Monday, July 20, 2009


The article appearing in the July 20 edition of the paper is misleading. I agree with that exercise and balanced diet is healthy. However, with the other claims that the founder of the group is making, they are misleading at best and bogus at worst.
As for the claims for breast cancer, I am happy that she survived that disease, but alluding to the alternative medicine as the reason is not proof of their effectiveness. Over the years we have gotten better at treatment and survival has improved dramatically due to scientific medicines advances. Thirty to forty years ago only 30% of breast cancer patients survived 5 years. It has more than doubled since then. The surgery itself my have been all that she really needed. The radiation and chemotherapy is to catch the micro metastasis that we cannot detect, she probably had none. Chelation therapy is using a chemical to bind metal ions. It is used in medicine to treat metal toxicities, such as too much iron, lead poisoning etc. It has been around for years. In the last 25 years or so alternative practitioners have been using it for a wide array of diseases. I have seen pamphlets touting its use in treatment of heart disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, diabetes, and at least twenty more. Each disease is known to have a different cause and pathology. So one treatment based on binding of metal ions is supposed to cure all of them? If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is! It is now also be used to treat autism. Autism is caused by genetics etiologies that cause a problem in development in certain areas of the brain. There have been children reported in the medical literature who have died from chelation.
Next, laetrile has been around since the 1970’s. I had an aunt who got breast cancer then. Her son wanted her to go to a clinic in Tijuana Mexico for laetrile treatment. It would have cost $20,000, which was more than my uncle, a mechanic, could have afforded. My cousin sent a pamphlet published by the clinic. It had some biochemical reactions in it. I took it to a biochemist professor of mine and we looked up those reactions. Three did not exist any where in the literature. They were made up. Laetrile is derived from apricot pits. The active ingredient in those pits is cyanide! Laetrile is not a vitamin, so called B-17, it is a poison! Many have tried it, but you do not hear about the failures. There are many and the most famous is Steve McQueen the actor. He had mesothelioma and went to that same clinic for laetrile treatment. He died within months. Cancer is a spectrum of disease with many causes, so one treatment for all is not the answer, especially if the basis for its so called mode of action is questionable at best.
Vaccines are some the most effective and safest preventative treatments we have. Andrew Wakefield did some colonoscopies with biopsies on some children with autism. He found measles particles in the biopsies he said. Only recently has it been know that he was paid by lawyer to come up with evidence to use against vaccine companies. His co authors withdrew their names from the publication due to questionable practices in his research. His results have not been reproduced any where in the world. Thimerosal has been taken out of vaccines in 2000. Autism rates continued to rise despite that. Thimerosal is a preservative used in only some flu vaccines now. It has mercury in it but in a form that is eliminated from the body and in amounts smaller than what you take in every day in some food. A very large study done in Italy couple years ago showed no relationship between thimerosal and autism in thousands of children. The incidence of autism has stabilized around 1 in 150 now. We have gotten better at diagnosis and the criteria for diagnosis. Autism is a spectrum of disorders that presents around the time children get vaccines. When celebrates discourage vaccines then our children are hurt. What basis they have for their recommendations, none. But celebrity sells. To date, from CDC data: 46,969 preventable illnesses and 197 preventable deaths have occurred in children not immunized. The epidemics of the past, polio, measles, mumps, whooping cough, and diphtheria among others are still out there and ready to strike if we let our guard down. This is criminal and the so called authorities who encourage no vaccination should be held criminally and civilly libel!
The NIH has been doing a lot studies trying to find if many different kinds of alternative medicines are effective. This came out couple months ago. The answer is no. A lot of them appear to work, that is placebo effect. Wanting something to work or making it up doesn’t mean it will work. That is why we use the scientific method to find out. The argument that doctors and big pharma are behind it because it will affect their profits is a blatant lie and smoke screen. The pushers of alternative medicine themselves are selling their wares! What makes them not in it for the money?

Skeptical DoDo

No comments: