MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

The notion of an alternative cancer cure is, as I have pointed out ad nauseam, a contradiction in terms (I am sure this sentence will prompt protests; so please, do send me links to reliable studies that prove it to be incorrect). It suggests that oncologists are a somewhat sadistically deranged group of professionals who would reject a promising therapy simply because it originates not from within the mainstream of medicine. Yet, some proponents of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) claim that, even though there might be not a single SCAM that cures cancer, the use of a tailor-made mixture of several SCAMs could be beneficial, particularly if employed in addition to conventional cancer treatments. In fact, ‘integrated oncologists’ often claim that employing a package of diverse SCAMs will prolong the live of cancer patients.

But are they correct?

In this post, I will investigate by discussing the few studies that have tested this hypothesis.

In 2003, a Norwegian study examined the association between SCAM-use and cancer survival. Survival data were obtained with a follow-up of 8 years for 515 cancer patients. A total of 112 patients had used SCAM. In total, 350 patients died during the follow-up period. Death rates were higher in SCAM-users (79%) than in those who did not use SCAM (65%). The hazard ratio of death for SCAM-use compared with no use was 1.30. The authors of this paper concluded that the use of SCAM seems to predict a shorter survival from cancer.[1]

In 2013, Korean researchers evaluated whether SCAM-use influenced the survival and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of terminal cancer patients. They prospectively studied a cohort of 481 cancer patients. During a follow-up of 164 person-years, 466 patients died. Compared with non-users, SCAM-users did not survive longer. The use of mind-body interventions or prayer was even associated with significantly worse survival. SCAM 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 SCAM did not provide any definite survival benefit, CAM users reported clinically significant worse HRQOLs.[2]

A 2017 study from Malaysia evaluated whether the use of SCAM among newly diagnosed breast cancer patients was associated with delays in presentation, diagnosis or treatment of breast cancer. A total of 340 newly diagnosed patients were included in this study. The prevalence of SCAM use was 46.5%. The use of SCAM was associated with delays in presentation, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The authors concluded that the use of SCAM was significantly associated with delay in presentation and resolution of diagnosis.[3]

A 2017 US study was aimed at determining whether SCAM use impacts on the prognosis of breast cancer patients. A total of 707 patients with stage I-IIIA breast cancer completed a 30-month post-diagnosis interview including questions on SCAM use. During the observation period, 70 breast cancer-specific deaths and 149 total deaths were reported, and 60.2 % of participants reported SCAM use post-diagnosis. No associations were observed between SCAM use and breast cancer-specific or total mortality. The authors concluded that SCAM use was not associated with breast cancer-specific mortality or total mortality.[4]

Another 2018 study from the US investigated SCAM use and its impact on survival. The researchers included 281 patients with nonmetastatic breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer who chose SCAM, administered as sole anticancer treatment. The results show that SCAM use was independently associated with greater risk of death compared with conventional cancer therapy (CCT). The authors concluded that SCAM utilization for curable cancer without any CCT is associated with greater risk of death.[5]

The same group of researchers compared overall survival of patients with cancer receiving CCT with or without SCAM. They used the National Cancer Database on 1 901 815 patients from 1500 Commission on Cancer-accredited centres across the US who were diagnosed with non-metastatic breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer between January, 2004, and December, 2013. Patients were matched on age, clinical group stage, comorbidity, insurance type, race/ethnicity, year of diagnosis, and cancer type. The entire cohort comprised 1 901 815 patients with cancer, 258 patients in the SCAM group and 1 901 557 patients in the control group. The results of this study showed that patients who received SCAM were more likely to refuse additional CCT, and had a higher risk of death. The results suggest that mortality risk associated with SCAM was mediated by the refusal of CCT.[6]

Collectively, these studies do not demonstrate that SCAM use leads to a better prognosis of cancer patients. On the contrary, several investigations have suggested the opposite effect. There are several possibilities to explain why SCAM use shortens the life of cancer patients:

  • Some of the therapies in question might have a direct adverse effect on cancer progression, for instance, by being toxic or by interacting with conventional cancer drugs.
  • Patients who choose to use SCAM might be more ill that those who do not employ it. The Malaysian study3 quoted above suggests that this is a possibility. In several studies, however, this factor has been taken into account and is therefore an unlikely explanation.
  • Patients who opt for SCAM might take conventional cancer treatments less seriously or even shun them completely. The last two of the above-cited studies seem to suggest that this is the most likely explanation.

Whatever the explanation, the fact is that SCAM, in whatever shape or form, does not improve the natural history of cancer… That is unless you can show me convincing evidence to the contrary.

