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Katie Britton-Jordan: Sadly, vegan diets don’t cure cancer

Katie Britton-Jordan was a young woman with a treatable breast cancer. Instead of science-based medical care, she embarked on a vegan diet and a cornucopia of quackery. Now she is dead, because these treatments don’t work.

The story of Katie Britton-Jordan is the kind of story that makes me die a little inside every time I see one like it. Regular readers will immediately recognize why. It’s the story of another breast cancer patient who probably didn’t have to die of her disease but did anyway because she chose to forego effective, science-based surgical and medical care and instead opted for quackery. The end of her story came to my attention in, of all places, the Daily Mail:

A mother who chose to fight her cancer through a vegan diet instead of having chemotherapy has died.

Katie Britton-Jordan, from Derbyshire, was diagnosed with stage 2a triple negative breast cancer in July 2016.

She claimed chemotherapy, proven to save lives, was like ‘poisoning your body’ and opted to take an alternative approach.

Mrs Britton-Jordan, thought to be 40, also refused a mastectomy and radiotherapy. She passed away on Saturday.

Her husband Neil, 58, announced her death on Facebook, saying she was ‘surrounded’ by family and friends and ‘shrouded’ with love.

Here is the post by her husband:

Whose heart doesn’t break when hearing of Ms. Britton-Jordan’s daughter crying and asking why she has to say goodbye forever to her mom? You’d have to have a heart of stone not to start to choke up a bit at a story like this. On the other hand, as someone who’s spent his professional life trying to save women from breast cancer from dying of their disease, I can’t help but feel anger at the quacks who preyed upon this woman, and there is a lot of quackery that Ms. Britton-Jordan decided to pursue. What you don’t get from the news stories that you do get if you scroll back in her Facebook page is just how much she suffered before the end. But let’s not start at the end. We know what the end is. Ms. Britton-Jordan died unnecessarily, leaving her daughter motherless. How did she get there, though?

It doesn’t take too much searching to find stories in British tabloids from a couple of years ago glorifying her decision, for instance the Mirror and, yes, of course, the Daily Mail. From these stories I learned a lot. I learned first that she discovered a lump in her breast while breastfeeding her daughter. This led to an ultrasound, which showed two solid masses, which led to a mammogram and needle core biopsies of the masses. It turns out that she had three masses, measuring 32, 11 and 7 millimeters, in her left breast. As a breast cancer surgeon, I gather from the description that they were not close enough together to be removed en bloc (all in the same specimen), meaning that she was not a candidate for breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) and therefore needed a mastectomy, which is what her doctors recommended. Further, she had a subtype of breast cancer called triple negative, a nasty subtype that lacks estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and does not have amplified HER2. Triple negative breast cancer is nasty because, although it’s very sensitive to chemotherapy initially, often responding spectacularly to an initial course of chemotherapy, it tends to recur and metastasize and rapidly develops resistance to chemotherapy.

That being said, from what I’ve learned about Ms. Britton-Jordan’s cancer, I can say with confidence that it was quite treatable for cure. As mentioned above, it was stage 2a, which tells me that it hadn’t gone to the lymph nodes under her arm yet or spread elsewhere. With a combination of surgery plus chemotherapy, she could have expected an 85+% chance of long term survival. With a mastectomy, she might not even have needed radiation therapy. Yes, surgery is nasty. I understand that. Even with reconstruction, it’s scary as hell. I feel this personally now, having recently undergone a bit of anatomical rearrangement myself, and I didn’t even lose a body part, and, yes, I was scared. Chemotherapy is even worse. I get that, having seen more women than I can remember after they’ve undergone chemotherapy. The alternative, however, is near-certain death, particularly with triple negative breast cancer. Sometimes, with hormone-sensitive estrogen-receptor positive cancers, a woman can live a long time without treatment before her cancer progresses; this form of the disease can sometimes be pretty indolent. This rarely happens with triple negative breast cancer.

All of the news stories about Ms. Britton-Jordan seemed to concentrate on her vegan diet, complete with pictures of her with huge piles of vegetables. Of course, that was a prominent part of her treatment, even though diet alone cannot cure cancer. (Yes, diet can make you healthier and lower your risk of specific cancers, but once you already have cancer the horse has left the barn. It’s too late, purveyors of various dietary cancer cure claims notwithstanding, although there is evidence that diet can somewhat improve chances of longterm survival.) Annoyingly, all the news stories from a couple of years ago emphasized that the NHS wouldn’t pay for Ms. Britton-Jordan’s treatment. So two things happened. First, Ms. Britton-Jordan dove head first into an enormous pile of quackery:

She said: “I had always had a healthy diet and I didn’t eat red meat but I decided that I would go completely vegan and cut out sugar and gluten. I eat mostly raw food.”

Katie decided she no longer wanted to have CT scans on the NHS because of the amount of radiation involved.

With the help of her friends and family, Katie is now fundraising, so she can pursue other alternative treatments in the UK and abroad.

“I want to fundraise for other alternative treatments as well now,” she said. “There are so many things available.
“With conventional treatment, the common feeling is that if you don’t do surgery, chemo and radiotherapy, that is it.

“Anything else is seen as quackery.”

“I’m looking into mistletoe therapy, where extracts of the plant are injected into the body. It is believed to boost the immune system which helps the body fight cancer itself.

“I have had a few sessions in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which involves breathing pure oxygen at higher than atmospheric pressures in an enclosed chamber.

“This process causes oxygen to be absorbed by all body fluids and by all body cells and tissues.

