Helping Patients Navigate the complex maze of claims of dietary cures for cancer

Whether or not you have cancer and searching for the diet that promises cure or if you are trying to be healthy and avoid cancer; there is one question that needs to be asked: Are You confused?

FAdDiet-BAd-DietWhether or not you have cancer and searching for the diet that promises cure or if you are trying to be healthy and avoid cancer;  there is one question that needs to be asked: Are You confused?

If you have answered YES – then you may be on the road to discovery by reassessing the loads of misinformation written and spoken about diet and cancer cures. Over 40 years in cancer medicine – I have seen most fads and “cancer cure diets”. Longevity in the field is a wonderful teacher as you have the luxury of seeing repetition over the years. What works and what doesn’t work!

I see “cancer cure diets” recycled each decade to a new group of enthusiasts who promote the very things that did not work back then but, they don’t know that and so they regurgitate the information to a new group of desperate patients seeking a cure. The newbie enthusiasts believe the old and tired hype and try to make it new and sexy. But as they say You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear!

So, if you are confused, I encourage you to develop your critical thinking skills and question the different ways that are promoted to help you beat cancer and especially to beat cancer naturally with diet and without the help of modern medicine. Most cancer patients believe that with a diet change you can do no harm; but they could not be more wrong!

All things in Balance - So important when dealing with cancer
All things in Balance – So important when dealing with cancer

 The list of “healthy diet health issues” is long…but perhaps the most recent destructive dietary change for cancer patients is the Vegan diet. Regularly in my practice I see patients who have lost 10-20 kg plus following a vegan diet because they went to a workshop program, read it in a book or found it on Dr Google. They have applied a one size fits all approach to their diet, not personalized. When we measure their blood – we find severe deficiencies in critical areas including immunity and vitamin B12 to name a few – the complete opposite of their goal- but often we also find dangerous levels of selenium, zinc, Vit D & A as they have tried to use supplements to adjust for dietary lack. Faecal retention and constipation is common on low fibre diets.

The natural therapies movement has convinced patients that their bodies can no longer be trusted to function and that they are toxic and must detox from very pore and orifice. As well they must do the same with their “emotional baggage”if they want to recover from cancer! This is a sad indictment of a supposedly health promoting profession.

Apart from diets where Juicing reigns supreme with 8- 10 juices a day; vegan and raw vegan seem to create the most most destructive side effects for cancer patients. Many patients who have written blogs and books on the subject have sadly died following the wrong dietary advice. Yes – patients die from cancer too….but in my experience those who engage in the fad cancer cure diets do far worse than those who just have medical treatment.

I was in a local Homestyle-Kitchen store recently and on the shelf I discovered several new copies of Jess Ainscough’s (Wellness Warrior’s) book – “Make Peace with your Plate”.  It is well documented – Jess and her mother both died by adhering to their singular dietary cure for cancer. The store concerned was not interested to know that Jess had died as a result of her choices.

If patients have delayed treatment or delayed seeking a proper diagnosis – the consequences can be horrendous. SEE Delayed treatment World Journal of Psycho warning graphic image in this Journal article.

One question to ask yourself is “Do I have time to experiment with this one one precious life?” All that myself and my colleagues can do is keep on educating cancer patients – but sadly by the time some patients visit – there is little than can be achieved.

A recent paper published in the MJA by Professor Ian Haines takes a look at this issue from the perspective of the oncologist. The paper is written to assist oncologists to develop better communication with patients who take the this  alt-med-dietary path to cancer recovery.

Resources – please pass on:

  1. See Prof Haines’ paper at: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2015/203/4/negotiating-complex-maze-claims-dietary-cures-cancer   Also download the PDF version: ian haines mja aug 2015
  2. Visit my podcast website to hear my interview on BBC Bristol UK: http://www.navigatingthecancermazeaustralia.org/grace-gawler-bbc-interview-the-role-of-mind-body-medicine-in-recovery/
  3. http://www.gracegawlerinstitute.com/alternative-medicine-rescue/

Cancer Patients: If you need assistance with personalizing your diet or if you help due to delayed diagnosis – please contact me via the Contact page

Belle Gibson scratching the surface on cancer cure claims 60 minutes| Grace Gawler

60 minutes Channel 9 Australia: If you watched the almost painful interview with Belle Gibson and Tara Brown last night (Sun 28 June 2015), you probably came away shaking your head in disbelief. How could so many have been taken in by Belle’s cancer diagnosis followed by her cancer cure claims for so long.

60 minutes Channel 9 Australia: If you watched the almost painful interview with Belle Gibson and Tara Brown last night (Sun 28 June 2015), you probably came away shaking your head in disbelief. How could so many have been taken in by Belle’s cancer diagnosis followed by her cancer cure claims for so long.

Bell Gibson Tara Brown 60 minutes
Belle Gibson – Cancer Hoax

Tara Brown certainly had the most challenging of interviewees in Belle Gibson as we watch story afterstory spun by Belle pulled apart and dismantled by Brown only to see each time, justification by Gibson as to why she lied and how she is the victim and not the people she duped. No one likes to witness a public shaming – there is something about it that makes us cringe; but as painful and unpleasant to watch as it was – it was perhaps a necessary story to further shine a questioning light on the burgeoning wellness-cancer cure industry and the entrepreneurs with cancer cure stories that don’t quite add up.