REFERENCES

[1] Risberg T, Vickers A, Bremnes RM, Wist EA, Kaasa S, Cassileth BR. Does use of alternative medicine predict survival from cancer? Eur J Cancer. 2003 Feb;39(3):372-7. doi: 10.1016/s0959-8049(02)00701-3. PMID: 12565991.

[2] Yun YH, Lee MK, Park SM, Kim YA, Lee WJ, Lee KS, Choi JS, Jung KH, Do YR, Kim SY, Heo DS, Kim HT, Park SR. Effect of complementary and alternative medicine on the survival and health-related quality of life among terminally ill cancer patients: a prospective cohort study. Ann Oncol. 2013 Feb;24(2):489-494. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mds469. Epub 2012 Oct 30. PMID: 23110809.

[3] Mohd Mujar NM, Dahlui M, Emran NA, Abdul Hadi I, Wai YY, Arulanantham S, Hooi CC, Mohd Taib NA. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use and delays in presentation and diagnosis of breast cancer patients in public hospitals in Malaysia. PLoS One. 2017 Apr 27;12(4):e0176394. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176394. PMID: 28448541; PMCID: PMC5407802.

[4] Neuhouser ML, Smith AW, George SM, Gibson JT, Baumgartner KB, Baumgartner R, Duggan C, Bernstein L, McTiernan A, Ballard R. Use of complementary and alternative medicine and breast cancer survival in the Health, Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle Study. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2016 Dec;160(3):539-546. doi: 10.1007/s10549-016-4010-x. Epub 2016 Oct 21. PMID: 27766453; PMCID: PMC5558457.

[5] Johnson SB, Park HS, Gross CP, Yu JB. Use of Alternative Medicine for Cancer and Its Impact on Survival. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2018 Jan 1;110(1). doi: 10.1093/jnci/djx145. PMID: 28922780.

[6] Johnson SB, Park HS, Gross CP, Yu JB. Complementary Medicine, Refusal of Conventional Cancer Therapy, and Survival Among Patients With Curable Cancers. JAMA Oncol. 2018 Oct 1;4(10):1375-1381. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.2487. PMID: 30027204; PMCID: PMC6233773.

42 Responses to So-called alternative medicine (SCAM) does not improve the natural history of cancer

  • Unfortunately all of these are observational studies looking at self-selected cohorts of patients and are therefore inevitably subject to bias.

    It seems to me entirely plausible that the worse outcome from SCAM use in incurable cancers could be entirely explained by differences in their disease. In other words the sicker ones may be more desperate and more likely to turn away from conventional treatment that they perceive as less likely to help them (contrast the realistic prognoses given by conventional oncologists with the empty promises of SCAM promotors).

    For patients with potentially curable tumours, there is no reason to suppose that those individuals rejecting conventional treatment were more sick than those who accepted it, though there may be other factors influencing their prognosis, such as lifestyle, socieoeconomic group, educational attainment, ethnicity or co-morbidities. While conventional treatment given with curative effect can occasionally result in death (e.g. from surgical complications, or infection related to chemotherapy-induced immunosuppression), modern treatment is evidence-driven and the data are overwhelmingly in favour of treating most tumours rather than leaving them alone. In this group it is hardly surprising therefore that those choosing SCAM over conventional treatment have a worse outcome.

    It is interesting to look at the breast cancer study showing that those using SCAM initially had delays in diagnosis and treatment, but not in outcome. That speed is of the essence in cancer diagnosis and treatment is a widely held belief, and while there is no doubt that even small delays can make a difference in some kinds of cancer (such as testicular cancer and to a lesser extent lung cancer), this is not always the case, and the intrinsic nature of the tumour is a more important factor.

    For example, a few years ago my cousin (who is a medical negligence lawyer) told me that the Courts in England and Wales use the Nottingham Prognosis Index when assessing actions brought by plaintiffs alleging that delays had resulted in missing the opportunity to cure their breast cancer. The NPI uses factors such as the size of the tumour and the presence of involved lymph nodes to predict the chance of survival, and the Courts make the assumption that a timely diagnosis would have resulted in a lower score and therefore a better prognosis. However, the NPI was developed originally as a tool to determine who should be given chemotherapy, which is those with an inherently more aggressive cancer. Aggressive cancers are generally more advanced at the time of diagnosis and therefore have a higher score. They also do worse than less aggressive ones. There is no biological reason to suppose that the intrinsic nature of a cancer is changed by a delay in diagnosis (though advanced tumours do eventually get more aggressive with time as new mutations arise within them), and the NPI has never been validated for medicolegal use in this way.

