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Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Quackery

The Way of the Wellness Warrior: Enabled by credulous reporting

Since I’ve been complaining about credulity in the media reporting on cancer this week, in particular the way local reporters Carol Robidoux and April Guilmet published articles that were nothing more than regurgitations of propaganda from Stanislaw Burzynski, I figured I might as well go all in and finish the week out with more of the same. Hopefully, it’ll clear the deck to move on to different topics next week. Besides, seeing this really irritated me.

I don’t live in Australia (obviously), but it seems that I’m frequently aware of things going on in Australia relevant to skeptical concerns and the defense of science-based medicine. Part of this is due to the Internet, of course, which makes it possible to have access to publications from around the world in a way that wasn’t feasible even 15 or 20 years ago. More importantly, through my blogging and visits to meetings like TAM, I’ve made contact with a lot of Australian skeptics, both online and face-to-face. In any case, that’s how I first became aware of the case of Jessica Ainscough, a young woman from Australia who was diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma of the left arm. Because her disease was rare and difficult to treat, requiring an amputation of her arm at the shoulder, she balked at surgery. Ultimately, her doctors proposed isolated limb perfusion, which involves isolating the limb from the systemic circulation and infusing it with very high doses of chemotherapy. It worked, but her tumor recurred about a year later. It’s at that point that she turned to woo and started undergoing the Gerson therapy, which is total quackery.

Because Ainscough had a slow-growing, indolent tumor, she’s done fairly well for five or six years with essentially no treatment, building quite the woo empire for herself as The Wellness Warrior promoting various dietary woo, the Gerson Therapy (complete with demonstrations of how to give oneself a coffee enema), and lots of other dubious health advice. Her mother, in contrast, was not so fortunate. She developed breast cancer and chose the same nonsensical quackery instead of effective treatment, was not so lucky and died of her disease, almost certainly unnecessarily. Despite all this, apparently the Australian media can’t help itself. It keeps giving Jessica Ainscough positive and credulous coverage, coverage like this bit of false equivalence entitled The way of the wellness warrior:

When she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, she took it as “a big, big message from my body” that she needed to do things differently.

Doctors advised that her best bet for beating the cancer was to have her arm, where the tumours were, amputated.

“[The cancer] was so stubborn, traditional treatment methods wouldn’t work,” Jess says she was told.

The doctors ended up offering Jess a less aggressive alternative to amputation. They performed a procedure called an isolated limb perfusion, which essentially means a high dose of chemotherapy is delivered to a confined area – in this case Jess’ arm.

She also began researching alternative therapies.

As a result of her research she decided to try Gerson Therapy. The controversial treatment involves, among other things, no alcohol or meat, daily juicing and up to six coffee enemas a day.

True, Sarah Berry, the author of this piece, includes a disclaimer that the National Cancer Institute that there is no evidence that the Gerson therapy works for any cancer, because it doesn’t. It’s based on long abandoned ideas of how cancer forms and the concept that somehow shooting coffee up your bum (switching to Australian/English mode) does anything whatsoever to slow or stop the progression of cancer. Despite all this, Ainscough is portrayed as a maverick bucking the system and taking a gamble that “paid off”:

Now 28, Jess has been in remission from cancer for almost six years and, to track her recovery process and journey to wellbeing, she began writing a blog, The Wellness Warrior, four years ago.

Get a load of how her detractors are described:

Despite her enviable lifestyle and snowballing success, Jess is not without detractors.

She is passionate about her path, but there are just as many who are just as passionately opposed to those who promote alternative therapies as viable options for treating life-threatening diseases such as cancer.

“These treatments don’t work for everybody,” admits Jess. Her own mum also tried Gerson therapy and died of cancer late last year.

“It’s the same thing with conventional treatments.

“It doesn’t mean alternative medicine doesn’t work and that chemotherapy doesn’t work.”

See the false equivalence? To Berry (through Ainscough), quackery like the Gerson therapy is just like chemotherapy in that it doesn’t always work. It’s such utter nonsense, because Gerson therapy doesn’t “always” work. It doesn’t work, period. Chemotherapy might not always work. It might not even work that well for some cancers. But, because of science, we know how likely it is to work, for what cancers it’s likely to work for, and what the toxicities are. With the Gerson therapy there is no reason to suspect that it will work for anything. While I am sympathetic to Ainscough’s plight in that she is a young woman with a horrible disease that is likely to grow slowly until it kills her, that does not mean she shouldn’t be called out when she promotes quackery that, if followed, will lead to the unnecessary death of cancer patients.

