Alternative Medicine Kills Cancer Patients, Study Finds

Alternative Medicine Kills Cancer Patients, Study Finds
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Chiropractic, homeopathy, acupuncture, juice diets, and other forms of unproven alternative medicine cannot cure cancer, no matter what some quacks might claim. Unfortunately, vulnerable cancer patients turn to these charlatans every year rather than visit real doctors, hoping for a miracle treatment to purge them of their monstrous disease.

But as a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute makes painfully clear, as a treatment for cancer, alternative medicine does not cure; it kills.

A team of scientists from Yale University perused the National Cancer Database, a collection of 34 million records of cancer patients along with their treatments and outcomes, to identify patients who elected to forgo conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery in favor of alternative medicine. They found 280 subjects diagnosed with nonmetastatic breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer in 2004 who used alternative medicine (defined in the database as “other-unproven: cancer treatments administered by non- medical personnel”) and matched them with 560 control subjects who received conventional treatment. The researchers then tracked subjects' outcomes over time. (Below: The figure shows the surviving fraction of patients using alternative medicine [solid line] and conventional medicine [dashed line].)

After five years, 78.3% of subjects who received conventional treatments were still alive, compared to only 54.7% of subjects who used alternative medicine. Even more startling, breast cancer patients who used alternative medicine were five times more likely to die. Colorectal cancer patients were four times more likely to die. Lung cancer patients were twice as likely to die. Prostate cancer patients were also more likely to die, though the difference did not reach statistical significance.

The researchers could not specifically identify which alternative medicines subjects were using, although there shouldn't be much variation between therapies, since, by definition, there isn't convincing evidence that any alternative medicine is effective at treating cancer.

"Other limitations of the data include unmeasured confounders or selection bias that could impact survival," the researchers noted. "However, because patients receiving alternative medicine were more likely to be younger, more affluent, more well-educated, and less burdened with comorbidities, this would not likely account for the observed survival differences."*

Proponents of alternative medicine often innocently ask, "What's the harm?" For cancer patients who opt for treatment with alternative medicine, the harm is death. Alternative medicine isn't literally killing them, but it is causing patients to turn away from effective, evidence-based treatments that can and do save lives. Alternative medicine is as good as killing them.**

Source: Skyler B. Johnson, Henry S. Park, Cary P. Gross, James B. Yu. "Use of Alternative Medicine for Cancer and Its Impact on Survival." JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 110, Issue 1, 1 January 2018, djx145, https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djx145

*Paragraph added 8/14

**Paragraph updated 8/17

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