General Question

john65pennington's avatar

Why hasn't research discovered a cure for cancer?

Asked by john65pennington (29080 points ) September 13th, 2010

Aids came along and a cure was discovered almost instantly, compared to cancer. So, what’s the holdup with cancer? Surely, after all these years and billions of dollars spent, researchers should have come up with a cure by now. Is it all about the money? Is it about researchers and labratories adding to the unemployment rolls, if a cure is discovered? I do not understand why a cure is taking so long. Question: After billions of dollars have been spent searching for a cure for cancer, how come no end is in sight for a cure? Is it really all about losing funding and jobs?

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103 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

There is no cure for AIDS.

Cancer has not been cured because it is not a single disease in the sense that, say, pneumonia is. Cancer is a word that is used to describe everything that could possibly go wrong in the life cycle of a cell that would cause it to grow out of control. There are so many hundreds (thousands?) of elements of the cell cycle that there are hundreds (thousands?) of things that can go wrong in it, and all of these can cause cancer.

As someone who has been involved with cancer research and treatment, both from a research standpoint and as a volunteer fundraiser, I can guarantee you that it has absolutely nothing to do with losing funding and jobs. No one would be happier to see cancer cured than the people who treat cancer patients every day, and it would break their hearts to know that people think otherwise.

snowberry's avatar

Because cancer is big, big business. They make far more money off of sick people than well ones. (The cancer industry not only destroys the body, but it also makes financially sound people destitute.)

A better question might be “Why doesn’t big business put as much money and research into preventing cancer as they do trying to cure it?” Now THAT would be huge.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I have faith that they want to prevent and cure cancer, it just isn’t that easy. We have a vaccine now to help prevent cervical cancer. More women are getting tested for the breast cancer gene and more men are having their PSA levels checked. Unfortunately, these things take time. Insurance companies don’t always want to pay for it and people can’t afford some of it. I think it will continue to get better with further research and more people being aware of their medical history and what they are at risk for.

augustlan's avatar

Where on earth did you get the idea that there’s a cure for AIDS? And, everything @nikipedia said.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Cancer cannot be cured. Its that simple. We can only treat it as it arises, but to cure it would mean coming up with a new way for DNA to replicate. Preventative measures reduce the risk of cancer, but they cannot eliminate it. Treatment programs are as varied as the types of cancers though, because each one has unique characteristics. For example, brachytherapy is extremely effective in treating thyroid cancer, but is ineffective for leukaemia.

We know an awful lot about cancer (see Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology – 2592 pages of all we know about cancer, and this is only one textbook), but there is always more to know. Oncologists estimate that one in four people will get cancer in their lifetime, and this number will only increase with life expectancy. Everyone is guaranteed to get cancer if they life long enough (around 500 years), but most people die from other causes before it ever manifests.

For those saying it is driven by money, what do you know about cancer? Do you feel a need to malign the good people that do the research, or are you just totally ignorant of what cancer treatment involves?

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

Not much money in curing cancer. More money in treating it. Besides that aspect, there are many causes for many cancers.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Isn’t chemo and radiation a treatment for cancer and often now even a cure?

shilolo's avatar

@nikipedia summarized it beautifully. You used AIDS as an example of a cured disease, but realistically it can only be controlled through medications. There are only a few examples of actual cures for VIRAL disease, though we can cure bacterial and fungal diseases quite readily. This stems from the fact that many viruses co-opt the host cellular machinery for their function, and it is difficult to inhibit viral processes without also simultaneously inhibiting human functions, resulting is serious consequences.

Now, on to the cancer issue. Asking why we haven’t cured cancer is like saying why haven’t we eliminated CRIME. There are as many types of cancers (if not more) than types of crimes. The techniques one might use to eliminate bank robberies are entirely different from those one might use to eliminate vandalism. Likewise, the dysregulated processes in prostate cancer or colon cancer are distinct from those in say, glioblastoma multiforme (a brain cancer). Even amongst similar cancers, say breast cancer, there are many different types, and even within one type, a given patient might have completely different genetic mutations accounting for the cancer phenotype. As an example, ~20% of women with breast cancer express the HER2/neu mutation, which predicts a poorer outcome but also is targeted by the biologic therapy herceptin.

With all that said, we do essentially have cures for some cancers. Breast cancer can be resected, lung cancer can be surgically removed (if caught early enough) or even cured with an EGF receptor antagonist much later, gastric MALToma can be treated with antibiotics, CML can be treated with Gleevec, leukemias can be cured with bone marrow transplants, lymphomas with chemotherapy ± biologic treatments, colon cancer can be removed, basal cell and squamous cell cancers can be removed, and many more cancers can be put into remission with chemotherapy and/or radiation. This notion of a global conspiracy to keep people sick is nauseating and absurd.

talljasperman's avatar

because some the truly gifted can’t get funding or jobs in Cancer research…only the people who can jump through the hoops like a good student can get the Ph.D….Their are some brilliant minds who can’t succeed in the university system and get washed out early…By truly gifted I also mean those who can to cure Cancer but lack some inner quality that can help make money for the corporation running it… Imagine someone with an Illness that blocks the path to success….and the system getting in the way of them..