Patients like her mother. (Yes, I know her mother Sharyn was probably into quackery before Jessica was, but Sharyn’s faith in the Gerson therapy nonetheless likely killed her.)

Ainscough’s support of quackery doesn’t stop her form scoring gigs on popular Australian morning shows, either:

Notice how carefully Ainscough hides her left arm. The camera angles are carefully chosen not to show her arm, and when her arm is shown it’s heavily bandaged. Clearly, she is not doing as well as she tries to make her audience believe. Worse, the producers of this TV segment have let her completely promote her propaganda that falsely conflates healthy eating which she tries to demonstrate in the segment with her embrace of the Gerson therapy, as though they fit together like, if you’ll excuse the simile, a hand in a glove. They don’t. Eating a healthy diet does not mean that you have to embrace quackery like the Gerson therapy—or any other alternative treatment, for that matter—and accept it as valid and necessarily part of a “healthy lifestyle.”

As for Ainscough’s arm, its function appears to be significantly impaired, as some of my commenters have noticed. She has significant fixed flexion of her left index and middle fingers, and her arm is never shown. There are photos of her to be found that show how bad her arm is. One is from two years ago, which shows sores and the flexed left middle finger. This photo on Facebook from December shows sores and large tumors on her arm. This photo, from yesterday, shows her hiding her arm as she is being made up for an appearance. This photo from November shows her at a book signing shows a left arm that doesn’t look very good at all, as does this photo. What’s clearly happening, despite her claims otherwise, is that her tumors in her arm are slowly growing. That is the natural history of this particular form of sarcoma. It is indolent and slow growing. Unfortunately, this type of tumor is as relentless as it is indolent, and all the wishful thinking in the world won’t stop its progress any more than the Gerson therapy will. I don’t know if it’s too late to save Jessica Ainscough’s life with an amputation, but I hope that it isn’t.

As much as I hate what Ainscough is doing promoting quackery, I can’t help but feel some sympathy for her. It was a horrible choice she faced: amputation versus the inevitable growth of her tumor until it causes her death. And amputation might not have even saved her. She’s been fortunate to have done so well for so long, given how poor the ten year survival is without surgery, but approximately a third of patients will survive ten years without surgery. In that respect, then, Ainscough’s survival for six years treating herself with quackery is not particularly surprising. Worse, the Australian media is enabling her. No one asks inconvenient questions, such as why her arm is so bandaged in the segment. Producers cooperate with her to hide just how bad her arm is through the use of clever camera angles. Her delusion is fed, and never is heard a discouraging word. In the meantime, she reaps great rewards, charging $99AUD for tickets to see her speak.

Yes, the Australian media is quite culpable and deserves to be called out for its role in enabling Ainscough, just as she needs to be called out for her promotion of the quackery that is the Gerson therapy.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

272 replies on “The Way of the Wellness Warrior: Enabled by credulous reporting”

I was reassured to see that the majority of the comments in the piece condemned the newspaper and the journalist for promoting quackery.

Two things did emerge of note from readers:

-The NIC “disclaimer” was apparently only added after the newspaper received a slew of negative comments

-Despite her claim to be cancer-free, she has apparently also claimed that no doctor has ever confirmed her status and she refuses be tested to have her cancer-free status confirmed.

Wow – that arm looks awful….her self-delusion is bordering on a form of insanity.

The Sydney Morning Herald is from Fairfax entertainment group media so its journalists don’t even have the excuse of working for Murdoch.

I’d like to know how many of these reporters and their managers/editors (1) just don’t know a damn thing about science/medicine and thus are easily duped, (2) only care about ratings, or (3) actually realize they are promoting lies but do so to keep their jobs.

Chris @4: Your option (2) does not exclude either (1) or (3). The managers and editors almost certainly fall into category (2); there may be a few front-line reporters who don’t. And most of the media people involved are in either (1) or (3).

Following what Eric says, I often wonder if employees of woo-meisters ( the usual suspects, esp) KNOW that they’re working for charlatans but may need the pay. Not that I imagine that the pay is decent.

That would be fun- if an employee/ ex-employee for Mercola, Adams or Null who wasn’t a true believer ™ would step forth and tell us all about the inner workings of woo-topia.

These companies hire people who aren’t all nutritionists but who do marketting, edit films, put up websites,

if an employee/ ex-employee for Mercola, Adams or Null who wasn’t a true believer ™ would step forth and tell us all about the inner workings of woo-topia

If Mercola, Adams, Null, et al., have even a tenth as much business sense as they appear to have, those employees will have signed non-disclosure agreements. Since anyone who is that desperate for money will find it difficult to pay a lawyer, I’m not optimistic about anybody spilling the beans, barring a subpoena. There are other ways to get around an NDA, but I’d want to have a lawyer on retainer before attempting those other methods.

@ Eric:

There has already been a little bit circulating around the web. I’d hope to hear more. We don’t want to scare them away, do we now?

At one of the Randi conventions they talked about one of the best reservoirs of skepticism on all those “ghost hunting” and “psychic” shows: the camera operators. After filming and editing hours and hours of raw footage, none of them believe any of it. For good reasons.

I have a friend who truly believes that cancer can be healed not just with a good diet, but by thinking positive thoughts. Whenever I try to point to evidence that this lovely idea just isn’t true, I get stubborn repetitions of “well, this is my belief.” And “I’m not telling you what you should believe.”

She gives public talks on this issue, but she insists that no, she never tells anybody what they should believe. She just gives her own personal story of curing herself this way and then tells them what she believes. It’s okay with her that it’s not what I believe. People decide for themselves.

@Lawrence #2 – my thoughts as well. That arm looks… really not-good. her self-delusion – Sunken costs fallacy?

Going back to something Orac said on another post – this killed her mother; it’s now her livelihood; her circle is probably believers; and she swore by it for a long time.
Climbing back down is going to be very, very hard.

Indeed, and it will be painful if she manages it. That’s why, given her prognosis, I’m not sure I’d be so vocal about her quackery if she weren’t selling it to Australia and the world, to the potential harm of many, many more cancer patients.

She reminds me a bit of the hiv/aids denialists who adamantly refused SBM treatment, now departed from this vale of tears…
HOWEVER they weren’t profitting financially as she does.

Whenever I try to point to evidence that this lovely idea just isn’t true, I get stubborn repetitions of “well, this is my belief.”

And if you reply “I understand you believe this, I just don’t understand why you beleive. What evidence is your belief founded upon?” how does she respond?

HOWEVER they weren’t profitting financially as she does.

And that’s the key difference. The HIV/AIDS denialists in question were only harming themselves. Ms. Ainscough is harming other people.

The HIV/AIDS denialists in question were only harming themselves.

Well, Christine Maggiore managed to kill her daughter as well as herself. And there’s the issue of public advocacy, not to mention the likes of Joan Shenton.

Some of the denialists who tested hiv positive also proselytised to others and one even sold a few books ( a now- deceased Greek woman) but mostly they didn’t profit monetarily AFAIK.

In other hiv denialist news:
it seems that Gary Null is off Pacifica’s Washington station and possibly New York’s as well ( according to his PRN broadcast today ) he has a dispute concerning the ‘premiums’ he supplies to listener supporters through the station. He says he may not be back- he was pre-empted today for a special.

We can hope: one less venue for woo.

Yes a few of us in Oz have been watching this horror unfold for a few years now. According to one newspaper report she is earning “6 figures” from this madness.

Even when her mother died she explained it away.

We’ve watched the progression of that hand to where she is now keeping it bandaged.

She is delusional.

JGC #16 wrote:

And if you reply “I understand you believe this, I just don’t understand why you beleive. What evidence is your belief founded upon?” how does she respond?

Personal experience — along with an anecdote or two and perhaps a quote by an altie authority who believed the same thing. That was in the past though. She now responds with “I’m nondualistic; I can’t answer questions like that because true and false are dualistic concepts. I’m also working at being nonconfrontational.”

true and false are dualistic concepts
The Dalai Lama disagrees, but what does he know about dualism?

I became aware of Jess – The Wellness Warrior when I stumbled upon her site in search of nutrition whilst having my chemotherapy/radiation and surgery. As time passed, I became more and more frustrated with what she is preaching. In excess of 50,000 follow her Facebook and that is frightening. I understand a fair percent are from countries other than Australia.
I don’t believe Australians (assumption) are into woo in a big way and tend to be on the sceptical side more often than not, but being an ‘ easy going, laid back’ country, we may also fail to question the media and its producers when there is definitely a flip side. Its all so fuzzy and warm to present Jess in the light that she has been. Every time I read or hear anything from Jess, the catch cry is ‘the body has an innate ability to cure itself’ – Um, I don’t think so Herceptin in my porta cath has that ability, not coffee being pumped up the wrong end.

My initial search also led me to this site and SBM. It has been a pleasure – thank you. Now, I’m off to enjoy a good shot of espresso coffee – orally!

Yes this is a glaring example of how complicit (or should that be duplicit) the soda-stream media has become in their quest for money over substance. I confirm the above poster’s comment – the NIC disclaimer was only added some time after an avalanche of criticism from readers. That any individual should be free to choose their own treatment path is beyond dispute. That they should be able to profit from promoting non-evidenced based claptrap at the potential cost of other peoples’ lives is immoral and should be criminal.

