Cancerfighter’s Weblog

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Posts Tagged ‘chemotherapy’

The Tap Water issue

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on March 14, 2015

Kathy Downer’s story

Kathleen Downer was happily settled in her married life when, in 1983, over a ten week period both her husband and daughter were diagnosed with cancer – testicular and the ALL form of leukemia.

Kathleen knew from local gossip that there were a number of other cases of childhood leukemia in the village and the neighbouring village where she lived near Bournemouth (south England). Thinking that there might be some common factor with all these cases, she found the addresses of a dozen families and went and paid a visit. It quickly became apparent to her that there was an odd thing that was common. 10 out of the twelve families lived at the end of a cul de sac.

Deciding to expand her investigations she managed to get the addresses of 67 families affected by cancer within a wider area (mainly in response to an article in her local newspaper). Of these 37 were at the end of cul de sacs – a further 12 were the first house in the street next to the corner house, a further 12 had a fire hydrant outside the door. Thinking about these features her suspicions rested on the water supply and she made enquiries of the local water boards. She soon discovered that a number of houses on her list that weren’t in cul de sacs were nevertheless situated next to a closed tap on the water main. She also discovered that a few years previously both the water board and the fire brigades had stopped doing a regular flush of the system. Flushing of fire hydrants and dead end water systems is essential to clear systems from the gradual build up of mineral and other deposits. After flushing, local tap water will typically be discoloured and although water authorities insist that this water is potable, advice is to avoid using this water for laundry purposes. The question naturally occurs: If it’s not acceptable for laundry purposes why would it be considered drinkable? Another question also occurs: If water pipes are not cleared by means of flushing then presumably there is a build up of undesirable matter in the pipes. Could this have an impact on the health of those living immediately adjacent to these sites? So Kathy Downer, assuming that there was something in the mains water supply – either an unhealthy high calcium content or a chemical contaminant of some sort, switched to using filtered water for her daughter. Since her daughter’s blood counts were being carefully monitored during the course of her chemo treatment, the impact of this change was almost immediately detected. Immediately there were noticeable improvements in her daughter’s blood counts and in her ability to withstand the toxicity of the drugs. Later she used bottled water* with the same benefits. Even more astonishingly, her daughter began to grow again (the chemo has the effect of severely stunting growth). Her daughter and husband both recovered from their cancers.

This effect mirrors the benefits that Connah Broom (whose story I have written about in The Amazing Cancer Kid Amazon (USA)    Amazon (UK) )  experienced. Soon after switching to filtered water he was able to withstand his extremely punitive chemotherapy treatments without the side effects he had previously experienced and which were commonly experienced by the other children.

*Note: Bottled Water: Bottled water comes from many varied sources – and some is just unfiltered tap water. If you need to drink bottled water choose a brand that you trust.

Posted in cancer and diet, Cancer Cure Stories and other Personal Experiences, cancer recovery | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Kill The B****rds

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on June 28, 2014

Kill the B*****ds!!!

Violence is so much part of our automatic response system to ‘things we don’t like’ that it seems not only inevitable but somehow right, the way it ought to be.

Al-Qaeda is hiding out in the mountains of North Pakistan – hell, let’s bomb them. Cancer cells are growing in my body? So zap them with radiation and chemical poisons. Boys are knifing other boys in the street? So kill them all.

Whoa! Kill all the kids, even if they don’t have knives? Maybe that’s the necessary price for a crime free street – but maybe we just kill the kids with knives, or those that we suspect of having knives. You mean that it’s OK to kill a wedding party of innocent villagers if it increases our chances of getting a few of the really bad guys – but it’s not OK to kill Kids on the street?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly not in favour of killing any kids, or bombing any wedding parties in North Pakistan for that matter.

Going back to the Vietnam War it was generally agreed (by the big boys with guns) that it was OK to devastate huge tracts of countryside with chemicals like Agent Orange? Sure, you might say, if it helps us to win the war. Remind me, did we win that war? And do we really think the policy of violence has made Iraq and Afghanistan safe and healthy for the long term future? As I write this, the Sunni and the Shia are wreaking ungodly violence on each other.

Wouldn’t it be better if they just talked, laughed, had picnics, listened to good music and so on? Wouldn’t their worlds be happier and better places to bring up their kids?

So the question we should be asking is not: What is the best way of killing cancer? No, a much better question is: What is the best path to a healthy future?

If an action is effective in achieving its goal then it is hard to argue against it even if it has negative consequences. However, going postal on cancer using instruments and tactics of extreme violence – surgery, radiation and chemotherapy – simply have not been that successful. Sure, lumps, possibly (this is not unanimously agreed), should be whipped off as soon as they are seen but if there is any sign of spread to other parts of the body the smart decision would be to hold off.

What we need are approaches that help the body return to and sustain a state of health. Once we have phrased the question in this way we can see that a combination of cleansing, diet, exercise, supplements and herbs, along with music and laughter – are more likely to achieve the goal we desire.

So let’s not kill the kids that carry knives, let’s change the world they live in so they don’t have to carry knives. Let’s not attack cancer tumours with technologically sophisticated weapons. Let’s instead change the context in which the cancer is growing and so persuade the cancer cells to self-destruct. We know this can be done – and the earlier people put in place such changes the more likely it is they will live long, fulfilling and healthy lives.