None of these will cure triple negative breast cancer, and it didn’t. In January or February of this year, she discovered that her cancer had progressed. She now had stage 4 disease. It had spread to her lymph nodes, bone, and liver, as I learned from perusing her Facebook page. When looking at these stories, I always like to go to the source when possible; so I perused Ms. Britton-Jordan’s Facebook page back past her diagnosis of metastatic disease. One thing that’s immediately apparent. She went straight to a quack clinic in Mexico, one I hadn’t heard of before, Centro Medico del Nordeste in San Luis Río Colorado. Perusing the website, I saw that CMN is very big on hyperbaric oxygen therapy for basically everything, whether hyperbaric oxygen is indicated or not. It even has this slick video in English:

The video shows all manner of cancer quackery being offered at CMN, from hyperbaric oxygen, to intravenous vitamin C, to laser therapy, to something called Asyra biofeedback, and what looks like unproven stem cell therapy. I could, of course, given them the benefit of the doubt there. After all, bone marrow ablation and reconstitution through stem cell reinfusion are a legitimate treatment for hematopoietic malignancies, but, come on, it’s Mexico. They also offer dendritic cell therapy, which is still largely experimental and thus unproven. Anyone want to make a bet that this treatment isn’t offered under the auspices of a legitimate clinical trial? Overall, I can see how the impression provided could seem very compelling. The whole picture is of a clean, modern, high tech hospital, with attractive, caring doctors and nurses. It’s an ad clearly pitched at Americans and other people from English-speaking countries, and not just because it’s in English.

If you look at a list of the treatments offered, you’ll find a very Hallwang-like list mixing quackery, unproven experimental therapies, and possibly science-based:

  • Bone Marrow (Autologous) Stem Cell Transplant
  • Dendritic Cell Therapy
  • Ozone Blood Therapy
  • Ozone Rectal
  • Transdermal Ozone Sauna Hyperthermia
  • HBOT Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
  • UVBI Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation Therapy
  • MAHT Major Auto Hemo Therapy (Hyperthermia/Ozone)
  • Hyperthermia/ FAR infrared Therapy
  • Cold Laser Therapy
  • Escozul/ Blue Scorpion Venom
  • Rife Technology Frequency Therapy
  • Biomagnetic Therapy
  • PSIO: Color/Light/Sound/Music Therapy
  • IV Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D Testing/Treatment
  • IV Glutathione
  • IV Vitamin B17 / Laetrile
  • IV Vitamin C
  • IV Bicarbonate
  • IV Selenium
  • Emotional Healing Therapies
  • Artemisinin
  • Naltrexone
  • Frankincense Oil/ Essential Oil Therapy
  • Beta Glucan
  • Carnivora
  • Essiac Tea
  • Enzyme Therapy
  • Stress Anxiety Management Classes
  • Art Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Compassionate Care Coordinators
  • Bloodwork, Radiology, Labwork
  • Pain Managment

Funny, but I thought Artemisinin was used to treat malaria.

There followed a series of FB posts showing what sorts of quackery Ms. Britton-Jordan was undergoing:

Actually, that doesn’t look like Rife therapy (which is quacky enough) but rather “detox foot bath” therapy, the quackiest of quacky treatments. Let’s just put it this way. The water changes color if your feet are in there or not.

Yep, I was right about the stem cell quackery:

We already know that bone marrow transplants do not work for advanced breast cancer. We don’t know if stem cell treatments do any good, but there’s little reason to think that they do given the history of bone marrow transplants for breast cancer, and we have no idea whether what CMN is doing produces actual stem cells. Even if it did, it would be unethical to administer such treatment outside of the auspices of a clinical trial. As for dendritic cell therapy, the same applies. It’s experimental, and there’s little reason to think that it will save the life of a patient with stage 4 breast cancer.

Sadly, within a month of returning home from Mexico, Ms. Britton-Jordan was sick as hell

And:

As you can see, her tumors were progressing. This was not unexpected, of course. Even conventional treatment could only have delayed progression of her cancers. The treatments that she was undergoing in Mexico likely had zero effect on them. There was only a couple of more entries after this but before the June 2 entry sadly announcing Ms. Britton-Jordan’s death, the last one being an April 22 entry showing an Easter egg hunt. My interpretation was that all the NHS could offer was palliative care. I also surmise from the general tenor of the posts that they were still trying to raise money for more alternative treatments. It’s all incredibly painful for me to read, knowing that this death did not have to happen and knowing how this quack cancer hospital took advantage of Ms. Britton Jordan and how it’s continuing to sell cancer quackery to anyone with the cancer with the means. It also angers me how, early on in her course, less than a year after her decision to forego treatment, Ms. Britton-Jordan’s story was portrayed favorably, as a brave decision of a woman going her own way, as this Daily Mail did:

Katie said: ‘I feel really fit and well and I’m still able to work and look after my daughter. My diet, which involves mainly raw fruit and vegetables, has really helped.

‘If I had chemo, I think I would be almost bed-ridden. I have seen friends have chemotherapy and they are affected for life by it. It’s horrible. You are poisoning your body.

‘In my opinion, there are lots of options out there that I think are much more valuable than poisoning yourself.’

Katie feels she has made an informed decision about her very individual approach to cancer, after becoming fully acquainted with NHS advice and treatment options.

She explained: ‘I have looked at medically-based books and films that shows if you remove the primary tumour, it gives off cancer cell inhibitors and removing it can activate circulating cancer cells that are in the body and there is nothing to stop them.

‘If you remove it, it can come back much more aggressively. I believe what I am doing is the best option for me.’

Yes, if you remove it, it can come back more aggressively. It happens sometimes. Here’s the thing though. Even that chance is far, far better than the course that Britton-Jordan took. That’s because if you don’t remove the primary tumor, this is what happens. It keeps growing and spreading until you die, and not all the vegan diets, IV vitamin C, hyperbaric oxygen, or other woo will stop it. Meanwhile, the editors of the Daily Mail and all the other British tabloids that credulously published a positive human interest story about Katie Britton-Jordan and about so many other cancer patients who rejected conventional therapy in favor of diet or quackery have blood on their hands for, in essence, advertising for quackery.

It’s yet another reminder that vegan diets don’t cure cancer, and neither does any of the other quackery described here. Sadly, the only cure for breast cancer remains the boring old combination of “cut, burn, and poison” (as the quacks like to portray it): Surgery on the primary tumor; radiation therapy to mop up microscopic deposits left in the axilla, as well as those left in the breast after lumpectomy or chest wall after mastectomy; and chemotherapy to mop up microscopic deposits left elsewhere in the body. For some cancers, targeted therapy can be used, like estrogen blocking drugs or HER2-targeted drugs, but triple negative breast cancer is not one of those cancers. Basically, what Katie Britton-Jordan did was the equivalent of doing nothing. I realize that she didn’t think it was the equivalent of doing nothing, but it was, and she paid the price.

