Tag Archives: False assertions

How do you solve a problem like a cyber Lynne mob?

Loon “Lynne” McTaggart has the whole martyr complex thing off to a T: it’s all about her, and her exaggerated sense of entitlement. After all, who could possibly have any valid objection to her pimping black salveW, a bogus cancer cure that just happens to eat away your skin? Surely the excruciating pain, weight loss, anaemia and cost experienced by her reader are vastly better than a surgical procedure under general anaesthetic.

Thank you all for those lovely statements of support after I wrote that our Intention Experiment website – a website devoted to healing the world’s ills through group prayer – got hacked into and threats on me, my family, my business, even my car were put in its place.

Really? McTaggart’s definition of “threats” is open to question, so I would not take it on her say-so. Still and all, threats are nasty, as those of us who have experienced them will testify. I have never seen any skeptic threaten anything other than Lynne’s profits, I am happy to say.

Happily, I can save you a lot of time and effort. The effect of prayer has been tested, it doesn’t work.  We’re happy to have saved you wasting any further time and effort repeating this failed experiment; I suggest you devote your time instead to studying concepts such as the laws of thermodynamics and conservation of energy, which show why any effect from prayer would require us to throw away pretty much all of human knowledge. Continue reading How do you solve a problem like a cyber Lynne mob?

86 per cent of children with measles had been vaccinated

If there’s one thing guaranteed to fuel the build-up of spittle on the WDDTY editors’ computer screens, it’s positive coverage of vaccines. WDDTY is, to quote Ben GoldacreW, “viciously, viciously anti-vaccine” – and this is one of the things which elevates their tawdry health fraud advertorial to the status of public health menace.

The MMR vaccine is back in the news. Australian parents will lose their welfare benefits if they don’t vaccinate their children, while up to 86 per cent of children who caught measles during the ‘Disneyland outbreak’ in California last December were vaccinated, a new study has revealed.

Logical fallacy: non-sequiturW. The two are not connected, and not even in the same stories, in general. The 86% figure is mentioned only in order to make the evidence-based Australian policy look unreasonable.

WDDTY do cite a source, though returning to their former practice of obfuscating the reference to make it hard to track down. Why would they do that, I wonder?

Oh, wait:

An analysis of publicly available outbreak data suggests that substandard vaccination compliance is likely to blame for the recent measles outbreak linked to Disneyland in California, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.

I can see why they wouldn’t want you to find the original source.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children will lose up to $11,000 of welfare benefits. Parents can opt out of vaccinations on medical or religious grounds, or because they are “conscientious objectors”.

But, from January next year, the conscientious objection opt-out will be removed in Abbott’s new “no jab, no pay” policy. Religious exemptions will also be tightened, and will apply only to religious bodies “approved by the government”.
The Australian government reckons that 39,000 families could lose their rights to welfare benefits.

Indeed. And the reason for the specific wording about religious bodies approved by the Government, is that Australian antivaxers invented their own church – the “Church of Conscious Living” – as a deliberate ploy to allow them to continue recklessly endangering the health of their children and those with whom they come into contact.

Their weaselly ploy has failed, and they are no doubt crying into their homeopathic beer about it.

US health authorities are also looking to tighten up on exemptions after the measles outbreak last December, in which around 140 children were infected. It is thought to have started at Disneyland in California.

It’s almost as if antivax sentiments evaporate when people are faced with the reality of preventable disease, isn’t it?

Which is of course why vaccines are not a hard sell with the postwar generation.

But a new study reckons that up to 86 per cent of the infected children had received all their MMR jabs. “Given the highly contagious nature of measles, vaccination rates of 96 per cent to 99 per cent are necessary to preserve herd immunity and prevent future outbreaks,” say the researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

When WDDTY reports the study as showing “up to” 86% of victims were vaccinated, they are being disingenuous. It actually says:

The authors estimate that measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination rates among the exposed population where secondary cases occurred might be as low as 50 percent and likely no higher than 86 percent. Because measles is highly contagious, vaccination rates of 96 percent to 99 percent are necessary to preserve herd immunity and to prevent future outbreaks, according to the study.

