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Alternative/Complementary Cancer Therapies

© Richard Walters

This year, one million Americans will learn they have cancer. Roughly two out of three cancer patients will die of the illness (or related therapy) within five years of diagnosis. While the news media periodically announce major cancer breakthroughs, the cures are occurring mainly in the press releases. The "war on cancer. has been a colossal failure despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent on research and treatment.

The three "proven" methods of treating cancer-chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery-may actually shorten your life in many instances. Each of these treatments is invasive, has devastating side effects, and treats only symptoms. Each can cause the spread or recurrence of cancer. While these immunity-damaging approaches may at times be necessary, their successes have mostly been limited to relatively rare forms of cancer or the early stages of the disease. For most adult cancers, the orthodox therapies are virtually noncurative, though they may buy some time. For many patients, the standard therapies shorten the life span: "Most cancer patients in this country die of chemotherapy," observes Dr. Alan Levin of the University of California Medical School. "Chemotherapy does not eliminate breast, colon, or lung cancers. The fact has been documented for over a decade.... Women with breast cancer are likely to die faster with chemotherapy than without it."1

Only 2 to 3 percent of the nearly one-half million Americans diagnosed of cancer every year are being saved by chemotherapy, according to Dr. John Cairns of the Harvard University School of Public Health.2 Yet over half of all cancer patients routinely receive chemotherapy drugs, which can cripple a person's chance of survival. All chemotherapy drugs are toxic and many are carcinogenic-they can cause cancer. The overuse of chemotherapy-a $750 million-a year racket in drug sales alone-is a national scandal.

Disillusioned with standard cancer treatments-which often have devastating side effects and typically cost $30,000 or more-thousands of patients are turning to alternative or nontoxic therapies. Often called complementary, unorthodox, or nonconventional, these therapies include nutritional, herbal, metabolic, immune-enhancing, biologic, nontoxic pharmacologic, and psychological-behavioral approaches. While the alternative therapies exhibit great variation, all of them are rooted in the idea that a truly healthy body will not develop cancer. Alternative practitioners believe the cause of cancer is often found in a disorder of the immune system or a bodily imbalance that allows the tumor to develop.

Alternative therapies share certain common features. They are relatively nontoxic, unlike chemotherapy and radiation, which destroy normal cells. They aim to cleanse the body, to stimulate its natural defenses and tumor-destroying capacity. They have relatively high safety levels compared to the orthodox treatments. Many or most alternative therapies combine special diets; supplementation with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes; detoxification; oxygenation measures; immune stimulation; and psychological or spiritual regimens to promote gentle healing.

To mainstream doctors, cancer is a localized disease, to be treated in a localized manner. By cutting out the tumor, irradiating it, or flooding the body with toxic (and often carcinogenic) drugs, the orthodox physician hopes to destroy the tumor and thus save the patient. But all too often, the cancer is still present and has metastasized (spread elsewhere). The allopathic, conventional approach, for all its high-tech trappings, is based on a primitive medical philosophy: aggressively attacking an "enemy" disease. Often, the patient is devastated in the process, while the cancer and its underlying causes remain.

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