How can we change the context? Well, there are far too many possibilities to summarise here. For a full discussion of all the options read my book The Cancer Survivor’s Bible (

The more options you do the better the outcome is likely to be. It’s really that simple.

Jonathan Chamberlain is author of: Cancer? Don’t Panic!; The Cancer Survivor’s Bible; Cancer Recovery Guide: 15 Strategies for Restoring Health; The Amazing Cancer Kid – the true story of Connah Broom’s amazing recovery. These books are available from internet bookshops. His website is at
© Jonathan Chamberlain 2014

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Chemo – proven or disproven?

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on April 7, 2014

Proof or Disproof?

It seems obvious that to call a treatment proven is the opposite of calling a treatment disproven – but the more we think about it the less obvious this may be.

Let’s take as our starting point a treatment that is effective 95-100%. I think we would all be happy to consider such a treatment proven – and this is the case in relation to chemo and penile/testicular cancers. Chemo has a very high success rate in this area. Similarly we would be happy to call a treatment that had 0-5% success effectively disproven. Again chemo as a treatment for pancreatic cancers would come into this category and again there would be little argument. So far so good.

But what do we do with treatments that are 50% successful? Well, I think most of us would consider this also proven. It works half the time. That’s pretty good.

So what about a treatment that was 25% successful? Is this also ‘proven’? Perhaps, but we’re beginning to stretch the definition of ‘proven’ to its limits. OK so what about 10-15% effectiveness? Would this be proven or disproven?

It is in this area that calling it proven or disproven really depends on other factors – mainly on the point of view of the person judging the success or failure of the treatment. What about a 5-10% success rate? Again, if you are gung ho in favour of the treatment you’ll call it proven and if you are gung ho against it you’ll call it disproven. So there is no objective barrier between what is proven and what is disproven. It really is a matter of interpretation.

The problem for chemo is that its effectiveness as a stand alone treatment is not good. It varies from cancer to cancer. Overall the general range of figures quoted is 5-15%. But the truth is one or two cancers have very good responses to cancer and virtually all the rest have a very poor response. But many people with cancers for which the effectiveness is known to be low to zero nevertheless receive chemotherapy. In these cases doctors must accept that they are using disproven treatments.

Often they do so alongside surgery as insurance. Sometimes they mix two or three together and experiment on the patient. Sometimes the reason they give the treatment is not to be curative but to ‘buy time’. However there is a great deal of dispute as to how much time is generally bought in this way. Some people undoubtedly do buy a few months but many others die earlier than they might otherwise be expected to. All in all it’s a mixed picture. Doctors believe they are buying time because chemotherapy often causes tumour shrinkage – but this shrinkage is almost always temporary and when the tumour grows again it does so at vastly increased speed. Chemotherapy makes tumours more aggressive.
So, for many cancers, calling chemo a proven treatment is really stretching the bounds of what words mean.

If your doctor is advising chemo do get the figures for likely effectiveness. Chemo is generally brutal. You don’t want to incur pain only to discover it is likely hastening you to your death. Sadly that is what happens to some chemo patients. I know because it happened to my wife.

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Supplements for chemotherapy

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on January 2, 2014

Although I am utterly convinced that cancer is best treated by alternative approaches, I recognise this is not an opinion very widely shared. People often believe they have to make stark choices – one or the other – but there is the third way, if you like, where herbs, vitamins and other supplements are used to support the body while it undergoes gruelling chemo or radiation or surgery. I have recently come across the blog of someone who has mixed treatments in this way and since this is a first hand account based on personal experience I feel it carries weight. Here are the links:

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Chemotherapy? Makes sense right?

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on November 16, 2013

Chemo therapy? Makes sense right? Er…well, no. Ian Jacklin interviewed a doctor who said this: “I asked one of my Oncologist friends why he gives chemo when he knows it won’t work. He said cause it’s the only way he will get paid.”

I guess the medics who set up and ran the concentration camps for Nazi Germany and the medics who diagnosed madness in anyone criticising the soviet regime would have said exactly the same.

This chemo madness must stop.

For alternatives that won’t damage you read The Cancer Survivor’s Bible –

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ipilmumab concerns

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on January 12, 2012

Ipilimumab is now being touted as a big advance in chemotherapy treatment – and certainly the results do seem to be impressive – but it comes at a potential cost. The following warning comes from a manufacturewr’s site:

YERVOY (ipilimumab) can cause serious side effects in many parts of your body which can lead to death. These serious side effects may include: inflammation of the intestines (colitis) that can cause tears or holes (perforation) in the intestines; inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) that can lead to liver failure; inflammation of the skin that can lead to severe skin reaction (toxic epidermal necrolysis); inflammation of the nerves that can lead to paralysis; inflammation of hormone glands (especially the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands) that may affect how these glands work; and inflammation of the eyes.

These side effects are most likely to begin during treatment; however, side effects can show up months after your last infusion. Your healthcare provider should perform blood tests, such as liver and thyroid function tests, before starting and during treatment with YERVOY. Your oncologist may decide to delay or stop YERVOY.

Call your healthcare provider if you have any signs or symptoms or they get worse. Even seemingly mild symptoms can lead to severe or even life-threatening conditions if not addressed. Do not try to treat symptoms yourself.

Note: The Cancer Survivor’s Bible (2012 edition) is now available – see

“I work with cancer patients and have found this book incredible helpful to them…Very well laid out. Well written.”

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Italian doctor gets into trouble using alternative therapies

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on February 11, 2009

There’s really a lot of info on this site so do browse. This supports and extends the info and critical discussion in my two cancer books.  For more information go to


“This book tells me everything. Why didn’t my doctor tell me this?”- Rev. Bill Newbern

No Chemotherapy to cancer patients: doctor suspended

Giuseppe Nacci will not be allowed to practise medicine for 4 months. “The Order of Doctors does not accept my course of treatment”

By Pietro Comelli

Suspended from practising medicine for 4 months. This is the disciplinary sanction decided by the Order of Doctors of Trieste against doctor Giuseppe Nacci, born in Trieste. The sanction was signed by outgoing president Mauro Melato and became effective on 20th December last after the decision taken by the Commissione Centrale per gli Esercenti e le Professioni Sanitarie (Central Commission for Tradespeople and Health Professions) in Rome, which had reduced the sanction after Dr Nacci’s appeal. In fact, a suspension of 6 months – the most severe sanction before striking off – had originally been requested in 2005. Dr Nacci can now appeal to the Italian Supreme Court. His appeal will not, however, avoid his being suspended until 21st April.

Dr Nacci’s position is very delicate: as a matter of fact the Order of Doctors disputes his non-conventional medical treatments, which are considered incorrect. These treatments are given to cancer patients who, coming especially from outside Trieste, turn to the medical practice Fisiosan, at number 21 of Via Genova. This brings back the most sensational “Di Bella’s case”, as Dr Nacci himself maintains that “he treats cancers by stimulating the immune response, thus avoiding Chemotherapy”. His metabolic therapy uses vitamins and makes patients follow a correct diet. Proposing this kind of therapy, Dr Nacci made “Mille Piante per guarire dal Cancro senza Chemio” available on the Internet. The essay was also translated into English in the USA with the title “Thousand Plants against Cancer without Chemo-Therapy”

and published on several American Web sites, such as that of the National Health Federation. Dr Nacci also published the book “Diventa Medico di Te Stesso” (“Become your own doctor”), receiving some prices and awards in recognition of his literary activity, including the “Sigillo Trecentesco” (“Fourteenth-Century Seal”) from the city of Trieste. The official award took place in the Council Hall in November 2007, but was criticised by the Order of Doctors of Trieste, which informed the then Minister of Health Livia Turco, highlighting the fact that disciplinary proceedings were already hanging over the doctor, who had already been suspended for two months. After one year, the procedure has taken its course and Dr Nacci has been suspended again. But he does not give in. “I am worried about the patients I am treating. What will happen to them now? Until 21st April I will not be allowed to treat them”, says the Italian medical doctor. During the last few days he sent a letter to his patients in order to inform them: “Because of the sanction imposed, I am forced to leave you”. The letter sent to the patients is accompanied by the sentence of the Italian Supreme Court regarding the principle of doctors’ freedom in choosing the medical treatment. The 38 patients Dr Nacci is referring to include two patients suffering from brain tumour, ten from breast cancer, three from lung cancer… According to Dr Nacci, these cases have been in therapy for many years and were at risk to develop a metastasis and now do not show recidivism or a residual lesion. Dr Nacci’s patients come above all from North East Italy, but also from Naples, Rome and Messina. In addition to the letter informing them about the suspension, Dr Nacci sent to all of them another letter to be sent to the Court for the patients’ rights of Trieste. This is an extreme attempt to defend himself by asking for help from the patients who gave him a written “informed consensus” to carry out his therapy. A kind of confidence agreement between doctor and patient.

This is highly criticised by the Order of Doctors of Trieste, which does not want to issue any comment but only confirms that the doctor was suspended, as shown by the decision notification sent to all relevant institutions and even displayed at some chemists’. But Dr Nacci replies: “They do not accept my course of treatment and my position, but when the suspension ends I am going to resume my activity. These 38 cases are only a tenth of my patients, who then generally ask their own GPs to follow them. Whereas I had a stable relation with a small part, i.e. these 38 cases. There is not only chemotherapy”.

From the local newspaper “IL PICCOLO” of Trieste, page 21, 2nd January 2009.

Note: The Cancer Survivor’s Bible (2012) is now available – see

“The section on conventional treatments was rivetting.”

Posted in Cancer Cure Stories and other Personal Experiences, Cancer Perspectives, Links | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Chemotherapy criticised by Australian oncologists

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on August 29, 2008

posted on Cancercured yahoo health group:

_http://www.curenatu ralicancro. com/oncologists- criticize- chemotherapy. html_
(http://www.curenatu ralicancro. com/oncologists- criticize- chemotherapy. html)

