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

Olivia Newton-John, actress, singer, and advocate of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) has died following a lengthy battle with breast cancer. Her husband announced her death yesterday: “Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends,” the post read. “We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time. Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer. Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.”

Olivia was born on 26 September 1948 in Cambridge, UK. She came from a remarkable family. Her maternal grandfather was the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born. She was thus the niece of my late friend Gustav Born. Newton-John’s father was an MI5 officer on the Enigma project at Bletchley Park who took Rudolf Hess into custody during World War II. After the war, he became the headmaster of the Cambridgeshire High School for Boys. He then took up a post in Australia, and young Olivia grew up down under. After starting out as a singer, she had her breakthrough with the film ‘Grease’ which brought her world fame.

Olivia was first diagnosed with breast cancer over 30 years ago and became an outspoken advocate of SCAM. Her cancer came back twice, and in 2017, she was diagnosed to have bone metastases. Meanwhile, she had married John Easterling, the boss of a natural remedy company, in an Incan spiritual ceremony in Peru.

In 2017, she said, “I decided on my direction of therapies after consultation with my doctors and natural therapists and the medical team at my Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Melbourne”. The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre is a treatment centre of Austin Health, an Australian public hospital. They say that “anyone with a referral from their doctor can be treated here, regardless of the stage of their treatment or insurance status. At the ONJ Centre your care is built around your individual needs. This includes your physical, psychological and emotional health. Every patient is surrounded by a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists, allied health and wellbeing therapists. Your dedicated treatment team work together to guide you through your optimal treatment pathway. Learn more about the cancer treatments we deliver at the ONJ Centre, how we support you through your care, and find answers to commonly asked questions.”

Their therapies include acupuncture and several other alternatives used for palliation, but the site seems refreshingly free of false claims and quackery. On their website, they say that “palliative care assists patients who have a life limiting illness to be as symptom free as possible. We work with you to meet your emotional, spiritual and practical needs in a holistic way. Our support is also extended to your family and carers.”

Olivia Newton-John’s history with SCAM is revealing. It seems that, by initially using SCAM instead of conventional treatments for her breast cancer in 1992, she worsened her prognosis. When the cancer returned, she opted for the best conventional oncology on offer. Yet, her liking for SCAM had not disappeared. Since 2017, she seems to have used cannabis and other SCAMs as add-ons to conventional medicine. Sadly, she had learned her lesson too late: alternative cancer treatments are a dangerous myth.

44 Responses to Olivia Newton-John (1948-2022)

  • It is not so appropriate to disapprove of someone’s preference for alternative medical treatment when that person
    has just died.

    • even though it might help to save lives?

    • agreed! shows the intelligence of a ‘real’ doctor! also olivia had cancer for a very very long time. most people who go to ‘real’ doctors and nurses die within a couple of months/years. eg i got told i had cancer 25 years ago. i avoided the allopathic system and in that time i’m the only woman over 55 to 60 years to have surfed one of the most dangerous waves in the world. still going strong. my keeper upper? daily astanga yoga practice, keep away from doctors, hospital and drugs/chems and most importantly eat a very very healthy diet using fasting to remove toxins. by healthy i mean i grow and make all my own foods (have 30 bioorganic fruit trees i planted from seed, a couple of nuts trees (i dont’ eat nuts as too much copper – copper overload being the cause of all known new age dis-ease) and about six soil-regenerated vegetable patches. i grow organic wheat grass and fit in a twin-gear juiced wheatgrass with organic turmeric and garlic every day. off to live in indonesia, when they let me in without a jab!, to surf a few more waves before i’m a goner! good luck to olivia wherever she may be. i’m sure she’s having as much fun there as here. this world has gone mad and it’s time to move up and onwards!

      • I am glad to hear that you are doing fine!

      • I’m doing likewise (apart from self-growing) and am in my fifth year of metastatic bone cancer and am feeling fantastic.

        I do a quasi-Gerson-therapy, concentrating on minimising Na input and maximising K input, and at the moment get plenty of sunshine and exercise + 10-20gm of ascorbic-acid / day + one coffee enema / day.