Oh, for G-d’s sake:

But after being inundated with flu hysteria via NPR from 2003 to 2006, we broke down and stupidly got a few flu shots and the infections and fallout that followed were a horror show…. our twins developed gut disorders, multiple allergies and autism — not so much from the post-vaccine infections but from the same vax-triggered immune system overdrive that induced the illnesses.

We later learned that at least the post-shot infection scourge had been officially recognized and had a name. Swabs were taken at the time of infection and it wasn’t influenza: it was likely something now known as “vaccine-associated enhanced respiratory disease” or VAERD.

Got the time frame right? Let’s make sure:

the kids haven’t had antibiotics or ear infections in 8 years while they’ve significantly recovered from autism

The vaccines were administered in 2006. What are the sine quibus non of VAERD, again?

Our leeriness doesn’t come from an “anti-vaccine” position, more an anti-specific-corporation position and an anti-repeat-experience position. Vaccines in theory are fine with me but the practice and production of shots in reality is something else entirely.

Sure thing, Adriana. Which is why you cite Miller & Goldman to demonstrate your bona fides in this respect, viz., that vaccination might be OK them thar primitives in the Third World, where there is no “middle class.” Except, of course, for Chile and Argentina, where class distinctions magically cease to exist and vaccination is misguided.

I give up.

The Dalai Lama disagrees, but what does he know about dualism?

Given the endorsement of “energy-winds and the subtle minds that ride on them,” I’d say about what one would expect from a syncretist who mainly promotes attachment to himself.

And that’s the key difference. The HIV/AIDS denialists in question were only harming themselves. Ms. Ainscough is harming other people.

I also beg to differ. maggiore sold books, and was the primary influence in persuading Thabo Mbeki that he should deny antiretrovirals to his countrymen, killing 300,000 of them in the process.
In terms of “harm”, HIV denialists have outdone the cancer quacks and antivax wingnuts by an order of magnitude or two.

Thanks, janerella.
Her arm looks really bad in that video.
I’d better skip the lemon juice in warm water !?!?!?

Actually, I usually have half an orange and some blueberries with my oatmeal to start the day!

I actually think her middle finger is paralyzed at this point. It is in such an unnatural position and it didn’t appear to move at all even when she ‘used’ her left hand. It is possible that she is suffering from a severe flexion contraction due to some other reason, but as a PT I can’t think what would cause that level of contraction other than paralysis…….Not a good sign I am sure……

I couldn’t bear to watch that video all the way through. How could anyone possibly think that that arm is healthy?

If you do an internet search “epithelial sarcoma arm photos”, you will see actual photographs of lower arm epithelial sarcomas in advanced stages with contractures of the middle finger.

(Just ignore the pictures of “The Wellness Warrior”)

This is starting to become hard to watch. I don’t think it will be long before even her fans slowly start to step away as her cancer becomes more and more noticeable. My feelings about The Wellness warrior have turned from outrage to helpless sympathy. That poor girl lost her mum and will lose her life because she is trapped by her persona her beliefs and enabled by everyone around her. Does no one care about her enough to point at the elephant in the room – the fact that her arm is getting worse? What is wrong with the media can not one journalist dig into this story and tell the truth. The real villain here is the gerson clinic yet they have positioned themselves beyond the reach of the law, wonder why that is….I just feel so so sorry for her.

I fear her trajectory from this point on will follow that of this fellow.
http://looneypossible.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/my-survival-tips.html#comment-form
One blog post, a swag of conventional treatment, then he reaches for the multiple woo-treatments, and then, most telling of all in the comments section, some encouraging comments, a 12 month silence then the RIP comments. Is this what she is hiding under the bandage? Jessie, I despair at this playing out publicly.

And I came across another ES sufferer who was on the verge of starting treatment at the Burzynski clinic (mercifully he passed away before actually starting the treatment regime). The blog gives an insight into the “specialized” pre-treatment pseudo-babble the cllinic subjects their clients to. http://robgrimshaw.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/today-was-long-day-at-burzynski-clinic.html
“They have some great treatments for cancer but not sure what Robi will respond to. They decided to collect blood and test it in order to find out what formula they should use. It will take about 3-4 weeks to those results”
The poor guy died the week after this visit.

@Jessie
You are 100% correct. Jess is a beautiful but misled young woman who needs to be rescued from her posse of also misled supporters

Freedom of choice to choose your own treatment??? – a big fat YES but the fact remains that nobody should give cancer healing advice unless they are prepared to be responsible for the person they are advising. I wish Charlotte Gerson would be held accountable and that Jess could understand this.
The Australian media really do need to step up and campaign to ‘Save Jess’.

