Ireland is a 'hotbed' of phoney healers luring vulnerable people to alternative medicine 11 months ago

Ireland is a 'hotbed' of phoney healers luring vulnerable people to alternative medicine

This is the cancer killer secret “they” don’t want you to know...

For years “they” have been keeping this from you, lying to you, or worse, they don’t even know they’re not telling you the truth. People are getting rich, lining their pockets by keeping you and your loved ones sick, but finally the real experts have the stunning secret about cancer…ready?

You can try your very best, you can do everything in your power and still, you might get cancer. Some cancers are more treatable than others, some are curable and some are not. “Cancer is a prick and it doesn’t discriminate,” says David Robert Grimes, physicist and cancer researcher at Queens university, Belfast.

We are all born with the chance of developing cancer in our lifetime and by 2020 one in two of us will get cancer in our lifetimes. Younger people have a lower risk and older people have a greater risk because they live longer. During our life we can only increase or decrease that chance of developing cancer through lifestyle choices. “Smoking and drinking alcohol increase the risk. Getting regular exercise and eating a diet of with plenty of fruits and vegetables decrease the risk,” says Dr Robert O’Connor, head of Research at the Irish Cancer Society.

The Harm

But right now in Ireland, there is no law against advertising or promoting miracle cures, nothing to stop faith healers or unqualified specialists tagging their treatments with ‘cancer killer’ or ‘cancer cure’ or promoting diets that are cancer preventative or cancer halting. “It is a huge industry, this quackery,” says Dr Robert O’ Connor, “an estimated 50% of all cancer patients are on some sort of diet and people think, sure what is the harm?”

“The harm,” says Mr. Brian Bird, a consultant oncologist in Cork, “is that an estimated 30% of patients are taking supplements and herbs which they don’t disclose to their medical team and this stuff is bloody dangerous.”

A new bill which aims to crackdown on ‘bogus’ cancer treatments and quack scams is due to be brought forward at the beginning of next month and is being proposed by Kate O’ Connell TD.

The potential implications under this new act of false claims could be a fine and or imprisonment. "We need to protect people," says O'Connell.

Cancer patients often report a feeling like passive passengers during their treatment and want to regain some control over their lives and their health. They do so by taking extracts or supplements to complement their treatment. often something that has been recommended by a friend or a neighbour, says Dr Bird. But there are supplements which actually inhibit the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Something like Green Tea extract, which contains high doses of antioxidants is actually protecting the cancer, and rather than helping the patient, are rendering their chemotherapy less effective.

Seduced

While the majority of patients who use complementary or adjunct medicine use it along with conventional treatments, some are seduced by natural medicine and choose to use it exclusively.

Bird recounts a case where a man with curable lymphoma, who had an 80-90% chance of being cured, rejected conventional medicine in favour of alternative treatment. The man did not survive. In another case in Cork, Bird had a patient who chose alternative methods to begin with and then finally came to Bird for conventional treatment.

In both of these cases, people were lured by an Alkalising treatment, which involves taking high doses of bicarbonate of soda to try and alkalise your urine. Not only is this dangerous but Bird says “if you have cancer and you are using this as a method of treatment, you are basically committing suicide”.

The problems associated with delaying conventional treatment were studied by the Yale School of Medicine in 2017, who found that those who opt for alternative treatments are more likely to die from their disease. They found that people who took alternative medicine, which is also defined as an unproven method of therapy, were two and half times more likely to die within five years of diagnosis. And among patients with breast cancer, the study found that people taking alternative remedies were 5.68 times more likely to die within five years.

"Chemotherapy and radiotherapy whacks you," says David Robert Grimes "there are side-effects, and people are fearful of these side-effects, so when you have others who are promoting natural treatments, it is a seductive idea. That word 'natural' doesn't even mean anything" Grimes describes a scenario whereby people are lured off their conventional treatment to be told an alternative treatment is all they need. "First they say take it with your conventional medicine and then they start to suggest you could just use this amazing, bullshit treatment and what happens, invariably, is people die".

Hotbed for Alternative Medicine

In Ireland there are currently no restrictions on promoting and advertising cancer-fighting treatments or diets which have no scientific backing or founding in evidence. There is no legislation to fine or prosecute those who make false claims as to the benefit of their cure. As such Ireland has been called a hotbed for the sale of alternative and complementary medicine. Once patients begin to research their diagnosis online, they begin to be targeted online for products and tonics to aid their conventional treatments.

The sale of snake-oil remedies is not a new or contemporary phenomenon, but the internet has allowed the spread of false and foolish information to become an airborne contagion, whereby people are bombarded online with bogus and unproven methods of healing.

