Confronting Cancer Quackery

Cancer quackery (along with charlatanism surrounding HIV/AIDs) has to be one of the most noxious of all pseudoscience-based enterprises and, perhaps it’s just my line of work, but I can’t help but feel that it’s on the rise. The reliably high prevalence of cancer represents immensely fertile ground for scammers, and “alternative” treatments for it are sought by millions, supporting a steady cash-flow in the direction of fakes, phoneys, and otherwise ignorant followers of charismatic nasties. As well as fostering a generalised distrust in science and burning holes in wallets, cancer pseudoscience often steers patients away from their one and only shot at survival.

The Internet is abuzz with “natural remedies” and “holistic” measures against cancer, and a quick trawl through some of the websites spouting them reveals that the nature and extent of the errors (and lies) upon which they are based are as varied as they are pernicious. However, two hallmarks crop up invariably: 1, a gross de-emphasis of the complexity and diversity of cancer, and 2, a blurring of the (extremely important) distinction between cancer prevention and cancer cure. Equipped with a basic understanding of how cancer works, cancer pseudoscientists’ lack thereof becomes painfully obvious. They chronically demonstrate ignorance of the most elementary aspects of oncology. It is this very ignorance, combined with a total lack of legal regulation (not to mention endorsement by certain celebrities), that enables them to claim, smilingly, that they have the “secret” to curing cancer. In this short essay, I offer a basic explanation of how cancer works, focussing on the not-widely-enough-appreciated role that evolution, by means of natural selection, plays in tumour-growth and -development. Above all, I aim to facilitate your feeling more confident, in any future debates you might have, that “alternative” cancer-cure pedlars, whether through malice or misguidance, are Full Of Shit.

 

Some necessary background information

I think the best place to start is to consider normal body cells. Unlike free-living cells, such as bacteria, the cells of our body do not compete with each other for their own ‘selfish’ genetic propagation. On the contrary, they co-operate on a huge scale, through a vast network of elaborate communication mechanisms, dividing and assuming designated roles in adherence to instruction and signals, and even committing suicide, on cue, for the interests of the aggregate. This non-rebellious behaviour is of course explained by the fact that body cells are a collection of clones. Co-operative behaviour contributes to the propagation of their genes.

In each somatic cell (that means all cells except sperms and eggs), there is a copy of the body’s genome. Your genome is the sum of all your body’s genetic information, which is organised into 46 chromosomes – 22 pairs of “autosomes” and one pair of sex chromosomes (“XX” or “XY”, depending on whether you are a girl or a boy). Far from being an inaccessible “blueprint”, as it is often dubbed, each cell’s genome is a dynamically active factory, churning out myriad different proteins in response to incoming demands, which are communicated via precise chemical signals that either come from within the cell itself, or originate elsewhere in the body. These signals work by selecting specific stretches of gene sequence (“written” in DNA) to be read off and converted into corresponding protein sequences (which are “written” in amino acids). The number of different proteins produced by cells in the body is estimated to be somewhere in the realms of a couple of million. Each of them coils, bends and folds into its own unique shape, according to the signature of physical interaction that occurs between its constituent amino acids, all of which have slightly different distributions of electrical charge and molecular bonds.

Some of these protein shapes act as building blocks for structures such as muscle and skin, whereas others function as tools for breaking things apart, or putting things together. Some act as vehicles, carrying important stuff around the body, while others work to neutralise germs and viruses that get into us. Yet another class of proteins works in communication, as chemical signals (like those mentioned above), to trigger the production of yet more proteins, perhaps in cells some distance away from the ones in which they themselves were put together. In some cases, a protein’s communication errand entails recognising a certain sequence on a certain chromosome, and sticking to it in order to deactivate a gene, or perhaps cause it to go into programmed hyperactivity, which would result in a concentrated outflow of another specific protein.

So, each copy of the genome (in every cell) acts like a mini factory, and The Genome, in its singlular, more abstract sense, is responsible for matching supply and demand in a vast supersystem of interconnected production, maintenance, communication, and transport subsystems.

The growth and maintenance of this supersystem depends on cells’ ability to make copies of themselves, which is itself based on DNA’s ability to self-duplicate, since every new cell needs its own copy of The Genome. As with any copying system, DNA replication has an inherent, unavoidable error-rate. In the course of a human lifetime, some 10,000,000,000,000,000, (ten thousand million million) cell divisions take place. It is estimated that the probability of an error being made is approximately 0.000001 per gene, per cell division, under normal circumstances (i.e. in the absence of mutagens – substances which promote mutation). It follows that any given gene in The Genome can be expected to have experienced mutation around one million times in one lifetime. Unsurprisingly, evolution has stumbled across a number of mechanisms to fix errors as they arise. Occasionally, however, things do slip through the net. And it is at these moments of accidental neglect that cancer has its chance to begin laying the groundwork for infiltration.

