Reviewing alternative cancer clinics in Germany

David Gorski speaking at TAM 2012. (Brian Engler CC-BY-SA 3.0).

After a recent series of controversies surrouding German cancer clinics, in which so-called Heilpraktiker (alternative therapists such as Klaus Ross who require fewer qualifications than regular physicians) are allowed to perform invasive treatments, American oncologist David Gorski (Orac) of Science-Based Medicine has extensively studied this phenomenon and published his results.

The conclusions are damning: although some ‘legitimate’ experimental drugs (like 3-BP or DCA) that might have promising future applications are being tested in these clinics, ‘German clinics often charge enormous sums of money for treatments that range from the unproven to the dubious to pure quackery’, whilst offering false hope to desperate patients around Europe. He recounts the story of British stomach cancer patient Pauline Gahan, who has put her faith and fortunes (£300,000; some of it raised publicly) in the Hallwang Clinic in Dornstetten.
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Keshe foundation claims to heal cancer

Keshe foundations claims to heal cancer in an interview with local newspaper “Itromsø“.

The foundation claims to have made a machine that uses “plasma” to balance the body and therefore cure cancer. The interview was held in a local alternative fair and Keshe foundation had a stand at this fair.

In Norway, such claims are forbidden by law, and norwegian consumer authorities will investigate the foundation.

The people behind the foundation are also associated with the Magrav Power Plasma generator which claims to provide free energy and the norwegian alternative website “nyhetsspeilet”.

One can suspect that the claims are a calculated risk, because the norwegian laws are quite clear regarding such claims, but the penalty is not very severe.

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Physician and pharmacognosist criticize famous Hungarian diet guru

Hungarian physician Dr. Novak and pharmacognosist Dr. Csupor criticize Norbert Schobert in several articles as the famous fitness and diet guru shared a dubious article about how baking soda mixed with lemon might cure cancer. “I always said that the most miraculous things are the simplest ones. Here is the proof” – commented Schobert the article of Ripost.hu. The portal refers to a one year old Naturalnews article: Baking Soda Plus Lemon- Saves 1000’s Of Lives Each Year. Dr. Novak and Dr. Csupor acknowledges Schobert’s positive works on pushing people towards healthy lifestyle, but warn him that that his one million (!) followers on his business Facebook page will not be able to make distinction on proven and unscientific posts if both appear on the same platform. Schobert did not take the warning and criticism well and started an attack on them on all his media outlets.

The diet guru had another controversial claim already this year, when he advertised that he had a common project with the British Dietetic Association, which was refuted by FDA on their Facebook page.

As the two authors had also posted their criticism on the Hungarian Skeptics public Facebook group (presently 3400 members), new join requests are arriving now every five minutes from both sides of the debate.

‘Alternative cancer treatments waste of precious time’

Dutch newspaper Trouw featured an article critical of alternative cancer therapies today, which highlights that unreliable anecdotal stories are easily found online, and omit the dark side of unproven treatments. It refers to a case in Skepter (magazine of Stichting Skepsis) where a woman, Willeke, died of breastcancer after having visited multiple naturopaths, who all claimed her worsening condition proved the treatments were working.

Frits van Dam at the 2014 VtdK symposium. (Vera de Kok CC-BY-SA 4.0)

Frits van Dam, secretary of the Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (VtdK, Dutch Society against Quackery), points out that many of these treatments (Trouw mentions faith healing, bioresonance, mistletoe, an exotic worm called Fasciolopsis buskii, the Moerman and Houtsmuller diets, herbal supplements etc.) may often just be ineffective and not harmful in themselves. But they do waste cancer patients’ precious time (and money), in which they could have gotten a regular treatment, recovered and survived. Many alternative treatments may however be even more dangerous than the cancer itself, as evidenced by patients who died at the hands of Tullio Simoncini’s salt solutions or Klaus Ross’ glucose injections.

Klaus Ross clinic deaths ‘due to bad regulations’

Klaus Ross’ now closed clinic. (Käthe und Bernd Limburg, www.limburg-bernd.de / CC BY-SA 3.0)

The alternative cancer treatment clinic of Klaus Ross in Bracht, Germany was recently closed after one Flemish and two Dutch cancer patients received fatal injections. Two Dutch women who were hospitalised are still recovering.

According to Menso Westerouen van Meeteren, former inspector at the Dutch Health Care Inspectorate and currently working for the Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (Dutch Society against Quackery), this and similar incidents involving German Heilpraktiker (alternative healers) could have been prevented if Germany had put more rigorous regulations on alternative medicine. The Netherlands passed strict laws on healers three years ago, in the wake of the tragic death of famous actress Sylvia Millecam. ‘For example, since then, alternative therapists are obliged to inform their patients if there is a better regular treatment, and if the patient rejects that treatment, they are forced to break off contact.’