We the undersigned…

In the past I have been critical of the exaggerated claims made by the promoters of salvestrols as the new super-food-supplement. There is no evidence to suggest that these plant-derived chemicals have any positive effect on reducing cancer risk when taken in supplement form or for forming any part of a medical regime for cancer sufferers. Trials are apparently underway, but the best evidence to-date has been in-vitro studies of cells in petri dishes. And yet, the supporters of this new ‘wonder vitamin’ have set up companies and are heavily promoting it around the world.

Now, Tony Blair’s 10 Downing Street office have recently had an initiative to listen to the people and set up a web site that allows us, the good subjects of Her Majesty, to petition the government electronically. This has made the papers this week as a million people have logged in to sign a petition against road pricing. The great thing about this site is you can set up a petition about anything. There are examples of petitions to bring back fox hunting, legalise cannabis, abolish faith-based schools and the teaching of creationism (gets my vote), and ask the Prime Minister to stand on his head and juggle ice-cream.

And now a new use of this system. Advertising Quackery. The Salvestrol supporters have created their own petition:

The Cancer Act 1939 was drawn up to prevent quacks and charlatans feeding on the fear of cancer at a time when there was very little information or wide knowledge of the causation and malignancy of unwanted mitosis that is rapid cell division of useless cells which so often spreads, metastasis, leading to premature death.

At present no organisation can make any statement recommending preventative measures such as taking a 400mg of SALVESTROL a day to strengthen the immune system thus enabling the destruct cycle. We produce over 1000 cancer cells each day and the body normally copes but over 50 years of age then the immune system cannot cope and cancer sets in well and truly and so often undiagnosed until too late.

We petition that HMG repeals or amend the Cancer Act 1939 accordingly enabling information to be available to everyone so that people can choose their preventative steps against cancer cell growth.

Thank you

Now, the Cancer Act was introduced to stop quackery at a time when just about any suggested cure was dubious or dangerous. It says,

No person shall take any part in the publication of any advertisement—
(a) containing an offer to treat any person for cancer, or to prescribe any remedy therefor, or to give any advice in connection with the treatment thereof.

It is pretty broad sweeping and times have moved on. Many cancers have high remission rates due to a much greater understanding of the disease and medical science. In that respect, the petitioners are right. Maybe the law does need refreshing, but not without adequate protection from the hoard of quacks that are still out there. And suggesting that salvestrols can cure cancer is quackery.

Are the petitioners guilty of an offence merely by starting and signing this petition? It looks like an advert to me. Could three months of Ginger Ale* await you for signing this petition? Tony – you have their names and addresses…

However, nothing would surprise me about Mr Blair. He has recently told scientists to back of homeopaths. Imagine if homeopaths could advertise that they could cure cancer? That would be a terrible step. Would they? Maybe the sane ones wouldn’t. But there are plenty out there that would offer sugar pills to prevent malaria.

Now, the petition was started by a Michael Cleary. The quackometer reliably informs me that there is a homeopath in Australia by that name. But Aussie citizens are not allowed to start a petition, they are not colonials anymore – so that can’t be him, can it? However, at least one genuine homeopath has added her name to the list, an Anne Macalpine RSHom, nicely leaving her professional qualifications on the register.

Why would she be so interested in repealing this law?

I wonder who started this petition? Anyone know?

(Thanks to an anonymous commenter for pointing this story out. )

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Oh, and while we are on the subject of the e-petitions web site, a favourite quack of this site, the distinguished Provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine, Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi is also using the service for his own ends. He is of course, petitioning the Prime Minister to abolish the General Medical Council – the body that stopped him practising as a Doctor.

If there is nothing on telly, you might be interested in going though the list to see who has signed. The first signatory is a Sushant Varma who looks like he too has had a run-in with the GMC. Oooh, there is also a Prof Reggie von Zugbach who appears on both these petitions. Who is he? I’m not sure how the Prof von Zugbach spends his time, but a little research shows that he may have signed over 160 of these e-petitions!

I’m sure there are hours to waste here…

* For my non-cockney and American readers, Ginger Ale – Jimmy Nail – Gaol – er. Jail.

On this theme…

19 Comments on We the undersigned…

  1. Something to do with requiring products like salvestrol, or anything else that claimes to have a therapeutic or ‘beneficial’ ‘healing’ effect, to be subjected to exactly the same standards of evidence and regulatory mechanisms as conventional drugs?

    Andrew.

  2. Hi,

    I’ve recently been blogging about the madder petitions on the Downing Street website (self-promotion moment, sorry) and noticed the recurrence of Prof von Zugbach’s name.

