites?

      ” it cis quite a rich tapestry, but more importantly I am open minded enough to be willing to have my mind changed, but sadly Frank you fail at every hurdle. Wishing you well.”

      In a word, bullshit. You have Confirmation Bias and a closed mind. The only person who can’t see it is arrogant bastard in your mirror. (Sorry Prof, but this moron deserves more for this stupidity.)

  • Frank Collins 1st February – you have surpassed your usual dire comments; before the red mist descended to control your mind and resulting prose, it would have been polite to actually read my posts.

    I expect nothing from your comments but personal attacks: I thought Professor Ernst had requested a polite discourse on this blog: you choose to ignore that request and seemingly Professor .Ernst has not seen fit to comment on some of your comments which in summary show you to be the abusive troll you are.

    For the purpose of clarity of my position please read the following: ( although I would suspect any reader who is serious about healthcare would find this discourse both inappropriate and boring)

    You accuse me of arrogance, and maybe that is how I am perceived, and I can see it may be a difficulty with the written
    word alone, and the writer is unknown. However, everyone I know would say I am the least arrogant person they know. I certainly don’t consider myself superior ( and at this point it is good to acknowledge what/who we are otherwise we are only deceiving ourselves). Being open and honest supports us in living in a civilised society,

    So all supporters of CAM speak drivel? That’s an arrogant accusation: if you were confronted with all the users and practitioners of CAM you would find highly intelligent people – teachers, professors, scientists, medical professionals. No, you are saying your viewpoint overrides everyone else’s who has the audacity to disagree. You cannot be rude, seriously, because someone disagrees with you? I do get how easy it is to be abusive on a blog, but to what constructive purpose?

    Who has the closed mind? You don’t like anyone who supports CAM and wish for them to change their minds. Seriously, you are going about that objective in the wrong way, The problem is as I see it, people use CAM because it works for them. What part of their personal choice can you influence to an alternative view? I read EE’s posts in the hope I can expand my knowledge and see where there may be problems, but people’s experiences will carry the day, and cannot be negated with any amount of nasty comments.

    What is hypocritical about using conventional and CAM medicine? Why can’t they work alongside each other? I had previously said if someone has a serious disease it needs to be managed by a medical professional. However, in this country there are complementary therapy units attached to Cancer units and it is known that acupuncture supports the side effects of chemotherapy. Your personal attack, Frank, I have no words in response. Arrogance, personal attacks, the belief that your way is the only way have no place in a discussion on optimum health care. On the other hand, may be they do on Professor Ernst’s blog.

    I have an open mind : your comments exemplify a closed mind. Look in the mirror, Frank – whatever age you are, you need to grow up: in my many years of working with children, thankfully, they have presented the opposite of what you represent; It is absolutely right that you have an opposite view to mine and I do not condemn you for it. Think and reflect very carefully when looking in the mirror and projecting to others accusations of being arrogant bastards and morons.

    This guilty pleasure of endeavouring to see this blog as potentially educational has come to an abrupt end with your posts, Frank. I am complicit in enabling you to be a disservice to your fellow skeptics. There are some very good debates between respectful and knowledgeable posters on both sides: you, however, just show a propensity to be a bully who exhibits anger of the very worst kind when challenged by someone with a different view. Good luck, Professor Ernst, with your aims of educating the masses and may your supporters be only of the polite and tolerant variety; however, I wont’t know as I shall no longer check in.

    Finally, CAM supporters know they will not receive praise or even respect on this blog; however, abusive comments can only be a deterrent to those who do value Professor’s Ernst’s blog: he does so deserve your apology.

    I

    • @A

      I had previously said if someone has a serious disease it needs to be managed by a medical professional.

      I have responded before (many times!) to this assertion* by asking, politely, can you define the boundary between serious disease that needs to be managed by a medical professional and non-serious disease that can be handled by ‘alternative’ procedures? As a corollary, are you comfortable that people who believe they have a condition manageable by a camist typically go straight to a person unqualified in medicine who may miss a diagnosis of a ‘serious’ disease?

      *And have never yet had a response.

  • @A on Wednesday 01 February 2017 at 13:28

    “before the red mist descended to control your mind and resulting prose”

    Are you a novelist? Perhaps you should try Mills and Boon?

    “it would have been polite to actually read my posts”

    I do; that is why I can say conclusively they are the usual drivel.

    “show you to be the abusive troll you are.”

    lol Perhaps you should also find out the meaning of troll. It describes your activities.

    “You accuse me of arrogance”

    Then again, maybe you shouldn’t be a novelist, because you don’t have a good grasp of words. Here is a dictionary definition to assist you. It won’t, however, mean anything to you because of cognitive dissonance.

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/arrogance
    “an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions”

    “So all supporters of CAM speak drivel?”

    Yes. If it works (that is, demonstrated so), then it is medicine, as is the corollary.

