ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

I was asked recently what I thought of ‘alternative medicine’. I replied as I have consistently done for a number of years, ‘There is no such thing as alternative medicine. A treatment either works or it doesn’t’.

If you talk to cancer patients and ask them what they want a treatment to do, it is simply to cure them.
Here I side with Dr. Henry Friedman of the Preston Robert Tisch Cancer Center at Duke University Medical Center, Carolina. He said, on the front page of the website, ‘I believe cancer can be cured; it may be in remission but it can be in remission permanently’. Brave words from a man who treats people with gliomas, which are often described as ‘terminal’.

So his aim is to get a patient into remission and, ideally, even cure them.

Talk to patients. Their aim is to be cured. It’s as simple as that. ‘Manage your cancer with drugs for the rest of your life, madam?’ ‘No thanks, I’d rather be cured.’

This fits with the way things are going for cancer patients too. In a 2012 report, the American Cancer Society concluded that since 2006 there had been an explosion in research into complementary therapies and that there was ‘overwhelming evidence’ that certain of them like diet and exercise could increase survival and even prevent a cancer returning.

Sounds like a result to me. And obviously to patients at large.

Which leads me to the fact that there is a humungous problem with cancer drugs. They don’t cure cancer. In 2012 it was proven beyond any reasonable doubt, that at the heart of all cancers lay cancer stem cells. An ‘inconvenient truth’ is that while drugs can cause a decrease in tumour size of 50, 60 or even 70%, as of today there is not one single drug known to man that kills off the cancer stem cells at the heart of the tumour.

But despite this, 54 per cent of people do beat cancer (or at least survive 5 years – which, I agree, is not really the same).

Cue Dr. Young S. Kim of the National Cancer Institute in America who concluded from her research in 2012, that people who employed a poor diet saw their cancers return. While people who employed a good diet – including foods that were high in sulphoraphanes, curcumin, piperine, EGCG, choline, genistein, vitamin A and E, and a couple of others – could prevent the cancer returning. She even went so far as to say that these bioactive compounds could be obtained via quality supplements.

The fact is, that very few patients nowadays rely on their oncologist’s medicines to cure a cancer. They may use them, but they employ a range of their own treatments from fasting, juice diets, colourful Mediterranean diets, yoga, IVC, weight control, even (perish the thought) localized hyperthermia, HIFU and the dreaded apricot kernels. Several women I know have used a herbal poultice called Black Salve. Oncologists treating the ladies both said the same thing.: Having confirmed that the ‘thing’ in the jar was indeed a tumour, they said they had never seen anything like it. But it was beyond their training and they could comment no more.

Of course not all these treatments have been through ‘The rigours of a clinical trial’. Actually, ‘rigourous trial’ when it comes to drugs is a bit of an oxymoron. Even the FDA has just concluded that almost 40% of drug clinical trials were sloppy and inaccurate. Worse, Peter Grotzsche, the head of the highly respected Nordic Cochrane Centre, has a book called ‘Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare’. The title says it all. And it is the British Medical Association’s 2014 book of the year!!

Radiotherapy and surgery have hardly a clinical trial between them. Surgery, even biopsies, have been linked to increased metastatic activity. Cutting out a colorectal cancer is certainly no guarantee that the cancer won’t return in your lungs or liver.

Brachytherapy, used for prostate cancer is now used in some parts of America for up to 60% of breast cancers, meriting huge protests. Why? Errr, there are no clinical trials to support it. The new sexy Cyberknife will cause less damage – who says? Show me the proof. Does it prevent a cancer returning?

Meanwhile Hospitals feed the cancer with ice cream, sweet desserts and milky, sugary tea. The drink and snack food dispensers all offer chocolate bars, and cans of fizzy soft drinks full of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Leading cancer charities say there is no harm in feeding cancer patients cows’ dairy and sugar. They are out of their tiny minds. 2014 research showed sugar CAUSED cancer. 2013 research showed people with the highest blood sugar levels survived least.

And so it goes on.

A subplot over the last few years included research from Johns Hopkins that showed chemo drugs actually caused a cancer to return – and stronger; German research that showed Taxol caused metastases 6 months after treatment was finished and Scientists from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Amherst showed in research published in January 2015 that some chemotherapy drugs actually caused cancer stem cells to re-grow. Another ‘inconvenient truth’?

So, there are treatments that have the power to prevent a cancer returning. And there are others that don’t. Some may even make matters worse.

The ones that do keep cancers at bay – diet, exercise, quality supplements and a few others, are thus treatments that work. The others – chemo, radio and surgery are but unproven alternatives supported by dodgy research, vested interest, mafia-like unions, some paid skeptics and often simple fraud.

Patients are right to think of self-empowerment. Offering chemical potions that simply don’t give them what they want – preventing a cancer from returning – that’s just unproven alternative medicine.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Burzynski – it’s all over now, surely?

A strange situation exists in America that is exploited by several top Cancer Hospitals: Take MD Anderson and Virotherapy or The Preston Robert Tisch Cancer Centre at Duke and Dendritic cell therapy. Both these treatments have some clinical evidence behind them to show there is potential. But, truthfully, that’s about all. So, when all other treatments fail, a phase III clinical trial is set up to give these therapies a whirl. And in some cases they have met with great success. Importantly, the ‘trial’ is well documented, even when people die.

The same ‘methodology and logic’ has been exploited by controversial Doctor Stanislaw Burzynski. The FDA gave some credibility to antineoplastons (complex peptides and peptide mixtures that seemed to be missing in cancer patients) and after nearly 20 years of fighting between the FDA and/or The Texas Medical Board and Burzynski, a lull in the storm saw Burzynski reach for the phase III clinical trial gambit, and continue to treat cancer patients at his clinic. The background to all this can be found here.)

But. Following a Panorama Programme where Burzynski refused to provide results to date saying the FDA forbade it, and the FDA saying he could provide data, I wrote several times to the Burzynski Clinic for clarification. Like Panorama, I received no satisfactory response.

Worse was then uncovered – An analysis of work to date seems to show that with several dozen phase II clinical trials started, he never published a completed phase II trial, although there have been a couple of preliminary reports.

A step change occurred in 2012, with an apparent treatment-related death of a child and this led the FDA to issue a partial clinical hold on the Burzynski Clinic, preventing him enrolling any new children on his clinical trials, although he could keep treating existing patients and enroll new adult patients.

This ‘hold’ was later extended to new adults when the FDA arrived to investigate the clinic. The result of the investigations? More bad news for Burzynski when he received a warning letter from the FDA. That warning covered issues such deficiencies in the Burzynski institutional review board (IRB), the committee responsible for making sure that the clinic falls in line with regulations designed to protect human subjects during ‘research’ (for example, by maintaining adequate documentation covering the functions and operations of the IRB.

