Guilt of Fake Science

There is nothing that can set me off faster than a someone claiming some unproven cure is what we have all been waiting for.

Let me start where many of these issues begin, with a story about my mom. She died of Pancreatic Cancer. It has a 97% mortality rate within 2 years of diagnosis. That is crazy high. The only good news about that kind of cancer is that it is less common. This was not good news for my mom, but for most of you it is unlikely you will die from it.

And so began my mother’s panicked search to find any hopeful treatment. She was very lucky to live in NYC, so access to the best doctors and research was easy. Her tumor was inoperable by traditional surgery (whipple) but found out about a newer procedure (nanoknife) which could be applied to her condition. This FDA approved device was used by a board certified oncological surgeon. Her doctors were pleased with the results and felt it extended her life and increased her chances of survival.

There were also things recommended to her that I believe hurt her more then they helped. I do not believe that these people were malicious, they were just ignorant.

I am not sure who, but one of her friends recommended seeing a nutritionist. My mom has never had the best eating habits (she was anorexic) so it was an easy symptom to blame for her suffering. If, in her final days, she could just turn this thing around she would surely survive. What a load of crap.

Her first clue should have been that the CONSULTATION would cost over $1000 to meet with this guy. No insurance would cover it. He then asked a woman who struggled with eating her entire life to change everything overnight. She really believed that if she followed his advice it would make a difference.

And this is why this story makes me so angry. My mom then spent the last two years of her life blaming herself for the fact that she was dying. This man convinced her that if she did this it was sure to work, and by association made her believe that it was her own fault she had cancer to begin with. Never mind that both her parents died from cancer.

You know, it is bad enough that cancer treatment is physically painful, this is not the time to make patients feel bad about themselves. I get telling a smoker to stop smoking. I get telling a drinker to stop drinking. These are heavily researched areas where the science has shown a link between the progression of the disease in the short term and continued bad habits. Making my mom feel that her eating habits were going to kill her when the only link that has been made between food and Pancreatic Cancer has been RED MEAT is irresponsible. The woman, when she ate, was a vegetarian.

Now, mind you, even with traditional treatment, she did die. But in her doctor’s defense, he actually worked with her. He would try something, see how it worked, and adjusted. He talked to her about how she was feeling. He made non-medical suggestions that helped with healing. In other words, he met with her more than once and used proven techniques to help her.

I follow closely the advances being made in all areas of science. I am thrilled to hear when research supports new treatments that will save lives. I am also as excited when new studies turn long existing beliefs on their ear. The important part is that there are studies showing they work. So when someone thinks they can apply unrelated treatments to serious ailments I have a problem.

Many conspiracy theorists will say that big pharma is creating as many problems as it solves. That the FDA is in the pocket of business. I find that hard to believe. Universities, research institutes and pharmaceutical companies pour millions of dollars into proving that their products work before they ever get a penny in return. Yes, they make a whole lot of money at the other end of that, but they also save an awful lot of lives. It is a long and expensive process because they don’t want people to get hurt.

So when I saw a friend share a recommendation for women to get thermography instead of a mammogram I immediately looked up what the science had to say about it. Isn’t google wonderful? There was a very specific article speaking to this from the FDA. No research has shown that thermography is a better choice, in fact, the FDA have sent out letters to people and companies making these unsupported claims. And this is an FDA approved procedure! Think about all those people making claims about their anecdotally proven treatments.

PLEASE be a little skeptical. I try to go in with an open mind. I read the articles and see why they believe in this theory. Then I go to a science website and see if there are any articles supporting or debunking the claim. I have been pleasantly surprised to find that research supports the theory of gut bacteria affecting many areas of our health.

Do not be offended when I share a link to the study disproving your article, I take this stuff personally.

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