A new study has shown that cancer sufferers who turn to alternative therapies in preference to conventional medicine are more than twice as likely to die.
Scientists from America’s prestigious Yale University found that patients were more likely to be cured through conventional medicine, despite anecdotal evidence from some who say their cancer was cured by turning to natural or alternative remedies, .
Researchers sifted through the National Cancer Database for their study “Use of Alternative Medicine for Cancer and its Impact on Survival”.
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They tracked 280 people who were diagnosed with the disease in 2004 and opted for alternative medicine and 560 “control” cancer patients who underwent conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.
After five years, 78.3 per cent of people who opted for medical treatment were still alive compared to just 54.7 percent of people who opted for alternative therapies.
The study also looked at different types of cancer including breast, lung, prostate and colorectal.
They found those with lung cancer were twice as likely to die after five years if they had opted for alternative therapies.
Breast cancer patients who used alternative therapies were five times as likely to have lost their lives to the disease.
Colorectal cancer patients were four times more likely to die if they rejected conventional medicine in favour of alternative treatment.
Alternative medicine, advocated by some outside the medical profession to treat cancer includes chiropractic treatment, homeopathy, acupuncture and juice diets.
The researchers could not specifically identify which alternative medicines subjects were using.
Other limitations of the data include unmeasured confounders or selection bias that could impact survival, the researchers noted.
Because the patients receiving alternative medicine were more likely to be younger, more affluent, more well-educated, and less burdened with comorbidities, this would not likely account for the observed survival differences,” they concluded.
All researchers concluded that patients who chose treatment alongside alternative medicine were more likely to die and urged for greater scrutiny of the use of alternative medicine for the initial treatment of cancer.
“We now have evidence to suggest that using alternative medicine in place of proven cancer therapies results in worse survival,” said lead author Skylar Johnson.
“It is our hope and wish that this information can be used by patients and physicians when discussing the imp