    “That’s an arrogant accusation: if you were confronted with all the users and practitioners of CAM you would find highly intelligent people – teachers, professors, scientists, medical professionals. No, you are saying your viewpoint overrides everyone else’s who has the audacity to disagree. You cannot be rude, seriously, because someone disagrees with you? I do get how easy it is to be abusive on a blog, but to what constructive purpose?”

    Another Logical Fallacy, again. It is NOT my OPINION whether CAM works or not, it is the weight of evidence, that which you choose to ignore. This brings us back to arrogance, “in presumptuous claims or assumptions”, which is you. I don’t presume to know anything; the evidence will speak for itself.

    “Who has the closed mind?”

    You, read my last paragraph again.

    “You don’t like anyone who supports CAM and wish for them to change their minds. Seriously, you are going about that objective in the wrong way, The problem is as I see it, people use CAM because it works for them. What part of their personal choice can you influence to an alternative view? I read EE’s posts in the hope I can expand my knowledge and see where there may be problems, but people’s experiences will carry the day, and cannot be negated with any amount of nasty comments.”

    If you claim to read this blog, how can you not be aware of the placebo effect, regression to the mean, expectation bias, confirmation bias,and self-limiting conditions? CRTs are conducted to seek to exclude these factors. Yet, despite all this work to weed out human failings, you still know better. Read the definition of arrogance again.

    “What is hypocritical about using conventional and CAM medicine?”

    One works and one doesn’t. You are happy to gain the benefit of medical research when it is important but choose to ignore it when it discredits CAM. THAT is hypocrisy.

    “Why can’t they work alongside each other?”

    I repeat; one works and one doesn’t.

    “I had previously said if someone has a serious disease it needs to be managed by a medical professional.”

    A “serious disease” needs real medicine but the griping of the worried-well can use CAM? lol and face palm

    “However, in this country there are complementary therapy units attached to Cancer units and it is known that acupuncture supports the side effects of chemotherapy.”

    It is known by whom exactly? Maybe, you provide some quality evidence of it being more than a placebo?

    “Your personal attack, Frank, I have no words in response.”

    It seems you do.

    “Arrogance, personal attacks, the belief that your way is the only way have no place in a discussion on optimum health care. On the other hand, may be they do on Professor Ernst’s blog.”

    I repeat;
    It is NOT my OPINION whether CAM works or not, it is the weight of evidence, that which you choose to ignore. This brings us back to arrogance, “in presumptuous claims or assumptions”, which typifies you. I don’t presume to know anything; the evidence will speak for itself.

    “I have an open mind”

    Every sceptic on this blog has an open mind; they are willing only believe that for which there is evidence. No sceptic has to change their mind about anything. Their views are shaped by evidence, only evidence.

    “your comments exemplify a closed mind”

    Read my last comment again.

    “Look in the mirror, Frank – whatever age you are, you need to grow up”

    Says someone who believes in fairy tales. It has been my experience that when people use the phrase “grow up”, it should be directed to themselves. Read the definition of arrogance again.

    “in my many years of working with children, thankfully, they have presented the opposite of what you represent”

    I do hope that doesn’t mean you were a teacher. I am aghast someone so ignorant of reality could be left in charge of a child’s education. Perhaps, all those years of dealing with children left you with the view you know more than everyone else. I’m sorry to disappoint you , but you are dealing with adults here, not malleable minds you can bend to your own distorted view. Did you ever teach the kiddies about epistemology? Yes, it is a big word but it is of significance in education and learning. Do you even know what it is?

    “It is [1]absolutely right that you have an opposite view to mine and I do not condemn [2] you for it. Think and reflect very carefully when looking in the mirror and projecting to others accusations of being arrogant bastards and morons.[3]”

    1. It is my right indeed to accept evidence.
    2. Yes you do
    3. Que?

    “This guilty pleasure of endeavouring to see this blog as potentially educational has come to an abrupt end with your posts, Frank. I am complicit in enabling you to be a disservice to your fellow skeptics. There are some very good debates between respectful and knowledgeable posters on both sides: you, however, just show a propensity to be a bully who exhibits anger of the very worst kind when challenged by someone with a different view. Good luck, Professor Ernst, with your aims of educating the masses and may your supporters be only of the polite and tolerant variety; however, I wont’t know as I shall no longer check in.”

    You weren’t interested in “education”, only advocating your unfounded and illogical views on CAM, premised on homilies and Logical Fallacies.

    “Finally, CAM supporters know they will not receive praise or even respect on this blog”

    Why would anyone expect praise or respect for advocating nonsense or defending the indefensible? Your lack of logic is, again, gobsmackingly amazing.

    “abusive comments can only be a deterrent to those who do value Professor’s Ernst’s blog: he does so deserve your apology.”

    He deserves an apology from you for dismissing all of his years of research and toil as worthless. Others of us respect and admire the work the Prof has done in highlighting the nonsense that is CAM.

    “I”
    Can’t even spell your own pseudonym. lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please answer the following: *

Recent Comments

Note that comments can now be edited for up to five minutes after they are first submitted.


Click here for a comprehensive list of recent comments.

Categories