 

So, what is cancer?

Cancer is the product of a collection of genetic alterations that promote “selfish” behaviour in cells, at the expense of the body in which they live. A situation is set up in which natural selection, fuelled by a building momentum of newly-acquired mutations, works (unintentionally, of course), to cultivate an increasingly deviant population of cells that “compete” with their neighbours to proliferate their own mutant genotypes, a phenomenon which begins to manifest as a tumour. In the sense that they are subject to natural selection, tumour cells have started to look quite like unicellular organisms such as bacteria, which, as we know all-too-well, can evolve extremely quickly, thanks to the exponentiating speed with which a cell population can multiply. So, in the case of cancer, what kind of accidentally-acquired traits could flip a perfectly respectable, law-abiding body cell into the realms of cancerous activity? And what “skills” might then be “useful” for it in its selfish accrual of control?

The most obvious power that must be acquired by a somatic (body) cell, via a change in its genome, is that of overcoming restraints on cell division. Cells that begin breaking the rules like this are, in most cases, eventually detected by patrolling immune surveillance mechanisms and sentenced to death by apoptosis, which consists in a signal that commands the cell to digest itself. Thus, by the time detection occurs, for the trajectory of cancer development to continue, another “ability” must have been acquired: that of evading such a signal. A mutation conferring this ability may arise before or after uncontrolled cell division was allowed to begin, but of course one of the numerical implications of increased division is that the absolute rate of copying error is increased, so it follows that an already illegitimately dividing cell lineage has an enhanced likelihood of chancing upon a signal-evasion mutation.

Now, any additional increase in tendency toward DNA mutation represents another “advantageous” trait for a cancer cell in-the-making and, therefore, any mutation that deactivates DNA repair mechanisms, or tampers with DNA copying mechanisms themselves, become favoured. (As a quick aside, when we talk of a “favoured” mutation in this context, we mean one that boosts a cell’s probability of reproducing more prolifically, relative to cells lacking the mutation, and thus becoming increasingly over-represented as a proportion of the population, as this population grows.)

The next barrier a potential cancer cell in a growing mass must overcome is the stringy matrix of proteins that surrounds it, keeping it stationary and contained within its designated area of body tissue. Without the ability to do this, a cell can spawn a mass of abnormal offspring, but this localised tumour can be easily surgically removed. Such a tumour is considered “benign”. Conversely, a tumour whose cells have undergone mutations that allow them to invade and colonise surrounding tissues is considered malignant. Fugitive cells are said to have metastasised, escaping through blood or lymphatic vessels to form secondary tumours, or metastases, in other parts of the body. Once this has happened, it can be very difficult, and often impossible, to eradicate the disease.

 

A “Miracle Cure” for cancer?

Now, in case it hasn’t already become clear that no amount of guanabana juice or religious adherence to a macrobiotic diet could possibly cure cancer, I want to discuss this now.

Cancer is in fact not a disease, but a category of highly diverse diseases, the exact causes of which, both ultimate and proximate, are different in every patient. At this point, I want to distinguish between ultimate and proximate causes. Ultimate causes are things like smoking, drinking, exposure to radiation or UV, inherited predisposition, diet, lack of physical activity, and other things that are yet to be identified. Proximate causes are the specific mutations, conferring the specific traits discussed above, that allow cancer to begin and progress. Loosely speaking, ultimate causes get closer to answering “why”, while proximate causes are more about “how”. Everyone knows that cancers have a lot of different ultimate causes. What a lot of people don’t know is that cancers have an extraordinarily diverse set of proximate causes, too. It is thought that, in most cases, between 5 and 10 mutations, contributing towards the selfish powers outlined above, are needed to create the conditions for metastatic cancer to arise. However, (and crucial for our purposes of winning in a debate in which somebody says that cancer can be cured with megadoses of vitamin C, ginseng tea and bloodroot extract), these mutations may appear in any of thousands of candidate genes. A “favourable” cancer-enabling trait like genetic instability could be achieved through disruption of any of a huge number of possible cellular systems, at any of a huge number of potential stages along the biochemical pathway making up such a system. Since so many genes, and such an immense number of genetic interactions and systems are involved in the regulation of cell behaviour, in any given case, a unique profile of mutations (and therefore a unique set of cellular malfunctions) can give rise to the same cancerous symptoms in cells. This can be seen by looking at the genetic mutations found in tumours from different people suffering from the same form of cancer. While there are some genes that present mutations in a considerable number of cases, most mutations harboured in a cancer cell genome are ones that have never been seen before. In fact, if you compare cells taken from different areas of the same tumour, you find that there is considerable diversity in terms of what has mutated. The more genetically diverse a tumour cell population is, the better its odds, by chance, of harbouring mutations that protect it from potential treatments, so the more likely it is to survive and recoup after an attack from a course of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or oral medication. Particularly sinister here is that, since the survivors of such an attack become the genetic founders of the subsequently regenerated tumour cell population, any mutations which played a role in allowing the surviving cells to live through such an attack will now be ubiquitous. By the time the tumour has grown back, it will thus be extra-robust: more resistant to future attacks of the same kind, and sporting a whole load of new mutations to boot. This is just one of the reasons why choosing the right treatment, at the right dosage, is absolutely critical.