This, to some, may just seem like a lack of red tape provisions. But these are supposed to be randomized clinical trials of human beings and the Burzynski clinic needs to be as meticulous as any drugs company, perhaps more so given previous controversies. What seems to have been happening is that the Burzynski has been using what are ‘expedited reviews’. However, taking single patient protocols for an investigational drug that is not FDA-approved does not fall into any of the categories for which expedited review is appropriate, particularly when so many of the patients involved are children.

But the question still remains – Let’s see the results.

And not just the positive ones; what about side-effects like hypernatremia? Again the FDA have presented two new reports and these include statements such as ‘Failure to monitor the progress of an investigation’ and ‘an investigation was not conducted in accordance with the signed statement of investigator and investigational plan’ and ‘failure to prepare or maintain adequate case histories with respect to observations and data pertinent to the investigation’.

All I can conclude from this is that we are very unlikely to get proper clinical trial data at all.

But it gets worse. The FDA noted that
1. ‘You did not have a QA monitor properly monitor CRFs [case report forms] and subject records’
2. ‘The investigator destroyed critical subject case history records (target tumor measurement worksheets) or misplaced case history records (original subject CRFs) for all subjects’
3. ‘Your MRI tumor measurements initially recorded at baseline and on-treatment MRI studies for all study subjects were destroyed and are not available for FDA inspectional review’
4. ‘You failed to monitor as required by Section 16 of your Monitoring Plan. The investigator did not report adverse events (AEs) experienced by study subjects, including 18 cases of hypernatremia’, and (worse still)
5. ‘You failed to protect the rights, safety, and welfare of subjects under your care – Forty-eight (48) subjects experienced 102 investigational overdoses between January 1, 2005 and February 22, 2013, according to the Weekly List of Hospitalizations/SAE [REDACTED] Overdose [redacted]/Catheter Infection report. There is no documentation to show that you have implemented corrective actions during this time period to ensure the safety and welfare of subjects’.

We last amended the write up in CANCERactive on Antineoplastons and The Burzynski Clinic after the Panorama report. At that time we asked ‘Where are the results?’ We shall shortly be revising it all again.

At CANCERactive we do not believe it correct to ignore ‘alternative’ cancer treatments. We try to explain what they are and what they are supposed to do, with research when it exists, but pointing out clearly if none exists. But the fact is the NCI has a review on its website about antineoplastons and the review seems positive. Wikipedia, even today, is surprisingly balanced. So, we will continue to tell patients what this is supposedly all about, but we will now answer our own question: Where are the results? And the answer is ‘Nowhere’.

People touched by cancer who contemplate spending large amounts of money to go to the Burzynski Clinic need to be absolutely clear on this latest information and factor it in to their decision making process.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

 

Fish oils claimed to beat breast cancer drug for effectiveness

The omega-3 essential fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is more effective at reducing the size of breast cancer tumours than the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, and can also reduce that drug’s harmful side effects, reports a new study published in the journal Cell Division. However, readers should not jump up and down in excitement quite yet in our view: The research was done on mice not humans: The lead researcher A.M. El-Mowafy of Egypt’s Mansoura University claimed, “Our results suggest a new, fruitful drug regimen in the management of solid tumours based on combining cisplatin and possibly other chemotherapeutics with DHA. DHA elicited prominent chemo-preventative effects on its own, and appreciably augmented those of cisplatin as well. Furthermore, this study is the first to reveal that DHA can obliterate lethal cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity (kidney damage and renal tissue injury).” In animals who received 125 milligrams per kilogram of DHA, tumour growth was 38 percent less than in animals who received a placebo. Animals receiving cisplatin had 55 percent less tumour growth, while those treated with 250 milligrams per kilogram of DHA had 79 percent less. The combination of DHA and cisplatin not only reduced tumour growth by 81 percent compared with a placebo, it also returned white blood cell counts to normal levels. The 250 milligram per kilogram dose of DHA was nearly as effective at restoring a normal white blood cell count as the DHA-cisplatin combination. It is up to you to make your own mind up. (Source: Natural News)

http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=527

http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=2519

 

 

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

 

The scandal that kept an alternative cancer therapy from a fair evaluation

When a pharmaceutical company wants to put a new drug through clinical trials, by and large three things happen:

1) They select a team of scientists if they don’t have such a team already on their payroll

2) The scientists then select the patients that will be part of the trial. The selection process can involve very detailed screening tests to avoid anyone who might negatively influence a good result.

3) When the trial has been completed, the research report is handed over to the pharmaceutical company, who can review the data and will massage the results in their Press Releases.

Unfortunately, none of this happens when a promising ‘alternative’ therapy is tested in Clinical Trials. And what happened to the evaluation of the Gonzalez Therapy was nothing short of scandalous.

We have covered the theories of Beard, the work of Kelly and the work of Dr Nicholas Gonzalez in his New York Clinic at CANCERactive several times (CLICK THIS LINK to go to an article on his work http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=469 )

Gonzalez has treated a number of cancers with success at his clinic since 1990. He even took part in a preliminary Clinical Trial when his nutritional Therapy (which involves a  tailor made package of supplements and pancreatic enzymes) was tested using pancreatic cancer patients. In a letter to me, Gonzalez wrote, “We did complete a trial of our therapy with patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, supervised by the National Cancer Institute and funded by Nestle. The results of that study were published in the peer reviewed journal Nutrition and Cancer and reported the best results ever in the treatment of the disease.

As a result of that data, our US National Cancer Institute funded a large-scale clinical trial, which turned out to be, unfortunately, a nightmare of mismanagement. A paper was published a year ago without our knowledge claiming our therapy didn´t work, but the paper was a complete misrepresentation of the large scale clinical trial. I have written a lengthy rebuttal of the recently published article on our website at: http://www.dr-gonzalez.com/jco_rebuttal.htm.”

Now Gonzalez has gone further; he has written a book: ‘What went wrong – The Truth Behind the Clinical Trial of the Enzyme Treatment of Cancer’.

Dr Paul J Rosch, Clinical Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, New York Medical School writes about the book of the trial as follows:

‘This book is about a $1.4 million grant awarded by the National Cancer Institute in 1998 to do a controlled clinical trial comparing the chemotherapeutic drug Gemzar to Dr Gonzalez enzyme approach in the treatment of patients with pancreatic cancer. Dr Gonzalez documents how the study was mismanaged, how he had no control over the selection of patients, and how the protocol was violated in numerous ways that were subsequently confirmed by regulatory authorities. Nevertheless, a misleading article was published without his knowledge and none of the responsible parties were (sic) ever admonished or held accountable. This tragic tale tends to support a growing suspicion that the cancer cartel of organizations, government agencies and vested interests is devoted more to preserving their enormous profits and reputations than to the prevention and cure of cancer’.

‘What went Wrong’ by Dr Nicholas J Gonzalez is published by New Spring Press.

Dr Gonzalez can be contacted via http://www.dr-gonzalez.com/index.htm

 CANCERactive has no financial links to Dr Gonzalez or his clinic. CANCERactive provides information on cancer treatments so that people with cancer can make better-informed personal choices and so increase their personal odds of survival.