An important paper has been published in the journal Clinical Oncology. This
meta-analysis, entitled “The Contribution of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy to
5-year Survival in Adult Malignancies” set out to accurately quantify and assess
the actual benefit conferred by chemotherapy in the treatment of adults with
the commonest types of cancer. Although the paper has attracted some attention
in Australia, the native country of the paper’s authors, it has been greeted
with complete silence on this side of the world.
All three of the paper’s authors are oncologists. Lead author Associate
Professor Graeme Morgan is a radiation oncologist at Royal North Shore Hospital
in Sydney; Professor Robyn Ward is a medical oncologist at University of New
South Wales/St. Vincent’s Hospital. The third author, Dr. Michael Barton, is a
radiation oncologist and a member of the Collaboration for Cancer Outcomes
Research and Evaluation, Liverpool Health Service, Sydney. Prof. Ward is also a
member of the Therapeutic Goods Authority of the Australian Federal
Department of Health and Aging, the official body that advises the Australian
government on the suitability and efficacy of drugs to be listed on the national
Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS) – roughly the equivalent of the US Food
and Drug Administration.
Their meticulous study was based on an analysis of the results of all the
randomized, controlled clinical trials (RCTs) performed in Australia and the US
that reported a statistically significant increase in 5-year survival due to
the use of chemotherapy in adult malignancies. Survival data were drawn from
the Australian cancer registries and the US National Cancer Institute’s
Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry spanning the period
January 1990 until January 2004.
Wherever data were uncertain, the authors deliberately erred on the side of
over-estimating the benefit of chemotherapy. Even so, the study concluded
that overall, chemotherapy contributes just over 2 percent to improved survival
in cancer patients.
Yet despite the mounting evidence of chemotherapy’ s lack of effectiveness in
prolonging survival, oncologists continue to present chemotherapy as a
rational and promising approach to cancer treatment.
“Some practitioners still remain optimistic that cytotoxic chemotherapy will
significantly improve cancer survival,” the authors wrote in their
introduction. “However, despite the use of new and expensive single and combination
drugs to improve response rates…there has been little impact from the use of
newer regimens” (Morgan 2005).
The Australian authors continued: “…in lung cancer, the median survival
has increased by only 2 months [during the past 20 years, ed.] and an overall
survival benefit of less than 5 percent has been achieved in the adjuvant
treatment of breast, colon and head and neck cancers.”
The results of the study are summarized in two tables, reproduced below.
Table 1 shows the results for Australian patients; Table 2 shows the results for
US patients. The authors point out that the similarity of the figures for
Australia and the US make it very likely that the recorded benefit of 2.5
percent or less would be mirrored in other developed countries also.
(NB: We apologize for the poor image quality of these tables. The blanks in
the columns represent zero, i.e. no direct benefit can be attributed to
chemotherapy; no patients in that category achieved an increased 5-year survival
due to chemotherapy. )
Table 1
Results for Australian patients

_larger image_ (http://www.cancerde images/Table1. jpg)
_http://www.cancerde images/Table1. jpg_
(http://www.cancerde images/Table1. jpg)
source: _http://www.cancerde cisions.com_ (http://www.cancerde
Table 2
Results for US patients

