As media attention to alternative medicine increases, people suffering from cancer or other diseases may be more confused than ever regarding their effectiveness and safety. Although mainstream media sources often emphasize the lack of testing and possible side effects of various alternative cancer treatments, the risks of conventional options are typically ignored despite the growing body of evidence that supports the likelihood that they create more harm than good.

With a large percentage of cancer patients using one or more forms of alternative medicine, often in conjunction with traditional treatment options, access to accurate information about alternative therapies as well as the risks involved with traditional medicine is more important than ever.

Senior happy woman on wheelchair reading the morning newspaper Does the Media Exaggerate the Risks of Alternative Cancer Treatments?

A recent article in USA today has raised public concern over the potential risks involved with alternative cancer treatments, but are the claims justified? Sadly, such articles often instill a deep fear of alternative medicine in the hearts of cancer patients even though no comparisons are made between the risks of traditional therapies and alternative therapies. This is despite the significant, well-documented risks associated with traditional cancer treatments. In fact, far fewer adverse reactions to alternative therapies have been documented than reactions to chemotherapy and other conventional treatments.

While it is true that certain natural treatments can interfere with conventional medicine and treatment options, a comprehensive functional oncology program is designed for both conventional and holistic approaches to work together instead of against each other. These considerations can provide you a clearer perspective about the exaggerated media claims surrounding alternative medicine.

male surgeon in uniform in front of eye vision surgery operation room at medical clinic

Alternative Cancer Therapies Are More Common Than You May Realize

Despite the downplay of their significance in the mainstream, recent studies indicate that over half of patients undergoing traditional cancer treatments were simultaneously using one or more types of complementary alternative medicines (CAM). Other sources indicate that the percentage may be as high as 80% of patients. In many cases, patients may not inform their primary care provider that they are indeed utilizing another form of medicine alongside their convention protocol.

Problems With Traditional Cancer Treatments

Despite growing criticism about the effectiveness and necessity of chemotherapy, the treatment still remains the protocol of choice following the majority of cancer diagnoses. In addition to giving most patients a sense of false hope, chemotherapy drugs are also associated with a long list of harmful side effects, including:

  • Digestive issues such as nausea and vomiting as well as loss of appetite
  • Loss of hair in addition to skin, fingernail, and toenail problems
  • A decline in fertility and early menopause in women (sexual dysfunction issues are also common)
  • Detrimental effects on the circulatory system, particularly the heart and blood
  • A weakened immune system
  • An increased risk of osteoporosis
  • Kidney and bladder damage
  • Emotional issues such as depression and/or anxiety

In addition to the questionable survival rates and dangerous side effects associated with chemotherapy, the incredibly high price tag to obtain these medications has bankrupted many cancer patients and their families. Even if you have insurance that will cover your medications, your co-pay segments alone can add up to unimaginable amounts.

Three medicine doctors hands examining patient documents. Professional conversation council of physicians. Working conference of colleagues. Medical consultation concept disease treatment

Mismanagement of Cancer Treatment

Cancer is commonly thought of as a scary disease that you either have or you don’t. However, hundreds of potential cancer cells appear in a normal human body every day. Usually, they are destroyed by the immune system and never cause any problems. Cancer only begins when the immune system fails to destroy abnormal cells.

What this means is that cancerous tumors are the result of a failing immune system. Therefore, cancer is a symptom of a greater problem, not a problem in and of itself. However, chemotherapy and other traditional cancer treatments actually weaken the already failing immune system.

Yet somehow, despite the harsh side effects and questionable effectiveness, most people decide to go along with their doctor’s recommendations for chemotherapy treatments. Side effects of chemotherapy have been vastly normalized and deemed necessary to fight cancer.

Comparing the three and five year survival rates of patients who undergo conventional cancer treatments with those who have opted for a functional oncology protocol is quite telling in regards to how poorly managed most cancer protocols have become.

Alternative Therapies Present A Smaller Risk Than Commonly Portrayed

Although conclusive data regarding the overall safety of alternative cancer therapies is still under development in the medical community, the steady increase in the use of various forms of CAM without a high number of reported adverse effects indicates a relative margin of safety, especially when compared to the clearly documented risks associated with chemotherapy.

Educating patients and healthcare professionals about complementary alternative medicines is likely to bring about an improvement in overall patient mortality outcomes as well as an increase in general patient satisfaction and quality of life.