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Oct 24, 2014

Cancer Myths

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By Dr. B. M. Hegde, India [ Published Date: May 21, 2010 ]

"Choose being kind over being right, and you'll be right every time." -- Richard Carlson

The word cancer brings on goose pimples in many of us. We are being bombarded with so many myths in this area; most of them make the gullible public believe in them and get scared. It is not for nothing that this is done. Cancer management in modern medicine is one of the multibillion dollar business opportunities both for the medical establishment and the pharmaceutical companies. Open a newspaper or look at the TV, chances are that one gets to hear a celebrity-a film star, an athlete or even a VIP goading you to get yourself screened for one or other cancer. I have been consistently warning the powers that be and our own medical profession that our linear thinking about cancer and its treatment are at best out of tune with reality and at worst are downright dangerous. Who cares? Instead they have been consistently condemning me for writing such warnings.

I was so gladdened yesterday, the May 12th 2010, when the very prestigious American "President’s Cancer Panel" (PCP), mandated way back in 1971 to oversee cancer research and management, surprisingly came down heavily on the cancer industry (medical, pharmaceutical and chemical industries). This panel has spent millions of dollars over these years, but the present panel’s report for 2009 published last week is anything but a clear indication that the vested interests are blocking any progress in this area as the status quo earns the above mentioned partners in the cancer industry billions of dollars profit day after day.

Alison Rose Levy, a friend of mine and a great American health science journalist, advocate, and the best selling writer wrote a comment on the PCP report 2009 which adds spice to the report and can never be bettered. I have drawn very heavily from her article in the Huntington Post for this article of mine, which, in short, sums up all my articles about cancer in the last four decades!

The major points made out in the report (Professors Lifall Jr of Harvard and Kripke of Texas University are the Chair of this group) are the following.

1) Billions of dollars have been poured into cancer research in vested institutes featuring intense and costly treatments but they failed to increase survival if one factors in reduced cancer deaths due to smoking reductions.
2) American Cancer Society runs massive PR campaigns to sell their ideas to the gullible public spending on an average $17 million per year. American Cancer Society and the Pharmaceutical lobby were very critical of the recent PCP report, understandably. They are surprised that the government sponsored panel could criticize their business. Incidentally, why would American Cancer Society need advertisement in the first place?
3) The ACS overlooked numerous studies that showed a wide range of cancer causative factors, including pesticides, toxins, metals, pollutants, food additives, industrial chemicals, endocrine disruptors and other carcinogens--80,000 of them in wide use.
4) "Agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, the medical industry, the military, gas and oil companies and food producers are given carte blanche to pour billions of tons of chemicals and pollutants into everyone's food, personal care, home, baby bottles--whatever--not to mention the public common of air, water and earth" (PCP)
5) The next point is the one that I had been trying to make for years without success and the PCP has been able to drive that point home in its report very effectively. We use "one size fits all" policy in treatment whether drugs, surgery or even chemotherapy. And we use multiple drugs in one single patient (poly-pharmacy) for which there is absolutely no scientific basis! The drug interactions killed lots of people. This is not confined to cancer therapy alone. It runs across the whole gamut of drug therapy.
6) "People who receive multiple scans or other tests that require radiation may accumulate doses equal to or exceeding that of Hiroshima atomic bomb survivors." (PCP)

The PCP report apart, there are so many areas of cancer management where we take the gullible public for a ride. One glaring area is that of cancer screening. People keep swearing by it telling the public that cancer screening will save millions of lives. This is far from the truth. I better quote the American cancer society that had been spearheading the cancer ghost all these years. They have now realized that there is an elephant in their room. They would want to downplay their folly, though. "So the American Cancer Society has finally opened its eyes, and the New York Times reports that they are crafting a new policy which indirectly admits that they were wrong all along!

"We don't want people to panic," Dr. Otis Brawley, the organization's chief medical officer, told the New York Times. "But I'm admitting that American medicine has overpromised when it comes to screening. The advantages to screening have been exaggerated."  Dr. Brawley is a few years too late, though. "Cancer turned into panic when everyone started getting screened and found out that, in many cases, they had cancer. Too often, those were cancers that people have always had, but didn't know about. These cancers grow so slowly or have such a slow risk of spreading that they rarely put anyone at risk."  Millions of people had to live with the trauma and side effects of cancer diagnosis which was not needed in the first place. Diagnosis has become the biggest disease in the area of cancer. It is a shame on the medical profession.