_larger image_ (http://www.cancerde images/Table2. jpg)
_http://www.cancerde images/Table2. jpg_
(http://www.cancerde images/Table2. jpg)
source: _http://www.cancerde cisions.com_ (http://www.cancerde
Basically, the authors found that the contribution of chemotherapy to 5-year
survival in adults was 2.3 percent in Australia, and 2.1 percent in the USA.
They emphasize that, for reasons explained in detail in the study, these
figures “should be regarded as the upper limit of effectiveness” (i.e., they are
an optimistic rather than a pessimistic estimate).
Understanding Relative Risk
How is it possible that patients are routinely offered chemotherapy when the
benefits to be gained by such an approach are generally so small? In their
discussion, the authors address this crucial question and cite the tendency on
the part of the medical profession to present the benefits of chemotherapy in
statistical terms that, while technically accurate, are seldom clearly
understood by patients.
For example, oncologists frequently express the benefits of chemotherapy in
terms of what is called “relative risk” rather than giving a straight
assessment of the likely impact on overall survival. Relative risk is a statistical
means of expressing the benefit of receiving a medical intervention in a way
that, while technically accurate, has the effect of making the intervention
look considerably more beneficial than it truly is. If receiving a treatment
causes a patient’s risk to drop from 4 percent to 2 percent, this can be
expressed as a decrease in relative risk of 50 percent. On face value that sounds
good. But another, equally valid way of expressing this is to say that it
offers a 2 percent reduction in absolute risk, which is less likely to convince
patients to take the treatment.
It is not only patients who are misled by the overuse of relative risk in
reporting the results of medical interventions. Several studies have shown that
physicians are also frequently beguiled by this kind of statistical sleight
of hand. According to one such study, published in the British Medical
Journal, physicians’ views of the effectiveness of drugs, and their decision to
prescribe such drugs, was significantly influenced by the way in which clinical
trials of these drugs were reported. When results were expressed as a relative
risk reduction, physicians believed the drugs were more effective and were
strongly more inclined to prescribe than they were when the identical results
were expressed as an absolute risk reduction (Bucher 1994).
Another study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, demonstrated
that the way in which survival benefits are presented specifically influenced
the decision of medical professionals to recommend chemotherapy. Since 80
percent of patients chose what their oncologist recommends, the way in which the
oncologist perceives and conveys the benefits of treatment is of vital
importance. This study showed that when physicians are given relative risk
reduction figures for a chemotherapy regimen, they are more likely to recommend it
to their patients than when they are given the mathematically identical
information expressed as an absolute risk reduction (Chao 2003).
The way that medical information is reported in the professional literature
therefore clearly has an important influence on the treatment recommendations
oncologists make. A drug that can be said, for example, to reduce cancer
recurrence by 50 percent, is likely to get the attention and respect of
oncologists and patients alike, even though the absolute risk may only be a small one
– perhaps only 2 or 3 percent – and the reduction in absolute risk
commensurately small.
To their credit, the Australian authors of the study on the effectiveness of
chemotherapy address the issue of relative versus absolute risk. They suggest
that the apparent gulf between the public perception of chemotherapy’ s
effectiveness and its actual mediocre track record can largely be attributed to
the tendency of both the media and the medical profession to express efficacy
in terms of relative rather than absolute risk .
“The minimal impact on survival in the more common cancers conflicts with the
perceptions of many patients who feel they are receiving a treatment that
will significantly enhance their chances of cure,” the authors wrote. “In part
this represents the presentation of data as a reduction in risk rather than
as an absolute survival benefit and by exaggerating the response rates by
including ‘stable disease.'”
As an example of how chemotherapy is oversold, they cite the treatment of
breast cancer. In 1998 in Australia, out of the total of 10,661 women who were
newly diagnosed with breast cancer, 4,638 women were considered eligible for
chemotherapy. Of these 4,638 women, only 164 (3.5 percent) actually gained
some survival benefit from chemotherapy. As the authors point out, the use of
newer chemotherapy regimens including the taxanes and anthracyclines for breast
cancer may raise survival by an estimated additional one percent – but this
is achieved at the expense of an increased risk of cardiac toxicity and nerve
“There is also no convincing evidence,” they write, “that using regimens with
newer and more expensive drugs is any more beneficial than the regimens used
in the 1970s.” They add that two systematic reviews of the evidence been not
been able to demonstrate any survival benefit for chemotherapy in recurrent
or metastatic breast cancer.
Another factor clouding the issue is the growing trend for clinical trials to
use what are called ‘surrogate end points,’ as a yardstick by which to
measure a chemotherapy regimen’s effectiveness. This is instead of using the only
real measures that matters to patients – prolongation of life as measured by
overall survival and improved quality of life. Surrogate end points such as
‘progression- free survival,’ ‘disease-free survival’ or ‘recurrence- free
survival’ may only reflect temporary lulls in the progression of the disease.
Such temporary stabilization of disease, if it occurs at all, seldom lasts for
more than a few months at best. The cancer typically returns, sometimes with
renewed vigor, and survival is not generally extended by such interventions.
However, trials reported in terms of surrogate end points can create the
illusion that the lives of desperately ill patients are being significantly
extended or made more bearable by chemotherapy, when in reality this is not the
In summary, the authors state:
“The introduction of cytotoxic chemotherapy for solid tumors and the
establishment of the sub-specialty of medical oncology have been accepted as an
advance in cancer management. However, despite the early claims of chemotherapy
as the panacea for curing all cancers, the impact of cytotoxic chemotherapy is
limited to small subgroups of patients and mostly occurs in the less common
malignancies. ”

Splitting Hairs
In view of the highly controversial nature of the study’s findings, one might
have expected it to receive enormous international attention. Instead, media
reaction has been largely limited to the authors’ native land of Australia;
the study received almost no coverage whatsoever in the US. In fact, although
the paper appeared in December 2004, there was limited coverage even Down
Under. The authors were interviewed for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation
(ABC) program The Health Report in April 2005. But their landmark paper did
not come to most doctors’ attention until a widely distributed medical
practice periodical, the Australian Prescriber, ran an editorial on the study early
in 2006.
On ABC’s The Health Report, Prof. Morgan, the paper’s principal author,
reiterated the study’s conclusions that chemotherapy had been oversold, and
pointed to the fact that relative risk reduction is being used as the yardstick of
efficacy, with its deceptively large percentage differences.
For balance, the show host, Norman Swan, interviewed Prof. Michael Boyer,
chief of medical oncology at Australia’s Royal Prince Albert Hospital, Sydney.
Unable to deny the validity of the study’s essential findings, Prof. Boyer
instead attempted to nitpick the authors’ methodology. He suggested that the
figure for chemotherapy’ s efficacy was actually somewhat higher than the study
had concluded. Yet even so, when pushed, the most favorable figure he could
come up with was that chemotherapy might actually be effective in 5 or 6
percent of cases (instead of around 2 percent).
Interviewed by Australian Prescriber, Prof. Boyer similarly commented: “If
you start…saying how much does chemotherapy add in the people that you might
actually use it [in], the numbers start creeping up…to 5 percent or 6
percent” (Segelov 2006).
In my opinion, this sort of hair-splitting damns chemotherapy with faint
praise. It actually confirms the central message of the three critics’ study. If
the best defense of chemotherapy that orthodox oncology can come up with is
that it may actually be effective for 5 or 6 percent of cancer patients,
rather than merely 2 percent, then surely it is high time for a radical
reassessment of the widespread use of this toxic modality in cancer treatment. Either
figure – 2 percent or 6 percent – will come as a shock to most patients
offered this type of treatment, and ought to generate serious doubt in the minds of
oncologists as to the ethics of offering chemotherapy without explicitly
warning patients of its unlikely prospects for success.
It was also astonishing that the orthodox Prof. Boyer complained that one of
the major shortcomings of the study was that it insisted on measuring
absolute instead of relative benefits. Asked by the interviewer whether there
weren’t violations of informed consent implicit in the way that benefits of
treatment were usually presented, Prof. Boyer defended the use of the more
impressive-sounding relative risk reduction:
“One of the problems of this [Morgan, ed.] paper is it uses absolute benefits
rather than relative benefits,” he protested: “…the relative benefit is
about a one third reduction in your risk of death.”
This, of course, is precisely the reverse of the argument made by the study’s
authors, who clearly demonstrated the misleading nature of relative risk
reduction as a means of describing the efficacy of chemotherapy.

