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Blogging against alternative cancer treatments

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Man wasn’t dying from colon cancer, and he didn’t cure himself with Cannabis

The idea that Cannabis is an effective treatment for cancer has been around for years, and supporters of this idea try to promote it everywhere they can – Also on websites that are meant to be supportive for cancer patients.

Often the supporters present links to youtube videos/websites giving what they claim is scientific evidence. The scientific evidence presented is not in the form of clinical studies on cancer patients. The evidence comes from papers on experiments conducted on cancer cell lines cultured in dishes or implanted in mice.

In a previous post we looked into why we can’t conclude directly from such studies to effects in cancer patients. For more about the science involved with Cannabis and cancer we recommend this regularly updated article on Cancer Research UK.

Sometimes links are given to articles reporting anecdotes about people who against all odds were cured of cancer thanks to Cannabis. In this post we are taking a closer look at one of the recent anecdotes that is making its rounds on the internet. It is instructive because it demonstrates how easy it is to be misled.

So what are we told in the article?


Not many details are given. But the main points are:

  • Bowel cancer was diagnosed in 2012
  • It was treated with surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy
  • February 2014 he was told that he had a maximum of 18 months to live
  • He tried Cannabis oil as a last resort.
  • He was pronounced cured January 2015

There is no doubt that the author of the article wants to persuade the readers, that Cannabis in this case performed nothing short of a miracle.

If it sounds to good to be true – It is

It turns out that there are several versions of this anecdote on the internet. The article we are looking at is based on an article in the Daily Mail. There is also an article, where the author actually spoke to the patient. There is even a youtube video, where he tells his own story. Using all these different sources, a completely different picture emerges:

  • He was diagnosed with rectal cancer, which was treated by a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy followed by surgery.
  • A couple of months later, a recurrence to his scrotum was surgically removed.
  • He then had chemotherapy (no information on what type) for 12 weeks.
  • At the end of chemotherapy no more cancer was detectable.
  • A recurrence to 2 lymph nodes in the groin appeared shortly after.
  • Surgical removal was not possible.

It is the events following this recurrence that is subject to critically divergent stories. In the article that caught our attention it says that he was “given a max of 18 months to live”. In the article where the author actually interviewed the patient it says he “he was terminal, with an estimated period of between 18 months and 5 years to live”.

As you might have already figured out, he was not given an exact estimate. In fact it is not possible to reliably predict remaining life span for an individual patient in a situation like this. And patients are not declared terminal until expected remaining life time is 6 months. But it was certainly serious that the cancer had recurred.

The doctors didn’t give up on him. He started having chemotherapy again to see how things would develop. A scan during the course of chemotherapy showed, that the metastatic lymph nodes were beginning to shrink. Around this time he started to drop chemotherapy sessions, and supplemented with Cannabis oil. A subsequent scan revealed that the lymph nodes had shrunk enough to make it possible to surgically remove them. And surgically removed they were.

One of the articles mention that a scan showed a nodule in one of his lungs. It was not present in a subsequent PET-scan. Again the article suggests, that this was a metastasis which was destroyed by Cannabis. But this is not necessarily the case. In fact a PET-scan is often used to determine if a nodule is cancerous or not. The negative PET-scan support that the nodule was a benign lesion.

So – What can we conclude?

  • The story is about a young man with an aggressive cancer with metastasis to non-vital locations.
  • Conventional treatments were effective.
  • Everything that happened is explainable without involving Cannabis.
  • The latest recurrence was finally removed by a surgeon – Not Cannabis.
  • There is no way of knowing if he will ever experience a recurrence. But the longer time that passes, the lower the risk.
  • He has not passed the 5-year mark yet.

A Fungus Ball is a Fungus Ball – and not Cancer

The first post on this blog was posted in November 2008, and it was about an Italian ex doctors claim that “cancer is a sodium bicarbonate sensitive fungus”. The idea that sodium bicarbonate is an effective cancer treatment still exists, but most people have accepted that the idea that cancer is a fungus is demonstrably wrong.

In fact many Simoncini proponents even think that Simoncini doesn’t claim that cancer is a fungus- He is just not very good at English.

Well – as it happens, I stumbled upon an article from Sweden that allegedly confirms what Simoncini has been saying all along.