Heh, “Wellness”, one of the favorite nonsensical buzzwords of woo-meisters.

“I’m nondualistic; I can’t answer questions like that because true and false are dualistic concepts. I’m also working at being nonconfrontational.”

True or false….are you alive or dead. Answer…. dead.

There you go, you are now non-confrontational.

Orac
There are some parts of your post that I would like to comment on because you make statements as if they are facts in a way that is misleading your readers.
You state ‘Notice how carefully Ainscough hides her left arm. The camera angles are carefully chosen not to show her arm, and when her arm is shown it’s heavily bandaged. Clearly, she is not doing as well as she tries to make her audience believe.
I would suggest that this is not based on any factual information and is nothing more than jumping to conclusions.
This is the first time I have seen this video – so happy that you presented your ‘evidence’ of Ms Ainscough’s imminent demise – so we could all look at the possibilities and known facts of the matter.
The camera is angled to show both the interviewers and the interviewee – who happens to be right handed. There is no evidence that I can see of attempts to hide her arm bandage and all….since it is clearly visible.
By your own admission you are not in Australia. You wouldn’t therefore know the weather conditions in various states at the time of this video.
Ms Ainscough lives in Queensland – in a sub-tropical climate where the seasons are barely noticeable and the temperatures are usually around a balmy humid 20 – 32 (Celsius scale)
With daytime averages of 28 degrees – that is why you frequently see Jess go sleeveless on her instagram photo pages.
Last week though when she did this TV interview and promoted her new book she had travelled to NSW a southern state: where last week the high summer temperatures in the southern states were breaking all records –ranging from 42-46. Now the best medical and weather advice given to every one of us who has to endure these conditions – is stay indoors, keep the sun out, and if you have to go out – cover up.
Is it therefore within the realms of likelihood that the heavy bandage is are covering up the most sensitive area of her body that has already been cancer affected and therefore she deems most needing protection from sun damage? Since she also is known to avoid other form of radiation like the plague – microwaves and electronic radiation (using a headset to avoid direct contact with her mobile phone) I would suggest also that this ‘cover up’ relates to her concerns of exposures in a modern electronic TV studio.
The effects of modern electronics on the human body are still a fledgling science after all.
Whatever you and your readers think about such precautions –they are every bit as feasible alternative to your suggestion that her tumours are getting worse. She certainly made no attempt to disguise the effect of her cancer in this shot –taken the day after this TV appearance – http://instagram.com/p/elFQ8o0f9/

Also this blog consistently suggests that Ms Ainscough is ‘promoting’ Gerson quackery – when the primary focus of her blog is a healthy eating. None of her guests on her web page are Gerson participants – they are individuals actively promoting all manner of health food and lifestyle changes. The recipe she is promoting in this video is certainly not Gerson approved. (Packaged preserved food of any kind is banned)
Her book does the same – she mentions briefly her experience with Gerson certainly – but it is by no means the focus of her book – which again is promoting healthier food and different lifestyle choices from the recreational drug/ alcohol/packaged microwave food of her pre cancer diagnosis lifestyle.
You have an number of supporters whose comments are nothing short of bigoted intolerance in this regard.
You describe Gerson as ‘quackery’ whilst knowing that there is no clinical evidence either way to determine its efficacy in controlled studies. Is that not also a false equivalent?
I know that clinical testing involves limiting variables and numerous controls – which even if drug companies were interested in funding such trials on Gerson participants (highly unlikely since they have yet to patent non GM modified fruit and vegetables and coffee beans) – it would at the very least require subjects and controls to be quarantined for 2 years to ensure correct, controlled adherence to the protocol.
The essence of the term quackery is that someone is spruiking and making a lot of money – hardly the case for Max Gerson who has been dead for almost 60 years, his daughter 92 years old (and still working) the only organisation soliciting donations being the Gerson Institute which I read somewhere made a paltry S20, 000 in donations last year…
Jess is certainly spruiking healthy eating – no-one would deny that. But that is almost a trending culture amongst educated Australians. It is big business in Australia – a nation that prides itself on a healthy outdoor lifestyle. But still micro-peanuts compared to the spruiking of drug companies….and far less controversial than the known facts on fast food, obesity and localised research shows that prescription drugs make up to 80% of all drug related deaths in Australia.
Feeling the need to denigrate the life of a cancer sufferer seems a bit over the top to me.
The first time you attacked her was just a day or so after her mother died of cancer – spreading your criticism in the online community as the worse kind of obituary for a woman who did you and your devotees no harm whatsoever – and then here again when Jess makes her first tentative public online appearance. It all seems much more like a latter day witch hunt – than an erudite approach to discredit a dangerous quack.

