Paris: People who choose alternative cures for common cancers are up to five times more likely to die compared to those who opt for standard treatments, the lead scientist for a new study said on Friday.
The risk of death five years after diagnosis “was higher for breast and colon cancer,” said lead author Skyler Johnson of Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut – 5.6 and 4.6 times , Respectively, respectively.
Patients with lung cancer who refused surgery, radiation or chemotherapy for herbs and vitamins, homeopathy, special diets or other unorthodox therapies were more than twice as likely to die during the same period, he reported last week The Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Survival rates five years for prostate cancer remained high, around 90% for both conventional and alternative treatments, but this was not necessarily proof that alternative therapies were so effective.
“Prostate cancer usually grows very slowly in the early stages, so few people die,” Johnson told AFP via e-mail.
Faced with poor prognosis or painful courses of chemotherapy, nausea and severe weakness that can cause many cancer patients put their faith in a wide range of discarded by most doctors as useless in the best treatments.
These include probiotics, vitamins and minerals; Traditional Indian and Chinese methods such as Ayurvedic medicine and acupuncture; Homeopathy and naturopathy; Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation; As well as yoga, Tai Qi and Qi Gong, all of which involve breath control.
Mind-focused approaches to matter also include prayer, meditation, and guided imagery, in which one visualizes his or her cancer to overcome it.
Johnson led researchers identified 281 people in the United States with the four most common cancers – breast, prostate, lung and colon – which turned to one or more of these unproven treatments when diagnosed.
The team compared their health outcomes with those of 560 other cancer patients of comparable age, taking into account race and different health factors.
On average, the first group was 2.5 times more likely to die within five years of diagnosis.
“For several reasons, I think this can be an understatement,” Johnson told AFP.
To begin, the data only covered only the initial treatment, which means that some of the patients who first sought alternative cures may have changed to standard treatments as his disease progressed, thus prolonging their lives.
It is also likely, he added, that the non-conventional medicine cohort would be sicker, younger, and have higher incomes and education – attributes that translate into better survival rates.
“We do not know the exact number of people who make the decision to seek alternative medicine instead of conventional cancer treatment,” Johnson said.
Patients are reluctant to trust doctors who are prone to frown on their options, he added.
But, he noted, all the miracle cancer cures on offer are likely to add to a multi-million dollar business.