Health

Higher death rate with alternative cancer cures

People who choose alternative cures for common cancers are up to five times more likely to die early, compared with those opting for standard treatments, a new study said.

The risk of death five years after diagnosis "was highest for breast and colon cancer" - 5.6 and 4.6 times greater respectively, said lead author Skyler Johnson from the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.

UNORTHODOX THERAPIES

Lung cancer patients who spurned surgery, radiation or chemotherapy in favour of herbs and vitamin, homoeopathy, special diets or other unorthodox therapies were more than twice as likely to die over the same period, he reported recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Faced with poor prognoses or painful courses of chemotherapy, which can cause severe nausea and weakness, many cancer patients place their faith in a range of treatments dismissed by most medical doctors as useless at best.

These include probiotics, vitamins and minerals; traditional Indian and Chinese methods such as Ayurvedic medicine and acupuncture; homoeopathy and naturopathy; chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation; as well as yoga, taiji and qigong, all of which involve breath control.

Researchers led by Dr Johnson identified 281 people in the US with the four most common types of cancer - breast, prostate, lung and colon - who turned towards 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, also taking into account race and different health factors.On average, the first group were 2.5 times more likely to die within five years of diagnosis. - AFP

Cancermedicine