Is Alternative Medicine Effective In Battling Cancer?

Back in the days, everyone feared the “C” word. It has been synonymous with despair, the end, and death. Even today, many still fear the word cancer. It has a certain ring to it that spells disaster, a terrible tragedy, a life & death situation and no cure. Well, in a lot of ways, it is true about cancer. However, many have also been in remission over the years. Some lived longer than ten years or even more without compromising the quality of their lives.

Conventional cancer treatment involves chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. There are other options although these three tops the list. While often effective especially when the diagnosis is made early on, these treatments have major flaws. For instance, chemotherapy not only kills cancer cells but even healthy ones too not to mention the awful side effects of chemotherapeutic drugs like severe nausea and vomiting and alopecia. It is perhaps also the reason why cancer patients and their families seek other forms of treatment that may be just as effective and definitely the lesser of two evils. Now for all medical organizations, and even Dental organizations, the question is, is alternative medicine really as effective as conventional cancer drugs?

Patients who chose alternative therapies to treat a common, curable cancer instead of opting for the recommended medical treatment double their risk of death, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Conventional medical treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, while any other unproven cancer treatment administered by non-medical personnel would be considered an alternative therapy.

Yale School of Medicine’s Dr. Skyler Johnson, lead author of the study, said that based on what he’s seen as a practicing doctor, patients are increasingly refusing or delaying conventional cancer treatment in favor of alternative therapies.


While many like to think that alternative medicine is better because it uses more natural ingredients, the experts said otherwise based on their experiences. Over the years, they have witnessed a growing number of patients diagnosed with cancer turn to alternative medicine for help. However, most of them end up with a more advanced form of cancer and many even metastasize and quickly die because their condition worsened in the absence of an effective treatment. They even say that your chances of dying have doubled because of trying alternative medicine first.

Cancer is scary. Chemo and radiation are scary. Herbal medicines and special diets seem friendly and comforting by comparison, but we now have clear evidence that people who use alternative treatments for cancer are more likely to die.

It’s one of those “duh, but we had to check it out” studies: researchers from the Yale School of Medicine followed 281 people who used alternative medicine, without any conventional treatments like surgery or chemo, and compared their survival rates to controls who had the same health status, type of cancer, and other factors. Those controls were far more likely to still be alive after five years than the people who chose to only use alternative medicine. As you’d expect, the difference was starkest among people with fast-acting cancers.


Trying alternative medicine is doubly scary especially if you are already in an advanced state of cancer and you fail to get treated right away because let’s face it, natural herbs, supplements, or treatments aren’t usually fast-acting. While doctors do not entirely discourage cancer patients from trying alternative medicine, they should do so if they are in the early stages or in conjunction with a conventional treatment method to stay out of danger.

Anything that is untested is often ruled out to be unsafe, which is what most supplements are. It’s the reason why they often say “no approved therapeutic claims” on their labels. Now, would you bet your life on such supplements when you are already on the brink of death and cancer cells are spreading all over your body? It’s your call. You take the risks. It’s not that you were not informed.

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