Cultural Bias or Established Fact…How do you Know?

When it comes down to it, I don’t know, you don’t know and nor probably does he or she. Some people do know some things but not other things, but where do we find the people who know what we want to know and who are willing to tell us - truthfully? And, how do we know that what we think we know is not simply our cultural bias?

Sorry to sound like a bad rendition of Donald Rumsfeld but in a world awash with as much disinformation as information as this one is, I can’t help but.

In the main we rely upon second-hand information and on common sense to get by. That works for most of us most of the time well enough. But second-hand knowledge is not always reliable and common sense is not itself knowledge. Usually it’s a set of assumptions, which may or may not have basis in fact. We don’t really know….

So it’s a good exercise once in a while to question our assumptions and take a hard look at where we go to get our information and how we use it.

Earlier this year I wrote an article about an enzyme-based protocol for the treatment of cancer compared with chemotherapy. Two readers objected to what I wrote, accusing me of recommending medical treatment without medical qualification. What they missed was I did not recommend anything to anybody. I simply wrote about a treatment for cancer that appeared to have merit and which people might like to know about and go on to form their own opinion. Plus the necessary caveat that anyone considering anything of the sort should never do so without qualified medical opinion.

So no apologies. That said, it got me thinking about my assumptions and how it affects what I write. I’ve written on medical matters for over 20 years now. I do so as a journalist with no medical and no scientific qualification. I write as a somewhat educated consumer and relay what I learn in the hope that it has value to readers.

What about GMOs?

Take Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). Where, for example do I stand on that? I’ve written about it elsewhere on occasion. Short answer is, I don’t know. I’m not a scientist and unless you are, you don’t know either. I tend to believe that properly used and effectively regulated it can be a good thing and could quite possibly save many of us from starvation or malnutrition in years to come.

Now for my assumptions: I don’t like or trust Monsanto further than I could throw any multi-national corporation. From what I can ascertain they appear relentless and unscrupulous in their pursuit of money. If I am right, we would be foolish to trust them not to exploit us to the max, if we gave them a monopoly on the seeds of life, would we not?

It seems reasonable to me that we should pretty much have the right to know what’s going into our food and how it’s produced. In such a situation how can anyone reasonably trust a company refusing to let us know what we’re eating because they have good reasons to believe it may affect our purchase decision negatively? In which case I say, better not to have GM crops at all than to give the keys of the city to Monsanto on trust, let alone the future of the planet.

But that’s not the end of it, is it? If science sanctions the ethical and safe use of GM crops and it helps us feed more people and better, then we should be open to it. It is then up to us to find out how to ride shotgun on the Monsantos of this world rather than throw the baby and the undernourished out with the bathwater. That’s no easy job. Who’s going to do it?

Cancer Cures? Why not Find Out…

Having cited the earlier the piece on protolytic enzymes (see Asia Sentinel) there are three other cancer protocols I would mention that appear to have remarkable success rates. Sufficient grounds that is to say to warrant the time and expense of an independent scientific survey to establish the facts. They are:

Burzynski Method: using peptides known as antineoplastons Dr. Burzynski developed natural complementary protocol including customized diets and exercise for 40 different types of cancer, covering close to 2,000 patients and claiming an average of 50 to 60 percent success rate for substantial tumour sites or complete remission.

Gc-MAF: or Gc protein-derived macrophage activating factor is an immunomodulatory protein known as a vitamin D binding protein macrophage, already claiming good results in the treatment of various illnesses including cancer, autism, chronic fatigue and Parkinson's. GcMAF is a vital part of our immune system stimulates the macrophage to destroy cancer cells. It is not a drug and is unpatentable and relatively inexpensive.

Laetrile: a substance that comes from the kernels of apricots, peaches and almonds. Its claimed efficacy as an alternative to chemotherapy has particularly enraged established medical opinion. Since 1924 Laetrile was synthesized from amygdalin has been offered as a cancer treatment. By the mid 1970s researchers at the Sloan Kettering found laetrile prevented the spread of tumours of the lung in animals by 80% to 90%. At which point the research was inexplicably called off. Banned in the US since 1963 some hundreds of thousands of American citizens continue to seek treatment in Mexico and elsewhere.

