Time for the weekly woo, and we’re going to tackle a completely light hearted, happy subject this week- cancer!
And the way they talk about it in the alternative medicine blogs, cancer is easy, right? Eat certain plants to prevent or cure cancer. You can take stuff that’s found in pee to defeat cancer. Detox and take a coffee enema to rid your body of every disease ever. And if you really take Tinkerbell’s whole ‘happy thoughts’ advice a little too far, you can think your way out of cancer. No need for treatment or cancer care centres.
Take a deep whiff, kids. That’s a lot of bullshit.
First let’s define cancer. The basic and layman’s definition is abnormal and uncontrolled cell growth. It generally takes the form of a tumor and can metastasize, or spread, through the body. Risk factors vary for different cancers but include genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Obesity, smoking, excess sunbathing, excessive drinking, lack of physical activity, poor diet have all been correlated with higher rates of various cancers.
Then again, you occasionally meet someone who lives to be a hundred years old who attributes their longevity to drinking and wild women. Remember, one of the factors is definitely genetics. Correlation is not causation.
So let’s get on to what definitely does not work, shall we? We’re naming names, folks.
First, we have Gerson Therapy.
It was featured in the documentary ‘The Beautiful Truth.’ It’s available on Netflix. Watch for yourself, see if you can get through twenty minutes.
I could just leave it at ‘the Food Babe believes it works,’ but I’m feeling feisty. To start with, there is zero proof that it has healed anybody. Juice 15-20lbs of vegetables, have thirteen glasses of vegetable juice per day and you’ll cure cancer! Sound familiar? It is, of course, one of many ‘detox’ style programs, and anywhere you see that word, you know you’re looking at some bullshit. They promote taking coffee enemas to detox the liver, and the liver just doesn’t need to be detoxed. You first have to buy into the premise that the liver has toxins built up in it to think you need this program. The liver doesn’t adsorb anything to make it healthier via an enema, and they have zero studies showing that this is the case.
The theory is that if you give your body enough pure organic (of course) nutrients, you’ll beat cancer. They only have clinics in two countries… and they’re not in the US. There are no peer reviewed published cases that this has treated someone.
There’s another a wonderful takedown of the movie here:
My takeaway from that article-
“So many people die of cancer every year that virtually every person in developed countries, doctors and cancer researchers–and, yes, even big pharma executives–included, have known, know, or will know someone with cancer.(…)Do the makers of this movie think that I or any other cancer researcher (or even big pharma executive) would withhold knowledge of such a “cure” or keep it from others if I knew of it?”
It’s a terribly cynical world view that these people must have to think that these doctors and researchers, who have probably lost people to cancer themselves, are fine with watching their own loved ones die just to keep making money. I’d find another way to make money before I did that.
Enough on that, let’s move on to Dr. Burzynski.
Your first tip off that he’s bullshit is that he’s been featured on Dr. Oz.
Again, there’s a movie about his product on Netflix just called ‘Burzynski.’ He’s a doctor who claims that these substances called ‘antineoplastons’ only exist in the urine of people without cancer, so if we give them to people with cancer, their cancer will just go away, right? The FDA has been tampering with his trials, he’s been held down, he has an incredibly high success rate compared to all these toxic medicines that Big Pharma peddles, and a ton of people will rush to defend him. THIS IS A CONSPIRACY!
The problem is that his definition of ‘success’ in his trials is very different than most people. He defines success as ‘their symptoms temporarily get better,’ while they’re on an incredibly high dose of steroids along with his ‘non-toxic’ therapy. The cancer eventually kills them, at the cost of a minimum of $7,000 per month out of pocket. Big cancer is bilking you, huh?
Re-define ‘success’ and let a medication other than your snake oil do the work and it’s a lot easier to call yourself successful while your patients slowly die and your bank accounts get bigger. I don’t know how these people sleep at night.
Next, I’m taking on Forks Over Knives. PUT DOWN YOUR MASON JARS OF QUINOA, VEGANS! BACK! DOWN! I have no problem with people going vegan, just don’t claim that it cures anything other than having to stop at the butcher shop.
Again, the documentary is available on Netflix (notice a trend with these documentaries? Why isn’t there a movie just called ‘Chemotherapy’ or ‘Penicillin’ or ‘Eat Less and Exercise More’?). They make a lot of good points. Eat more plants. Eat less processed foods. And though they’re really not out to make a killing selling a product, is their diet going to cure you of cancer after you get it? Not a snowflake’s chance in hell.