Other Critics Emerge
Prof. Morgan and his Australian colleagues are not alone in criticizing the
pervasive use of relative risk as a means of inflating treatment efficacy.
There have been others in recent years who have also voiced concern about this
trend. For example, in a letter to the editor of the medical practice journal
American Family Physician, James McCormack, PharmD, a member of the faculty
of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia, made this same
point about relative vs. absolute risk with great clarity.
Dr. McCormack took as an example the prescription of the bisphosphonate drugs
in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. ..but identical issues apply
to the use of anticancer drugs. The journal in question had written that one
of those drugs produced almost “a 50 percent decrease” in the risk of new
fractures. Addressing himself to a hypothetical patient, Dr. McCormack
reinterpreted this statement in terms of absolute risk: “Mrs. Jones, your risk of
developing a…fracture over the next three years is approximately 8 percent.
If you take a drug daily for the next three years, that risk can be reduced
from 8 percent to around 5 percent, or a difference of just over 3 percent.” Of
course that sounds far less impressive than saying that taking the drug will
decrease the risk of fracture by almost half, even though technically both
are mathematically accurate ways of expressing the benefit to be gained by the

The Good News and the Bad
News concerning conventional cancer treatments seems to come in two
varieties: good and bad. Good news, meaning that conventional treatments work well,
often generates widespread press coverage and enthusiastic statements from
health officials. On the other hand, bad news, such as the fact that
conventional treatments have generally been oversold, usually comes and goes unseen,
attracting no media attention whatsoever.
An example of the first kind is the recent announcement that for the first
time in 70 years, the absolute number of US cancer deaths had fallen. Andrew C.
von Eschenbach, MD, director of the US National Cancer Institute (NCI),
called this “momentous news.” Similarly, Dr. Michael Thun, head of
epidemiological research for the American Cancer Society, said it was “a notable
milestone.” How big was the celebrated decline? As we reported in a recent newsletter,
deaths actually fell by a total of 370, from 557,272 in 2003 to 556,902 in
2004. Expressed as a percentage of the total, it represents a drop of seven
hundredths of one percent (0.066 percent).
Contrast the wildly enthusiastic coverage given to this tiny improvement in
the annual cancer death rate with the almost total media blackout (at least in
North America) on this critical paper from Australia. Yet nothing can
obscure the fact that chemotherapy, for most indications, has far less
effectiveness than the public is being led to believe. Dr. Morgan and his colleagues
deserve every reader’s gratitude for having pointed this out to their colleagues
around the world.

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Interesting quotes on the subject of chemotherapy for cancer

Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on May 1, 2008


“Two to 4% of cancers respond to chemotherapy….The bottom line is for a few kinds of cancer chemo is a life extending procedure—Hodgkin’s disease, Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), Testicular cancer, and Choriocarcinoma.”—-Ralph Moss, Ph.D. 1995 Author of Questioning Chemotherapy.

“NCI now actually anticipates further increases, and not decreases, in cancer mortality rates, from 171/100,000 in 1984 to 175/100,000 by the year 2000!”–Samuel Epstein.

“A study of over 10,000 patients shows clearly that chemo’s supposedly strong track record with Hodgkin’s disease (lymphoma) is actually a lie. Patients who underwent chemo were 14 times more likely to develop leukemia and 6 times more likely to develop cancers of the bones, joints, and soft tissues than those patients who did not undergo chemotherapy (NCI Journal 87:10).”-John Diamond

Children who are successfully treated for Hodgkin’s disease are 18 times more likely later to develop secondary malignant tumours. Girls face a 35 per cent chance of developing breast cancer by the time they are 40—-which is 75 times greater than the average. The risk of leukemia increased markedly four years after the ending of successful treatment, and reached a plateau after 14 years, but the risk of developing solid tumours remained high and approached 30 per cent at 30 years (New Eng J Med, March 21, 1996)

“Success of most chemotherapy is appalling…There is no scientific evidence for its ability to extend in any appreciable way the lives of patients suffering from the most common organic cancer…chemotherapy for malignancies too advanced for surgery which accounts for 80% of all cancers is a scientific wasteland.”—Dr Ulrich Abel. 1990

The New England Journal of Medicine Reports- War on Cancer Is a Failure: Despite $30 billion spent on research and treatments since 1970, cancer remains “undefeated,” with a death rate not lower but 6% higher in 1997 than 1970, stated John C. Bailar III, M.D., Ph.D., and Heather L. Gornik, M.H.S., both of the Department of Health Studies at the University of Chicago in Illinois. “The war against cancer is far from over,” stated Dr. Bailar. “The effect of new treatments for cancer on mortality has been largely disappointing.”