At the centre of cancer are not “cancer genes”, but an interdependent and vastly complex network of biochemical pathways, all of which are potentially disturbed by mutations in any of the genes involved in making them work. An effective cancer drug therefore needs a very specific mode of action – it needs to attack individual components of a faulty biochemical pathway. In the absence of knowledge of which biochemical pathways have been mutated, there is no way in. We are far from understanding all cellular biochemical pathways, and even further from understanding the precise ways in which each gene is involved in those pathways. What we do know is that it is monstrously and mind-bogglingly convoluted. I hope it’s becoming clear by now just how impossible it is for someone who has not examined the genetic aberrations within a specific tumour, and who does not understand cell biology, to make it go away.

Even if we did have a full documentation and understanding of all the biochemistry going on in cells, the idea of a comprehensive, all-round Cure for Cancer is implausible, due to the sheer number of different genetic and chemical components involved in different different diseases from the cancer category.

Current cancer treatments take advantage of the properties that define cancer cells as distinct from normal cells. For example, some exploit their genetic instability. Ionising radiation, for instance, damages DNA. Both normal and abnormal cells get zapped, but whilst normal cells will arrest their cell cycles until they have repaired it, cancer cells, characterised by their “ability” to ignore damage to their DNA and continue dividing, dying as a result of the catastrophic DNA damage they experience when they attempt to do so with defective chromosomes.

The main defining feature of “Complementary” and “Alternative” Medicine (CAM) cancer ‘treatments’, as compared with science-based cancer treatments (apart from the simple fact that the former do not work, of course) is that, unlike science-based cancer treatments, they are not targeted. Drug targets emerge from what is known about cell biochemistry. Biochemical pathways that are observed to have been disrupted by mutation in a significant number of cancer cases represent places to look for such targets. Their various stages each represent a sort of window through which cellular behaviour might be modulated. Herceptin provides an illustration. The “HER2” gene, which mediates the HER2 pathway, is mutated in 20-30% of breast cancers, causing the over-expression (churning out of too many) HER2 receptor proteins (proteins that sit on cell membranes and act as signal receivers). These receptors receive signals that, via a cascade of cellular events, stimulate the cell to grow and proliferate. Cells with an abnormally large number of HER2 receptors on their surface can grow and proliferate too quickly and too much. Herceptin intersects this pathway by blocking – getting into and jamming – HER2 receptors. In HER2-positive breast cancers (particularly when combined with chemotherapy), this can halt tumour growth. Herceptin’s ability to do this relies upon it having exactly the right molecular shape to fit into its target receptor – just like getting into your target house depends on your having a key that is exactly the right shape to fit its lock. Success of treatment depends on perfect specificity between drug and drug target.

CAM providers’ claims that alkaline water, or coffee enemas, or dietary changes can “cure cancer”, apart from anything else, work on the erroneous assumption that cancer is a single disease, entirely overlooking the diversity that characterises cancer as a disease category, and directs research in oncology. These cancer cure claims can often be identified as phoney by virtue of their also appearing in CAM (or in some cases legitimate) advice on cancer prevention. There are indeed various sensible lifestyle changes that can be made to reduce risk of cancer onset (squirting coffee up one’s behind or daily endeavours to “alkalinise” the body not falling into this class), but once cancer has begun, none of these changes are capable of targeting an already-growing mass of cells.

Incidentally, many phoney cancer-cure claimants invoke the “power of antioxidants” to destroy tumours. This presumably stems from the suggestion that antioxidants can help reduce the risk of cancers developing in the first place. Notwithstanding the fact that the free-radical theory of ageing has been called into question, the reasoning that says “since antioxidants help prevent cancer, flooding already-present cancer with them must help to cure it too” is fallacious. Indeed, in some cases, antioxidants can actually help protect cancer cells that have broken away from their surrounding mesh of protein and would otherwise have died as a result.

