Puzzling prediction of falling cancer death rates made ahead of fund raising drive

According to ‘experts’ at the charity Cancer Research UK, cancer death rates in the UK are set to fall by almost 17 per cent by 2030. And better diagnosis and treatment is the main reason (sic) for the change.  The figures were released in the run-up to Stand Up To Cancer, a fundraising partnership between Cancer Research UK and Channel 4.

This is all rather puzzling because in 2011, when claiming cancer death rates were falling in breast cancer and colon cancer, they predicted an increase in the number of cancer cases and deaths from cancer as the population ages over the next twenty or so years.

The ‘experts’ also claim that the improved outlook reflects the fact that fewer people are smoking. So is ‘prevention’ really the key? Or could it even be something else?

To quote from the CRUK press release, ‘In 2010 an estimated 170 people in every 100,000 members of the general population died from cancer. By 2030 this is forecast to fall to 142 per 100,000.

Ovarian cancer is expected to see the biggest drop in numbers of patients dying, at 42.6 per cent. Incidence of the disease is expected to reduce from 9.1 women per 100,000 to 5.3 per 100,000 by 2030. Death rates for breast cancer are predicted to fall by 28 per cent, for bowel cancer by 23 per cent and prostate cancer by 16 per cent.

A few cancers show a reverse trend, with larger numbers of people dying. Death rates for oral cancer are likely to rise by 22 per cent, as incidence rises from 2.9 to 3.5 per 100,000 people. For liver cancer, death rates are predicted to go up by 39 per cent, with incidence increasing from 4.2 to 5.9 per 100,000’.

Professor Peter Sasieni, Cancer Research UK epidemiologist at Queen Mary, University of London, said: “Our latest estimations show that for many cancers, adjusting for age, death rates are set to fall dramatically in the coming decades. And what’s really encouraging is that the biggest cancer killers, lung, breast, bowel, and prostate, are part of this falling trend.

“Because old age is the biggest risk factor for cancer and more people are living longer, they have a greater chance of developing and, unfortunately, dying from the disease. But overall the proportion, or rate, of those who die from cancer is falling.”

Why this is puzzling is because the absolute numbers of cancer cases has doubled in the last thirty years and a team of oncologists working with MacMillan had predicted it would double again in the next twenty years. That would mean about 4 million people with cancer in Britain.

According to the 2011 census, the population for England and Wales has increased by 3.7 million from 2001; and (to quote) ‘buoyed by increased life expectancy, sustained immigration and robust fertility levels, the number of residents jumped 7.1% from 52.4 million in 2001 to 56.1 million in 2011’. If that continues, in twenty years time we will have about 65 million people in England and Wales in 2031. According to figures about 350,000 ‘older’ people are retiring abroad each year, while about 650,000 younger foreign people are coming into the country.

And it should be noted that Cancer Research ‘experts’ are not talking about total numbers of cases of cancer, nor total numbers of deaths. But the rate per 100,000 of population. So if the number of people increasing the population by 7 per cent due to ‘sustained immigration and robust fertility levels’ continues you might expect a decline in cancer death rates anyway. Especially if the average age falls across the population.

The other claim that is interesting is that the main reason is due to better diagnosis and treatment. Three years ago CRUK said it was all down to better diagnosis and treatment and I chided them at the time. They conveniently ignore the fact that over two thirds of cancer patients now build their own integrative treatment programmes, search the Internet for alternative treatments, visit complementary centres that are independent (like Maggie’s, The Haven and Penny Brohn) or part of the Hospital (like the Butterfly Centre and the Rainbow Centre). Some people even take themselves off abroad for life-extending treatments. Then there has been an explosion in coverage of what people can do to help themselves from the utterings of the Daily Mail to charities such as CANCERactive. Only recently the American Cancer Society stated that there had been an ‘explosion’ in complementary research since 2006 and that there was ‘overwhelming evidence that complementary therapies like diet, weight control and exercise could increase survival and stop a cancer returning.

It seems that Cancer Research UK think your personal efforts count for little.

Better diagnosis? It is definitely coming with a possible avalanche of private companies and blood tests, but up to now …  mammograms and PSA tests? The Nordic Cochrane has said that mammograms do ‘more harm than good’, with up to 30 per cent being misdiagnosed (of course you are ‘cured’ if misdiagnosed). The American Preventative services Task Force said much the same about the PSA test.

Better treatments? Well if you read the recent articles on the new breed of biologics, or ‘designer drugs’, such as the article we printed by Professor Karol Sikora, you’d be more than a little underwhelmed. There are alternatives coming – like localised hyperthermia (Ablation, HIFU) but the ‘old school’ is none too happy about the possibility of becoming redundant. And anyway it can’t work on blood and lymph cancers.

And this is another little area that needs attention. Blood and lymph cancers account for about 80,000 cases in the UK currently; twice the number of breast cancers diagnosed. But they are divided into about ten different types – there are four different lymphomas. Yet no one divides breast cancer by ductal or lobular in the overall numbers. It’s also an inconvenient truth that at current growth rates lymphoma could become the number one cancer in the next twenty years.

Old age the biggest risk factor and an ageing population? Recent research shows that the historical 80 per cent of cancers in the over-65 age group is less and less the case. 40 per cent of breast cancers are now developed by women below 60 years of age. Prostate cancer has multiplied six-fold in the forty-something age group; oesophageal cancer has boomed amongst forty-somethings; some child cancers have tripled.

And I just loved the bit about ‘age-corrected statistics’. I really must have my age corrected one day.

If smoking reduction is such a big factor, how come cancer cases are set to double in absolute terms despite a fall in smokers? If prevention is so important why aren’t we doing more about the 50 per cent of cancers that aren’t your fault? Look up most blood or lymph cancers on American web sites. They will tell you about the links to pesticides, toxic ingredients in everyday toiletries and household products, heavy metals, environmental toxins beyond asbestos.

Perhaps the European REACH project, if 1000 toxic ingredients really are cut from personal care, toiletry and household products in the next 15 years, will see a great reduction in cancer levels.

Stand up to Cancer fund raising? Of course if you can convince people that you really are succeeding in beating cancer by doing what you are doing, they may well give you more funds.

Cancer Research UK is a great charity and I am sure it does its level best to help people. It is sad that, if the numbers of people with cancer are going to double in the UK to four million, anybody tries to claim that somehow we are beating cancer because of better diagnosis and drugs, however the numbers are massaged.

I am at this point reminded of MD Anderson’s quote that ‘All the exciting new developments in cancer are coming in areas other than chemotherapy’. I think I will file the press release and bring it out again in 1930 to see what really did happen. Somehow I fear the current strategy will just see more cases of cancer and more deaths whatever spin is put on it. And I haven’t even talked about whether the country can afford it or not!

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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)





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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.

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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?

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