Now I don’t know if these four protocols are work or not, but they certainly seem to be worth looking into. What does seem clear is that there is strong evidence that they do work for some cancer sufferers. The physicians who practice these protocols have stayed the course, often suffering savage attacks at the hands of the medical establishment over decades in the process.

Research, Lies & Dam’ Lies

As with any controversy, particularly a scientific one, it is hard to establish the truth as the research, record and other facts to prove a point are used to advance or discredit these treatments as required by protagonists and opponent alike, and usually by people far better qualified than we are. And yet they contradict. No wonder we are confused.

Medical research it seems can only be a guide or a starting point. Honest research does exist, but unless you are an epidemiologist you’ll never really know if it’s valid or not. It is horribly easy to design research to get the results you want and of course the people who pay for the research are for the most part the pharmaceutical companies. Big Pharma is not alone in buying the research results they want. So too do any number of manufacturers of nutritional supplements. They just have less money and the end results, when they go wrong, are far less dire.

All the leading proponents of these protocols have cried out for their work to be scientifically evaluated. It has never happened. In the two cases where it came close, the research was either stopped or the methodology a complete travesty.

If you are in any doubt about the size of the problem, just consider that when it comes to the evaluation of a new drug over 60% of all negative research findings are buried and never published, as the law requires. That means that no one, be they doctors or anyone else, can know for sure that one drug is better than another or if indeed - it is any use at all. That’s an extraordinary sad state of affairs. Not something of which the medical profession can be proud.

Research is a complex business but if you want to get a clear insight into the facts and how this nasty game is played just Google epidemiologist, Dr Ben Goldacre on the subject and follow him from there. He’s brilliant, funny and passionate on the subject. His rapid- fire 17-minute video exposé on the subject is a virtuoso performance. http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_battling_bad_science?

Politics of Cancer

People fear cancer and for good reason. It is life threatening and none of the standard treatment choices guarantee a cure, but all inflict pain, potential loss of mobility, mutilation, debilitation and risk of secondary complications. Many of us have heard about other less toxic treatments but because of the constraints imposed by the medical bureaucracy we are pretty much on our own if we want to find out about them, let alone pursue them.

It is not as if the current treatment of cancer works very well. In the US alone in the past decade a staggering 5.8 million Americans have lost their lives to cancer. The major drugs for cancer are getting on for 50 years old or more, some of them. Since 1971 the US has spent more than US$200 billion on the so-called War on Cancer. Apart from enriching the pharmaceutical industry and certain sectors of the medical profession, the expenditure of all that money has had dismal results. Cancer rates have soared and been an utter failure in treating metastatic cancers.

Given less than 100 people were killed since 2004 in the US by terrorism does it make sense to spend all that treasure on wars and homeland defense and not spend more money more effectively on combating cancer?

A cost-efficient and good place to start being an honest survey of protocols with credible evidence and track record in fighting cancer to establish whether they work or not. It would take a fraction of that $4.6 billion currently spent per year over the last four decades to find out. All that’s required is the political and professional resolve to do it and do so honestly.

The Loss Adjuster will see you now….

While we‘re at it, consider the cost to the patient in terms of undergoing the rigours of treatment and all that money spent. Medical insurers now offer oncologists US$4,200 per patient per annum to restrict the medications they prescribe to a pre-determined list of drugs for the condition. In other words, you are no longer being treated by your doctor as an individual but as an actuarial unit by your insurance company.

Insurers say they have to do this to control costs, which would otherwise have to be paid by the patient. That’s nice, but why don’t they rather take an axe to the insanely inflated fees charged by hospitals and some specialists instead of swagging the patient?

Can you afford medical insurance premiums now heading south of US$20,000 p.a. for a comprehensive policy and, even if you can, with your insurer harassing you and your doctors every step of the way on top of the existing stress of illness?

The way things are headed it’s not flip to say “don’t get sick”. It’s serious advice.

The only way to do that is to look after yourself and that means neither you nor your kids can afford to eat junk, go without exercise, etc., etc. Above all, eschew unnatural sugars and oils, and make it your mission to find out how to keep your immune system up-and-running and in ferocious good nick. The real bad news about that is that as you get older, just when you deserve to cut yourself some slack… that’s exactly when you have to harden up. As Bette Davis characteristically remarked, “growing old ain’t for sissies.”