LuckyGuy's avatar

Great advances have been made. With our typical short attention spans we don’t notice all the women walking around today who would have died from breast cancer or all the men who would have died from prostate cancer. The diagnosis of cancer is no longer the definite death sentence it was 30 years ago. .

Maybe your question should be why have we not come up with a silver bullet to cure all cancers?
Because the causes and types of cancer are so diverse. A treatment for one type does not apply or cure another.
It’s harder than it looks.

BarnacleBill's avatar

We haven’t found a cure for a cold yet, either.

tedd's avatar

Some forms of cancer have “cures” now, and are highly treatable. More are being found each day, in fact I think it was at the Cleveland Clinic where they just finished some very promising research on a cure for breast cancer (though actual use of the treatment is still a few years off).

Unfortunately as listed though, there are various types and causes of cancer, and there is no silver bullet that will cure all of them. Moreover cancer is FAR more complicated than say, chicken pox or malaria. It actually involves your very genes going bad.

But fear not, cancer will eventually be wiped out, it just might take another hundred or so years.

(want to cure it now? Give every pharmaceutical executive and politician cancer… it’ll be cured in months)

john65pennington's avatar

Shilolo, just a great answer. well thought of and informative. thank you, john

JustmeAman's avatar

There are cures for all of what you are talking about but it starts before one gets any of those sicknesses. There are medicines from natural sources that keep one from getting any of these things. The Drug companies and medical industry know of these things but it is not profitable to allow our society to use and gain all that information. Have you ever asked yourself why there are tribes of people living outside of organized society that NEVER get cancer or AIDS? There is so much behind this question I could talk about it for years and still not cover what is going on. If only we could tap into a collective knowledge bank and everyone could see it but most are sheep following the Shepard along a path of misinformation.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Take an evening to watch “And The Band Played On” an HBO film. That will show you just how “quickly” they cured AIDS.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Be in the same room with techs and oncologists who have just discovered that the tumor was completely eradicated and then try to say it’s about Big Business and funding. Go ahead, I dare you.

JustmeAman's avatar

@JilltheTooth

Oh I understand there are Doctors and techys that love their patients and only want the best for them. I’m talking about the entire general industry of Medicine not a doctor here and there. The Pharmaceutical Companies, The Medical Industry, The FDA and many other agencies that profit from health care. How many times have you seen commercials indicating a certain type of Drug does such wonders for you? Keep watching the commercials and about 2 years later you have Lawyers now saying if you took this drug and things happened to you call us. The Medical Industry has now made 5/6 billion dollars on the product so now they will be sued because people were dying because of the drug and it will cost them around $300,000,000.00. Just do the math and you can see the profits taken in on a Drug “They knew was going to kill”.

shilolo's avatar

@JustmeAman Where are these fantastic people that never get sick? I’d love to go and talk with them and study their behaviors and genetics. They must be living to 200…

Speaking of genetics, there is an entire field of research known as genetic mapping whose major goals are to identify genetic loci that confer susceptibility or resistance to diseases. It was through the study of Ashkenazi women with a high probability of developing breast cancer that the BRCA genes were identified. Likewise, it was by studying individuals that seemed resistant to HIV that CCR5 was identified as a major coreceptor for viral entry into cells, and that people with a mutated copy are relatively resistant to HIV. Based on this amazing research, a number of new drugs have been developed to prevent viral entry and infection of cells, including fuzeon and maraviroc. Michael Brown and Joe Goldstein studied families with high circulating cholesterol and early heart disease and discovered major pathways in how cholesterol is metabolized, knowledge that has since been harnessed to treat and prevent heart disease. I won’t belabor this, though I could continue with examples for days, except to say that modern medicine is well on it’s way to treatments and cures for many diseases.

shilolo's avatar

@Ben_Dover I believe @thekoukoureport was being sarcastic. And the Band Played On is a movie about the early HIV epidemic where people in Western countries were dying left and right. Now that same movie pretty much applies to most of Africa.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@shilolo Thanks. I could have sworn I saw the movie and couldn’t remember there having been a cure…I thought I might be going mad!

Ivan's avatar

You’re right. I, as someone with no medical training and no knowledge of cancer research whatsoever, demand that those people in the white lab coats press the magic SCIENCE button and cure cancer immediately! Those lousy slackers.