    This also applies to some cancer screening programmes, which have not always had the impact that the politicians and pressure groups promoting them seemed to expect.

    I should add that these days molecular and genetic markers make it much easier to determine how a tumour is likely to behave and what treatment is likely to be most successful, so the Nottingham Prognostic Index in its original form has been largely supplanted. I have no idea what the Courts are doing these days, however.

    I have had a number of my own patients die after refusing treatment that would probably have cured them. Nearly always it was as a result of mistakenly-held beliefs, including an exaggerated fear of chemotherapy or radiotherapy itself (though I remember one elderly lady who was convinced that most ill-health was due to the widespread use of electricity in the home). In one instance this was fuelled by a spouse who was an oncology nurse; she should have known better, and I still wonder whether she might have intentionally hastened his demise. Very often they did seek alternative treatment, and were very resistant to the idea that blue scorpion venom, laertrile, mistletoe extracts, extracorporeal ozone perfusion and dendritic cells administered by an expensive German clinic might not be as effective or appropriate as standard NHS treatment. Of course this is anecdotal, but it is illustrative of the scope of the problem.

  • EE said:
    “The notion of an alternative cancer cure is…”

    How can you have an alternative cancer cure when the first one does not work anyway (for the stage IV or metastatic cancer, those that have spread).

    • trust you to take no time to come up with a nonsensical comment!

    • Old Bob,

      How can you have an alternative cancer cure when the first one does not work anyway (for the stage IV or metastatic cancer, those that have spread).

      That depends on what you mean by work. Most stage IV cancers can’t be cured, but treatment can still greatly improve symptoms and often add years of useful life (this is true of many cases of prostate, breast and colorectal cancer, which amounts to a lot of people). Some stage IV cancers are readily curable with chemotherapy, such as testicular cancer and many lymphomas.

      I would have died three years ago without modern cancer treatment to keep me going, though I know it will catch up with me one day.

      Most people with early stage tumours are cured by various combinations of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy. Without what is considered routine treatment most of them would die.

  • “The notion of an alternative cancer cure”

    Given that human cancers are not a single disease but over two hundred distinct diseases with some common etiology but huge differences too, any Altie who says “cancer” instead of “cancers” can immediately be laughed out the room on grounds of absolute ignorance; no need to wait for the rest of their “One True Cause and Cure For…” spiel.

    • has on Tuesday 29 December 2020 at 14:17 said:

      “Given that human cancers are not a single disease but over two hundred distinct diseases with some common etiology but huge differences too, any Altie who says “cancer” instead of “cancers” can immediately be laughed out the room on grounds of absolute ignorance…”

      Only 200? You are ignoring different mutations in adjacent cells of the same tumour. By the SMT there are as many “different” cancers as there are people with cancer, on the planet.

      • Old Bob,

        Only 200? You are ignoring different mutations in adjacent cells of the same tumour. By the SMT there are as many “different” cancers as there are people with cancer, on the planet.

        If you count mutations as different diseases there are a great many more than that. Cancer cells have very unstable genomes as usually the first step for a cell to become cancerous is to lose their DNA surveillance / repair systyem. However, within a given tumour, or an individual patient, some mutations are more important than others, and advances in molecular biology and genetics mean that we can now identify them and understand what many of them do, which is making personalised and targeted treatment possible.

      • The 200+ count is arrived at by counting the number of different human cell types from which cancers can arise. Yes, it’s a broad-brush categorization: there are variations that arise within each cell type; and even within a single tumor. For instance, breast cancers vary according to the type of tissue from which they arise, but also in which hormones can accelerate their growth. In other words cancers and their treatments are highly variable and heinously complex. Categorization by cell type merely provides us a reasonable starting point for identification and discussion, which is why we commonly talk about “breast cancers”, “lung cancers”, “bowel cancers”, “blood cancers”, and so on.

        The point I was attempt to make is that “cancer” is not one single disease, which is what AltMed peddlers frequently misrepresent it as when marketing their own favorite “One True Cause and Cure for Cancer” (fungus, liver flukes, acidic blood, …, vs “zappers”, alkaline diets, coffee enemas, black salve, Rife machines, …). Grotesque over-simplifications are, of course, part and parcel of AltMed advertising and sales, being an easy way to make overwhelmed frightened people feel as if they’re back in control of their lives; a feeling for which they’ll pay handsomely. Thus anyone who offers a “cure for cancer” (singular) is immediately identifiable as a delusional and/or fraudulent quack; to anyone who understands even a little of the subject it is one of the most obvious “tells” there is. So all due credit to you for acknowledging “it’s a bit more complicated than that”; and let’s hope you make an informed critical thinker of yourself yet.

