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
Electrical 'switch' in brain's capillary network monitors activity and controls blood flow
27.03.2017 | Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont
Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences