(Investigator 159, 2014
suggest that cancer is a recent development caused by environmental
toxins. However, it is not.
The exorcising of tumours was practised in India 4,000 years ago. Early
Egyptians treated tumours with an ointment of arsenic and vinegar, and
caustic salves have been used since ancient times.
between benign and malignant tumours in the 5th. century B.C., and in
the 7th. century A.D., Paul of Aegina correctly stated that cancer can
arise in any internal or external part of the body.
cancer research may
be said to date from 1775, when Percival Pott attributed chimney
sweeps' cancer of the skin to soot. However, it was not until M. F. X.
Bichat deduced, and Johannes Müller established in 1838, the fact
that tumours represent a proliferation of cells.
development of the
microscope opened the way for cancer research proper, and great
developments immediately resulted, especially from Rudolf Virchow's
1858 application of the cell theory to pathology.
second half of the
19th. century, industrial hazards such as tar, paraffin, azo dyes,
lubricating oil and chromate dust came to be recognised as
carcinogenic, and more recently, radiation and asbestos.
progress has been made in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers, and
since the 1970s considerable effort has been expended toward the
development, control and elimination of cancer by immunotherapy.
cancers, if diagnosed
early in their development and treated with proven methods of surgery,
radiation, or chemotherapy, can be cured. However, cancer still kills
half the people who get it.
people who do cancer
management, such as legitimate oncologists, are both sincere in their
beliefs and well trained in their profession. Unfortunately there are
those using unproven therapies who would trade on the misfortune of
others. Regardless of motivation, the end result is the same -- the
terminally ill waste their precious time and money on false hopes, and
potentially curable patients die from delay of proper treatment.
tumours are an abnormal and unrestrained new growth in cells and
tissues that produce deleterious and often fatal effects. The causative
factors include environmental exposure, genetic disposition and
caused by nutritional deficiency according to herbalists; a yin
disease according to acupuncturists; unbalanced doshas
according to the proponents of ayurvedic medicine; stress is proposed
as a cause by Transcendental Meditation advocates, and precondition for
the disease is suggested by those recommending vitamin and mineral
includes surgery, radiation (linear accelerators, betatrons and
radioactive cobalt-60 teletherapy apparatus) and chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy makes use of ionising radiations such as X-rays,
particles (electrons, neutrons and pi-mesons), and gamma rays, to
destroy cells by impairing their capacity to divide.
a combination of drugs is more suitable than radiation for some types
of cancer. Other types can be treated with both, or in the case of
multiple carcinomas of the superficial layers of the skin, by the
application of cancer-drug ointments.
offers a wide variety of non¬proven cures ranging from meditation
to mega-doses of vitamins.
and medical technology in the 20th. century have relegated many cancers
to the status of a curable disease rather than a death sentence.
"Alternative" therapies however remain unproven, and in many cases, are
principal danger in
resorting to unproven therapies is that standard treatment, that has
been proven effective, may be abandoned in favour of something that is
desperate for a
quick cure become vulnerable and are exploited by claims of "natural"
and "non-toxic" therapies. As a result of this diversion, many patients
needlessly die. Practitioners promote life-style practices and
therapeutic procedures for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of
cancer which have not been proved safe or effective. Unfortunately, the
terminology used and the way quack cures are promoted often makes the
unconventional method seem attractive.
unproven cancer therapies include: Antineoplastons promoted by
Stanislaw R. Burzynski who claimed that it was a substance able to
"normalise" cancer cells that are constantly being produced within the
body. A 1992 analysis concluded that antineoplastons had not been
proven to normalise tumour cells.
a liquid claimed
to cure cancer and several other diseases by "lowering the voltage of
the cell structure by about 20%", causing cancer cells to "digest" and
be replaced by normal cells. Laboratory tests conducted between 1978
and 1991 by the National Cancer Institute found no evidence that
CanCell was effective against cancer.
backwards) is a herbal remedy promoted as a cancer cure by Rene M.
Caisse, a Canadian nurse. When Caisse died in 1978, the recipe was
passed on to the Resperin Corporation which has made millions of
dollars selling it. The mixture consists of burdock, rhubarb, sheep
sorrel, and slippery elm and shows no anti-tumour activity in animals
by Canada's Bureau
of Human Prescription Drugs of patients who used Essiac under a policy
that allows cancer patients to use unproven remedies found nothing that
made Essiac appear effective.
extract from apricot pits and other stone fruits was widely promoted
variously as a preventative, cure and a control for cancer. In 1982,
clinical trials were begun by the Mayo Clinic and three other U.S.
cancer centers under the National Cancer Institute's sponsorship. Of
178 patients, not one was cured or stabilised, and none had any
lessening of any cancer-related symptoms.
Cartilage was given a
boost on a 60 Minutes programme in 1993. Biochemist/entrepreneur I.
William Lane, Ph.D., co-author of the book Sharks Don't Get Cancer,
claimed that powdered shark cartilage inhibits the growth of new blood
vessels needed for the spread of cancer. A study reported at the annual
meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in May 1997, found
shark cartilage ineffective against advanced cancer in adults with a
life expectancy of at least 12 weeks.
made by alternative
health practitioners in relation to cancer cures can be found under
several headings in this book and in the appendix "Gizmos, gadgets,
pills and potions", dealing with quack claims.
(Ed.) 1980. The Health Robbers: How to protect your money and your
life. Geo. F. Strickley Co., Philadelphia.
Block, J. B., and Lee, S. 1972. Controlled studies in Clinical Cancer
Research, New England Journal of Medicine. 287:75-78.
Reports Books. 1980. Health Quackery: Consumers' Union's Report on
False Health Claims, Worthless Remedies and Unproven Therapies.
Holt, Rinehart and Winston. New York.
Kennedy, B.J. 1992. Prevalence of questionable cancer treatment in the
United States. CA-A Cancer J Clinic, 1992. 42:181-91.
Office of Technological Assessment. 1990. Unconventional Cancer
Treatments. U.S. Govt. Printing Office.
Representatives Report. 1984. Quackery: A $10 Billion Scandal.
Bames. U.S. Govt. Printing Office.
(From: Edwards, H. 1999 Alternative,
Complementary, Holistic & Spiritual Healing, Australian