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

Yes, today is WORLD CANCER DAY. A good time to remind us that SCAM providers are often a serious risk to cancer patients. Here is a very recent case in point:

It has been reported that a naturopath from Laval in Quebec who describes herself as a “cancer specialist” notably by offering coffee enemas, has been found guilty of the illegal practice of medicine. The Court of Quebec ruled that Annie Juneau, owner of the Vitacru Group, led people to believe that she had “medical knowledge and [that she was] was able to diagnose a health deficiency”. The fine for the offense can vary between $2,500 and $62,000 and which remains to be determined.

The College of Physicians of Quebec (CMQ) conducted an investigation where an agent claiming to be looking for information on colon therapy under an assumed name consulted the therapist. The naturopath charged a little over $300 for the visit and the purchase of prescribed natural products. During the consultation, the naturopath, Annie Juneau, claimed that “we are brainwashed by the medical community”. She introduced herself as a “cancer specialist” and explained that she could even treat patients suffering from advanced stage 4 cancer.

The website of the naturopath praised the merits of the coffee enema, a practice believed to date back to ancient Egypt, stating that “cancer patients deprived of its benefits are unable to detoxify at the speed that optimal healing requires.” ON the Internet and in person, Annie Juneau illegally led a reasonable person to believe that she could perform acts reserved for doctors, the court ruled. In her defense, the naturopath argued that her website contained disclaimers stating that she does not offer medical advice and that she clearly identifies herself as a naturopath. However, the court ruled that such disclaimers are not sufficient protection of the public.

___________________________

This case is the latest in a long row of naturopaths (and other SCAM practitioners) risking the lives of cancer patients. Here are a few recent ones that we have discussed on this blog:

13 Responses to Naturopathic ‘cancer specialist’ using coffee enemas found guilty

  • It is a disgrace that here in the UK we have no equivalent legislation. The General Medical Council is not a bit interested in charlatans who pretend to have medical expertise.

    • The GMC is only responsible for its registrants.
      If scamists pass themselves off as being GMC registered, that is fraud – and the police should act.

  • The website of the naturopath praised the merits of the coffee enema, a practice believed to date back to ancient Egypt

    The ancient Egyptians did not even know coffee. The oldest reports mention coffee in the 9th century in Ethiopia, some 2000 years after the fall of the New Kingdom of Egypt.

  • My Dr. ordered a colonoscopy on me (54 and said it was time), can I request coffee flavor?

  • It is worth the risk ? … perhaps one and done if no issues.
    https://www.gutsense.org/colonoscopy/is-colonoscopy-worth-the-risk.html

    Colonoscopy Complications Occur at Surprisingly High Rate
    — Approaching 2% within a week of ‘scoping
    https://www.medpagetoday.com/gastroenterology/generalgastroenterology/56204

    • The first of those is written by a pharmacist who taught himself computer programming: See About Author>Biography in the linked page.

      The second links to a paper that doesn’t address the age group that jim finds himself in:

      This analysis only includes Medicare beneficiaries aged ≥65 years, and our findings may not be generalizable to younger patients or patients whose payer is not Medicare. This is important, as most colonoscopies are performed among patients aged <65 years, although older patients are more likely to suffer adverse events.

      https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085%2815%2901353-0/fulltext

  • “The naturopath charged a little over $300 for the visit and the purchase of prescribed natural products.”

    !
    And that wouldn’t be covered by insurance.
    Is this typical for what a naturopath would charge?
    Are people with money to spare more likely to go to an alt-med provider who isn’t a doctor?

    • “Are people with money to spare more likely to go to an alt-med provider who isn’t a doctor?”
      yes

      • Why do you believe this?

        • because dozens of surveys show that SCAM users come from the affluent parts of society

          • @EE

            “because dozens of surveys show that SCAM users come from the affluent parts of society”

            I disagree, in some countries, or with patients that don’t have insurance coverage, it could well be because the SCAM artist cost less than conventional medicine.

            On the other hand, perhaps those patients that ARE more affluent and seek out alternative medicine do so because they had their fill of conventional medicine failures, and are looking for solutions.

    • It looks like $300 for an initial consult with a naturopath is pretty typical. From https://www.rupahealth.com/post/the-average-price-of-a-naturopathic-medicine-visit, a survey of 41 naturopaths in the Bay Area in the USA,

      Average Cost: $294
      Lowest: $100
      Highest: $750‍

      The Bay Area is pretty expensive, probably naturopaths cost less in places where medical care generally costs less.

      For that, people get like 90 minutes of the naturopath’s time. That would feel good to a lot of people, after experiencing the hurried 15-minute visits with an MD.

  • I had looked at some research on demographics of CAM users before asking. Some of the results were that CAM users tend to have higher incomes. Some found that income wasn’t a factor.

    I figured someone who sees an MD who uses some kind of alt-med would count as a CAM user, but that would likely to be covered by insurance. So that’s different.

    This survey in Canada did find that more affluent people were more likely to see an alternative practitioner (which excludes MDs). https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/pub/82-003-x/2001001/article/6021-eng.pdf, although it flattened out at higher incomes, which makes sense. Beyond the income required to toss $300 at a naturopath or whatever without pain, it doesn’t matter much.

    Same was true for education: more educated people were *more* likely to seek out alternative practitioners.

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