Proceeding a figurative hop, skip, and jump will often land me next to Dessie. He's a likeable chap who considers the earth to be at most 11,000 years old. On past occasions I've met Hare Krishnas who sought to dissuade me of my heliocentric beliefs. Let us say that it is a vibrant marketplace of ideas where any viewpoint can be expressed without falling prisoner to the confines of reality.
It was there (where else?) that Immuno Biotech chose to plant a stall emblazoned "Cancer Cure". The subtext is "The Cure They Don't Want You To Have!" At this point I must make my apologies for the quality of the image. You see, my camera hand is as shaky as the claims of their salesperson Mike. [Edit: better shot by @pedView. Second edit: New shots by me taken two days later.]
"If you keep to the protocol[€450 for 8 doses], it [their snake oil] usually eradicates stage 4 cancer in a year."There is no such thing as stage five cancer: stage four is the deformed pinnacle of what tumours can throw at us. The chances of surviving a half decade with almost any type of stage four cancer is below 30%. If Immuno Biotech had a product that could 'usually eradicate' all forms of cancer we would hold feast days in their honour. I would cast aside my keyboard and plug in a prayer mat, and doctors would learn their trade in institutions named to immortalise its founder.
Instead they have a limited number of glossy pamphlets, a name that calls to mind bad science fiction, and a stall of lower quality than a neighbouring group who believes that dinosaur bones are intended to test our faith.
Let's look at how they attempt a shroud of respectability:
"180 scientists from 8 nations have written research papers on GcMAF... There are 90 scientific research papers written on GcMAF"Imagine you're searching for a restaurant. Perhaps it's a special occasion. Maybe you just need something quick before a show. You could be on a diet. whatever the driving force, how would you react to seeing "180 people have reviewed this restaurant!"?. Perhaps addled with hunger you would miss the obvious - it doesn't say if the reviews are positive. There are 21,754 hits for 'tea' on pubmed, this does not mean that Barry's gold blend should take new home in the nation's first aid kits.
I'm entertaining the notion that the glossy brochure pictured at the end of this post is more up to date than the company's website, because Immuno Biotech's online presence shirks the figures above, claiming only 142 scientists publishing 59 papers. Again, volume of papers on a topic is largely irrelevant without an indication of the papers' conclusions. But let's take a glance at a few.
Yamamoto N, Suyama H, Yamamoto N, Ushijima N. Immunotherapy of metastatic breast cancer patients with vitamin D-binding protein-derived macrophage activating factor (GcMAF). Int J Cancer. 2008 Jan 15;122(2):461-7. PubMed PMID: 17935130.
The title looks suitably impressive until we check PubMed and find it has been retracted.
Cancer Research UK provides a good summary of the issues:
"The results appear to be startling – all the patients on the trials are ‘cured’ of cancer. Surely this is an amazing breakthrough?
Put bluntly, no it isn’t. There are significant scientific problems with the trials. For a start, all the studies are very small, involving fewer than twenty patients in each – rather than the thousands needed to make the sort of claims mentioned above.
Next, all the patients involved had received standard treatment for their cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. This is a somewhat unorthodox design for a trial of this kind, because it makes it very difficult to tell if any successes are due to the new drug, or the more conventional treatments.
On top of this, the researchers didn’t actually monitor the progress of tumours in the patients, and provide no clinical information about them...
Furthermore, the researchers didn’t do any tests to show that injected Gc-MAF was actually activating macrophages in the patients’ blood, or even working in the way that they expect...
We have no way of telling whether their cancers were growing again, or had been successfully treated, and whether this was due to Gc-MAF or the other treatment they had received.
Given that 80 per cent of all women with breast cancer survive for at least 5 years, an uncontrolled study showing that 16 women of unknown TNM status survive for at least 4 years is no great shakes, scientifically speaking."The Anti Cancer Fund also has a good writeup on Yamamoto's papers, issuing the stark warning that "...all claims on the efficacy of this product have no solid scientific basis. Its marketing is illegal; therefore there is no controlled guarantee on the quality of the product for human consumption sold over the internet". Going through the list we see two more of Yamamoto's 29 studies have been retracted on similar grounds. I cannot tell how many were checked. Other studies listed were printed in predatory journals, where a fee secures publication without proper oversight or verification. Most of the remainder relate to bone formation in rats.
But what of the brains of the organisation, if you'll permit a little elasticity in the term?
Having failed in his ambitions to run the UKIP, the company is run by one David Noakes. Here he gives voice to his concerns that big pharmaceutical companies are seeking to silence him out of fear that his cancer 'cure' will dent their profits. The commentary grows ever more surreal, as conspiracy wrestles with conspiracy for space in his column inches, and selecting but a sample proves daunting. I'll go with these:
"...legislation of food supplements is the beginning of a political campaign to deny the public access to essential vitamins. This is part of the EU’s Codex Alimentaris.
When fully implemented, many will die...
Prof Ruggiero developed an Aids drug while working for a big pharmaceutical company in the USA 30 years ago. Since then, big pharma companies have taken some of their banned chemo poisons and rebranded them as drugs to kill the HIV virus. Prof Ruggiero proved that Aids really is Acquired Immune System Deficiency, and that HIV is just one of a hundred opportune viruses you catch when your immune system is collapsed.
Therefore, if one of these drugs works and it does get rid of your HIV virus, you’ve still got 99 other viruses to go, and you still haven’t cured the problem, i.e, your immune system still doesn’t work."It's hard to fit global depopulation conspiracies and AIDS denialism in the same breath, but Noakes finds a way. The information was enough to find another website, www.eutruth.org.uk, also penned by Noakes. (A video on the main page confirms the resemblance.)
I do recommend the page on the Freemasons. It is delightfully eccentric, defying both lampooning and parody, but his embrace of conspiracy theories does not remove the threat he creates. He and his organisation are targeting people at their most vulnerable and charging high prices for false hope. I don't know precisely what laws this sham breaks, or indeed if we have an unsightly gap in our legal code. I'll visit Mike after work tomorrow and make myself available to any members of the public who could benefit from additional background on their enterprise. If any of my reporter friends fancy talking to him, his contact details are on the brochure - 089 979 8662 or email@example.com.