I even fell for this one at first. If you saw my interview on the Libertarian Republic, I was very sick when I first watched it and thought ‘maybe going vegan will help.’ I adopted a vegetarian diet for a year, then went vegan for a year.
All it did was make me really miss bacon. But besides the point, what’s true and what isn’t from Forks Over Knives?
-Vegans and vegetarians tend to have lower rates of cancer than their animal consuming counterparts, but this has not been proven to be causation. This can include lifestyle, exercise, lower body weight, and other factors.
-In some of the studies, they took people with horrible diets off of their processed food diets and put them on vegan diets and they reversed their heart diseases. This doesn’t surprise me. However, they took them off processed foods and then claimed that the cause of the heart disease reversal was the elimination of animal product. Don’t cherry pick the causal link and expect nobody to notice.
-They featured Dr. Ruth Heidrich, a woman who had breast cancer and switched to a vegan, no processed food, no sugar diet, and claim the diet healed the cancer. They leave out that she had surgery to remove the tumor.
-In another paper, Dr. Campbell wrote “The consumption of wheat flour and salt … was positively correlated with all three diseases [cardiovascular disease, hypertensive heart disease, and stroke]” Well shit, doctor, when did we start harvesting that off the side of a pig?
-The claim was made that, below 5% protein in the diet derived from animal products (casein, a protein in milk), cancerous tumors weren’t formed. Above 20%? CANCER CITY! Dr. Campbell left out one damning detail: the low-protein rats died too young to even develop cancer, possibly from nutritional deficiencies.
This group of plant lovers does love picking their cherries.
There are a lot of other claims in this one that are just off base. Though they may have their own agenda, if you’re curious, here are few websites that debunk further:
Lastly on FoK, I feel this was emotionally bankrupt of Dr. McDougall:
After Angelina Jolie underwent a double masectomy because her mother died of breast cancer and she had the same gene that pre-disposed her to breast cancer, Dr. McDougall wrote:
“I have no intention of criticizing the famous actress, Angelina Jolie, for her decision to have both breasts removed in an effort to improve her chances for a longer life. (…) All we know for sure is that Ms. Jolie has made a great sacrifice today for a theoretical benefit in thevery distant future—say one to five decades henceforth. (…)*If she develops breast cancer then we can assume this prophylactic treatment failed. If the cancer never appears there are two possibilities: one, she may never have been destined to grow, or die of, breast cancer—in this case a double mastectomy would not have been necessary. The other possibility is that the treatment saved her life. Neither disease-free outcome can be proven for her as an individual.”
So he starts by saying he’s not going to criticize her and goes on to criticize her. Angelina Jolie’s mother died at the age of 57. Angelina is 39. This is not five decades away. He also says he would not recommend this decision for his patients, just to eat plants, even with the same genetic history.
He is not an oncologist.
I hope this is not the man you trust for medical advice for you or your loved ones.
I know that there are about a zillion other fad cancer “cures,” and I could write forever on this. I’m going to sum up with what happens when we don’t stop someone from seeking alternative therapy:
Kim Tinkham read the book ‘The Secret’ and then was diagnosed with cancer. She thought that she could think more positively and think the cancer away. Because we’re now green fairies from Peter Pan. Oprah featured this woman on her show and didn’t immediately call her insane for some reason.
Does it surprise anybody that Kim Tinkham is no longer breathing?
This could have been prevented. She had a 60% chance of making it. With no therapy, that dropped to zero.
That’s the point here. What does work for cancer? Surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy and radiation. It’s not pretty. Both treatment and the cancer are painful, and it doesn’t always work because cancer itself is a terrible fucker of a disease. But it goddamn saves lives more often than anything else.
As I mentioned earlier this week, one of our members, Kenny Parrish, is currently going through treatment for dedifferentiated chondrosarcoma. There’s only a 5-7% he’ll make it outside of five years, and he’s been steadily kicking it in the balls for about three years now. Right now he’s training for a marathon to try to raise money to help kids who are going through cancer treatment at St. Jude’s.
Again… He has cancer and he’s puking through chemo to train for a marathon to raise money for kids who have cancer.
Donating to real research and to charities that actually help cancer patients are the only things that do make a difference. I dare you all to skip your PSL’s today and donate $5:
Please, if you or one of your loved ones ends up with this terrible disease? Trust your oncologist, not someone trying to sell you their new coffee enema kit or trying to align your chakras. If a treatment for cancer is coming from someone whose title isn’t ‘oncologist,’ you’re in the wrong office. No matter how much clapping and happy thoughts, Tinkerbell needs real help to survive cancer.