Cancerfighter’s Weblog

Alternative cancer therapies and ideas

Archive for August, 2013

Why do ‘blacks’ have more cancer and worse cancer outcomes than ‘whites’.

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on August 27, 2013


Why do ‘blacks’ have more cancer and worse cancer outcomes than ‘whites‘.

OK. Don’t blame me for the terminology – any ‘pinks’, ‘olives’, or ‘yellows’ out there? But there it is. US cancer statistics distinguish between African-American cancer rates and death rates compared with Caucasians – but don’t appear to collect similar data for Chinese-Japanese-Korean-or-Indian-Americans and not even Native American-Americans. What is clear from the data is that not only do African-Americans have worse cancer rates they have worse outcomes – some details in this article:
http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AACR/38302

Note that at the beginning of the article they appear to rule out genetic causes (“But a study presented here appears to rule out one possible explanation — differences by race in the genetic subtype of the disease.”) but at the end of the article they say more genetic research needs to be done on a bigger population (ie more money – give me money).

Now, I am going to make a suggestion as to what the problem might be that might explain the situation without recourse to genetic research. Could it be the blackness (or let’s put this slightly differently – the relative darkness) of their skins that is to blame. Why might this be the problem? Because the whole point of the darkness of the skin is to block out ultra violet light. So if two men are standing in the sun for half an hour the one with the lighter skin is going to get more vitamin D protection than the one with the darker skin. We know that vitamin D is very important for health and as a disease fighter. So might this problem be solved by people with very dark brown or black skins taking say 5,000 iu of vitamin D a day.

A very simple test to determine whether it is skin colour or African genes would be to take South Indians as one control group and Brazilians as another. But, on second thoughts, that might not work because there are important dietary differences between these groups. If this could be factored in then I think we would have a research project that wasn’t sexy, cutting edge, gene stuff – but which might actually be useful.

(c) Jonathan Chamberlain 2013

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Should children be forced to undergo chemo and radiation?

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on August 26, 2013


The arguments for: That this is the only treatment that will work? (unproven); That the child will die if treatment isn’t given? (unproven); that doctors have a duty to do everything in their power to ensure patients get the best medical treatment? (if this were true then there would be no grounds for refusing treatment to those who cannot pay.)

The arguments against: Adults should never be allowed to cause pain or damage to children – no matter what their motives are or how beneficial the intended result will be. Chemo and radiation cause extreme nausea, pain and life-long damage. Teachers are not allowed to cane students even though some form of discipline would have a long term benefit for the child. Why should doctors be empowered to impose far greater pain and damage? In other circumstances this kind of coercion would be called torture. Why should doctors be empowered to impose torture? Do children not have basic rights? Is there not a presumption that parents want the best for their children? There are reason-based, evidence-based therapies that are non-damaging and parents should be allowed to access these as they would be able to for themselves.

It is dangerous to give any section of society – police, doctors, firemen, road sweepers – the ability to dictate what families must do to ensure people live in the right way, in health or any other area of life. If the actions of parents cause pain and long term damage they should be prosecuted for this. The law should be empowered only to stop abuse but not empowered to impose some form of ideal behaviour (no matter how good that behaviour might be) So doctors, if their actions are direct causes of un-volunteered-for pain and damage they too should be prosecuted.

That this is an issue fo some importance can be seen from the following:

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/headlines/akron-hospital-locked-legal-battle-parents-denying-their-daughter-chemotherapy#comment-190048

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The Amazing Cancer Kid

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on August 22, 2013


Connah Broom has lived with cancer for the last 8 years. His remarkable story – with lessons for everyone who is concerned about cancer and its treatment (especially among children).

The book that tells his story will appear soon. As we are gearing up for the marketing – Connah is about to start secondary school (7 years after the doctors told the family he would be dead within weeks or at most a few months). Here Jim has answered a few questions put to him by a local reporter:

Connah will be starting at Prestatyn High School in Sept and he is really looking forward to it. We are on holiday at the moment and the other day he said only 2 more weeks and I’ll be at High School” So even on holiday he is thinking about it..