        The result is spectacular: no more sinusitis (hence no more Nasonex) – I can breathe again + my sense of smell and taste have returned. If / when the cancer gets me, I have no regrets, life is now sooooo much more pleasant!

        • “About 70–90% of vitamin C is absorbed by the body when taken orally at normal levels (30–180 mg daily). Only about 50% is absorbed from daily doses of 1 gram (1,000 mg). Even oral administration of megadoses of 3g every four hours cannot raise blood concentration above 220 micromol/L.

          The American Cancer Society has stated, ‘Although high doses of vitamin C have been suggested as a cancer treatment, the available evidence from clinical trials has not shown any benefit.'”
          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_C_megadosage

          • … but who is the ACS compared to OB?

          • Pete Attkins on Tuesday 09 August 2022 at 14:28 said:
            “About 70–90% of vitamin C is absorbed orally at… (30–180 mg daily)…
            50%… [at] 1 gram (1,000 mg)…
            3g every four hours cannot raise blood concentration above 220 micromol/L.”

            The body takes what it needs and excretes the excess, e.g. at the onset of flu, this spring, I upped my intake to 40g (40,000mg) of oral which induced diarrhoea (bowel-tolerance), and backed it off to 35g until the diarrhoea ceased, and subsequently tracked the decaying symptoms down as my body cleared the virus to ~15g by the following week.

            I also “cheat” insofar as I take liposomal ascorbic acid (5g) orally most days.

            I used to get colds all the time, all year round and eventually just lost my sense of smell, during most of winter and spring and part of summer but after adding the vitamin C regimen, I don’t get these colds anymore – just one in november 2019 (12 hours of symptoms – but 8 weeks of “discharge” in the morning) and the recent “flu” (a week of bloody discharge, almost total loss of smell for a few days, that recovered by 8 weeks).

            I am (obviously) no doctor, but it seems to me “obvious” that if the body’s cells are taking up vitamin C in the way our shared biology (with all other lifeforms) intended, during a crisis, then the blood levels won’t necessarily rise much (because that is just “throughput” – it won’t “pile up” in the blood, it is only “passing through”).

            The ACS you say? And wikipedia? You could include the NIH, the NIAID. The US government, Anthony Faucci, Twitter, Fact-Checkers(tm) and the NYT etc – they will all say the same thing: “You are not a horse, don’t take vitamin C horse pills!”

        • @meremortal55 and Old,
          I am sorry to hear about you cancer diagnoses. Hope that you will stay healthy as long as possible!
          Had a cancer diagnosis myself back in 2015 (fortunately, well treatable by surgery in my case).
          I find your cancer treatment suggestions very confusing, so may I ask you:
          You suggest several, very different cancer treatment options and claim that they were successful (astanga yoga, fasting, bioorganic fruits, avoiding nuts, garlic, minimising Na input and maximising K input, high-dose ascorbic-acid, coffee enema, etc.).
          But: How do you determine WHICH of these treatments indeed works? Is it just one or the combination that you apply? And if you two applied such different treatments but BOTH work, doesn’t this mean that it basically doesn’t matter what you do, because every odd treatment can/will heal cancer?

          • Jashak on Tuesday 09 August 2022 at 15:08 said:

            “You suggest several, very different cancer treatment options… (…minimising Na input and maximising K input, high-dose ascorbic-acid, coffee enema, etc.).
            But: How do you determine WHICH of these treatments indeed works?”

            I did not determine this. It was done by others e.g. Dr Max Gerson, beginning in the 1920s:
            https://www.amazon.com/Cancer-Therapy-Results-Fifty-Advanced/dp/1939438667/?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_w=5OdnD&content-id=amzn1.sym.716a1ed9-074f-4780-9325-0019fece3c64&pf_rd_p=716a1ed9-074f-4780-9325-0019fece3c64&pf_rd_r=GJ32M7GZTY2D63KMPKC5&pd_rd_wg=O3FRg&pd_rd_r=ce097654-0069-4574-8ab1-61620e91c983&ref_=pd_gw_ci_mcx_mr_hp_atf_m

            And by Irwin Stone in the 1940s:
            https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Factor-Vitamin-Against-Disease/dp/3743173913/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1A6T0T4M8DFWR&keywords=the+healing+factor&qid=1660064541&s=books&sprefix=the+healing+factor+%2Cstripbooks-intl-ship%2C418&sr=1-1

            “…but BOTH work, doesn’t this mean that it basically doesn’t matter what you do, because every odd treatment can/will heal cancer?”

