Category Archives: May 2015

A salve for a tumour

This article plumbs new depths, even for WDDTY.

Let’s look at the infobox for a second.

The essential points


  • Work with a qualified practitioner who has his own reliable source of Black Salve
  • Use it sparingly and make sure any wound that remains is properly and hygienically treated
  • Anticipate excruciating pain and long periods of exhaustion and incapacity, when work may not be possible
  • Make sure you have the full support of family and friends. If the growth is on the back of the body, you’ll need someone prepared to apply the salve who isn’t squeamish.


  • Buy the salve off the internet or attempt to self-medicate without the guidance of a regulated and qualified health practitioner

  • Start salve therapy without having your eyes fully open: read and research, and become a Black Salve expert before you start

  • Use Black SaIve if you have diabetes or poor circulation

  • Start unless you have a powerful and effective pain reliever  available.

Got the message? It’s excruciatingly painful (because it is BURNING YOUR SKIN, Jesus, how dumb are you people?). You must not be squeamish, because it’s BURNING YOUR SKIN and that is messy as well as incredibly painful. Even the Daily Mail recommends against it.

Go to a qualified, registered and regulated health professional? That is spectacularly delusional. Any regulated health professional in the UK found using black salve would be unregulated pretty damned quickly.

Still, as Michael Baum said, you wouldn’t want to consult a fake charlatan would you?

There’s a genuine question here: if anybody follows the WDDTY advice and ends up scarred, as so many users do, would they sue?

As the article meanders on it throws up some gems:

It was while reading WDDTY that Dave came across an article about Phil and Rosa Hughes and their ‘alternative’ cancer-screening clinic, which was close to his home. They offer a technology called ‘thermography’, a less invasive and more sensitive alternative to mammography…

Thermography is not approved for cancer screening, for the rather obvious reason that it doesn’t work. Tests how it misses 75% of cancers. It’s Russian roulette with five barrels loaded. The Hughes’ website claim that thermography is “medically approved”, conveniently forgetting to mention that it is not medically approved, or effective, for breast screening.

What is quite interesting is that the patient, Dave, had received chemotherapy as a child for brain cancer. His visceral rejection of chemo when a tumour was diagnosed near the base of his spine – his fourth cancer diagnosis, incredibly – was based on this experience. Presumably he did not listen when the doctors told him of the advances in chemo in recent years, and the fact that not all chemotherapies are equal. So he “read books” (safe to assume they were not reality-based), studied WDDTY (BAD idea!) and went to the Gerson clinic (substantially worse idea). You have to wonder why these so-called “doctors” bother with five years of university followed by up to ten years of postgraduate work to become qualified, when they could just read some shit off the internet and become experts overnight.

What a shame that in all that reading he never encountered anything on confirmation bias.

In the pages of WDDTY he found an advertisement (possibly masquerading as an article) for Phil and Rosa Hughes’ “alternative” cancer screening clinic. Why he wanted alternative screening is a mystery since he already had a diagnosis.

The article claims in a callout that Rosa had “reversed her breast cancer through diet and lifestyle changes”.  Where have we heard that before? As it turns out, Rosa refused a biopsy, so she (and WDDTY) have no idea whether she actually had cancer or not. This is not a small matter: a lot of the patients used by quacks as success stories turn out never to have had biopsy confirmed disease. WDDTY seem to think that people who reject evidence-based diagnosis and treatment are making a bold and excellent choice, yet time after time they reveal that the choice is influenced by charlatans selling snake oil, in this case someone selling breast thermography services. Breast thermography is wrong in about 3/4 of cases, according to current evidence.

Worryingly, only one of the people at the Hughes’ clinic has any medical qualifications at all: a registered nurse. Phil Hughes is a “registered homeopath”, so is not just medically unqualified, in fact pretty much everything he thinks he knows about health and disease is provably wrong.

Following surgery to excise the tumour and his rejection of adjuvant chemotherapy, Dave adopts a standard-for-quackery restrictive diet, in this case vegan and dairy-free. The tumour, unsurprisingly, returns (cancer, unlike cancer patients, is not easily fooled by the blandishments of diet shills).

Dave decides on black salve. Because, you know, reasons.

A callout says:

Don’t buy just any salve off the internet, and don’t try to self medicate without seeing a qualified therapist

Qualified? How can you be qualified in batshit insane treatments? And if it’s not safe to buy any old black salve off the internet, how come it was safe to take any old shit off the internet as advice? Nobody, literally nobody, with any actual knowledge of cancer, will prescribe this stuff. WDDTY present Mohs surgery as if it validates the claims, but fails to note that Mohs excised the tissue surgically after 24 hours, rather than continuing to use the caustic paste as the sole or primary treatment. If anything the history of Mohs surgery refutes the claims of black salve advocates, since the salve is no longer used in clinical practice.

Eventually, he found a herbalist, whose clinic was fairly close to his home, who was prepared to see him and treat him with Black Salve. (The herbalist doesn’t wish to be named.)

If I was a medically unqualified “alternative” practitioner treating cancer patients with a dangerous and implausible treatment I probably wouldn’t want to be named either.

The herbalist admits he has never treated a sarcoma before, states that this is the biggest cancer he’s ever treated, but nonetheless gives a confident estimate that it will take 14 days for black salve to “expel” the tumour from the body. You have to love the confidence of ignorance.