JustmeAman's avatar

@shilolo
I didn’t say there were people who never got sick. I said there are group’s cancer free and AIDS free and there are. They have found a few tribes of people in far out regions without cancer and without AIDS besides that isn’t the issue. The issue is about there being a cure for both cancer and AIDS and there is and it is natural. If you adjust your PH level to an alkaline base instead of acidic you don’t get cancer. I have worked with a homeopathic healer that has cured people of cancer without any chemo or any modern day remedies. I myself have undergone major adjustments and health issues with natural herbs and meds and the results have been amazing. You can’t claim nor can you show that that Medical and Drug industries don’t make billions on mans sickness. I have been in meetings with the highest officials in the world and heard first hand some things that the industry does to make sure that continues. I guess the best place I can point you too without repercussion is Kevin Trudeau’s books on health. He was also in some of those meetings and was there in person. There is lots of controversy about Kevin but there is a huge reason why. He is exposing high officials and big corruption I wish I had his fortitude and conviction.

shilolo's avatar

I have news for you. You CANNOT “adjust your pH level” simply by ingesting this or that. The body has its own ways of very carefully regulating pH using the lungs and kidneys, and no amount of food or water will change it significantly. These physiologic responses occur nearly instantaneously to keep pH at a nice healthy 7.4 (which is, indeed, slightly alkaline). When blood pH changes significantly during pathophysiologic conditions, there are serious consequences (i.e. a pH of 7.6 or 7.2 is dangerous).

JustmeAman's avatar

@shilolo
I have news for you I have done so for years so yes I CAN!!! You cannot adjust it to remain exactly the same that is for sure too many factors but you can keep it in a range that is alkaline…

shilolo's avatar

It already IS alkaline, and, in what way do you know that the pH has changed? I doubt very highly that you are regularly getting arterial blood to test for pH using appropriately calibrated instruments. Testing urine pH, which I know is part of this “regimen”, has no correlation with blood pH. For further reading.

JustmeAman's avatar

@shilolo Why do you insist on making things harder than they need be? I will let it go and suffice it to say I stand by my statements and let you and all know it is my reality. I used to try to bring “evidence” and list reading material and web sites but it is only someone else giving there experience and understanding. All be it that many are more expert in a field than others but once you have personal experience and have accomplished something how can reading something else change that? I once passed away and was brought back and through years of experience I have stated what I have. I have personally witnessed things that so many would not even believe unless they were there. How would you take it if I told you that our FDA sits and plans how to keep many sick to make money?

shilolo's avatar

By the way, to address your comment about these “tribes”, I would greatly appreciate a respected reference to their immunity from HIV or cancer. Even IF said “tribes” exist, they might not get HIV simply because, as an isolated tribe, they might not have been exposed to it. Likewise, for cancer to be diagnosed, there needs to be ongoing medical observation. People in said “tribes” must eventually die of something, with the likeliest culprits being infections, cancer or heart disease.

Also, what “meetings” where the FDA outed itself as a nefarious organization?

JustmeAman's avatar

You are correct in saying that some of these people have not been exposed but that is my point. By the way I never said they were immune they have just lived a life different than we are exposed to. Where do you think AIDS came from?

JustmeAman's avatar

Again I will refer you to Kevin Trudeau’s books he will reference this for you. I am not trying to be a commercial for him but he was there.

shilolo's avatar

Kevin Trudeau, the charlatan TV pitchman and convicted felon? I’m going to buy/read a book by a guy with no scientific or medical degree, and no evidence to back up his assertions? I think not.

Next up for shilolo, writing a book titled “How oxygen causes disease…”

JustmeAman's avatar

@shilolo Well there is a reason he has those labels attached to his name. He has death threats all the time and laws suits all over the place. Those law suits are the big corporations and government. So if you want to believe that then believe it I was giving you a reference about someone who has been there. Why do you think he is so widely criticized? Do you think it may be that THEY (government and big business) want to shut him up?

shilolo's avatar

@JustmeAman Ah, the quandary of the persecuted. He argues that it is a government/pharmaceutical witch hunt, which his disciples are all too eager to accept because it fits neatly with his schtick. Peter Duesberg is an infamous and notorious AIDS denialist, yet he hasn’t been convicted of any crimes. There is no crime to being an idiot, but defrauding people of their money IS a crime.

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JustmeAman's avatar

Again believe how you will and have your reality but it is not mine. I state what I do from experience and knowledge.

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shilolo's avatar

This had nothing to do with control. It has to do with two things. One, people being misled into believing in something that is blatantly false. Two, a lack of evidence or data for these faith-driven modalities. If someone (anyone) could provide reliable data for any alternative modality, I would be all for it. The fact that it doesn’t exist, nor do the providers of said alternate therapies want to test them out only continues to prove my point. Alternative practitioners cannot dispute the data of conventional medicine, so they make up all sorts of conspiracy theories to sway the gullible (i.e. in light of this question “Cancer can be cured naturally but doctors/drug companies/etc. hide it…). As I’ve said before, I have no objection to people making bad and misinformed decisions for themselves, but when ideas are thrown around as fact (“the drug companies/FDA are out to get you” or “medicines = bad, natural = good”), I cannot let those fallacies persist.

