Tag Archives: research

Quackery

quack_quack_duckie

quackery n – medical practice and advice based on observation and experience in ignorance of scientific findings

I follow a leukemia survivors group on Facebook. One of the group’s  members is frequently making unfounded claims and posting articles describing alternative treatment or even people curing themselves of cancer w/o traditionally accepted medical treatment(s). Almost universally, these articles have

No sources cited
No control group in experiment
No peer review of findings

therefore to me they have

No credibility

Please don’t believe everything you see on the internet. Be skeptical and don’t implicitly assume that vast conspiracy theories are at work… This was the article which lit my fuse.

8-Year Old Girl Raises PH levels And Shrinks Cancer Tumors By 75 % With Diet

Collective Evolution

Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are constantly pushed as the only go-to options for cancer treatment, when this couldn’t be farther from the truth. How often does a cancer patient see a doctor who tells them that dichloroacetate can their cancer? That was recently discovered by researchers at the University of Alberta. Cancer is a multi-trillion dollar industry, it can be hard to believe that there are those who do not promote treatments that have been proven successful, but it simply means we have to go beyond what we are taught, use our critical thinking skills and find out the truth for ourselves.

I’ve already written about and provided debunking of alkalinated water claims before. That last sentence quoted has a huge degree of irony; many adherents have just written off traditional medicine as corrupt and complicit in moneymaking conspiracies. Dubious online articles like this one above are so numerous it can be difficult to find real and credible ones among the junk science trash. This one defied the trend and I found to be worth reading.
Cancer patients who use alternative medicine die sooner – Edzard Ernst MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Be healthy, be knowledgeable and ask your docs and nurses questions – especially the tough ones.

Hallmarks of Cancer 6: Tissue Invasion and Metastasis

Sharing another insightful and excellent post from Dr. Buddhini Samarasinghe’s series of guest blog posts on Scientific American. Please give it a read. Here’s a tidbit.

The Hallmarks of Cancer are 10 underlying principles shared by all cancers. You can read the first five Hallmarks of Cancer articles here. The Sixth Hallmark of Cancer is defined as “Tissue Invasion and Metastasis.”

A growing tumor will eventually spawn pioneer cells; these move out of the original clump of mutant cells to invade adjacent tissues and then travel to distant sites where they form new colonies. These distant settlements of cancer cells are named metastases and, with the exception of leukemias and some brain tumors, cause the majority of cancer deaths. Metastasis is bad news, with significantly reduced survival rates and prognosis for patients. The ability to metastasize allows cancer cells to find new areas of the body where space and nutrients are not limiting. How do cancer cells do this?

The Extra Cellular Matrix

In biology, a tissue is an aggregation of cells that performs a specific function. Tissues combine to form organs; organs combine to form a body. Our tissues are composed primarily of two types of cells; epithelial and mesenchymal cells. Epithelial cells adhere to one another to form cell layers, which act as barriers to protect our bodies and organs from the environment. In contrast, mesenchymal cells are solitary and capable of migrating. Our tissues are not made up solely of cells. A large proportion of tissue consists of extracellular space, which is filled with a mixture of carbohydrate and protein molecules; this space is known as the Extracellular Matrix (ECM). The molecules that make up the ECM are secreted by cells embedded in it, and these cells tether themselves to the ECM (and to one another) to form tissues. Metastasis therefore requires the untethering of these bonds, to allow predacious cancer cells to migrate freely.

The complete post is available here.

Surrendered Medals?

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My goal with this blog was to journal my journey and try to keep my posts short and readable. This one will be a bit longer and I apologize. My friend John shared this link a few days ago. At first it reminded me of when the astronomers declared Pluto was no longer a planet. Definitions and rules aren’t supposed to change, right? The scientists are redefining what constitutes a cancer as a whole which is good but it’s still a very confusing and scary topic for nearly anyone. Check it out.

What if what you survived wasn’t cancer?
Here’s a snippet:

For decades, the reigning theory has been that the earlier a cancer is spotted and treated, the less likely it is to be lethal, because it won’t have time to grow and spread. Yet this theory infers causality from correlation. It implicitly assumes that cancer is cancer is cancer, even though we now know that even in the same part of the body, cancer is many different diseases — some aggressive, some not. Perhaps people survive early-stage cancers not because they’re treated in time, but because their disease never would have become life-threatening at all.