No one can say what the future holds for Connah. Nueroblastoma is such a persistent and aggressive disease that we take every day as it comes and only make tentative plans for the future. However we try and be positive for the future and Connah has said that he would like to be a Policeman, he loves watching ” murder mysteries” and always tries to work out ” who did it” before anyone else.

Connah’s overall medical condition is classed as “stable” . However to look at him you would not think that he was ill. His school attendance for last year was 96%. He participates in all school physical activities, has won medals for “Street Dance, Hip Hop and Duet” with Prestatyn Dance Studio, plays football for Prestatyn Athletic Football Team and enjoys swimming, so on the whole although still having a 5cm – 5cm tumour in his stomach he is doing very well. Even though he has never been in ” remission”.

We are really happy that he has reached high school, but we are worried as its a big step and we feel that we will have a lot less contact with him whilst he is there. We have built up a really good rapport with Bodnant Community School the Teachers and staff and thank them very much for all there support and assistance during Connah’s last five years there.

Our motive for writing the book was to inform people of Connah’s story and to highlight how once you start to question what is being done with regards to medical treatment and to research other options the people who you believe are there to help and support you soon turn there backs on you. However our GP has been incredibly supportive to us and we thank him for that.

We want other families to know that whilst there children are being treated in the hospital there are things that they can do to help them through and even reduce some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy. Also there are alternatives to look at rather than giving up to the Doctors final statement ” There is nothing more we can do, just go home and enjoy the time you have left”!

Our motto is “Never Give Up”!

Here is a link to the first news report in his local newspaper http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/health/schoolboy-who-fought-11-tumours-5780540

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People still suffering from radiation treatments

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on August 22, 2013


For anyone contemplating radiation treatment for their cervical cancer then I urge you to read the posts in this forum. This is a subject very close to my heart as my wife died in part from the impacts of her chemo and radiation. Let me tell you straight. There are other ways – as you will read in my books. Please be sensible.

https://www.inspire.com/groups/national-cervical-cancer-coalition/discussion/late-effects-of-radiation-therapy-for-cervical-cancer/?
msg_activity=reply_posted&reply_id=4407689

As a postscript I just got an email from my friend Jan whose arm is crumbling from progressive radiation damage that has left her right arm useless for the last 30 years.

“I took a really bad tumble yesterday, ended up A&E squashed vertibrae etc etc. All the staff showed horror at state of my shoulder and arm until I told them the cause then they completely disregarded – my daughter was astounded at change of attitude.”

For further details about the kind of damage radiation can cause read The Cancer Survivor’s Bible at www.fightingcancer.com

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Fifty Shades of Cancer – update

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on August 12, 2013


fiftyshadesofcancer - Kindle
Having uploaded my Fifty Shades of Cancer to Kindle and Kobo I suddenly realised that I had a few important insights that I hadn’t included that really needed to be included and that some of the others could be shuffled to one side to make room, So, for those who have already bought the book here are the bits that I have added in. And for those who haven’t here is a taster of what’s in the book.