        For an excellent and very accessible read, I recommend Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.

        • has on Thursday 31 December 2020 at 09:43 said:
          “…For an excellent and very accessible read, I recommend Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.”

          Yes, I agree for example pages 358-9 for it’s description of “kinases” and “phosphorylation” as an overview, but that is all I scanned from it.

          But Seyfried:
          https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cancer-Metabolic-Disease-Management-Prevention/dp/0470584920/ref=sxts_sxwds-bia-wc-nc-drs1_0?crid=3PC6WCXZFAH93&cv_ct_cx=cancer+as+a+metabolic+disease
          begins, on page 2, where this left off on page 358 with “…Akt is a… kinase… I refer to these types of cancer as ballons-on-strings. They convey an ordered arrangement of pathways for a disease that is biologically chaotic…”

          That is the essential theme that refutes the name “Emperor” and the plural “Maladies”

          • “Seyfried”

            LOL. Your pathetic attempt at cargo-culting some mass-market SCAM propaganda to resembe academic respectability fools no-one. From its own summary: “This book aims to provide evidence, through case studies, that cancer is primarily a metabolic disease requring metabolic solutions for its management and prevention.”

            Cancer is not a metabolic disease (which is the disruption of the normal chemical processing pathways within a group of cells; e.g. diabetes).

            Cancer is an evolutionary disease whereby one or more cells within a multicellular organism, as a result of DNA copy errors, discard the checks and balances that make them good social citizens and revert to the unrestrained “ME-ME-ME!” replication which we call tumors but to our prokaryote and unicellular eukaryotic cousins are known as “life as usual”.†

            So only day 2 of the year and already you’re caught in a fib. So much for your New Year’s Resolution… unless that resolution was to lie like a pig in sh-t, in which case: well done, you’re doing great.

            † Much like AltMed, whose brave rebels defy social mores and decency for great profit and growth to itself… at least until it murders the host it was leeching off. Mind you, cancers [mostly] do have the good grace not to be transmissible, so in that respect they’re still not as awful as AltMedders.

          • has on Saturday 02 January 2021 at 11:41 said:

            “…So only day 2 of the year and already you’re caught in a fib. So much for your New Year’s Resolution… unless that resolution was to lie like a pig in sh-t, in which case: well done, you’re doing great.”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

  • “It suggests that oncologists are a somewhat sadistically deranged group of professionals who would reject a promising therapy simply because it originates not from within the mainstream of medicine”.

    That seems to me a very telling comment, pertinent to many patients who pursue SCAM modalities, and not just in relation to cancer and oncologists.

    It betokens a viewpoint wherein people seem easily to believe that consultants (who presumably have chosen their specialism because it particularly interests them) don’t have much of an active interest in possible new treatments, and don’t look into the latest developments, and, really, don’t know very much about the illnesses they treat and aren’t interested in Continuing Professional Development.

    It’s good in many ways that in the UK we have moved on from the “Doctor as God” days of the early NHS. But it’s not good if what people move TOWARDS is some person they’ve read about in a newspaper who is touting his or her expensive new evidence-free “cure”.

    • “Doctors as Gods” is another one of real medicine’s cast-offs that AltMed is only too happy to co-opt for itself. Turns out there is a sizeable market for that sort of thing: the benevolent Daddy figure to pat them on the head and tell them everything will be okay; just trust them.

      People choose to lie to themselves; it’s a form of cowardice but utterly understandable in those who are staring their own or loved ones’ mortality down the barrel end. Those people need empathy, patience, and support.

      OTOH, the predators who choose to reinforce those lies for profit, rather than guiding them through that blind fear towards understanding; those people all deserve to be hung up by their hamstrings. Although I’d settle for a good long stay at Her Majesty’s pleasure, not that there’s nearly enough of that.

  • Seems, as if Edzard is not really up to date with what is already published…..

    Only as an example:

    Homeopathic Treatment as an Add‐On Therapy May Improve Quality of Life and Prolong Survival in Patients with Non‐Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Prospective, Randomized, Placebo‐Controlled, Double‐Blind, Three‐Arm, Multicenter Study

    https://theoncologist.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/onco.13548

    • Seems, as if Heinrich is not really up to date with what is already published on this blog:
      https://edzardernst.com/2020/10/homeopathy-prolongs-survival-of-lung-cancer-patients-can-it-be-true/

      • ceterum censeo:
        “Dr. Heinrich Hümmer on Saturday 10 October 2020 at 16:40