The journal it is published in is called “2000-Talets Vetenskab” , which translates into “Science of the 2000’s”. As you might have guessed this journal is not really a scientific journal. It is a journal promoting pseudoscience. They endorse people like for example Matthias Rath.

Another person endorsed by the journal is an ex doctor  named Erik Enby. According to a blog post (in Swedish) by a Swedish cancer patient, Enby was delicenced following deaths of two cancer patients. One of them was a 39 years old mother of three, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and declined surgery on the advice of Enby. One year later she had died. The other patient was a 58 years old woman who had liver cancer that had spread. He sold her for 9000 kroner (≈1300 $) vitamins and minerals. After three days her condition derteriorated. She died within a few weeks.

Enby has published an article in the journal in English titled “A breast cancer tumor consisted of a spore-sac fungus (ascomycota)”. Sure enough – The article has found its way to Simoncinis website (The Italian version).

So what are we told  in this article?

In the header it says that it is peer reviewed article. This sounds impressive, but it matters who did the peer review. If a peer reviewer is clueless about cancer diagnostic including cancer anatomy, his/her review of a paper that is about these things is worse than useless. We will see in a moment what sloppy review leads to.

If we look at the structure of the article we can see that the layout is similar to what is seen in scientific research papers. So superficially it looks sciency. But it is the content that is important if we are to be impressed. So let’s see what we can find.

Materials and methods:

We are told that the patient was a female who felt a lump in her breast. So far so good. We are not told her age as is costumary in case reports im medical journals. And we are not told if she suffered from other illnesses. This is important int this case, because some diseases may predispose to fungal infections.

We are also told that the patient was diagnosed and treated at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg. This is a hospital Enby knows, because he worked there as a doctor in the geriatrics department until his retirement in 2004.  There is one important piece of information that is left out: How was the cancer diagnosis determined?  Clinical examination and a mammogram is not enough. Even a fine needle biopsy may be false positive.

Then we are told that surgery was performed and chemotherapy was started. Again some important information is missing: What type of chemotherapy was started? Chemotherapy means treatment of disease with chemicals/drugs. Some drugs are used to treat cancer. Other drugs are used to treat other diseases like for instance fungal infections.

It sounds strange that he

..managed to get six cancer samples that was prepared at the Department of Pathology, Sahl­grenska University Hospital.

Why would the pathology department hand over their sections to a former geriatrist who had been delicensed because of cancer quackery??

And then there is this paragraph:

I could immediately see that the sample consisted of a spore-sac fungus (Ascomycota/Asco­mycetes/Sac fungi/Spor-sac fungi) that grew in the sample which appeared to com­pletely consist of such a fungus 2.

To see that something are fungi is really not that difficult. It is seen on a daily basis in every pathology department. Here is an example from a biopsy which was not suspicious of cancer, but still is a fungal colony. The photos show a PAS staining of them at 200 and 400 times magnification respectively. Regarless of the different staining methods, I think the resemblance to what is shown in Enbys article is obvious.

pas201 pas401

There is something important missing in Enby’s descrpition as well as in the microscopy photos he brings. There is no description of or depiction of cancer cells. If something is to be called cancer, it has to contain cancer cells. If it doesn’t it is called something else. Here are some photografhs showing cancer cells as well as the tumour stroma (long story) at 100, 200 and 400 times magnification respectively.

mam100 mam200 mam400

In case anyone wonders – There were no fungal structures in this cancer.


In this part of the article Enby fails to discuss an important aspect of relevance to the case he presents. Can a fungal infection present as a tumour in the breast? The answer is yes. It is rare, but there have been reports of fungal infection presenting as tumours (Not cancers)  in breasts. See for instance this case report.


Again Enby fails to draw the most obvious conclusion: The mass that consisted of fungis is not a cancer, because to be a cancer it has to contain cancer cells. Calling the article a scientific article is misrepresenting science. It is clear that this article isn’t written for the scientific community. It is plausible that it is convincing to people who already believe in this myth. But explanation of why the conclusion is wrong is not complicated.

Does this case report illustrate aspects of relevance to alternative cancer cure testimonials?

The article is basically a failed attempt at documenting the idea that cancer is (at least sometimes) a fungus. There is no alternative (to) medicine treatment involved in this case. But it does illustrate part of the problem in miraculous natural cancer cure testimonials that are all over the internet. Some years back, Peter Moran wrote a good blog post about what to look for in cancer cure testimonials. If you are unfamiliar with it, I certainly recommend that you read it.