This isn’t just logical nit-picking. Thanks to widespread screening, the number of early-stage cancers identified has skyrocketed. In many instances — including types of breast, prostate, thyroid and lung cancers — more early diagnoses haven’t led to proportionate decreases in mortality. (New drugs, not early detection, account for at least two-thirds of the reduction in breast-cancer mortality.) The cancers the tests pick up aren’t necessarily life-threatening. They’re just really common. So more sensitive tests and more frequent screening mean more cancer, more cancer treatment and more cancer survivors.

“We’ll all be cancer survivors if we keep going at the rate that we’re going,” says Peter Carroll, the chairman of the department of urology at the University of California at San Francisco and a specialist in prostate cancer.

Distracting Doctors

In a well-intended effort to save lives, the emphasis on early detection is essentially looking under the lamp post: Putting many patients who don’t have life-threatening diseases through traumatic treatments while distracting doctors from the bigger challenge of developing ways to identify and treat the really dangerous fast-growing cancers.

“Physicians, patients, and the general public must recognize that overdiagnosis is common and occurs more frequently with cancer screening,” argues a recent JAMA article by the oncologists Laura J. Esserman (a surgeon and breast-cancer specialist), Ian M. Thompson Jr. (a urologist) and Brian Reid (a specialist in esophageal cancer). They argue for limiting the term “cancer” to conditions likely to be life-threatening if left untreated.

That’s going to be a tough change for a lot of people to swallow. For patients and the rest of the public, getting tested offers a sense of control, encouraging an almost superstitious belief that frequent screening will ward off death. (A few years ago, when the actress Christina Applegate was making the talk-show rounds urging young women to get breast MRIs, my own oncologist told me he was getting calls from women who thought the tests would not merely detect but prevent breast cancer.)
Early detection of non-life-threatening cancers also produces a steady supply of “cancer survivors,” who work to support cancer charities and make their efforts look successful. There’s an entire industry devoted to celebrating “breast cancer survivors” in particular, and many women are heavily invested in that identity. It offers a heroic honorific as a reward for enduring horrible treatments. A term originally coined to remind cancer patients that their disease need not be fatal has become a badge of personal achievement.

The author makes some good points; especially the survival being over the treatment vs the disease itself. Traditional cancer therapy modalities are still barbaric.  I have an aggressive form (chromosome 17p deletion) of a generally non aggressive blood cancer. I have to admit that I struggle with even calling what I have (CLL) a cancer as while it can be very fatal, it generally doesn’t undergo metastasis in the traditional sense of most cancers.

Regardless of how anyone ultimately reclassifies the disease, cancer survivors who endure any of chemo/radiation/surgical body part removal are true heroes to me.

Hallmarks of Cancer 1: Self-Sufficiency in Growth Signals

Really Good Article from Scientific American: LINK

logo_newSnippet:

The behavior of a cell depends on its immediate surrounding environment, known as the microenvironment. The assortment of growth factors in this microenvironment is the most important aspect regulating the behavior of that cell. All growth factors exert their effects by binding to a receptor.  Receptors are proteins found on the surface of a cell that receive such chemical signals from the outside of the cell. Each growth factor has it’s own receptor; think of it as a key (the growth factor) fitting into a lock (the receptor). Growth factor receptors tend to be ‘transmembrane molecules‘; this means that one end of the receptor ‘sticks out’ through the cell membrane into the microenvironment while the other end projects inside the cell. By spanning across the cell membrane, growth factor receptors are able to communicate signals from outside the cell (e.g. presence of growth factors in the microenvironment) to the inside of the cell. Revisiting the lock and key analogy, think of it as a key that fits into a lock that protrudes through the door-frame, instead of being flush against the door.

The future of cancer treatment?

imageThe days of toxic chemotherapies may be slowly coming to an end as advanced research and clinical trials yield smarter drugs which interrupt specific metabolic and signalling pathways that ultimately allow the cancer/tumor cells to live and grow. In most cancers, the process of apoptosis or normal programmed cell death is broken. If this works according to plan, this drug compound, a PI3K inhibitor will do that for me and allow my bone marrow to get back to its normal job of producing new blood cells to replace those which have done their job and died – the way they were always supposed to. Please stay tuned.