While some of the big cheeses in CAM are no doubt ignorant rather than just callous, I’m not sure the distinction is particularly pertinent, since their ignorance is elective. All the information is out there, and making the active decision not to study cancer before taking cancer patients’ lives into one’s hands is shamelessly unethical. Hardly surprising though, since being an oncologist means years of training and difficult exams. CAM practitioners seem to want it all: to avoid ever putting in any effort to really understand cancer pathology, yet reap the satisfaction of being revered as experts; to take patients’ money, but circumvent academic scrutiny. To achieve this, they cheat, lie and manipulate, unconditionally dismissing all evidence against the efficacy of their methods. They demonise oncologists, radiologists and surgeons, labelling them as “Big Pharma shills” who just want to earn the Big Bucks by selling products to patients. Using cherry-picked and misleading statistics, they say that chemotherapy is “poison” – a global conspiracy that “creates customers not cures”. In making this argument, they ignore the fact that countries with national health services, like here in the UK,  offer chemotherapy for free, and that what the statistics really show is that chemotherapy has greatly improved the average cancer sufferer’s prognosis.

Cancer quacks cash in on oncologists’ deeply-held responsibility to be absolutely realistic about what can and cannot be expected from available treatment in any given case, offering failsafe cures where actual doctors could not. As Science-Based Medicine’s David Gorski puts it: “It is ironic that CAM proponents often simultaneously tout how individualized their treatment approach is, but then claim that one product or treatment can cure all cancer. Meanwhile they criticize the alleged cookie-cutter approach of mainstream medicine, which is actually producing a more and more individualized (and evidence-based) approach to such things as cancer.”

Our only weapon against CAM’s Crimes Against Humanity is education. Next time someone casually mentions that cancer can be cured “from within”, or that “acid degradation of cells” is what causes tumours, don’t let it slide!

 

johnson This 1908 advertisement offered a 125-page book of patient testimonials as proof of the value of “Dr. Johnson’s Mild Combination Treatment for Cancer.” Testimonials—genuine or fabricated—often are the most effective sales ammunition for quack products, and the easiest to obtain. Drugs that work are supported by scientific evidence obtained from carefulIy controlled tests.

(picture and accompanying blurb from cancertreatmentwatch.org)

 

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47 thoughts on “Confronting Cancer Quackery

  1. This design is incredible! You certainly know how to keep a reader entertained.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved
    to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job.
    I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  2. I can recommend a book and a practitioner.
    Unraveling the politics of the cancer industry by Ralph W. Moss and
    Stanislaw Burzynski MD PhD

      1. Burzynski is one of the most notorious and despicable cancer quacks out there. Numerous of his patients have died unnecessarily in his “care”. There are scores and scores of articles on him but here are a few links:
        http://theotherburzynskipatientgroup.wordpress.com/
        http://thehoustoncancerquack.com/
        http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?s=burzynski

        I urge you to follow those links.

        And here’s a review of the book:
        http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEducation/Reviews/moss.html

  3. And still he has so many living patients, but feel free to go chemo if you should be unfortunate enough to get one of the most aggressive ones

    And do not misunderstand, I do in no way wish for you to have it.

    1. The type of chemotherapy that a patient receives depends on the type of cancer they have. As I pointed out in the article, cancer isn’t a disease, it’s a category of very diverse diseases, each of which has its own treatment profile. The nature of your comments strongly suggests that you haven’t read my article. Why don’t you do so and then make some a comment that addresses something I’ve said?

      1. You can’t fix stupid. It is also not an individual disease but is in fact a very diverse set of mental obstructions that create an inability of the brain to create a sensible thought from the active stimuli made available to it. The type of therapy that a stupid person requires is as diverse as the types of stupid there are. You can’t cure stupid because there isn’t really anything to cure.

        On a much more important note though, I found your article extremely insightful. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    2. huge arguments for something that works 3%
      why don’t they make blogs for pseudoscience-discoverer-quacks like yourself ?
      there are billions of studies out there that prove your points from doctors to medical mafia to a lot of bullshit around.. whats the rate for curing cancer for chemo ? radio therapy ? 3% ? ok I know on the CONVENTIONAL bullshit website its 100% almost 150% .. if chemo worked why is it so expensive and you die afterwards ? and why ALL alternative cancer healers don’t charge much and don’t really put you on supplies for the rest of your life ?
      and how did you come up with Ty Bollinger doesn’t believe in science if he actually based all his arguments on scientific experiences ( not approved by your bullshit conventional medicine definitely cuz it’s not a pill you pay huge bucks for it )
      when are you people gonna stop the phobia of conspiracy theories that make more sense than your fairy tale stories ? let me inject you with poison it’ll heal you makes more sense than take those few none harmful plants ?
      I think we have a problem with the fundamental thinking we were raised on just like many believe USA bombed iraq for democracy, many like you believe poison is actually a magic pill for a happy life.