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shilolo's avatar

Here’s the difference. I answer the question with a well constructed and thoughtful response, that includes multiple citations to verifiable sources.The question was “Why isn’t there a cure for cancer?” and I gave just a small sample of the complex disease that cancer is. It is a gross oversimplification to assume there is one defined disease called “cancer”, or that there would be one magic bullet therapy. Where is your information? Where are your citations? Everyone can have an opinion, but some are much better informed and supported than others. Others opinions (like treated cancer with alkaline “therapy”, homeopathy or herbal remedies) are downright dangerous. I will not back down from correcting misinformation, try as hard as you might to persuade me with your ad hominem attacks.

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JustmeAman's avatar

@shilolo

You think you give well constructed and thoughtful responses but to some not so. You claim multiple citations to verifable sources? You mean such as the government and maybe the medical profession? There are many cancers and many different approaches for treatment but if you use things like alkaline therapy BEFORE you get the cancer then you don’t get it. I guess I should say that again you don’t get it. Saying that you need to correct misinformation? Who are you to say it is misinformation? Your input is NO more important than any others. One of the points I make here is that we didn’t attack you if you look at the thread then you will see it was you that started the attack. I only gave an answer until you seemed to take it on yourself to be judge and jury to my comments. You are the one with the problem I am only giving out what I have experienced and my knowledge and it is NOT up to you to say I am wrong. You don’t have that right even if you think you are right and you think you have that authority.

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shilolo's avatar

@JustmeAman So, the ramblings of a convicted felon outweigh the numerous, validated findings of the scientific community, including Nobel Laureates? Is that how things work in the real world?

I’m curious. How, precisely, does alkaline therapy prevent cancer? Let’s assume you can alkalinize your blood beyond the normal pH of 7.4. What’s the target pH? How does an alkaline pH prevent cells from mutating and becoming malignant without also disrupting the normal function of cellular enzymes that have evolved to function best near pH 7.4? What’s the exact mechanism? Where are the experiments testing this hypothesis published? What is the model in tissue culture, or in animals? In what journals were the human clinical trials published? Please, educate me.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Flame off, folks. Let’s stick to debating the actual question, and knock off the personal stuff.

snowberry's avatar

Shilolo, Your medicine is faith driven too! Can’t you see that? When someone goes in for cancer treatment hoping it will “cure” them and they have a 10% chance of surviving…That’s faith, baby!

I’ve often wondered why it makes “sense” to squish a tumor. Everyone knows not to squish a zit. You spread the infection. Yet that’s exactly what mammograms do, and in the process of discovery, there’s every chance the squishing will spread it. Folks have to have cancer for 8 years before it shows up on a mammogram. EIGHT YEARS people!

Cancer needs blood vessels to grow. That will show up on a thermal imaging machine. It’s a diagnostic tool that’s not invasive, deals out no radiation, and is easy to produce, and some experts believe it does a better job of detecting cancer earlier. This is not new technology. It’s been around since the 50’s.

Why do we wait until someone’s had cancer cells growing for so long before we decide to go after it? And as I stated in my first post , why not spend big money on preventing it instead of trying to cure it.

shilolo's avatar

Let’s discuss a few things.
1. It is not necessarily a bad thing to squish a zit (that’s an “old wive’s tale”). Indeed, the recommendations for most larger abscesses in the body are to drain them, either by using warm compresses to help the pus escape naturally or by cutting into the abscess to drain it.
2. With respect to numbers regarding cancer survival, that isn’t faith, it’s probability. Having studied thousands of patients receiving this treatment, we can, on average, predict that a certain percentage will be alive at 5 years. Some will live longer, some not. What are the comparable probabilities for alternative treatments?
3. When you compress the breast for a mammogram, it does not “squish” a tumor. That’s just an assumption.
4. If thermagraphy were truly superior to mammography, it would have been used by now. Medicine is constantly changing. Ultrasound machines supplanted x-rays and diagnostic surgeries, CT scanners supplanted x-rays and surgeries, MRIs were invented (and use no radiation), PET scanners are used to detect cancers, and many other novel modalities are constantly being invented and tested. You are implying that doctors don’t want to use thermagraphy because they actually WANT women to get worse cancers? That’s repugnant.
5. Many doctors are working on biomarkers to predict cancer. One example is the serum PSA marker for prostate cancer and another is the screening cervical exam to detect early stages of cervical cancer (and dangerous viruses). There are lots of examples of scientists trying to find blood tests (so called biomarkers) to predict the development of breast cancer before a lump materializes. Here’s but one.
6. As for cancer prevention, we have the hepatitis B vaccine (prevents liver cancer), the HPV vaccine (prevents cervical cancer), warnings about smoking (prevents lots and lots of common cancers), dipping (mouth cancer) and sun damage (skin cancers), and treatments for acid reflux (prevents esophageal cancer) to name but a few. Why would the medical profession study all of these preventative measures (many of them free, like “don’t smoke” and “cover your skin”) if they wanted to continue to treat sick people?