            No, “…every odd treatment…” is a bad idea. Dr Max Gerson is explicit in his book: it should all be done, precisely without omission (which is nigh impossible).

          • They are pretending to know things they don’t know, which makes it nigh on impossible for them to learn anything other than BS.

            “You don’t get anything worth getting by pretending to know things you don’t know.”
            — Sam Harris

          • Pete Attkins commented on Olivia Newton-John (1948-2022) saying:

            “They are pretending to know things they don’t know, which makes it nigh on impossible for them to learn anything other than BS.”

            I wonder if that is really true. For example my second job interview (a long time ago), I decided to play it cool with understated “clever” answers. I failed (and it was a lousy contract too: mending photocopiers!)

            I never made that mistake again e.g. my very next contract was in the “digital domain” that I new nothing about (reading Rodnay Zak’s Microprocessor Systems (or similar title) – “operand register” what the heck is that? – with each turn of the page, I was hoping the phone would not ring – then it did and off I went, “d-type”, “d-type”, “d-type” from halfway through some logic book…).

            In absolute major BS mode I tried to follow what the diagrams meant and guesstimate – the interviewer was getting restless and bored at having to prompt me, but there was something about my Total Panic and Insane-BS that caused him to hire me – after a week it was easy.

            BS works – I did it thereafter for all interviews – maybe 30 during my career. At one in particular, I asked why he hired me, he said “Because you were the most determined.” (I had said “Hire me, I am the best!” – what a jerk! But having no money and being in the middle of the 1970s, you would do anything.)

            Here’s another angle: you are learning something, anything, maybe to sing? You absolutely have to blag it, otherwise you would never do anything – ya gotta start with BS in everything, even if it is ever so slightly. Or the alternative, you sit in the armchair waiting to be “taught”. Once fully “taught” – you go out into the world and never BS, you repeat the lesson perfectly forever – you are stuck in a rut, and maybe it is the wrong rut even, or the wrong lesson… (such as “safe and effective(TM)”.)

          • Mr. Bob, you missed my point.
            Both, you and meremortal55 claim to have found an effective treatment option for cancer, however, both with very different methods. Whom of you should I believe?
            And what is your opinion about the things that meremortal55 claims to be beneficial (i.e. astanga yoga, fasting, bioorganic fruits, avoiding nuts, garlic)?

          • Jashak on Tuesday 09 August 2022 at 23:48 said:
            “…you… claim to have found an effective treatment option for cancer…”

            No, the cancer might get me yet. I’d give it another five years or so. I am more pleased with being able to breathe properly again, and taste food.

            Someone who did live for ten years more (with multiple myeloma) by Gerson therapy, was Michael Gearin-Tosh:
            https://www.amazon.co.uk/Living-Proof/dp/0743225171/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3KO7TAXUMX51C&keywords=gearing-tosh+living+proof+in+books&qid=1660132509&sprefix=gearing-tosh+living+proof+in+book%2Caps%2C185&sr=8-2

            “And what is your opinion about the things that meremortal55 claims to be beneficial (i.e. astanga yoga, fasting, bioorganic fruits, avoiding nuts, garlic)?”

            This is the “modern” approach of reducing everything to a “cure” by some “substance” – yes, no?

            Gerson explains that the soil, (water and air) is an extension of our gut, so it follows that the more we poison the soil (e.g. with glyphosate), the more we poison ourselves and diseases follow. So the Gerson approach is the older Hypocrates’ of avoidance – sort of self-evident (and “boring” and not as exciting as gene therapy).