Vaccinations 

“What we are seeing emerging is so dangerous,” says O’Connell who has received a huge amount of abuse online since she announced her plans for the bill. "Take for example the HPV vaccine," she says. "Not only are parents being sold, completely unproven cures for the side-effects of the vaccine, there are also people offering homeopathic vaccinations for HPV. Parents are being doubly conned, paying money for this and then thinking their daughters and sons are protected against HPV. However the young people themselves will have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer, and right now there is nothing stopping this kind of madness."

“People need to know the difference and be made aware of the difference between real medicine administered by a doctor and Hocus Pocus or witchcraft quackery,” said O’Connell. “At best people are exploited for a few pound, at worst they die a lot sooner than they should, and they end up in the most horrible painful situations."

Patient Experience

For the patient, the experience of online information and peddling of various cures and treatments enhancers can be confusing. Diagnosed with stage-four melanoma, Kay Curtin says she has been “bombarded on social media by ads and articles promoting, anti-cancer diets and supplements. Things pop-up online all of the time and you get drawn in so easily”.

A mother of three, Curtin says, “I would do anything to stay alive for my kids. It is so upsetting when you’re being told Big Pharma is a conspiracy and you read things telling you not to trust your doctor and Big Pharma is trying to keep you sick. I am only alive today because of Big Pharma.”

"Two years ago, a lady who was doing reiki on me, said she spoke to the dead and she knew that the scan results that week were going to be good," says Curtin. "It was so misleading to say that at time when I was so vulnerable".

People who are diagnosed with cancer often go online to research their condition, as a result of this they become identifiable as potential customers for those selling alternative or complementary treatments.

Eileen O’Sullivan was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at the end of January 2013. Since then she says she has seen and been offered treatments including;

- Bicarbaonate of soda in order to treat the ‘fungus’ that is cancer,

-Gerson Therapy, which involves drinking 20 pounds of organic fruit juice daily and up to 5 coffee anemas daily

-Turmeric, Graviola and Paw Paw supplements,

-Homeopathy

-Frankinsence essence,

-Black salve

-Budwig protocol

-Vibration Energy Therapy

O’ Sullivan says, “You go online, and there is a deluge. It is very hard to avoid it and before you know it your inbox is inundated and you’re getting sponsored targeting on Facebook and Twitter from commercial organisations trying to fool you."

Restrictive Diets

The lure of cancer preventative diets and cancer fighting diets is one that has proved magnetic for many Irish cancer patients. “Many of these remedies, whether it is mistletoe extract or the ketogenic diet,” says Dr Robert O’ Connor, “revolve around diet. An estimated 50 per cent of all cancer patients in the country are on some sort of restrictive diet that hasn’t been medically advised.”

“The result of these restrictive diets, which often cut out an entire food group is dramatic weight loss,” says Dr Ruth Kilcawley, one of the 25 oncology dieticians in the country. “If a patient loses more than 5% of their body weight it will have a negative effect on their treatment. I am seeing some patients losing up to 20% of their body weight on these restrictive diets. These patients are much more likely to suffer during chemotherapy,” says Kilcawley.

“All cancer patients that lose weight, and 50% of cancer patients do lose weight, should be referred to an oncology dietician, but very few of them are,” says Kilcawley. “This leads to a void of information for people where they aren’t given a proper or comprehensive dietary plan to support them through their treatment”.

The ‘void’ Kilcawley is referring to is full of alternative sources of information from the internet, cookbooks and media.

“People assume someone who has written a book or is on the radio is an expert. There is an assumption of knowledge but it is just not the case. This is a huge industry and at the bottom of every dietary approach or cure there is someone making money from this” says Kilcawley.

The Allure

The impact of these diets can be more than a physical effect, they can also foster a huge sense of guilt and responsibility on the part of the patient.

“I am thinking of one patient, a young woman who ate a slice of cake. The following week she had a scan and it showed her cancer had developed further. “This woman could not get it out of her head, the guilt that she had some role in this” says Kilcawley.  “But diet cannot treat cancer. All diet can do is support someone’s body through treatment, maintain muscle and manage weight”.

The consistent allure of a secret no one is telling you or a method of treatment that is being suppressed in order to keep sick people sick, is “nothing but conspiracy” says David Robert Grimes.

The consensus in the medical industry is encapsulated in the words of the late actor Patrick Swayze who died of pancreatic cancer in 2009: “If anybody had a cure out there like so many people swear to me they do, you'd be two things: you'd be very rich, and you'd be very famous. Otherwise, shut up”.