Posts By: Dave Dye

How Reliable Are Cancer Studies?

We all know that nothing is perfect, including science. But it would be very nice if lots of staunch people who worship science as a religion would get off of their proverbial ‘high horses’ and try to be more realistic.
This is a very important question because this is the crux of science. Science is supposed to be based on proof, evidence and a process to remove bias. Many see ‘science’ as the paragon, the absolute apex of information, and of society. This is understandable because we do need to be sure of the things we think and believe are true. It has allowed civilization to progress as far as it has.
But there is a problem when what we call science is different from what science is supposed to be, different from what people assume that it is. And therein lies the conundrum. Is a study really science and constitutes ‘proof’ if the conclusions and the actual study results can’t be replicated? Is ‘science’ really science if it has been corrupted for other objectives? Is ‘science’ really science if the scientists are controlled by profit-seeking corporations, politicians who have been bribed or otherwise incentivized to only search for cancer cures down authorized areas of research, or by regulators and government agencies who are in bed with Big Pharma?
It’s just irritating to hear people always talk about science as if it were the only thing that we can believe in. Evidently, most cancer studies, as demonstrated in this brief study, are not reproducible. This means that this so-called science isn’t as scientific or definite as many think it is. And that’s before we even start talking about hidden agendas for various things like protecting corporate Big Pharma profits, prestige, following the mainstream so you don’t get steamrolled by the Medical Establishment, etc.
Maybe this is a sign that there needs to be an overhaul of science, or a revolution in the way that scientific studies are performed. There has to be a way to improve the reproducibility of scientific experiments. There have to be ways to find and use cheaper, more effective, safer treatments for cancer than what Big Pharma, the Medical Establishment and the government are offering and/or allowing to be marketed to patients and consumers. There’s a difference between finding a cure for cancer no matter where or how it is, and finding a treatment for cancer upon which Big Pharma and the Medical Establishment can make billions of dollars of profit! These objectives are as different as night and day.
Often, many people are extremely biased against ‘unproven’ cancer treatment approaches. They fiercely attack people that have different views on cancer treatment. They ridicule and berate anyone who goes outside of traditional cancer treatments. This article exposes what many alternative cancer treatment practitioners and supporters have implicitly known and felt, but never had the proof to document–until now.
The major takeaway from this study is that people who attack alternative cancer treatments should probably try to be more open minded. It would be different if there were some conventional cancer treatments out there that were over 50-75% effective, but they aren’t. So to summarily dismiss ALL ‘alternative’ cancer treatments because they aren’t mainstream is highly biased because each approach is different and stands on its own merits. But ‘alternative cancer practitioners’ and their supporters usually have more logic in their approaches to cancer treatment than what Big Pharma and the Medical Establishment are offering. One common sense strategy is to refrain from the use of medicines and treatments that severely injure patients (like chemotherapy, radiation and often even immunology)!
Get More Alternative Cancer Treatment information right here…

