Sunday, August 21, 2005

Alternative Health...Which straw would you grasp?

In todays information, tech savy world, where a quick search on google, or any number of search engines available, can provide information on just about everything in our knowlege spectrum, how is it possible that we can still be duped. Example: You read an ad on Corral Calcium. Claims of impossible cures, wonderful benefits and ABSOLUTELY no negative effects. By simply typing coral calcium in the google search bar, you are taken to a page where the first link is to a site warning of the coral calcium scams. The next link warns readers to be wary of a "Robert Barefoot" and his impossible claims of "The unlimited heal-all benefit of Coral Calcium". This site, from Quack watch, goes into a detailed description of the product, the scam, the scammer and benefits to cost ratio. Dr Stephen Barrett thoroughly invalidates each claim

So why is it, with this information available, are people paying $25 a month to eat ground up limestone that should cost $2 a month? The key word is desparation. People with terminal or debilitating diseases become desparate and are willing to try anything to reduce or end their problem.

Fat Bastards Position

This is a sad part of life that few think about until they are personally affected. Most patients know that they are grasdping at staws, but feel they have nothing to lose. There is no regard for the scammer in this. I do understand this attitude and know that many patients will try many things when comming to terms with their disease. The problem is that the Con-artist, who would exploit the victims of these diseases for personal gain, presents a miracle cure in such a way that sometimes a patient will loose faith in Medical professionals. People stop proven therapies, trusting the Quack's guarantee of health or recovery. Medical fraud of this kind carries considerable risk of the patient delaying or forgoing competent medical treatment, sometimes with fatal consequences!

A classic example in history woud be Peter Sellers, where his premature death was hastened by his belief in " alternative medicine", including psychic surgery. Peter Sellers believed he was cured after Psychic Surgery was performed on him and he stopped taking his heart medication. Another example would be Andy Kaufman, where practitioner Jun Labo claimed to have "psychically" removed large cancerous tumors and Kaufman believed the cancer had been removed. Andy Kaufman died of metastatic carcinoma.

A 1998 editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association Sated: There is no alternative medicine. There is only scientifically proven, evidence-based medicine supported by solid data or unproven medicine, for which scientific evidence is believers in science and evidence, we must focus on fundamental issues -- namely, the patient, the target disease or condition, the proposed or practiced treatment, and the need for convincing data on safety and therapeutic efficacy (Fontanarosa PB, Lundberg GD. Alternative medicine meets science. JAMA 280:1618-1619, 1998)

In closing, as always, I leave you with a question: What would you do or give for a chance to prolong your life? If you had a terminal disease and the drugs administered to you were not only NOT working, but were causing horrible, un-bearable side effects, would you part with a few dollars? Would you go to the Straw pile?

Be sure to leave a comment on this subject.