          • Old Bob,
            Individual case reports are not evidence, as you certainly know, since you obviously are aware of Prof. Ernst´s work. And even if people like Gearin-Tosh write books about their individual experiences, this is not prove that the treatments they applied were beneficial. Controlled clinical trial are the right tool to evaluate treatments. Have you considered how many cancer patients followed the example of Gearin-Tosh, used Gerson procedures, but then died quickly (and maybe even more painfully than without these procedures)? Unlikely that anyone of those persons wrote a book about their experience…
            Be that as it may, I certaily wish you all the best and as many good years as possible.

          • Jashak on Wednesday 10 August 2022 at 15:34 said:
            “…Controlled clinical trial are the right tool to evaluate treatments.”

            Not, evidently for the SARS-Cov2 “vaccines” e.g. “95% effective”:
            https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/uk

            35k cases December 2020 (before “vaccination”)
            *******************************************************
            236k in December 31st 2021 (after “vaccination”)
            109k in March 22nd 2022 (after “vaccination”)

            Look at August 3rd in 2020 – it’s zero. Now, after more than twenty months of “vaccinations” later: August 3rd 2022 is 9k. And yet the clinical trials said “95% effective”.

            Who are you to believe: “95% effective” or the anecdotal such as my wife who went deaf in one ear, suffered hives for two days, and 18 months later, still has a “crawling” effect just under the skin of her hands and feet. Am I to believe my own eyes or the clinical trial’s “95% effective”?

            All these “anecdotes”:
            https://openvaers.com/covid-data
            *are* the clinical trials, currently in phase III – I am part of the control group. My wife is part of the trial.

            “Have you considered how many cancer patients followed the example of Gearin-Tosh, used Gerson procedures, but then died quickly (and maybe even more painfully than without these procedures)?”

            No, that’s private: One’s right-to-one’s-own-life.

          • and yet again, OB demonstrates how small his grasp of science is!

    • It is extremely said, of course, when someone dies. However when a highly influential celebrity has embraced and promoted dangerous SCAM treatments it is important to explore the issue in order to help prevent other vulnerable people from making the same mistakes. People’s lives are at stake.

      Lots of people, not just celebrities, pay for expensive “plant medicines”, “ancestral healing”, “energy healing” and various SCAM with the word “quantum’ in it and some will die of cancers that have a high rate of success if treated via conventional, evidence based medicine. Sadly they pay the price later.

      One such tragic example is here;

      https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2193553/Master-Oh-Harley-Street-guru-treats-cancer-patients-BELCHING.html

      more about this SCAM particular organisation here

      https://culteducation.com/group/989-innersound-ki-health.html

      https://forum.culteducation.com/read.php?12,60845,page=1

      Thank you Edzard for highlighting this issue. I had no idea that Olivia Newton John was a SCAM promoter. It is unsurprising though. All businesses, and SCAM is big business, seek celebrity endorsements. Celebrities are often targeted by cults and SCAMmers and one of the downsides of being a famous celebrity is that being targetted by SCAMmers is inevitable.

  • What is the conventional treatment for bone metastases?

    • As a surgeon I do not think of any patient having ‘bone metastases’ – which gives the impression of a discrete problem, but rather ‘metastases in the bones’. The point being that there will be metastases ‘all over’ and the bones may simply where they present first or most obviously.

      As for treatment: Depends: On stage and type of primary, other affected sites, amenable to surgical excision etc.

      In this blog we are concerned that the use of un-evidenced therapies – of any sort – may bring false hope to gullible and vulnerable patients. And celebrity endorsement does not help.

      If any patient finds benefit from having their spirits uplifted by any treatment, no matter how bizarre, I say “go for it” – but do understand the extent to which the treatment is bizarre, and do not fall prey to charlatans and scamists.
      And do not let rational judgement be clouded by celebritification.
      Please.

      • Richard Rawlins on Tuesday 09 August 2022 at 17:44 corrected:
        “…I do not think of any patient having ‘bone metastases’ – which gives the impression of a discrete problem, but rather ‘metastases in the bones’.”