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]

79 replies on “Katie Britton-Jordan: Sadly, vegan diets don’t cure cancer”

serious question, because use of words is important, is treatment the correct word to use here? Treatment to me sounds like it has some value, while what this poor woman did was clearly at least as bad as doing nothing. Or is treatment just anything that you attempt to cure an illness? To be honest i am not sure what other word to use but treatment still sounds wrong.

“Treatment” has a few meanings, it can be a catch all for anything someone does in an attempt to cure or relieve an illness or condition – so a doctor might say “Mr Smith has been treating his gout with vinegar foot baths” (something my grandfather actually did). “Treatment “ can also mean the accepted medical response to an illness -“ we use vacuum dressings to treat deep non healing ulcers”.

So yes “treatment” was correctly used here; this lady did try to treat cancer by consuming a vegan diet (among other things). Sadly she is not alone, Sharyn Ainscough and Mari Lopez also used variations of vegan diets to treat breast cancer with exactly the same outcome as Ms Britton -Jordan.

Ps: Air quotes are optional when explaining the more bizarre things people will do to try and fix things that are medically wrong with them.

My dictionary says “treatment” is medical care for an illness or injury. By that definition, quack treatments are not medical care, so this patient was not getting treatment. As Dr. Gorski points out, the disease progressed as untreated cancer, and essentially the patient did nothing that could be characterized as treatment for that cancer. A borderline case would be where one had a condition for which no medical treatment is available, yet chose to participate in a clinical trial. I would then characterize that as treatment, since it is investigating in something that is possibly effective. When palliative care is indicated, that is comfort care, not curative, but I would still characterize it as treatment. What quacks do is far different, administering random junk, deceiving their customers and collecting money, then dumping them when the illness progresses. That’s not medical care. It’s a scam and ought to be prosecuted.

Annoyingly, all the news stories from a couple of years ago emphasized that the NHS wouldn’t pay for Ms. Britton-Jordan’s treatment

I’ll bet that quack clinic in Mexico cost more than the initial science-based treatment would have cost.

Stories like this are incredibly sad. I hope today’s RI convinces others with cancer no to follow this quackery.

She’s UK-ian, so she would be treated by our nasty socialistic NHS, without any personal cost, bar her taxes. So no direct personal cost. And as NHS treatments are governed by those horrible NICE guidelines, cost effectiveness is a factor.

NB Some sarcasm might have been involved in this post…

And had she let the NHS treat her she’d have a very good chance of seeing her daughter grow up, and I fully support the NHS not paying some snake oil quack to treat her with woo.

Urg, some of those alternative cancer therapies look just as nasty as science-based treatments. I get being scared of surgery and chemotherapy… but she then goes and gets a hole drilled in her hip. Why they avoid real medicine but then go for invasive stuff like that I will never understand.

Having recently been through this with a close family member, I can say that it mostly involves a cultish devotion to not “giving up”, although in our family’s case the quackery wasn’t begun until after the terminal diagnosis. The minute the quack clinic is contacted, they smother the mark with kindness and “hope”. It is truly sickening.

I had exactly the same question as you in this case. I also noted how she seemed to think she actually understood cancer better than the sum of all the doctors and research that constitute the NHS.

Sadly, Dunning Kruger in full display. But enabled by unethical con men out to make a buck, who didn’t care a whit the price because they didn’t have to pay it.

I’ve pointed this out before and will, no doubt, be forced to do so again, but while the Merkinanian president is over here trying to browbeat our supine government into opening up the NHS to private corporations it seems especially relevant: our mainly right wing media, especially the likes of the Mail and the Express, have long had an anti-NHS agenda, which is trotted out at every possible opportunity. Stories like this one are usually spun as “cruel NHS denies treatment to suffering mother” with complete disregard for any clinical facts.

NHS clinicians cannot respond, except in broad generalities or by citing NICE guidelines, because of our confidentiality laws, while “patients” remain free to breach their own confidentiality. This is then further spun as a lack of a response or “hiding behind bureaucracy”.

And even when a “journalist” fills a piece cram full of inaccuracies and makes comments verging on the libellous our toothless media regulator shrugs and says, “It’s just, like, their opinion, man!”.

The conservatives have never liked the NHS from the get go, and have spent the last 70 years trying to undermine confidence in it, under fund it and sell it off bit by bit. I trained in the UK, but left in 07 though I have friends who still work in the NHS.

I think it was some tory minister who said something along the lines of ‘Britain believes in the NHS while they see the tories as unbelievers’

Remember that bus from the Brexit referendum campaign that claimed the GBP350M allegedly sent to Brussels would be spent on the NHS instead? I hear that quite a few Leave voters believed that claim. Of course it was a lie, and Boris Johnson, one of the upper class twits vying to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister, is now in some legal hot water over that claim.

I can’t even articulate the rage I feel at the thought of Trump getting even the smallest bite of the NHS.

Isn’t ( trying to) eviscerate the US’s Obama Care/ Medicare/ Medicaid enough for him? But NO!, he has to try to fuck with the NHS.

But then what would you expect from him ? Sanity?

”And even when a “journalist” fills a piece cram full of inaccuracies and makes comments verging on the libellous our toothless media regulator shrugs and says, “It’s just, like, their opinion, man!”.”

A free press can be such a nuisance. 🙁

There’s free, then there’s free from facts and free from consequences: certain sections of our press prefer the latter 2. 😉

Orac writes,

Now she is dead, because these treatments don’t work.

MJD writes,

Below is a list of U.S. Patents granted wherein the word “cancer” was in the title.