Select the following video link to see Tara Brown’s response to the interview:
http://www.9jumpin.com.au/show/60minutes/       To watch the entire interview:
http://www.9jumpin.com.au/show/60minutes/stories/2015/june/the-whole-hoax/

There was nothing new in the interview as The Australian weekend magazine journalist Richard Guilliatt had already exposed Belle Gibson in his article 14 March 2015 A healthy dose of scepticism about Belle Gibson and the 4 April Belle Gibson, Amanda Rootsey, Jess Ainscough and others fight cancer with ‘wellness’

However, for me the visual; seeing Belle’s almost unwavering face when constantly challenged with proof of her lies, was a dangerous indictment of the conviction and surety of today’s self-made cancer cure entrepreneurs. It is a hook that pulls cancer patients into a web of destruction.
Listen to my fascinating interview with Richard Guilliatt re Belle Gibson on Navigating the Cancer Maze Australia

However – the unfortunate truth is that Belle Gibson is not alone as a cancer fraud and one hope I have is that Belle Gibson can leave a message for all of us, not only cancer patients; as Mass Destruction Cartoonto who we take advice from when it comes to a serious illness like cancer. As Tara Brown points out towards the end of the interview; how many people turned away from conventional medicine based on her message?

40 years ago – I played a significant part of the new frontier in cancer medicine. We created the cancer support group movement, taught patients about very basic nutritional changes (basic compared with today) – but more importantly, we helped patients build and re-build their psychological structure after the shock of a cancer diagnosis and the ensuing PTSD. A formula that still helps my patients today. But we have come a long way from those days.

Longevity in the world of cancer is a valuable tool to look back and see the trends and changes. Having experienced a very personal cancer story when my partner was diagnosed with bone cancer in the mid 1970’s (another story entirely- see http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/too-good-to-be-true-20120420-1xcgn.html); I watched aghast in the 1980s and 90’s as a new breed of cancer entrepreneurs were born – many of them had visited our Centre or attended seminars and workshops; books were written and exaggerated claims made. This also became an international trend! Then, cancer became designer, trendy almost sexy and the approaches to treating it in the  alternative world became more simple – verging on ridiculous.

The new breed of cancer entrepreneur emerged – young social media entrepreneurs – most who have never worked with cancer patients or studied diet – became instant experts on instagram and Facebook.

One of our institute’s researchers has contacted and examined the stories of many cancer entrepreneurs and yes – like Belle Gibson – not one could corroborate or medically verify their public cancer cure story. Unfortunately – placebo medicine aside – these people, whether well meaning, ignorant , self deceptive or just plain scammers, lead cancer patients down a muddied road in the cancer maze leading to a dead end & a lot of wasted time getting back on track again.

My GP colleague and I, at the Gold Coast conduct a specific practice – “Cancer Alt- Med Rescue” for patients who have been ill-advised & suffering tremendous consequences as a result. We see a lot of rectal obstructions, fungating tumours (tumours that have been active for so long – they ulcerate and break through the skin) and even brain tumours that naturopaths have suggested to patients; can be treated naturally. We see horrendous injuries and amplified pain and suffering and often – horrible deaths.

SEE article PDF:  Consequences of Delayed treatment early breast cancer – warning graphic image.  It is is not uncommon to see this type of breast lesion in our Practice.

Every week we see patients who have delayed conventional treatments that have a good track record for cure or buying time; preferring to take a chance with their life with advice from unskilled, fraudulent internet websites or those cancer entrepreneurs I spoke of above.

In recent times we have had some very public stories in the media about the exclusive use of Alternative

Mother and daughter The late Jess and Sharyn Ainscough Holding out for Miracle 2012 The Australian Weekend Magazine - Richard Guiliatt
Mother and daughter The late Jess and Sharyn Ainscough Holding out for Miracle 2012 The Australian Weekend Magazine – Richard Guiliatt

Medicine in cancer  and its consequences – the death of Jess Ainscough – alias ‘Wellness Warrior’ – her mother; the patients of Dr Satori and if you ever want to be convinced to NOT try alt med for bowel cancer – check out the sad and chilling Penny Dingle Story on Australian Story.

But these are the stories that make it to press; there are many thousands that go unnoticed and not reported and that simply go down in the records as a cancer death without investigation. I estimate that cancer deaths due to delayed diagnosis or delayed treatment due to giving alt med a try; or by taking a total alt med approach, is likely to account for at least 30% of cancer deaths in Australia. That is a huge figure – but I am in a unique position to see these patients – often in the clusters of areas such as Cairns-Atherton, Sunshine Coast, Byron Shire, to name but a few; areas where alternative medicine populations are dense.

But – it is not only mortality – morbidity caused by delayed treatment that can grossly impact well-being and life quality. Over the past few weeks I have had several clients who almost certainly would have had tumour eradicating surgery and a temporary colostomy – but due to delaying by months or, in some cases years of  naturopathy, Dr Google and or integrative medicine; their pain and suffering is far amplified and the prognosis poor.  The same can be said of head and neck tumours where early surgical intervention could have saved disfigurement and reduced damage from radiation therapy in 3 recent patients.

Keep your Fraud-o-meter active and Alert!
Keep your Fraud-o-meter active and Alert!

In summary – Belle Gibson brings a significant and timely reminder for you to question the quality, reality and authenticity of your cancer advice. Too many patients are dying prematurely due to believing in a  “natural therapies” idealogy towards treating and curing cancer.

As a comedian once said –  “a grizzly bear is natural – but would you stand in front of it believing it would heal you?”

Please spread the word and help others to question and think critically about the source of cancer advice. People’s lives – maybe your life depends on it!

Remember Carl Sagan’s famous quote : “Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence”.

Until Next Time – Stay safe in cancer care….

Grace

Please contact me via the contact page if you need help as a cancer patient who has tried and failed with alternative medicine.