Tag Archives: cancer

Questioning Chemotherapy

The increasing amount of cancer cases is no secret in our world today. According to Statistics Canada, one in four people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Billions of dollars are being used to find solutions to this disease; however one method of treatment is particularly controversial. Chemotherapy is the treatment of disease by the use of chemical substances by cytotoxic and other drugs. After doing some investigation I was shocked when I came across statistics about the effects chemotherapy had on the human body. Although chemotherapy has saved many from an early death, the negative effects it has on others is not to be overlooked.

Example of Chemotherapy Machine Source: Flickr Commons

Example of Chemotherapy Machine
Source: Flickr Commons

What stood out to me the most when investigating chemotherapy was the results of surveys conducted on 118 doctors from McGill Cancer Center asking if they would consider chemotherapy themselves if they were terminally ill with cancer.  Three of every four doctors would refuse chemotherapy for themselves due to its devastating effects on the entire body and the immune system, and because of its extremely low success rate. How could one feel comfortable if the physician administrating chemotherapy doesn’t agree with the method themselves? Furthermore how could a physician feel comfortable administrating it to an unknowing patient?

I was even more shocked when I discovered that Chemotherapy doesn’t universally affect all types of cancer the same way. In a book called “Questioning Chemotherapy,” by written Dr. Ralph Moss he reveals the ineffectiveness of Chemotherapy against cancers such as breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer. The types of cancer that Chemotherapy has proven to neutralize are 2-4%! If the health benefits are not as effective, then the body is left fighting off the stress and damage that it got from the process. If anything you are doing more damage than help. Now I understand why doctors would not go ahead with this themselves.

Before and After Image of Skin Cancer Cells. Source: Flickr Commons

Before and After Image of Skin Cancer Cells.
Source: Flickr Commons

So what exactly is the stress that Chemotherapy puts on the body? Chemotherapy attacks rapidly dividing cells in the body, which is how cancer cells are in nature. However, the most rapidly dividing cells in the body are the cells in our immune system. This is vital because the immune system is what fights off disease in the first place. If Chemotherapy is used on a type of cancer that it is not effective against (96%), and it fails, then the body is left to recover using a now damaged immune system.

Considering the results of my investigation I believe Chemotherapy, at best at this point, should be used as an alternative method instead of the standard one to treat cancer. During my research I came across many inspiring success stories where patients had overcome cancer by strengthening their immune system. The main way to do so is through your diet, especially with fruits and vegetables. I have always been a strong believer that food is our greatest medicine because it is always more bioavailable to the body than synthetic medicines.

Video on Alternative Cancer Treatment by Dr. Ralph Moss
Source: Youtube
Author: Beth Greer

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Miracle Cures? Not Quite.

Hey, remember that miracle baby that was found to be HIV-free?

No? What about the HIV-killing bee venom?

How about the cure for all cancer, courtesy of you friendly neighbourhood mole-rat? They all sound so promising, don’t they? All the talk with “foresee[ing] a day when the … treatment could give … a lifetime free of toxic and costly antiviral drugs”  and “radically and potentially life-saving treatment[s]“.  At this rate, it sounds like the new “wonder-drugs” are just around the corner;  and when they hit the pharmacies and hospitals, the world will be a much, much better place.

So where’s the cancer drugs? Why aren’t pharmaceutical companies scrambling to raise beehives to harvest bee venom? And why are doctors still prescribing antivirals to HIV+ patients? What happened to those “major breakthroughs” and “game-changers”? To make a long story short, science doesn’t work like that. The science behind new drugs is a well-tested and extensively researched, and it follows a rigorous process.

LONG ROAD TO A NEW DRUG” by Lizanne Koch – own work. Via Wikibooks.








The development of a new drug begins with a breakthrough in research – things like a new therapy target, or a new way of treating a condition. A classic example of this is the key development in HAART therapy towards controlling the HIV virus, as shown in the video in detail.

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After first observing AIDS in the US in 1981, it took two years for researchers to confirm the source of the symptoms as the HIV virus in 1983, and another 4 years for the FDA to approve azidothymidine/AZT,  one of the first antiviral drugs effective against suppressing HIV. The video describes the molecular mechanism of AZT:

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Of course, AZT was ripe with side-effects; it took until 1991 for researchers to find effective antivirals which minimized the side-effects.  The entire process to develop today’s HAART took just over 10 years  – hardly “around the corner”. And this is a process repeated by many of the novel drugs proposed in academia  – it takes DECADES, if not years to develop a drug that is safe and effective.

So, where do all those “break-throughs” fit in? Well… That’s the thing. Even though science makes discoveries in cutting-edge fields on a daily basis, it takes months, if not years of follow-up experiments to confirm the results. Adding this to the arduous process of drug development, it may be a long, long time before a viable drug is developed, assuming the new proposed drug holds up in the experiments and the clinical trials. Of course, one can only hope that the breakthrough doesn’t turn out to be a false-positive, like the (ex-)HIV-free baby.

As for the daily media sensationalist titles, they may sound hopeful and optimistic (not to suggest that they’re not), but the point is to take them with a grain of salt. After all, a disease takes years to be understood scientifically, and longer still to develop a working treatment. And of course, always remember:

source: XKCD

Souce: XKCD

– James L.