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 Therapies: Alternative/Complementary Cancer Therapies 
 
Richard Walters ©

Radiation
Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, used on about half of American cancer patients employs high-intensity X-rays to cripple cancer cells' ability to reproduce. Radioactivity emanating from artificial implants- such as cobalt-60 or radium "seeds" inserted directly into the cancer-is also used. The problem with radiation is that like chemotherapy, it damages normal, healthy cells in the process of killing cancer cells. Radiation severely depresses immunity and can cause serious chromosomal damage at both diagnostic- and therapeutic-dose levels. Radiotherapy is a powerful carcinogen; it causes secondary cancers in many patients exposed to it. In one study, as many as 17 percent of the patients treated with radiotherapy developed secondary cancers within twenty years in the sites exposed to the radiation.

Radiation can achieve five-year remission in 80 percent of very early Hodgkin's disease patients and is effective in treating Iymphosarcoma, inoperable local prostate cancer, and localized tumors of the head, neck, and cervix. It is probably preferable to surgery for some cancers, such as cancer of the larynx or prostate. In treating breast cancer, lumpectomy combined with radiotherapy appears to decrease the chances of recurrence in the affected breast, although this is disputed since later cancers can occur ten years after exposure.

Other than these successes, radiation appears to be of limited value in the treatment of cancer and often does more harm than good.

Several studies have shown that people who undergo radiation therapy are more likely to have their cancer metastasize to other sites in their bodies. This was noted by oncologist Dr. Lucien Israel, consultant to the National Cancer Institute, in his book Conquering Canecr.20 The radioactivity used to kill cancer cells can also trigger the process of mutation that creates new cancer cells of other types.

Radiation therapy causes damage and dysfunction in body organs and tissues. Various studies have shown that it offers no survival advantage for most cancers. "The majority of cancers," writes John Cairns in the November 1985 issue of Scientific American, "cannot be cured by radiation because the dose of X rays required to kill all the cancer cells would also kill the patient." Cairns is a professor at the Harvard University School of Public Health.

Radiotherapy following breast surgery increases death rates, according to several clinical trials and a study published in The Lancet.2~1 Yet 50 percent of radiologists still radiate women following surgery for breast cancer. "Complications following high-dose radiotherapy for breast cancer are: fibrous, shrunken breasts, rib fractures, pleural and/or lung scarring, nerve damage, scarring around the heart . . . suppression of all blood cells, immune suppression," according to Robert F. Jones, M.D., writing in the Seattle Times on duly 27, 1980. "Many radiation complications do not occur for several years after treatment, giving the therapist and the patient a false sense of security for a year or two following therapy.... The bone marrow, in which blood cells are made, is largely obliterated in the field of irradiation.... This is an irreversible effect."

There is very little agreement in the medical fraternity about the proper role of chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy in the treatment of malignant tumors. Opinions among oncologists range from enthusiastic approval to strong condemnation. As noted earlier, people who undergo both chemotherapy and radiation experience later cancers twenty-five times more often than the general population.

(Excerpted from Options: The Alternative Cancer Therapy Book ISBN: 0895295105)
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