      1. I have a sneaking suspicion that you didn’t read the whole article. Within it I linked to an article debunking the idea that chemotherapy only “works 3%”, an idea that demonstrates a lack of actual knowledge on the subject of chemotherapy. Like cancer, which isn’t a disease but a disease category, chemotherapy isn’t “a drug”, but an enormous category of very different drugs, each of which has its own statistics. Chemotherapy saves lives, and prolongs lives. That doesn’t mean it’s an easy ride – but alternative treatments are entirely ineffective, and death from cancer itself is absolutely not an easy ride either. Here’s the link again.

        If there are “billions of studies” proving that there is a “medical mafia”, why don’t you link to some of them here. Let’s see whether they’re from reputable sources or whether they’re propaganda from places like Natural News.

        Part of the reason why drugs are expensive is because they take years to develop: See this. But I live in the UK so I get all my healthcare free. Expensive for the government, but not to patients. The idea that ‘alternative’ practitioners don’t charge much is naive! In a relative sense, they are charging through the roof, because what they are selling *does not work*, for the reasons outlined in this article.

        And, contrary to what you say, what cancer quacks dole out, those “none harmful plants”, are very harmful indeed, because they divert people from treatments that work, which often means that by the time patients do get round to seeking actual medicine, their cancer has progressed to the point where it is no longer treatable.

        Re Ty Bollinger – his understanding of the most basic, elementary physiology is worse than non-existent. As I explain in the article I wrote about him, he enjoins his readers to reject enormous portions of science, but fails to offer any compelling reason to do so. Science is not about “scientific experiences”. It’s about the scientific method. To repeat what I said in the article, it is not some collection of answers from which one can pick and choose what one likes. Science is a method of inquiry, and it is the method – the way in which we seek the answers – that makes something scientific, not the terminology or the answers themselves. If you want to disagree with science, you must disagree using more science. That means you must disagree with the method, rather than simply rejecting the answers. And to disagree with the methods used to determine scientific answers, you need to understand the methods, and the answers, that you are disputing. This is something Ty Bollinger fails spectacularly do do. He rejects the bits of science that he doesn’t like, and clings on to scientific terminology that suits him. It is all painfully transparent.

        Nobody is calling chemotherapy a “magic pill”. The main message put forward in this article is that there could never be a “magic”, miracle cure “for cancer”, because cancer is not a single disease but a large category of highly diverse diseases, each of which has its own prognosis, development and treatment. In reality, the people who are actually claiming they have the “magic pill” are people like Ty Bollinger, who ignorantly describe cancer as a single disease which can be cured easily using their infantile, cookie-cutter, and INEFFECTIVE “approach”.

  4. I think You should do a little more cancer research…
    Oncologists are the ONLY drs that sell medicine . They are able to buy chemo wholesale and sell it retail. Dont you think thats a conflict of interest? I do. As well, they have made bitter apricot seeds illegal in this country. They admit they are non toxic, yet they are illegal. Thats odd, dontcha think.
    Lastly, i know that most of the ‘magic pills’ as you call them, are just trying to rev up your bodies own immune system(vegan diet or laetrile or bee stings). Once your body takes over it is certainly possible to heal. This is why the new cancer treatments are aimed at a persons immune system. (Tcell therapy)…regardless of what you believe ,Ive seen it happen first hand. My grandfather had Stage 4 stomach cancer(gave him 2 months w chemo, 2 weeks without) , he refused chemo, did apitherapy instead… Alive 7 years later and CANCER FREE. Sloane kettering does studies on him now! Multiple drs there have had him come set up bee hives at their HOMES! I think you may be confused. It is science. I think you are just misunderstanding. Isnt that usually the case in disagreements.

    1. It really doesn’t sound as if you read the article, because you have failed to directly address any of the points I made in it, and because everything you’ve just mentioned has been directly addressed within the article.

      So all I would be doing to rebut your points would be repeating sections of the article, which I don’t see why I should have to do, since it’s all there in front of you.

      I will say one thing though – in the UK, where I live, chemotherapy is free. It is not sold by oncologists. They give chemotherapy because it prolongs lives and it based on a large body of research, including independent research.

      1. Do you know that chemo treatment kills more people than cancer? Do yoy know it works under 10% of the time in localized cancer and less than 3% of the time in metastatic disease? Do you know that the chemo may be ‘free’ to you but despite your shortsitedness , someone is paying for it? Do you know that chemo doesmt cure cancer it gets rid of the tumors. Most of the time once you stop chemo, the tumors come back? Yoy can say that you address everything in the article, my point is that your misinformed and not acurate in your understanding of cancer. You may be a ‘scientist’ but that does not make you an oncologist. There is room for nature in science. They should be intertwined. Not seperated.