I will just sum up some major points on what can be wrong with these testimonials:

1) It might not even have been cancer
2) The cancer may have been removed as part of the diagnostic procedure
3) The alternative therapy may have been used alongside conventional treatment, which may be what actually delivered the cure. Even a biopsy may sometimes be curative.
4) The cancer might not have disappeared after all
5) The testimonial may be pure fabrication.

There is no doubt that 1) applies to the case described by Enby. He clearly explains, that the tumor consisted entirely of fungal spores and hyphes. And his photos document that there were no cancer cells in this tumour. So this tumour was demonstrably not a cancer.

Since no alternative therapy was used 2) – 4) are not issues with this case.

It cannot be ruled out that 5) partially applies to this case. As far as we can tell, the breast cancer diagnosis might not have been the final diagnoses that guided the treatment. I am unable to find any reference to this case in the real scientific literature. It is certainly unusual enough to make it publishable as a case report.

I have emailed the pathology department at Sahlgrenska University Hospital and asked them if they can confirm the existence of this case. And if they can clear up some of the confusion Enby’s version creates. If they reply, I will update this post.

Sugar depleted diet is not a cure for cancer

sugarOne of the ideas that circulate among proponents of alternative therapy for cancer is that cancer thrives on sugar and because of this, cancer can be starved to death by avoiding to eat sugar.

It is claimed that the idea is backed up by hard core science – the Warburg effect, which landed the discoverer the Nobel Prize.

Today we know and understand that things are more complicated than that.

In this post we will attempt to simplify the biochemistry/physiology involved and explain why the idea of a sugar depleted diet as cancer treatment doesn’t work in the real world. Read more of this post

Homeopathy For Cancer, Endorsed by ASCO?? Not Really

When searching for a non-toxic cancer treatment without any side effects, for many people homeopathy seems an attractive option. And sure enough, there are people out there who try to convince cancer patients that homeopathy is a real option. A strong sales argument would be that conventional science proves it to be effective – and precisely this claim has been made for a homeopathic remedy called Psorinum. Read more of this post

If a cancer treatment works in a mouse it works in a human right?? — Well, not necessarily

Researchers are constantly on lookout for new substances that are more effective and safer as cancer treatments than what is already available. In an ideal world it would be possible to know which substances would have effect on cancers and at the same time be safe. But the world isn’t perfect. So the researchers have to use some kind of experimental model to select substances that might be useful to patients. And they publish the results of these experiments.

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The Burzynski Proponents Are Still Actively Silencing Critics

In a previous post we revealed how the head of the Burzynski patient group’s PR-department (Marc Stephens also known as MAS) tried to bully lo_mcg into retracting her answer to this question:

Is Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski legitimate?

This is what lo_mcg answered:

Read more of this post

Happy New Year!

Is Marc Stephens Really A Representative Of Burzynski?

A few days ago jli blogged about a movie that claims to prove the efficacy of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s “antineoplastons” as a cancer cure.

After writing a post on Dr Stanislaw Burzynski, Andy Lewis of the Quackometer received legal threats from someone by the name of Marc Stephens, who claims to represent Burzynski.

This is not the first time this person threatens bloggers in this way. Peter Bowditch of is another recent example.

The style of his emails does sound a bit lawyerish, but then again – not really.

Read more of this post

Burzynski The Movie: Does It Prove The Efficacy of Antineoplastons Against Cancer?

Stanislaw Burzynski treats cancer patients at a private clinic using what he terms “antineoplastons”: mixtures of peptides, amino acids, and other simple organic substances that are said to promote the body’s natural defenses against cancer. He has published his own studies, but nobody has been able to reproduce the clinical results he claims to have achieved. Recently a movie was released that allegedly shows irrefutable proof that his therapy works as a cure for cancer and that the rest of the medical establishment is conspiring against him.

In this post we will not concern ourselves with conspiracy talk: all we are interested in is to review the evidence presented in the movie (click here).

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Health Ranger Mike Adams And The Death of Steve Jobs

As was to be expected, it didn’t take Mike Adams long to inform the world of the cause of Steve Job’s death. It was of course, as it always is, conventional cancer treatments – chemotherapy and radiation in particular – and not cancer, for in Mike Adams’s world-of-miracles-that-never-happen, there is no such thing as dying from cancer.

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