        Thanks 🙂 I never noticed 🙁 – which is really important because I meant it as you described, without knowing about it’s “…present first…” nature (it’s quite pleasant learning a little more).

        [Realisation] That’s why it’s called a nuclear-bone-scan, because it does not show up in the soft tissues? (apart from the bladder).

        • but why does it not show up in the soft-tissues – the blood stream feeds the tumours, the tumours take up the glucose – it should show up, surely?

        • “Bone scans” might well pick up metastases all over (in other tissues) – but are selectively good at identifying those in bone: they show “hotter” in bone.
          An experienced radiologist has to judge – and work with oncologists he/she knows (not some distant colleague in another country) – IMHO!

        • but why does it not show up in the soft-tissues – the blood stream feeds the tumours, the tumours take up the glucose – it should show up, surely?

          An isotope bone scan doesn’t use glucose, it uses a radiolabelled bisphosphonate (labelled with metastable technetium-99, which emits gamma rays). Bisphosphonates are taken up anywhere where new bone is beiing formed, so what the scan shows is the healing process. A fracture, for instance, will show up as very hot on a bone scan and can readily be confused with a metastasis, particularly an osteoporotic wedge fracture in the spine. Not all types of bone metastases show on a bone scan – multiple myeloma, for instance, is usually invisible.

          Radiolabelled glucose is used for PET scans as it is readily taken up by many tumours and can show up a small cancer deposit that might look unremarkable on an ordinary CT scan.

          What is the conventional treatment for bone metastases?

          In the main, bone metastases are treated the same way as metastases at any other site, by using drugs that kill tumour cells or stop them growing. Which drugs work best depends very much on what type of cancer it is, based on its site of origin, the cell type involved, how it appears under the microscope, and these days very often a genetic analysis (of the cancer itself, not the patient).

          Chemotherapy is still used a lot for treating metastases, and for certain cancers hormonal treatment can be very effective as a control, often keeping them suppressed for years. The two main cancers susceptible to hormonal manipulation are breast and prostate cancer. Increasingly, though, targeted therapy and so-called biological treatments are being used, mainly with monoclonal antibodies, which target specific control systems that have gone awry within the cancer. One interesting spin-off from the Covid pandemic is that it may be possible to use an RNA vaccine to make the monoclonal antibodies within the body, which would be much cheaper, easier and potentially safer than current methods.

          There are also treatments specifically for bone metastases which do not target the cancer itself, such as zoledronic acid, another bisphosphonate which increases the calcium content of the bones, strengthening the skeleton and reducing the risk of cancer-derived fractures and pain. Radiotherapy is also very useful for treating bone pain, and short courses with relatively low doses are effective. Another way of using radiotherapy is in the form of injectable radiopharmaceuticals, rather like a bone scan but with much higher radiation doses involved. For instance radium-223 (a relatively short-lived isotope of radium) is now widely used to reduce bone pain and prolong survival in prostate cancer.

          On the subject of prostate cancer, this particular cancer is often very slow-growing, and it isn’t especially rare for somebody with bony metastases to remain relatively well for a number of years without treatment.

          I have read Gearin-Tosh’s book. The main thing that struck me about it was how a professional academic really seemed completely unable to weigh evidence, though I suppose in the arts subjects this might not be important as opposing opinions can be regarded as equally valid, in contrast to the sciences, where the only arbiter of truth is Nature.

          The other thing that I remember from the book is how unwell he was much of the time. This would fit in with his decision to embrace Gerson therapy, which disrupts normal physiology so much that people undergoing it usually feel quite ill. At the time, conventional therapy would probably have been mainly chemotherapy, which isn’t a bunch of roses either, but would have involved relatively short courses of treatment.

          The fact that he lived ten years is not as surprising as many people seem to find it. Whenever you look up cancer survival, the figures always refer to the MEDIAN SURVIVAL of a particular group of people in a study. This is the point at which half the people in the group have died, and it is used in preference to the mean because to calculate that you have to wait for everybody to have died, and this is usually a long time. There are other statistical reasons why it is a more representative measure of cancer survival. However, if you think about how it is defined, then at the point when the median survival is reached, half of the group are still alive, and some of them will go on to live for very much longer, as there is a great deal of individual variation.

