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Editorial Issue 55

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 55 - August 2000

I am continuously shocked by the colossal ignorance of health professionals regarding published research across the many disciplines of Complementary Medicine. Following a recent health scare about incorrect pathology screening reports, I heard an interview with the Health Minister about prospective new initiatives (for this read money) in cancer healthcare services. There was talk about more radiotherapy and scanning equipment, and more money to reduce waiting times for diagnosis and treatment. However, I did not hear a single mention, nor do I ever hear any mention of, the implementation of dietary, nutritional or botanical regimes, or even research projects into such treatment of various cancers.

Why? The only possible non-sinister reason (sinister possibilities include conspiracy theories which posit that profits of pharmaceutical companies rule the entire medical treatment agenda) I can ever arrive at for the total omission of the huge evidence base for nutritional approaches is the total ignorance of the medical profession of the published biomedical literature.

They must be busy focusing on bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy cocktails, breast reconstruction and radiotherapy side effects, that they overlook and never read the information regarding nutritional approaches to cancer treatment published in their own peer-reviewed journals. However, these health professionals do seem to read the considerable misinformation published from time-to-time, scaring patients off from taking supplements such as vitamins C and E during cancer treatment (see Babu et al Cancer page 41 regarding the co-administration of vitamins C and E during tamoxifen treatment).

You can also read in the Research Updates (see Mehta et al, Cancer page 42) that physicians working with cancer patients are wondering whether patients may submit to experimental cancertherapies partly as a result of psychological distress. In other words, are cancer patients being put under pressure to undergo bone marrow transplantation by oncologists?

There is no excuse for not being knowledgeable about research. Anyone can now do a search of MEDLINE over the internet; keying in cancer and nutrition will score many thousands of 'hits'. Today I went to the US National Library of Medicine database (, keyed in Cancer and Nutrition and scored about 13,000 records, which is really just the tip of the iceberg, since this number would be hugely expanded if the keywords included all the individual nutrients and vitamins and minerals and fatty acids. I did that seven years ago to set up the Nutrition and Cancer database for the Bristol Cancer Help Centre. We scored over 5,000 hits for records of the previous decade. At Positive Health, we have our MEDLINE search results delivered to us fortnightly; after six years we have a huge stack of records, covering epidemiological trials and clinical research in cells, humans and animals.

Nutritional research is not 'Complementary' medicine. It is hard scientific epidemiology, cellular, biochemical, genetic and clinical research, totally within the domain of modern medicine. It is a travesty that this information sits on library shelves and pages of learned journals and is not translated into providing cancer patients a greater choice of treatments.

I recently had the privilege of addressing a conference entitled Cancer Information on the Internet, organized by the Avon Health Authority and Bristol Cancer Help Centre. This was attended by health and information professionals, physicians, patients and carers, including representatives from Cancer BACUP ( and the Help for Health Trust (

The audience was transfixed by the amount of information about nutritional and complementary treatment approaches to cancer on Positive Health's internet site – I got the impression that these professionals thought 'complementary' medicine as separate from other sort of medicine, which of course it is not.

For decades, leading clinicians and practitioners have been developing conventional and traditional treatments to improve our health and treat our illnesses. Leading scientists and researchers have been conducting research to demonstrate the efficacy of such approaches. It is not true that there is no research demonstrating the efficacy of such approaches – there is so much research that coping with it becomes an overwhelming burden.

Perhaps that is a reason that doctors could give for being so ignorant of the published biomedical literature; however, as in law, ignorance is not an excuse.

How many more decades will we have to wait until we see the fruits of this nutritional research about cancer translated into dietary treatments? I, and many like myself, are fed up with waiting.


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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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