Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cancer Patients Can Be Endangered By `Alternative Cures` On The Web

21.08.2002

Internet websites promoting `alternative` cures for cancer can seriously harm patients who follow their advice . And some are downright dangerous – according to an editorial published today in the British Journal of Cancer.

A survey of 13 sites relating to alternative or complementary medicine and cancer found that patients were not only discouraged from using conventional cancer therapies but were not informed about alternative remedies that have been shown to be ineffective.

The warning is sounded by scientists at Exeter University`s Department of Complementary Medicine*.

Professor Edzard Ernst, who headed research into the subject, says most sites visited recommended a multitude of treatments with little consensus between them.

"Cancer patients get confused in the maze of claims and counter claims and often turn to the Internet for information which can give advice that has led to real harm and even death in some cases. "

The study defined five sites as potentially harmful to patients who followed their advice. And two sites, www.alternativemedicine.com and www.heall.com were described as "dangerous" to cancer patients.

Researcher Katja Schmidt says that www.alternativemedicine.com downgraded conventional cancer treatments by statements such as `women with breast cancer are likely to die faster with chemotherapy than without` and that `of approximately half a million people who die of cancer each year only about two to three per cent actually gain benefit from chemotherapy. `

She says: "The site lists treatments such as herbal remedies and shark cartilage as offering `promise as cancer treatment.` With a statement like that a patient might abandon orthodox cancer treatment on the basis of the arguments on this website. Also the site has no mention of a governing body nor a reference to frequency of updates. It offers products for sale and is supported by advertising."

The site www.heall.com provides no details of research efforts for the therapies it promotes nor does it request a patient should also seek conventional advice. "It claims that alternative therapies being used to treat and/or cure cancer are botanicals such as goldenseal, pokeroot, wild indigo, thuja, figwort, red clover, Essiac and astragalus. But there is no evidence that any of these herbal medicines cure cancer," says Schmidt.

When people are diagnosed with cancer they are in shock and feel a real sense of crisis. " They think:` What else can we do?` " says Prof Ernst. "They read pages of information on websites and read that shark cartilage promises a cure for cancer. Patients are overloaded with information and it is very difficult for them to assess the credibility of information they find on random websites.

" As long as statements on the web don`t promise a cure but simply offer a chance to improve the quality of a cancer patient`s life – that is quite a different matter. If a person feels better after massage or reflexology or aromatherapy that is a good thing – as long as the patient is aware that this is not a cure."

By contrast the researchers praised Cancer Research UK`s award-winning website designed specifically for patients by a team of medical experts. Called www.cancerhelp.org.uk this site "is a very useful source of information regarding conventional cancer treatments," says Schmidt. v "Complementary cancer treatments are also discussed. There are details of research given for various therapies and the site provides references to sources of information, links to other cancer websites and is frequently updated. It provides non-profit primary information."

Chief executive of Cancer Research UK Sir Paul Nurse says: " Cancer Research UK works with scientists involved in looking at complementary medicine which, as the name suggests, can complement orthodox treatment and bring benefits to the patient. There is a confusing amount of information about cancer treatment and so called `alternative` cancer cures available on the Internet. Many of these have no clinical or scientific basis and so it is vitally important that patients seek advice from their doctors before embarking on any alternative therapy. Our Cancer Help website only offers patients information that has been extensively checked by a wide variety of specialists with experience of treating the disease."

Sally Staples | alfa

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy
25.07.2017 | Duke University

nachricht Chances to treat childhood dementia
24.07.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>