Suzanne Somers is an American activist and a cancer survivor who has written a beautiful book KNOCKOUT: Interviews with Doctors Who are Curing Cancer - and How to Prevent Getting It in the First Place. I am not authenticating the book but shall present some of the salient features of the book here. Current treatment of cancer is full of collateral damage to the human system. I also think it is true. It reminds me of what Charles De Gaulle said about life in the company of experts. He thought that they confused you so much that life becomes hell on earth! David Weatherall, a former Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford, a cancer specialist himself, had this to say about our present cancer management. He said that it reminded him of the way our ancestors in medicine branded every single patient with a red hot iron. He also felt that our future generation will never forgive us for this sin!

Other points that Suzanne makes in her book are the following. Surgical removal of the primary helps metastasis to grow easily. Chemotherapy is a big racket except in some testicular tumours, some lymphomas and childhood leukaemias. Cancer death rate has not changed in the last half century. Unnecessary surgeries for breast and prostate cancer make life miserable. Suzanne brings out evidence to show that if one treats cancer as a chronic disease like diabetes one could live a happy life. Much of life with a cancer depends on our mind. Fear kills.

If we have the method to detect a cancer on the first day of its birth each human being on this planet will have a cancer and all of them would need treatment. Cancer begins as a rogue cell that outlives its normal life span and escapes natural cell death, apoptosis. But the vast majority of them does not reach the clinical cancer stage. So the very idea of cancer screening is unscientific to say the least. In addition, time evolution in a dynamic system like the human body is non-linear and future predictions using a few parameters of the initial state of the organism can NEVR come true. In this context mammograms become one of the greatest myths of our time. We, doctors, have been predicting the unpredictable future of mankind. Just like astrologers, we are also responsible for much human misery.

An astrologer or a weather man can make mistakes and still survive. We doctors predict the wrong future for man and get him scared to death which, in fact, could kill him in the long run. This is a shame indeed. Now that the American President’s own Panel on Cancer has found large holes in their cancer management strategy, lesser mortals in India, parading themselves as cancerologists, would take note and tone down their rhetoric for cancer screening and managing so called cancers in the most destructive way. Cancer deaths have not come down proportionate to our claims of success but cancer phobia has certainly gone up, thanks to our efforts at disease mongering. Hope sanity will prevail now that the holy water has come from the horse’s mouth.

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."  -- Winston Churchill.

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BM Hegde, India :
"Nearly everything we've been told about breast cancer by the medical establishment is a lie. Here are just a few of the many shocking truths you've never been told:
Breast cancer is 90% preventable through deliberate changes in foods and lifestyle.
Chemotherapy only works on 1 - 2% of breast cancer patients.
The No. 1 cause of breast cancer is chronic vitamin D deficiency.
Mammograms actually cause breast cancer.
Breast cancer is not caused by "bad genes."
All woman have cancer cells and micro tumors. Simply having a tiny tumor detected does not mean you need chemotherapy or radiation.
Ten women are harmed by mammography for every one woman who is helped by it.
Countless false positives (false cancer diagnoses) happen every year. You should never trust a single cancer diagnosis.
Most breast cancer centers have a financial incentive to recruit patients by "finding" evidence of breast cancer.
Many oncologists would never undergo the same chemotherapy they prescribe to patients.
Many of the largest breast cancer non-profits are little more than Big Pharma front groups operating a massive patient recruitment scam.
Want to learn more?" Read our explosive, eye-opening Breast Cancer Deception report, available right now at: http://www.NaturalNews.com/Report_Breast_Cancer_Deception_0.html

To your health and wellness,
- Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Dr Raj Hegde, Australia :
Is Prevention is better than cure ?

I do agree with Prof. Hegde that Population based screening has several advantages as well as disadvantages. The ultimate benefit of the cancer screening programme is still questionable. A recent Danish study published in the British Medical Journal revealed that routine breast cancer screening may have little effect on reducing deaths from the disease, and the value of national programs should be questioned.
The life time risk of breast cancer in Australia is 1 in 11. In Australia, where free Breast screening is provided from the age 50 upwards at two yearly intervals and  mortality is only 28% of the current rate of incidence. In the United Kingdom, which has a similar life time risk, mortality is still 43% despite recent improvements in the cancer management.

