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

Last week, a naturopath who has been practicing naturopathy for more than three years, appeared in the Paris High Court. He is accused of “illegal practice of medicine” and of “usurpation of the title of doctor” after two of his cancer patients died.

Charles B. was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2016 but wanted to avoid traditional medicine. In March 2017, he consulted the naturopath, Miguel B., who studied for fourteen years in the United States and has a degree in biochemistry and a doctorate in molecular medicine. He knew that his qualifications did not allow him to practice in France and presented himself as a naturopath. Knowing about his client’s cancer, Miguel B. drew up a health plan for him that included numerous fasts and purges to detox his body.

In the following months, the cancer spreads to the lungs and brain. Charles B. wrote to his naturopath in early February: “Great pain, don’t know what to do”. The naturopath continued his advice: “You should go on a diet, rest and purge in the evening. In court, Charles B.’s father recalled a conversation between his son and Miguel B. during which the latter had said to Charles B.: “It would be a pity if you were to undergo this chemotherapy.” On 22 February 2018, now weighing only 59 kg, Charles B. finally decided to start chemotherapy. But it was already too late, and he died on 18 December 2018, at the age of 41, of a cancer from which more than 98% of patients usually recover. Charles B.’s wife stated that the naturopath had told her husband that he would not need chemotherapy. She believes that the defendant is “responsible and even guilty” of her husband’s death.

The family of another patient of Miguel B. has also joined the case. Catherine F., who had been suffering from cervical cancer, died at the age of 39. She had followed, among other treatments, a fast recommended by the naturopath and was one of 149 further patients whose list was found on a USB stick belonging to the defendant.

 

 

32 Responses to A naturopath is in court after two of his cancer patients died

  • However well-meaning and sincere these ‘Naturopaths’ are, and however intelligent and well-educated in subjects that are only tangentially medical, the arrogance of supposing that they can administer a better way than all the oncologists in all the hospitals in all the world, is shocking.

    It suggests that all the oncologists in all the hospitals in all the world are not clever enough to have found this better way. Or that they are all corrupt and accepting ‘bungs’ from pharmaceutical companies, whose representatives are also all assumed to be corrupt.

    It’s not nice to think of a man’s life being ruined by a prison term when he probably meant well. But what he did was still criminal, in both the literal and the metaphorical sense. People need protection from fake veneers of respectability.

    On this matter of “didn’t want conventional treatment”, I always think “Well, I’d go much further, and not want the disease in the first place”. For all the good vain non-wanting would do…..

  • The beginning paragraph says all you need to know… “Charles B. was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2016 but wanted to avoid traditional medicine ”

    Patients should be allowed to choose the medicine they prefer. You don’t know how many times this man had previoiusly experienced failed CONmed. He simply wasn’t interested.

    My personal story goes like this;
    I had my blood drawn, for which PSA would be one such reason for analyzing. I was about 55 years old at the time.
    The PSA test result jumped from a previous 2.5 to 6.5. I was referred to the urologist. The urologist recommended I get a biopsy done to examine further the spike in PSA. I did my own research and discovered that such PSA spikes would be as a result of ejaculation within the 48 hours prior to the blood draw. I then presented the question to the urologist to get his opinion of my findings. He agreed that what had occurred can, and many times is the reason for the PSA higher value. I petitioned the urologist for another blood draw before proceeding with a biopsy…. he agreed. After analyzing the second blood draw, my PSA result dropped back down to 2.5.

    My question is this. If a urologist knows that this can happen, why wouldn’t any and every urologist ALWAYS make a second blood draw before proceeding with a prostate biopsy. Furthermore to inform that patient to be sure NOT to ejaculate within 48 hours prior to the blood draw for PSA testing.

    If I could figure this out myself, why do I need an MD ?
    Prostate biopsy does not come without risks.

    https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-12-surgery-unnecessary-prostate-cancer-patients.html

    • Listener,

      I petitioned the urologist for another blood draw before proceeding with a biopsy…. he agreed. After analyzing the second blood draw, my PSA result dropped back down to 2.5.