(emphasis is mine)
In recent years, scientists have been dealing with concerns about a reproducibility crisis—the possibility that many published findings may not actually be true. Psychologists have grappled intensively with this problem, trying to assess its scope and look for solutions. And two reports from pharmaceutical companies have suggested that cancer biologists have to face a similar reckoning.
In 2011, Bayer Healthcare said that its in-house scientists could only validate 25 percent of basic studies in cancer and other conditions. (Drug companies routinely do such checks so they can use the information in those studies as a starting point for developing new drugs.) A year later, Glenn Begley and Lee Ellis from Amgen said that the firm could only confirm the findings in 6 out of 53 landmark cancer papers—just 11 percent. Perhaps, they wrote, that might explain why “our ability to translate cancer research to clinical success has been remarkably low.”
But citing reasons of confidentiality, neither the Bayer nor Amgen teams released the list of papers that they checked, or their methods or results. Ironically, without that information, there was no way of checking if their claims about irreproducibility were themselves reproducible. “The reports were shocking, but also seemed like finger-pointing,” says Tim Errington, a cell biologist at the Center for Open Science (COS).
Elizabeth Iorns had the same thought, and she saw a way to do a better and more transparent job. She had founded a start-up called Science Exchange, which uses a large network of contract labs to provide research support to scientists—and in some cases, check their work. She contacted the COS, and together, they launched the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology—an initiative that used the Science Exchange labs to replicate key results from the 50 most cited papers in cancer biology, published between 2010 and 2012. (The COS recently used the same model for psychology studies to good effect.)
The results from the first five of these replication attempts were published today—and they offer no clean answers. Two of them largely (but not entirely) confirmed the conclusions of the original studies. One failed to do so. And two were inconclusive for technical reasons—the mouse strains or cancer cell lines that were used in the original studies didn’t behave in the same way the second time round. These uncertainties mean that it’s very hard to say whether each replication attempt “worked,” or whether each original study was actually reproducible.
“Everyone wants us to paint the project in black and white,” says Errington. “What percent of these papers replicate? I’ve been asked that so many times, but it’s not an easy question.” To him, the project’s goal isn’t to get a hard percentage, but to understand why two seemingly identical goes at the same experiment might produce different results, and to ultimately make it easier for one group of scientists to check another’s work.
The Reproducibility Project team pre-registered all of their work. That is, for each targeted paper, they wrote up their experimental plans in full, ran them past the original authors, and submitted them to the journal eLife for peer review. Only then did they start the experiments. Once the results were in, they were reviewed a second time, before being published.
The hardest part, by far, was figuring out exactly what the original labs actually did. Scientific papers come with methods sections that theoretically ought to provide recipes for doing the same experiments. But often, those recipes are incomplete, missing out important steps, details, or ingredients. In some cases, the recipes aren’t described at all; researchers simply cite an earlier study that used a similar technique. “I’ve done it myself: you reference a previous paper and that one references a paper and that one references a paper, and now you’ve gone years and the methodology doesn’t exist,” admit Errington. “Most people looking at these papers wouldn’t even think of going through these steps. They’d just guess. If you asked 20 different labs to replicate a paper, you’d end up with 10 different methodologies that aren’t really comparable.”
So, in every case, he had to ask the scientists behind the original experiments for the details of their work. Oftentimes, the person who actually did the experiments had left the lab, so an existing team member had to rummage through old notebooks or data files. The project ended up being hugely time-consuming for everyone concerned. “We spent a boatload of time trying to get back to ground zero,” says Errington.
And for what? The results of the first five papers show just how hard it is to interpret a replication attempt in this field. For example, in 2012, Levi Garraway at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that melanoma skin cancers frequently carry mutations in a gene called PREX2. His team then showed that these mutations accelerate the growth of human melanoma cells that were transplanted onto mice. But replicating team couldn’t confirm the latter result; in their experiment, the PREX2 mutations made no difference.
Does that mean that Garraway’s study was wrong? Not quite. Even though the replication team got their melanoma cells and mice from the same source as Garraway’s group, in their hands, the transplanted tumours grew much faster than had been reported. The PREX2 mutations made no difference because all the cells were already zooming along in sixth gear. Small differences in the ways the cells were grown or the mice were housed could have contributed to the differences between these studies, writes Roger Davis, a cell biologist at the University of Masschussetts Medical School, reviewed the PREX2 replication paper.
In another case, Irving Weissman from Stanford Medicine showed that cancer cells carry high levels of a protein called CD47, and antibodies that target this protein can slow the growth of human tumor cells that had been transplanted into mice. In this case, the replication experiment was inconclusive because all the transplanted tumors would spontaneously regress, antibodies or no.
Some might argue that these differences arise because the project relied on contractors, who lack the experience and artisanal skills of the scientists in the original teams. Iorns disagrees. “The teams were all selected for their technical expertise in the experiments being conducted,” she says. “They routinely run these types of experiments all the time.”
Instead, she and Errington argue that the differences stem from the inherent and underappreciated variability of the cells and animals being used in these studies. In psychology, researchers who replicate a study have no choice but to recruit different volunteers, who might differ from the original sample in critical ways. But in theory, cancer biologists should be able to use the exact same lineage of cells or breed of rodents—genetically identical and sourced from the same suppliers—which should behave in the same way. “But some of these models kind of fell apart, and you can’t dismiss that,” says Errington. He hopes that these results will spur other scientists to better explore those variations, and include more quality control steps in their work.
And perhaps the most important result from the project so far, as Daniel Engber wrote in Slate, is that it has been “a hopeless slog.” “If people had deposited raw data and full protocols at the time of publication, we wouldn’t have to go back to the original authors,” says Iorns. That would make it much easier for scientists to truly check each other’s work.
The National Institutes of Health seem to agree. In recently released guidelines, meant to improve the reproducibility of research, they recommend that journals ask for more thorough methods sections and more sharing of data. And in this, the Reproducibility Project have modelled the change they want to see, documenting every step of their project on a wiki.
“We want to applaud replication efforts like this,” says Atul Butte from the University of California, San Francisco, whose study was among the two that were successfully reproduced. “It is important for the public to have trust in scientists, and belief in the veracity of our published findings.” But he suggests that the team chooses their targeted studies in a “more impactful manner”—not by citations, but by those that are most likely to lead to new treatments.
In the meantime, the team still needs to finish its first wave of replications. They initially set out to replicate 50 old papers, but the unexpectedly high costs of doing so have forced them to scale back. “In the end, we think we’ll complete 30,” says Iorns.
For more info, go to: www.theatlantic.com