Year 2018 – 772 patents
Year 2017 – 782 patents
Year 2016 – 705 patents
Year 2015 – 649 patents
Year 2014 – 631 patents
Year 2013 – 589 patents
Year 2012 – 490 patents
Year 2011 – 427 patents
Year 2010 – 415 patents

And the list goes on……..

How many of these treatments don’t work? More important, how many of these ideas will contribute to a successful treatment? Sadly, Katie Britton-Jordan’s treatments failed and hopefully something was learned.

What a worthless bit of data. A quick search of the USPTO patent database shows that only a fraction of patents with the word “cancer” in them are even for treatments. There are diagnostic patents, preventative patents, manufacturing methods, etc, etc.

Terrie,

I’m in the process of filing a cancer-treatment patent application. Happy now?

The patent process is broken, so anyone — even someone as sloppy in his research and lacking in knowledge as MJD — can get a patent.

Well, a Google search for “alternative cancer cure” gets 91.4 million hits, while searching for “conventional cancer cure” gets 26.6 million.

So alternative medicine is 3 and half times more likely to cure cancer!

Exactly. This is just one more of the things that MJD completely fails to understand. Frankly to get a patent, you really only have to show your idea is novel. It doesn’t have to do very much (if anything at all in the case of some patents) and certainly doesn’t have to cure cancer.

Ldw writes,

The patent process is broken…

MJD says,

If it’s broken Ldw, use your skills and knowledge to fix it – I believe in you!

Chris Preston writes,

Frankly to get a patent, you really only have to show your idea is novel.

MJD says,

Using the word “only” in the sentence above is far to encompassing. You also have to make a Herculean effort to disclose the “best” mode and show utility.

@ Orac,

Would you be a consultant for the company I’m forming (i.e., Met-Allergy, cancer treatment) which will soon have a patent-pending technology? Please advise.

And how many patents are there for perpetual motion machines? Or cars that run on water?

Just because it’s patented doesn’t mean it actually works.

mjd said:

“If it’s broken Ldw, use your skills and knowledge to fix it – I believe in you!”

and

“You also have to make a Herculean effort to disclose the “best” mode and show utility.”

It seems you don’t agree it’s broken. Debacles like theranos show you’re massively wrong.In that way you are consistent.

MJD

Below is a list of U.S. Patents granted wherein the word “cancer” was in the title

I’d be more impressed if you broke down your list to FDA approved therapies vs went-nowhere-beyond-the-lab.
Oh, wait, your post contines

How many of these treatments don’t work?

Why didn’t you answer your own question instead of wasting everyone’s time?

MJD (replying to myself because of the threading)(my emphasis)

Using the word “only” in the sentence above is far to encompassing. You also have to make a Herculean effort to disclose the “best” mode and show utility.

Or hire a competent patent attorney.

This is incredibly painful to read. And as a Tory professor, I wonder how hard it would be in Britain, a country with less free speech protections, for someone misled by their coverage of this story to sue a newspaper for misrepresentation causing them to seek fake treatments and die.

The Daily Mail’s bizarre obsession with linking everything to causing/curing cancer (sometimes one thing even does both according to them) is something of a national in-joke (in case anyone thinks I’m exaggerating here: https://kill-or-cure.herokuapp.com/ is a handy A-Z guide). They usually give themselves a fair amount of wiggle room in what they write (“so and so study suggested possibly, maybe” etc etc) so that they aren’t technically making recommendations to do anything themselves, all the while crudely pulling on emotions (usually fear) – if you read the original ‘Wail article about Britton-Jordan it’s actually all just reporting her claims with the occasional “is said to” and other nebulous statements about alternative “treatments” without any direct claims about the veracity of such statements. There’s some CYA moves in terms of quoting doctors saying it’s a stupid idea and and copious amounts of pictures showing the happy family and the whole thing ends with a link to the GoFundMe page. The only thing lacking from the standard Daily Mail article template is any mention of how much the family’s house is worth.

While it is crafted towards getting you to feel sorry for her and her family they aren’t actually interested in promoting woo over conventional treatments or visa versa – they just want to stoke an emotional reaction in the reader, they don’t care what that emotion is really, just so long as it is strong enough to provoke the reader into sharing the story with their friends/family/coworkers and getting them to click on to the article and get them so juicy ad revenue.

I would like to say that no-one takes them seriously on the topic but sadly there are still far too many people who actually take the Wail seriously in general when it’s basically been clickbait since before the term was invented – before there were links to click truth be told.

I am so sorry for this woman and especially her daughter. And I am also extremely grateful to RI and other places like it because I feel they have vaccinated me (if I may use this word) against quackery. So at least when my MIL was diagnosed with DCIS, I could convince her that yes, at her age lumpectomy is probably enough, and no, she does not need those very special vitamins and supplements that her friends (out of the goodness of their hearts and true conviction, I’m sure) were recommending.

Ozone Rectal, ie blowing smoke up your ass?

I wonder why people don’t think healthy living is feeding the body AND the cancer.

I have a friend who did some hypobaric oxygen after a head injury, and because insurance wouldn’t cover it they went to the cheapest place they could find. That cheap place was so rife with quackery that once, while my friend was in the chamber, their mother observed a woman come out to the waiting room still hooked up to her vaginal ozone treatment. (The woman was wearing a long and flowy skirt so as not to outrage anyone’s sensibilities.)

Human imagination is endless.

The mind set of these people baffles me. They reject chemo as “poison” and then call milstletoe (toxic itself) is “natural” and okay.

What makes me sad is her report of how much time went into these treatments. I think about all the time with mom her daughter missed out on, which went into useless treatments.

Yes indeed. It was heartbreaking reading about how she valued her one hour outdoors, and having spent far too much time in hospitals, her daughter was also there, watching all this invasive rubbish going on. She could have stayed home, spent many more hours outdoors between chemotherapy and surgery treatments, while getting effective treatments that would’ve allowed her to see her daughter grow up. She leaves behind the wreckage of her poor decisions, and the quacks who promoted this rubbish are the major culprits in this disaster.

I agree, re what’s “poison” and what’s not.