, , , , , ,

 

Having read a report of the Dartington Debate which took place recently on the subject of Integrated Medicine, I was interested to read that some of the assembled gathering concluded that the only treatments that they would consider were those that had passed the ultimate medical gold standard test: The randomised, double blind, placebo controlled Clinical Trial. These people are sadly living in cloud cuckoo land.

First, for those of you that don’t know the term let me explain. This Clinical Trial involves two identical groups of people, one group taking the test treatment, the other taking a ‘placebo’ – an identical injection or pill just containing sugar. It is blind, because the recipients don’t know which they are receiving.

The test is double blind because the scientist doesn’t know which he is giving to whom either. And finally, it is randomised because a computer has assigned the people to each group in a matched way, but randomly.

An unequal playing field

This sort of test, according to Pharmaceutical companies, is very, very expensive to run. And thus it is very, very unlikely that any purveyor of a herb or vitamin would ever have the money to run such a test. Last year Astra Zeneca made over $8.6 billion in profit. The entire supplements industry in the UK was worth peanuts compared to that figure. I know of only one such UK ‘supplements’ test in the last year or so – A Leeds University Clinical Trial on concentrated fish oil omega 3 with pre-cancerous colon polyps (it worked and reduced the size of the polyps). This level of Clinical Trial demands serious funding, something simply beyond the means of the supplements companies – face facts!

Another reason that natural compounds and supplements are ruled out is because the drug companies are unlikely to help. The Leeds University trial prepared the omega-3 as if it were a drug, but others aren’t so fortunate. Professor Robert Thomas of Addenbrooks has been working with newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients and noted that those who followed a programme of broccoli and tomato consumption plus daily exercise pushed the evil date for surgery further into the future. To make any claims he needed to prove this observation scientifically and so he started to dry his broccoli and tomatoes. Ah, but if you want to do a proper trial you need to prepare them in pill form, so they are now classified as drugs and require a drugs company to prepare them. How easy do you think it is to get a drugs company to help with a test on natural compounds which can reduce the usage of their profitable drugs?

These anomalies would only be resolved in the UK if we had a properly Government-funded Institute of Complementary Health as they do in the USA. This needs to include someone responsible collating the information and providing guidelines.

Dubious selection criteria

You may feel that the ‘randomised’ selection process in the randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled test is fool-proof. You’d be completely wrong. New drugs tend to be compared against existing treatments which are used by the sick in all shapes, sizes, ages, smokers and non-smokers and so on. For the new Clinical Trials however, the participating company may well insist that the scientist rule out anybody who may have had a negative reaction in a previous trial, obese people, people with heart problems or anything that might jeopardise a good result. Thus the Clinical Trial can be a random sample chosen from a selected sample. Often a drug trial is conducted with young, healthy people (you’ve probably heard the radio ads recruiting volunteers) with 75 per cent of the volume of the resultant drug used by sick over 65 year olds, who will have a significantly different biochemical profile.

So let’s rule out all those treatments that haven’t passed this gold standard

Well of course curcumin as a preventative cancer treatment is ruled out. But then so are most statins – including those for the seemingly healthy to avoid unexpected heart attacks. But Doctors recommend the statins, don’t they?

Actually, come to mention it, about 95 per cent of drugs in use today would be ruled out, not just complementary and alternative therapies.

Two thirds of cancer patients have surgery but there has never been a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled Clinical Trial on any of it. And increasingly there is evidence that surgery may even spread cancer (See: http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=2976)

Next time your Doctor offers you a drug, ask him if it has been through a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled Clinical Trial and see what he says. If it is a serious condition it is very likely that he will want to give you three or four drugs. Don’t even bother asking about whether the combination has passed the gold standard test. As a cocktail it is almost certain not to have done, which may explain, in part, why prescription drugs are now the highest cause of death in states like Florida with a higher incidence of older people.

Level of evidence?

If, like me you believe that ‘research is for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools’, you may consider that there is actually enough evidence to warrant all of the over-50’s in the UK being offered statins along with overweight kids too. As a doctor you may feel the evidence is enough, even if all the Dartington audience using their gold standard filter may not have agreed.

But if you feel it is enough and you offer statins to all, why not consider telling people with pre-cancerous colon conditions about fish oils or curcumin? Both are known to help prevent colon cancer – the former also has Clinical Trials, the latter has a stack of evidence on its side and is even being used as a treatment in some US cancer hospitals.

Why do oncologists offer surgery at the outset of cancer yet they don’t think to offer immune boosting herbs like astragalus or supplements like resveratrol and grape seed extract, which do have good supporting evidence behind them?

Why do some oncologists even criticise cancer patients when they correct their diets? The research is quite clear; ‘overwhelming’ according to the American Cancer Society. Diet and exercise can increase survival times.

A clear legal duty

Only recently we had two women in a week tell us that their oncologist had refused to discuss complementary therapies with them as ‘He may get struck off’. Actually the opposite is true. Your oncologist has a legal duty to inform you fully of all your treatment options. Omitting treatments deliberately is illegal. Ignorance is no defence. Oncologists had better start wising up on complementary and alternative therapies fast. The patient backlash is just around the corner.

The sting?

As part of my preparation for this article, I looked up the ‘randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled Clinical Trial’ on my Internet search engine. Five of the top six listings were definitions but one was actually a trial for a treatment. Here it is. Unfortunately I think some of the ‘skeptic’ attackers of complementary medicine at Dartington might find it a little embarrassing:

Efficacy of a complex homeopathic medication (Sinfrontal) in patients with acute maxillary sinusitis: a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter clinical trial.

 

Zabolotnyi DI, Kneis KC, Richardson A, Rettenberger R, Heger M, Kaszkin-Bettag M, Heger PW.
Source
Research Institute for Ear, Nose, and Throat Diseases, Kiev, Ukraine.
 

Abstract
BACKGROUND:
There is a demand for clinical trials that demonstrate homeopathic medications to be effective and safe in the treatment of acute maxillary sinusitis (AMS).
OBJECTIVE:
The objective of this clinical trial was to demonstrate the efficacy of a complex homeopathic medication (Sinfrontal) compared with placebo in patients with AMS confirmed by sinus radiography.
DESIGN:
A prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase III clinical trial was conducted for a treatment period of 22 days, followed by an eight-week post treatment observational phase.
INTERVENTIONS:
Fifty-seven patients received Sinfrontal and 56 patients received placebo. Additionally, patients were allowed saline inhalations, paracetamol, and over-the-counter medications, but treatment with antibiotics or other treatment for sinusitis was not permitted.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Primary outcome criterion was change of the sinusitis severity score (SSS) from day zero to day seven. Other efficacy assessments included radiographic and clinical cure, improvement in health state, ability to work or to follow usual activities, and treatment outcome.
RESULTS:
From day zero to day seven, Sinfrontal caused a significant reduction in the SSS total score compared with placebo (5.8 +/- 2.3 [6.0] points vs 2.3 +/- 1.8 [2.0] points; P < .0001). On day 21, 39 (68.4%) patients on active medication had a complete remission of AMS symptoms compared with five (8.9%) placebo patients. All secondary outcome criteria displayed similar trends. Eight adverse events were reported that were assessed as being mild or moderate in intensity. No recurrence of AMS symptoms occurred by the end of the eight-week post treatment observational phase.
CONCLUSION:
This complex homeopathic medication is safe and appears to be an effective treatment for acute maxillary sinusitis.
PMID:
17362845
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

, , ,

 

Junk Science? Number 10. Much more than placebo: Homeopathy reverses cancer.