        1) “What is the purpose of group 3? The authors call it a control group and state it allows assessing the real homeopathic effect on the homeopathic cohort as the real effect will be the natural historical effect minus the placebo effect and the homeopathic effect. Does that make sense?”
        –>Yes, as stated!
        4)”If I understand it correctly, the study patients did not receive immuno-oncological therapy. Does that fact not render the study unethical? –> would be unethical, but you can be shure, the ethics committee would not have allowed the study.
        5)”What homeopathic potencies were prescribed in group 1? The paper says: The constituents of the different homeopathic remedies were mainly of plant, mineral, or animal origin. This is unlikely, as most homeopathic remedies contain nothing”
        —> Didn´t I already tell you that your thinking within terms of matter only is a bit dusty? Physicist Dürr:”There is no matter”
        6) “The authors seem to have used individualised homeopathy according to Hahnemann’s instructions. Did Hahnemann not strictly forbid combining his approach with other types of treatment?” –>I already told you: “Homeopathy is is more than just Hahnemann´s Organon!”
        7) “How well respected is THE ONCLOLOGIST, the journal that published the paper?”
        —> IF 5.025 Ranking 30 within 367 oncological Journals
        8)”Was the article peer-reviewed? If so, by whom?”
        —->As a repected journal, the oncologist would hardly publish anything without peer review! And: How long has it been, that the reviewers are named?
        9) “Was the placebo indistinguishable from the verum?”
        —–> Do you mean this question seriously?
        10) “Was the success of patient-blinding checked?”
        —> see 8) respected journal
        11) “Have similar findings regarding survival been reported previously? The authors call this finding ‘unexpected’; I find it more than that; it is baffling.”
        —> not for me: https://homoeopathiewirkt.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/when-is-sole-adjuvant-homeopathic-tumor-therapy-permissible-and-useful/
        13) “The first author of this trial is Prof Frass who has featured on this blog several times before (see for instance here, here, here, here and here). Frass has published several studies of homeopathy and invariably manages to produce positive results. Am I the only one to find this odd?”
        —>This comment is below your scientific dignity!

        • Dana better watch out, lest Hümmer steal his title as “Humpty Dumpty”.

        • Dr Hummer,

          Did you read my comments on the paper? My main objection was that it didn’t seem statistically very sound, both with regard to study design and to how it was reported. As a result it is difficult to draw any valid conclusions from it at all.

          For an example of the type of study that real-life oncologists base their treatment on, you could have a look at this one, published recently in The Lancet (spoiler alert – I am one of many co-authors; it was a multi-centre, international trial, and my contribution was limited to contributing patients and overseeing how it was conducted in my own cancer centre).
          https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31553-1/fulltext

          Following this publication I expect the management of prostate cancer to change worldwide, and it will now be difficult to justify the use of early radiotherapy following prostatectomy. Large multicentre trials such as this one are collaborative efforts which question our existing treatment strategies, replacing them with new ones as evidence accumulates. While I was practising I used to joke that if I was managing my patients the same way as I did the previous year then I wasn’t keeping up with current research, but actually that was true. It is humbling to find out that the treatment that you have been using for years was wrong, even if it nobody knew better at the time, but exciting, too, in the knowledge that you will be making changes to your practice that will have real benefits in terms of patient outcomes. This way cancer management moves forward.

          By comparison the homeopathy paper discussed in this blog in October is the work of amateurs who don’t really have much idea at all about how to conduct research.

          Though it is sobering to remember that Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent paper, with only 12 subjects and entirely fictitious results was also published in The Lancet, and has had a far bigger impact on health worldwide than any of the collaborative studies that I have been involved in over the course of my career.

          • Reply to Dr Julian Money-Kyrle
            Thank you for your kind answer in the interests of fair discourse. I believe that as a seasoned oncologist you should send your criticisms to the Oncologist so that an open discussion can take place.

          • @Heinrich Hümmer: Now that you’ve had a chance to ponder Dr Julian Money-Kyrle’s criticisms for yourself, I’m sure there’s nothing to stop you from raising issue with the Oncologist’s editors yourself.

            After all, as a seasoned homeopath who prides himself on citing the evidence in support of his nostrums, surely it is contingent on you to ensure that only the highest-quality evidence is presented, and that which is found flawed or wanting is highlighted for speedy correction?

            Or are you perfectly happy to roll with “evidence” that is pap, just as long as it agrees with your assertions?

  • has on Friday 01 January 2021 at 10:20

    “surely it is contingent on you to ensure that only the highest-quality evidence is presented, and that which is found flawed or wanting is highlighted for speedy correction?”

    I fully agree with you,
    because that is my request when attempting self-critical (see Dr Julian Money-Kyrle ) , serious, undogmatic and honest (homeopathic) therapy.
    But you are certainly also aware that the evidence of conventional medicine moves in the same framework as homeopathy …..