The_Idler's avatar

@JustmeAman is a troll or not worth dealing with. Consistently justifies answers with:
“This is based upon my personal knowledge and experience, and you are in no position to question this!”

Also, wacko conspiracy theorist who believes in worldwide professional conspiracy in medicine. Obviously only has experience of US pharmaceutical/medical industry, and even then via TOP SECRET “WHAT THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW” YouTube videos…

snowberry's avatar

If you pay any attention at all, you know that there’s big money in the cancer industry. If you have two ways to get folks well, and one makes you a pile of money, and the other doesn’t, you know which one will be sold. It’s common sense. Money is power and those with power dictate what will be done. That’s why thermal imaging hasn’t caught on. It would cost a lot to re-tool, the mammogram people would be out of jobs, etc. There is resistance there.

Anyway, it’s obvious you cannot and have no intention of ever trying to see things from anything other than your point of view.

shilolo's avatar

Your point of view is morally repugnant. Doctors and scientists don’t want to cure or prevent cancer for financial gain? And I’m the one with a skewed viewpoint? ~

snowberry's avatar

Doctors are trying to make money just like anyone else, and I doubt there are a lot of them able to finance a huge undertaking like that. I’m a realist, and I have an opinion that doesn’t jive with yours. That makes my point of view morally repugnant. Interesting.

The_Idler's avatar

How do doctors make money in the UK? Salary.

How do research chemists make money in the UK? Ground-breaking drugs.

I just listened to a report on the radio on a new drug in development to fight malignant melanoma. They took advantage of gene sequencing in the development, to design it to specifically target the “rogue gene”, if you like. I could go into more detail of the mechanics, but i suppose that’s beside the point. All these people working in universities and all the medical workers and doctors are not slaves to corporate money. I know, I have met hundreds of them.

People dedicate their lives to this cause, and then others insult and sully their noble efforts with accusations of selfish and even psychopathic greed.

The_Idler's avatar

There are some mega-rich charities funding cancer research. Are these all servants and vassals of the pharmaceutical corporations? And are all the highly educated research scientists working there also idiots/evil?

shilolo's avatar

@snowberry Do you even have a concept of how medical research is conducted? Do you think the average doctor on the street is involved in research? The answer is no.

The majority of basic research into most diseases, including cancer, is conducted in academic medical centers and is funded by the NIH (your tax dollars at work) or private foundations like the Howard Hughes Medical Institute or Gates Foundation. For example, in cancer research, there have been thousands of major discoveries over the past century, most made at universities. For instance, Peyton Rous discovered tumor causing viruses while at Rockefeller University, Mike Bishop and Harold Varmus discovered oncogenes while at UCSF, Leland Hartwell (Fred Hutchinson), Temin, Dulbecco and Baltimore (MIT) discovered key factors in retroviruses, and Tim Hunt and Paul Nurse (Imperial Cancer Research Fund) discovered regulators of the cell cycle. This is of course, but a very short list of the most dramatic achievements in cancer research. Thousands of less glamourous discoveries are reported every year. What kind of “research” has been conducted by homeopaths and naturopaths that remotely approaches these discoveries that impact both basic biology and human disease?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@snowberry I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but it ranges from dubious to outright false.

“Shilolo, Your medicine is faith driven too! Can’t you see that? When someone goes in for cancer treatment hoping it will “cure” them and they have a 10% chance of surviving…That’s faith, baby!”
That is why there are lengthy and stringent laws surrounding the concept of informed consent. Each patient must be totally aware of all risks and potential benefits of a proposed diagnostic test or treatment before it is performed, or the practitioner is held liable and can be de-registered.
“I’ve often wondered why it makes “sense” to squish a tumor.”
Mammograms require breast compression, because it reduces the radiation dose to the patient, improves resolution and contrast, and therefore diagnostic precision and accuracy. The tumour is compressed in the process, but there is zero risk from that because breast tumours are generally fibrous and do not distort as readily as healthy tissue. Cystic tumours still have a fibrous capsule in most cases. Malignancy has nothing to do with macroscopic mechanical processes.
“Folks have to have cancer for 8 years before it shows up on a mammogram. EIGHT YEARS people!”
That is bullshit. Mammograms are one of the most sensitive diagnostic tests for breast cancer, which is precisely why they are usually the first point of detection. There is no way to definitively say when a cancer started, but any breast cancer that is untreated for eight years would be either lethal or extremely disfiguring.
“And as I stated in my first post , why not spend big money on preventing it instead of trying to cure it.”
As I stated in my first post, there is no way known to prevent cancer. Avoiding radiation and consuming antioxidants can help reduce the risk of cancer, but if you live long enough you will definitely get cancer. There is no way to comprehensively prevent cancer without redesigning the process of mitosis and finding some way to implement it – or in other words, genetic engineering on the highest level. Cancer will always be with us.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh , @shilolo , @The_Idler and the mods for bringing this thread back on track.

