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Another unnecessary death in the making, thanks to cancer quackery

I hate stories like this, but what I hate even more is the way stories like this are all too commonly reported. Readers have been sending me links to stories about a woman named Alex Wynn that have been published over the last few days, in particular this story about her in the Daily Mail (better known as the Daily Fail when it comes to medical stories). As is the Fail’s wont, the headline blares Newlywed shuns chemotherapy for CARROTS as she vows to beat cancer with alternative therapies while trying for a baby – even though doctors warn there’s ‘no evidence’ they work, with a picture of an attractive young woman proudly smiling next to a juicer sitting on a kitchen counter loaded with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bananas, cucumbers, oranges, apples, limes, and…you get the idea, with the caption “Alex Wynn has shunned traditional cancer cures of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy in favour of a strict diet, Vitamin C drip and sessions of pure oxygen.”

Yes, a young woman is throwing away her one best shot at survival.

As is usually the case when I come across stories of women with breast cancer who eschew chemotherapy, I wondered if she had at least undergone surgery. As I’ve described on this blog more times than I can remember over the last decade, a very common alternative cancer cure testimonial involves a woman with breast cancer who undergoes lumpectomy but decides not to undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation and/or hormonal therapy. Then, inevitably, the woman attributes her survival to whatever quackery she’s decided to pursue when in reality it was almost certainly the surgery that took care of the cancer. Such stories exist and sound plausible because most people don’t understand the difference between using chemotherapy as a primary curative treatment for cancer and using it in the adjuvant setting. In the former case, chemotherapy is the primary treatment and potentially curative by itself. In the latter case (also the case for all but a couple of solid tumors), surgery is the primary treatment and chemotherapy is used as an adjuvant, as extra treatment that decreases the risk of cancer recurrence. In the case of breast cancer, radiation therapy is also often used, mostly after lumpectomy but sometimes after mastectomy, to reduce the risk that the tumor will recur in the breast or on the chest wall. Basically, chemotherapy is systemic and decreases the risk of recurrences in the whole body, while radiation is like surgery: A local therapy that doesn’t have an effect on the tumor outside of the area that the radiation beam hits.

So I asked, before I even started reading the body of the article: Did Wynn undergo surgery? Sadly, no:

A new bride diagnosed with breast cancer has refused conventional treatment in favour of alternative therapies in a desperate bid to have a baby.

Alex Wynn, 33, from Thame, Oxfordshire, was diagnosed with breast cancer in April last year, three weeks before her wedding.

Despite being told she needed her left breast removed, chemotherapy and radiotherapy to save her life, she refused treatment.

Instead, Ms Wynn is hoping to beat the deadly disease with a diet which includes 2kgs of juiced carrots a day as well as taking Vitamin C and regularly wearing an oxygen mask.

Whenever I see stories like this, the breast cancer surgeon in me tries to figure out from the information given what stage the cancer is, what its hormone receptor status might be, and the usual clinical information that informs what I do every clinic day when I’m seeing patients and trying to decide upon the appropriate course of treatment for women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. First off, given Wynn’s age, we can be very sure that her tumor must have been palpable and discovered because she or her doctor felt a lump because she is far too young to have started mammography screening yet. Consequently, it is highly unlikely that her cancer is overdiagnosed.

We can infer other likely characteristics as well. For example, from the statement that doctors recommended that her left breast be removed, we can conclude one of two things. Either her cancer is fairly large, such that trying to save the breast would lead to a poor cosmetic outcome, or Wynn has disease in more than one quadrant of the breast (multicentric disease), which makes breast conserving surgery (lumpectomy) no longer possible. Putting this together, I can tell right away that the tumor is at least stage II. From a strictly clinical viewpoint, given the size of Wynn’s breasts, if a breast surgeon didn’t think she could save the breast it means that the tumor is probably pretty big. Certainly it’s more than 2 cm (which, if true, automatically bumps it up to stage II) and might even be larger than 5 cm (which, if true, would automatically bump Wynn up to stage III). Next, we can infer some things about Wynn’s lymph node status.
With positive lymph nodes, particularly very young ones like Wynn, almost always undergo chemotherapy. However, we don’t know whether she has positive lymph nodes or not because she hasn’t undergone surgery. Putting two and two together, I’d bet she is probably hormone receptor negative or HER2-positive, both of which mandate chemotherapy regardless of lymph node status, particularly in a young woman.

Whatever the case, Wynn hasn’t undergone surgery since she was diagnosed in April. Instead, she’s doing this:

Now Ms Wynn lives on a strict diet and has cut out all meat, sugar, dairy, gluten and foods that are high in starch, like potatoes.

Each day she juices almost two large bags of carrots, a cucumber, a courgette, kale, ginger and a whole head of celery.

Alongside this, she is having high doses of Vitamin C through an IV drip.
She is currently on her first course of it, which lasts for three weeks. Within that time she will need 15 IV drips in total.

She said: ‘Because cancer doesn’t like oxygen and prefers an acidic environment, I sit an hyperbaric oxygen chamber twice a week with a mask on breathing pure oxygen.

‘I have a test kit called a Navarro Test which I do at home and send off, which measures the levels of HCG the same chemical produced by cancer cells.

‘I’ve tested myself four times so far and theoretically the level of cancer has dropped.

‘I always feel so nervous each time about what it’s going to say.

