“Alternative” cancer treatments do more harm than good, study shows

In this Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015 file photo, a nurse places a patient's chemotherapy medication on an intravenous stand at a hospital in Philadelphia. A report released on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016 says cancer is the second leading cause of death nationally, after heart disease. Cancer death rates have been falling for nearly 25 years, but heart disease death rates have been falling at a steeper rate. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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Patients who choose alternative cancer therapies over traditional, doctor-ordered treatments are doubling their risk for death, according to a new study.

Acupuncture, juice diets, supplements, homeopathy, chiropractors and other forms of alternative medicine do not cure cancer, the study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute says, but desperate and vulnerable cancer patients turn to them time and again.

In the study of more than 280 patients with non-metastatic breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer who chose alternative medicines over conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery, those going with only alternative medicine were twice as likely to die of cancer, researchers found. After five years, 78 percent of those getting conventional treatments were still alive, compared to only 54 those using alternative medicine.

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Patients are increasingly delaying or even refusing conventional treatments in favor of alternative therapies, Yale School of Medicine’s Dr. Skyler Johnson, lead author of the study, told CNN. That gives the cancer an opportunity to spread, unchecked, to other parts of the body, he said, and the cancer becomes more lethal.

While alternative medicine itself isn’t killing cancer patients, wrote RealClearScience, it is causing patients to turn away from approved and effective treatment options. “Alternative medicine is as good as killing them,” according to RealClearScience.

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