JustmeAman's avatar

@augustlan

I agree sorry for getting off track. My only purpose in answering the question is to help others see the value of alternative medicine and how well it does work. There are many Doctors starting to see it and are prescribing many of the natural herbs and looking for other methods of treatment. I apologize to anyone about letting an answer become personal. Open your hearts and your mind and really look at all options. There is NO substitute for modern medicine in many cases but before we get to that point it really can be prevented and that is where the Natural health and wellness need to be addressed. As to the question I have seen cures and many are cured from both sides of the spectrum. I would, given the option elect the Natural it is much less intrusive and painful and it is very successful. Most Doctors are not trying to just make money that is not where the problem lies. It is BIG Business and Government who uses the people and if you think they don’t then you don’t have to accept or listen to anyone saying different.

shilolo's avatar

The way this thread went makes me ill. As I read the comments from the adherents to alternative medicine, they accuse Western doctors and scientists of trying to keep people sick for financial gain, while naturopaths are somehow saintly. Of course, there aren’t lots of companies trying to milk the consumer with unnecessary vitamins. Naturopaths don’t have products to sell in order to make a profit. Western doctors who incorporate these “holistic” practices are doing it because they believe in it, not because they see a niche market and want to make money off of the naivety of patients. The hypocrisy is appalling.

JustmeAman's avatar

Just one more thing. There are Doctors that dedicate their lifes to healing and helping and there are many homopathic healers that do the same. Each has to decide for themselves and the natural way is a wonderful way to go. There are times that only modern medicine will help and work for you but overall both can be utilized by the public. Health and Love to all.

The_Idler's avatar

@JustmeAman The difference is that the homoeopathic “healers” are uneducated fools.
Reply if you want mathematical proof.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@JustmeAman I’m sure there are many sincere alternative medicine practitioners out there, but that does not make their remedies worthwhile. I’ll never forgive the alternative medicine adherents who tried to take my grandmother off her breast cancer drugs, and told her to eat soy beans instead. I think what you need to realise is that ‘natural’ is not always a synonym for ‘good’. Ricin is a protein extracted from castor beans, and is purely natural, but it is one of the most deadly poisons we know of. The only way to decide if a treatment is effective or not is through strictly controlled clinical trials.

shilolo's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh The soybean recommendation is appalling. There are phytoestrogens in soybeans that in some studies have been shown to behave like estrogens. Breast cancer in particular is an estrogen sensitive tumor (thus the benefits of tamoxifen, an antiestrogen, in treatment of breast cancer) and soybeans could be quite harmful. Of course, they cannot be sued for malpractice because they aren’t practicing anything.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@shilolo My parents checked into the drugs she was prescribed, and…... they were derived from a particular element of soy beans (I don’t know the details, I was very young when this happened). But just because it was conventional medicine, it wasn’t right. They can’t be sued, because they were ‘friends’ who had been told by someone who heard it from who knows who. I’m just glad she survived, or I never would have known her.

JustmeAman's avatar

So how many instances of medical doctors do you look at where the patient died? Both sides make mistakes good grief. To site all Natural medicine is bad from an instance is ludicrius. I’ve said my peace.

The_Idler's avatar

How many instances of fires tackled by the Fire Dept do you look at where people die?

What? the Fire Dept doesn’t save literally everyone from fire!?!?

Well, we’d better start beating drums and screaming at the sky for rain then, hadn’t we!?
And, if that (for some reason) doesn’t work, HEY, BOTH SIDES MAKE MISTAKES, GOOD GRIEF.

JustmeAman's avatar

? What has the fire department have to do with the price of beans in China? Someone gives one instance that bad information was passed along and natural medicine is all bad. Do you really know how many people die from mistakes the hospital makes or doctors make? My father in law was acidently killed by a nurse after we the family told her NOT to do what she did. Does this make all nurses bad or all hospitals bad? Do you really hear yourself? HEY BOTH SIDES MAKE MISTAKES GOOD GRIEF.

The_Idler's avatar

You said:
“To site all Natural medicine is bad from an instance is ludicrius. I’ve said my peace.”
“Someone gives one instance that bad information was passed along and natural medicine is all bad.”

———

There was the anecdote in question, and then:
I think what you need to realise is that ‘natural’ is not always a synonym for ‘good’

Read that again:
I think what you need to realise is that ‘natural’ is not always a synonym for ‘good’

Think about this statement.
Now read it again:
I think what you need to realise is that ‘natural’ is not always a synonym for ‘good’

———

Do you understand how this is not in any way equivalent to ‘siting’ all natural medicine ‘is bad’?

I was ridiculing your ‘ludicrius’ logic.