This article is from, ´What Doctors don´t tell you´. They have asked that it is disseminated as widely as possible.

Doctors call it “nonsense on stilts”, professors of medicine have been bullying government and health authorities to stop offering it on the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), and yet studies paid for by the US government are showing that homeopathy could be our best defence against cancer. Several homeopathic remedies are as effective as powerful chemotherapy, according to clinical trials, and thousands of cancer cases are being reversed by homeopathy alone.

The extraordinary success of homeopathy remedies,which are diluted hundreds of times, against the most dreaded of diseases is being demonstrated every day at several homeopathic clinics in Kolkata (Calcutta) in India.

In one review of the work at the Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation, 21,888 patients with malignant tumours were treated only with homeopathy—they had neither chemotherapy nor radiotherapy—between 1990 and 2005. Clinical reports reveal that the tumours completely regressed in 19 per cent—or 4158—of cases, and stabilized or improved in a further 21 per cent (4596) of patients. Those whose tumours had stabilized were followed for between two and 10 years afterwards to monitor the improvement (Banerji, 2008).

This suggests that homeopathic remedies on their own are reversing, or certainly stabilizing, 40 per cent of all cancers, a success rate that matches the best results for conventional medicine, and without the debilitating effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The foundation’s homeopathic therapy—the Banerji Protocol—has been independently tested under laboratory conditions, and two of the remedies used, Carcinosin and Phytolacca, were found to be as effective against breast cancer cells as the chemotherapy drug Taxol (Int J Oncol, 2010; 36: 395–403).

All of the remedies used at the foundation are available in shops, and Ruta 6 is one of several regularly prescribed. The Protocol refers to the foundation’s use of high-technology screening equipment and the mix of remedies—two practices that are contrary to Classical Homeopathy, which attempts to prescribe one precise remedy that fits with an individual’s mind/body profile.

Another clinic in Kolkata, the Advanced Homeopathic Healthcare Centre, claims similar levels of success with its cancer patients and, although well documented, they have not been subjected to the same level of scientific validation as the Prasanta Banerji Foundation.

Getting noticed

The work at the Banerji Foundation first came to the attention of the West in 1995 when Dr Prasanta Banerji and his son, Dr Pratip Banerji, presented a study at the 5th International Conference of Anti-cancer Research of 16 cases of brain tumour that had regressed, using only homeopathic remedies. At the time, they had been testing homeopathic remedies on cancer patients since 1992 at their Foundation, and they say they now treat around 120 cancer patients every day.

Dr Sen Pathak, professor of cell biology and genetics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) in Houston, approached the Banerjis and, together, they set up a trial to test two homeopathic remedies, Ruta 6 and Calcarea Phosphorica 3X, on 15 patients with brain tumours. Six of the seven patients with gliomas —a type of brain cancer— had complete regression. In an accompanying in vitro laboratory study, scientists noticed that the remedies induced death-signalling pathways in the cancer cells (Int J Oncol, 2003; 23: 975–82).

The result is astonishing. Gliomas are considered to be incurable; of 10,000 people diagnosed with malignant gliomas each year in the US alone, only around half are alive a year later, and just 25 per cent two years later (The Washington Post, 20 May 2008).

The scientists at MDACC were so impressed by the results that they started to offer homeopathic remedies as part of their range of cancer treatments.

In 1999, the US government’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) independently evaluated the Banerji Protocol on 10 patients with different kinds of cancers. In four cases of lung and oesophageal cancer, the NCI researchers confirmed that there had been partial responses to the homeo-pathic remedies. None of the patients had received any previous conventional cancer treatment.

The NCI concluded that there was sufficient evidence of efficacy to support further research into the protocol, an historic decision as it marked the first time that any official health institute in the US had worked with an alternative therapy for cancer treatment (Oncol Rep, 2008; 20: 69–74).

In the laboratory

To understand the mechanism of the homeopathic remedies on cancer cells, eight scientists from MDACC tested four remedies — Carcinosin 30C, Conium Maculatum 3C, Phytolacca Decandra 200C and Thuja Occidentalis 30C on two human breast-cancer cell lines. Around 5000 cells were exposed to the remedies and to a placebo, the solvent without the active ingredients of the remedies, for periods of between one and four days. The experiment was repeated three times.

Two of the remedies—Carcinosin and Phytolacca—achieved up to an 80-per-cent response, indicating that they caused apoptosis, or cell death. By comparison, the placebo solvent achieved only a 30-per-cent reduction, suggesting that the effect was more than twice that of the placebo.

Also, the effect was strongest with the greater dilution, (which, in the contrary world of homeopathic medicine, means more powerful), and for longer periods of exposure.

The remedies triggered an ‘apoptotic cascade’ that interfered with the cancer cells’ normal growth cycle and, yet, the surrounding healthy cells were untouched, the researchers found. In other words, they targeted only the cancer cells, whereas chemo-therapy drugs attack all growing cells. And, say the researchers, the effects of Carcinosin and Phytolacca were as powerful as Taxol (paclitaxel), the most commonly prescribed chemotherapy drug for breast cancer (Int J Oncol, 2010; 36: 395–403).

Rooting for Ruta

Although Carcinosin and Phytolacca fared well in the laboratory, many of the Foundation’s patients are taking the Ruta 6 remedy and with extraordinary success, according to one survey of 127 American patients with brain tumours, half of whom were at grade IV, the end-stage before death.

The tumours had completely disappeared, according to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, in 18 of the 127 patients who were taking only Ruta and no conventional treatment. Another nine patients had significant tumour regression. The tumours were stable in around half of all patients scanned, but had grown in around 27 patients. Overall, around 79 per cent of the brain-tumour patients surveyed saw either great or some benefit from Ruta.

In an earlier study by the Foundation among patients who were taking Ruta alongside con-ventional chemotherapy for brain tumours, 72 per cent derived some or great benefit from Ruta and chemotherapy combined, suggest-ing that Ruta on its own is more effective than—or certainly as effective as—the drug, and without its debilitating side-effects (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Ruta6).

In a separate study of brain-tumour cases—148 patients with malignant gliomas and 144 with meningiomas—treated at the Foundation between 1996 and 2001, the 91 patients who had been treated exclusively with Ruta and Calc Phos had an average survival time of 92 months, whereas 11 patients who had been treated conventionally, and used homeopathy as a supplement, survived for 20 months. In addition, 7 per cent of the homeopathy-only patients had a complete cure, 60 per cent were improved, 22 per cent were stable, with the cancer neither improving nor worsening, and 11 per cent saw their cancer worsen, or died (Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation, www.pbhrfindia.org).

The other clinic

There is a second homeopathic clinic in Kolkata that is, confusingly, also run by two P. Banerjis—Parimal and his son Paramesh. The clinic, the Advanced Homeopathic Healthcare Centre, has not attracted the same interest from the West; although its claims appear to be equally as impressive, they have not been independently verified.

Paramesh’s grandfather, Dr Pareshnath Banerji, opened a homeopathic clinic in India in 1918, and his work was continued by his son, Parimal, who adapted Classical Homeopathy into the new approach he calls ‘Advanced Homeopathy’.

With this method, he uses homeopathic remedies in the way a conventional doctor would use drugs, by treating one presenting symptom at a time; a cancer patient with pain would be treated for the pain first, for example. Parimal claims the approach is scientific, based on around 14 million cases dealt with through past generations of his family, with results that can be replicated by any trained practitioner.

The claims that the Banerjis make for Advanced Homeopathy are extraordinary. They say that 95 per cent of their patients do not need surgery, not even for major diseases, including cancer. Although the Centre has not undertaken any clinical trials, its case studies draw an impressive picture.

• A 65-year-old woman with advanced pancreatic cancer, whose tumour was too large to be removed and who refused all other conventional treatment, was alive two years after starting Advanced Homeopathy.

 • A 35-year-old man had a malignant nasal polyp so large that it completely filled the left nostril. Initially, he had the polyp surgically removed, but it grew back each time. However, since 2007, he has not had any surgery but, instead, has relied exclusively on Advanced Homeopathy, and the tumour has not grown back.

• A 14-year-old boy had advanced glioma so severe that it was pushing against the eyeball. His only treatment was Advanced Homeopathy, says the Centre and, within a year, all of his symptoms had disappeared; the boy had gone from a comatose state to running around and playing.

•A 24-year-old man with a brain tumour that had spread to his spinal cord—which could not be treated conventionally because of the risk of permanent paralysis—was treated with Advanced Homeopathy. According to MRI scans, the tumour stopped growing, and the patient was able to carry on with his life, free of symptoms.

Other Research

Outside of India, research into the effects of homeopathy on cancer is very limited, primarily because it is seen as being no better than a placebo and, so, is an unethical treatment. Because of this, most studies in the West have reviewed homeopathy as a palliative therapy to help patients cope with the rigours of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

In one study, 100 women with breast cancer completed a one-hour consultation with a homeopath who was asked to help with any three symptoms chosen by the women that were the result of conventional treatment. The 67 patients who completed the homeopathic treatment and the two follow-ups all reported “significant improvements” in their hot flashes, fatigue, anxiety and depression, although the remedies did not ease pain (Palliative Med, 2002; 16: 227–33).

In another study of women with breast cancer, the homeopathic remedy Verum was tested against placebo for treating hot flashes after taking the drug tamoxifen. In this experiment, 26 women were given Verum, 30 took Verum and a placebo, and 27 were given just a placebo. Both the combination- and single-remedy groups reported improvement in symptoms compared with those in the placebo group (J Altern Complement Med, 2005; 11: 21–7).

Homeopathy also helped ease some of the effects of radiotherapy in a group of 32 women with breast cancer. Hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin, after radiotherapy was reduced in the homeopathic group compared with 29 controls who did not receive homeopathy, and their overall side-effects were also reduced (Br Homeopath J, 2000; 89: 8–12).

The homeopathic remedy Traumeel, for skin and muscular problems, has been successfully tested in several trials. In one, it was given to 15 patients (aged three to 25 years), who had undergone stem-cell transplants for their cancer, to treat stomatitis (mouth ulcers). Compared with a placebo, which was given to 15 other patients, Traumeel “may reduce significantly” the severity and duration of stomatitis (Cancer, 2001; 92: 684–90). In a second study, Traumeel was tested on 20 patients with various cancers, again for treating stomatitis. It reduced the duration of symptoms to just six days, compared with 13 days in the placebo group (Biomed Ther, 1998; 16: 261–5).

Individualized homeopathic remedies helped a group of 45 women who had been treated for breast cancer. Homeopathy was prescribed to treat symptoms following oestrogen withdrawal; the severity of hot flashes and other symptoms—except for joint pain—decreased, while their general quality of life and well-being scores increased (Homeopathy, 2003; 92: 131–4). Another group of 20 women recovering from breast-cancer treatment, including tamoxifen, also reported improve-ment in the severity and frequency of their hot flashes (Homeopathy, 2002; 91: 75–9).

The black hole

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently joined the chorus in the West that maintains that homeopathy is nothing more than a placebo effect. Responding to a Voice of Young Science Network campaign, which is calling for a ban on the promotion of homeopathy in developing countries, the WHO stated that homeopathy is not a cure for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis or malaria.

Welcoming the WHO statement, Dr Robert Hagan, a member of the Voice of Young Science Network, commented: “We need governments around the world to recognize the dangers of promoting homeopathy for life-threatening illnesses” (BBC News, 20 August 2009; http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/ 8211925.stm).

Yet, homeopathy is doing just that in India. In that culture, homeopathy is accepted as a genuine medical therapy, and is governed by laws that ensure that homeopaths are properly trained and registered.

It is perplexing why good medical studies—which are supported by the US government and by leading American academics—are not being recog-nized, let alone discussed, in the West. Surely, cancer is so serious a threat that every avenue needs to be explored with an open mind, and not left to the drug and academic cabals. Conventional medicine does not offer any genuinely effective solutions and, yet, blocks anything that might, especially something as “impossible” and “nonsensical” to their science as homeopathy.

Bryan Hubbard

Factfile A: Homeopathy in India

Mahatma Gandhi, the father of modern India, described homeopathy as a “refined method of treating patients economically and non-violently. Government must encourage and patronize it in our country.”

And so they did. In 1960, the Maharashtra Act—also known as the ‘Bombay Act’—set up a court of examiners, concerned with the teaching of homeopathy and the creation of new colleges to do so, and a board of homeopathy, which regulated and licensed practitioners.

Nine years later, a new act was passed that created a central council to govern homeopathy and Ayurveda, India’s traditional medical system. In 1973, the Homeopathy Central Council Act was passed, which standardized homeopathic education and allowed homeopaths to practice in different states throughout the country.

The legislation formalized a rich tradition of homeopathy in India that began in 1839, when Romanian doctor John Martin Honigberger successfully treated the Maharaja of the Punjab for paralysis of the vocal cords. Honigberger had been taught homeopathy by Dr Samuel Hahnemann, its creator, and became convinced of its efficacy when he treated himself for malaria. After treating the Maharaja, Honigberger moved to Calcutta, where he was known as the ‘cholera doctor’ because of his successful treatment of the disease using homeopathic remedies.

