Category: Cancer

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The Gerson protocol, cancer, and the death of Jess Ainscough, a.k.a. “The Wellness Warrior”

Less than four days ago, a young Australian woman died of a very rare type of cancer. Most of my American and probably many of my European readers have never heard of her, but in Australia she had become quite famous over the last seven years as a major proponent of “natural health.” Her name was Jess Ainscough, but, like a certain...

/ March 2, 2015

The Hippocrates Health Institute: Cancer quackery finally under the spotlight, but will it matter?

I first came across Brian Clement, the proprietor of the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida, a little more than a year ago based on the story of Stephanie O’Halloran. Ms. O’Halloran was—word choice unfortunately intentional—a 23-year-old mother of an 18 month old child from Ireland who was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in 2013, with metastases to her...

/ February 23, 2015

Facing Decline and Death

Note: Atul Gawande and his book will be featured on a Frontline episode airing on PBS tonight. We’re all going to die. (There’s nothing like starting on a positive note! 🙂 ) We’re all going to die, and if we are fortunate enough to survive long enough to become old, we’re all going to experience a decline of one sort or another...

/ February 10, 2015

Screening for disease in people without symptoms: The reality

One of the most contentious questions that come up in science-based medicine that we discuss on this blog is the issue of screening asymptomatic individuals for disease. The most common conditions screened for that we, at least, have discussed on this blog are cancers (e.g., mammography for breast cancer, prostate-specific antigen screening for prostate cancer, ultrasound screening for thyroid cancer), but screening...

/ February 2, 2015

Another Misguided Cancer Testimonial

An economic analyst, Mike “Mish” Shedlock, wrote a blog post to describe how he beat prostate cancer. When laymen and patients write about cancer, they are likely to get some things wrong. Mish’s story is full of typical misunderstandings and misinterpretations. He interpreted his experience in his own way and did his own research into the medical literature, something he was not...

/ January 27, 2015

An aboriginal girl dies of leukemia: Parental “rights” versus the right of a child to medical care

One topic that keeps recurring and obligating me to write about it consists of critically analyzing stories of children with cancer whose parents, either on their own or at the behest of their child, stop or refuse chemotherapy or other treatment. It is, sadly, a topic that I’ve been discussing for nearly a decade now, starting first on my not-so-super-secret other blog...

/ January 26, 2015

Is cancer due mostly to “bad luck”?

One of the more difficult conversations to have with a patient as a cancer doctor occurs when a patient, recently informed of her diagnosis of, for example, breast cancer, asks me, “Why did I get this? What caused it?” What almost inevitably follows is an uncomfortable conversation in which explanations of the multiple known causes of breast cancer do not satisfy the...

/ January 5, 2015

Risks of CAM Treatments for Cancer

“What’s the harm?” is an insidious idea when used as a justification for unscientific medical treatments. The argument is typically put forward with the assumption that direct physical harm is the only type of harm that can result from such treatments, so as long as they aren’t toxic there is no downside to trying them. Harm comes in many forms, however: delayed...

/ December 10, 2014

The Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine

Steve still happens to be galavanting about Australia, spreading science, skepticism, and, of course, science-based medicine Down Under. Given that, he has been unable to produce new content for today. Never one to let such an opportunity pass, I decided to take advantage in order to do a little shameless self promotion. A week and a half ago, I gave a talk...

/ December 3, 2014

Selling “integrative oncology” as a monograph in JNCI

Sometimes, it’s hard not to get the feeling that my fellow bloggers at Science-Based Medicine and I are trying to hold back the tide in terms the infiltration of pseudoscience and quackery into conventional medicine, a term I like to refer to as quackademic medicine. In most cases, this infiltration occurs under the rubric of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), which these...

/ December 1, 2014