      My question is this. If a urologist knows that this can happen, why wouldn’t any and every urologist ALWAYS make a second blood draw before proceeding with a prostate biopsy

      I would be interested to know where and when this was, as it certainly wouldn’t be considered best practice today, at least not in the UK. In the USA, where the healthcare system is deeply dysfunctional and money is an important driver I have no idea what is considered normal or acceptable.

      A PSA of 6.5 in a 55-year-old is quite high, particularly if it was previously 2.5. While most prostate cancers are very slow-growing, a few are unuaully aggressive and perhaps he wanted to be sure that this wasn’t happening here. Having said that, you are quite right that there are many other causes of a raised PSA, including prostatitis which can push it up to 60 or more. I used to hear urologists advising that you shouldn’t take blood for a PSA following a rectal examination as it was thought that this was enough to force some PSA from the prostate into the bloodstream, though I have never heard of anyone asking a patient to refrain from ejaculation prior to an examination and I would be very surprised it it were to account for that degree of difference.

      Nevertheless, I would say that going straight from a single PSA rise of this magnitude to a biopsy is being rather trigger-happy, particularly as there are risks from a biopsy quite aside from it being an unpleasant and painful procedure.

      I am a bit out-of-date with the current management and diagnosis of prostate cancer, as I have been away from clinical practice now for nearly five years. However, it has long been known that PSA is not a very good way of screening for prostate cancer, because of its variability, because different cancers make different quantities of PSA and because some PSA is made by normal prostate tissue. A digital rectal examination is often more helpful as most prostate cancer start on the back surface of the prostate where they are relatively easy to feel; usually they are asymptomatic at this site as they don’t restrict the flow of urine.

      In a situation such as this I would certainly expect the urologist to repeat the PSA after a month or so to see whether it remained elevated before going for a biopsy.

      In the couple of years prior to my retirement it was becoming routine in the UK to obtain an MRI scan prior to biopsy, not only to establish whether the radiological appearances were suspicious, but also so that the biopsy could be targeted at the abnormal areas. Taking 6 (or occasionally 12) using a trans-rectal ultrasound can easily miss a small tumour or one located more deeply within the prostate, and in my unit we often used to take targeted biopsies under a general anaesthetic via the perineum (the area between the anus and the scrotum), taking about 40 cores of tissue. This does require special equipment and training – we were one of only two large prostate brachytherapy centres in the UK, so we had urologists who were very familiar with this approach.

      I should add that I am an oncologist, not a urologist, and so I was never involved in the diagnosis of prostate cancer, only the management post-diagnosis. I should also add that PSA is a great deal more useful for monitoring after treatment of prostate cancer than it is for screening or diagnosing it in the first place, as there is normally no non-malignant source of PSA remaining in the body if the prostate has been removed or irradiated.

      • @Dr Julian Money-Kyrle
        I think that your following quote may be interesting for Listener and other alternative apologists:

        I am a bit out-of-date with the current management and diagnosis of prostate cancer, as I have been away from clinical practice now for nearly five years.

        You consider your knowledge out-of-date after merely five years of being no longer active in the field.
        Here in the Netherlands, doctors must renew their medical license every 5 years – and one of the mandatory requirements is that they spent at least 200 hours of accredited training and courses in those 5 years, in order to keep abreast of the latest developments with regard to best practice. IOW: if real doctors don’t spend at least one full week in school every year, they lose their license.

        Now compare this to naturopaths and homeopaths: even from the very beginning of their career, their ‘knowledge’ is mostly based on completely outdated and obsolete practices, best described as ‘magical thinking’. And any ‘new insights’ and ‘new developments’ are either complete insanity (e.g. homeopathic light of Saturn), or else plain frauds (e.g. all the endless stream of ‘new’ electronic bioresonance devices, which, best case, merely measure skin resistance).

