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Editorial Issue 47

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 47 - December 1999

The Government has appointed a Cancer Supremo to try to prevent 100,000 cancer deaths over the next 10 years. On the news bulletins have been reports of more money, more Consultants, more student doctors available for cancer training, more operations, more drugs, more tests – you get the picture!

Has there been a single word discussing Complementary approaches to reduce cancer incidence and deaths – Research and Clinical applications of Nutrition and Herbal Medicine, and Lifestyle changes – NOT A SINGLE WORD! Despite the existence of tomes of Scientific literature showing that Diet, Nutrition and Lifestyle probably account for perhaps 75% of cancer incidence? And a respectable scientific literature showing the clinical efficacy of diet and nutritional supplements to treat many cancers?

For hundreds of examples from the literature, please click on Cancer on the Research Updates on Positive Health's huge (>1,000 pages) internet website –

Most of us are aware of the brute-force confrontational way to defeat something. Fight it, blacken reputations, discredit the entire substance of the idea and its leading proponents. Well, that direct war approach has been waged over many decades by many interests against Complementary Medicine, as many in the field can confirm.

However, now that complementary approaches are starting to dovetail with conventional approaches – i.e. improve nutrition, reduce stress, reduce exposure to free radicals and toxic chemicals – another policy appears to be underway, that is to completely ignore and sidestep Complementary Medicine. That is until Complementary Medicine can be taken over and controlled by the allopathic establishment.

Unless you think that paranoia or deep cynicism has begun to settle in, (and I quite understand it if Positive Health readers might think me guilty of the above), I include a short extract from distinguished psycho-oncologist Prof Stephen Greer, regarding what would happen if it were shown that psychotherapy for cancer patients actually prolonged survival.

"... however large the patient sample, however rigorous the methodology, however sophisticated the data analysis, if psychotherapy were shown to have an effect on duration of survival, this result would be disbelieved and disregarded by the medical establishment until the biological pathways mediating such an effect were identified."[1]

Thus, 10-20 years ago, researchers in complementary medicine were told that there was no evidence for the efficacy of complementary medicine. We were told to go away and do research to demonstrate that what we were advocating actually exerted a therapeutic benefit. During this period, the research mountain has been burgeoning, with tens of thousands of published articles regarding the results of this research. Positive Health is but one example of a research-based publication devoted to complementary medicine. Dr Amanda Jackson-Russell has brilliantly categorised the breadth of this variety in her in-depth article A Synthesis of Healing Therapies (see page 12).

But, when the Cancer Supremo is announced and policies trumpeted to save lives of cancer patients, is there even a mention of anything other than drugs, high-tech machinery or surgery? Not a whisper!

It is such a tragic pity that while millions of people who could benefit from information about how nutrition and herbal medicine and lifestyle changes could help prevent or even help in the treatment of their illness, complementary researchers are still being tied up in discovering the brilliant effects of their therapies, only for these facts to be kept a complete secret.

It is sad that in order to help people, complementary medicine almost has to wage war to be listened to, and then win the war even to be heard.

This issue features many substantive articles across the spectrum of complementary medicine, including Healing, Energy Medicine, Breathing, Bodywork and a special feature regarding the importance of Organic Food, and the scientific horrors of the pesticides abounding within the non-organic food – fruits, vegetables – we are all buying and consuming.

Inappropriate Standards for Complementary Medicine

Your editorial of Issue 47 clearly hits the problem that we have had for many years around Orthodox Medicine's insistence upon standards of evidence that are neither appropriate to models of Complementary Medicine nor are achieved with most of Orthodox Medicine. However, the problems that this creates for us are immensely exacerbated when representatives of the Comple- mentary Medicine field set us up as intrinsically subordinate to the OM profession.

I have before me a copy of the submission of the BCMA (dated 17/11/99) to Sub-Committee III of the Science and Technology Committee, House of Lords, under ref. "Complementary and Alternative Medicine – Call for Evidence." BCMA claim to be "the major Complementary Medicine multi-therapy umbrella body in the UK", speaking for "over 20,000 practitioners of 11 different therapies." Most of their sub- mission is unobjectionable, and the normal coinage of comment among the CM community. However, they include in the submission their own definitions of "Alternative" and "Comple- mentary", which have caused disquiet in some quarters in the past.

"Alternative is where the therapist is trained to a level in Orthodox Medicine (OM) such that he/she can be an alternative to a medical doctor, ie, can make a medical diagnosis (eg, osteopath or chiropractor) while Complementary means that the level of training in OM does not permit this but is sufficient for the therapist to complement an Alternative therapist or a doctor (with the doctor in clinical control of the case)."

Such a view denies the freedom to practise that has been assumed for many years, and denies the public the freedom to choose their path to health.

I wonder how many of the people who are represented by BCMA, either individually or as members of some affiliated organisation, are happy to be portrayed in this way. I have asked two of the registers that represent my particular discipline to publicly disassociate themselves from these damaging definitions, and others may wish to do the same.

As your magazine is not associated to any register, and is available to the public, I wonder if you might make this issue the matter of an independent article that could bring the various views and politics to the open attention of all those who are interested in the future of Complementary Medicine.

Tom Litten
Shiatsu Practitioner,
Roswell Shiatsu Centre

Further information

1. Stephen Greer. Mind-body research in psychooncology. Advances. 15(4): 235-306. 1999.


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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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