Be Aware of These Nine Questionable Clinics

John Watson

Disclosures

August 20, 2018

In This Article

Alternative Cancer Treatments' Exploitation Industry

A more nefarious offshoot of alternative medicine is provided by the various clinics that say that they can treat patients' cancer outside of the normal armamentarium of scientifically based options. The abundance of treatments offered by these clinics makes them hard to unify under any one umbrella.

According to Gorski, the most common clinics are probably those that espouse vague notions that cancer is caused by contamination of the body and can thereby be defeated through extensive "detoxification" protocols involving dietary restrictions, supplements, and enemas, usually consisting of coffee. Perhaps the most well-known examples of this are the so-called Gerson® Therapy and Gonzalez Protocol. Often, these dietary protocols are given alongside experimental drugs and protocols (eg, induced hypothermia) or naturally occurring but still dangerous products (eg, corrosive black salve ointments for breast and skin cancers).

[O]ne of the tragic components to these treatments is that they are sometimes sought out by patients with early-stage disease who would otherwise have a high expectation of being cured...

Whether the practitioners who espouse these treatments are true believers or con artists is of little difference, critics argue, because the limited data on their efficacy usually tells a clear story. For example, patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer who received chemotherapy had three times the survival and better quality of life than those receiving the Gonzalez Protocol.[3]

According to Gorski, one of the tragic components to these treatments is that they are sometimes sought out by patients with early-stage disease who would otherwise have a high expectation of being cured, either owing to fear of the effects of conventional treatment or being misled about alternative therapy's capabilities. A 2018 study in JAMA Oncology found that use of complementary cancer therapies was independently associated with a higher risk for death.[4]

Even in cases where patients have not responded to conventional medicine, for whom untested and alternative treatments may seem worth a try, there is still a considerable risk.

"You might lose the chance to put your affairs in order," Gorski said. "You might lose your fortune that you might otherwise have passed on to your family. You may think your symptoms are bad now, but it can always be worse."

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