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Letters to the Editor Issue 61

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 61 - February 2001

Urgent: EU Restrictive Directive

You often report how vitamins can help us stay healthy. However, the EU is bringing out a directive which will restrict the vitamins and health supplements we are allowed to buy. The EU will lower the content of vitamins to tiny, almost useless amounts. They have produced a list and if your favourite supplement is not on the list, you won't be able to buy it. This is NOT for safety reasons, but so we can "harmonise" with Germany.

Vitamins are proven over 1,000 times safer than prescribed medical drugs.

How can they allow alcohol and cigarettes, which kill thousands, to be on sale, yet restrict health supplements! Write to your MP and MEP. To find the name and number of your MEP ring 020-7227 4300.

Also contact Consumers for Health Choice on 020-7222 4182 or email:

A Wells, Ruislip, Middx.

Cancer 2000 – in Care: 4th National Conference on Integrated Cancer Care

Organized by New Approaches to Cancer, in association with Pavilion Publishing Conference Provider
Reported by Vivienne Silver-Leigh

This Conference was held at Friends House on December lst. It was the first one I had attended, and it surpassed my expectations in every way. It was chaired by Professor Malcolm McIllmurray, Macmillan Consultant in Medical Oncology, who welcomed everyone and deftly kept all the speakers within their timed slots. He emphasized that it is "essential to embrace all aspects of human condition, the emotional, spiritual, as well as physical." This set the tone for a very wide ranging look at Cancer in all its aspects.

Dr Michael Fox, Chief executive of the Foundation of Integrated Medicine, led a series of excellent speakers, who all gave well-illustrated presentations, with projected Visuals, as well as back-up packs for those of us who might not be able to see that far. Dr Fox talked about the aim of the Foundation. which is to promote the development and integrated delivery of orthodox and alternative therapies for the benefit of patients and their families. Established in 1996, the Foundation has recorded that one in five patients now use complementary or alternative therapies, with herbalism, aromatherapy, and acupuncture top of the list.

Dr Fox mentioned the perennial Catch 22 problem, that research into complementary medicine is prevented by money not being available to the NHS for this, and so evidence of effectiveness of particular therapies is difficult to assess. There is 'tribalism' in certain therapies, preventing professionalism and registration into one body for each therapy. Unification would influence the development of research. As at least 50% of the public think that complementary therapy should be made available via primary care, according to one survey, there is a clear need for guidance as to what does and does not work, as well as improved regulation.

On a positive note, he mentioned that future doctors are all learning something in the complementary area, during their medical training, as add-on modules. In addition, despite all the difficulties in getting integrated provision throughout the country as well as – change within the NHS, quite a lot is actually happening.

Members of the audience availed themselves of the time for questions, to bring up the many frustrations they are experiencing in areas of integrated cancer care. They included an Ayurvedic GP, educationalists, and ward sisters.

Dr Karol Sikora, Professor of International Cancer Medicine, Imperial College School of Medicine and Hammersmith Hospital, gave the keynote address, on the Changing Face of Cancer Care. He described how cancer will in the future be a problem in areas which as yet do not have it, because of the trend towards increased life expectancy. Complementary medicine has a place in treatment, because of changes in society's awareness, including greater political interest. The audience, which contained many cancer survivors like myself, clapped and cheered when he forecast that mammograms will be gone in 10 years, and that there will be drugs to prevent cancer, and new types of treatments. including new and minimally invasive surgery, and dramatically improved types of radiotherapy machines.

A study of cancer care in Britain showed that we lag behind Europe in some treatments. Developing a cancer strategy is a complex business, involving what to spend money on and which cancer patients to prioritize. Predictions for 2020 include complementary care being fully integrated with orthodox cancer therapy.

Sherry Dean spoke on "Transformation from a patient's point of view". In 1997 she looked at her options for treatment from a European and a research point of view. She lives in Brussels, and has a background in research and information as well as in psychotherapy. She described how she made her choices, and after surgery, created her own healing programme, combining several complementary approaches which she felt showed evidence of their effectiveness, rather than taking the classical medical route of chemotherapy. Her approach was systematic, always seeing more than one specialist, and the results so far have proved successful, as monitored by her cancer specialists in London. It is women like Sherry who have influenced the professionals, by asking questions and insisting on answers, rather than meekly doing what is suggested to them.

Why isn't Nutritional Therapy a Standard Part of Cancer treatment? This question was posed by Suzannah Olivier, a nutrition specialist who had cancer at the age of 30. To her it seems obvious that we should reduce cancer by avoiding cancer producing agents, and adding in diet changes and supplements. Boosting the immune system, is the aim of nutritional therapy, and there is evidence that it works, from some research in hospitals in Aberdeen and University of Wales. Changes in diet can improve repair after surgery, reducing hospital costs.

Nutritional therapy is a science, but doctors as yet feel less clear about its effects than they do about massage. People are already using nutritional approaches, and although there is now research on nutrition, there is not much on outcome of changes and its effects on cancer, in the UK.

Malnutrition can actually bring cancer recurrence She made the point that with other illnesses than cancer, you are told to change diet, but cancer patients in hospital are told to 'eat normally' which does not mean very much! Dieticians and nutritionists do not mix well unfortunately. To get the full transcript of Susannah's talk, with references etc, you can visit her website:

Bill Feeney, Deputy Director of the Yoga for Health Foundation, (where 5 day courses for cancer survivors have been developed in conjunction with New Approaches to Cancer,) is a passionate believer in Yoga and Ayurveda as a natural approach to healing on all levels, together creating a science of living. Bill held the audience with a combination of information, humour, and obvious knowledge of healing approaches. He has a way with audiences. We all took three deep slow breaths, then smiled, at his request, considerably lightening the mood. While he talked about stillness, the audience was noticeably very quiet, and when he said "Healing goes on when you're not looking" it felt as if we were in the presence of a knowledgeable healer. Bill, however, calls himself "just a toolshed opener, helping people to heal themselves."

We had further input on Healing from Dr Craig Brown, a GP and Chair of the National Federation of Spiritual Healers. It was fascinating to hear that in his practice he employs a spiritual healer on a regular basis, and has himself learned healing. He asked the audience to be silent, relax, and to take some time out from the Conference for a few seconds of meditative breathing and visualisation. More conferences should do this, as it definitely increases the ability to stay awake and focus.

I visited the display stands, taking away leaflets which extended my knowledge of what is going on in the Cancer complementary treatment fields today. The tea breaks provided opportunities for meeting up with old friends from the Cancer course I attended at Ickwell Bury and which had been very inspiring. The Conference itself was inspiring and full of hope for a better deal for the growing number of people who are likely to be affected by cancer.

Omission Correction

The following paragraph was inadvertently deleted from the article Alexander Self-Help which appeared in Issue 60 pages 51-52. It should be included as the penultimate paragraph. (This has been corrected on the version available on our website).

These simple steps – becoming aware, stopping pulling your head backwards and down, choosing poise rather than fixidity, imagining your head going forwards and up – can have a powerful effect. Not least of their power, though, comes from the concurrent need to remain in, and pay attention to, the present moment. It sounds clichéd, but probably the most profoundly beneficial self-help procedure any of us could undertake is simply to be where we are.


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