        Yet some people still maintain that alternative practitioners can be trusted to provide up-to-date and proven effective healthcare …

        • It is the same in the UK, but cancer treatment moves even faster than the requirements for continuous professional development. When I was practising I found that if I was managing my patients the same way as the previous year then I wasn’t keeping up with the literature.

      • Thanks for your insight doc

        I know a few friends that opted for prostate surgery. In fact, a recent meeting with an old friend that revealed to me his prostate biopsy indicated cancer and he has been advised to have surgery for prostate removal. He is a the lowest stage…. hmmm.

        I am confident that the major treatment options are more successful at diminishing the chance of death from prostate cancer than doing nothing. As for deferring death… we just can not be convinced of anything doc. Shit happens after cancer treatments.

        For those that catch the cancer in initial stages, I happen to believe there are other options that lead to longer life and better health… yes, without a cancer death outcome.
        ….. drum-roll…….. it’s known as IF, Intermittent Fasting is rapidly becoming a health solution for many chronic illnesses. IF is a patient friendly modern form of eating restriction formerly known better as CR (calorie reduction) Intermittent Fasting is rapidly becoming a health solution for many chronic illnesses.

        I just cant help but wonder how many cancer deaths could be eliminated via IF. It’s had a profound effect on my own health.
        The current annual deaths from all cancers in the USA approaches the number of US Covid-19 deaths this year. It is estimated that many of the cancer deaths could be eliminated via CR or IF…. without the risks of chemo, radiation and surgery. In fact, why is CR & IF not being pushed like the vaccines are being pushed ? CR & IF have long lasing effects if adhered to long term, apparently vaccines do not. Furthermore CR & IF not only reduce Covid-19 and cancer threats, they work by helping the body of patient function without risk of other chronic illnesses… think comorbidities.

        A pretty good read here in the link below about CR & IF. If you don’t care to look, I’ll save you the time and admit that the study stops short of solid “evidence” of improved cancer outcomes, but there is evidence to support legitimacy of CR & IF.
        https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.3322/caac.21694

        I do have an ear to the thousands that testify of reversed diabetes, obesity, heart disease, inflamation… and yes cancer as a result of much reduced insulin resistance via intermittent fasting. I attest to the health benefits myself as I have rid myself of excess pounds, arthritis, gout, low kidney function, vertigo, plantar fasciitis and pre-diabetes…. and who knows what else.
        https://www.amazon.com/Why-We-Get-Sick-Epidemic/dp/1953295770/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=why+we+get+sick&qid=1631966564&sr=8-2

        • Listener,
          Yes patients should be able to choose the medicine they prefer and this must be an informed choice. In the situation that is the subject of this post I feel the only way really to make an informed choice is to see both an oncologist and a naturopath, and to hear the chances of death by the choice. If a person decides without hearing that it is not an informed choice.

          • @John

            If you say John. But what about the patients that gave CONmed a bunch of opportunities… but CONmed failed again and again.
            You gonna be the one to force them to continue getting beat-up ?

          • @Listener
            Once again, and please remember it this time:

            The fact that real medicine sometimes fails does NOT mean that quackery should be accepted as a viable alternative.

            If you promote quackery, this means that you encourage that people get defrauded, and spend money, time and emotional effort on something that promises to benefit them but never actually does.

          • @Richard Rasker

            What quackery am I promoting ? … specifically
            Please tell me.

            That said, I do defend the right of patients to determine their own outcomes…. but I promote no specific quackery.

          • @Listener

            What quackery am I promoting ?

            For long-time followers of this blog, the question should really be this: When did Listener not promote quackery?

            For example, in one of the above posts of yours you said this (emphasis added on quack statements):

            The current annual deaths from all cancers in the USA approaches the number of US Covid-19 deaths this year. It is estimated that many of the cancer deaths could be eliminated via CR or IF…. without the risks of chemo, radiation and surgery. In fact, why is CR & IF not being pushed like the vaccines are being pushed ? CR & IF have long lasing effects if adhered to long term, apparently vaccines do not. Furthermore CR & IF not only reduce Covid-19 and cancer threats, they work by helping the body of patient function without risk of other chronic illnesses… think comorbidities.

