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Saturday, October 24, 2009

CNN's medical expert weighs in on Suzanne Somers' advice

I don't generally go to CNN for my health advice, and am not sure how many of my readers do, but I found this opinion piece from's Conditions expert, Dr. Otis Brawley, and wanted to share for your information.
I am all for investigating with my health care provider any and all alternative and complementary treatments - note: WITH my health care provider. My radiation oncologist probably got real tired of my reporting each week what multivitamin I was taking, but I reported them along with the prescribed medications, just in case it made a difference (example: read in the oped piece about Vit. C interactions with HIV meds). And all during my initial treatment and recovery months, I felt attacked if someone came over and started forcing their (usually non-health care professional) opinion of how I should be or should not be treated. Suzanne Somers just did it more publicly than most. Just the other night, while taking asthmatic number one son to Urgent Care, a stranger in the waiting room walked over to me and thrust a card at me with a name of a 'natural supplement' that she cured her son's asthma with. Gee, let me look up the evidence on that product, and get right back to you.
If you are considering other treatments, and they are out there in all levels of 'good' and 'bad', please let your health care provider know about them, and ask for a search by a medical librarian on any testing that has been done previously or currently with the product/treatment. Scientific studies are being conducted on many alternative treatments, and you can find out if you qualify to be added to the patient group and how to participate - just ask. But as a librarian and a fellow cancer warrior, I recommend that you take any advice that comes from outside your cancer treatment team (meaning: in-laws, concerned adult children, the Internet sites, discussion lists, celebrities, anonymous emails asking for money for products, whatever) with a huge grain of salt, and run the advice by your cancer treatment team. Yes, if there had been any way I could have avoided the radiation and surgery by dancing outside in the moonlight naked, I would have, you betcha (sorry, neighbors). But when considering the evidence showing outcomes of treatment procedures, me and the team (picture them like the Justice League) figured that was the best route at the time. Someday, folks will look back at my treatment as barbaric, as they simply swallow a pill to change the genes of Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, just as we look back at the practice of bleeding patients as barbaric.
Repeating: evaluate the source of the information you are considering. Whatever worked for Ms. Somers, I am happy for her and wish her well, but wonder at the same time why she is charging for her book if it is going to do so much good health-wise - why not just put it up on the web for free? We need to look at other information offered to us the same way - if a company/person is making money on the advice/product that they are proposing cures cancer with or without doctors, how does that skew the advice they are giving? Yes, that includes checking to see if your doctor is being paid by any of the pharmaceutical manufacturers or medical device manufacturers - a patient should ask, and consider any potential conflict of interest.


whidavi said...

Amen, Lady. I am loathe to have this one on the shelves next to the reliable information, but the request list for it is already long. Grr. Thanks for making such a strong point about checking out any and all information.

Also, I think you should dance naked in the moonlight just for kicks. Then, if anyone asks, you can TELL them it's a treatment. :)

Jeanne said...

Teri--good one! I agree completely.

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