Integrative oncology "integrates" quackery with oncology. Its practitioners, however, frequently delude themselves that their specialty is science-based. A recent review article by two integrative oncologists from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center expresses that delusion perfectly.
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.
There's a whole genre of quack apologia for traditional Chinese medicine that I like to call "traditional Chinese medicine is science, ma-an!" Basically, it tries to convince you that the prescientific, mystical, vitalistic mass of nonsense that is traditional Chinese medicine is "ancient knowledge" that was far ahead of its time and that its wisdom will be rediscovered to become the future of medicine. It's utter nonsense, of course. Unfortunately, in its January issue, National Geographic fell for this myth—hard.
Over the holidays, on the day after Christmas, Merck and Sanofi announced FDA approval of Vaxelis, a new hexavalent vaccine. It's great news for children. Unsurprisingly, antivaxers hate it.
For-profit stem cell clinics selling unproven and downright quacky stem cell therapies have proliferated over the last several years, with federal and state law seemingly powerless to stop them. Recently, the FDA and FTC have shown signs of acting to crack down on them. Now, the Medical Board of California is forming a task force to determine how to regulate physicians offering these unproven therapies. Will it matter?
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.
In the days before Orac left the blog in order to rest and recharge his Tarial cell, he got into a little..."discussion"... on Twitter with a naturopath named Paul Theriault. It did not go well...for Not-a-Doctor Theriault. Be careful what you wish for, naturopaths, when you encounter Orac. You might get it.
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.
A week ago, The Toronto Sun published a syndicated column by a pseudonymous Canadian doctor, Dr. W. Gifford-Jones. The column was packed with antivaccine misinformation and pseudoscience. Apparently due to complaints, the article was taken down after an uproar, but is still available on the website of at least one other Canadian newspaper. How is it that a physician who writes such twaddle can be syndicated in over 70 newspapers?