Catrin Owen’s story could kill someone

Catrin Owen’s story about Erin Palmer is extremely dangerous. In it, Owen details how Palmer fell ill, was operated on, started chemo and stopped well short of her recommended treatment. Her cancer came back and her prognosis is unfortunately very bleak. Palmer’s 4 solutions? Vitamin C therapy, ozone therapy, yoga and meditation.

In Palmer’s case, it is unlikely that she will be negatively affected by these treatments. Yoga and meditation may actually improve her quality of life if she enjoys it. However, it will not stop her cancer, and a story like this encourages non-treatments over real treatments. Her decision early on in her treatment to cease chemotherapy likely reduced her chances of clearing the cancer.

I have previously admonished another journalist in the Fairfax group for spreading anti-science treatments as alternatives to established treatments. Owen’s failure is not in reporting this woman’s story. Her failure is in failing to do even basic research into the treatments being promoted. A quick Google Scholar search will show that Vitamin C treatment has never been successfully used to treat cancer in vivo (that means in body, for future reference). There have been some in vitro (test tube) studies that show it could interrupt cancer’s cellular pathways. The sorts of vitamin C concentrations needed to achieve cancer suppression could be highly dangerous, or the body may break down the vitamin C before it can do its work. Either way, we simply don’t know because there is no evidence.

It should be health journalism 101 to memorise the following: it’s easy to kill anything in a test tube, but hard to kill things WITHOUT killing the host.

More importantly, there are thousands of cancer researchers and oncologists all over the world that Catrin Owen could have contacted to get a scientific or medical opinion, but she didn’t. She is a lazy, negligent journalist that may play a part in helping kill someone with a treatable cancer.

Convincing people to ignore medical advice, especially with conditions as serious as cancer, is extremely dangerous. One of the great minds of our time, Steve Jobs, died as a result of not taking medical advice to treat his pancreatic cancer which had a good chance of survival. Promotion of such ideas is just as bad as the promotion of anti-vaccination ideas. They can have deadly results and will together with Catrin Owen have blood on their hands if even one person dies as a result of stopping their treatment.

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