‘I just hope that with all of this will cure this cancer and then Matt and I can begin trying for children.’

Unfortunately, this is wishful thinking at its worst. There are the requisite doctors quoted saying that diet like this can’t cure cancer and that Wynn should receive conventional therapy, but the overall tone of the article makes Wynn seem like an appealing, brave woman, rather than a woman making a tragically misguided choice that could well result in her death if she doesn’t change course soon enough.

Much of what Wynn is doing is cancer quackery I’ve discussed before, such as high dose vitamin C, various “food as medicine” cancer “cures,” alkaline diet quackery, and the like. For instance, my first introduction to cancer quackery occurred when I was a general surgery resident. Twenty years ago at the beginning of my chief resident year when I was rotating on the chairman’s service, one of the senior surgeons admitted a patient for an abdominoperineal resection (APR). This is a nasty operation that, with the advent of chemoradiation regimens that shrink tumors effectively before surgery is thankfully rarely done any more. Basically, an APR involves removing the rectum and anus, sewing the hole shut, and leaving the patient with a permanent colostomy. The reason was because he had a large rectal cancer that could not be removed without removing his anal sphincter.

The patient’s rectal cancer had gotten so large because he had refused conventional treatment when his tumor had been diagnosed at a much smaller size. Instead, for more than a year he had pursued a carrot-heavy juicing regimen of some sort, very likely similar to the one that Wynn has started, plus coffee enemas. I had never heard of such things at the time, but now I know in retrospect that he was probably doing some version of the Gerson protocol. Whatever the specific regimen he had pursued, besides his needing an APR, another result had been that the man’s skin was the most amazing shade of orange, which inspired me when I wrote about his case ten years ago to call my post The Orange Man. As I put it that post, early on in my blogging “career,” the Orange Man was the first to teach me that alternative medicine that is ineffective is not harmless. That was 20 years ago, and I’ve never forgotten the lesson.

No matter how long I do this, however, I I had never heard of the Navarro test before; so I looked it up. It turns out that there is a place called the Navarro Clinic. Perusing the website, I conclude that the clinic appears to exist for only one purpose: To sell a bogus diagnostic test for cancer:

Developed in the late 1950s, by the renowned oncologist, the late Dr. Manuel D. Navarro, the test detects the presence of cancer cells even before signs or symptoms develop. Dr. Navarro found HCG to be present in all types of cancers. The test is based on a theory proposed by Howard Beard and other researchers who contend that cancer is related to a misplaced trophoblastic cell that become malignant in a manner similar to pregnancy in that they both secrete HCG. As a consequence, a measure of the amount of HCG found in the blood or urine is also a measure of the degree of malignancy. The higher the number, the greater is the severity of cancer.

Howard Beard and the trophoblastic theory of cancer? Does that sound familiar? If it doesn’t, I’ll reiterate, since I haven’t discussed it in a while. Basically, it’s a concept of how cancer develops that is at the core of quackery promoted by William Donald Kelly and the late Nicholas Gonzalez. Although at one time (100 years ago), this concept of how cancer forms seemed plausible, but was long ago discarded. Basically, according to Beard’s trophoblastic theory of cancer, the cause of cancer is the changing of an ectopic germ cell into an ectopic trophoblast cell, a change brought about by an excess of female hormones. This “upsetting” of the male-female sex hormone balance, according to Beard, led to the growth of normal tissue, namely germ cells, in the wrong place. Cancer then supposedly would progress because of a lack of cancer-digesting enzymes in the body; so the idea behind Gonzalez’s cancer quackery was to ingest large quantities of pancreatic enzymes.

The trophoblastic “theory” was discarded many decades ago because it explained nothing, predicted nothing, and conflicted with the emerging understanding of cancer biology new scientific studies were producing. Indeed, whenever I read about the “trophoblastic theory of cancer,” to this day I still have a hard time figuring out how this “theory” leads to the use of digestive enzymes to treat cancer, particularly given that only very tiny amounts of proteins like digestive enzymes can find their way into the bloodstream after passing through the GI tract. The vast majority of such proteins are completely broken down to amino acids and very small peptides.

In any case, the Navarro test, based on this long-discredited “theory,” is nothing more than a urine HCG test. In essence, it is a more sensitive version of a pregnancy test, and these are the levels that the Navarro clinic uses to determine whether there is cancer. Of course, one wonders how the Navarro clinic interprets its HCG levels in pregnant women. Actually, no I don’t. It is true that there are cancers that do produce HCG, such as ovarian cancer, tumors of placental and germ cell origin, testicular cancer, and the like. It is also true that some common cancers, such as breast, pancreatic, cervical, and gastric cancers can produce HCG. However, the secretion of HCG by these tumors is relatively uncommon and usually at low levels. For example, elevated serum levels are only observed in 45-60% of patients with biliary and pancreatic cancer and in 10-30% of most other cancers. In other words, HCG is not a reliable test for most cancers or for monitoring cancer treatment. Clinically, it’s really only used as a tumor marker for germ cell tumors and testicular cancer. For everything else, it’s pretty much useless.

So why is Wynn doing this? The reason is simple. She desperately wants to have a child and fears chemotherapy-induced infertility. While this is understandable, Wynn is young, and it is young women who have the best chances of fertility after chemotherapy. Indeed, Living Beyond Breast Cancer points out that if a woman is under 30 her chances of regaining fertility after chemotherapy are excellent; between 30-35 (as Wynn is), chances for fertility are good; 35-50, chances for fertility are less than 50-50; 40 or older, chances for fertility are slim. More information can be found at, which also lists strategies for fertility preservation.

