Alternative medicine and cancer: increased mortality for those who refuse conventional treatments

Alternative medicine and cancer: increased mortality for those who refuse conventional treatments

Patients with cancer who adhere to complementary medicine more often reject conventional therapies than others and therefore have a higher risk of death.

Why it’s important

While cancer treatments are more effective than 30 years ago, cancer still kills many people. And the development of alternative therapies is a problem for patients seeking to avoid the often heavy side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. But rejecting conventional treatments altogether can be a risky strategy: according to a recent study  published in the  Journal of the American Medicine Association , these people would be twice as likely to die as those who follow standard therapies with or without complementary medicines.

The study

Researchers examined the US cancer database and collected 1,901815 patient records in total: breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers. All were nonmetastasized.

Scientists looked at overall survival rates, risk of mortality, and acceptance of conventional treatments for patients who adhered to alternative medicine compared to those who were content with conventional therapies. And they discovered several things about these patients, including:

  • Higher mortality risk (up to 2.08 times higher).
  • A greater refusal of conventional treatments. This low adhesion to conventional treatments is, according to the researchers, the main cause of increased mortality risk because patients adhering to complementary medicines without refusing conventional therapies have a mortality risk similar to the control group. 7% refused surgery compared to 0.1% in the control group, 34% for chemotherapy versus 3.2% and 53% for radiotherapy versus 2.3%.

The authors of the study specify that existing complementary therapies, as numerous as they are, can be used. But as the name implies, they must support conventional therapies to improve the quality of life of patients and / or the effectiveness of treatments. However, none has been proven to cure cancer without conventional treatments.

In practice

Many practices, starting with physical activity and diet , but also some supplements, yoga , Qi Gong, meditation , etc. can help you improve your quality of life, the effectiveness of your treatments, your chances of healing and even reduce your risk of recurrence. However, to hope to cure cancer, these complementary therapies must be coupled with conventional treatments. This is what dietitian-nutritionist Magali Walkowicz points out with regard to the ketogenic diet.

Read also: Brain tumor: the hope of the ketogenic diet (subscribers)

Above all, do not stop your treatments, but discuss with your healthcare team any alternative practice you plan to follow.

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