According to Wired,

The vast majority of the infected were unvaccinated against the disease, including kids who were too young for the shots and anti-vaxxers who chose against them. That’s how you get an outbreak. But six of the cases got their measles-mumps-rubella vaccine—the MMR shot—and still managed to get infected.

Wired also give a great description of how the Disneyland outbreak spread even to the immunised:

So how does that explain what happened in Disneyland? If you have a group of 1,000 people concentrated in a small space—like oh, say, hypothetically, an amusement park—about 90 percent of them will be vaccinated (hopefully). One person, maybe someone who contracted measles on a recent trip to the Philippines, moves around, spreading the virus. Measles is crazy contagious, so of the 100 people who aren’t vaccinated, about 90 will get infected. Then, of the 900 people who are vaccinated, 3 percent—27 people—get infected because they don’t have full immunity.

So WDDTY say “up to 86%” but other sources say closer to 10%. Why would WDDTY inflate the figure? We know why: to accurately report the case would require admitting that the MMR vaccine is around 97% effective, and that the figure they quoted was a discussion of the dangerously low level of vaccination that reduced herd immunity to the point that the outbreak could take hold.

And one thing WDDTY will never do is admit that the MMR vaccine works. Saint Andrew of Wakefraud would never forgive them.

 

‘Sleeping with baby’ a factor in cot deaths

At first sight, you’d think this headline had been brought to you from the Dept Of The Bleedin’ Obvious:

 ‘Sleeping with baby’ a factor in cot deaths

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)—once known as cot death—remains a mystery, although it’s more likely to happen when the baby is sleeping with the parents, a new analysis has discovered.

It’s the one factor that stands out in an analysis of 8,207 SIDS deaths, which involved children aged up to one year.  In 69 per cent of the deaths, the children were sleeping in the same bed as the parents.  The ratio rises to nearly 74 per cent in children aged between zero and three months.  Older infants who were sleeping near the parental bed were often found prone with blankets or stuffed toys nearby.
These tragic cases suggest that risk factors change during the first year of life, and that babies in the first three months of life are at special risk when they sleep with parents.
(Source: Pediatrics, 2014; doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-0401)

Well, yeah, except smothering isn’t usually classified as SIDS.

If you actually look up that article, which is here – Sleep Environment Risks for Younger and Older Infants (Jeffrey D. Colvin, MD, JD; Vicki Collie-Akers, PhD, MPH; Christy Schunn, MSW, and Rachel Y. Moon, MD) – you will see that there are currently two responses to it, both saying it’s a badly conducted study:

1. Study on Sleep Location Flawed, Inconclusive

This one is quite long, and begins:

The article by Colvin et al, “Sleep Environment Risks for Younger and Older Infants,” incorrectly concludes that bedsharing is the top risk factor for sleep-related deaths.

The authors fail to include any of the other major known risk factors for these deaths in their analysis besides sleep location and position. By far the other leading risk factors for SIDS are maternal smoking, infants sleeping unattended, and formula feeding. The risk of infant death from bedsharing, it is strongly potentiated by maternal prenatal and/or postnatal smoking. The use of alcohol and sedating substances by parents/caregivers poses the greatest risk of suffocation death but was not included in the study. The smoking variable was actually available in the authors’ dataset, and their failure to utilize it is inexplicable and concerning, as it would have likely significantly altered their results.

The authors also failed to distinguish adult beds from far riskier types of sleeping surfaces, although the literature clearly shows that most accidental smothering/entrapment deaths involve sofas, recliners, or chairs.

Because the authors did not use a control group, or population statistics regarding the prevalence of all factors stratified by age and smoking status at a minimum, it is impossible to draw any conclusions about the cause of sleep-related deaths from their study. Furthermore, 25% of the infants in this study actually died in cribs.