I always wonder in cases like this why women refuse all treatment. For instance, although I would strongly counsel a woman against such a decision to forego chemotherapy, if I were Wynn’s surgeon I would try to urge her to undergo surgery at least. Her chances of cure would be lower than if she accepted the full multidisciplinary treatment of breast cancer, but there would be a decent chance, at least as far as I can tell from what was presented. She could also have her child after surgery. Again, it’s not an ideal plan (far from it), but it’s better than what she is doing now, which is the equivalent of no treatment at all.

I fear that Wynn is heading down the same road as The Orange Man. Her tumor will grow relentlessly until it breaks through the skin and start to leave little tumor deposits all over her chest wall. It will ulcerate, bleed, and, as the tumor outgrows its blood supply and dies in the center, start to reek. If she is lucky, it will metastasize and kill her quickly. If she is not, she will face unrelenting pain as the tumor erodes into her chest wall, a fate like that of Michaela Jakubczyk-Eckert, who trusted cancer quack Ryke Hamer and paid the ultimate price. What could be even worse is that she might become pregnant and have a child in the interim and leave her husband a widower and her baby motherless.

That is the price of cancer quackery. What I really want to know are the identities of the clinics and doctors that are selling this treatment to her. The light of science needs to be shined on these quacks.

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]

133 replies on “Another unnecessary death in the making, thanks to cancer quackery”

Thirty three….sad, just plain sad. Hopefully, someone close can try and talk some sense into her.

Oh sh!t.

Because cancer doesn’t like oxygen and prefers an acidic environment

Which is why we cultivate tumor cells in Petri dishes in a about neutral pH (the usual culture medium is colored red with phenol red – a colorant which turns yellow in acidic conditions, like in case of a bacterial contamination of the culture) with all the oxygen it can get from the surrounding atmosphere, I guess.

When I trained as a microbiologist, I have seen bacteria which “don’t like” oxygen. I believe cancer cells have a quite different behavior.
(lighting a candle and putting it in a jar with the bacteria’s plates was a fun to remove oxygen – if that would improve the growth of our cultured cancer cells, we would do it, too)

Right now, I would really like to pummel the guys who come with the “cancer is due to acid” idea. By propagating their ill-conceived biological notions, (shall I say “lies”?) they are murderers, pure and simple.

Wait, isn’t vitamin C an acid? So by their own cancer-loves-an-acidic-environment theory, wouldn’t putting vitamin C directly into the bloodstream PROMOTE the growth of the cancer?

Our esteemed and splendid host ( with the most) wonders which “clinics and doctors” mapped out this road towards perdition for Ms Wynn.

Perhaps she found the protocols on the internet- all by herself- discussed it with advocates on facebook and then consulted with local holistic providers … in other words, there may not be a solitary doctor or clinic responsible. But a mob of quacks, quack enablers and web de-education

A while back, RI was haunted by advocates of a breast cancer woo internet group who took SB commenters to task.

Unfortunately, I hear and read much too much of this and vitamin C drips especially make me ((shudder)) as they are used for nearly every condition including MS,AD, cancer and hiv/aids for decades despite not being evidence based.

Thus, I believe that woo and swill like this have reached a saturation point on the web : Ms Wynn probably had vague ideas about the acid nonsense and ‘food as medicine’ prior to her diagnosis- the net is rife with them.

Adverts, videos and e-books instruct the public about ‘cancer cures’ : if only there were a cure for adverts, videos and e-books.

Not to long ago i go into a heated argument with an old friend of mine that was spreading this. The sad thing is that she was and RN, and claiming to know more about this than me. Over the years I have learned to pick my battles to save relationships. When i saw all the comments from people that were “self curing”…..i just had to start the conversation. I really don’t even know how to approach this. Bringing up real science is pointless because they believe they have the real science. Pointing out the bad science or the lack there of is pointless as well. Most of thees people are not educated enough to under stand the difference. It is quite astounding the lack of scientific literacy in the public. I may not be a scientist…..but i do know how to find a credible one. The fact that educated people can not do that is killing them. Sad sad day.

Denice Walter, you are most likely correct from the sound of her gofundme page.

The Hope4Cancer treatment centre in Mexico is what the money is being raised for.

Reading fail. The money is also being used for treatment in the UK at an unnamed clinic but I am unsure if she is being treated holistically or she is just using standalone treatments that are popular now in the UK (?).

@ Not a Troll:

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she were influenced by various altmed sites that trumpet the efficacy of vitamin C drips or megadoses. This is woo from decades ago.

Oxygen via HBOT is also autism woo.

It’s endless and sickening. She may have a chance with SBM- with this, it’s orders of magnitude less likely.

Apart from the fact that there are no reliable standards for following hCG levels in patients whose tumors may make them in small amounts, there is the problem of tumor dedifferentiation – in which neoplastic cells may revert to more primitive forms, which likely would make even less hCG.

Thus a patient with dropping hCG levels could be convinced they’re getting better, when the reality is that their tumor is transforming and becoming more virulent.

As with other examples we’ve seen, the problem with publicity being given to this latest case goes far beyond the fate of the young woman involved, extending to others who are encouraged to follow her example.

