Cancer. The Big ‘C’. A life-changer. The fear of cancer is one that lingers inside all of us – a mental condition attributed to what we hear in the press, our own personal experiences and the thought of an unseen parasite leeching our body of metabolites to satisfy its own insatiable greed. It’s a big killer and a disease that defines how you live your life from the moment of diagnosis. All I know is that if I get cancer, I want to be treated by medical doctors, using evidence based drugs to best treat my cancer. I definitely would not allow a ‘qualified practitioner’ to give me a sugar pill – proven to be at best no better than a placebo – just because they said it magically remembers chemicals diluted 10 to the power of minus fuckery. I am of course talking about homeopathy.
I’m writing this post because on October 31st the outrageous quack-fest that is ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ will be running an issue on homeopathy and cancer. I’m sure that you are as excited as me to find out what incomprehensible bigotry towards evidence based medicine they have ready to spew onto the glossy pages being stocked at all your favourite retailers. But we don’t have to wait – WDDTY have already blessed us with the ‘knowledge’ that homeopathy can treat and even cure cancer.
Their website carries a story titled “Much more than placebo: Homeopathy reverses cancer”. I can’t read the full text because I am not willing to pay for access but in the quality snippet that’s free there are a fistful of claims such as “homeopathy could be our best defence against cancer” and “Several homeopathic remedies are as effective as powerful chemotherapy, according to clinical trials, and thousands of cancer cases are being reversed by homeopathy alone”. This is of course utter nonsense. There is no evidence that homeopathy is better than chemotherapy and it’s definitely not true that homeopathy ‘reverses’ cancer. If this were the case then drinking water would be the ultimate cure.
WDDTY have also published articles claiming “Homeopathy has a ‘clinically relevant’ effect way beyond placebo” to cancer patients – a claim that was swiftly debunked by the Quackometer and by commentators on the original BMC publication that WDDTY cited. Lynne Mctaggart – the abomination behind WDDTY – also likes to spill anecdotal evidence that homeopathy is all you need to beat cancer and treat your ‘will to live’.
Homeopaths will always come up with trials and studies showing ‘positive’ results and cite genuine articles ‘proving’ that homeopathy works. The problem is that the studies are often not transparent and confounding factors are never taken into account. When you hear someone say ‘look at this trial, the government carried it out, it shows homeopathy cures cancer’ just ask yourself: ‘if this is true – why was there no large-scale follow up trial and why is cancer still the leading cause of death worldwide’.
I have stated before that dealing out advice on medical problems, especially those that are as serious as cancer, with unproven and disproven treatments that have no evidence base is wrong. It’s extremely harmful information that is targeted at those most vulnerable – cancer patients that are clinging on to the hope of a miracle cure. It is because of this that the UK government implemented the Cancer Act 1939, which aims to protect the public from quack scam-artists selling false hope.
The Cancer Act states that ‘No person shall take any part in the publication of any advertisement containing an offer to treat any person for cancer, or to prescribe any remedy therefor, or to give any advice in connection with the treatment’. It will be very interesting to see what WDDTY publishes at the end of October regarding homeopathy and cancer. I for one will be reading intently with the aforementioned statement pinned firmly to the front page.