Cancer. What can you do?

Seems like a whole slew of beloved artists have recently died from cancer.

If you (or someone you know) has been diagnosed with cancer, is there anything you can do outside of the conventional treatments? As I understand it, conventional treatments have an appallingly low success rate. Even worse, it seems big business has a vested monetary interest in discouraging people from investigating anything but conventional treatments. The first of these documentaries makes the claim that if doctors recommend alternative treatments, they can lose their licenses or even go to jail.

Better yet, is there anything you can do to reduce your risk of getting cancer in the first place?

Here are two documentaries that claim you can.

I can’t support anything they say since I’m not a medical professional. But I thought those of you who have never considered these alternative viewpoints might find them interesting.

The first is: Healing Cancer from the Inside Out

It discusses dietary changes that will prevent and even reverse cancer.

The second is: Forks over Knives

This one is more concerned with fatal diseases like Heart Attacks and Strokes.

I found them both to be very informative and after viewing them, I changed my diet to a “plant based” diet.

Whether you agree with them or not, I would suggest it’s worth the small amount of time to take a look.

What do you think about conventional treatments and things you can do to reduce the odds you will contract cancer?

I quit smoking. It was expensive, addictive, and really did nothing for me other than feed the monkey.

We don’t do well for *cancers that have metastasized, and maybe never will. I remember reading an article in which one doctor said that based on what we know that he envisioned the most likely long-term treatment for *metastasized cancer was to treat it as a chronic condition (like hypertension and diabetes), and not something with an endgame ‘cure.’

*In this article he was speaking specifically about pancreatic cancer, which is pretty much always metastasized when it’s found, but I think the same would apply to others as well.

Alternative medicine is alternative in the sense that it doesn’t work. If it did, it would be regular medicine and be more expensive.

Don’t smoke, drink very little if at all, don’t live close to a freeway, stay away from asbestos, don’t eat blackened food, avoid processed meat, stay out of the sun and/or use sun block, make sure radon from the ground escapes rather than pool in your house…

But in the end it’s a crapshoot.

Also calibrate properly between hypochondria and only going to the doctor once you trip over the tumor when getting out of bed. Many cancers are quite treatable.

I did see an interesting TED talk about how you can basically starve tumors by making sure they can’t grow new blood vessels. In general you don’t want to make it easy for tumors to get nutrients by eating too much, but on the other hand you don’t want to be too thin because you’ll need reserves to survive the treatments. Also be sure to eat enough in the hospital, undernourishment slows down recovery.

Reduce your exposure to mutagens/carcinogens.

Dang! I meant to mention smoking. Doh! Thanks for pointing that out. It’s pretty obvious. Isn’t it?

Acceptance and Resignation. No matter what bullshit they try to feed you on TV, cancer always wins. Enjoy the time you have left.

I’m going skiing. See ya.

Another thing to do is pick your parents carefully. Don’t get born into a family that has a history of cancer.

Wait… Oh that’s not possible? Drat.

The odds are not in my favor - all four grandparents had cancer, my brother has had it, and my mother is a 4-time survivor. We may be cancer-prone, but at least we’re ornery.

The reason they are “conventional” is because they have been tested, and shown to work better than placebo. “Alternative” treatments are those which have not been tested or shown to work better than placebo.

There is no evidence, for instance, that the Rave Diet reverses cancer.

Death rates from cancer have been declining since the 1990s. Any wide-scale shift from proven treatments to “alternative” treatments would probably affect that trend, and not for the better.

This is wrong for two reasons.
[ol][li]Big business has the strongest possible reason to find other effective treatments for the various forms of cancer, and it is the same one it is now - they can make money producing it. If any “alternative” treatment is shown to work, they would be on it like a duck on a June bug. [/li]
Also, the “alternative” medicine peddlers have a vested monetary interest in selling worthless snake oil, and a great deal to lose when their wares are shown to be worthless.
[li]Big business types, and their families and friends, also suffer from cancer. Do you believe their commitment to profit is so strong they will die, or allow their family members to die, rather than explore something other than conventional treatment? And don’t you suppose that, if they ever found anything worthwhile, that word might get out? [/ol][/li]

Please understand I said that it was stated in the doc “Healing Cancer from the Inside Out”. AAMOF, if you watch, it was stated in the first 2 minutes of that doc.

I have no ability to know if it’s true or not. I was very careful to make it clear that it was the doc that said that. Not me. But I would listen to their reasons. I think it’s important to keep an open mind.

It’s not true, for the reasons I pointed out.

He is lying, to try to sell his book.

I am open to any real evidence this doctor, or anyone else, has.


No, sorry, “Keep an open mind” in rejecting proven science and looking at clearly disproven quackery is not a rational or reasonable thing to say. Neither is saying “well I don’t know” and then continuing to push for the bullshit when the people around you are telling you the truth.

Get it caught early.

ivylass, 8 year breast cancer survivor come this May, treated with surgery, chemo, radiation, and I’m doing damn good and am in better shape than I was before the cancer. So, yeah, the conventional treatments saved my life.

The OP has conflated two very different issues: 1) Steps to take to minimize the risk of having cancer take root vs. 2) Steps to take to maximize healthy survival once you have established cancer.

Those are two very different problems with very different solutions. e.g. For somebody with significant non-small cell lung cancer, even quitting smoking is mostly unhelpful. The additional stress of quitting probably outweighs the small reduction in lung insult from continued smoking. Obviously for the rest of us, never smoking at all or quitting today is the far better move than continuing.

Cancer is a big deal in humanity. And probably will continue to be for centuries to come. As such everybody wants to do something, anything, about it.