Everyone knows that ozone is poisonous, right? There is no level of ozone that is not dangerous: it’s the white component of smog, it corrodes your lungs, or other tissue, on contact. It’s so explosive that you can’t even buy it: you have to generate it and use it right then.

And, people know that oxygen at high enough concentration or pressure is a neurotoxin? Oxygen gas is one of the most common lab chemicals behind deadly accidents, not to mention space disasters.

I mean, everyone knows this, right?

This story was very painful for me to read. I lost my own mother to breast cancer a few years ago, thanks to a major delay in proper science-based treatment due to an embrace of quackery. She dithered for an unknown time since noticing a breast lump to get proper treatment, but finally got a mastectomy at my insistence. However, she didn’t see an oncologist despite the entreaties of her surgeon and myself to do so, instead finding some nostrum from some quack somewhere that she said was helping. She always was woo-prone and had an irrational fear of chemotherapy. A couple years later though she couldn’t deny the pains in her spine, and she finally consented to see a real oncologist. Sadly, by then her cancer had progressed to stage four. Apparently chemotherapy might not even have been necessary as the cancer was ER positive and it might have responded well to hormone therapy… Had it been done early enough. As it was, by then there was little left that could be done by science-based medicine. She passed away another three years later in a lot of pain. Her dithering with woo basically cost her life.

Who doesn’t feel for these poor people? It’s a terrible story. I’m sure that her husband and daughter will remain devastated for – probably- the rest of their lives.

Events like these should make SBM advocates all the more adamant about discussing and revealing how alt med prevarication harms patients and their families. As I write, I am listening to Null read his updated Death By Medicine ( see prn.fm) decrying SBM and suggesting woo for serious illness. Because of my “hate watching” of woo, I am sickeningly familiar with the so-called treatments available at the Mexican facility. with the exception of the ion foot bath ( mislabeled as Rife- although I know about that as well) which I learned about from TMR. IV supplements and ozone are not new. Neither is veganism.

If someone tried to sell this in the UK – wouldn’t it be criminal? ( fake treatments for cancer)

I should start a health vacations venture flying patients up to the ozone layer. Natural ozone treatments are so much healthier than the artificial stuff we manufacture on the ground. Remember to bring sun block.

All correct. There is a whole industry out there preying on vulnerable people to line their own pockets. Cases like Katie’s are some of the worst. Where doctors say there is nothing more they can do, I can fully understand people reaching for the illusory promises of quackery. Where it happens with someone for whom conventional treatment had an excellent prognosis I struggle to understand the shift straight to quackery.

If only we could create a system where quacks had to demonstrate efficacy of treatments they sell, before they could offer them. While homeopathy is still sold in pharmacies, we are a long way from that.

Yup, it could potentially fall foul of our Cancer Act. However, a lot of woosters working in the UK are aware of this and an awful lot of sneaky wording, nodding and winking and the like goes on to stay clear of such problems.

That and the folk charged with enforcing such things have been cut to ribbons – sorry, have been subjected to the disciplines of market forces.

Some still trip up and are prosecuted, though.

« Who doesn’t feel for these poor people? »

Unfortunately, me. I know I should feel sorry, but I couldn’t help but laugh when reading the article. I stopped feeling sorry for people who engage in delirious medical care the first time I saw an FBI covert video of a Munchausen by Proxy mom smothering her kid in a hospital room. I know I should have felt sorry for the poor kid, but I also know it would have led me onto the path of self pity. So I rather chose to laugh it out uproariously. Can’t help it now anymore anyway.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to feel sorry for people again. Who knows… with a bit of luck…

While I have to say I struggle to muster much sympathy for Ms Britton-Jordan herself, she did after all allow her own fears to pretty badly damage her family’s lives. I can definitely feel sorry for her daughter.

As for “laughing uproariously” at a child being smothered? I hate to say it but you’ve got some issues there – there’s nothing funny about that and claiming it was your only choice to avoid self pity is actually kind of repellent.

I don’t say this to make you feel bad but rather to point out that your responses to these things are pretty far out of whack.

“I believe this is the right treatment for me,” she was quoted as saying.

And as we’ve now seen clearly demonstrated (yet again), your belief didn’t count for SQUAT because you’re not a frickin’ DOCTOR. This insane dismissal of proven medical science has resulted in yet another death–directly and irrefutably.

And the article’s commenters babble on about how “brave” she was. It’s not brave to hide from rational solutions, it’s moronic and cowardly. Alt-med kills, and its purveyors are accessories to murder.

Yes Ms Britton-Jordan was foolish and perhaps less than brave in trying to cure her cancer while attempting to bypass the pain of conventional treatment. She was also scared and vulnerable and desperately wanted to live.

So it’s the people who sell these fake cures who deserve a place deep, deep in hell. They knowingly let people die while lining their pockets with money that their victims usually can’t afford and as in Ms Britton-Jordan’s case kept making false promises and taking her money even when it was obvious she was dying.

Ms Britton-Jordan was a victim of people selling impossibilities, she went in with her eyes wide open but I wonder if she had anybody like you to try and show her the truth of the situation or was she surrounded by “Facebook friends” who cheered her “brave” decision to turn her back on the only effective treatment we have for her disease?

Treason lands you in the 9th Circle of Hell, according to Dante.

I can’t think of any greater betrayal than telling someone diet is a cure for cancer when it isn’t.

She was brave in facing up to her cancer and going against established practice. Apparently she was without the benefit of a medical/scientific education, was sadly misinformed and ultimately died as a result of false cures, so while her family face a lifetime without her, the criminals who actually misguided and murdered her still have the money in the bank and are free to carry on with their crimes – victim blaming should be beneath us.

While I agree with you that the charlatans who peddle fake “cures” are despicable and should be roundly condemned I fail to see where any “bravery” comes in. From my understanding of the sequence of events she was correctly informed that the chemotherapy + surgery route were her only real chance of survival (and a good chance at that) but chose to reject that advice. And subsequently went in search of alternatives which turned out to be the aforementioned charlatans.

