Tag Archives: Scientific method

Sensible books when you can't take another 'patient survivor' book

Cover of Trick or Treatment book
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BOOKS AND MAGAZINES

Trick or Treatment – Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst – Bantam Press £16.99 hardback.

My e-mails are full with offers of the latest ‘cancer’ treatment, from goji berries to vitamin supplements. But please don’t send them. They generally worked for the author – but not for me. But I did think that perhaps I was too sceptical, as so many people swear by everything from coffee enemas to feng shui.

So anyone who is told “you must try this” now has TRICK OR TREATMENT, a marvellous new book that takes all the therapies, treatments and supplements we are offered, and de-bunks most of them scientifically. The book explains and tests the theory behind alternative medicines, and analyses if they work by evaluating scientific research.

Authors Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst have spent the past 15 years testing – and have written this book which was ‘music’ to me – although people peddling alternative medicines won’t be very happy. As the research in the book is evidence-based, their findings have a scientific background, and they have come to the conclusion that most of these treatments just don’t work. Some of those on which whole cancer treatments are based are discredited and described as ‘potentially harmful’.

I loved their description of Feng Shui – “based on biologically implausable concepts and there is no evidence to show that it works. A competent interior designer can probably offer equally good advice. …no evidence to show it does anything but enrich those who promote it”.

Colonic irrigation, and other treatments such as enemas, are de-bunked and dismissed, and of colonic irrigation they say it is “ineffective and dangerous”. Many so-called cancer centres are not going to like what they read – but do read it – you could save yourself a fortune in ‘airy-fairy’ medicines if nothing else.

Whilst I don’t decry alternative treatments, believing if it works for you then go for it; these are to be taken cautiously, and are not for the majority. Belief is a strange but potent force, and what works for someone because they believe in it, should not be lauded as THE cancer treatment – because as this book proves, so often they aren’t.

However, main-stream massage is explained in a simple way, and the book tells you which ones are useful, and which are just nice sounding but not proven.

TAKING CONTROL OF CANCER This is one of the most sensible books I have read, written for cancer patients.  Packed full of helpful information, it has factual, sensible and easy-to-read information about treatment options, choices, self-help and a host of other useful hints and tips.  I read it through at one sitting, and wished I had had it at the beginning of treatment.  Written by Beverley dan der Molen, who is now information officer for the Paul D’Auria Cancer Support Centre, the contents are clear, concise and written in crystal clear English, even though Beverley is a medical professional!  But she does not use jargon, instead explains what it all means.    Class Publishing  ISBN 1-85959-091-8  Contact Paul D’Auria Centre www.pauldauriacentre.org.uk

Oxford Handbook of COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE

A clear and concise guide to this minefield, covering Aromatherapy, Yoga and just about everything in between.  There is some very interesting information on what benefits cancer patients, and a large section on herbal medicines, with clear, easy-to-read risks for each, and a sensible Conclusion covering benefits or adverse effects for everything mentioned.  Oxford Univesity Press www.oup.com

Even the Eyebrows (about to be published) by Sharon Morrison, who pulls no punches in a humorous and informative book on her cancer treatment. Not afraid to stand up to the ‘bullies’, she takes one through the problems (with sensible tips about handling this like diarrhea that comes suddenly in the street, etc), and discussing ‘cording’ – which if you get it you realise no-one tells you about this.

Traditional Herbal Medicines This is an incredibly comprehensive book covering just about every herb you have ever heard of, and hundreds you probably won’t.  Each herb is described in depth, and has two extremely useful Paragraphs:  ADVERSE EFFECTS  and PRECAUTIONS.  To be read very, very carefully, and digested.

Compiled by Dr.Lakshman Karalliedde, Dr. Indika Gawarammana and Dibbie Shaw, they say, “Traditional medicines have remained popular in many parts of the world and have been regaining ground universally because they are ‘natural’.  But go on to say that natural does not necessarily mean gentle or safe – in fact reading the book has made me very very suspicious of a lot of familiar plants.

The book covers Chinese, Afro-Caribbean, Unani and Ayurvedic traditional medicines in depth, and is a fascinating if scary read.  Hammersmith Press or from Amazon.  £19.99

In-depth articles written for healthcare professionals with info from around the world

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