  5. Forgot to mention, the reason there are no clinical trials on natural remedies is bc big pharma pays for those trials, do you honestly think they will put money(a lot of it) towards a treatment that they ultimately cannot make money off of? Never.

      1. So who pays for these trials? Even better, who would pay for a trial when it stands to make them no money? Its not logical. So whomever is ‘paying’ for these trials needs to have a benefit involved.

      2. Cancer research is not all money-driven. I have a large number of friends who are in cancer research – they do it because they want to find ways to beat cancer, because they care about people. Oncology is not a high-paying field!

        Many studies are funded by charitable organisations like Cancer Research UK. Talking of Cancer Research UK, you should check out this post – go to “Myth 7” – the section talks directly about this: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2014/03/24/dont-believe-the-hype-10-persistent-cancer-myths-debunked/#Big-Pharma

        As I explained in my essay that you obviously didn’t read, cancer is *extremely complex* – the idea that there are miracle cures “for cancer” makes no sense, because cancer is not a disease – it is a category of very, very diverse diseases, each of which has a different development and treatment profile.

      3. Wouldnt it make sense to falsify studies to further support your billion dollar business? Of course it would. It boggles my mind that you think since patients are treated for free in your country that noone is actually paying for the chemo?! Thats so bizarre. Why dont you do yourself and all your followers a favor and go on vimeo and watch LAETRILE at Sloane Kettering. Dont take my word for it. Take actual Drs. testimonies. You need to understand that chemical companies are now ‘creating’ our food. Its having horrible consequences. I in 2 people get cancer these days. Thats absurd and its clearly not an accident.

      4. I didn’t really understand much of what you just said. I don’t think that no-one is paying for chemo…I said that oncologists don’t sell chemo here, in answer to your comment that oncologists sell chemo. Laetrile is quackery:
        http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Cancer/laetrile.html
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/canjclin.31.2.91/pdf
        http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Laetrile

        And testimonies are not evidence. They are problematic. http://www.skepdic.com/testimon.html

        I wish you would actually read my article. Nothing you’ve said indicates that you have. You don’t realise it, but you are spreading extremely dangerous misinformation.

  6. The bottom line here is, both science and nature are the same thing. Science is nature and nature is science. I dont agree w a ‘secret pill’ that cures cancer. I am for boosting the immune system to fight the cancer. It is exactly what scientists are trying to do. (Tcell therapy) And btw what do you make of going from stage 4 cancer to cancerfree all through beestings? You failed to address that. Guess what that venom does… Sends a signal to your immune system that theres something wrong and prompts it to start fighting. Thats all it comes down to.
    We havent even touched on the fact that chemo/radiation cause secondary cancers. I guess thats ok with you bc its FREE! ???

    1. I didn’t say it was “free”. Part of the reason that it’s expensive is because R+D is expensive. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/2014/01/06/why-drugs-are-expensive-its-the-science-stupid/

      Please provide references to support your extraordinary claim that beestings and venom cure cancer. As I keep saying, cancer is a category of highly diverse diseases – not “a disease”. If you had bothered to read my article, you’d see that the idea that one miracle cure for cancer is implausible.

      Also, “boosting the immune system” is a meaningless concept. T-cell therapy is not “boosting the immune system”. It’s…much more complex than that.

      Read the article and demonstrate that you have done so, by making a point that directly addresses something I have said. If you fail to do this, I will not be approving your comment. I don’t want to waste any more time,

      1. Your age shines through with your threat to ‘not approve’ my comments. Grow up. I have read your essay and i do not agree with it. I have experienced the proof first hand, unlike you with your ‘claims’ of knowing better. The proof is that my grandfather is alive and cancerfree. And he had stage 4 stomach cancer. That doesnt just happen. The only treatment he had was vetting(bee stings) which has been used for years by our ancestors for many things. Did you hear the part where i stated that sloane kettering is now doing studies on him…and vetting. Maybe you should investigate that. Thats not spreading dangerous information. Its the TRUTH. Just like chemo may not work for everyone, the same goes for alternative methods. Just bc someone doesnt agree with you, doesnt mean you need to get hostile and angry. You have a lot of growing up to do and a lot to learn. You claim everyone who doesnt agree w you hasnt read your essay. Obviously we have, we just dont agree. Can you imagine that? I dont care if you approve this comment or not. Your dinky website isnt going to save the world. What i do know is that you said that oncology isnt a lucritive profession…that proves to me that you really have no clue. The cancer industry is a billion dollar business… Of course its driven by money and greed. My bfs chemo nurse confirmed it. She sees drs give chemo when they know it either wont work or will not prolong the patients life. What would be the point in that?Oh yeah, its money. Maybe you need to take off those rose colored glasses and understand that this ‘business’ isnt as sweet and innocent as your ‘friends’ lead you to believe. Unless you are currently going through it personally, i dont know where you get off being so obnoxious and self righteous. Stop being so egotistical and understand that there are other treatments/methods that may just be nature based. Why is that so hard for you to grasp?