Should they have been there for her to find in the first place? Absolutely not. But that doesn’t completely absolve her of any responsibility. She made the decision to decline conventional treatment in the first place, perhaps out of fear of the side effects perhaps not. If she was afraid I certainly can’t blame her – chemo is seriously unpleasant. Fortunately I haven’t experienced it first hand but I’ve seen it up close in friends and acquaintances and I’m not ashamed to admit I’d be quaking in my boots at the prospect.

You don’t need to be a scientist or a medical professional to understand the fairly simple circumstances of “You are sick. There is a treatment and it’s unpleasant but without it you will die”, nor do you need that sort of background to question why all these “easy” options and cures aren’t offered or even mentioned by your doctor. Every person I’ve known who has been diagnosed with cancer by the NHS has received copious amounts of support and easy-to-digest information.

The charlatans might be scum bags for running their duplicitous enterprises but, in cases where the cancer is eminently treatable the mark has to shoulder some responsibility too.

Right, so, a few thoughts on some of Katie’s “treatments”. I am, in fact, something of an expert on cell-based cancer therapies, so please indulge me a moment.

About that “dendritic cell treatment”.
First, for a treatment of this type to be effective, you need to get a lot of dendritic cells out of the patient. Dendritic cells are part of the while blood cell complement, so if you want dendritic cells then you need to collect a lot of white blood cells. You do this by a procedure called leukapheresis, where blood come out of the patient, goes into a special type of centrifuge (it’s very complicated), the white blood cells are siphoned off, and the rest of the blood goes back into the patient. Generally you run all of the patient’s blood through the machine at least once to get enough cells to have enough left after they’ve been cleaned and manipulated to actually have some action in the body. The leukapheresis product is not dark red (as shown in Katie’s picture), it should be sort of peachy colored, because most of the red blood cells should have gone back into her body. It’s very clear that she is not having a leukaphereis, but rather just a plain blood draw.

If it is just a plain blood draw they’re not going to get very many dendritic cells. Based on a quick peek at the literature, in healthy adults you’ll get 13-37 dendritic cells per microliter of whole blood. Based on my experience with that kind of bag it looks like they got 300 milliliters of blood, so at most 11.1 million dendritic cells. That’s really not very many. There is always cell loss as you clean up your sample and apply whatever activation treatment you’re using on these DCs, so she’s not getting many cells at all.

Now, about that bag of “dendritic cells” she’s getting back. That right there tells me that this is utter nonesense, because none of the red cells have been removed. There are billions of red cells in that bag of whole blood that was take out of her. Why weren’t any of those removed? Why wasn’t this product purified or separated or anything? You need to remove as many of the other cell types as possible when working with DCs because they are so rare and if you don’t clean up your material there’s no way that your activation treatment is going to find those DCs. So even if they did add an activation treatment to that bag (which I doubt), the chances of any of those DCs getting activated is very slim.

Basically, based on the pictures Katie shared, she didn’t get a dendritic cell treatment, she got her own whole blood back. Oh, and if it’s “burning” then it’s even less likely to be DCs, as they are very delicate and wouldn’t survive well outside of the range of normal blood pH and osmolarity.

So Katie was charged who knows how much money to be re-infused with her own blood.

That is so staggeringly unethical, so monstrously immoral, so heinously untrue that I want to scream.

I have been a vegan for many years, or, better described, a plant-based diet. In my mid 70s I am on no medications, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, low total cholesterol. However, if I should develop cancer, I would discuss the options with an oncologist and together choose the best chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy and/or surgery. Based on extensive readings, a healthy vegan diet is a good complement to current oncological treatments. However, just as we add vitamin D to milk, folic acid to many foods, and other vitamins, for instance, to cereals, a healthy plant-based diet does require some supplements, e.g., vitamin B-12.

The main problem with believing that a plant-based diet will CURE cancer is the dichotomous approach, all or none, that we see from antivaccinationists and others who don’t understand that the world doesn’t exist in dichotomous categories. In the case of cancer, chemotherapy is the best scientific approach; but a plant-based diet can help ones body to better cope with this. However, a plant-based high fiber diet can reduce the risk of developing some cancers in the first place, e.g., colon cancer. But once a cancer develops, it is sad that people choose to ignore the science.

Thanks for this. I’m always sorry to see veganism derided and lumped in with woo, even though I won’t deny that many vegans are nutters (but not all, people). I’m not an absolute vegan as I do use the odd egg (from backyard pampered hens) or have a bit of milk (from small local dairies) in my cappuccino, but I don’t consume animal flesh. Giving up fish, especially salmon, was the hardest and final step. And in spite of good diet, good exercise, and substantial and sustained weight loss, I still need bp meds and statins–though only in minimal doses now. Bad genes, alas. Oh, and if a reputable oncologist told me to eat a raw calf liver to treat my cancer, I’d do it, and no, I don’t sneak out at night to free lab rats.

And if calf liver was necessary with no alternative, I would do my best to persuade you to get it. In Judaism, there is pekuach nefesh, a doctrine where just about all Biblical laws can be broken to save a life, a limb, or sight. And, on occasion, I get vegetarian foods that have egg whites as binders or Indian vegetarian food with Ghee (clarified butter), but I prefer not to and have asked the manufacturer to find substitute for egg white as binder and Ghee. On occasion have found Indian restaurants who use alternative oils and tasted just as good.

Yep, there are nutters who are vegans and nutters who are just about anything. Years ago I belonged to a vegetarian group that met a different restaurants once a month. We were discussing medical insurance when one said he didn’t need it because as vegetarian he wouldn’t become sick. I mentioned accidents, broken bones to no avail. Explained that even in vegetarian nations people get cancer. No avail. Gave up. One more example of seeing world/life in absolutes/dichotomies.

Glad you have been able to reduce meds. Maybe if you continue as you are doing you may be able to end; but, even if not, minimum doses, and all the other benefits well worth it. Plus, I have NEVER had a problem finding tasty foods.