My emphasis in that last paragraph. The second response is, in its entirety:

2. Murky definitions, missing data prevent meaningful conclusions

“Sleep Environment Risks for Younger and Older Infants” (Colvin et al, Pediatrics 2014-0401) fails to add any useful information to the SIDS/infant mortality dialogue. Like many other papers on sleep-related risks, this article lacks clear, unambiguous definitions of critical variables, omits significant documented risk factors, and conflates SIDS and other unrelated forms of infant death, drawing conclusions that the data do not support. Specifically:

(1) The bed-partner could be human or animal, drunk or sober, smoker or not, adult or child, caring mother or inattentive other. A baby sleeping with an inebriated uncle is different from a baby sleeping next to his sober breastfeeding mother.

(2) “Adult bed” included adult bed, waterbed, adult mattress, bunk bed, child’s bed, sofa bed, and air mattress. (We can only presume that sofas and recliners are included. They are common shared-sleep choices, especially for mothers who have been told their bed is unsafe.) A baby sleeping on a soft sofa cushion next to that inebriated uncle is different from a baby sleeping with his breastfeeding mother in a firm, uncluttered bed. The categories “Adult bed” and “person” (defined as “sleeping on the chest or in the arms of another person”) were combined as one category, though one is inanimate and of varying safety, and the other is animate and of varying safety.

(3) Infant feeding method is never mentioned, despite the fact that formula-feeding is a risk factor for SIDS and affects the mother’s behavior during bedsharing.

(4) The words “smoking” and “smoke” do not appear in the article, yet smoking during pregnancy and in a baby’s household is a significant risk for SIDS. The authors acknowledge that “because there is no comparison group, risk cannot be determined.” Without a control group, actual risk cannot be calculated.

(5) SIDS and smothering are conflated. Most SIDS risks have nothing to do with sleep location, while smothering and suffocation are entirely location-related. The distinction is especially important when bedsharing is discussed. SIDS is linked to physiological problems; suffocation results from environmental problems.

(6) Bedsharing is cited as “the predominant risk factor for younger infants” without reference to other significant risk factors or data from comparison groups.

(7) The study refers to “sudden infant death syndrome and other sleep-related causes of infant mortality” but focuses almost exclusively on the “other sleep-related causes” The combining of safe and unsafe situations in single categories is distressing but not new. The studies on which this article relies – the Ohio child death review for example*, – tend to do the same, a shortcoming that the authors acknowledge but accept. The conflation of SIDS and suffocation issues is also distressing but not new. The current review, like many before it, fails to provide adequate guidance to health care professionals and is potentially damaging to families making decisions without full information about their options.

* Presentation by Tessie Pollack, Ohio Department of Health to Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality, March 2014.

Again my emphasis. In any case, it’s been known for millenia that a baby sleeping with its parents is in danger of being smothered. It even figures in the Old testament: look up 1 Kings 3:16 if you don’t believe me. It’s not SIDS; it’s accidental smothering, but then WDDTY aren’t about to let a minor detail like that interfere with a neat-sounding fake scoop.

Why don’t doctors tell you babies sharing beds is a major cause of cot death?
Because it isn’t. Cot death is caused by other things. Babies who share beds are in danger of smothering, and doctors already tell you that.

Oncologist: Lynne McTaggart’s use of chemotherapy figures “quite misleading to patients”

Reblogged with permission from slippdigby.wordpress.com

oncology-coverLynne McTaggart recently published another blog post titled ‘Medical McCarthyism‘ defending the content of What Doctors Don’t Tell You. In the post she attacks Cancer Research UK:-

According to Cancer Research UK, just over half of cancer patients survive beyond five years. This is the very attractive figure now being bandied about to convince us all that we’re winning the war on cancer.”

If you look at Cancer Research UK webpage you will find survival statistics and yes, the predicted overall five-year survival figures for those diagnosed with cancer in 2007 is 46% of men and 56% of women.

Despite these figures, Lynne goes on to quote some figures which she believes supports her case that conventional treatments are actually failing:-

“Actually, as WDDTY has reported, after cherrypicking the very best clinical trials showing positive results, Australia’s leading oncologists found that chemotherapy’s contribution to five-year survival was only 2.3 per cent in Australia and 2.1 per cent in the US (Ann Oncol, 2013; doi: 10: 1093/annonc/mds636).”

