Ineffective cancer treatments

Beware of Cancer ‘Cures’
While some alternative therapies can help, many don’t work. Studies show that as many as 30 percent of cancer patients have tried so-called “cures” that do no good. They can be a waste of time and money. Worse, some of these “treatments” are dangerous to your health and may interfere with the effectiveness of other cancer treatments.

alkaline diet
This is based on laboratory studies showing that cancer cells cannot survive in a low acid or alkaline environment. The theory is that eating certain foods and staying away from others lowers your body’s acidity and prevents cancer cells from growing. But what you eat doesn’t affect the acidity of your blood. Your body controls that balance.

cannabis oil
Made from the cannabis plant, this is also known as marijuana or hash oil. Some people believe it can kill or shrink cancer tumors, but there is no scientific support for this. While marijuana may relieve some of the side effects of cancer treatment, such as nausea and loss of appetite, talk to your doctor before you try it. Some compounds in marijuana may affect the way some cancer drugs work. They can also cause side effects like memory and attention loss.

cesium chloride (chemistry)
This is a salt sold as an alternative therapy for cancer. The theory is that it prevents cancer cells from spreading. Researchers have found no evidence – one small study showed that cesium chloride doesn’t help cancer patients. And side effects can include diarrhea, nausea and irregular heartbeat. In some cases, it can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening heart problems.

No herbal products have been proven to cure or prevent cancer – but they may prevent chemotherapy and radiation from working as well as they should. But research does show that some herbs can help alleviate side effects. For example, ginger can relieve vomiting and nausea.

black ointment (TCM)
This is a paste, cream or ointment made from zinc chloride and herbs (such as a plant called bloodroot). Some say that this ointment targets cancerous tissue in the skin, but this is not true. The black salve will damage any skin it touches. It destroys the top layer, but it leaves cancer underneath. And it can cause side effects like infection and scarring.

High doses of vitamin C
The idea that very high doses of vitamin C could cure cancer began in the 1970s. It was based on studies showing that the nutrient was toxic to cancer cells. But studies have shown that millions of oral doses of vitamin C have no effect on cancer patients. And it can affect the effects of certain chemotherapy drugs. Researchers are now studying whether injections of vitamin C can help.

Amygdalin (Laetrile)
This is an extract made from amygdalin kernels and other plants. It’s also known as Laetrile and Vitamin B-17.Your body breaks down amygdalin into a toxic chemical called cyanide. Some say this poison targets and kills cancer cells, but studies show it doesn’t fight cancer and can cause cyanide poisoning. Side effects include headaches, dizziness, and potentially life-threatening low blood pressure.

essential oil
These are extracts made from plants, such as lavender and tea tree. You usually put them on your skin or breathe in their scent. Fans of these oils say they have properties that can fight cancer, but science says that’s not the case. They may help alleviate some of the side effects of cancer treatment, though, including anxiety, nausea, and depression.

positive thinking
Research shows no link between personality traits and your chances of developing cancer or surviving. What a positive attitude can do is improve your quality of life during your diagnosis and treatment. It can also help you better live with and manage your disease.

applied kinesiology

This is based on the idea that your muscles are associated with certain organs and that muscle weakness is a sign of health problems in these areas. Also called muscle strength testing, some people use it to diagnose diseases, including cancer, and make treatment decisions. But there’s no scientific support for it, and studies show it doesn’t work.

In this way, liquids such as water or coffee are flushed into your colon. It is thought to detoxify the colon and intestines. Supporters argue that if you rid these organs of toxins, your body is better able to fight cancer cells. But there’s no evidence that enemas can cure cancer or boost your health. And doing so regularly can lead to infection, dehydration, or rectal tearing. It may also affect the balance of electrolytes in your blood.

Gerson therapy (alternative medicine)
A doctor created this procedure in the 1940s as a treatment for migraines. Some people now use it to treat cancer. It consists of a rigorous regimen of drinking 13 glasses of organic juice a day and eating a vegetarian diet that contains no salt, spices or oil. You also need to take some supplements and have regular enemas. Not only does this regimen not help with cancer, but experts warn that it can be harmful because you may be missing out on important nutrients.

Ozone therapy
Ozone is a toxic form of oxygen. Ozone therapy is based on the idea that the extra oxygen makes it difficult for tumors to grow. But ozone has no medical uses, including treating cancer. And it can cause serious side effects such as phlebitis, chest pain and heart problems.

If you are interested in trying non-traditional treatments, talk to your doctor first.
Talk to your doctor.
If you’re interested in trying a non-traditional treatment, talk to your doctor first. She can help you understand if it’s helpful and make sure it doesn’t cause dangerous side effects. And it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your doctor. One study found that cancer patients who used alternative therapies were more likely to refuse treatments recommended by their doctors.