A couple of decades back cervical cancer was the leading cause of death among Indian women. Thanks to the efficient screening programmes. Now a days the incidence of cervical cancer has come down drastically. On the contrary incidence Breast cancer is growing rapidly especially among urban Indian population.

It is estimated that there are 2 million cancer patients in India with 0.7 million new cases added each year.
The Head & Neck cancers are mostly tobacco related cancer constitute nearly 35% of the newly detected cancers. The Head & Neck cancers are basically preventable cancers. The main culprit is Gutka( Pan Parag) which is strongly linked to oral cancer. The tobacco related habits are responsible for nearly 50% of cancers in India. Some High Courts, responding to public interest litigations, passed orders banning Gutka . Supreme Court has stayed the ban. Even though Gutka was banned for few years in Maharashtra there was no agency to enforce ban. Unfortunately most cops in Mumbai are Gutka addicts.

I feel Indian government should put more emphasis on prevention rather than early detection. The population based screening is an expensive affair. National cancer control programme in India has done a remarkable job in early detection of cancer cervix through Visual examination by the health workers. Routine regular cancer screening is mainly popular among the urban affluent society.
SHENOY R, India :
so many small lung nodules are detected on CT scans that it is now becoming more common for physicians to ignore many of these small abnormalities as just that -- Prof B M Hegde

Many radiologists report it as 'too small to characterise'.

The additional problems with the introduction of PET/CT has complicated the picture further. Even though staging using PET scan is done mainly in lymphomas, many solid tumors also get staging with PET/CT now a days.It is good business for the radiologist.

Gone are the days when the physician had to justify even a complete blood count before ordering. I by no means am suggesting that the physician should look at the conjunctiva and say 'you have a Hb of 10 Gm%'.

PS: I remember a joke By Prof Hegde where he was referring to the intern percussing and saying 'there is a cavity here'. [I HAVE ALSO SEEN THE CHEST X RAY]
Kiran, USA :
Thanks again for a wonderful article highlighting the exploitative nature of modern medicine. I think it is time for a collective change of mindset of the what, how and whys of cancer. Even western science knows that many of the so-called cancers come and go on their own and placebos (mainly the positive mindset) has a larger role to play than previously understood.
References:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/health/27canc.html?_r=1
http://www.wired.com/medtech/drugs/magazine/17-09/ff_placebo_effect
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/03/enhancing-the-placebo/?hp

PS: I think there is a typo in this article - you might have meant Huffington Post and not Huntington Post?
PPS: I also wonder what are your thoughts on Stevia (the newly (2008) FDA approved sugar substitute) which is suspected to enhance glucose tolerance which might be a boon to diabetics and is also claimed to strengthen teeth along with reduced cavities. With Coca-cola and Pepsi jumping on this bandwagon, it looks set to be the sugar of the future.
BM Hegde, India :
Study reveals huge overdiagnosis of cancer causing unnecessary treatment and suffering Wednesday, May 26, 2010 by: S. L. Baker, features writer


(NaturalNews) Imagine being told your imaging tests are back and there's bad news. You have cancer. To save your life, your doctor says, you must submit to surgery, chemo, radiation and a host of additional tests and prescription drugs. Of course, there's no guarantee the malignancy will be totally stopped or that the cancer treatment won't cause both immediate and long-term health consequences.

Now imagine the same scenario -- only it turns out the tests were misinterpreted and you really didn't have any sort of life-threatening cancer in the first place. This goof-up must be extremely rare, right? After all, in the high tech world of modern day mainstream medicine, dangerous malignant tumors are accurately spotted, correct?

Wrong.

In fact, research just published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests the overdiagnosis of cancer is nothing less than a large and growing problem in the US. Study authors H. Gilbert Welch, M.D., and William Black, M.D., of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vermont, and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, conclude it's time for this phenomenon to be faced head-on with the development of clinical and research strategies to quantify, recognize, and deal with cancer overdiagnosis.

So just how big a problem are we talking about? Dr. Welch and Dr. Black used data from large randomized screening trials to estimate the extent of overdiagnosis and their findings are nothing less that shocking. They found that about 25% of breast cancers detected on mammograms and about 60% of prostate cancers detected with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests could represent overdiagnosis..