These claims were featured in What Doctors Don’t Tell You Volume 23 no 11.

Now ignoring the fact that chemotherapy is only one of a range of conventional treatments, this is quite a broad, unqualified statement which would give a lay person the impression that chemotherapy is very ineffective against ‘cancer’ full stop.

Cancer is however a complex range of diseases which respond differently to chemotherapy, so I was very curious where Lynne got these figures from – it turns out the reference quoted is a paper titled Bias in reporting of end points of efficacy and toxicity in randomized, clinical trials for women with breast cancer.

Now, I am not an expert on cancer and I couldn’t get access to the full paper, but just from the abstract it seems pretty clear to me that the paper cannot possibly support a broad statement about the overall efficacy, or failure of chemotherapy. I suspected that the paper Lynne meant to refer to was The contribution of cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adult malignancies which is deconstructed brilliantly by David Gorski here.

So I asked Lynne if this reference was a mistake on her blog. I got no response, which is worrying as the veracity of these claims and the evidence to support them – even in a blog post – is important. Lynne has also recently defended herself by claimed that she simply reports the finding of research without bias to allow people to make up their own mind.

I thought the best way to clear this up would be to contact the lead author of the original paper Lynne cited and ask him whether the quote above regarding his paper was accurate. He was kind enough to email me and his response I reproduce below, without further comment:

I think the statement is probably accurate but quite misleading to patients. Across all cancers, I suspect the contribution of chemotherapy to long-term survival  is quite low, given the prevalence of disease in the elderly and those never treated because of comorbidity, and the prevalence of minimally responsive common tumours (pancreas, lung, colon etc) where there will be little impact on 5yr survival.

However adjuvant chemo for breast and other cancers can have a substantial effect to improve long-term survival and there are many less common types (testis, lymphoma, leukemia, childhood cancers) where the effects are large.

It would be a tragedy if a young or middle-aged  woman with breast cancer or a man with metastatic testis cancer refused chemo because they believed there was only a 2% increase in long term survival.

With kind regards,

Ian Tannock

Ian F. Tannock MD, PhD, DSc
Professor of Medical Oncology,
Princess Margaret Hospital and University of Toronto

Why don’t doctors tell you that the success rate of chemotherapy is 2.3%?

Because it’s not true.

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Silence those who oppose freedom of speech!

WDDTY: Censoring for free speech.
WDDTY: Censoring for free speech.

Lynne McTaggart howls long and loud about the way that not stocking her grossly irresponsible magazine would somehow be infringing her right to free speech. Is her conduct consistent with the idea that she is a champion of open and informed debate?

(Spoiler alert: No)

See if you can identify the abuse and harassment in these posts. Or maybe it’s “far more likely” that the commenter deleted them, as Lynne claims? On the face of it, it looks very much like she’s been deleting perfectly reasonable comments. Because free speech.

Lynne's commitment to open debate.
Lynne’s commitment to open debate. Astoundingly, this turns out to be mendacious nonsense.

Please send us more! And extra points if you have a grab of the comment where Lynne suggested she was not deleting comments, but the commenters were.

Continue reading Silence those who oppose freedom of speech!

WDDTY on HIV/AIDS

This never happened, according to Lynne McTaggart
This never happened, according to Lynne McTaggart

(Also posted at Plague of Mice)

The recent article in The Times that caused the Blessed McTaggart to bust a blood vessel and scream CONSPIRACY!!!!! included a quote from the editor of Beyond Positive, a magazine for HIV+ people, condemning the misleading claims in an article entitled “Vitamin C fights it all, from measles to AIDS”.

Yeah. I’ll let that sink in, shall I? McTaggart’s rag promotes quackery for AIDS. The old wives’ tale that Vitamin C helps the immune system fight off infections was debunked a number of years ago. That doesn’t excuse you from eating your greens, but even if it had turned out to be effective in boosting defences against the common cold, it’s far from clear how Vitamin C could ever have been of use in revving up the immune system when the immune system is being directly targeted by an infection. It would be like trying to jump-start a car while somebody else takes a chainsaw to the wheels. Continue reading WDDTY on HIV/AIDS

A challenge from Lynne McTaggart

Fascinating question, since it excludes any quality of life outcome and of course also excludes a well-known class of effective drugs.

