Orac, that defender of all things good, has yet another excellent post about how quackery gets peddled. In this case, some of the promotion is done by the very people who will get hurt by it:
[M]any breast cancer cure testimonials involve either lesions that are not cancer, lesions where it’s unclear whether the cancer has changed, or, most commonly, stories in which the cancer has been removed surgically and the woman refuses adjuvant chemotherapy and radiation therapy, such as Suzanne Somers’ or Hollie Quinn’s breast cancer cure testimonial. In these latter forms of breast cancer cure testimonials, it was the surgery that cured the cancer, but naturally the woo-prone, having refused the adjuvant chemotherapy and/or radiation that decrease the chance of the cancer coming back, decide that it was the woo du jour that they chose that actually saved them.
The post goes on to talk about a woman by the name Inger Hartelius who, after being diagnosed with cancer, was given a book by our old friend Andreas Moritz. Through that book and a desire to seek out alternative ‘help’, Hartelius found some other quack by the name of Robert O. Young. I’ve never heard of the guy before, but he apparently believes that acid is the root of all cancer. It isn’t and he is a quack. Unfortunately, Hartelius was able to find Young; now she has a testimonial:
My health is now much better than it was before, I sleep at night, my weight is stable, my lung capacity has grown – I feel so much more alive – which is hard to explain. I have no signs that I’m sick with cancer and now I know I am not going to die of this cancer.
I’m just going to point out what Orac points out in his post: She never says anything objective about her tumor. She doesn’t tell us if it has shrunk, if it is stable, if it has grown. She doesn’t tell us if it was removed during the biopsy, as is sometimes the case. She doesn’t tell us anything other than that she feels better. And that’s often how these testimonials go. We are given little information much of the time, and when we are given better details, it is often forgotten to attribute progress properly. For instance, some people will undergo surgery but forgo chemotherapy and radiation therapy, instead opting for some line of quackery. When they get lucky and their cancer doesn’t return (or when they give their testimonial prior to its return), they attribute their progress to whatever quack treatment they’ve been receiving. The reality is that the surgery is what got them to a better state of health. The alternative medicine just cost them more money.