Annabelle Potts was a girl with the deadly brain cancer known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) whose family was victimized by quacks. Unfortunately, that's not how the media is reporting it. As is frequently the case, Annabelle's story is being presented as one of triumph, and the quacks who treated her as legitimate experimental therapy.
Last year, Fikreta Ibrisevic chose a naturopathic quack named Juan Gonzalez to treat her cancer. She had been planning on conventional therapy, but Gonzalez convinced her that "chemo is for losers" and that he could cure her without the toxicity of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. As a result, she died. Her distraught husband Omer Ahmetovic killed the quack. Here's an update on a truly tragic case that shows why cancer patients should never rely on naturopaths.
Robert O. Young is a cancer quack who claims to be a naturopath who promotes what he calls “pH Miracle Living.” He claims that cancer is caused by excess acid and that the way to prevent and cure cancer is to “alkalinize the blood.” Two and a half years ago, he was convicted of practicing medicine without a license. A week and a half ago, a woman whose breast cancer progressed to incurable while being treated by Young won a $105 million settlement in a lawsuit against him. Maybe civil suits can succeed where state medical boards have failed.
Earlier this week, a new survey from the American Society of Clinical Oncology showed that belief in alternative cancer cures is common, with roughly four out of ten Americans believing that "natural" alternative treatments alone can cure cancer, without any conventional oncologic therapies, like chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. This survey points to just how ingrained misinformation about cancer is in our society and how much work advocates of science-based oncology have ahead of them to combat it.
“Integrative oncology” involves “integrating” pseudoscience, mysticism, and quackery with science-based oncology and co-opting science-based lifestyle modalities as “alternative” in order to provide cover for the quackery. Unfortunately, my alma mater, funded by the National Cancer Institute, is running a course to indoctrinate 100 health care professionals in the ways of “integrative oncology.” The Trojan horse of “lifestyle interventions” and “nonpharmacologic treatments for pain” is at the gates. The quackery will leap out as soon as it’s in the fortress.
Cancer is an incredibly complicated disease. It's not just differences in genetics and biology that determine outcomes, either. Cancer disparities is the study of factors that result in differences in outcome. Not surprisingly, money matters.
Dugald Seely, ND (Not-a-Doctor) is a Canadian naturopathic oncologist who's made quite the.name for himself cosplaying a real clinical researcher. What he really studies, unfortunately, is combining naturopathic quackery with real medicine. Basically, he's cosplaying a real clinical researcher, and crappy clinical trials are his props.
Patients with cancer frequently use online crowdfunding to pay for trips to quack clinics. The Good Thinking has undertaken an investigation that is the first to suggest the extent of the problem. The question is: What to do about it?
We know that alternative medicine use is associated with poorer survival in cancer, but what about the use of so-called "complementary medicine," "complementary and alternative medicine," or "integrative medicine"? Bad news. There's still a negative correlation between the use of pseudoscientific and unproven medicine and cancer survival, even when used with conventional cancer therapy rather than instead of it.
A recent spate of articles over the last couple of days report that Elle Macpherson is dating an antivaccine "icon," disgraced antivaccine doctor and scientific fraud Andrew Wakefield. Given her love of "alkaline diet" woo, which she sells through her very Goop-like Wellco website, the attraction shouldn't be surprising. It is, nonetheless, troubling. It wouldn't surprise me if Macpherson is antivaccine herself, given that in "alkaline diet" lingo, vaccines are often viewed as "toxic acid" insults that "alkalinization" can reverse.