Here are some examples off the top of my head:

  • Tetanus antitoxin
  • Antimalarials
  • Chemotherapy for liquid tumours (e.g. Hodgkin’s lymphoma)
  • Antivenins

And some drugs promoted by WDDTY that can’t cure people:

  • Laetrile
  • Coffee
  • High dose vitamins
  • Antineoplastons

Antibiotics are a huge class of drugs and represent a significant proportion of all curative therapeutic uses of drugs. Excluding these indicates an agenda but still fails to include all therapeutic drugs.

Why don’t doctors tell you that antibiotics are the only drugs that can cure disease?

Because it’s not true.

Big Pharma And The Mafia

Reblogged from ChapmanCentral with full permission.

Evidence-based practice reveals flaws in medicine. Lynne McTaggart believes that this is a great reason for abandoning evidence-based practice. Because reasons.

Lynne McTaggart is apparently a journalist, not a SCAM industry propagandist at all. This is her latest anti-medicine rant.

It’s not a good time to be a drug company employee. Increasingly, those at the top of Establishment medicine are joining the ranks of whistleblowers like us calling for medicine to be decoupled from the pharmaceutical industry.

Have you been living in a hole for the last however many years, Lynne?

This is not whistleblowing. It’s the self-criticism inherent in any scientific endeavour – this always happens and medicine has never been an exception. Self-criticism is how science gets better; using the self-criticism as a way of asserting bullshit instead, has never improved anything except the profits of the SCAM industry. Continue reading Big Pharma And The Mafia

What ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ really told you

From Tetenterre:

The tacky health-scare magazine self-styled “journal”, What Doctors Don’t Tell You, has been getting a little hot under the collar recently about things that it claims it is reported to have said, but didn’t really say. It’s also been making some rather surprising assertions about other things. Some of these are clearly silly “couldn’t be bothered to check”-type errors, others are more than that. You be the judge. This post will be added to as time and information permits.
The Claim The Reality
McTaggart (said) her journal would accept no advertising – “we have to remain pure” – Not only is approximately a quarter of each issue devoted to advertising (based on June 2013 issue), in February 2013, the Nightingale Collaboration reported that the Advertising Standards Authority had adjudicated against advertising in WDDTY to the tune of 54 CAP-Code breaches. This is in addition to eleven “informally resolved” cases (i.e. the advertising was acknowledged to be in breach of CAP-Codes and was amended voluntarily.)
“…the Nightingale Collaboration, a ragtag group who meet in a pub of the same name…” Errr.. there is no pub called The Nightingale Collaboration.
“…the pharmaceutically backed organization [Simon Singh] fronts, ‘Sense About Science’….” Sense About Science is a charity. Its accounts are therefore open to scrutiny.

Less than 5% of its funding comes from companies; none of these is a pharmaceutical company.

WDDTY complained: “The Times stated: we said vitamin C cures HIV.”
“Five Live followed up with a television debate about our magazine.” Five Live doesn’t do TV debates. (Clue: It is a radio station!)
“It’s also apparent from the information published in The Times and in all the media following that not one journalist or broadcaster has read one single word we’ve written, particularly on the homeopathy story, and for very good reason: the article and the magazine containing it in fact have not yet been published.” Ummm — WDDTY published their claims for homeopathy months ago!And bragged on Facebook about doing so!
(To the Times) “You have no idea yet what we’re going to write about, so how can you say we’re going to write that homeopathy ‘cures’ cancer?” Ummm… Maybe they were referring to a claim WDDTY has already made? (See above)
“Just to clarify yet another lie about us: we are not ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ vaccine.” From WDDTY, June 2013: “The safest interpretation is that the MMR increases the risk of autism by 5 per cent”
“Not one of the newspapers, radio shows or television stations bothered to contact us, even to solicit a comment,,,” The Times journalist who reported on the campaign to get the magazine off supermarket shelves sent this email:

And phoned twice:

(Having had no reply from the “Editorial” department, he next tried “Accounts and General Management”)

“…the Swiss government decided that there is some proof of homeopathy…” It did nothing of the sort! See Zeno’s Blog for what really happened.
“For months, Singh, whose Sense About Science group has the sponsorship of the British Pharmaceutical Association…” If the The British Pharmaceutical Association actually exists and is not just something else made up by McTaggart, it is not a sponsor of Sense About Science.
“[Waitrose] are not one of our stockists” Curious. That’s not what the distributor thinks:

“The letter being sent out by the Times to our readers…” The Times is sending out letters to WDDTY readers?
Really?
Is WDDTY implying that the Times somehow got hold of the WDDTY subscriber database?
Has anyone ever actually seen one of these letters?
What does become apparent is that WDDTY needs some sort of disclaimer on a lot of what it asserts!

WDDTY: November 2013 editorial

This is the editorial from the WDDTY November 2013 issue, with comments.

A small group of people tried to prevent you from reading this issue of What Doctors Don’t Tell You.

This is false. The issue is not whether people read it, but whether it is actively promoted to unwary buyers. Subscribers (to whom the editorial is obviously primarily targeted) would have been unaffected.

They pressurized shops to stop selling our magazine and they were prepared to go to almost any lengths to achieve their aims, including the stage-managing of an ‘independent’ news article in a major newspaper that contained malicious falsehoods about us and our work.

This is false. The only length to which people went was: writing about the dangerous misinformation you promote, and alerting shops to the fact that this dangerous misinformation endangers their customers.

There is no evidence that Tom Whipple’s piece in The Times was “stage-managed”. There is no evidence that it was anything other than his own opinion, i.e. independent, without the need for scare quotes.

Why? Perhaps because we’d announced the next issue as a ‘cancer special’ that would include interesting new research about homeopathy.

No, because you consistently print bullshit. In this case you were promising “interesting new research” on homeopathy for cancer – a well-known and despicable fraud – but as it turned out what you delivered was not new anyway, just warmed-over propaganda.

Although not given any opportunity for right of reply,

This is false. You were contacted before the Times article and before other coverage.

we have published the facts about those allegations

This is false. You have published assertions, many of which have been conclusively proven to be false.

on our websites and Facebook pages, our supporters have offered overwhelming support,

Of course – and anybody not offering unconditional support was summarily banned, because free speech. And then you made false assertions about them being aggressive and bullying. Because you have a persecution complex.

and the story has gone wildly viral across the internet as something of a cause célèbre.

Yes, as a result of this the #WDDTY tag is dominated by people ripping you a new one.

But aside from the issues of censorship and press freedom,

There are no such issues. The right to publish does not confer the right to be stocked by anybody.

Or do you mean your ruthless censorship of dissenting opinion in your Facebook pages?

this subject has great personal meaning to us.

Yes. It’s your source of income.

About 20 years ago, we had our own experience of looking for answers to cancer when Edie, Bryan’s mother, then 78, was suddenly diagnosed with end-stage breast cancer. She’d privately nursed the cancer for several years without telling anyone, let alone seeing a medical professional.

This is a sad fact – believers in alternative woo have scared the shit out of people with horror stories of cancer treatment for so long that people are now more terrified of the doctors than the disease. You must be so proud.

When we finally learned of it and insisted she see her GP, he was shocked when examining her—her breast looked, as he put it, “like raw meat”. So advanced was the cancer that it was too late to try chemotherapy or any other intervention other than powerful painkillers.

This sounds like cancer en cuirasse, a horrible disease that was rarely seen for a generation until the hippy-dippy woo bullshit merchants came along.

Edie had three months to live at the very outside, the GP said to us privately. “And if I were you, I’d get her affairs in order.”

And of course this is the root of many cancer woo anecdotes: medical prognoses are brutal and honest, but they are not something you can mark in the calendar and book the hearse for an advanced discount.