As with other forms of public health, avoiding actively harmful behavior has a real good NNT & cost effectivity curve. After that, it gets real speculative and very individual. Each cancer case is an experiment with an *n *of 1 and no control group. To be sure there are similarities between individual cases and that’s what drives the current scientific concensus-based treatments.

And many of the treatments work. In the sense of producing many more disease-free or at least limited-disease-impact years. Remember that life itself is a progressive and fatal disease. If we postpone your cancer long enough for you to die of heart disease or being shot by your lover’s jealous spouse, in a very real sense we’ve cured your cancer. We’ve certainly rendered it non-fatal in your case.

“Conventional”(that is, real) medical treatments saved My Beloved’s life from cancer recently.

You should not lump all cancers together. There are many different types and there is effective treatment for many of them.

Many lymphomas and leukemias respond well to chemotherapy

For example:

ALL (a form of childhood leukemia)
-prior to 1960 considered universally fatal
-currently can achieve remission in 95% and long-term (>10 year) disease-free survival in >80%

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
-prior to 1970s about 15% 5-year survival
-currently long term (>10 year) disease free survival in >80%

Solid tumors (such as colon and breast) can be successfully treated surgically and essentially cured if found in early stages.
I would not consider this success rate “appallingly low”.

These all would be considered cures. Although these effective treatments have not been around that long, we are still seeing long-term survivors. I have patients in their 90s who had breast cancer 40 years ago. With alternative treatments, they would have died.

Unfortunately, we don’t have effective treatments for all cancers, particularly ones like ovarian and pancreatic cancer which have often spread by the time they are diagnosed. However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do about any cancers. We need to stop thinking about cancer as one disease when in truth it is multiple different diseases, all with different treatments and prognoses.

Here is why treating cancer is hard.

  1. Cancer cells look a lot like normal cells. It is trivial to come up with ways that will effectively kill cancer cells, unfortunately most of them will also kill all of the other cells in the patient, and burning down the village to save it doesn’t quite jive with the Hippocratic oath. This means you have to find a way of targeting something that is unique to the cancer cells.

  2. In order to cure cancer you need to pretty much kill every single cell of that cancer. If you kill 99.999% of the cancer cells than the cells that remain can grow into a new cancer. This is why you can have cases of apparent remission that recur after a time. If you have a solid tumor that is localized and hasn’t had any of its cells travel outside of that local region then you can surgically remove the tumor. Otherwise you are going to have to find track down and kill every last little bugger.

  3. Cancer cells evolve. Cancer cells by their nature go through many generations very rapidly. Also by their nature they often have problems in their DNA repair pathway and so are also likely to mutant quite rapidly. So getting back to problem 2, If you have a highly effective treatment that targets one aspect of the cancer, than with all the genetic diversity there still might be 1 or two cells here are or there that have a by chance rearranged their genome to form a resistance to it. Your patient will get an apparent complete remission, only to have these cells grow back into a cancer that is entirely made up of cells resistant to the current treatment. This is why, ironically, the most indolent cancers are often most hard to cure. With agressive tumors, there is only a relatively short amount of time between the creation of the initial cancer cell and the onset of symptoms, with the result that the Cancer has had little time to have evolve resistant strains. While with a slow growing tumor the disease can be quite old and genetically variable, with a strong likelihood that one or two cells will be resistant to any given treatment.

I knew a woman who was very much a vegetarian, eating like that before it became really popular. Died in her late 30s from breast cancer that had spread everywhere.

I don’t think a plant-based diet will prevent cancer, but if a person wants to go that way for an all-around healthier lifestyle, I can get behind that.

Alternative treatments are, by definition, treatments that haven’t been proven to work.

We have a standard of care. That’s defined as the best proven treatment for a particular problem.

We also have experimental treatments. You could call experimental treatments “alternative” treatments, but it seems to be the big difference between experimental treatments and most so-called alternative treatments is that people are given experimental treatments in the hope of either proving the experimental treatment works better than the standard of care, in which case the experimental treatment becomes of the new standard, or worse, in which case the standard treatment remains standard.

But alternative treatments have no such goal. Here, try this treatment. Does it work? Who knows? Can we find out if it works? No, because we’re not keeping records or comparing it to standard treatments. I just made up this treatment, and I think it works, and have no need for petty concerns like evidence or the scientific method.

Of course there are some standard forms of treatment that are no better than placebos, or sometimes worse. How do we discover what those are? We have to test treatments scientifically. And that means, “I tried treatment X and got better” isn’t good enough. Lots of people do one thing, then another thing happens. That doesn’t mean the two things were causally connected.

For example, there’s a very strong correlation between the ability to read and height. It turns out that the average reading ability of people under 3 feet tall is horrible. Does that mean that shortness causes some form of dyslexia? No, it means that young children haven’t learned to read yet, and also haven’t grown yet. The two variables are causally connected, not because shortness causes learning disabilities or stupid people get shorter, but because the two variables are causally connected to a third variable, age.

My maternal grandmother had breast cancer, with a mastectomy when she was 91 years old. She was cured, and lived to be just short of 108 years old.

My mother has had her lung cancer cured, although it’s been only a year or so since it’s discovery, nine months since the radiation. She also had a seperate cancer on the spleen. With the spleen being removied, and chemotherapy, it appears to have gone too. But the latter is an especially sneaky bastard of a disease, and it’s early days yet on that.

But her hair is coming back some, and she’s gaining a little weight.

Sounds fairly successful to me. Even if it returns she’s had some more good time. Thank God for “conventional” medicine.

All that being said, it’s a free country and I think folks should have the right to seek out the treatment they desire.