      2. No, you have not read the article, because you’re just saying “I disagree”, and you’re unable to provide any actual examples of what I said with accompanying rebuttals. You’re just regurgitating soundbites you’ve heard. People who know what they are talking and know *why* they disagree with something are always eager to provide concrete examples, because it’s a way to demonstrate understanding.

      3. And if you have read the article, then I’m afraid that you either didn’t read it paying enough attention, or you failed to understand. Either way, you have not provided one iota of information that directly deals with any of the points I’ve raised.

  7. In that essay you state that chemo is ‘free’ .maybe your the one who hasnt read the article.
    As well, you state that chemo ‘greatly’ increase the lifespan of people… If you think 3% is greatly, you have issues. Also, many cancers arent chemosensitive, including most sarcomas. So what should those people do? Give up? Throw in the towel? Or explore alternative methods. Wake up. Your cookie cutter approach to cancer doesnt work. We are losing the war on cancer! Lifespan Statistics havent changed in 20 yrs.

    1. You are ridiculous. I wrote the article.

      And the fact that you just repeated the 3% gambit, when I have just provided a link that goes into why the idea is absolute rubbish, is extremely disappointing.

      Again, in my article, I explain why it is your crowd who are advocating a cookie-cutter approach, because you think cancer is “a disease”, when it is a category of diverse diseases.

      1. Yes but when you get cancer, you usually get one type. Sarcoma, lymphoma, carcinoma… And depending on which you get, determines how you will most likely reaxt to the ‘treatments’ available through western medicine. Typically chemotherapy doesnt work on sarcoma. Only a few sarcomas are chemosensitive. Therefore, what are your other options? Its a fact that chemo kills more people than actual cancer. Look up the stats. So if thats the case, how are ‘my kind of people’ spreading dangerous info? We already know chemo kills. How much more dangerous can our methods be?! So instead of coming down on people for trying to salvage the quality of their loved ones lives,You need to understand that its no more dangerous than chemo. As far as stats are concerned… They are all sugarcoated to best fit the researcher. Why dont you visit the site chrisbeatcancer.com He explains how they do this. The American Cancer Society catergorizes anyone who was diagnosed w cancer as a ‘survivor’ regardless of whether you were diagnosed yesterday. Thats not a survivor, thats a patient. The american cancer society is supposedly a prestigious institution.So i could care less what link you provided to me. They all lie, they all manipulate it to best fit their pockets. The only truth will come from the actual cancer warriors. We can go on and on about this. Maybe we should just agree to disagree. Good day.

    2. One last thought to leave you with… Because i didnt comment on your site to start a war. I did so to try and enlighten you. I have nothing to gain. Im not selling alternative treatments. Sometimes chemo will only extend your life for a short time. But it destroys your quality of life. Would you rather live 1 month as healthy as you can possibly be or 3 months deteriorating because your immune system is repressed and you cant eat bc your so nauseous that all you do is sleep bc of antinsusea medication and pain meds? Which would you chose? In America, if your a child, you have no choice. It is mandatory that you receive chemo ,despite what your parents wishes are.( obviously they have your best interest) And if they refuse to allow the chemo, the child is taken away from them. Their sick child is taken away from them! Thats so dispicable that words cant describe. So before you try and group all the people searching/offering alternatives as quacks . Have a little compassion. Understand this is real life, not just an essay that you wrote. Understand that chemo/radiation/surgery arent the only options. Also understand that drs are legally not even allowed to suggest anything else. Its a tough battle and its also a personal one. I should not be bashed, ridiculed or prohibited from making my own decisions. Especially when it comes to my own life. Regardless of what your opinion is. I think its appauling that you add insult to injury by verbally assaulting people that are going through such a terrible situation. In fact, your just as bad if not worse than the people who your supposedly aiming this essay at. Its their life, they should be able to do as they please without feeling ashamed bc of people like you.

      1. What is so despicable that words can’t describe is parents being led to believe lies that result in them refusing chemotherapy for their children. Refusing life-saving treatment for their children.

        None of the article is based on opinion – it’s based on actual cancer research, rather than rumours and fake science circulating on the internet. I am full of compassion, which is the only reason I spend half my life doing what I do – because I want people to understand, and protect themselves from being duped by charlatans.

      2. I jate to break the news to you, but just because they claim to have done a study doesnt make it true. What makes youso sure all of the information you have is true?
        If i have incurable cancer id rather live 1 yr of the life that i chose rather than two years of torture. Have you ever been through chemo? Has anyone in your family been through it? Have you watched it destroy someones body? If not, then just stop. Its a traumatizing experience and if im going to die anyway, then id chose to die with as many happy days as i can. That makes me a charlitan? And if i chose to try an alternative method that makes me a bad person? Absolutely not, thats called free will. I, as well asy children should have a choice. See what your not getting is that noone is making anyone do anything they do t want to. Its an option. If i chose that option you should mind your business. I shouldnt be talked down to or accused of trying to harm someone because i support alternative cancer treatments. Your just a young girl who thinks she knows better. Youll learn one day that theres no 1 right answer for anything. And its my free will to chose how i treat my disease. And unless youve been there, had cancer or dealt with it first habd, i really think you should shut your mouth. Its enough already.

      3. Yes. I know a lot of people who have been through cancer. I have lost relatives to it. And friends. And as I said a moment ago, one of my dear friends is currently dying of it.

        I will not rise to your ad hominem remarks. I feel very sorry for you.

  8. And by the way, it is clear you know nothing about chemotherapy – you still haven’t read the link that I directed you to, because you’re still talking about chemotherapy in blanket terms, when chemotherapy is a category of very different types of medication that are tailored to the type of cancer. Chemo is something that cannot be talked about in general terms, because it is anything but general.

    1. Chemotherapy kills more people than cancer. YOU do your research. Thats ALL chemo. And if it doesnt kill you right away, it will affect in other ways; heart, liver, kidneys… Do you understand chemo is only good for a certain period if time? That your body gets smart and starts to figure out the chemo? That you are only allowed a certain amount before it ravages your organs… Doxarubicin is cardio toxic so itll give you heart problems… Ifosfamide is renal toxic so it can put you into renal failure. Its all poison. And most of the time, once you stop the chemo, the tumors grow back. That sounds like a grear plan. Glad that youd put all your eggs in one basket with that. Sounds smart.

      1. So you’re just restating what you already said, and what I already refuted with a scientific article. You haven’t addressed any of the things discussed in that article, you’ve just restated. And provided absolutely no evidence.

        I have studied cancer. I know what I’m talking about – you are wrong. Chemotherapy does not “kill more people than cancer” – that is ridiculous and, seriously, you are acting in a shamelessly unethical way going around telling people that.

  9. And actually, I’ve done no “verbal assaults” on anyone – unlike cancer quacks, who rely completely on ad hominems. Comparing my comments vs. your comments to me, it would be very clear to an arbiter who of the two of us has been committing the verbal assaults – for instance, you’ve called me “obnoxious”, “self-righteous”, “egotistical”. You’ve told me to “grow up” and asked “why is this so hard for you to grasp?” – All these are personal insults and slurs – and they come from your end.

  10. Bc you make it like alternative cancer supporters are trying to hurt people or take advantage of sick peole. I take offense to that. I have nothing to gain by letting everyone know how my grandfather beat cancer, and despite what you think, it was do e through apitherapy.

    1. Actually, if you had read my article, you’d see that I’m very aware that some people *think* they are helping people. Others, however, know damn well that they are not, and are simply taking people’s money…and preying on their hope.

  11. I absolutely love this article. You explained cancer in a way the everyday layman can understand and also explained how alternative BS treatments could never even begin to touch cancers. All alt-med treatments do is offer a placebo effect to keep a fearful person’s mood up during the other science based treatment.

    To the great Sage and eminent ranter up there claiming their family member was cured of cancer by bee therapy, show us proof, tangible, watchable/readable proof. Now, that isn’t to say there aren’t benefits that can come from investigating animals and plants (and scientists are constantly doing so). Most, if not all, medicines we have today are derived from natural substances or synthetic reproductions of natural substances. To claim science has separated itself from nature is remarkably, willfully ignorant. It is incredibly clear you have no idea how cancers work or how medications to treat cancers work. Ranting and raving your opinion, with no sources and no evidence, under a well written article that explains everything to you is free range rude to say the least.

  12. Wow, MAN, you have a lot of patience, good for you. I would have stopped commenting after repeating myself once. I still don’t think SAGE read the article.

  13. Very well written article. Unfortunately the people that need it likely won’t read it. Why interact with the troll that is Sage, he clearly knows nothing about chemo, cancer, sufferers of cancer or basic cell biology – you cannot win. BTW I have had, and (hopefully) survived, cancer. – through real medicine, I have gone from months to years. I notice the loudest anti science types never have

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