            I am not saying IF doesn’t haven’t any health benefits at all and that it is outright quackery like homeopathy. However, your promotion IF as an ultimate solution for all that ails mankind, including all types of cancers and covid-19 without any scientific evidence is outright quackery.

          • @John

            IF is a health solution that happens to be much better than treating symptoms… which CONmed does in excess…. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

            While IF is not a treatment for acute problems, the beneficial effects can easily be seen in six months, which represents only a small percentage of the time since the inception of the pandemic. If patients were directed by CONmed MD’s to to dump the obesity, rather than rejecting patients unless they are dying…. perhaps many people could have been saved.

          • Patients ARE advised by doctors, both GPS and Consultants, to avoid or to deal with obesity. It is a risk factor for cancers.

          • … and cardiovascular disease.

          • @David B & Edzard

            “Patients ARE advised by doctors, both GPS and Consultants, to avoid or to deal with obesity. It is a risk factor for cancers.”

            …. and are they doing they same as a solution for covid-19 resistance ? … to help eliminate comorbidities ?

          • in the UK yes

          • @EE

            Ohhhh, really ?

            Have patients even have access to MD’s equal to prior covid pandemic ? I don’t think so. MD’s decided they didn’t want to be exposed.
            Again, is it any wonder that patients seeking care turned elsewhere ?

            MD’s that were so interested in the care of their patients prior to the pandemic quickly changed their thinking.

          • don’t talk nonsense!
            GPs do not need face-to-face contact for giving advice.
            try to think before you write.

          • @EE

            And I’m here to tell you that even NON face to face patient/doctor visits were stifled…. and still are.

          • not my experience

        • Listener,

          A pretty good read here in the link below about CR & IF. If you don’t care to look, I’ll save you the time and admit that the study stops short of solid “evidence” of improved cancer outcomes, but there is evidence to support legitimacy of CR & IF.
          https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.3322/caac.21694

          I have followed your link. Here are a couple of quotes from the abstract:
          “The effects of IF on human cancer incidence and prognosis re-
          main unknown because of a lack of high- quality randomized clinical trials. ”

          ” the authors would not currently recommend patients
          undergoing active cancer treatment partake in IF outside the context of a clinical trial.”

          In fact, why is CR & IF not being pushed like the vaccines are being pushed ?

          I think the above answers your question.

          I don’t know about the US, where medicine, like most other things, seems to be primarily profit-driven, but in the UK oncologists would welcome a cheap, safe and effective alternative to chemotherapy or radiotherapy that would free up resources for our underfunded National Health Service to spend in other ways.

          This is an interesting idea, but without solid evidence that is all it is, an idea, and not something that can form the basis of any sort of cancer management, however many people believe in it. If I were still working I would be happy to put patients into a well-designed clinical trial, as I regularly used to do for trials of other treatments. However, very few promising ideas in cancer management, or in medicine generally, have been able to form the basis of useful treatment once they have been properly examined and tested, and to adopt anything without robust evidence is reckless.

          • @ Dr. JMK

            Doc, I admitted the read did not offer conclusive evidence for CR & IM to combat cancer. However, it fell short of condemning the practice, it only states that the data is not sufficient.
            There is evidence to show that IF and OMAD (One Meal A Day) eating has many beneficial health results. Dr. Bikman documents them in his book “Why We Get Sick”.

            As for the cancer trials. We already know that the motivation factor behind most all RCT’s is profit. Furthermore, trials are slanted to achieve specific outcomes, some designed to fail intentionally, others designed specifically to prove efficacy and safety. So don’t hold your breath waiting for a healthy diet to win anything much in the arena against the Pharma giants. It won’t happen for the same reason it hasn’t happened already.
            Look to the many thousands like myself that will attest to the fact that a changed diet already translated into better health.