@risk

So, where are the studies confirming the efficacy of gerson treatment? Because there are none that I can see.

Also, since there is no actual scientific proof that gerson treatment works, why should she promote something that is not supported by science?

its simple jess should put up evidence that she has healed herself or shut up and stop promoting something as non evidence based as gerson therapy.

yes she promotes healthy lifestyles however a lot of her claims – eating alkaline foods, her claims about the benifits of organic etc are not based on solid evidence. The real issue with her is that the basis of her entire persona as the wellness warrior is that she used gerson therapy to overcome her cancer and the claim that she is in remission. Her arm is telling the world the truth. This is not a witch hunt its a desperate attempt to counter the miss information being spread by a very media savvy person which may endanger the lives of desperate cancer patients.

risk averse some of the things you said in you post are just stupid, wearing long sleeves to counter the effects of radiation in a tv studio, how would that work exactly?

@Risk Averse #42 & #43 – I happen to live in southern Australia & as you point out there has been a heat-wave in the southern states over the past week coinciding with Ms Ainscough’s book tour.

Personally, I have been struck by the fact that in almost all of the footage & photos taken over the past week, she has been wearing long sleeves given as on her blog she encourages Australians to “get more sun exposure to prevent/treat cancer”. Admittedly I paraphrased this but it is still astonishing advice given that Australians now have the 3rd highest frequency of skin cancers worldwide*. [After a protracted public health campaign managed to convince Australians that having the First World’s highest incidence of skin cancers was nothing to be proud of…]

Your “non UV radiation related” theories as to why Jess Ainscough is now covering her affected arm whilst on the publicity trail are patently ridiculous and I suggest you are no doubt well aware of this. How, pray tell, do you honestly think that wearing what appears to be a pressure bandage over one’s arm would “protect” it from non-ionizing radiation such as one may encounter in a “modern electronic TV station”? For that matter: if Jess is genuinely in remission, wouldn’t this “precaution” be obviated anyway?

You said yourself “The effects of modern electronics on the human body are still a fledgling science after all”.
This may well be the case, however, given that if you live anywhere near a major population centre, you simply cannot escape radio waves from radio stations, mobile phone towers, etc, etc. If Jess Ainscough, as you assert is so concerned about this, why then cover the area affected while courting media attention (which isn’t going to protect it anyway) – only to uncover the area on an Instagram shot meant for a more “personal” audience?

* http://www.wcrf.org/cancer_statistics/cancer_frequency.php

I would suggest also that this ‘cover up’ relates to her concerns of exposures in a modern electronic TV studio.
The effects of modern electronics on the human body are still a fledgling science after all.

The ability of a layer of clothes to block radio transmissions — i.e. NONE — is not such a fledgling science. For that you need the aluminium foil helmet.

@ Risk & AntipodeanChic:

Why are you defending “The Wellness Warrior” who is not a doctor, nor a researcher, and who has made a career of selling snake oil to credulous people?

She is not wearing a bandage to protect her arm from UV Rays or radio transmission. She is bandaging her arm to disguise the relentless progression of epithelial sarcoma and the resulting Depuyten Contracture.

https://online.epocrates.com/u/2935983/Dupuytren+contracture/Diagnosis/Differential

She also touts Gerson Therapy for her supposed remission/cure of epithelial sarcoma.

The Gerson Therapy has not been tested?

http://www.skepdic.com/gersontherapy.html

@Risk Averse – Someone’s certainly made a fairly significant attempt to disguise the effect of the cancer in that photo you linked to – by removing it…

@ Risk:

“….Her book does the same – she mentions briefly her experience with Gerson certainly – but it is by no means the focus of her book – which again is promoting healthier food and different lifestyle choices from the recreational drug/ alcohol/packaged microwave food of her pre cancer diagnosis lifestyle….”

I’m calling bullsh!t on that statement. Jess Ainsbough actively promotes Gerson Therapy and, according to these “testimonials” she’s convinced other cancer patients to use Gerson Therapy to cure their cancers…in lieu of treatment prescribed by oncologists:

http://www.thewellnesswarrior.com.au/2012/04/holy-crap-i-did-it-the-gerson-two-year-mark/

@herr doktor: clearly, I couldn’t have put it better nor more succinctly myself!

@lilady: I’m no fan of those who promote bullsh!t – especially when they attempt to frame their agenda behind the “promotion of healthy eating”. Who in their right mind would object to that? Not I.