@ johnnybdead:

re ‘self-curing’
People may be attracted to woo that brands itself as self-curing because it enables them to ( falsely) believe that they are in control of the situation which makes them feel better but doesn’t help them to actually become ‘better’ i.e.- less ill.

Those who sell bad ideas like this realise that patients may feel powerless and NOT in control of their fate- they pervert reality to convince them that they are taking control when they are indeed even less empowered because they the eschew or fear SBM.

Psychological manipulation at its finest used for the worst purposes.

So why is Wynn doing this? The reason is simple.

Nothing is ever simple. And that’s the simple truth.

Based on my regular encounters with pro-alt med advocates, many of them see it like this:

Situation #1: Someone has to make a decision between taking a prestigious job which pays well but will bore, frustrate, and depress them — or doing something with their life which pays poorly, but is unusual and right for them.

Situation #2: Someone has to make a decision between undergoing a respected medical treatment which is scientifically approved but will bore, sadden, and depress them — or doing something with their health which is not approved by mainstream scientists, but is unusual and right for them.

My altie friends think these are similar situations and therefore the same sort of choice. If you think the second person is wrong, then you’re the type who would disapprove of the first person, too.

It’s “believe in yourself” all the way down.

The Navarro Clinic has a phone number with an 847 area code, which Google tells me is north suburban Chicago. There are plenty of rich people around there, particularly close to the Lake Michigan shore, but I haven’t previously been aware of Chicagoland as a woo hotspot. Denice, is this one on your radar?

It’s not as though Ms. Wynn doesn’t have competent doctors around. She’s in Oxfordshire, as is one of the UK’s most famous universities. So why is she turning to Chicago for help?

My altie friends think these are similar situations and therefore the same sort of choice.

A false equivalence if there ever was one (but of course you knew that). The second situation is a matter of life and death. The first one generally isn’t, unless one of the job options is being a hit man.

Granted that some of the choices to be made here are serious business. Ms. Wynn wants a baby, which is difficult to do if she is simultaneously doing chemotherapy. Fair enough, but does she really want to bring a kid into the world that will likely grow up without its mother? That’s the likely outcome of what she is doing, assuming she has a successful pregnancy. Which, as Orac notes, she could do after surgery but before chemo, and still have a higher chance of survival than what she actually is doing.

Ugh deal with this all the time on an ovarian cancer site. Love reading about a man who is so bummed out because the ginger woo didn’t work on shrinking his wife’s tumor. In fact in the 3 months she took ginger her tumor actually grew.. Go figure.Ginger, turmeric, Laetrile, turpentine-you name it. Anything except the Big Pharma bogeyman of chemotherapy. You can’t convince these people as alt med has become their new religion. As a result facts mean nothing…

Fair enough, but does she really want to bring a kid into the world that will likely grow up without its mother?

No, therefore she simply must believe that the juicing / IV Vitaminc C / hyperbaric oxygen route she’s taking will save her life and prevent that from happening.

She’s going to Chicago for help because thanks to the Cancer Act, she won’t find anyone in the UK who can legally promote this shit. Not to say there aren’t woo – promoters in the UK – there are of course plenty unfortunately – but there are severe* consequences for those claiming to cure the big C. For other woo, we also have the Advertising Standards Act, although frankly, we don’t bash at liars with it nearly often enough, probably because of the prevailing ‘shruggie/what’s the harm ‘ attitude.
*not severe enough natch.

“I hate stories like this, but what I hate even more is the way stories like this are all too commonly reported.

“Psychological manipulation at its finest used for the worst purposes.”

For the critics who call (or would call) those here a bunch of cold heartless bastards, the quotes above are part of the answer to you. These quotes (along with many others) show the motives behind the people here. They are the ones who pay attention to the faux treatment industry, who make note of the end results of their treatments past the celebration of them in the media, and who pour over the scientific research to see if they are wrong and the “mavericks” are correct.

Even though we can all be more civil, I would wonder about anyone who has educated themselves on this topic who would not be a bit enraged/sarcastic/scathing when responding to alternative medicine’s defenders.

“Fire goes out for lack of fuel….” Proverbs 26:20.

I don’t begrudge them for trying to put out the fire because they’ve seen its results, and although I am no fan of medicine as it is now, the reasoning to trade it for something far worse escapes me.

From the gofundme page:
“but was told that they would not complete the surgery without chemo and radiation”

If this is factual (which seems questionable) maybe that answers the question about why she refused all treatment.

An acquaintance of mine with an OB background immediately reacted “why doesn’t she just freeze her eggs?”, and indeed the link that Orac gave had quite a lot of information on fertility preservation.

This really is awful to read about.

It’s hard to see stories like this published in rags like DM as being anything more than irresponsible clickbait.

“If this is factual (which seems questionable) maybe that answers the question about why she refused all treatment.”

True, but this doesn’t explain why she wouldn’t pursue surgery alone somewhere else except for maybe the cost. But even if you thought you couldn’t afford surgery, you would still have to believe the alternative route would work or else why choose it.

@Not a troll – this is the UK. Lifesaving medical treatment is free. Altmed quacks don’t operate an NHS.

@ Eric Lund:

No, I’ve never heard of that place. Sounds awful.