To be honest, we were frightened and far from certain we had any answers. Fortunately, because of our work, we were able to contact WDDTY columnist Dr Patrick Kingsley, a medical pioneer in Leicestershire who has helped people with a variety of conditions, including cancer.

There are many great anecdotes of survivors using “The New Medicine”. I am still wading through them looking for any that are independently verified and published in the peer-reviewed literature. He apparently has the same number of peer-reviewed publications as “The UK’s No. 1 cancer researcher” – i.e. none at all.

We didn’t know how successful he’d be with a case of terminal cancer, but we were encouraged to hear that he ran a local cancer group consisting of many other no-hopers who were apparently outliving the odds. His therapy included high-dose intravenous vitamin C and hydrogen peroxide administered twice a week, and a modified healthy diet free of foods like dairy, wheat and sugar, plus a vitamin supplement programme tailored to the purse and tastes of someone reared on standard British fare.

So he asks how much money you’ve got and then tailors a programme to your wallet? Prince of  a man.

There is no credible evidence that vitamin C megadoses cure cancer.

There is no credible evidence that hydrogen peroxide cures cancer (and I’m damn certain it’s horribly painful for it to be injected intravenously – AT).

You do not describe how a diet of “standard British fare” can be pursued in the absence of dairy, wheat and sugar (as a coeliac I know that simply removing wheat is hard work on its own).

You do not name any other treatments that could have had the effect (woo-believers commonly “forget” to mention that it was woo plus standard of care).

We took Edie for treatment twice a week and, within a month, her breast started to heal. Several months later, Edie’s GP, the one who’d delivered the death sentence on her in the first place, came to examine her and was astonished to see her walking around at all. He took several tests and was rendered speechless. The cancer which had ravaged her breast, which he’d been so sure was beyond hope or treatment, had completely disappeared. Edie lived on for many more years until her husband died and she, divested of any further purpose, died six months after him.

Several, eh? Well, an anecdote from a believer in homeopathy and vitamin C as a cure for AIDS is certainly worth much more than any peer-reviewed publication there.

Worthy alternatives

What’s the point of the story?

The point is exactly the same as the conversion miracle stories of Born Again Christians. It’s to reinforce your faith and recruit others to the fold. Thanks for asking.

It is emphatically not that we believe that everyone with cancer should take vitamin C. A good number of people have had their cancer successfully treated with one of the three standard treatments on offer: chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery. These do sometimes work, especially if the cancer is caught early enough.

By sometimes, you mean in every known and documented case of long-term survival.

By sometimes you mean in excess of 80% 5-year survival for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, testicular cancer, melanoma, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

By sometimes you mean more than 50% 5-year survival for most cancers.

Here are the stats.

So as usual you are bigging up the woo and talking down the medicine.

Neither are we suggesting that people follow any particular course, whether conventional, complementary or alternative. Our job in these pages is not prescriptive but investigative—to dig out the best research we can about the ‘other side of the story’ on both conventional and alternative healthcare to allow our intelligent readers to make their own informed choices and decisions. The point about Edie’s story is that there are non- conventional therapies out there that work. Although the proof of their efficacy may still be ‘clinical’ or ‘anecdotal’— meaning they haven’t been thoroughly tested in a rigorous double-blind trial—that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy

Yes, it really does. If it doesn’t pass properly controlled clinical trials, all you have is opinion. And opinions are like arseholes: everybody has one. And quacks talk out of theirs.

And some alternative therapies are supported by a good deal of published evidence of success.

False. A treatment that has published evidence of success is no longer alternative. It may be emergent, but it is not alternative.

A treatment that has many anecdotes but no evidence will be alternative.

Many thousands of people have personal experience of such anecdotes of complete recovery by taking a treatment path other than the conventional alone.

Allegedly. Funnily enough, though, these claims tend to fail the test of independent replication. Odd, that.

Journalist and author Laura Bond’s mother Gemma—whose story is featured in this issue (page 26)—refused to undergo any conventional treatment for her ovarian cancer. Instead, she tried a smorgasbord of alternatives, from vitamin C and enemas to hyperthermia and ozone therapy, and she’s alive and well today and completely clear of her cancer.