In 1867, Dr Salzar from Vienna began teaching homeopathy in India, and two of his students went on to create the first homeopathic college in India in 1878.

However, the British rulers were not sympathetic to homeopathy, and it began to flourish in India only after the country achieved independence in 1947.

Factfile B: Not just water

Scientists and doctors say homeopathy is a nonsense because of the high dilution of the active ingredient. Most remedies are diluted beyond Avogadro’s number, which is the final concentration at which molecules of the original substance can still exist.

Any homeopathic remedy with a potency of 12C (in other words, 1200 dilutions) or greater is beyond the Avogadro number, suggesting that only water is left. This means that any effect of homeopathy must be due to the placebo, or ‘feel-good’, factor, say sceptics.

But homeopathy turns conventional science and medicine on its head: it contends that greater dilutions have greater potency and, so, the more dilutions, the more powerful the remedy.

Conventional science doesn’t have a model to explain how homeopathy works and, yet, a meta-analysis of 75 studies concluded that 67 of them demonstrated an effect well beyond that of placebo (Complement Ther Med, 2007; 15: 128–38). The effects have also been seen using highly sophisticated measuring technology, such as:

• calorimetry, which measures the amount of heat given off by a sample (J Therm Anal Calorim, 2004; 75: 815–36);

• spectroscopy, which measures how a substance absorbs and emits electromagnetic radiation (Homeopathy, 2007; 96: 175–82); and

• thermoluminescence, which measures the amount of light produced by a sample when heated (Physica A, 2003; 323: 67–74).

Succussion, or vigorous agitation, is as important as very high dilutions in creating the remedies. One study even measured the effectiveness of two highly diluted therapies, one succussed and one not, and found a difference between the two (Biochim Biophys Acta, 2003; 1621: 253–60).

Factfile C: The new science of water

Undaunted by the public ridicule of his compatriot Jacques Benveniste and his theory that water has a memory, Nobel prize-winning virologist Luc Montagnier has confirmed that water does indeed retain frequencies, even at levels of dilutions as used in homeopathy.

Montagnier, who was awarded the Nobel prize for his discovery of a link between HIV and AIDS, has found that solutions containing the DNA of viruses and bacteria “could emit low-frequency radio waves”. These waves influence the molecules around them, turning them into organized structures. In turn, these organized molecules also emit waves.

Confirming what homeopaths have said for several centuries, Montagnier has discovered that these information-emitting waves remain in water even after it has been diluted, often to levels regularly prescribed in homeopathy (Interdiscip Sci, 2009; 1: 81–90).

Montagnier’s discoveries mirror those of French immunologist Jacques Benveniste, who spent the last 15 years of his life investigating water and its ability to ‘remember’ substances, even after it had been diluted many times.

However, after having had his original paper published in the prestigious Nature journal (Nature, 1988; 333: 816–8), Benveniste was visited at his laboratory by the journal’s editor John Maddox and ‘quackbusting’ magician James Randi.

They said that Benveniste was unable to replicate the findings that inspired his original paper, effectively accusing him of being a ‘quack’ and, thus, ruining his reputation.

Factfile D: Homeopathy and the NHS

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) spends around £100 billion a year, and £4 million of it on homeopathy, mainly by funding the UK’s four homeopathic hospitals.

Even though the expenditure is negligible, doctors continue to call for its complete abolition in the NHS. Groups of doctors have pressed primary care trusts (PCTs) to stop offering homeopathy to local patients, while the British Medical Association (BMA)—the doctors’ trade union—has called on the UK government to ban it outright.

The BMA meeting, where one doctor described homeopathy as “nonsense on stilts”, also called on the government to place all homeopathic remedies in pharmacies under a special ‘Placebo’ section (Mail Online, 2 July 2010; www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1290861/Homeopathy-remedies-labelled-placebos-banned-NHS-say-leading-doctors.html).

WDDTY Vol. 22, 12. March 2012

http://www.wddty.com/

, , , , ,

Junk Science Number 9: All Alternative Treatments are non-evidence based, by definition

I have read an argument, put forward by several quite eminent scientists on their web sites and blogs, that all ‘Alternative treatments’ (for example in cancer) are by definition not evidenced-based. For, once there is evidence to prove they deliver, they cease to be alternative and become mainstream and adopted by the scientific community. Thus the rump left behind must all be non-evidence based mumbo jumbo. QED.

Unfortunately, life just ain’t like that. This argument is tosh.

Alternative therapies – it’s not enough to have good research results

Take Hyperthermia as an example.

It has long been known that one of the few things to kill a cancer cell is heat. Cancer cells die at temperatures where healthy cells are still able to survive. A chap called Coley at American Cancer Hospital Memorial Sloan-Kettering noted that cancer patients who contracted another illness and developed a fever, sometimes went into remission. He created Coley’s Toxins to try to bring this about but it only met with limited success.

Fast forward 30 years or so and a chap in Australia called Holt did the unthinkable – he left his post at the top of one of the regional cancer boards to become an ‘Alternative’ Doctor, claiming there had to be a better way than drugs to treat people. At his clinic he used Hyperthermia.

A TV team sent to expose him actually failed as over 2000 patients claimed he was doing a great job.

Hyperthermia can be used at two levels – there’s the all over the body approach; and there is localised hyperthermia.

Fast forward to 2003 when I received a letter signed by 7 Urologists from the UK and Europe. They told me about HIFU, claiming that this could cure prostate cancer when the tumour was still confined to the prostate. They asked me to give the treatment the publicity it deserved as they feared the threat to the drugs industry (the loss of so many potential patients and thus income) would be enough to guarantee opposition, and even kill the treatment off. I looked into the treatment and found it was already being used in over 60 centres in Europe. I talked to patients. An overnight stay, a 3,000 euro bill, no side effects and three years success so far from all. So at icon we have championed this ‘alternative’ to prostate surgery.

Finally, in 2008/9 there were clinical trials in Britain (and America). Almost begrudgingly the powers-that-be reported success. The Daily Mail, that well-known medical journal, carried the front page headline ‘Breakthrough in Prostate Cancer Treatment’. The research only compared surgery to HIFU for very early stage prostate cancer – it concluded that the outcome was the same but less side-effects were observed with HIFU. Now 2 years on, Professor Mark Emberton at UCH reports total success in 19 out of 20 patients, less expensive machinery, less cost to the NHS etc etc. (See our article on hyperthermia by clicking here) (http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=3125&Title=Professor Emberton explains benefits of HIFU for prostate cancer)

So, at this point you would assume if the tractor boys are correct, that localised hyperthermia would make it off the alternative list onto the mainstream list and leave the rest of the alternative therapies in their non-evidenced state.