Of course there’s woo around Chicago ( most famously, Mercola and Toni Bark in near suburbs as well as TM Lisa J. Goes and friends) as there are altie havens near both Oxford and Cambridge
because places like these are often concentrations of big money in relatively small places.
See also Harvard, Yale, Stanford, NYC, SF, LA.

Unfortunately, I have had my head on neurological matters because I just learned that my friend’s grandson has a head injury ( fell off a bicycle) and my cousin who had brain surgery to remove an optic nerve sheath meningioma 20 months ago has experienced symptoms possibly related to breakage of the repairs done then and you know what that means.
So pardon me if I seem a bit off-centred.

From the gofundme page:
“but was told that they would not complete the surgery without chemo and radiation”

I suppose it’s possible that this is true, but if so it strikes me as shortsighted on the part of the clinic or hospital where she went. Yes, it’s true that we strongly recommend getting the “whole package,” so to speak, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. And we should do that, because that “package” gives the patient the best odds of survival.

However, when a patient absolutely refuses one or more modalities, if it’s appropriate medically we try to get her to accept one. It’s simple practicality and a desire to try to minimize the harm the patient is doing to herself by refusing parts of the whole package of therapy. Also, if a breast cancer can be removed surgically, it’s almost always appropriate to do that surgery, particularly if the patient needs a mastectomy. (Doing a lumpectomy without radiation, for instance, leaves a high risk of a local recurrence of the cancer in the breast.) Besides, after surgery we might be able to talk the patient into the rest, but even if we can’t at least the primary cancer is gone, which makes her chances of surviving far better than if we left the tumor in place.

See how dogmatic I am?

Mrs Grimble,

That is what I was thinking. If the NHS was not going to pay for her to have surgery alone wouldn’t that apply to all of NHS doctors? Or does she have options on what treatments to get depending on which doctor she sees?

And if/when she dies, the quacks will blame something else other than their sham treatments and recommendations. They must not have mothers, sisters, or friends. That’s the only way I can explain such sociopathic tendencies.

@#3 PartiallyCoherent: I once called someone on an altie web blog about Ascorbic Acid being acidic. Their answer was the Vit C was prepared and administered in a pH buffered IV solution.

The other question I’ve wanted to ask “them” is if they recommend strenuous exercise as cancer prevention, what about the resulting buildup of lactic acid in the body? Do olympic and pro athletes have higher CA rates?

Re: no surgery without chemo/radiation:
It’s also possible that she was told some version of what Orac says in #25, that it was strongly recommended, and only heard “that’s what they want to do,” and then decided that the doctors would only do surgery contingent on her promise to finish treatment. People with recent cancer diagnoses don’t always listen terribly well.
I wish we were wrong– I wish that cancer could be treated with some palatable potion made of common foodstuffs. I wish that extraphysiological levels of ascorbic acid could do something useful to the blood, and that a temporary excursion from the usual blood pH level (in a paradoxical direction, even) could be therapeutic.
But all of the evidence says that this is only a wish on the parts of patients and their families, and so much opportunism on the part of those people whom Ren accurately says display sociopathic tendencies.

Well, she might get slightly different options if she got a second opinion.
As to having to pay, NHS treatment is free for nearly everyone in the UK. There are exceptions for some types of non-UK residents, and I notice that Ms Wynne is from Australia. However, if her immigration status meant she couldn’t get free treatment, you can bet your sweet bippy that the Daily Fail (which only seems to like immigrants when they’re white, young and female) would have informed you of that fact in the headline.

I don’t know which hospital this was, but if she lives in Thame then it may well have been the John Radcliffe at Oxford. Stoke Mandeville is nearest but as far as I know does not do breast cancer. The JR is a teaching hospital, and up to date on current practice. All speculation but I suspect that if they refused to treat without chemo / radio, that might indicate a need to reduce the tumour to avoid more extensive surgery – is that right?

IMHO Orac nailed the lead, but lost the thread along the way. I don’t want to pummel the quacks, so much as I want to pummel The Daily Mail. It’s horrible that a young woman’s desire to have a family is being exploited by charlatans, but that’s an individual tragedy. But here’s The Mail hanging the whole thing on a peg Orac notes as having a tone of ‘appealing bravery’. This is free advertising for death merchants. How many women will see this story, give it a typical news-story skim, and come away with the general impression, ‘this might just work’ filed away for future reference?

The story has classic bullsh!t journalistic ‘balance’. The proper science cautions are noted in the sidebar and the last paragraph, both of which most readers will skip. What stays and makes the most impression: the pictures. The happy young marrieds. The smiling happy woman amidst natures colorful bounty — and its semiotic other: depressed-face-needle-in-bandaged-arm-trapped-on-IV-stand / plaintif-eyes-peering-out-from-entrapment-in-face-covering-dehumanizing-depersonalizing-machine. This piece needs no test whatsoever.

What all RI readers should remember – The Daily Mail has thousands of possibilities each day for stories of this type (not breaking news) to include. They chose this over that, and had reasons for doing so. Given the choice of ‘Patient shuns chemo for carrots’ as a subject, they had many possibilities for individuals to feature. They chose Alex Wynn over other patients, and had reasons for doing so. Having chosen to report on Wynn, they had an infinite number of ways they could have ordered, edited, framed, phrased etc. etc. their reportage, and they chose to use THOSE words, take THAT photo, and had reasons for doing so. (Reporters and editors don’t think about these things in any deep way, but they’re choices all the same.)