Then that is a world first and needs to be properly studied and written up, because there is precisely bugger-all credible evidence that enemas cure cancer.

Laura has researched the kind of personality traits that make for a cancer survivor (page 27) and also the roles of ozone therapy (page 29) and eliminating dairy products (page 34) in successful cancer treatment.

There is no credible evidence that personality type affects survival, but it does affect quality of life. Believers in woo feel more in control and think they will live longer. In fact, they die sooner, even after adjusting for the fact that they typically present later.

Even homeopathy—that most unlikely alternative therapy which sceptics argue is just so much water and wishful thinking—has shown such considerable promise in its use in India and in US laboratory studies that America’s National Cancer Institute wants to carry out further trials of its own (page 68).

Nope. There is literally no reason to think homoeopathy should work, and literally no way it can.

The claim that NCI is interested is mendacious. Look at homeopathy on their website, it takes you to NCCAM, who damn it with the faintest of faint praise. The Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine is the quackademic division of NCI This is the place that has shown limited interest in the marketing claims you recycle as fact, and they can’t get funding because NCCAM no longer funds studies on homeopathy, considering that they are unethical and a waste of time.

The claim that NCI is interested, originates solely with the Banerjis, whose advertorial makes up the meat of your propaganda.

Are we saying homeopathy can cure cancer? No.

This is false. You have said exactly that and you say it again in this issue, though not necessarily in so many words.

We’re saying that it’s worthy of further investigation. In fact, investigating alternatives is now an imperative.

Your problem is that you never acknowledge a point at which the investigation should be abandoned. NCCAM does: that is why they have stopped funding studies of homeopathy.

For despite all the grandstanding, the pink ribbons and the attempts to cloak cancer treatment in the weighty mantle of science, the fact remains that the vast majority of modern medicine’s arsenal against cancer doesn’t work.

This is false. David Gorski nailed that one recently and the theme is ongoing.

Some cancers can now be treated extremely effectively or cured altogether. Others cannot, at this time. The number of cancer cures that have been originally proposed by the alternative health market in the last 20 years and which have been proven to work is, to the best of my knowledge, zero. The number of early results which have been seized on by the alternative market and promoted as a miracle cure despite subsequent refutation by science, is not zero.

As responsible journalists it’s also our duty not to censor, which includes not censoring that the overall success rate of conventional cancer treatments is just 12 per cent.

If you were responsible journalists, you would not make that false and irresponsible claim. In case you care (which you plainly don’t) about 15 seconds’ Googling brings up the CRUK page which shows an aggregate treatment success rate of 51% for all cancers.

From the orthodox perspective, the War on Cancer is decisively being lost.

The war on cancer was a stupid publicity stunt by Richard Nixon – how many other statements he made are considered to be honest or worthwhile these days?

Advertising mogul Lord Maurice Saatchi arrived at a similar view to ours after watching his wife die from her chemotherapy as much as from her cancer.

And his former sister-in-law’s late husband wrote a powerful and moving book ripping great chunks out of that kind of shit.

He is trying to gain support for a bill that would allow oncologists to try different approaches. Right now they are struck off for straying from the conventional cutting–irradiating–poisoning treatment.

Oncologists don’t need to be “allowed” to do anything, they are perfectly competent to decide the best evidence for themselves. This is pure “health freedom” bullshit: a transparent attempt by quacks to gain access to large pots of money and vulnerable, desperate people.

The Cancer Act has a similar stranglehold over the marketing of cancer therapies. No one can talk about or publish any product or service that features cancer therapy of any description without falling foul of trading standards.

Fucking-A-right. And so it should be.

It exists because of people like you, who place religious devotion to bullshit ideas above the careful process of scientific evaluation.

The entire thrust of medicine over the last hundred years has been to try to separate opinion from fact. The result has been marginalising of those whose opinions are wrong. You and your ilk are trying to roll back the clock and bring about an age of endarkenment.

I hope you fail.