I do, however, object to people making money off a quack-based “wellness” business juggernaut – which is precisely what appears to have happened re the “Wellness Warrior”. I actually pity the poor woman, because I get the impression that Jess Ainscough couldn’t back-pedal her way out of the woo-based mess she’s in even if she wanted to – quite a few people must be making money from the quack empire that has been built. This is certainly not to say that I excuse her admittedly central role in it, and am increasingly perplexed by the psychological gymnastics it must take to continue to believe that she is “healing herself” rather than having the good fortune to be an outlier.

I’m afraid sarcasm probably doesn’t drip from my last comment as intended 😉

She is not wearing a bandage to protect her arm from UV Rays or radio transmission. She is bandaging her arm to disguise the relentless progression of epithelial sarcoma and the resulting Depuyten Contracture.

I also suspect she’s developing skin ulcers from the tumors eroding through her skin.

janerella @37: A few years back, I was directed to a woo health forum by a ‘friend’. It was divided into sections for each major illness – cancer, MS etc – and was full of posts from people who were trying out this or that sCAM. I left it very quickly and deleted the ‘friend’ from my contacts.
A couple of years later, I remembered the forum and paid a brief revisit, to see what was happening; I chose to look at the Breast cancer forum. At the time of my first visit, there had been five women posting about the woo treatments they were trying out. At my second visit four of these had disappeared, having not posted for a year or more.
The fifth woman, unfortunately, was still posting about her cancer. Which was still advancing. Worse, she was blaming it on herself for having a “negative attitude”.
Damm those damm damm woomeisters to hell and back….

I was curious about one part of the original treatment. She received “isolated limb perfusion” which put the cancer in remission for a while. When the cancer recurred, could that treatment have been repeated? It seems like that would have been a way to save the arm — and her life — for a longer period.

I tried to find the information online, but I’m afraid my google-fu is not up to the task.

I wonder if shooting coffee up you ass as is done in Gerson therapy enhances the ability to rectally source facts and statistics, something RiskAverse seems to be particularly adept at. Unless the WWs long sleeves have a Faraday cage woven into them, they are not going to block the deadly electromagnetic radiation in a television studio.

I’m waiting for the day that she blames all the problems with her arm (if she ever admits to any) on the chemotherapy. “If I’d only done Gersen first!” sort of thing.

Sorry AntipodeanChic….Your sarcasm is fine, my ability to detect sarcasm at 6 AM my time, after a very long day, is askew.

Don’t ever trust your senses to detect sarcasm and post on a blog….and don’t ever email a friend at the hour.

@ MI Dawn
I don’t think that is too far fetched. If she doesn’t, I’m affraid her supporters will support that line of thinking, after her death.

@ MI Dawn – oh yes, chemotherapy is definitely going to be painted as the bad guy in this scenario. From July 2012:
“As many of you know, I had a super high dose of chemotherapy drugs pumped through my left arm just after my first cancer diagnosis. The radical poisoning didn’t work, hence why I was led to take control of my health via all natural means. What the chemo did do, however, is leave my body with high amounts of heavy metals – which are incredibly difficult to eliminate, and make healing a very slow process. Four years since my conventional “treatment”, I am still dealing with the ramifications and I’m now introducing several detoxification tactics to chelate the toxins from my tissues. One of these tactics is taking the superfood chlorella.”
Because ALGAE y’all.

@lilady – holey-moley….he died one month after that last story was posted. Those pictures look absolutely horrible & I can only imagine the pain he must has been in.

Given the condition of his arm at the time & what we are seeing now with the “Wellness Warrior” I am beginning to wonder how much time she has left?

@ Lawrence: There is a video of Rob Grimshaw and his wife on the internet, when they were looking for donations for “alternative medicine” care reimbursement.

I’m leaving now to visit my “other son”. Catch you later.

Risk Averse,

You describe Gerson as ‘quackery’ whilst knowing that there is no clinical evidence either way to determine its efficacy in controlled studies. Is that not also a false equivalent?

Firstly, the Gerson Clinic has published its data, as far as they have managed to collect any. Dr. Peter Moran has taken a close look at their results treating melanoma. His conclusions:

No convincing effect, and certainly none on more advanced cases. A small beneficial effect not excluded but these are extremely disappointing results for the cancer thought to be most responsive to this very intense and life-consuming treatment method.

There is also the clinical trial of the Gonzalez protocol, almost identical to Gerson, for pancreatic cancer. Gonzalez claimed his treatment was superior to conventional treatment, but in a controlled clinical trial of the Gonzalez protocol his patients died three times sooner than those on chemotherapy and reported a much worse quality of life.