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Response to an Oncology Fellow

I came across an article on Forbes that was found on Quora. A person asked a question about alternative cancer treatments and wondered why alternative cancer treatments like vitamin C aren’t being used even though they are said to selectively kill tumor cells without side effects.  The answer was given by a Stanford oncology fellow.
He basically comes out and makes unsubstantiated claims and statements about various alternative cancer treatments. He says that vitamin C simply doesn’t work for cancer treatment by saying that it’s been out since the 1970’s (it’s really been around a lot longer than that). He makes the same blanket statement about all the other alternative cancer treatments, specifically naming Gerson therapy, Laetrile, coral chelation therapy, Japanese mushroom extract, and alkaline water.
Curiously, he mentions that some of his patients had paid ‘out of pocket’ for the above alternative cancer treatments but never addresses what the results of these treatments were. He does mention that all of them are cheaper than conventional cancer treatments. I was curious about the results of those people’s experiences with alternative cancer treatments (even though those would be anecdotal reports and not technically ‘scientific’).
His biggest proof of his claim that no alternative treatments work (he actually said that they don’t even qualify as treatments) is that the organizations paying for the treatments (i.e., the national health services in the various countries) would pounce on these treatments if they were cheaper and effective. He says that all you need to know is that since none of these organizations are even investing in any research on these alternative cancer treatments, that means that it’s because they simply don’t work.
Learn 5 Things You Can Do to Stop Your Cancer COLD…
Of course, you know that this isn’t such an airtight reasoning exercise as he has argued that it is. He has left out a number of elements that impact this situation greatly.  It’s not as simple a situation that he describes it to be.
I had a simple question that I haven’t seen any authorities answer. I want to know why there haven’t been any studies where an alternative cancer treatment, or even no treatment at all, is directly tested against a standard cancer treatment? If chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are so much better than these alternative treatments that don’t work, then why won’t anyone test them directly and compare the results.
In fact, why don’t they test chemotherapy drugs against controls that receive no treatment? They claim it’s an ethical issue, but how would you really know if chemotherapy and/or radiation work better than no treatment at all if you never directly test them? One researcher found that chemotherapy was virtually useless for treating cancer.
And why do they have such a huge problem admitting that their approaches to cancer treatment are a dismal failure, especially considering the enormous amounts of money that they’re spending on cancer treatment and cancer research.  Even more perplexing is that they continue to direct the research down the same old lines, using the same failed paradigm. In short, the body is viewed as a battlefield instead of as an integrated working mechanism with interrelated parts.
This is manifested in the thought that bad foods can cause disease, but good foods can’t lead to health. How can one be true and the other be false? This is what I’ve heard from mainstream medical sources, but it doesn’t make sense to me.  If bad food can make you sick, how is it possible for good food to not make you healthy? In fact, for decades, mainstream medicine denied that your choice in foods could even affect your level of health.
A problem with medical research in general is that the experiments are designed to evaluate drugs, as if drugs are the only way to treat diseases.  And because of this bias, there is no real incentive for Big Pharma companies to run expensive trials for natural substances for which they cannot secure patents. No company could finance an $800 million study (the average cost for running a properly recognized study) for a substance that they couldn’t patent and recoup that investment. And unfortunately, contrary to popular belief, no non-Big Pharma companies have the funds to run an $800 million dollar study on any of those natural substances. So it’s basically a “Catch-22” situation.
Get More Alternative Cancer information right here…
There are plenty of promising, non-patentable substances out there that are being studied all the time, but because they can’t be patented, we’ll never see a “double blind randomized” study on them for the above reasons. And although a lot of national health services pay a lot of money for health care, it doesn’t necessarily logically follow that they would want cheap, effective treatments for cancer or any other diseases. In government, they are usually incentivized to want bigger budgets because many departments and administrators are judged on the size of their budget. So to shrink their budgets would be akin to shrinking their fiefdoms, which they don’t want to do.
Lots of scientists and physicians challenge the status quo, but virtually all who do get punished by the mainstream medical establishment. There’s simply too much money that is being made because of the status quo, and anyone that challenges the conceptual framework of it is seen as an enemy of entrenched financial interests. And they ruthlessly defend their profits with an ‘by any means’ strategy. There isn’t a dirty trick in the book that is too sinister for them to employ.
I don’t want to believe that this is the state of affairs in modern medicine. But as I’ve studied, observed and analyzed it (as have others, including scientists and physicians), it’s a fact that there is bias and dogma in modern medicine. We’d like to think that everything they do is proven science, but there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s not such a simple situation. Most people don’t even want to entertain the idea that there is corruption and profiteering in modern medicine, but it’s the sordid truth. Not that this is proof, but I know of doctors who are very disgusted with the way that their options for treating and educating patients are severely curtailed by the medical authorities. They are simply not able to suggest or use treatments that they believe would be better for their patients. In my mind, that is a problem.
 

