Alternative therapists are spreading unchecked and unchallenged into the heart of our communities. Trumpeting the benefits of tradition, these unregulated and uninsured health practitioners are setting up makeshift clinics everywhere from under homes in quiet backstreets to glamorous high street locations.
Offering holistic treatments they don white coats and claim they can cure nearly every real and imaginary health condition with an inexhaustible and continually mutating toolbox of scientifically implausible treatments and remedies.
Increasing numbers of patients — feeling confused, frightened and abandoned after long treatments — are walking out of oncology wards and heading for these practitioners, encouraged by references in booklets from cancer councils, support groups and well meaning friends.
“Nutritional medicine” therapists are actively targeting cancer patients. Centred on a diet that was developed by Dr Max Gerson, they claim that cancer can be cured by eliminating toxins. The clinics attract cancer patient whose immune systems are already severely compromised. Their dietary regime consists of copious amounts of organic vegetable and fruit juice, supplemented by raw liver juice, daily mega-dose vitamin injections, natural remedies and regular coffee enemas.
Hair, blood and urine analysis are ineffective for heavy metal and nutritional diagnostics, but they may also be used to convince patients that they need their imaginary toxins removed by intravenous chelation and to increase the sale of additional supplements.
Despite an independent review by the National Cancer Institute, which concluded that the method has no value in treating cancer, it continues to be heavily promoted.
“Energy Medicine” therapists are gaining popularity. Based on the concept that cancer can be cured by identifying and removing allergies, they use the scientifically implausible techniques of kinesiology and homeopathy to diagnose mythical allergies and acupressure to clear them.
Both small businesses and individuals are also setting up cancer clinics. Sometimes charging up to $100,000 for treatments, they offer a variety of products and services that may include vitamin and mineral supplements, Laetrile, Cesium or high PH therapy, devices called parasite/energy zappers, Zen Chi Massages, Magnetic Pulsers, coffee enemas, ozone therapy, diets described as eating according to blood type, live blood analysis and thermal imaging.
Other alternative medicine (AltMed) therapists are registering themselves as charities with names that suggest they are cancer support groups. Sometimes patronized by high profile bureaucrats, they are fronts for unproven cancer drugs such as Laetrile, Ukraine and hydrazine sulphate.
Alternative cancer cures always recommend some kind of dietary regime which inevitably includes expensive natural remedies and vitamins. Offering useless treatments to terminally ill patients has long been, and continues to be, a big money spinner for AltMed therapists and now some doctors have joined their ranks.
Unlike AltMed therapists, doctors are required to be registered. While some doctors promoting AltMed are de-registering themselves, others are using the loopholes in registration guidelines to avoid scrutiny.
Doctors who promote unproven cancer cures may do the initial consultation with their patients before introducing them to their team of AltMed therapists. Cancer patients are often so traumatized by their condition, by the severity of their surgery and chemotherapy and so desperate for a cure that when they see a doctor they assume that what they offer is backed by evidence-based medicine.
The Federal Court has upheld complaints against some of these clinics, but sadly, too late for many of their patients.
Not only are alternative cancer cures ineffective, they may cause harm to patients. When the benefits claimed are not realised, family conflict may arise when little time may be left for the patient.
In this feeding frenzy the only ones starving are the cancer patients whose weakened bodies struggle to survive on the highly restricted diets, supplemented by handfuls of useless pills.