Should You Be Allowed To Make A Rational Decision?

A law might condemn intelligent and educated patients to being ill-informed and unable to make rational decisions about their own cancer. For this law to be valid, however, we need to assume all cancer patients are stupid and unable to decide for themselves.

In order for an intelligent patient to make a rational decision, he or she needs all the relevant information. People are normally allowed access to information that concerns their personal decisions. Imagine going to buy a house and being told that will cost $1,160,543 but you cannot choose the house or even see it, rather the estate agent, who is an expert in houses, will make the decision for you. Most people would consider such a demand unreasonable and would decline the purchase.

Some people prefer to get expert advice for complex decisions, although most would surely consider it important that such advice was independent and unbiased. Similarly, most people would expect to solicit expert opinion for life and death decisions, such as those involving cancer. Approved advice concerning cancer is widely available from physicians and hospitals. In the UK, such advice and treatment can be provided at no immediate charge to the patient. However, note that the government must surely be held responsible for delivering ALL the relevant data and not providing a partial or biased viewpoint. Anything else would be biased and unscientific. It is not clear how any organisation could achieve such scientific omnipotence, and certainly not by restricting access to the requisite variety of information.

More intelligent and informed patients may wish to be involved in decisions about their cancer treatment, after all, their lives may be at stake. It turns out that, in the UK, the patient is not allowed to make a rational decision or even have access to available information. Suppose that the patient is a PhD biologist and goes to her friend, a retired Nobel Prize winner, who was given his award for research into cancer. Even the Nobel Laureate would not be able to independently advise his friend on the range of treatment options open to her, without technically breaking the UK law. He would be limited to providing scientific information and educational data. Whereas what the patient really wants to know from the expert is what is the optimal treatment choice and why.

For the doctors point of view, we note Item 35 in the World Medical Association’s Helsinki Declaration. This is the primary international document on medical research ethics. This section is taken from the “additional principles for medical research combined with medical care”.

“In the treatment of a patient, where proven interventions do not exist or have been ineffective, the physician, after seeking expert advice, with informed consent from the patient or a legally authorized representative, may use an unproven intervention if in the physician’s judgement it offers hope of saving life, re-establishing health or alleviating suffering. Where possible, this intervention should be made the object of research, designed to evaluate its safety and efficacy. In all cases, new information should be recorded and, where appropriate, made publicly available.”

The reason cancer has its own restrictive UK law is that organisations can make massive profits out of this illness. This law helps defend a monopoly position for corporate medicine.

Below is a recent example of this censorship. Section 4.1(b) of the ill advised 1939 law was repealed by the Medicines Act 1968. The 1939 act suggests that it is a means of preventing advertising. However, the definition of “advertisement” is expanded to cover just about any independent communication of information. Note that we are not supporting or criticising Dr Burzynski’s ideas, or those of others. We are merely making the case that open debate at a conference is an accepted and essential part of the scientific process.

 

OMNS August 3, 2012

The Stranglehold that the UK 1939 Cancer Act Exerts in Great Britain

by Madeline C. Hickey-Smith

(OMNS Aug 3, 2012) Most citizens of Great Britain are totally unaware of the 1939 Cancer Act which effectively prevents them from finding out about different treatments for cancer.

Excerpts from the UK 1939 Cancer Act:

“4 – (1) No person shall take any part in the publication of any advertisement –

(a) containing an offer to treat any person for cancer, or to prescribe any remedy therefor, or to give any advice in connection with the treatment thereof; or

(b) referring to any article, or articles of any description, in terms which are calculated to lead to the use of that article, or articles of that description, in the treatment of cancer.

In this section the expression “advertisement” includes any “notice, circular, label, wrapper or other document, and any announcement made orally or by any means of producing or transmitting sounds”. [1]

Publication of such advertisements is permitted to a very restrictive group comprising members of either House of Parliament, local authority, governing bodies of voluntary hospitals, registered or training to become registered medical practitioners, nurses or pharmacists, and persons involved in the sale or supply of surgical appliances. A very tight grip, therefore, is exercised on information that is fed to citizens of Great Britain; interestingly, the Act does not apply to Northern Ireland.

That pretty much wraps it up, and wraps us (in Britain) up in the legal stranglehold that this outdated Act still exerts. Was this enacted to protect the citizens from charlatans and “quacks” or to safeguard the interests of the National Radium Trust, to whom the British Government lent money? If no one is allowed to tell us, how can we, the general public, ever find out what alternatives there are to those offered by mainstream medicine, mainly surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy?

No Freedom of Therapy, Information, or Assembly

My colleague, Sarah Ling, and I unwittingly found ourselves in a maelstrom when we decided to hold a convention in Birmingham, later this year, to do just that – inform the general public about some of the other ways to tackle this hideous disease than those generally doled out to their mostly trusting, but fear-filled patients. A well-justified fear of the actual treatments as well as the disease prevails.