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Problems With the Research Paradigm of Conventional Cancer Research

It’s not that the current research ideas and procedures are totally worthless.  But from what I’m seeing, there have been no big breakthroughs or revolutionary discoveries of ways to extend the lives of cancer patients, much less anything remotely approaching a cure.  Improvements on 5 year survival rate (which is not really analogous to a cure) are usually measured in months, not years or decades.  Something must be wrong with the paradigm, which is obvious to anybody who is actually paying attention.
It’s probably a good thing to try to understand complex metabolic pathways, hormone interactions, gene expression, gene sequences, and other minutiae in regards to cancer.  But while all of this knowledge and facts are interesting, they haven’t really yielded any meaningful results. I’m not saying that a extra month or so of life is not important, but I would tend to think that cancer sufferers are more interested in a cure.  I would tend to believe that they would actually want to be cured. I know that I would prefer a cure to a temporary remission.  And I would also want a high quality of life. What’s the value of an extra month of life if you’re sick as a dog and in intense pain?
Get More Alternative Cancer information right here…
My belief is that conventional scientific research is totally focused on finding treatments for cancer by the use of drugs, and drugs only.  This is why all of the research is directed to finding drugs and invasive, highly technical treatments and procedures.  Since the purpose of a corporation is to make profits, only profitable cancer treatments are going to be researched.  Corporate CEO’s are legally responsible for ‘increasing shareholder value’, which is business-speak for making more money. There’s a huge difference between:
a)finding a cure for cancer, wherever and however we can, and
b)finding a cure for cancer that we can make billions of dollars selling.
So that effectively prohibits them from spending research dollars on approaches that are not going to yield a profit.  And there is really no corporate profits that will be made by Big Pharma corporations by pushing or researching cheap, natural products that can’t be patented.  It doesn’t matter whether or not the natural substances and diet changes are effective.  In fact, it may be worse if they are highly effective because it would render all of their cancer medicines and other things obsolete and nobody would succumb to them, thereby killing their profit potential.  That would not increase shareholder value.
The end result is that you have a self-serving, self-preserving cancer research paradigm.  One paid for and financed by Big Pharma advertising dollars, research dollars, research endowments made to all of the allopathic medical schools, research institutes and government regulatory agencies.  This is why there is a career revolving door between research agencies, Big Pharma companies, lobbyists and government regulatory agencies.  It’s just a big money party. Meanwhile, people with cancer suffer and die.
The more I thought about it, I finally came up with the way that cancer research works.  They research cancer with the same methods that someone who is trying to understand and study an elephant with a microscope.  You could study an elephant for decades with your microscope, and you will probably make a whole lot of discoveries. After all, you have a huge amount of ground to cover. But it will probably take you several lifetimes to actually figure out and understand the elephant.  And this is obviously because your focus is way too narrow to yield any meaningful information quickly!
Learn 5 Things You Can Do to Stop Your Cancer COLD…
The same thing can be said for cancer research.  They study everything with painstaking detail. Everything except the obvious things.  Diet, toxins in the environment, the general nature and characteristics of cancer cells, are all ignored or thought of as minor.  But they can tell you about all of these arcane metabolic pathways and gene sequences and cellular messengers and other factoids that don’t amount to a hill of beans in terms of tangible, meaningful results for cancer patients. But these approaches have yielded mega profits for Big Pharma companies and the entire cancer establishment.
If the true goal was to find a cure for cancer, regardless of profits, it was already done. And most of those people who found them were maligned and/or destroyed.  But with that said, if any cure for cancer was found, alternative or mainstream, then that would kill the proverbial ‘golden goose’.  A cure would shut down the majority of the cancer profit bandwagon. No more ‘pinkouts’ by the Susan Komen organization, no more donations, no more American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, or the other plethora of cancer organizations that are only around because there is no acknowledged cure for cancer.  No more billions spent on researching cancer drugs.  It would mean that many thousands, maybe even millions of people would have to find new jobs.  Evidently, that is not an option because no matter how futile and non-productive the approach, the current medical establishment is obstinately wedded to this approach, and nothing short of a popular uprising or a conventional cancer treatment boycott will change it.
 

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