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.
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. )
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.