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Editorial Issue 105

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 105 - November 2004

This past week I was exceedingly saddened to view BBC Watchdog (Monday 4 October) which attacked the nutritional and diet therapy of the Nutritional Cancer Therapy Trust, which is based somewhat upon the Gerson regimen and also uses nutritional supplements.

I say saddened, because the nature of this programme and the way in which it was presented was designed to hurt and damage many aspects of nutritional cancer treatment approaches. The presenters were exceedingly patronizing about the use of fruits and vegetables – likening them to "something your green grocer would know more about than a cancer specialist". Strange that on the one hand, the medical profession and the government are trying to get people to eat more fruits and vegetables to prevent serious illness such as cancer and heart disease, while, when nutritionists try to improve their patients' nutrient intake with juices, fruits and vegetables, they are attacked for making them weak and malnourished.

Coffee enemas were graphically and verbally disparaged ("sticking coffee grounds up people's bottoms"), with quotes from a 'consortium' of medical experts that coffee enemas could cause "infection, inflammation and dehydration" for cancer patients. These medical experts are obviously confusing coffee enemas, which are used to assist detoxification of the liver with enemas used for laxative purposes. Even Prince Charles was mocked for recommending that the Gerson regimen ought to be further researched.

Few of the participants in this sensationalist exposé escaped unscathed. A nutritional practitioner working for the Nutritional Cancer Therapy Trust was covertly filmed advising a (purported) breast cancer patient not to undergo surgery or take tamoxifen. She stated that there was a 95% chance that her cancer would not recur if she underwent this nutritional therapy. These were the only clips of the nutritionist film, so we don't know the larger context, if any, of these statement. However, even that said, the nutritionist's statements were shocking: no one has a crystal ball regarding guarantees whether any treatment can prevent a cancer recurrence; no practitioner can advise a cancer patient not to undergo surgery or take suggested medication. It is surely the role of a practitioner to work along with the patient and his or her medical team in the best interest of the patient. It is against the law in the UK to treat cancer patients unless one is a medical physician. One can give advice, but it is up to patients to decide their course of action.

The surgeon Prof. Michael Baum commented, correctly, that in his clinical research with tamoxifen, there could be a 30% reduction in recurrence among breast cancer patients. Of course, with tamoxifen, there are complexities about the type of the cancer with respect to its hormone receptor status, and whether women can tolerate sometimes severe side effects.

The relatives of two now deceased cancer patients who had pursued this nutritional regime were also filmed, expressing their sorrow about the loss of their loved ones and doubts about whether perhaps this regime hastened their deaths and intensified their pain, as they weren't permitted to take medication which might counteract the efficacy of the nutritional therapy.

We are not to know whether these unfortunate patients were even properly candidates for this therapy, as they were both terminally ill. Also, when people's very lives and potential deaths are concerned, surely it is the duty of all carers and practitioners to diminish suffering and enhance the quality of life remaining, not to deny cancer patients very necessary pain relief.

Into this highly charged studio appeared Dr Lawrence Plaskett, not connected to the Nutritional Cancer Therapy Trust, although he had helped formulate some of the supplements used on the program. Dr Plaskett had obviously not been briefed and was inquisitioned and asked to defend snake oil and useless medicine, in the words of the now deceased journalist Jon Diamond, who grew to disparage alternative medicine.

Dr Plaskett was called upon to defend coffee enemas and choose between the opinion of eminent cancer specialist Prof. Michael Baum and a nutritionist. While he struggled to remain composed and polite, he wasn't able to robustly prove in about 5 minutes the efficacy of nutritional approaches to cancer treatment.

Prof. Baum made an extremely interesting comment that it seemed that alternative medicine was inhabiting a parallel universe, as he couldn't understand and had never heard of or seen evidence regarding the efficacy of coffee enemas. That remark entirely encapsulates the current situation with the divide between conventional and natural medicine approaches. They are still inhabiting parallel universes. An Integrated Medicine approach would bring the two together, so that they could work together for the good of patients.

This issue of Positive Health features several authoritative articles discussing several complementary approaches – Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, Macrobiotic Diet and Homeopathy – for a variety of medical conditions, including heart conditions, breast cancer, Candida albicans infection, menopausal symptoms and Neutropenia (an immune-deficiency condition with insufficient neutrophils). In each instance, the approach used produces clinical effective results. Chang et al (see Research Updates, Heart Disease) published research demonstrating a superior result of relaxation training over conventional care for patients with congestive heart failure.

The media delights in its role of playing watchdog; however, in instances such as the one above, one must question their motives and the drastic consequences upon the subjects portrayed and the wider community.


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About Sandra Goodman PhD

Sandra Goodman PhD, Co-founder and Editor of Positive Health, trained as a Molecular Biology scientist in Agricultural Biotechnology in Canada and the US, focusing upon health issues since the 1980s in the UK. Author of 4 books, including Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art, Vitamin C – The Master Nutrient, Germanium: The Health and Life Enhancer and numerous articles, Dr Goodman was the lead author of the Consensus Document Nutritional and LifeStyle Guidelines for People with Cancer and compiled the Cancer and Nutrition Database for the Bristol Cancer Help Centre in 1993. Dr Goodman is passionate about making available to all people, particularly those with cancer, clinical expertise in Nutrition and Complementary Therapies. Dr Goodman was recently featured as Doctor of the Fortnight in ThinkWellness360.

Dr Goodman and long-term partner Mike Howell seek individuals with vision, resources, and organization to continue and expand the Positive Health PH Online legacy beyond the first 30 years, with facilities for training, to fund alternative cancer research, and promote holistic organizations internationally. Read about Dr Goodman and purchase Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art.  She may be contacted privately for Research, Lectures and Editorial services via:   and

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