Drink your way to good health

Don’t scoff. A magazine as authoritative as Woman’s Day reports a case where a woman treated her breast cancer by drinking her own urine. Following a mammogram and ultrasound examination the patient reports: “I was introduced to a surgeon who said I needed to have both my breasts removed right away.” This is complete nonsense as no surgeon would ever perform a bilateral mastectomy without a tissue sample confirming the diagnosis. It is quite clear that she never had cancer at all, but a condition colloquially known as lumpy breasts or benign fibrocystic breast disease.

Such people are a godsend for cancer quacks. There’s nothing easier than curing somebody who was never ill in the first place. In fact, that’s the whole basis of ‘alternative medicine’.

I googled the subject of urine drinking and there are a surprising number of articles on the subject. My favourite was a reference to the Koryak tribe of Siberia who used to get stoned by consuming the fly agaric toadstool, Amanita muscaria. The hallucinogens are excreted in the urine and as the account goes: “those who cannot afford the fairly high price (of the fungi) drink the urine of those who have eaten it, whereupon they become intoxicated.” (Wasson, quoted in Murder, Magic and Medicine, by John Mann)

Hyperbaric Oxygen-I don’t think so!

A local clinic offers “Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy” at a cost of $60-$110. The pamphlet says:

“A cleanse with intraceuticals products first followed by a deep exfoliation. Oxygen Therapy applied with serums suitable to skin condition – a relaxing soothing treatment incorporating lymphathic (sic) drainage for a complete rejuvenation/brightening or reduction of fine lines. Also treats acne, rosacea, eczema and open pores-super hydrates. Complimentary home care product if a course of six treatments (weekly) booked.”

This clearly constitutes false advertising as well as an affront to grammar and spelling. Hyperbaric oxygen means oxygen under pressure and this requires either a pressurised mask or a chamber which can be pressurised. I have contacted the Commerce Commission over this false claim and I will keep you posted.

Cancer Diversions

A friend has been unlucky enough to develop bowel cancer last year and then go down with breast cancer this year. She has faced up to all of this with equanimity. Another acquaintance of mine, a doctor, has been diagnosed with a form of cancer which is likely to be terminal. This person is now on a vegetarian diet with no alcohol and is described by friends as “doing very well.”

It’s hard to imagine the fear and horror of being diagnosed with cancer. It leads to all sorts of irrational thinking, even by doctors. If I ever got cancer I would take up smoking again, use hard drugs, drink as much as I liked and indulge myself in dangerous sports. Go out with a bang, not a whimper! Such a strategy could well see cancer cells shrinking against an onslaught of nasty substances.

“Magical” thinking about cancer extends to psychological issues. An Australian study comprehensively debunked the idea that mental attitude has anything to do with beating cancer. For example, women who were preoccupied about their cancer were more likely to get a relapse. The researchers found that such women had the worst tumors-they were anxious and preoccupied for a reason! This sort of analysis is at the heart of skepticism – looking at the facts and coming up with the most likely explanation-not some horribly deprivational diet that denies people meat, wine and what little enjoyment of life they have left.

The chief executive of the Cancer Council Australia, Professor Ian Olver said that he had been involved with a smaller study with lung cancer and had reached a similar conclusion. Marlborough Express 4 June

Bogus Body Enhancer

Winston and Sylvia Gallot were ordered to pay $632,500 and $130,000 costs after being convicted of breaching the Fair Trading Act. Their weight loss product, Body Enhancer, was described by the judge as being ineffective. The High Court dismissed the quacks’ appeal but reduced the fines to $394,500.

Never mind, the couple must be laughing all the way to the bank as it was estimated that about $5 million of the product had been sold. If you google the offending product there is a wealth of material to review. I particularly enjoyed the Judge’s descriptions as follows:

“Mr Gallot was described as a man of considerable intelligence, style and charm, but he was exposed as ‘calculatedly dishonest’ and blamed everyone but himself.”

Judge Moore referred to a “succession of blatant untruths” by Mrs Gallot in trying to launch Body Enhancer in Britain.’

Marlborough Express 30 May

Another useless product

The Commerce Commission successfully prosecuted another useless product which claimed to “melt away fat and cellulite.” A judge said anyone who purchased Celluslim wasted their money.

The company had claimed that the product “had been scientifically tested by a fictitious doctor at the fictitious Saint Alto Research Centre in Switzerland.” When their useless product ran out they merely substituted honey, garlic and apple cider vinegar pills.

Marlborough Express 30 May

Amalgam again

A local dentist missed out on a health contract because of his opposition to dental amalgam. The amalgam debate has raged for decades and has parallels with the pure water crackpots who oppose fluoridation. Amalgam is a stable compound that is not ideal but it is the most cost effective agent at present. When something better comes along it will be superseded. I have a mouth full of amalgam fillings-a legacy of growing up without fluoridation. My mother gave fluoride tablets to the remaining four siblings who all have perfect teeth. People who elect to have their amalgam fillings removed expose themselves to a great deal of mercury which is released during destruction of their fillings. Those of us who sensibly live with our existing amalgam fillings can rest assured that our major mercury exposure comes from fish and chips.

Marlborough Express 25 March

Body Talk

I will have to rethink my theory that “wacky ideas are promoted by people who are bald and have beards”. After rubbishing body talk in an earlier column I was stunned to see that this ludicrous nonsense has arrived in Blenheim. Get this-straight from the reporter:

“I lie down on the consultation table and she holds my hand loosely over my stomach. A series of yes or no questions are asked and she lifts my hand in a circular motion each time, sensing resistance or acceptance of the question. It’s when she picks up on a positive response; she places my hand over my sternum and then taps me several times on the head, then taps me on my heart zone.”

The reporter accidentally stumbles across the mechanism when reporting: “It bears a resemblance to the ‘laying on of hands’ popular among some born again Christian groups.”

This whole mélange of hocus pocus is of course a placebo. It is staggering that such nonsense can gain credence and it beggars belief that a newspaper should even bother reporting it. How ridiculous does something have to be before an editor would reject it?

Saturday Express 24 May

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