The treatment was so painful that Dave passed out several times, he lost four stone in weight, and felt cold most of the time (presumably due to anaemia). That sounds a lot worse than chemo to me, but of course cognitive dissonance would never permit Dave to think this.

Black salve is dangerous. Really dangerous. It’s a caustic. Yes, it might be able to remove cancerous tissue, but it is indiscriminate and will take out everything else as well. Most importantly Dave’s tumour has already regrown once, and there’s no reason to think that it will not regrow again. By speaking to him so soon after treatment WDDTY risks presenting someone with a hidden malignancy as “cured” in order to promote a particularly barbaric form of cancer quackery.

Available now from all bad newsagents!

The May 2015 issue of WDDTY has, like the steaming turds emanating from Her Majesty’s guards’ horses, hit the streets. And it’s a cracker. It looks as if they are playing pseudo-medical Limbo, a game of “how low can you go?” After flipping through it several skeptics are now looking sadly at the smoking ruins of their WTF meters, overloaded by the unprecedented outpouring of bollocks between the covers.

Tapping: Money for old rope.
Tapping: Money for old rope.

Remember the bullshit that is Emotional Freedom Techniques? Astonishingly the lunatic charlatans have reinvented it as a miracle cure-all. WDDTY followed the money just long enough to establish it was headed towards their bank and gave it the front page.

This month’s obligatory anti-MMR rant claims that 100 people died from MMR vaccine and none from measles, proving that however often you point out to Lynne McTaggart that every single publication around VAERS points out that correlation is not causation, she will always stick her fingers in her ears and chant “precious bodily fluids” until the cognitive dissonance goes away.

A bonus anti-vaccine piece is based on the refuted antivax meme that flu vaccine benefits only 3% of people.

Then we have “radiotherapy increases risk of thyroid cancer”, which should deter all those people who engage in recreational radiotherapy but won’t help people with cancer much because a chance of cancer down the road is a bit less pressing than real cancer, in your body, killing you, right now.

Zoë Harcombe, uncredentialled diet woo-peddler and Britain’s sole calorie denialist, gets a plug in a piece claiming that fat doesn’t cause heart disease. In other news, onions cure diabetes, which rather invites the question of why nobody found this out and saved the lives of millions of diabetics before insulin was identified and synthesised.

There’s a long and inexplicable rant claiming that “breast is best” is accepted by “everyone except top doctors and obstetricians” – palpable nonsense as any recent parent will know. It turns out that this ridiculous twaddle was caused by someone being so determined to feed that she could not accept what was then considered the best, most cautious advice during treatment for a heart problem. Never let it be said that WDDTY would succumb to nuance, or even the blindingly obvious, in this case the fact that a drug given to the mother might get to the baby through breast milk, and this might legitimately inspire caution. It’s reminiscent of the recent story claiming that babies undergo an average of 11 painful procedures , which turns out to apply only to babies in intensive care.

The old myth is trotted out that use of CBT for chronic fatigue syndrome means doctors think it’s all in the mind (not so: CBT is a coping strategy that has provably helped many patients to avoid self-reinforcing behaviours).

Statins – sorry, statin DRUGS!!!! – get the usual kicking, there’s the ritual promotion of magic water, some anti-fluoride activism (so last century) and then we move onto what must be a hot contender for the title of most irresponsible story ever published in WDDTY: an extended and entirely uncritical piece pimping black salve as a cancer cure.

Black salve.

If you don’t know about black salve, I urge your NOT to google it unless you have an extremely strong stomach.

Black salve does not cure cancer. It does, however, eat away skin, including blemishes that people self-diagnose as cancer, and occasionally an actual biopsy-confirmed cancer, usually a basal cell carcinoma which is amenable to surgical excision, often as a day case. As the piece begins:

Type the words ‘black salve’ into any search engine and the results
will open a new door onto Hell. Graphic and stomach-churning
images of people without noses and holes in the side of their face appear in the first few articles. Pretty quickly, you get the idea that Black Salve-also known as an escharotic (corrosive) or as the product Cansema – is the worst form of quackery, one that maims and harms.

There is a reason for that. Bear in mind how prominent the quackery shills are.  Google Mike “Health Danger” Adams, Doctor Oz and the like. Black salve bucks the trend only because the harm is so serious and the literature demonstrating it so extensive.

Using black salve instead of surgery for cancer is akin to using a flamethrower on yourself.  Only a crackpot or a charlatan would propose it as a reasonable course of action. So that’s exactly what WDDTY do.

With luck, people will write to the few remaining shops that still stock WDDTY and send them a copy of the article on black salve along with a few of the pictures on the internet that show what it really does. Because, you know, it really does eat away your face.

I have not the words.

Newborns do feel pain (quick, tell the doctor)

This is an article which appears to conflate several disjoint issues into a single article. I say conflate: they have been forced together with a crowbar.

The issues are:

  1. There are some who claim infants do not feel pain. Most of this seems to come from those who promote non-medical infant circumcision.
  2. There are good reasons not to use general anaesthesia on neonates, some of which are discussed below.
  3. Premature babies may require surgery, and the risks of anaesthesia are much higher in these infants because their brains are at an earlier stage of development.
  4. WDDTY is vehemently opposed to the use of “painful procedures” on infants. By “painful procedures” they mean, of course, vaccinations.

The result is a diatribe that is unusually unhinged even for WDDTY.

Continue reading Newborns do feel pain (quick, tell the doctor)