43. Is evidence-based medicine all it seems?
Doctors use the phrase ‘evidence-based medicine’ to define what they do. There is a clear inference here that everything that they do is supported by strong evidence and everything they reject is unsupported by such evidence. But this is not true.
This subject is extraordinarily complicated – too complex to discuss in a few short paragraphs (I have given a lengthy discussion of this in The Cancer Survivor’s Bible) but among the issues that are raised is the question of anecdotal evidence and what credence we should give to it. Anecdotal evidence is evidence based on what someone else has reported. “I heard of someone who…” There is also the issue of what credence we should give to our own direct experience.
Now, I have seen news reports that announce that ‘research proves that vitamin C does not cure colds’. I have also twice had the experience of feeling a flu come on and immediately I have started throwing vitamin C down my throat at a rate of one gram per hour – actually two or three 1,000mg tablets every two-to-three hours – and by the following morning I have been right as rain, completely clear headed (despite a few hours earlier feeling completely bunged up). So should I listen to the newspapers or to my own direct experience?
I think you can guess the answer. Among my friends I am known as Mr Vitamin C. Whatever the problem I am likely to recommend (among other things) large doses of vitamin C. One friend of mine once complained of the heavy cold she had so I went into my mantra.
“But I’m already taking large doses of vitamin C,” she said. “I take one of those big tablets every day.”
“Every hour,” I said.
“Every hour?” I could see the shock in her eyes.
“You can’t overdose,” I explained.
A week later she said to me: “I did what you said and I could just feel the cold going away.”
OK. Where have we come? The problem is this. I have direct experience of the power of vitamin C (and no it is not that I am susceptible to the placebo response) so I am happy to disbelieve any attempts to rubbish it. My friend did not have direct experience but she decided I was a good source of information, so on my say-so she increased her intake. Now let us suppose that she had told a friend of hers “My friend Jonathan says to take lots of vitamin C” – then the friend of the friend is more remote from the source of information so he or she will have less confidence in the truth (and indeed the information may have become tainted in some way) – so this is one reason that anecdotal evidence needs to be treated with some caution.
However…
Doctors and scientists frame the issue as one of ‘truth’. What is the truth about vitamin C, for example? In that case, it is perfectly reasonable to be suspicious, as they are, of anecdotal reports. That doesn’t mean these anecdotes are useless. It just means they are low-level evidence. But as we have seen anecdotes are not equal in their evidential force. The closer we are to the person who is telling the story, the more we know about the person, the stronger the evidence becomes because we will tend to trust the source more. That is why
But for the patient who has to make a decision the issue is not: Is it true or not true? The issue is: Should I do this or not do this? It is a decision-making issue, not a true-false issue,
Why does this make a difference?
We accept that there is a great deal of uncertainty in our lives. We accept that a book or film or restaurant may be disappointing despite being enthusiastically recommended by a friend. We accept that there is risk in deciding to marry this person or that – but there is also a benefit. We have to balance the risk against the benefit.
So, it is perfectly reasonable to take vitamin C for your cold, for example, on the principle of ‘suck it and see’. Just do it and see if it works. If it does, that’s good and if it doesn’t well at least you tried and now you know.
When we approach it in this way we do not require absolute proof that it is effective, we just require that there is some reasonable possibility of this based on some evidence no matter how flimsy. Obviously, if we are wise, we will balance this consideration against the possible pain and damage that might result. Or the cost involved.
In the case of vitamin C there are no down-sides. Vitamin C will not in any way, at any dose, be harmful, certainly not in the short term, and as for cost, it is very cheap. A big potential plus against a non-existent minus. So this is a no-brainer. (Note: when I talk of vitamin C I am NOT talking about those fizzy orange tablets but ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate powder that I get from a major online supplements supermarket in the States – there are a number of these. (I use iherb.com.)
Chemotherapy however offers a different equation. It might offer in the case of testicular cancer a 96% possibility of cure (the positive) against a great deal of pain and damage (the negative) or it might offer – as low as a 2.5% possibility of cure (as my wife was quoted) but it requires the sale of your house to pay for it as well as a high risk of permanent damage.
Each of us will make different decisions in the face of these facts – and that is as it should be.
So, a true-false question might come up with an answer based on proof. There is no proof that will determine whether a decision is absolutely right or wrong.
By the way, it should be noted here that the general consensus is that 80 per cent of what doctors do is NOT based on strong evidence. There is no evidence, for example, supporting the benefit of being in a hospital (and quite a lot of evidence suggesting that being in a hospital is a health risk on its own) – but this doesn’t stop doctors recommending that very sick people should go to hospital.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
Helen Keller

44. Anecdotal evidence and placebo cures
The issue of whether anecdotal evidence is useful arouses extreme passions in discussion forums. Some people assume that anecdotal evidence is false evidence, that if someone claims a benefit that is not supported by proof that it is false – either they are lying or they have experienced a placebo cure, which wouldn’t count.
My response to the first claim is to say – try it yourself. See if it works. Anecdotal evidence can be a useful signpost.
My response to the second objection is this: If X produces a benefit to me, and if that benefit is a response to the placebo effect and not to X itself, then give me X not because it is effective but because it will create a placebo effect. Placebo effects are good. If it takes X to trigger this effect then X is good.