“My studies have proved conclusively that untreated cancer victims live up to four times longer than treated individuals. If one has cancer and opts to do nothing at all, he will live longer and feel better than if he undergoes radiation, chemotherapy or surgery, other than when used in immediate life-threatening situations.”—Prof Jones. (1956 Transactions of the N.Y. Academy of Medical Sciences, vol 6. There is a fifty page article by Hardin Jones of National Cancer Institute of Bethesda, Maryland. He surveyed global cancer of all types and compared the untreated and the treated, to conclude that the untreated outlives the treated, both in terms of quality and in terms of quantity. Secondly he said, “Cancer does not cure”. Third he said “There is a physiological mechanism which finishes off an individual”.)

“With some cancers, notably liver, lung, pancreas, bone and advanced breast, our 5 year survival from traditional therapy alone is virtually the same as it was 30 years ago.”—P Quillin, Ph.D.

“1.7% increase in terms of success rate a year, its nothing. By the time we get to the 24 century we might have effective treatments, Star Trek will be long gone by that time.” Ralph Moss.

“….chemotherapy’s success record is dismal. It can achieve remissions in about 7% of all human cancers; for an additional 15% of cases, survival can be “prolonged” beyond the point at which death would be expected without treatment. This type of survival is not the same as a cure or even restored quality of life.”-John Diamond, M.D.

“Keep in mind that the 5 year mark is still used as the official guideline for “cure” by mainstream oncologists. Statistically, the 5 year cure makes chemotherapy look good for certain kinds of cancer, but when you follow cancer patients beyond 5 years, the reality often shifts in a dramatic way.”-Diamond.

Studies show that women taking tamoxifen after surviving breast cancer then have a high propensity to develop endometrial cancer. The NCI and Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, which makes the drug, aggressively lobbied State of California regulators to keep them from adding tamoxifen to their list of carcinogens. Zeneca is one of the sponsors of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“Most cancer patients in this country die of chemotherapy…Chemotherapy does not eliminate breast, colon or lung cancers. This fact has been documented for over a decade. Yet doctors still use chemotherapy for these tumours…Women with breast cancer are likely to die faster with chemo than without it.”-Alan Levin, M.D.

According to the Cancer Statistics for 1995, published by the ACS in their small journal (2), the 5-year survival rate has improved from 50%-56% for whites and 39%-40% for blacks from 1974/1976 – 1983/1990. However, the data is taken from FIVE of the states with the lowest death rates AND the smallest populations! NONE of the 10 states with the highest death rates AND comprising 34% of the Total U.S. Cancer Deaths, were included in the data! Also, in prior years, the Composite (Ave.) 5-year survival rate for ALL Cancers Combined was computed and published. This Ave. 5-year survival crept upward to 50%, in the early nineties. It now stands around 51-52%, due primarily to the improvement of 11% survival for Colon and 13% increased survival for Prostate. It gets worse. The ACS boasts of “statistically significant” results when Uterine Ca survival drops from 89%/60%-85%/55% (W/B)?? Also, Pancreas Ca is 3-3 (W) and Laryngeal Ca survival drops from 59%-53% (B) while Cervical Ca drops from 63%-56% (B). Liver Ca improves from 4%-7%. I wonder how many Pancreatic and Hepatic Ca patients cheered these dramatic results? Ovarian Ca = 36%/40% – 42%/38% (W/B) and Breast Ca = 75%/63% – 82%/66% (W/B). In 16 years the Breast Ca rate improved 3-7%, while Uterine Ca decreased 4-5%. Aren’t these marvelous results that the Cancer Establishment should boast about??—-RD Hodgell, M.D.

“The five year cancer survival statistics of the American Cancer Society are very misleading. They now count things that are not cancer, and, because we are able to diagnose at an earlier stage of the disease, patients falsely appear to live longer. Our whole cancer research in the past 20 years has been a failure. More people over 30 are dying from cancer than ever before…More women with mild or benign diseases are being included in statistics and reported as being “cured”. When government officials point to survival figures and say they are winning the war against cancer they are using those survival rates improperly.”—Dr J. Bailer, New England Journal of Medicine (Dr Bailer’s answer to questions put by Neal Barnard MD of the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine and published in PCRM Update, sept/oct 1990.

“I look upon cancer in the same way that I look upon heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, or even obesity, for that matter, in that by dramatically strengthening the body’s immune system through diet, nutritional supplements, and exercise, the body can rid itself of the cancer, just as it does in other degenerative diseases. Consequently, I wouldn’t have chemotherapy and radiation because I’m not interested in therapies that cripple the immune system, and, in my opinion, virtually ensure failure for the majority of cancer patients.”—Dr Julian Whitaker, M.D.

“Finding a cure for cancer is absolutely contraindicated by the profits of the cancer industry’s chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery cash trough.”-Dr Diamond, M.D.

“We have a multi-billion dollar industry that is killing people, right and left, just for financial gain. Their idea of research is to see whether two doses of this poison is better than three doses of that poison.”-Glen Warner, M.D. oncologist.

John Robbins:

  • “Percentage of cancer patients whose lives are predictably saved by chemotherapy – 3%
  • Conclusive evidence (majority of cancers) that chemotherapy has any positive influcence on survival or quality of life – none.
  • Percentage of oncologists who said if they had cancer they would not participate in chemotherapy trials due to its “ineffectiveness and its unacceptable toxicity” – 75%
  • Percentage of people with cancer in the U.S. who receive chemotherapy – 75%.
  • Company that accounts for nearly half of the chemotherapy sales in the world – Bristol-Meyers Squibb.
  • Chairman of the board of Bristol-Meyers – Richard L. Gelb.
  • Mr. Gelb’s other job: vice chairman, board of overseers, board of managers, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, World’s largest private cancer treatment and research center.
  • Chairman, Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s board of overseers, board of managers – John S. Reed.
  • Reed’s other job – director, Philip Morris (tobacco company).
  • Director, Ivax, Inc., a prominent chemotherapy company – Samuel Broder.
  • Broder’s other job (until 1995) – executive director, National Cancer Institute.”from Reclaiming Our Health: Exploding the Medical Myth and Embracing the Source of True Healing by John Robbins.

“If you can shrink the tumour 50% or more for 28 days you have got the FDA’s definition of an active drug. That is called a response rate, so you have a response..(but) when you look to see if there is any life prolongation from taking this treatment what you find is all kinds of hocus pocus and song and dance about the disease free survival, and this and that. In the end there is no proof that chemotherapy in the vast majority of cases actually extends life, and this is the GREAT LIE about chemotherapy, that somehow there is a correlation between shrinking a tumour and extending the life of the patient.”—Ralph Moss

“The majority of publications equate the effect of chemotherapy with (tumour) response, irrespective of survival. Many oncologists take it for granted that response to therapy prolongs survival, an opinion which is based on a fallacy and which is not supported by clinical studies. To date there is no clear evidence that the treated patients, as a whole, benefit from chemotherapy as to their quality of life.”—Abel.1990.

“For the majority of the cancers we examined, the actual improvements (in survival) have been small or have been overestimated by the published rates…It is difficult to find that there has been much progress…(For breast cancer), there is a slight improvement…(which) is considerably less than reported.”—General Accounting Office

“As a chemist trained to interpret data, it is incromprehensible to me that physicians can ignore the clear evidence that chemotherapy does much, much more harm than good.”—Alan Nixon, Ph.D., Past President, American Chemical Society.

“He said, “I’m giving cancer patients over here at this major cancer clinic drugs that are killing them, and I can’t stop it because they say the protocol’s what’s important.” And I say, “But the patient’s not doing well.” They say, “The protocol’s what’s important, not the patient.” And he said, “You can’t believe what goes on in the name of medicine and science in this country.” –Gary Null

The Politics of Cancer—Epstein

That in spite of over $20 billion expenditures since the “War against Cancer” was launched by President Nixon in 1971, there has been little if any significant improvement in treatment and survival rates for most common cancers, in spite of contrary misleading hype by the cancer establishment—the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and American Cancer Society (ACS).

That the cancer establishment remains myopically fixated on damage control _diagnosis and treatment _ and basic genetic research, with, not always benign, indifference to cancer prevention. Meanwhile, the incidence of cancer, including nonsmoking cancers, has escalated to epidemic proportions with lifetime cancer risks now approaching 50%.

That the NCI has a long track record of budgetary shell games in efforts to mislead Congress and the public with its claim that it allocates substantial resources to cancer prevention. Over the last year, the NCI has made a series of widely divergent claims, ranging from $480 million to $1 billion, for its prevention budget while realistic estimates are well under $100 million.

That the NCI allocates less than 1% of its budget to research on occupational cancer _ the most avoidable of all cancers _ which accounts for well over 10% of all adult cancer deaths, besides being a major cause of childhood cancer.

That cancer establishment policies, particularly those of the ACS, are strongly influenced by pervasive conflicts of interest with the cancer drug and other industries. As admitted by former NCI director Samuel Broder, the NCI has become “what amounts to a governmental pharmaceutical company.”

That the MD Anderson Comprehensive Cancer Center was sued in August, 1998 for making unsubstantiated claims that it cures “well over 50% of people with cancer.”

That the NCI, with enthusiastic support from the ACS _ the tail that wags the NCI dog _ has effectively blocked funding for research and clinical trials on promising non-toxic alternative cancer drugs for decades, in favor of highly toxic and largely ineffective patented drugs developed by the multibillion dollar global cancer drug industry. Additionally, the cancer establishment has systematically harassed the proponents of non-toxic alternative cancer drugs.

That, as reported in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the ACS is “more interested in accumulating wealth than saving lives.” Furthermore, it is the only known “charity” that makes contributions to political parties.

That the NCI and ACS have embarked on unethical trials with two hormonal drugs, tamoxifen and Evista, in ill-conceived attempts to prevent breast cancer in healthy women while suppressing evidence that these drugs are known to cause liver and ovarian cancer, respectively, and in spite of the short-term lethal complications of tamoxifen. The establishment also proposes further chemoprevention trials this fall on tamoxifen, and also Evista, in spite of two published long-term European studies on the ineffectiveness of tamoxifen. This represents medical malpractice verging on the criminal.

That the ACS and NCI have failed to provide Congress and regulatory agencies with available scientific information on a wide range of unwitting exposures to avoidable carcinogens in air, water, the workplace, and consumer products suchfood, cosmetics and toiletries, and household products. As a result, corrective legislative and regulatory action have not been taken.

That the cancer establishment has also failed to provide the public, particularly African American and underprivileged ethnic groups with their disproportionately higher cancer incidence rates, with information on avoidable carcinogenic exposures, thus depriving them of their right-to-know and effectively preventing them from taking action to protect themselves _ a flagrant denial of environmental justice.

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