The story is tragic. A young mother with a child with cancer, fearing that radiotherapy will do more harm than good, and believing homeopathy and other natural cures give her child the best chance, fleas to escape a court ordering treatment. She was found in East Grinstead and the child has been taken into care and she is in court.
Her position is quite understandable. The ‘natural health’ world is full of condemnation for the ‘cut, poison, burn’ approach to treating cancer in mainstream medicine. Magazines, such as What Doctors Don’t Tell You on sale in Waitrose and WHSmiths, are full of stories about how mainstream treatments do not work and doctors are hiding this information from you, whilst at the same time, carrying adverts for exceedingly questionable products and services – quackery.
Popular cancer charities, such as CancerActive and YesToLife uncritically promote questionable clinics for so-called alternative cancer treatments such as the Raphael Hospital in Tonbridge (based on the medical crypto-religious and occult views of Rudolf Steiner) and the Vision of Hope Clinic in Brighton, run by rock-god, Dr Andre Snell-Young (here is his band, Shoot the Dead), who sells Ozone Therapy and Vitamin C tablets.
Newspapers, such as today’s article in the Daily Express, uncritically pass on misinformation about alternative cancer treatments. They asked, “Do Cancer Alternatives Really Work”? The article should have been a very sharp, “No”, but instead, they reported a page of dangerous nonsense. For example, on homeopathy,
HOMEOPATHY THE THEORY:
A natural system for the treatment of disease by highly dilute doses of substances.
It works by treating like with like.
OUR EXPERT SAYS: “ This is often disregarded because it works in a different way to conventional medicine.
It looks past the symptoms to consider the whole person.”
Obviously, a real expert was not consulted, but instead a promoter of pseudoscientific nonsense. Cancer Research UK have done a very good job of highlighting all the errors in the article.
It is no wonder then, that when faced with such desperate decisions, Sally Roberts may have been led to believe she could take a ‘kinder, more natural’ approach to giving her son the best chance.
This story highlights the misleading and consistent approach purveyors of quack treatments use to advertise their business. We see terms such as ‘complementary’ and ‘integrative’ used to show how these treatments are designed to work alongside mainstream treatments. But many people are not chosing them as complementary but as strictly alternative options. The case of Sally Roberts is undoubtedly the tip of an iceberg: we only became aware of it because of the highly unusual circumstances of a judge releasing their names in order to help find the child.
The philosophy of homeopathy is not complementary. It is based on the belief that homeopathy (like cures like) is the one true explanation of medicine, all other approaches being inferior and even harmful. Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, even derided mainstream medicines as being the causes of diseases and not the cure. As such, there are huge antagonisms within homeopathic circles towards medicine. When they say they are ‘complemetary’ they mean that they ‘can clear up the harm done by mainstream medicine’.
That is why today on Twitter I asked a very simple question,
The tweet has been RT’ed at least 76 times and reached potential tweeters of half a million (mainly due to Ben Goldacre retweeting).
I also specifically asked the Society of Homeopaths, The Faculty of Homeopaths and the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths through their twitter accounts if they will say the same.
Obviously, we will get no reply. The best we can expect is the repetition of the same old canards: “homeopathy is a safe and gentle form of treatment.”
It is not what we are asking you to say!