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.
Walt Whitman

45. Evidence-based medicine (part 2)
I want to tell you a story about lavender essential oil. In our house, while the kids were growing up, we called this magic oil. And it is magic. I have often cut myself in the kitchen, often quite deeply with blood gushing out and I have then poured lavender oil liberally over the wound and repeated this over say five to ten minutes. Half an hour later the cut will have completely healed itself and there will be no pain or even sensitivity and nor is there any issue of the wound going septic. This is also true of any burn. The pain will quickly go.
A friend of mine had a large steam burn on his hand that was still open and festering three days later. I poured lavender oil over this wound and within an hour there were clear signs of it healing. Within a week it had scabbed over and dropped off leaving no sign of an injury.
I was directed once to the US National Cancer Institute’s database of herbs and their effects. I looked up lavender and the consensus opinion was that it was not very effective. I emailed them and asked them to do a simple experiment. I asked them to cut themselves and pour lavender oil over the cut and then an hour later to come back to me and say it was not effective. Their reply was that several professors had said that it was not effective so that wording would stay.
Does that sound ‘evidence-based’ to you? Our direct experience is surely the strongest evidence there can be (certainly for ourselves). We know that research can be tinkered with and so we cannot really be sure that what is ‘proved to be true’ really is true – so we have to judge it.
The problem is that we live in an uncertain world. Demanding certainty in this world is bound to lead to disappointment. We just have to assess carefully the evidence from all sources and then make our decision on our own estimation of the risks and costs on the negative side against the benefits on the other.
It was the French philosopher Pascal who came up with the formulation of this by arguing that even if it was 99.99 per cent certain that God did not exist, we still needed to believe in Him because that is the only way to get to heaven (if heaven exists). For Pascal, it was not necessary to have proof of God’s existence before he would agree to believe. I would say the same to those who argue against alternative therapies. Heaven (in this case the possibility of cure without crippling pain and the strong likelihood of long term harm) can only be reached by means of the alternative therapies. But each of us has to make that decision for ourselves.

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
Carl Sagan

46. Evidence-based medicine (part 3)
There is evidence that conventional treatment shortens lives. A medical statistician by the name of Hardin Jones calculated that the average cancer patient was likely to live four times longer if they did nothing for their cancer than if they did something. This conclusion has never been rebutted.

“My studies have proved conclusively that untreated cancer victims actually live up to four times longer than treated individuals,” Dr. Hardin B. Jones told MIDNIGHT Magazine.
“For a typical type of cancer, people who refused treatment lived for an average of 12 1/2 years. Those who, accepted surgery and other kinds of treatment lived an average of only three years!
“Beyond a shadow of a doubt, radical surgery on cancer patients does more harm than good.”…He has traveled the world collecting data on the dreaded disease, and presented his findings to the American Cancer Society and medical schools.
Asked why ‘the medical world has ignored his findings, he replied: “Frankly, I don’t know the reasons. But they have probably become caught up in the tidal wave of individuals demanding treatment.” (quoted from http://www.rethinkingcancer.org)

I certainly know that in the case of my wife, she could not have died faster if she had done nothing. So doing nothing for your cancer is a perfectly reasonable strategy.
Scare tactics
However, say this to a doctor and you will get a response like this: “One of my patients refused to do conventional treatments and a year later she died”. And this is very possible. People with cancer do die. But the doctor doesn’t tell you about the patients who have followed his advice to have conventional treatments and have then died. The fact that a patient has died does not invalidate the journey they have travelled whichever way that is.

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
John Ruskin

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

47. Just imagine
Just imagine that I announced to the world that I had a new treatment. It would cure something like 5-15% of all cancers but that it would cause immense pain, would seriously damage health and would be extremely expensive. Would such a treatment be welcomed? I think not. But this is the situation today with chemotherapy. If it were a new treatment it would be rejected out of hand but because it is an old established treatment it must be persisted with. Does that make sense?

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.
Jimmy Dean

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