          Max Gerson died 73 years ago and he lived at a time when very little was known about the biology of cancer. Furthermore many of the successes claimed in his case series had already had conventional treatment (surgery or radiotherapy) which could account for why they did well, and others weren’t confirmed as cancer at all by current definitions. Do really think that what he had to say is still valid given the huge amount of biomedical research worldwide since then? By comparison, think of how computers have changed from the huge and unreliable machines using thermionic valves for processing and acoustic waves in tubes of mercury for storage that were around in his day.

          I have had multiple myeloma myself for 6 years and at the moment I am doing well – I feel well and my paraprotein is too low to measure. Part of that is the treatment I am having, and part of it is chance, but I am not complaining.

          • I hope luck remains on your side for a long time yet.

          • Thank you, Dr. Money-Kyrle.
            It´s always refreshing to read an informed contribution from an expert, instead of strong-voiced opinions from overconfident laypersons, when it comes to the intricate topic of cancer illnesses. I wish you all the best for your health!

  • Edzard makes a claim that CAM has negatively impacted on the health of ONJ. Where is the evidence for this? We would need to know her treatment options in the 90s and also her more recent options. We would also need to review any research regarding patient treatment options and outcomes from the 90s for breast cancer.
    Otherwise I could also make an unsubstantiated claim that it was the more recent conventional treatment that harmed her.

    • when she was 1st diagnosed in 1992, she opted partly for SCAM.
      as no SCAM can cure cancer, it stands to reason that she thus worsened her prognosis. what happened later seems to confirm this view.

  • You might want to check your facts in future. Her journey with cancer is well-documented in online interviews over the years and most clearly in her 2018 autobiography, ‘Don’t Stop Believin’.

    She was treated conventionally when first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 – a modified partial mastectomy and nine months of chemotherapy. She used complementary approaches to support herself through the course of treatment.

    When cancer returned in 2013 – a metastasis to her shoulder – she was treated conventionally with hormone therapy and again supported herself with complementary treatments including immune-supporting herbs. She kept this diagnosis private at the time.

    In 2017, after experiencing severe pain in her back and being forced to cancel concerts, she went public with the fact that she was living with metastatic breast cancer. She was – again – treated conventionally, with a course of radiotherapy. More followed the next year when a metastasis to her sacrum caused a fracture, necessitating that she learn to walk again after several months of immobility. She was also treated with an injection to strengthen her bones (probably biphosphonates).

    She was open about the fact that she was using medicinal cannabis to ease pain and anxiety and to assist her with sleep – all effects of cannabis which are acknowledged and well-studied. She indicated her hope that it was helping more generally and set up a foundation to raise funds for further scientific study into this and other treatments. She survived for a further four years.

    We’re talking about someone who lived for nine years with metastatic breast cancer, putting her in a significant minority of people in that situation. That may have been luck, but who’s to say it wasn’t aided by her combination of approaches?

    She raised millions for all forms of cancer research and simply advocated for the inclusion of complementary approaches to assist patients going through cancer and difficult courses of cancer treatments. She was also clear about her desire to see evidence-based approaches to the use of plant medicine, and she put her money where her mouth was to try to make this possible.

    Apart from your misrepresentation of her stance, it’s pretty mean-spirited to imply that she advocated against conventional approaches to cancer treatments. That’s patently and evidentially untrue.

    • what I know about her is through researching the published facts and talking to her uncle, Gustav Born, who was a close personal friend of mine. I fail to see where I misreported the facts.

      • You claimed that “it seems that, by initially using SCAM instead of conventional treatments for her breast cancer in 1992, she worsened her prognosis.”

        This claim that she used SCAM instead of conventional treatments is inaccurate and its conclusion unjustified. It is well-documented that she didn’t use SCAM *instead* of conventional treatments. She had a modified radical mastectomy and nine months of chemotherapy, and utilised complementary approaches at that time to support herself psychologically and spiritually throughout treatment.