          • “We already know that the motivation factor behind most all RCT’s is profit.”
            This must be a royal ‘we’ meaning ‘I’. And ‘know’ means ‘assume’.
            “Furthermore, trials are slanted to achieve specific outcomes, some designed to fail intentionally, others designed specifically to prove efficacy and safety.”
            Again, this is your assumption based on what? Your conspirational ideation?

    • People should be free to make their own choices in medical treatment as in other things.

      But in EVERYTHING, Consumer Protection Law is required, to protect the public from fake products.

      To move out of the sphere of medicine: Consider someone wishing to change hair colour (not that I have much hair left to colour). The supermarket or drugstore shelves may have a wide variety of products and brands on display to choose from. Consumers can be confident that, behind the scenes, Consumer Law works to protect them from fake products that simply do not contain any hair colouring ingredients. So whichever brand/type they choose, even though some may work a bit better than others, or give closer to the desired result, none of the bottles is simply a fake product with no hair colouring materials.

      Consumer choice is meant to be BETWEEN ONE EFFECTIVE PRODUCT AND ANOTHER, not between genuine and fake products. That’s why Consumer Protection Laws exist in most countries.

      Sadly, Consumer Protection Laws are not always effectively applied to fake ‘medicine’ and ‘medical treatments’. Consumers in this field ARE left choosing between the genuine and the fake.

      With regard to PSA and prostate: There was obviously a communication failure in the instance cited. However, this has been applied as a ‘tu quoque’ argument. (What does any SCAM modality do to diagnose early onset prostate cancer?).

      In the UK, when you book a health check from Bluecrest Health, a private health screening provider, the printed material is crystal clear about the business of PSA measurement and ejaculation. That there was a communication failure in the instance cited above, cannot be an argument for fake health treatments.

  • Listener,

    The beginning paragraph says all you need to know… “Charles B. was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2016 but wanted to avoid traditional medicine ”

    Patients should be allowed to choose the medicine they prefer. You don’t know how many times this man had previoiusly experienced failed CONmed. He simply wasn’t interested

    I would say that he was uninformed, not uninterested.

    Testicular cancer is completely curable in nearly every case, and has been now for several decades, with current research mainly focusing on how to reduce the amount and intensity of treatment required (lower radiation doses, fewer chemotherapy cycles and active surveillance of those where further treatment may be unnecessary).

    People are afraid of chemotherapy but often have quite unrealistic ideas of what it involves. I would guess from his age and the relatively slow progression that this man had a seminoma. If it were a high-risk stage I tumour, usually all that is needed is a single cycle of carboplatin, which is given by a drip over the course of a couple of hours, and the side-effects are no worse than a hangover. If it were stage II he would have a short course of radiotherapy, which again has very little in the way of short-term side-effects but carries a small risk of inducing a second malignancy after about thirty years. If it were more advanced, or a non-small-cell tumour (less common, particularly in this age group) then it would have required more intensive combination chemotherapy, which is unpleasant but manageable (I have had this myself, though at higher intensity than used for testicular cancer as I had a different diagnosis).

    I agree that patients should be allowed to choose whether or not to have treatment, but they should be properly informed in order to make this decision. Several of my own patients have died as a result of refusing treatment for what should have been curable tumours and it is tragic when this occurs.

  • It comes down to a properly delivered informed consent. Was that given in these cases? Did the patients understand the potential risks and/or benefits of their options?

    (1) the nature of the procedure, (2) the risks and benefits and the procedure, (3) reasonable alternatives, (4) risks and benefits of alternatives, and (5) assessment of the patient’s understanding of elements 1 through 4.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430827/

  • No snake-oil salesman is going to tell you that the snake-oil he sells contains no active ingredients and cannot plausibly have, and has not been demonstrated to have, any effect beyond placebo, on tumours or any other health condition.

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