Chemotherapy and its Controversy
This is a different style post than some of my recent ones, but it addresses questions and issues that any one with cancer needs to address during their treatment.
There is a lot of information and skepticism floating around with regards to chemotherapy. You only need to use google for a few seconds before you find many theories as to why chemotherapy is bad, pharmaceutical companies are evil, and why asparagus only diets are the cure for cancer. There is much conjecture, a lot of scaremongering, some evidence based ideas, and personal opinions.
The question is, how do you separate out fact from fiction? This is not an easy question to answer for the average lay person. When you are bombarded with so much information, what inevitably happens is people pick and choose what they believe based on their own preconceived perceptions, and what is most ‘comfortable’ to believe. When you are dealing with cancer, and its somewhat high mortality rate, people will grasp to what hope they can find, be it in false remedies, evidence based ideology, faith based theories, or in the reality in which they exist.
But the harsh reality is that almost all of those things do not offer magic bullet type cures for cancer. The claim that pharmaceutical companies are out for every dollar they can be more accurately applied to those that peddle herbal cures and cures based on diet alone. If eating asparagus could cure cancer, then it is highly unlikely that such information could possible be kept secret in the interest of pharmaceutical gain. Lets not forget the Doctors who dish out treatment, they genuinely have the patients best interest at heart, and to say that they are persuaded by pharmaceutical interests is basically hyperbole at best and out right scaremongering at worst.
Here are two interesting articles that are worth the read when you have the time. The first is by Malcolm Gladwell, and gives a pretty good synopsis of the state of play of pharmaceutical companies and the development of agents for chemotherapy. The second is from a website/blog that attempts the counter the myths about various aspects of medicine with evidence based research to back up what is considered the current consensus on any given issue. The article on chemotherapy is interesting, although somewhat loaded with agenda.
I have written this post in response to the fairly regular commentary from people who hear my story and want to reccommend a diet or a lifestyle or a herbal remedy that will cure or improve the odds of my survival. One particularly lady claimed that I needed to eat an alkali based diet in order to reduce the acidity of my blood cos ‘cancer thrives in an acidic environment’. Usually, I respectfully ignore suggestions like these, but for whatever reason, I felt I needed to point out the flaw in her reasoning. Firstly cancer does not ‘thrive in and acidic environment’, by its very nature, it has a high cellular turnover, and therefore a much higher metabolic consumption than normal cells in the body (something that current researcher are trying to target with therapy). This high metabolic rate means that as a byproduct, extra hydrogen ions (H+) are produced, H+ ions are responsible for acidity. I.e. cancer does not thrive in an acidic environment, it PRODUCES an acidic environment. Secondly, the idea that you might be able to alter the pH of your blood via diet is fairly wrong. The pH of our blood is finely regulated by the body, and a few decimal point changes in either direction has fairly significant metabolic implications for the body, resulting in physical illness.
After pointing these things out to this lady, she paused, looked reflective, and responded with “well, sometimes you have to forget about all your medical knowledge“…. enough said.
Cancer is scourge that brings out many positive intentions, and a lot of people mean well. However, misinformed good intentions are not very helpful, particularly when the stakes are life or death. A misinformed decision can easily lead to the worse of the two outcomes.
This is not usually the kind of post that I put up on my blog, but I have posted it for interests sake of the two articles, and to explain where my perspective with regards to chemotherapy treatment. I hope it helps.
Thanks for listening.