JustmeAman's avatar

Yes I understand and I agree Natural is not always good. I agree 100% with that and never have said different. I think where Natural is best put into play is before one gets sick or gets cancer. Preventative is far better than a cure after getting sick. I did understand you were ridiculing my logic as I did yours. Sorry about that. I get carried away sometimes. I honestly believe that both homopathic and modern medicine are best used together and in conjunction. I take meds when it is necessary and hope others do the same. And as stated before sometimes the natural will not work and you have to rely on today’s medicine.

The_Idler's avatar

Yeah, and our problem is that homoeopathic “healing” is either magical or non-existent.
And I don’t believe in Magic. Otherwise I wouldn’t bother calling the Fire Dept.

JustmeAman's avatar

That is your choice. I have seen it work and help a man cure cancer but maybe the fire Dept could have done the same. I don’t believe in Magic either.

The_Idler's avatar

“I have seen it work and help a man cure cancer… I don’t believe in Magic either.”

by what mechanism do you propose it achieved this, then?

JustmeAman's avatar

The same mechanism of anything that can cures things. You treat the disease until all cancer cells are gone. You do know that almost all medicines have their start from Natural sources and more times than not through plants and herbs.

The_Idler's avatar

How exactly does homoeopathy work?
What are the actual mechanics of it?
How does it reduce the number of cancer cells?

JustmeAman's avatar

How does anything reduce the number of cancer cells? I’m not a doctor or a homoeopathy healer but I watched as this man got better. He refused to use chemo and go through the conventional means and he got well. I also know a man who went through the conventional methods and he is cured and he went through it twice.

snowberry's avatar

My understanding is that after taking chemo and the doctors can’t find any more disease, they say you are “in remission”. They don’t say you are cured.

Remember Danny Hauser, the kid who was taken from his parents because they didn’t want to make him take chemo, and he refused to receive it even while in a foster home? He was given a death sentence by the medical community, but he’s still around, and is “cancer free”, according to the news.

The_Idler's avatar

Nobody ever said that doing nothing would guarantee death. It’s like the fire. Sometimes you don’t need the Fire Dept, because a rainstorm comes along.

My point is that homoeopathy is like the Rain Dance, it doesn’t increase chances of survival (unless you believe in magic), whereas modern medicine, like the Fire Dept, has a direct and proven, non-perfect but statistically superior, approach.

——————

“How does anything reduce the number of cancer cells?”
By killing them. This is how medicine works.
Homoeopathy is water. Just water. It doesn’t do anything.
From your attitude, it seems you may not know this. Homoeopathy is a lie, a scam. It is water.
JUST WATER.

This is why it is so absurd for us, that you accuse modern medicine of being a selfish, money-making scam, and then advocate homoeopathy in its place. Do you see?
This is “morally-repugnant.”

I wonder how you can have so much “personal experience” of homoeopathy, and yet no idea of its mechanics? You must have a pitifully limited curiosity. Don’t you want to know exactly how this miracle works? Don’t you think hundreds of millions of people want to know?
The problem is, ain’t nothing to know: HOMOEOPATHIC REMEDIES ARE JUST WATER!

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@JustmeAman It seems you completely ignored the rest of my post. I never tried to draw generalisations from one example. How appropriate you comment on statistics though, when most fields of alternative medicine have no statistics whatever to back them up.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
shilolo's avatar

@snowberry Do you mean this Danny Hauser? The one that COMPLETED cancer therapy under the supervision of a judge, and is now cancer free?

Note, even IF he (and others) don’t take cancer meds, it doesn’t mean immediate death after diagnosis. Take prostate cancer for example. As this Kaplan-Meier survival curve shows, even amongst men with high grade cancer (Gleason score 8–10), a small percentage will be alive 5–10 years after diagnosis. What medical scientists do is graph the survival curves for treated versus untreated patients over time to determine IF a treatment is effective. There will ALWAYS be some survivors (well, almost always; some cancers are uniformly fatal) in the untreated arm. What researchers aim to achieve is improved survival with treatment versus control. That kind of data is nonexistent for alternative medicine, and most amongst us would recognize that their “treatments” would be equivalent to the placebo arm in a cancer trial (if not worse).

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
lloydbird's avatar

Great Q @john65pennington I saw this documentary, very late night, on terrestrial TV here in the UK, about 20 years ago. And fully expected to see news of this on the front pages of the news papers the next day. How naive I was!
I’ve since become aware of this one also.
When we are all no longer competing with each other for survival and helping each other to get by, treatments like these will become widely available. Here’s hoping that it is soon.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@lloydbird There seems to be a common theme with those. There was a doctor in Perth a few years back who said he could treat cancer using a machine that emitted microwaves. He had many patients that swore it worked, but he refused to allow his machine to be independently tested. Somehow they all feel a need to assume a victim mentality, and their followers treat them as martyrs, when all the time if they simply allowed their ideas to go through the proper channels of research, any successful ideas could even become mainstream. Sadly, none ever seem to allow independent analysis of their techniques.

shilolo's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Why kill the goose that lays golden eggs? It’s the same rule that applies to all “alternative” medicines. The true believers will ALWAYS believe, no matter what. A million negative studies could be published, but the people that adhere to alternative medicine won’t accept the results, because they will claim “bias” or, more likely, because most don’t understand what makes a valid clinical study (most people don’t understand statistics, for that matter.)