I know that clinical testing involves limiting variables and numerous controls – which even if drug companies were interested in funding such trials on Gerson participants (highly unlikely since they have yet to patent non GM modified fruit and vegetables and coffee beans) – it would at the very least require subjects and controls to be quarantined for 2 years to ensure correct, controlled adherence to the protocol.

If the clinic’s own results show no effect of their treatments on the cancer they claim the greatest success for (melanoma), and the Gonzalez protocol was found to be worse than useless, why would anyone believe that better results would be achieved with better “adherence to the protocol”? That sounds like “blame the victim” to me.

Where this this idea that patients have to be “quarantined for two years” come from? Are you suggesting that people should eat nothing but non-GM fruits and vegetables for two years before they plan to get cancer, that they will still get cancer but it will be curable using the Gerson protocol? What about all the patients who are promised results when they haven’t followed this quarantine? Like Jessica Ainscough, for example, who has described her previous unhealthy lifestyle..

Anyway, there is little evidence that eating lots of fruit and vegetables, GM or not, will prevent some cancers, much less cure them. The EPIC study of more than half a million people has found that fiber, fish, red and processed meats affect colorectal cancer risk, the first two reduce it, the second two increase it. Dairy foods also reduce colorectal cancer risk. Obesity after (but not before) menopause increases breast cancer risk, but consumption of fruit and vegetables is not associated with breast cancer risk. Prostate cancer risk does not appear to be related to fruit and vegetable consumption at all. These are the three commonest cancers, and the effect of diet seems to be surprisingly small.

You describe Gerson as ‘quackery’ whilst knowing that there is no clinical evidence either way to determine its efficacy in controlled studies. Is that not also a false equivalent?

When the reason for the absence of clinical evidence is obstruction from the people selling the treatment, in their opposition to the very concept of testing their claims, ‘quackery’ seems fair enough.
In 1986, Charlotte Gerson Straus

said in a recent TV broadcast that statistics have not been published because the establishment would try to compare her results with theirs, which would be unfair, because the patients who come to her have mostly been declared terminal and are close to death. “Comparing my patients with those undergoing standard treatment is like comparing apples to oranges.”

As for the claimed survival rates from the Gerson protocol,

the Institute’s survival statistics are based on a combination of the doctor’s estimate that the departing patient has a “reasonable chance of surviving,” plus feelings that the Institute staff have about the status of people who call in.

– That’s according to the Institute’s Executive Vice President.
(Source: http://cancertreatmentwatch.org/reports/gerson.shtml)

Sounds like a duck and looks like a duck to me.

She already is blaming her arm problems on the chemo. If you follow her Facebook page, you will see people have commented on the state of her arm which she has dismissed as being chemo damage. Since these comments she has recently been covering the arm and has gone so far as to bandage it during her current tour. I was quite an avid follower until her mother died when it dawned on me that I had seen quite a few people enquiring about her mother and she had failed to answer and ignored it. I believe people following this same therapy had a right to know that it wasn’t working for her mother!! Now she is covering up the evidence that its not working for her because she’s far too invested and making far too much money out of it to admit the truth! It’s beyond scary!!

She hasn’t had chemo in, how long?

Stop blaming it on the chemo! Guess what? The cancer is eating her arm!

It’s hard to blame the chemo when the damage is consistent with what is expected from untreated epithelioid sarcoma. AW you give me hope that others might be stepping away from her blog as they realise the insanity of it all.

@Jessie I initially thought the free info she offered was great but in the last year it’s become more about pushing the ebooks and various promotions. Then I started to feel like she wasn’t telling her ‘followers’ the whole truth and more and more this is becoming apparent. The terms she uses ‘tribe’ and ‘soul sisters’ etc etc just screams ‘cult’ im my opinion. I hope others are going to start seeing through this nonsense

I looked over her photos on her website- including those of her ‘rock star’-like entourage ‘on tour’:
they’re heavily invested in appearances with artfully arranged, swingingly natural hair** styles, au courant male facial hair as well as painfully hip clothing choices BUT then there’s her arm….
she has associates and an SO- doesn’t anyone say anything to her?
It’s very disturbing and sad to imagine what’s next for her.

** as wild as their (most probable) ethnic group allows…i.e not so much.

I’ve seen pictures and videos of Jess Ainscough’s left lower arm from several years ago and there were no open lesions. There was full use of her left hand, with the middle finger contracted and small areas of what appear to be scar tissue.

Now her lower arm is swollen with a large bandage…certainly not to hide the condition of her arm…as it was completely shown while she was brewing coffee for her enemas two years ago while clad in a T-shirt.

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