Alternative Therapies wreck the cosy status quo

Sadly, I have 6 personal friends at ages 57- 63 all with early stage prostate cancer. All asked about HIFU and all were told no. Three were told they needed urgent surgery as their cancer ‘may have spread’. (If it has spread why is surgery needed urgently? If it hasn’t, then HIFU could be the perfect answer.) All three operated friends had no spread but are now in serious trouble with complications, side-effects and spread. The other three have done nothing so far except change their diets, take exercise and explore their options. Each is under a different oncologist from different backgrounds (surgery, radiotherapy, drugs). Each oncologist recommends his expertise as the first step of treatment. Asked about HIFU, all have bluntly refused to discuss it – one simply replied ‘No’. When my friend pushed for a view, the oncologist Professor simply said, ‘You’ve had my view – No’.

A real Breast Cancer treatment breakthrough!

Three months ago the Karolinska Institute presented the results of three small scale clinical trials involving 80 women in total and the use of localised Hyperthermia to treat breast cancer. The methodology involved small electrodes and local anaesthetic and the Karolinska were saying the operation could be done in 10 minutes during a lunch break! A breakthrough beyond all doubt and a complete success in research terms. See http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=3155 &Title=Hyperthermia breakthrough treatment for breast cancer).

The Karolinska’s PR release says that localised Hyperthermia is also sometimes used around the globe on bone cancers and kidney cancer.

So will this ‘Alternative Cancer Therapy’ of Localised Hyperthermia now become mainstream? Will the evidence cause its promotion from the ranks of the unwashed?

No, it will remain an alternative to surgery, a threat to jobs, profits and the status quo in Britain’s medical community for quite some time yet.

Could Hyperthermia part of the cancer industriy’s demise?

Worse is yet to come for the Pharma Industry – but it’s very good news for cancer patients. A Nottingham/Kansas scientific axis is developing a new diagnostic test that will detect cancers before they develop into tumours. That would be the death knell for those dreadful screening mammograms, for example, which if they do not harm you first, can only detect a tumour after about 20 cancer cell divisions (at 40 you’re dead).

But more than that – imagine that breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, indeed any solid tumour cancer could be detected at just a millimetre in size or less and that localised Hyperthermia was an adopted technique in all cancer centres. It could save the nation a fortune. The whole industry would change overnight.

The bottom line, to go back to the issue in the opening paragraph, is that the furnishing of sound evidence is actually not enough to gain promotion to the ranks of the mainstream. In order for an ‘Alternative Therapy’ to become mainstream it has to have the research credentials AND it then has to be ‘accepted’ rather like jolly good chaps join a gentleman’s club in London. Even then it also has to be ‘adopted’ as standard practice to become mainstream. New members have to pay their dues for a good few years before the hierarchy will acknowledge them and talk to them.

And so, rightly or wrongly, whatever your opinion, I still include ‘Localised Hyperthermia’ as an Alternative Cancer Therapy on the CANCERactive web site. But please don’t say that this means there is no evidence that it is of benefit. That is just not true. The generalisation borders on ignorance and/or a failure to be able to read.

What is acceptable evidence?

There are other issues too. I am on record as criticising both Homeopathy and the Gerson Therapy for lack of evidence – they have both had quite long enough to get sensible research numbers together, even a quantified record of treatments and patients would be a start. But if lack of research numbers is the criterion for saying something is ‘Alternative’ (implication: worthless) , then virotherapy remains firmly in the Alternative therapy camp. So too does Dendritic Cell therapy.

However, the MD Anderson Cancer Center web site chronicles their success using virotherapy with two lung cancer patients 6 or more years ago. Dukes Medical Centre in America have case studies using Dendritic Cell therapy with brain tumour patients. Both Hospitals see these developments as clever new treatments although they clearly are not yet the finished article.

So are we now to accept the anecdote? If it’s acceptable for Virotherapy and Dendritic Cell Therapy, why not for Gerson and Homeopathy? Double Standards must not apply.

For me, there is little difference between a survivor who had Virotherapy, and one who had Gerson Therapy – but until there are solid numbers all these stay, equally judged, in our Alternative Treatments section at CANCERactive along with Hyperthermia, Intravenous Vitamin C, PDT, Burzynski, Gonzalez and Ketogenic Diets.

Advancement with technology such as lasers and the extraction of natural compounds may well make some of today’s alternatives tomorrow’s mainstream. In the latest edition of icon, the Royal Marsden’s Mike Brada covered alternative treatments; in the previous magazine it was Dr Henry Friedman of Dukes. Should we really be ignoring their work because some or all of it is new and ‘alternative’?

As long as a cancer patient can find the information on the web, at CANCERactive we have a social responsibility to try to cover the treatment objectively, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses and where there is research, and where there is not. We don’t work for the Government, the Hospitals or Big Pharma – we are the ‘People’s Champion’. We provide information, with no vested interests for people who want to beat cancer. Full stop.

And judging by the mail we receive this objectivity and coverage is exactly what people with cancer need.

Many ‘Alternative’ Therapies have numbers behind them; the current status quo and a strong moment of inertia to avoid change is what makes them alternative and they will remain there until attitudes change.

****************************************************

For Hyperthermia – CLICK HERE http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=3078

, , , , ,

Junk Science number 7

Steve Jobs died on October 5th 2011; he was just 56. The visionary founder of Apple was also the charismatic, no-nonsense, black turtle-necked presenter who introduced the iPhone, iPad and iPod to the world. His ‘simplify, simplify’ attitude to new ideas was coupled with an understanding of what the consumer would want – even if they didn’t yet know that they wanted it.

In his youth Jobs dropped out of Oregon’s Reed College after just one term, and then quit one of his first jobs (at Atari designing video games) choosing to backpack across India, live in an Ashram, become Buddhist and vegan whilst experimenting with psychedelic drugs.

In 2003 he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Shortly after his death, it was announced that, when first diagnosed, Steve Jobs had ignored orthodox medical advice and pursued an ‘alternative’ approach to his cancer treatments. On October 20th in CBS’ 60 minutes programme, his biographer Walter Isaacson said that Steve Jobs refused to allow surgeons to perform what could have been life-saving surgery on his pancreatic cancer and, in one particular interview, Jobs told him he regretted his decision to try alternative therapies and said he put off the operation because it was too invasive.

And then it started. One hundred and one articles all claiming that ‘Steve Jobs could have lived longer but for those mumbo-jumbo alternative therapies’. Better late than never, even the Daily Telegraph jumped on the bandwagon three months on with ‘Alternative Medicine is looking a bit sickly’. (Well California is a long way from London, after all).

I quote: One detail worth mentioning: anyone (sic) who has read Walter Isaacson’s superb biography of Steve Jobs is left in little doubt that unorthodox therapies hastened the death of Apple’s co-founder. Jobs’s (sic) pancreatic cancer was spotted very early, but he wasted precious months on faddy diets before he agreed to surgery, by which time the tumour had grown. Apple fans know this; it’s one of many reasons that CAM is no longer cool’. The writer then driveled on about everything from homeopathy to Ayurvedic medicine. It reminded me of black and white comedy programmes where old men sat in pubs criticising all things German because they tried to bomb the chip shop.

