Alternative therapies for curable cancers can lower your chances of survival?

Here at The Healthier Life, it’s our mission to bring you the latest complementary and alternative health information that could benefit you in your daily life. That being said, we pride ourselves on presenting you with open and unbiased facts, giving you as much insight into the world of complementary medicine as we can. To do this justice, this includes warning you of some of the implications of following a strictly alternative medical regime for serious health conditions, including, of course, cancer.

The debate surrounding cancer therapy is one that has been raging for a long time, yet one that seems to be drawing increasingly towards a much needed conclusion. Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine and Yale Cancer Centre have conducted an in-depth study to compare the outcomes for curable cancer patients who chose alternative treatment or those who choose conventional therapy – discovering that survival rates were much lower in the alternative treatment group.

The team, led by Dr Skyler Johnson, identified 840 patients of similar age, race and disease stage (stage 2-3), recently diagnosed with lung, breast, prostate or colorectal cancer (between 2004 and 2013) – 280 of which chose alternative medicine compared to 560 who opted for conventional treatment.

The researchers found that on average, patients who followed a solely alternative treatment regimen were two and a half times more likely to die during the five years following diagnosis – 78.3 per cent of medically treated patients surviving that period compared to only 54.7 per cent of the alternative group.

Dr Johnson deems this to be low estimate, cushioned by the fact that prostate cancer takes many years to develop into a life-threatening disease and treatment isn’t always appropriate immediately. However, breaking down the other cancer types makes for sombre reading.

Breast cancer patients were 5.68 times more likely to die without conventional therapy, with lung cancer patients 2.17 times more likely. For colorectal cancer, 79 per cent of medically treated patients survived five years of follow up compared to only 33 per cent in the alternative group.

While this may go against some of our philosophies concerning alternative medicine, beating and surviving this disease is all that matters at the end of the day – although there is an important distinction to be drawn between complementary and alternative therapies.

It’s true that there are many natural ways that you can help prevent cancer in the first place, like exercising regularly and eating a nutritious, balanced diet with moderate drinking and no smoking, but treating the condition once it has already manifested with alternative methods that haven’t substantial scientific evidence is not the answer.

It should be noted, though, that the researchers didn’t state which alternative therapies the patients in that group were using. It wouldn’t be hard to assume that those who were using intravenous vitamin C for their treatment would have better survival rates than others who used energy crystals, for example (as both would unfortunately come under the same umbrella).

Complementary therapies that relieve the side effects of cancer or cancer treatment are a fantastic way to help speedup your journey to recovery. These include acupuncture and massage therapy for the pain, exercise to improve fatigue, and relaxation techniques and meditation to relieve some of the stress and anxiety.

Cancer is a unique and complex disease, and one that relies upon the knowledge of experts, so seek the advice of as many oncologists as possible when deciding upon your treatment plan and consider the pros and cons of whatever therapy you’re considering.

Remember, cancer is a battle, so why wouldn’t you fill your arsenal with the best weapons you can?

Wishing you the best of health,

Dominic Rees
Editorial Health Researcher