Last year, Sarah’s sister was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Chemotherapy was the only treatment offered, which she accepted out of fear. She nearly died within hours of having it, and very sadly died days afterwards. Sarah was determined to help prevent others from enduring such trauma and so, under the umbrella of our Institute (The Cambridge Institute of Complementary Health), we organised a convention to educate people – conventional/complementary health professionals and the general public – about different ways to treat people who have cancer.

We quickly drew up a short list of speakers that we felt would have much to contribute, including Dr Stanislaw Burzynski who agreed to come and talk about his pioneering work on antineoplastins.

After posting our speakers on our web-site, one, an oncologist, pulled out due to a malevolent e-mail she had received, questioning her wisdom at sharing a platform with Dr Burzynski. She didn’t want to cause her team any controversy. We then discovered that we had attracted a lot of adverse attention that was derogatory, critical of our speakers, casting aspersions on them and on us as an organisation. Unfortunately Dr Burzynski decided not to come – so as not to expose us to the sort of attacks that he has suffered. Regrettably, the public lost an opportunity to hear first-hand of his pioneering treatments in tackling cancers, including inoperable brain tumours.

Two speakers down, we then found ourselves possibly contravening the archaic Cancer Act. We’ve had to be extremely careful in how we word any publications relating to the convention so that the Advertising Standards Agency doesn’t come down on us like a ton of bricks and prevent us from holding it at all. Britain cherishes its long-held tradition of freedom of speech, but in recent years that seems questionable. However, we can still hold debates, and that is what we are doing.

We are aware that efforts will be made to stop us, from those who are not seekers of truth. If they were truly interested in the welfare of people, they would be advocating most of the alternative/complementary approaches instead of deriding them and trying to close down clinics and individuals who practise them, via the Advertising Standards Agency. This ridiculous Act affords them the guise of protecting the public and gives them ammunition that they can use against persons advocating alternatives.

We can’t hold an open day of education on treating cancer in this country: how bizarre is that? How much longer can this information be contained?

The Cost of Ignorance

The UK National Health Service is overstretched and, as more and more people contract cancer (one in three presently), the rising costs of expensive and often ineffective treatments will surely mean they have to look at alternatives.

Conventional healthcare professionals are too often ignorant of the enormous value of unconventional treatments. How can they be otherwise, as those outside of their profession are prohibited from alluding to the fact that they can help treat cancer? Shockingly, even nutrition is most often totally overlooked during orthodox cancer treatment, and the very foods that promote cancers are given to patients in our hospitals sometimes in order to maintain calorie intake. There is frequently no advice on diet, that most crucial aspect of our health. [2]

Thankfully, some oncologists do recognise the benefits that alternative/complementary treatments offer. [3] Hopefully more and more will come to accept that integrating the best of conventional and complementary/alternative methods is the way forward.

It is our opinion that a reform of the 1939 Cancer Act is long overdue. The tenacious grip that it holds on treating cancer must be relinquished, so that patients and their healthcare providers can make an informed choice as to what approach may be best for their individual needs.

(Madeline C. Hickey-Smith has an honours degree in biology and is cofounder of the Cambridge Institute of Complementary Health http://cichealth.org.uk . The direct link to the convention page is http://cichealth.org.uk/#/cancer-convention/4566602766 .)

References:

1. The 1939 UK Cancer Act: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6/2-3/13/contents/enacted

2. What UK cancer patients are officially told:
http://www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk/cancer-information/patient-information/booklets/eating-well.pdf

3. Intravenous Vitamin C as cancer therapy: Free access to twenty-one expert video lectures online. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, April 14, 2011.http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v07n03.shtml or http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL953B95B3BB977F54 and http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4CA531C7A3B0D954

Those who have had quite enough of government censorship of alternative cancer treatments may also wish to look at the following:

Straus H. Censorship, sports and the power of one word. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, May 21, 2012. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v08n18.shtml

Saul AW. Half-truth is no truth at all: Overcoming bias against nutritional medicine. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, Oct 7, 2011.http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v07n09.shtml

Smith RG. Vitamins decrease lung cancer risk by 50%. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, Nov 18, 2011. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v07n13.shtml

 

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One Response to Should You Be Allowed To Make A Rational Decision?

  1. Andrew says:

    Great points! Yes, the UK is under a corporate health-treatment stranglehold facilitated by The Cancer Act 1939. Shocking that we are still enslaved by that act which gives large corporations a legalized monopoly on expensive and ineffective cancer treatments. Time to repeal it for the sake of public health. More info on Cancer Act at: http://www.energygrid.com/health/2012/04ap-canceract.html

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