So, why is a mass circulation newspaper making choices that will likely lead to more young women dying from curable cancers?

We can only make educated guesses, of course, and a full analysis is beyond the scope of even a sadmarian blog comment, but I’ll just note a few things that stick out. The Daily Mail is a Right Wing paper, and as such it advances ideologies ‘traditional family vaues’ but also the heroic visionary individual against the gray dull state that drags down and stifles its genius rebels (Ayn Rand 101). So here’s the conventionally lovely newlywed ‘choosing her own path‘ in defiance of the conventional wisdom of the establishment (this being the UK, the doctors are all part of Bog Government), so she can give birth to and raise a child. IOW, she’s the anti-thesis of those butch lesbo pro-abortion socialists who want to make all the nice people do things their way, thus keeping those nice people from having nice things…

‘Matt and I want children as soon as possible we’d love to have two or three. Chemotherapy stays in your system for a good few years, and I wouldn’t want to endanger my children.

(Wynn might have uttered that spontaneously, OR the reporter might have fished for it: knowing what her peg needed to be, and working the questions to get the money quote.)

Whilst I agree with Ren that they’re sociopaths, occasionally one of the woo-entranced also confesses that his ( and it usually IS a male) hatred for SBM was originally precipitated by the death of a family member who was ‘killed’ by SBM:

– Mike Adams says that family members with cancer died/ weren’t saved by SBM and he himself was damaged by SB care UNTIL he cured himself of type 2 diabetes and obesity thus blossoming forth as the Health Ranger.
– Gary Null claims that his mother was ‘killed’ by HRT which incited an MI at a relatively young age altho’ EVERYONE in his family smoked, drank and ate non-vegan food except for him and a younger brother.

NOT one older person EVER listened to him!

Thus it was their own fault because they stayed under the spell of doctors rather than listening to him.

ACTUALLY the idiot is now surrounded by death and cancer because several of his cronies ( including doctors) and/ or fellow broadcasters at his vanity ‘radio’ station, prn, have already died ( cancer/ MI) or have stage 4 cancer-
( currently, Utrice Leid has listened to him and is doing his protocols) most of whom have died because they also didn’t follow his orders. And the sociopath says so as he describes their symptoms ghoulishly.

Having attended consultations with other people, I am always astonished at the message they take away. It always seems to be the one they most or least want to hear while the reality is much more nuanced. My day’s oncologist said my dad’s prognosis was such he didn’t expect to be treating him in a year’s time. Dad heard that he had twelve months to live. Sadly, he didn’t but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him otherwise.

“An acquaintance of mine with an OB background immediately reacted “why doesn’t she just freeze her eggs?”, and indeed the link that Orac gave had quite a lot of information on fertility preservation.”

Heck, couldn’t she adopt?

Maybe she wants the whole trifecta of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding? Maybe that’s why she’s refusing surgery?

What drives people to gamble with unproven cancer treatments are the testimonials of those who allegedly “cured” themselves by some “natural” or “alternative” means. More often than not, the propaganda innocents are exposed to stems from zealotry and greed. In the days before the Web, people were lured by ‘fly-paper’ – books, booklets, leaflets, pamphlets, and other handouts (a practice perpetuated to this day by the Cancer Control Society) – with or without the name of a contact or company who supplied the products. But carrot juice, IV ascorbic acid, and oxygen? Haven’t hear of those as a regimen since the 1960s, and I would surprised if she wasn’t taking something else besides. One can only hope that it’s not laetrile. Regardless of what else she might be taking, in the early days of the health food movement, many people tried carrot and vegetable juice with massive doses of vitamin C, both by oral and IV dosing. Back then, the carrot-juicing phenomena was rampant on the West Coast of North America where I witnessed it firsthand and knew people who either perished or finally received conventional medical attention. There is no evidence to show that juicing and ascorbic acid worked then and no reason to believe they would be effective today, but you can bet that someone is making claims to the contrary.

Two predictions (or rather, two pretty safe bets):

1) This newspaper coverage is the cornerstone in a newly-emerging scheme to make money off this, a la Jess Ainscough et al. In fact the story above almost read like those “advertorials” disguised to look like genuine news coverage. (Yes, yes, I know it’s The Daily Mail …)

2) Within a day or so Orac will start to hear from her minions (family, friends, followers) who have been alerted to this post. They’ll call us ghouls for condemning her to death, tell us we “just don’t understand” alternative methods, BigPharma yadda yadda sponsoring RI and they’ll call her “brave” and “a beautiful soul” and bluster “how dare you…”

“Those who sell bad ideas like this realize that patients may feel powerless and NOT in control of their fate- they pervert reality to convince them that they are taking control when they are indeed even less empowered because they the eschew or fear SBM.”
I think this is the crux of the matter.
Cancer puts mortality “in your face” in a way that many other health crisis’ do not. Boosterism (think: pink sorority) and diet craziness are attempts to sustain denial.

So, sugar is bad…but she juices how many pounds of carrots daily? Concentrating all that sugar in a glass, without even getting the benefit of the fibre? There’s a reason there’s something called carrot cake.

Oh, but it’s natural sugar? I see. The cancer cells know the difference, I’m sure.

