After billions spent on research and decades of hit-or-miss treatments, it’s time to rethink the war on cancer.
Four decades into the war on cancer, conquest is not on the horizon.
“With cancer sometimes death is not optional.” Yet it was supposed to be. In 1971 President Richard Nixon declared war on cancer (though he never used that phrase) in his State of the Union speech, and signed the National Cancer Act to make the “conquest of cancer a national crusade.” It was a bold goal … But the scientists and physicians whom Nixon sent into battle have come up short. Rather than being cured, cancer is poised to surpass cardiovascular disease and become America’s leading killer.
The NCI Web site says, “the biology of the more than 100 types of cancers has proven far more complex than imagined at that time.”
Oncologists resort to a gallows-humor explanation: “One tumor,” says Otis Brawley of the ACS (American Cancer Society), “is smarter than 100 brilliant cancer scientists.”
- Doctors today commonly assert that they practice “scientific medicine,” and patients think that the medical treatments they receive are “scientifically proven.” However, this ideal is a dream, not reality, and a clever and profitable marketing ruse, not fact.
- Doctors like to point to the “impressive” efficacy of their treatments in real serious diseases, like cancer, and doctors (and drug companies) are emphatic about asserting that anyone or any company that says (or even suggests) that they have a treatment that might help people with cancer are “quacks.” However, do they maintain this same standard when evaluating their own treatments?
- “Quackery” is commonly defined as the use of unproven treatments by individuals or companies who claim fantastic results and who charge large sums of money.
- Although modern physicians may point their collective finger at various “alternative” or “natural” treatment modalities as examples of quackery, it is conventional medical treatments today that are out-of-this-world expensive, and despite real questionable efficacy of their treatments, doctors give patients the guise of “science.”
Clinical Evidence published by the British Medical Journal (2007) analyzed common medical treatments to evaluate which are supported by sufficient reliable evidence.
A reviewed of approximately 2,500 medical treatments showed that:
- 13 percent were found to be beneficial
- 23 percent were likely to be beneficial
- 8 percent were as likely to be harmful as beneficial
- 6 percent were unlikely to be beneficial
- 4 percent were likely to be harmful or ineffective.
- 46 percent were unknown whether they were efficacious or harmful.
In the late 1970s, the US government conducted a similar evaluation and found a strikingly similar result. They found that only 10 percent to 20 percent of medical treatment had evidence of efficacy (Office of Technology Assessment, 1978).
John P. A. Ioannidis is in the Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Ioannina, Greece, and Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies, Department of Medicine, Tufts-New England Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
Dr. Ioannidis wrote:
- There is increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims. This should not be surprising. It can be proven that most claimed research findings are false. ·
- Most research findings are false for most research designs and for most fields.
- Claimed research findings may often be simply accurate measures of the prevailing bias.
The author wrote about Dr. John Ioannidis, M.D., Ph.D., undoubtedly one of the world’s foremost experts on the credibility of medical research. Dr. Ioannidis spent his career challenging his peers by exposing their bad science. This outstanding scientist was born in New York in 1965 but grew up in Athens, Greece.
Dr. Ioannidis is a Professor in the Department of Hygiene & Epidemiology, University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece. He also took on numerous appointments in American medical schools, currently being Professor of Medicine and Director, Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine.
This good professor and his team have shown again and again:
- “that much of what biomedical researchers conclude in published studies—conclusions that doctors keep in mind when they prescribe antibiotics or blood-pressure medication … or when they recommend surgery for heart disease or back pain—is misleading, exaggerated, and often flat-out wrong”.
- “that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed”.
- “that the field of medical research is so pervasively flawed, and so riddled with conflicts of interest, that it might be chronically resistant to change—or even to publicly admitting that there’s a problem”.