“…many vegans are nutters”

OBVIOUSLY.
I should always differentiate the woo-fraught vegans from the normal ones but rarely do because I’m usually speaking in context, i.e. about woo and pseudo-science.
As Joel mentions, a plant-based diet can have very healthy consequences. People like Joel and you are not the problem. Personally, I don’t eat red meat – only poultry and a little fish/ sea food.

As a SB sceptic, I try to bring attention to the loonies who make many astonishing claims without evidence. Maybe I should call them “woo vegans” or “altie vegans”. Veganism won’t cure cancer or hiv/aids or ms or ASD but there are loonies who espouse these views.

Speaking of calf liver: when a friend of mine (long time vegetarian) was pregnant her iron was low, so she went in to get an infusion. Turns out that she’s allergic to something in the iron infusion, so in order to get her iron up to a safe level she had to eat it, in the form of liver. She didn’t want to, but she did it, and thank goodness because she had a bad delivery and bled enough that if she hadn’t been getting more iron she could have died.

She went back to being a vegetarian (and I don’t know if she was so anemic the next pregnancy).

So, liver can be a prescribed treatment for something!

You don’t get all nine essential amino acids in a plant based diet. So you would have to supplement that as well.

I’m thrilled to hear you’re healthy, but sadly I know too many vegans who aren’t and suffer from sever nutritional deficiencies.

“I believe this is the right treatment for me,” she was quoted as saying.”

“And as we’ve now seen clearly demonstrated (yet again), your belief didn’t count for SQUAT because you’re not a frickin’ DOCTOR.”

There’s nothing wrong with patients making decisions about what care plan is best for them, even if it means overruling an M.D.’s advice – as long as there’s decent evidence to support their beliefs.

Example: having surgery for cancer but declining one or more post-op cancer drugs if the average survival benefit is too small to justify side effects and/or expense.

“As long as there is decent evidence.” And there’s the rub. Having dueled with antivaxxers for many years, it is clear that without the basics, understanding of research design, statistics, etc. what they consider “decent evidence” is whatever confirms their pre-existing beliefs. And I promise you there is NO evidence that diet can cure cancer, any type of cancer, period.

As for opting after surgery for post-op cancer drugs, I would not opt for a drug costing 100s of thousands of dollars for a few months of low quality of life; but some people might want to live just a tad more to celebrate an anniversary, see a grandchild graduate, etc. Their oncologist should explain clearly what the additional treatment would mean and then it’s up to them.

I personally know of a case where a woman with advanced cancer was told that further treatment was useless; but her family pressured her to try rather than go on hospice care. Sad! And I also had personal friends where the man, doctoral candidate in psychology, sin his 20s, vegetarian, never smoked, developed advanced bone cancer in a leg and was talked into amputation, including part of hip, only to die a few days later in his wife’s arms. Worse, is that they had been living together and she decided to marry him just few days before while he was undergoing treatment, so she was left with a hefty medical bill for a few weeks of marriage. Isn’t our healthcare system great???

She was from Germany where health care is a right!

Of course, evidence can be only decent if it doesn’t talk back! It is dreadfully impolite of all those studies to prefer modern cancer protocols over whatever ideas your local quack comes up with.

your a piece of shit for even saying vegan cures cancer..thats on an individual…theres no “place” you go to be treated with veggies..individuals make choices..ive been a vegan for 40 plus yrs and ive never ever heard anyone tell so eone to forgo convwntioanl treatment for veggies…

Tomas, your reading comprehension leaves something to be desired but you appear to be on the correct page. Or at least the right chapter. However, Orac is NOT saying that VEGANs are claiming that a vegan diet can cure cancer. Only that vegetables are being accredited with more benefits than they actually have.

Also “You’re”.

MJD I find people often talk past each other when their world view is different. I will try not to.
You listed the # of patents where cancer was in the title and asked how many of those treatments did not work and how many contributed to successful treatment.
Then you said Ms Britton Jordon’s treatment did not work but hopefully something was learned.
You seem to be saying two things.
1.You doubt the value of many of the patents.
2 You think her treatments though failed might yield some useful information.
So there I did my best to understand your first comment.

Orac wrote an article about someone who documented their choices of alternative treatment.
If Orac is correct she had an 85+ chance of long term survival with unpleasant conventional treatment and very low odds with alternative treatment who died after about 3 years.

Please answer the following questions and reply referring to question numbers in your answers:
1.Are you disputing Oracs’s odds?
2.If you are disputing those odds where do you get your odds from?

3.If you are not disputing Oracs odds, If you had cancer with 85% chance of cure or prolonged life after surgery and months of chemo and high chance of being dead in 5 years without the surgery and chemo what would you choose.?
4. if you say question 3 is a false choice and there is something Ms Britton Jordon tried that had good odds please provide a reference.

The medical system in Mexico is not nearly as strongly regulated as that in the US, so while most of the doctors and clinics in Mexico are legit and on the up-and-up, it is a more favorable regulatory climate for quacks to set up shop.

I’m almost 5 years post allogenic stem cell transplant (sibling donor) for leukemia. The hell I went through leading up to it is worth being able to see my child grow up. The docs are con artists preying on the weak. In the video it notes that one is a “DDS” aka dentist. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I’m glad your stem cell transplant went well!

And you’ve brought up another sign that the people who treated this poor woman were complete quacks.

Your stem cell transplant was allogenic (ie, from someone other than you), in your case a sibling. This woman had an autologus stem cell infusion. As I said about the dendritic cells above, how is taking cells out and putting them back, without activating them in a specific way, supposed to help anything? The cells were already in her body and not “curing” her, so unless the cells were treated in some way to activate them to attack her cancer, why would anyone think that putting them back would do anything at all?

Good catch on the dentist thing!

Sadly, this crap is nothing new. It’s probably why my grandmother died of breast cancer in 1927, when my father was four, and I was a quarter-century in the future.

You can put this one on your watch list. Stage 3 breast cancer and going to Mexico for a holistic cure. Different clinic, same waste of time, money and life. She’s been doing alternative health stuff her entire life. She complains that none of that prevented her cancer but somehow thinks it will cure it.

