Cancerfighter’s Weblog

Alternative cancer therapies and ideas

The Question of Proof

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on August 12, 2008

The Question of ‘Proof’


The standard rejection of so-called ‘Alternative’ approaches to cancer treatment is that they are ‘unproven’ that they have never been tested, that they are based solely on faith. This is such a deviant view of the situation that it needs to be rebuffed.


First we need to understand what ‘proof’ means in a medical context. It has one meaning only: that the drug, therapy or procedure has been compared with a placebo in a double-blind clinical trial. Anything that has not been subjected to such a procedure is ‘unproven’. One might add that the person or institution establishing the truth should be highly respected – otherwise  the ‘proof’ may be taken with a pinch of salt.


It is true that most ‘alternative’ approaches to treating cancer are unproven by this measure – but so too are most mainstream methods of cancer treatment.


Surgery is entirely unproven as is radiation therapy. Neither of these procedures has ever been subjected to a double-blind clinical trial. In the case of surgery it is hard to imagine indeed how it could be tested in this way. Chemotherapy, on the other hand, has – for the vast majority of cancers – been absolutely disproven as an effective therapy. Against this for a handful of cancers it has been proven to have a degree of effectiveness – in some cases a very high degree. Nevertheless, for the vast majority of the cancers for which it is prescribed it is known to be useless.


If proof cannot be demonstrated for a drug, therapy or procedure then we must reduce our requirements slightly and seek not proof but evidence.


Evidence can be of various kinds. It can be based on personal experience, lab tests or animal studies. It can be anecdotal, statistical, or based on epidemiological analyses. All of these are capable of providing support for or against any therapeutic proposition. We may, for example, decide that surgery is appropriate because doctors have used it effectively for many years with a reasonable degree of effectiveness or (this is entirely invented) we can reject surgery on the basis that  the five people we knew who had surgery died faster than the one person we knew who opted for other approaches. Both of these are evidence-based approaches and it is really a psychological matter as to which carries most force for us. There is no way of determining objectively which of the two responses to surgery is more correct.


On this basis, there is a vast amount of theoretical and experimental support for the vast majority of herbs, supplement and vitamins – and even some of the energy machines. The story of Rife’s machine has at its heart the suppression of experimental results favouring the use of the machine.


So, to put it simply, neither surgery nor radiation have any better ‘scientific’ support than do high dose IV vitamin C therapy or PolyMVA, to take two examples of alternative therapies off the top of my head. That’s the simple truth of it.


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