And when it comes to lung cancer screening with chest x-rays and sputum tests, they estimate about half of the "cancers" detected are really cases of overdiagnosis. What's more, CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) often detects abnormalities outside the colon that can lead to more tests and a possible overdiagnosis of colon cancer, too.

The researchers pointed out several ways to address the problem of overdiagnosis. For starters, they suggested educating patients about the risks and benefits involved with early detection. Another strategy: raising the threshold at which screening test results are labeled 'abnormal' and treatment is needed.

This is already happening in some cases. For example, so many small lung nodules are detected on CT scans that it is now becoming more common for physicians to ignore many of these small abnormalities as just that -- small abnormalities -- instead of rushing into this-looks-like-cancer-let's-treat-it-aggressively mode.

In an editorial accompanying the report by Dr. Black and Dr. Welch, Laura Esserman, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, and Ian Thompson of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, agreed that addressing the problem of cancer overdiagnosis is critically important.

"What we need now in the field of cancer is the coming together of physicians and scientists of all disciplines to reduce the burden of cancer death AND cancer diagnosis," they wrote. "We must advocate for and demand innovation in diagnosis and management, fueled by science, harnessing modeling, molecular, and immunology tools to address this problem."
James Fernandes/Barkur, USA :
So, we still need a zoologist to identify a Jack-Ass.
SHENOY R, India :
So the very idea of cancer screening is unscientific to say the least.-Prof B M Hegde

I differ on this view expressed by the respected Prof.

It is well established that pap smears can detect early cellular changes which is called CIN [Cervical intraepithelial neoplaia] This is curable Conisation is one of the methods. It can even preserve the fecundity. ie: Child bearing capacity of the lady. Cervical incompetence which can result from that procedure is well managed with Shirodkar stich.In a sexually active woman pap smear is useful and is encouraged. So it is incorrect to say that early detection at least in the case of cervix is unscientific. It has saved several lives.

Coming to breast cancer itself, what Prof Hegde is trying to discuss is the sub clinical disease which may take several divisions before it shows up. One gram of tumor contains 10 9 cells. [10 to the power of 9] Whereas 1 kg of tumor has only 3 logs more but it is terminal by then.Early detection is still the best protection especially in high risk categories. [Family history of breast cancer, nulliparity, early menarche, late menopause, unoppossed oestrogen stimulation as in celibate women] BRCA 1 ans BRCA 2 gene mutations place the client at very high risk for breast cancer. This is more common in Ashkenazi Jewish women and is not known in India at aleast.

Early detection of prostate cancer in Afro American men is useful. This is less common in Indians. By the time Indians develop invasive prostate cancer, there are multiple competing causes for death, mainly cardio vascular.

Colo rectal cancer screening above the age of 50 is useful. Stool for occult blood, colonoscopy which can snare significant polyps is useful.Every procedure has its complications as we all know. If some one has family history of colon cancer, he/she is at higher risk for colon cancer and deserves to be screened.

Coming to the issue of mammograms, there is an element of truth in what Dr Hegde is saying. Many of the non invasive cancers have their own natural history and all of them may not become malignant or invasive.So over treatment such as mastectomy as in the past can result.
SHENOY R, India :
We need not have to argue about this subject anymore- A S Mathew

I thought that we were discussing and not arguing. We cam alweays have our views expressed and any ambiguity cleared.

USA is a litigation minded society. Doctors and hospitals live under the shadow of possible litigations all the time. Ambulance chasers make their livelihood through that. So over investiagtion is an effort to cover all the bases. How many clients will be happy to have you treat them just based on your clinical skills and good diagnosis? They want CT scan and MRI for every simple ailment. They want fancy medications for every thing. Again the demand and supply equation comes into the picture.

Thanks for your compliments about me. Let me reciprocate the feelings and let you know that I have enjoyed your contribuitions as well. Good Night.
A.S.Mathew, USA :
SHENOY: We need not have to argue about this subject anymore. Those people living in India have no idea about the American medical system with total greed by making people scared, and take advantage of the fear tactics.

Probably, you are trying rationalize
the medical system in India which I can understand well. If they are
following the same tactics of the American greed, the same fate will befall on India.

I have worked in a hospital as a non-medical employee, and saw the tons of x'ray films being used (no MRI ect in those days) and the charges by the millions. Also, the medical charges. Now the system is far worse than the olden days.

I do respect you as a well-educated person and also your candid opinions.

