Chemotherapy: Cure or Conspiracy?

Ashtyn Britt
abritt@lc.edu

 

There has been a shocking rise lately in the world of conspiracy theorists to be far more mistrusting in modern medicine, believing vaccines to cause autism, fluoride water causes bone cancer, and even that chemotherapy is used to actually cause earlier deaths for cancer patients. Usually, I ignore most conspiracy theories but seeing this particular theory hit a little too close to home for me to be silent. My mother died of breast cancer when I was seven years old, and I remember from a young age how her treatments helped her.

While she did still suffer the usual side effects of chemotherapy and my mother did eventually pass, she had lived nine months longer than expected due to her chemotherapy treatments and mastectomies. A close family friend has had cancer more than a few times, and chemotherapy treatments have helped her manage to live thirty years longer than if she’d decided to not have chemotherapy at all. The idea that the treatment simply won’t work is a strong statement on its own, but to claim it will actually kill cancer patients far more quickly than cancer to somehow benefit doctors is just Alex-Jones-Raging-Over-Frogs-Level-Ridiculous.

Did everyone forget about Lance Armstrong? Hugh Jackman? Cheryl Crow? Robert De Niro? Mr. T? Kathy Bates? Rod Stewart? Michael C. Hall? Sharon Osborne? Judy Blume? (Seriously though, the list could go on and on.)

Rather than going on untreating-screw-the-government-feelings alone, I actually did some research into why anyone would believe such a wild claim. While there are plenty of “Alternative Medicine” commercial sights trying to sell people their products who came up in my research, I dug a little deeper.

The source seemed to come originally from Dr. Hardin B. Jones, claiming that chemotherapy doesn’t work 97% of the time and that oncologists only prescribe it because they could gain up to $4,000 per treatment. He instead pushes for alternative medicine methods, which is the same line of thinking used by scam artists who try to take advantage of the uninformed that a few herbs will solve all their ailments. Dr. Jones also made a point of only emphasizing on the drawbacks of chemotherapy, and excluding any positive statistics related to it.

The other primary issue with Dr. Jones’s study is that his statements of chemotherapy were based on an uncredible paper called “A Report on Cancer” and from work published by The Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1956. This material is more than 60 years out of date! Dr. Jones himself had actually passed away in 1978, meaning every discovery and advancement in medicine since then would’ve made his entire life’s work forty years out of date! For the medical field, this is not a small amount of time. That’d be like listening to a doctor from 1949 telling the world that Polio would surely cause the end of the human race!

Some other examples of the advancement in the medical field since Dr. Jones’s death include MRI machines, the ability to identify and treat HIV/AIDS, vaccines for hepatitis, and in vitro fertilization. Even for his time, Dr. Jones had flawed studies leading him to such a vicious conclusion, with very limited population for the so-called experiments that took place in the 1920s and 1930s. None of these studies also had controlled trials of any kind, seeing as they were hard to come by during those decades.

There is also the common confusion with primary chemotherapy, cisplatin chemotherapy, and adjuvant chemotherapy, which are not the same. For instance, when a survey was taken by 118 doctors who were experts in lung cancer and asked if they had lung cancer, would they take cisplatin chemotherapy, 66% had responded no. However, this was an old survey about a specific new type of chemotherapy in 1975 and proved to be ineffective and potentially harmful containing cis-platinum. Later on, in 1997, the same survey was taken by another set of doctors, which responded with 64.5% saying that yes they would take chemotherapy, because it’s the more commonly now used primary chemotherapy, which has been a huge breakthrough with cancer treatment.

Does that mean chemotherapy isn’t flawed? Of course not. It has been long known that chemotherapy has strong side effects such as hair loss, nausea, fatigue, and more. Chemotherapy has also been known to attack healthy cells alongside cancerous cells, since it’s unable to tell the difference, and may not be the best course for every cancer patient based on the specific type of cancer they have and at what stage, but chemotherapy has more than proven its usefulness. Such as the fact that roughly 65% of cancer patients from the last year are still continuing to live, due to the help of various treatments. (Notice I said still live, not that they are completely cured. See https://bit.ly/2EjbrLJ for further information.)

What the real conspiracy here is blindly wide spreading health misinformation and fear of the unknown. While it is important to dig deeper at times, the miracle of modern medicine should not be treated as simply a government scam. Vaccines have been known to help prevent, reduce, and at times even completely solve health epidemics and continue to help people to this day. Vaccines do not kill people or make them autistic, or any other such nonsense.

The same goes for chemotherapy. While it may not be a cure by any means and does have its flaws, it is a method of treatment that has helped prolong and even save the lives of many cancer patients. Be more careful, and do deeper research than cherry-picked statistics and long-outed information formed like a modern spooky story.

What can, and should be done, instead of spreading misinformation on social media and starting fights over the internet is to first educate yourself with credible sources (NOT commercial websites and memes!) about the serious nature of cancer and the different treatment options. The next step would be to make donations to your local cancer center so research may further progress to find an actual cure for cancer.

Donations may also be made to the Cancer Research Institute which can be found at https://bit.ly/2BeA9As as well as over the phone at 1-800-99-cancer (available from Monday through Friday, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. ET.) or through the mail at Cancer Research Institute, Web Donation 29 Broadway, 4th Floor New York, NY 10006-3111.

 

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