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@shilolo Very true. Unfortunately sometimes what people want to believe takes precedence over demonstrable, verifiable truth.

lloydbird's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh I suggest that you actually watch them before you pass comment as though you have.

shilolo's avatar

@lloydbird How can one molecule, THC, cure various forms of cancer, each of which is caused by a different cell type and containing a multitude of mutations and neoplastic mechanisms? It is absurd on its face.
Best part of the second “documentary”, the beginning. A “documentary” about Rick Simpson produced by (wait for it, wait for it…)......Rick Simpson! Objectivity at its finest!

Hemp oil is a cure for “practically every disease known to man” (this is a direct quote). Oh boy.

lloydbird's avatar

@shilolo I don’t know. I’m just a humble documentary watcher. Perhaps you should ask those advocates that are in them. Or consult a chemist. But the alleged results seem pretty convincing.

shilolo's avatar

@lloydbird #1 All of the “advocates” that are in there are related to each other. #2 I am a chemist and researcher. This is bogus.

lloydbird's avatar

@shilolo Interesting. Have you conducted research on THC?
And don’t related people tend to pass knowledge of a good thing amongst themselves?

shilolo's avatar

@lloydbird No, I have not conducted research on THC, but neither have any of the people in the movie. They give people fancy titles like “Phoenix Tears Researcher”, but no one in the movie is an actual scientist.

As a prime example, Mr. Simpson claims to have cured himself of skin cancer. He reports that he had 3 suspicious spots on his face and chest and that one was removed. The pathology report showed that the removed one was basal cell carcinoma. This is actually a very benign form of skin cancer that is cured by surgical removal. He then claims that he put hemp oil on the other two spots, and that they were “gone” after several days. However, there is no proof that these spots were actually cancer in the first place. Just because the skin areas looked funny (and basal cell cancers are fairly tricky to diagnose), doesn’t mean they were cancers. The whole movie is full of this kind of slight of hand and lazy logic. I am not impressed.

lloydbird's avatar

@shilolo Fair enough. But I would be better convinced by you after you have cast your expertise, via direct and dispassionate research, into the afore mentioned substance.

Any comments on Hoxsey?

shilolo's avatar

@lloydbird Well, I have neither the time, nor the interest in pursuing a modern version of snake oil. It is IMPOSSIBLE for one chemical to be a cure for hundreds of different diseases that range from cancer to autoimmune to inflammatory to infectious. Even if I did study it, only a positive result will be accepted by people in the alternative medicine group. Prove no benefit and the “believers” will claim bias, or some other claim.

The crazy thing about these movies is that most of the advocates for these types of treatments have no scientific or medical training, and they make all the same types of claims (treatment X cures EVERYTHING…). Hoxsey is a hoax too. The “inventor” was a former coal miner and insurance salesman. Late in life he developed prostate cancer, but his own treatment failed to cure it so he underwent conventional treatment. Need I say more?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@lloydbird In the first documentary, they specifically state that no scientific study into the Hoxsey treatment has been done. I think that supports my comments adequately. If it was indeed so successful, it would have been the subject of scores of research papers, and would more than likely have been accepted as an alternative by oncologists.

The second documentary opens by saying “For over a century, big business and pharmaceutical companies worldwide have withheld the cure for cancer and countless other medical conditions, all in the interest of personal profit.” This immediately puts them in the victim mentality as I said above. Assuming a conspiracy is the easiest way to get fanatical followers who will swear by whatever snake oil you are pushing, because any evidence against its success will be attributed to big business attempting to sabotage the case for the treatment.
It then goes on to state that “hemp is a plant, and therefore it cannot be patented.” While that is true, extraction techniques and techniques to perfect the extracts can be patented, so that is no argument at all.
Then the man who had four heart bypasses started taking hemp oil because it worked for his father, who had cancer. Seriously? Who in their right mind would see a successful cancer drug, and think it would help them with their heart trouble? I’m not saying that it cannot work for both, but the assumption is dubious at best.
Wikipedia says that synthetic THC is available as a prescription drug, and that it is used for treating Anorexia and AIDS. If the same drug were shown to help cancer patients, I’m sure it would be quickly accepted. Thalidomide is a notorious drug for its effects as a tetranogen, but it is being investigated for potential positive effects in treating many other disorders. The same would be true of THC – every potential avenue of benefit would be under investigation, so I see no reason to assume a conspiracy.

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