The monopolistic medical industry in the
U.S. is out of control. India has two other systems (Ayurvedi and Homeopathic) to run parallel with the modern medicine.
SHENOY R, India :
Please stop justifying the medical industry, especially in the U.S. You won't get many people to say " hallelujah" with you.

-A S Mathew

I am surprised to see that I sound like I am justifying the 'medical' industry in the US. I had only highlighted the patient psyche and their desire to live at any cost even for a small chance of improved survival rate at the financial/quality cost. That explains why I said demand vs supply. As long as the demand for such a treatment is there, supply will also be there.

Halleleujah!
A.S.Mathew, USA :
Mr. Shenoy, let me explain to the word
"butcher".

It may not be done in India, but in the
U.S, if you read the number of unnecessary operations and the removal of organs piece by piece, and finally the patients are died; the data is staggering.

How you define it?

Doctors are not doing this as a charity but charing them thousands of dollars/hour.

Also the hospitals are not concerned with the patients, but charging them heavly. Have you ever happend to see the bill of a hospital patient in the U.S. after a series of operations for cancer treatment and operations? Do you know, how many people have declared bankruptcy after getting out of the hospitals, some of them are patients and the rest of the people are immediate relatives.

I know five (personal friends) cancer patients, went through unnecessary operations by the weeks and died fast. Had they left alone, they might have lived through pain medications and with all the sick organs inside the body, might have died earlier or later.

Please stop justifying the medical industry, especially in the U.S. You won't get many people to say " hallelujah" with you.

Years back, "appendix removal and tonsillectomy" were the cash crop of the surgeons. Now, they don't bother to do it because there is no money in those silly operations. Any increase in the death rate? How many unnecessary circumcisions are being done in the U.S./year, and do you know how much the doctors and hospitals are charging for the less than one minute surgery?

Sir,sharp knife is used for these operations. Now, you might have understood, what is "butchering".

American medical industry is going to
face a great challenge from the outsourcing of the non-emergency medical care in other countries.
SHENOY R, India :
How doctors and hospitals butcher cancer patients and get rich?
- A S Mathew

Demand vs supply is the answer. People go all lengths with a hope of surviving. Some evidence based medicine review will tell you the figures. Patients take even less than 2 percent chance. It is essential for doctors to counsel the clients and present the facts in a palatable way so that they can make informed decisions.

PS: Yaanu gulfudu uppini. Kode battini. Barpi vaara pope. Eer yenchaandla maltudu merena temma untaaodu. Yetu kharchaandala mall ijji. Yaanu korpe. Sounds familiar? This is a real life dialogue heard in one of the Mangalore hospitals.
A.S.Mathew, USA :
Dr. Hegde, your candid and revolutionary
approach towards the modern inhuman
medical industry is highly commendable.

Perhaps, the best money making tool for the medical industry world-wide is the disease "cancer". More new names are coming to the screen every year, touching every organ of the body. I do remember a lady in my neighbourhood in India suffered with ovarian cancer for a few years and died.
But recently, one of our friends in the U.S. died with ovarian cancer, after undergoing many operations, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, (kidney damage due to the overdosage of chemotherapy), lost hair and finally died after much suffering with
a huge medical bill within a year. Had she been left alone, she could have died peacefully.

How doctors and hospitals butcher cancer patients and get rich?

Perhaps, the cancer treatment is the
biggest jackpot of the medical industry. Everything causing cancer, and millions of dollars are being made through terrorizing the public like "radon gas in homes" and
selling the testing kits. Then annual
tests for preventing cancer, so millions are made through unecessary testing. What a great rip off in the name of cancer, but more people are getting cancer all over the world.
SHENOY R, India :
Good points. It is also necessary to point out the 'alternative medicine' industry and the quacks who peddle cancer cure.

Brand name vs generic drugs is another area.

Collateral damage is some area which needs to be discussed at length with the patient. The client should have the option of seeking another opinion. Let her/him decide what she/he wants after learning the options from more than one source.

Quality of life is very important and not just longevity.
Shridhara Achar Bangalore, India :
Thank You Dr.Hegde, for presenting one more illuminative article. Yes. there are more myths than truths about cancer.Only tobacco is projected as most harmful, whereas there are are so many other things which also cause cancer.And what about the drugs? They are killing the people, thanks to over usage.
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