Glancing at the list of speakers for the 42nd Annual Cancer Convention of the Cancer Control Society (CCS) in 2014, I noticed a familiar name: Earl Mindell, RPh, PhD. I don’t recall who managed the task, but I recall that someone published an article on his book The Vitamin Bible after identifying around 100 glaring errors. That Mindell would be associated with the CCS is not entirely surprising; if you haven’t already seen the investigation conducted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Marketplace, you may find it entertaining, if not saddening:

I have nothing to compare it to, but all of the cancer patients I know who are into alternative stuff go for vitamin C infusions if they can afford them.
lol, I had a high school friend who was orange-her parents were very much into carrot juice and the whole family was orange. Not bright orange, but fake-tan kind of orange.


Mindell is in “good” company. That speaker’s list is like a “who’s who” of cancer quackery.

Did you happen to notice, in the lower right corner, the blurb about bus tours of “cancer clinics” in Mexico? That’s the real reason for this “convention.” It’s one long sales pitch for all these competing Mexican places.

There was an excellent expose documentary done by Al Jazeera about one of those bus tours and inside the clinics, shot to a great extent with a hidden camera. You hear these con artists lie flat out. They can cure anything.

It’s well-worth finding on YouTube and spending 45 minutes watching, to fully understand both the desperation of the victims and the ruthlessness and callousness of the despicable scum profiting off false hope.

@ mho:

One of the idiots I survey calls his show “the empowerment hour” because listeners can through its instruction ( via a classroom on the air – sic) take back their power from those who usurped it unfairly-
doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, universities, the establishment, the government, corporations, the media

HOWEVER they can only get their power back by listening to his tripe and following his protocols to the LETTER-
or else they’ll die or become fat or old or unattractive.
AND who would want that?

Furthermore those elect enough to receive his ministrations have their energy ‘adjusted’ through a laying on of hands. Seriously. True healing comes only from a change
of belief which then allows the Inner Healer to take over –
to get to this stage most mortals need a push and he’s there to set the ball a-rolling.

This particular woo-meister hosts healing retreats at one of his ( two) vast estates where seekers pay for the privilege of being preached at, told how and when to eat ( in total silence) and exercised madly all the live long day. In return for their obedience they are born again, healed and renewed. He includes taped testimonials from stage 4 cancer patients who believe their illness is retreating and those who suffer from AD, MS, CHF amongst other ills.

Often these adventures in persuasion remind me ever so much of evangelical conversions or induction into cults.
It seems he limits/ denigrates outside information as much as he limits protein

Here’s a link to that hidden camera documentary

I think that video will haunt me forever now. Woo Fighter, wow, thanks for that(?)

Thanks, Woo fighter. By coincidence, I happened to view the video a couple of days ago. It was not news to me, but then I’ve been around the field for over 40 years.

High oxygen content will do nothing to stop the spread of cancer. If anything, it’s probably going to make it worse…

“…I’ve been around the field for over 40 years.:

What would you say has changed in those 40 years? Or has it been more of the same with just the addition of tech (internet/social media)?

Inquiring Mind

mho: Who would dare reveal that nearly all the vitamin C on the market is synthesized in China and India? I know it’s a mute point, but according to the FDA, any synthesized substance can not be legally marketed as “natural”.

Jesus – Jessica Ainscough isn’t even cold yet but it looks like the media has found a new young, pretty “Wellness Warrior” to exploit for as long as her popularity last, turn on when it becomes obvious that she’s not getting better, and quietly bury when she dies.

[email protected]: There is a reason it’s called the Daily Fail. There are UK newspapers I would trust to give me something resembling actual news. The Daily Mail is not one of those papers–I would not take their word for it if they said the sun would rise tomorrow. (From what I hear, their straight news reporting isn’t any better than this–actually, the factual content of this story may be higher than a lot of what is printed on their news pages. Admittedly, that’s a low bar to clear.)

High oxygen content will do nothing to stop the spread of cancer.

Perhaps, but if you’re a snake-oil scammer who’s invested in hyperbaric-oxygen equipment, you’re going to find more and more conditions that can be treated by hyperbaric oxygen.
[Case in point: Bradstreet and his hyperbaric-oxygen-for-autism grift, before he moved on to stem cells for autism].

Not a Troll: For a start, one of the biggest changes has been the growth in research on natural products. While I encourage further research, the problem is that because relatively few have the level of literacy to evaluate the results, rather than serving to dissuade patients, they lend an air of undeserving respectability to treatments and products of questionable, unproven, and no demonstrable benefit. Armed with the providence of the recent golden age of natural products research, charlatans and hucksters have more ammunition to deceive audiences and themselves than ever before.

Sarah A: Ahh, but the media can make proverbial hay on her story when what she is taking fails to work.

@ Lighthorse:

I agree- they also deceive themselves. They believe their own PR as well.

Although I imagine if any of them were ever diagnosed with a serious illness, *some* of them might (secretly) head straight for SBM while some would treat themselves or visit a fellow woo-meister.

It was not news to me

Me neither, but it’s one thing to just read about it happening, and another altogether to witness it…

AdamG: I agree. The lengths to which the reporter went to get the facts are more than most would venture. In this day of videocy, there may be nothing better to alert the innocent.

Lighthorse: A real catch-22 there and one change I didn’t anticipate. But I guess I really should have after reading Orac’s many articles on integrated medicine.

IMHO Orac nailed the lead, but lost the thread along the way. I don’t want to pummel the quacks, so much as I want to pummel The Daily Mail.