    Googling, I came across this blog, and had a jolly good chortle. An admirable site you have here; I shall continue to watch with interest.

    I thought you might particularly like to notice this new petition requesting holistic medicine on the NHS – seems like your cup of tea.

    I notice you’ve had a comment from someone saying “Professor von Zugbach is an author, a former Army major and a lecturer in management studies at Paisley university.” So, certainly, sayth Hansard, where MP Helen Liddell talks about a nasty case of stalking of Mrs von Zugbach. However, there’s a distinct lack of clear references to Prof. von Zugbach on the Paisley university website; I’m working on trying to track him down with more completeness.

    He’s certainly posted some interesting petitions.

  3. No mysteries here. I retired eight years ago so I do not appear on any active staff lists. I signed the Cancer Act E-petition as a protest against its limitation of free speech. In fact I signed a lot of petitions while confined to bed with little better to do. I have no brief for quack medicine, indeed I think websites like this do a good ob in telling people about its dangers and its potential to “con”.

  4. Shuttersparks

    Do you mean this?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6987200.stm

    Nothing new here. No peer reviewed research. No clinical trials. Just a Dr Tan saying “his colleagues he has formed a company to investigate further the potential to develop natural anti-cancer therapies”. That is, the BBC have published an advert.

    Note the comment at the end of the article,

    “Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s science information manager, said: “Many naturally occurring substances have anticancer properties, but while this research shows that salvestrols have an effect on cells in the laboratory, there is no evidence that they have a similar effect in patients. “

    “Clinical trials would be needed to tell us if these substances could be developed into a cancer treatment.”

    • think maybe your missing the point, i tried naturally occuring herbs and all that happened to me was my big toe swelled painfully and i had touble sleeping. will stick to whatever my doctor tells me in the future !!

  5. Mr Lewis seems to have an overdeveloped sense of his own ability to understand anything as far as I can see. “There is no evidence to suggest” and “the best evidence to date” are mutually exclusive phrases which give me little confidence in him as a self-appointed arbiter of scientific fact. He should realise that in vivo studies are very expensive to run; prohibitively so for anyone wishing to investigate the properties of a naturally-occurring substance which cannot be patented if and when its salutary properties are established. Contrast this with the studies undertaken by the big drug companies, who do research based on the premise that their highly toxic and downright dangerous concoctions can then be foisted onto an unsuspecting population at highly inflated markups. He might wish to speculate about why a naturally-occurring substance, Vitamin ( actually a hormone) D is known to reduce the rate of breast cancer metastasis by 800%, but it is not being trumpeted from the rooftops by the fraudulent organization knwn as Cancer Research UK. Perhaps this is to do with the fact that cancer is a highly lucrative condition for the drug companies to “treat”, and so why would they wish to find a cure. As far as I can see, their primary objective is to find a way to maintain their salaries permanently at the public expense. In exchange for this, everyone is given a pink ribbon to wear. The closed shop criminal mentality of these people is further exemplified by reference the Cancer Act of 1939, which has successfully crowded out the competition for the last 70 years. Despite its exclusive access to the target population, little has been done to win the war on cancer, which is more a marketing exercise than a genuine desire to help people afflicted with this dread condition.
    If he can find a break in between wasting hours investigating topics which he seems to have little if any understanding of, he might like to check out the April 2011 findings relating to the extraordinary benefits of ingesting the spice known as turmeric in the treatment and prevention of all-variant cancer. These studies are being done by the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Texas, which,assuming that he will therefore immediately do obeisance to an “establishment” research facility, should give his generally arrogant but facile mindset a brief pause for thought. Sorry to be so scathing, but Mr Lewis is clearly an opinionated idiot.

    • Vitamin ( actually a hormone) D is known to reduce the rate of breast cancer metastasis by 800%

      So you end up with -700% of patients getting metastases?

      Presumably arithmetic works differently in your universe.

    • It’s a common complaint among Quack Busters. Not that I mind quacks being busted.
      But the pursuit often becomes a religion where an inquiring mind comes second to the present protocols of scientific inquiry. Hence the osteopath jibe

  6. I am amazed at how strict the Government are about this, yet it is so easy for companies to sell us the crap food we eat everyday without disclosing properly what is in it.

    Ah well at least Chemotherapy cures 2% of patients and gives the rest another bout of Cancer with horrendous inhumane side-effects. Why isn’t Chemotherapy illegal?

    Better go, the thought Police are coming…

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