Let’s put some sort of scientific discipline on this:

1. Steve Jobs had pancreatic cancer:

The cancer was detected during a non-routine abdominal scan in October 2003 following a lengthy history of gastrointestinal problems. These problems quite probably would have also reduced his immune defences. However, there is no confirmation whatsoever that when the cancer was detected it was ‘spotted very early’.

Most pancreatic cancer has a terrible prognosis – half of all patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer die within ten months of the diagnosis; half of those, in whom it has metastasized, die within six months. These pancreatic cancers are cancers of the pancreatic cells, like the cancer of Patrick Swayze.

However, Jobs had a particularly rare cancer in the islets of Langerhans – the cells that produce insulin. This cancer is called a neuroendocrine cancer and, although it was inside the pancreas it was not typical pancreatic cancer. “If you catch it early, there is a real potential for cure” according to cancer surgeon Joseph Kim of City of Hope, the comprehensive cancer center in Duarte, California.

If he had symptoms before the scan they would have been driven by high insulin levels and a profound drop in blood sugar which can lead to shakiness, cold sweats, nausea, vomiting, blackouts, and neurological changes such as impaired judgment, moodiness, irritability, apathy, and confusion.

Importantly, the type of cancer Jobs had is defined as slow growing, or indolent. Indeed it can be so indolent that patients can die with it, rather than because of it. This rare cancer is diagnosed in about 2,500 Americans a year and is thought to be linked to poor diet and alcohol. Autopsies show that it is likely to be present in more than double this number of people – people who had no idea it was present, such is the slow growth.

2. Steve Jobs put off the surgery because he considered it too invasive.

Whichever way anyone might try to spin this, Jobs’ own account to his biographer (and also confirmed by his wife) was that he was afraid of having the surgery. This is quite understandable as the procedure is not without risks. Importantly, at the time, Jobs did not actually rule out having orthodox treatment – he made a positive decision to delay it whilst exploring other routes. With an aggressive cancer a delay of nine months might be serious but the neuroendocrine cancer is NOT an aggressive cancer.

He may well have been told his cancer was slow growing – that people died with it, rather than from it? He certainly would have found this out when he searched the internet. Did that make him think he had time to try less invasive routes?

When he finally had the surgery, the normal Whipple procedure needed to be modified to remove the right side of the pancreas, the gallbladder, and parts of the stomach, bile duct, and small intestine. Was this also part of his original fear? Did the metastases to his bile duct, stomach and small intestine really occur in the nine months delay? Or was there already a discussion about possible spread to other organs at the outset, thus making him worry even more?

Another option is that at the time of the original diagnosis no one knew that the cancer had spread so far – such extensive surgery is called for only after metastases and, according to Joseph Kim, these may not be detectable until the patient is actually operated on. Jobs was certainly not stupid – a few hours on the internet would have told him all the options.

Jobs would also have known that the surgery may be followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, both of which can cause significant suffering. It’s a lot to handle if you are an independent spirit like Jobs; a spirit used to being in control of all around him. Would he really have wanted to hand over control to orthodox medical practitioners immediately?

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs

3.  Jobs did have orthodox treatment.

Even those neuroendocrine tumours that have been present for years, and in some cases decades, often stay safely confined to the pancreas.

However, a 2004 scan showed that Jobs’ tumour had grown in size – but I can find no confirmation that it showed spread.

And there is little debate about the best treatment – patients with neuroendocrine cancer that has not spread beyond the pancreas can live for many more years, again because this is such a slow growing cancer.

After spread to the liver, Jobs had a liver transplant. There must have been huge debate about that. On one hand his liver was damaged, on the other the immune suppressants following a transplant would have made the fight with the cancer harder, even unwinnable.

4. Steve Jobs did not have ‘alternative’ cancer treatments.

Let’s be clear about this. Alternative cancer treatments include such developments as Dendritic Cell Therapy (used, for example, by Duke University Medical Center for brain tumours), Virotherapy (used, for example, by MD Anderson for lung cancers); Localised Hyperthermia (see the research on HIFU for prostate cancer or from the Karolinska for breast tumours) and so on. (See http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=2656&Title=Alternative%20cancer%20treatments, where we try to get a sense of proportion on it all, whilst bring patients the latest information). There is a relevant ‘Diet Therapy’ from Dr Nicholas Gonzalez in New York and in early Clinical Trials it did seem to outperform the orthodox route for pancreatic cancer. There is debate on later trials and, anyway, Jobs did not have ‘common’ pancreatic cancer.

But this is not what Jobs did. He had a ‘special diet’ (apparently the Dr Dean Ornish anti-cancer diet) including a low fat and vegan approach, juice fasts, herbs, bowel cleansing, acupuncture and spiritual healing. He even consulted a psychic. These may be ‘complementary therapies’ but anyone who considers these ‘alternative therapies for cancer’ is in mumbo-jumbo land. And that includes both Jobs and the journalists who have been writing articles along these lines.

I have written before, for example, on subjects such as going vegan once diagnosed with cancer. Yes, I know there is research showing vegetarians get less cancer but there is not one single drop of research that says, once you have it, turning vegetarian extends survival times. I have also covered 4 research studies in the last 5 years on the dangers of glucose (people with lower blood glucose levels survive longer), but there is no research to my knowledge that says low fat diets increase survival times too.

Modified diets, bowel cleanse, acupuncture? These are, at best, treatments you may use to complement your core treatments, or reduce side effects. Yes, I know the woman down the road found homeopathy helped her through her chemotherapy. But as an alternative cure for cancer?

Did these unorthodox therapies ‘hasten the death of Steve Jobs’? Did they cause the spread of an indolent cancer? Was there hard evidence that surgery 9 months earlier would have found no metastases? I cannot find anything other than conjecture, but my take is that it is highly likely the slow spread from the islets had already taken place.

However, the orthodox medical profession will be rubbing their hands with glee, and the PR departments at the drug companies and orthodox charities will be working overtime to get more and more articles out, aided and abetted by journalists (?) who jump on the bandwagon, however tardy. Extrapolations will be made to include any treatment not approved in triplicate by the FDA, the BMA, the drugs companies and a committee of approved oncologists. We have had it all before; for example, if you are British you may remember how Jade Goody’s life would clearly have been spared had she received the wondrous HPV vaccine? Get your daughter vaccinated today – you have been warned.

I will leave the last (scientifically proven, of course) words to the Telegraph’s blogger from the article which featured Mr. Jobs in picture and content: The market for snake oil remains enormous in other countries: the dodgy “experts” who once had a foothold in Western universities are now offloading their vitamin treatments for Aids on the developing world. Despicable.

In Britain, however, the demand for expensive placebos and assorted rip-off courses is now severely curtailed. If we exclude immigrants, who have their own useless remedies, the major consumers of CAM are ladies who lunch. I keep meeting rich Tory women who spend a fortune on alternative medicine. They find it so rejuvenating, they mutter through their freeze-dried facelifts.

Oh dear – quick, where’s my bottle of shark cartilage?

, , , ,