Well, I am a breast cancer surgeon, after all. It’s not as though I don’t pummel news outlets for false balance on a regular basis. 🙂

Just don’t lump all alternative therapies together as quackery. There are some forms of treatment that do work with certain forms of cancer.

Has the horrific end that came for Wellness Warrior taught those who follow in her footsteps absolutely nothing?

It has been observed that, for any given substance known to humanity, the Daily Fail will claim that it either causes or cures cancer. Sometimes both, on different days.

The Daily Fail labours under the constraint that much of their journamalism consists of scraping up material published through other sources, rearranging it, and making up one or two additional details that they can claim to be exclusive. So in the aftermath of the Bradstreet suicide we got this:

But on June 19 – the day Bradstreet authorities said was found dead in Chimney Rock, North Carolina, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest – it emerged that five children being treated with GcMAF had died in Switzerland.

The five patients who left Noakes’ clinic in Switzerland and headed straight to die in the nearest hospital were adults, but that wasn’t sufficiently poignant for the DM hacks.

Reading the article and the comments I am glad to be called a “quack” because I promote a healthy lifestyle, using natural products. But then also, I have to agree with some of what has been written. Today so many holistic practices claims to have the answer to cure cancer. That is a perhaps the biggest mistake ever made. Truth be told, there is not a simple way to cure cancer. But I am a witness to someone who did use a natural way out after all hope was lost. And then also, I have lost my mother who did not want to undergo chemo or radiation after her operation. Instead she did want to follow a natural way to keep cancer out. Did it work? NO! Then there is my aunt who has a few months to live with the same cancer type my mom had. She underwent all that has been written in this article and now? Wonder if this is then not a quack writting in order to make sure he has patients in order to make money!? No, I do not tell anyone that living a holistic lifestyle will heal cancer, but, living a holistic lifestyle and working hand in hand with your medical doctor (who by the way knows more than me about how the cancer stages work) will help to have a long living life or having no hope at all. Yes, for someone in late stage 2 or stage 3 I would always encourage to make use of the drugs (medications of today) but also to follow an holistic diet in order to help the body stay strong. Radiation and Chemo both break down the body’s fighting system but then again eating the right fruits and vegetables mostly in their raw state will again help the body’s fight system to stay active to help to fight the disease in the body. Now, I would like to challenge the Medical Professional Doctors to counter this statement.

I noticed a comment in the DM piece by someone insisting she may be successful and cure herself like Eva Ramparte – trouble being that Ms Ramparte based her whole “diet cured my cancer” business on a single ultrasound “diagnosis” of ovarian cancer.

Perhaps, but if you’re a snake-oil scammer who’s invested in hyperbaric-oxygen equipment, you’re going to find more and more conditions that can be treated by hyperbaric oxygen.


The last mention of OxyHealth’s “sponsorship” of AoA that I’ve bothered to find was in 2011. But McCarthy was still pitching for some custom-chamber thing at AoA within the last year.

But I can’t remember whether that was for sweating the autism out or for hyberbarically redoxing it out.

I don’t understand why people fall for such quackery. I had a friend (I think she is still alive but I find her too silly to talk to) and our friendship had lasted for many years since school days.
Lo and behold she develops stage three ovarian cancer. The surgeon spent eight hours trying to get all the metastices out of her abdomen. She has one round of chemo and then decides to go to naturopath. She is placed on a so called alkaline diet that also consists of lemon juice!!! She also eats gluten free bread etc “to soften the effects of the chemo” My friend could not understand that this was could not have any effect due to homeostasis. Less than 6 months following the surgery she thanked the naturopath for curing her. I believe that she may have metastices in her brain because of her irrational beliefs.

Saddens me to hear such stories. Young people with a bright future ahead of them, and they throw it all away with the little judgement they seem to have. Why is it in those cases that the husband just goes with it? Shouldn’t he try to convince her to get real treatment?

Well, sent him a message on facebook telling him his wife is heading straight to her grave if she continues those ”treatments” heh. He hasn’t replied yet lol.

Gemman Aster wrote:

Has the horrific end that came for Wellness Warrior taught those who follow in her footsteps absolutely nothing?

People who learnt anything from Ainscough’s death are, I suspect, largely quiet about it, so as not to have to draw attention to previous error, while those who didn’t learn see no reason to shut up.

Sadmar #32

The Mail, as noted, has a pretty right wing stance; it has long promoted absolutely any story which can be taken as critical of the horrible socialistic commie pinko NHS, let alone any of the rest of our public sector, but the NHS comes in for particular ire and distortions of anything close to fact.

Even if one complains to our press regulators (the editor of The Mail was formerly the chair of this…), as I did about a story which impinged directly on me and several of my patients, facts are still ignored because, apparently, in an “opinion piece” they aren’t necessary.

The Mail has a very clear political agenda, part of which is the destruction of the NHS and the promotion of privatised medicine: this story is merely part of a larger picture and a pattern of coverage which is decades old; they were amongst Thatcher’s chief helpers when she launched her assaults on the public sector over 30 years ago.

As an aside, another popular term for The Mail is “The Heil”, stemming from its support for the Nazis back in the ’30s. Draw your own conclusions from that one…

Round these parts it’s more commonly referred to as:
“The Daily Hate Mail”

She is raising £10,000 in order to get 15 infusions of Vitamin C from a UK clinic???

Who are these parasitic quacks preying on the vulnerable?

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