    Mapping the Cochrane evidence for decision making in health care
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2753.2007.00886.x

    • your reference is 14 years old; I know that homeopathy has not advanced during this period, but conventional medicine certainly has.

      • Edzard, are you really and honestly sure?

        This inaugural lecture (unfortunately only in German, but you should still be able to do it) gives a slightly different impression …
        Somehow it only seems to be better to be cheated in the preparation of studies on so-called scientific university medicine (SCSUM)

        “Wie glaubwürdig ist Evidenzbasierte Medizin? Eine Kritik am Beispiel der Antidepressiva”
        (“How credible is evidence-based medicine? A criticism of the example of antidepressants”)
        SCSUM !!!

        https://tube.switch.ch/switchcast/uzh.ch/events/0617c80b-2abb-4736-85bd-4604a2d99869

        • Edzard, are you really and honestly sure?
          YES

        • Heinie,
          When SCAM cures anyone, anyone at all, of any form of cancer, please let the world know? In the meantime, I won’t hold my breath.

          BTW, can any SCAM ‘practitioner perform an angiogram, colonoscopy, MRI, or CAT scan? Naaah, not at all. The horse you are flogging died long ago.

        • “A criticism of the example of antidepressants”

          Antidepressants are not perfect, and no-one (except SCAM’s strawmen) claims they are. This is why research and development continues.

          Still, as someone (N=1 anecdote) who has lived their entire adult life with severe incurable depression, antidepressant medications have made the difference between me being mostly able to function and me being dead.

          So save us your Nirvana Fallacy nonsense, because real medicine’s open and honest admissions of its limitations and errors are a strength, not a weakness, and only a religious grifter or fool would portray it otherwise while admitting no such shortcomings of itself.

      • “….but conventional medicine certainly has [advanced]…..” ?????

        How evidence-based medicine is failing due to biased trials and selective publication
        Susanna Every-Palmer 1 , Jeremy Howick
        https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24819404/

        Review
        BMJ 2003 May 31;326(7400):1171-3.
        doi: 10.1136/bmj.326.7400.1171.
        Evidence b(i)ased medicine–selective reporting from studies sponsored by pharmaceutical industry: review of studies in new drug applications
        https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12775615/

        Joel Lexchin – Those Who Have the Gold Make the Evidence
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRsVxPC1N70

        J Clin Epidemiol 2016 May;73:82-6.
        doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2016.02.012. Epub 2016 Mar 2.
        Evidence-based medicine has been hijacked: a report to David Sackett
        John P A Ioannidis 1
        https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26934549/

        • And when homeopathy strives to apply the same level of self-criticism that conventional medicine already does, you be sure to let us know, ’kay?

          • @has on:
            “you be sure to let us know, ’kay?”

            I let you know:

            I DO! (but I cannot speak for other homeopaths as you cannot speak for other SCSUM-medicals…)

            and @Franky-Ranky,

            even at the risk of Edzard having a yawning fit, it is an honor and concern for me to answer your question truthfully: yes,
            as you can read for yourself:
            https://homoeopathiewirkt.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/when-is-sole-adjuvant-homeopathic-tumor-therapy-permissible-and-useful/

            or the original publication

            Immediate Remission of an Inguinal Lymph Node Afflicted with Large-Cell B-Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Under Sole Homeopathic Treatment with Conium: When Is a Sole Adjuvant-Homeopathic Tumor Therapy Permissible and Useful?
            https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/500122
            But please don’t come up with the out-of-probability coincidence argument!
            “BTW, can any [ENT doctor] perform an angiogram, colonoscopy, MRI, or CAT scan? Naaah, not at all”

            …and if you call me by my childhoud-name, please do it right: Heini (without e)!

          • we have to be patient with HH; he is awfully proud of his only Medline-listed paper.

          • http://docplayer.org/12415471-Adjuvante-homoeopathische-therapie-bei-konventionell-behandeltem-mammakarzinom.html
            Von Heinrich Hümmer, Katharina Pachmann und Ulrich Pachmann

            Cancers (Basel)
            . 2018 Oct 29;10(11):407.
            doi: 10.3390/cancers10110407.
            The Value of Monitoring the Behavior of Circulating Tumor Cells at the End of Endocrine Therapy in Breast Cancer Patients
            Katharina Pachmann 1 , Stefan Schuster 2

            https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30380648/

          • HH: “I DO!”

            Mmm? Must’ve missed it.

            Prof Ernst: “we have to be patient with HH; he is awfully proud of his only Medline-listed paper.”