        After that, she advocated for such approaches in addition to – not at the expense of – conventional ones. (She also advocated strongly for breast self-examination and the early engagement of medical professionals in order to maximise the chance of early detection.)

        She later advocated for medicinal cannabis – again, not as an alternative to conventional approaches, but as an adjunct to them (mainly for pain relief).

        • so, you spoke to a relative of her’s at the time?

          • So, you’re going to side-step the well-documented fact that she didn’t “initially (use) SCAM instead of conventional treatments for her breast cancer in 1992” as your article claims?

            The banner on your site says, “if you make a claim in a comment, support it with evidence”. It might be a good idea to take that approach with blog articles, too.

          • to remind you what I wrote:

            “Olivia was first diagnosed with breast cancer over 30 years ago and became an outspoken advocate of SCAM. Her cancer came back twice, and in 2017, she was diagnosed to have bone metastases…”

            what is your problem with that?

          • I’m replying to your message timestamped Monday 12 September 2022 at 11:45, as there doesn’t appear to be a reply option under that yet.

            You wrote: “to remind you what I wrote: “Olivia was first diagnosed with breast cancer over 30 years ago and became an outspoken advocate of SCAM. Her cancer came back twice, and in 2017, she was diagnosed to have bone metastases…”. what is your problem with that?”

            I suspect you know that I don’t have a problem with that, because that’s not the point I commented on originally.

            The point I did comment on – and that you don’t seem willing to address – is that you also wrote: “Olivia Newton-John’s history with SCAM is revealing. It seems that, by initially using SCAM instead of conventional treatments for her breast cancer in 1992, she worsened her prognosis.”

            The claim that she “initially (used) SCAM instead of conventional treatments” is patently false. She had a mastectomy and chemo.

            Why are you unwilling to acknowledge that your original claim is incorrect?

    • Brian Cormack Carr,

      We’re talking about someone who lived for nine years with metastatic breast cancer, putting her in a significant minority of people in that situation.

      What most people don’t realise is that there is a wide variation in how long people survive following a diagnosis of cancer. This is particularly true of breast cancer. Survival figures and prognoses tend to be based on median survival figures derived from clinical trials. The median is used because it isn’t affected by outliers as much as the mean, and most importantly you can calculate it when only half the people in the trial have died, so you don’t have to wait decades to get your results. Median survival is very useful when comparing one treatment with another, within the context of a trial, but is not really applicable to an individual cancer patient.

      Long survivers of cancer may attribute their good fortune to many things, such as lifestyle changes, prayer, alternative medicines etc., though in reality it is usually the individual biology of their cancer which is responsible and how it interacts with peculiarities of their bodies. However, few people can accept the idea that their lives are governed to a large extent by chance, and prefer to believe stories in which they have more control over events.

      If the people who died unusually early had made the same changes to their lives, or used the same treatments, you would never hear about it, of course. Statisticians call this survivorship bias.

      It is now over six years since I showed the first symptoms of multiple myeloma, and nearly six years since I was diagnosed, which puts me well above the median survival for this disease. I attribute this in part to modern medicine, but I am well aware that the dice happen to have fallen in my favour (so far). Unlike Michael Gearin-Tosh, who was also a long survivor of the same condition, I have not subjected myself to the extreme rigors of the Gerson diet, which from what I have seen in my own patients is a great deal more difficult and unpleasant than the chemotherapy that he wanted to avoid.

      • I understand – and I don’t doubt that a great deal of ONJ’s survival time was indeed as a result of chance and genetics. My point was simply that her main claims for complementary help were focused on – in the case of cannabis – pain relief (a prett well-studied and acknowledged effect) and in the case of other therapies (yoga, massage, meditation etc) on psychological and spiritual support to her as she went through treatment and dealt with the disease. These latter effects may well be purely subjective – but that doesn’t negate their importance.

        I wish you well on your continued journey with multiple myeloma.

  • Edzard on Friday 09 September 2022 at 08:46 said:
    “so, you spoke to a relative of her’s at the time?”

    It is not unknown for relatives to hate each other and lie.

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