By Keir Liddle
Conspiracy theories about the so called “cancer industry” abound typically promoted by those selling alternative medicines and “natural” therapies it is a central theme used in the defence of the currently infamous Burzynski. A section on Burzynski the movie website describes “the opposition” that many of those who buy into these conspiracy theories believe are holding back the search for effective treatments and cures for cancer. Films have been released decrying the approach of modern medicine to treating cancer and it’s failure to find a cure notably “Cut, Poison, Burn“.
Claims abound that we have thus far done nothing to save people suffering from cancer, that the pharmaceutical industy, the FDA and others are involved in a conspiracy to suppress real treatments and cures so that they can continue to earn billions from chemotherapy and other evidence based treatments.
These claims hinge on the idea that non-toxic “natural” treatments exist that the malignant “big pharma” doesn’t want the public to know about because they cannot patent them. These claims seem ridiculous, laughable even, to anyone with a grounding in science or an understanding of how research works and just how mindbogglingly complex cancer actually is.
The idea of a magic bullet cure for all cancer remains, regrettably, a pipe dream not because of an evil and malevolent conspiracy that cares more for money than people but because cancer is difficult.
Even more worrying is the amount of disinformation presented about evidence based “conventional” treatments like chemotherapy. It doesn’t work, it’s a con, the only reason it still exists is to support the Big Pharma led “cancer industry”. Conspiratorial claims that run counter to everything the medical and scientific literature has to say on the subject. Not to forget that the idea that “chemo doesn’t work” is pretty much a non-argument anyway – What kind of chemo? What kind of cancer? What stage? Is this chemo in conjunction with radiotherapy and/or surgery?
The idea that we have made no progress in treating those affected by cancer is pretty untenable. Evidence based medicine may be a slowly turning wheel but the improvements it has made in cancer treatment have saved thousands of children since the 1970’s. In the sixties just a quarter of children diagnosed with cancer survived the hard work of cancer researchers around the world has turned that figure on it’s head and now three quarters survive. Survival rates for breast cancer have also improved thanks to ongoing research. Yes we have a long way to go before we can say we have bested every type of that many headed beast that is cancer but we will only beat it with research and evidence and arising from science not by chasing the false hope of “so called” natural cures.
To my mind the cancer researchers that these conspiracy theorists demonize as nothing more than shills are engaged in nothing less than a heroic struggle against a complex and deadly foe. But of course I am forgetting that all cancer researchers, oncologists and cancer charities are in the pay of the “cancer industry”.
This is bigger than Kennedy man! Bigger than 9/11!!!!
For all the claims of the cancer conspiracy theorists it is worth remembering that there is another cancer industry. One that worries skeptics, scientists and doctors alike. One that has on the foundations of such conspiratorial leanings promised miracles and salvation to hundreds of desperate and vulnerable people with cancer. Faddish diets are marketed as cures and based on the simplistic notion that “natural good, drugs bad” various natural remedies and treatments are marketed with little or no evidence of efficacy.
One clinic that can perhaps be considered as a part of this disturbing cancer industry is Cancer Institute international. The California based Clinic offers a supposedly “non-toxic” regimen of chemotherapy and supports this not with evidence or peer reviewed research but with anecdotes and a statement from the treatments developer Dr. Kenneth Matsumura. Now it is possible that this treatment is entirely above board and the lack of peer reviewed evidence or even trials into this new treatment are coincidental but the reason given for this paucity of research is not at all convincing in this regard:
The fact is actually, the reason scientists publish medical papers, often with funding from large pharmas, is to get attention of other doctors to whom they hope one day to sell their new drugs to. In the case of Tox-Free, because the advent of Tox-Free will result in 85% of cancer doctors losing their jobs since tox-free is so much faster than conventional chemotherapy, being able to do in four months what conventional cannot do even in three years, we don’t expect to sell Tox-Free to doctors in general, but only to those specially trained and authorized by Tox-Free administration to maintain the high quality required in underlining chemotherapy to achieve its results. Eventually, a global network of elite regional cancer centers will be developed and so really, we don’t have to publish to teach any and every doctor
The above seems nothing more than a barely novel twist on the Cancer Industry conspiracy and as an excuse for not publishing research would be laughable where it not for the fact this clinic is treating patients. It’s entirely understandable that people driven to desperation seek treatment at such clinics but I find it disgusting that there are those who would take advantage of such desperation. I find it morally and ethically appalling that anyone with the title Doctor would promote a miraculous new treatment without the slightest regard for producing evidence of efficacy. As all that means is that if this treatment does work it is being denied to thousands of cancer patients so these private clinics can make a quick buck.
It seems anyone can be cured of cancer by the alternative cancer industry as long as they are willing to pay.
Worryingly given the recent Burzynski affair I fear that Matsumura’s Californian Cancer Institute may have given us a chilling glimpse into the future of antineoplasteon therapy. If there is anything to take from that than I suggest it is that we, as skeptics, scientists and medics, continue to support and promote genuine and reputable research into treatments for cancer and ensuring that we do all we can to expose the lack of evidence for these treatments and the dubious practices of those who offer them.
You can donate to genuine and reputable Cancer Research here.