            Daaaamn. (And I thought my ripostes were acidic!)

          • The allopathic tretment for Acidic Ripostes is Caustic Rejoinders, while the homeopathic treatment is Vitriolic Fulminations 30C.

          • “treatment for Acidic Ripostes”:

            What did a highly respected scientist one day say about Edzard’s understanding of science?

            “…….. Ernst wrote an alleged meta-analysis on homeopathy in 2002, which is in fact a systematic overview (reference 4). In my article, I will refer to some of the peculiarities of his overview below For example, Ernst oscillates between rejecting articles that show specific effects on diseases, while in other cases he does not allow articles because they do not show the specific effects.

            I´VE NEVER SEEN A SCIENTIFIC WRITER WHO WAS SO OBVIOUSLY BIASED LIKE EDZARD ERNST”.

            Prof. HAHN
            “Robert Hahn, [emert.] researcher and professor of anesthesia and intensive care medicine at the University of Linköping, Sweden. Hahn has published over 300 scientific articles in the field of anesthesia and intensive care medicine and has already received several research awards. So far he had nothing to do with homeopathy. He had noticed, however, that there was an astonishingly unscientific discussion going on about the evidence of homeopathy. Then he wanted to get an idea of it himself and studied the current research situation. He came to astonishing results.”
            https://www.narayana-verlag.de/spektrum-homoeopathie/wissenschaftlicher-beitrag-beweise-fuer-die-homoeopathie

          • thanks HH; this gives me the opportunity to put you straight about the HIGHLY RESPECTED SCIENTIST:
            https://edzardernst.com/2018/06/an-analysis-of-hahns-critique-of-my-homeopathy-papers-yes-ideology-does-seem-to-play-a-part/
            and of particular note the comment of Bjorn who actually understands Swedish which I assume you don’t:

            Trying to understand an enigmatic personality such as Dr. Hahn, requires understanding that he is deeply affected by religion and religion does strange things to peoples perception of reality.

            Dr. Hahn and his wife are a spiritualists. His wife, Marie-Louise, thinks she is a medium and they have been actively exploring these ideas. They have co-authored several books on the subject of spiritism.
            Dr. Hahn is involved in anthroposophy, a religious cult that runs a famously controversial “clinic” in his home country Sweden. Homeopathy is extensively used by this cult.
            If I recall correctly Dr. Hahn thinks he has found his former life in a person from the 13th century.

            His web at http://www.roberthahn.se/ is in Swedish but you can translate the text easily and quite satisfactorily.
            If you use Google Chrome browser it may offer to or translate the pages automagically.
            Or you can copy paste the link (the URL) of a page into the left field in “translate.google.com” and choose Swedish as the original language and in the right field choose your preferred language and click the link that appears.

          • @Hümmer: Your fallacy today is Appeal to Authority.

            Also, you should probably pick a better authority.

            There’s a reason science judges the work, rather than the personality. And just because a researcher is correct about one thing (e.g. Newton on gravity, Pauling on chemical bonding) does not make them correct on another (e.g. Newton on alchemy, Pauling on vitamin C). Although it can certainly make them more arrogant and unwilling to admit error—but that’s a humanity-wide failing, not a science-specific one, and part of the reason science works the way it does: to eliminate these human biases from the final measurement. We defer to Newton when sending orbiters to Mars, not because he is Newton but because his calculations work; and have been tested and proven to work over and over again. Just as we defer to Pauling, not Newton, in chemical concoctions; and to neither on medicine where nothing they’ve said is of any worth.

            Though it’s no surprise that as a homeopath you would elevate the personality first and frontmost. Charismatic leaders and prophets are ten-a-penny wherever religion is active, since the goal there is to inflate the Ego and propagate the Truth; not figure out what actually is true and (more significantly) what is not, at huge risk to the egos already fully invested in it.

          • has,

            We defer to Newton when sending orbiters to Mars, not because he is Newton but because his calculations work; and have been tested and proven to work over and over again.

            Although I agree with what you are saying I’m afraid this isn’t a very good example. Calculations based on Newton’s theory of gravitation were used to put astronauts on the Moon, but his theory was wrong, and although the divergence from reality is small enough to be ignored for most purposes, it is not accurate enough for Mars landings, or for the SatNav units in our cars, for that matter.

            Newton regarded gravity as an attractive force between massive bodies proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centres of mass. However, Einstein proposed that what we perceive as gravity is actually due to distortions in space-time caused by massive objects, and that any body moving through space-time therefore follows a path determined by these distortions. This predicts that gravity can influence objects with no mass, such as photons, which was famously demonstrated to be the case by Arthur Eddington in 1919, as reported in The Times:

            REVOLUTION IN SCIENCE
            NEW THEORY OF THE UNIVERSE
            NEWTONIAN IDEAS
            OVERTHROWN

            So far Einstein’s theory of gravity (or General Relativity as it is usually known) has withstood all attempts to disprove it, but as there are some fundamental inconsistencies between relativity and quantum theory (which has also had all of its weird prodictions verified experimentally) we know that they it can’t both be entirely correct. Physicists are eagerly looking forward to future observations that will prove them wrong and allow our understanding to move on.

          • @has on:

            1) I agree with you in your honest statements (mostly)

            2) I pick up Prof. Hahn´s authority as having published highly respected (and correct) publications, not the person Hahn
            3) In the same way, I take from Hahnemann what was revolutionary and visionary and reject untenable dogmas and authoritarian regulations.
            4) Pauli on vitamin C: it looks like he was spot on (especially in these times) …
            Two Studies About Vitamin C and Vitamin D
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AlRKmbtYUI
            —> It may be helpful if you take high doses of vitamin C for acute Covi-19-disease, as it obviously improves survival significantly in the IUC…..

          • @JMK: All theories are wrong. Their value is in 1. defining the boundaries of their wrongness, and 2. being less wrong than before. Even in Newton’s day, Mercury’s peculiar precession was well known and not accounted for by Newton’s explanation.

            This is why I used Mars† as an example of Newton’s theory of gravitation being put to useful, practical, theory-confirming work. We know that Newton’s theory of gravitation is accurate to X degree within system Y. Newton put men on the moon, and sent machines to visit every major planet except Mercury, which is damned impressive by any measure; doubly so for someone operating so close to the start of modern science he practically invented it just to be able to use it himself. (Heck, he did invent the math needed to describe the motion of bodies for his theorems.)

            I mean, who among us wouldn’t want to be as wrong as Newton was about gravitation and optics? It was an incredible achievement by any standard. Yes, Newton was wrong, but he was wrong by such a modest degree (~1%) it would be another quarter-millennium before anyone else would be less wrong than he was, by producing an explanation that not only explain established Newtonian motion but account for Mercury’s relative motion as well.

            To lob an artificial satellite into a precise orbit around Mercury you really have to look to Einstein’s theory of gravitation, which not only provides a more accurate description of how gravity works but also presents a testable explanation of why it works (everything moves in a straight line, and it is spacetime itself which is curved by presence of mass). And we know Einstein’s theory isn’t complete either, but it’s good enough to give us a GPS system that works despite those satellites’ own timeframes moving slightly differently to ours.

            ..

            That’s the level of wrongness we’re now dealing with in modern science, and it is a fraction of the wrongness that was known at its birth, which in turn was still far less wrong than the wrongness of the Ancient Greeks who started that whole ball rolling a few thousand years back. And we know today’s wrongness is accurate to within a fairly high degree, because that wrongness has been repeatedly tested and used in building every facet of our modern society, from sanitation to electric light, to oncology meds and microwave ovens and observing the fossil record of our early universe via the clever trick of gravitational lensing. Were our explanations all wildly wrong we would not be sitting here discussing it, because none of this modern high-technology society could have been built.

            Whereas homeopaths are operating at a level of wrongness that was barely tenable even before Mendeleev and Pasteur, and nowadays is Not Even Wrong. It is simply compatible with all of the above, incapable of existing within the same universe. Even so, we have a name for this which is both socially acceptable and highly profitable: Religion. I just wish Dr Hümmer and his friends had the honesty to admit that, and accept the only Doctorates they hold are in Divinity and conduct themselves accordingly.

            † Yeah, there might be a certain amount of Einsteinian fiddling needed to stick the perfect landing on Mars. IANARocketScientist so feel no shame in deferring to the experts on this. (I’ll admit, the Moon would’ve been a safer bet but Mars is just cooler, damnit!) Relativity affects all bodies to some degree; though Mercury’s the one that’s really noticeable, being closest to the largest and most influential mass in our solar system, the Sun. But Newtonian mechanics should be good enough to tell you where Mars is to be found, and anything else is just course-corrections; besides, it’s the three-body problem in orbital mechanics that is really the bear in that room. Mind you, it was the rocket scientists who confused Metric for Imperial and gave Mars a nice new crater‡, so on a scale of errors I don’t think I’m really that bad.

            ‡ Not really; Climate Orbiter broke up and burned in Mars’ thin atmosphere, so I doubt any physical hole was ever made. But even cold hard science must take a backseat to amusing rhetorical flourish now and again.

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