“I met with my oncologist yesterday with my sister Stacy. She flew back down from Seattle to attend the appointment with me. I received more information about my diagnosis. I have HER2 Estrogen Positive in my right breast and Lobular Carcinoma in Situ in the left breast. Both cancers, while different, are not aggressive, thank God! She had no regard for the path I have chosen, no comment really on the Hope4Cancer clinic in Mexico, which in all honesty was extraordinary to me but also not surprising.”

Name is Stephanie Dawn. GFM is “Help Stephanie Heal from Breast Cancer”

No, vegan diets do not cure cancer. But neither are they “quackery.”

Vegan diets, when based on whole fruits, vegetables and grains, are generally healthier than other mainstream diets. They are generally lower in protein, and plant protein is generally healthier than animal protein. There is a plethora of studies which support this statement.

I applaud that this blog is a voice for evidence-based treatment, but it doe its cause a great disservice by needlessly bashing vegetarian and vegan diets. It reminds me of the invariable obese older guy at a party, who fancies himself a “gourmet” and who starts with the joke that “plants are living, too” and the launches into some nonsense how he tried being a “vegetarian” and got sickly (probably from too many french fries).

I found respectfulinsolence.com because of a hit piece on Dr. Funk. While Dr. Funk is a times bombastic with her claims (no, diet is not likely to eliminate your breast cancer risk to the tune of 80%), she nevertheless promotes healthy living, which is a good thing. And she also advises current evidence-based treatments if illness develops despite of one’s healthy lifestyle. So, the vitriol and rather personal attacks in the article were uncalled for.

Some people are vegan for moral reasons, some for health reasons. The end result is often good for the individual, and in a small measure, good for other species and good for the world we live in. Good vegan or vegetarian diets are just like exercise, not smoking, not snorting coke — they are generally good for you and increase your odds of living a longer, healthier life, but they will not save you from a deadly car crash. Or a deadly mutation you inherited from your parents.

So, lay off the vegetarians and vegans, eh?

Dr. Funk made a name for herself adding quackery to standard breast cancer surgery and therapy. In addition to her promotion of diet woo, for instance, she uses homeopathic Arnica Montana to “speed wound healing” and various “detox” quackery to “flush anesthesia out of the patient’s system more rapidly. In addition, I know stuff about her told me by another LA breast cancer surgery, and it’s not good. Her reputation among breast surgeons in LA is…not good.

As for vegan diets, they are quackery if they are claimed to cure cancer or prevent all cancers. There is evidence that a vegan diet can decrease the risk of some cancers, but the claims being made for vegan diets as a treatment for cancer are not evidence-based. I have nothing against vegan diets; what I have a problem with are overblown claims for what such a diet can accomplish and the attitude among some vegan advocates that the only way to be healthy is to be vegan. It’s very cult-like at times.

“With a combination of surgery plus chemotherapy, she could have expected an 85+% chance of long term survival.”

I assume this statement represents an aggregate statistical survival rate of 85%, which means 85 out of every 100 will survive. Does that tell us that each individual should have the exact same expectations? Obviously, 15 of the 100 will NOT survive. So all 100 indeed COULD have the exact same expectations that they will PROBABLY survive, but 15 should not actually expect TO survive… simply because they won’t.

What none of these 100 can know, and what none of ANY of us can know, is which ones will actually survive. We cannot know if Katie would have been one of the 85 or one of the 15. So while there is an 85% chance she made really poor choices here, there would seem to be a 15% chance that it wouldn’t have much mattered.

To be conclusive, we would need to know not just the statistics on survival rates of those undergoing the conventional standard of care, but the survival rates of those like Katie NOT undergoing the conventional standard of care. Otherwise this piece is just an anecdote. As a single story of a single failure, it is as useless as all three of the other possible anecdotal single-patient outcomes: a single patient who experiences remission with alternative care, a single patient who experiences remission with conventional care, or a single patient who experiences death with conventional care.

I trust nobody here would use the story of a single death of a cancer patient undergoing the conventional standard of care as “proof” that the conventional standard of care can fail. Of course it can fail… 15 out of 100 times. The question we need to answer is how many times out of 100 do alternative treatments succeed or fail? A single example tells us nothing.

I would love to know if there has ever been any effort to compile such stats.

Just as an aside:
I’ve never met a human being who actually has expectations in terms of a statistical likelihood. When you get in car to go for a drive, you expect to live. So even if you are aware there is a slight chance you will NOT survive your drive to work, most people have a 100% expectation of survival. The accident is UNexpected, or 0% expected.

My guess is that, with an 85% survival rate for this cancer, some of these 100 are fully confident they will live, some are not confident at all, and others are in between. There will be great variation in what they expect for quality of life and length of life. Which means while all could have the exact same knowledge of statistics, few will have exactly identical expectations of eventual outcomes

Specific and exacting statistics are very useful for some things. But not for subjective valuations. And for someone facing a “pretty likely” outcome, there is effectively no difference between 70% and 80% and 90%. Likewise, not too much difference between 10% and 20% and 30%, and little difference between 40% and 50% and 60%. Numbers EXTREMELY close to 0 are rounded down, and EXTREMELY close to 100 are rounded up.

So, in our practical daily lives, we use only five “numbers” or five basic modes of likelihood (and for any single cancer, only the middle three truly apply). :

Absolutely not (0%)
Probably not
Maybe
Probably
Absolutely (100%)

Of course, we are all very good at occasionally (frequently?) deluding ourselves from the reality of which of these is most accurate or appropriate in certain situations. Cheers!

Good day. Vegetarianism is a topic around which serious passions rage, it is constantly discussed, argued, and many copies are broken on this site. There are many people living in the world who have switched to a “herbivorous” diet. Such a choice can be associated with various reasons: religious considerations, unwillingness to cause suffering to animals and harm to the environment, sometimes banal poverty. There is currently convincing evidence that allows you to associate eating large quantities of meat with an increased risk of cancer such as cancer of the colon, esophagus, lung, uterus, stomach, prostate, breast, bladder and oral cavity. Good luck!

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