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Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

Bias-binding and the PEKing order

Saturday, March 18th, 2006

“Research is subordinated (not to a long-term social benefit) but to an immediate commercial profit. Currently, disease (not health) is one of the major sources of profit for the pharmaceutical industry, and the doctors are willing agents of those profits.”
Dr Pierre Bosquet, Nouvelle Critique, France, May 1961

These days it’s hard not to conclude that the general public throughout the world are being thoroughly stitched up when it comes to the question of reliable information about health matters.

As a minor example, I happened to come across a 2005 study on mobile phone use and the incidence of acoustic neuroma (M J Schoemaker, A J Swerdlow, and others: Mobile phone use and risk of acoustic neuroma: results of the Interphone case-control study in five North European countries. British Journal of Cancer (2005), 1-7) which found a slight but statistically insignificant increase in incidence of acoustic neuroma related to mobile phone use based on 678 cases and 3553 controls in the UK and four Nordic countries over a period of 10 years. The study concludes “… that there is no substantial risk of acoustic neuroma in the first decade after starting mobile phone use. However, an increase in risk after longer term use or after a longer lag period could not be ruled out.” (emphasis added)

The study only looked at one particular type of cancer based on the assumption that acoustic neuroma would be the most likely cancer to develop from an EMF radiation source held close to the ear. Acoustic neuromas are rare, and the assumption that the effects of EMF radiation will only be visible closest to its source (given that EMF radiation is effective over considerable distances, hence its use in mobile phones!) in exactly that way is questionable. And of course a specific study of one type of cancer like this can’t in any way be extrapolated to all cancers.

Yet how did the “responsible” press headline this story?

BBC: Mobile phone cancer link rejected (30 August 2005)
The Guardian: Mobiles’ 10-year all-clear for cancer (31 August 2005)
The Independent: Using a mobile phone regularly does not cause cancer, scientists conclude (31 August 2005)
Reuters: No brain cancer link to mobile phones, study says (30 August 2005)

Never let truth stand in the way of a good story …

But at least we can be thankful that these headlines were only gross exaggeration, as opposed to the outright lies promulgated by The Lancet in claiming an end to homeopathy based on the meta-analysis by Shang et al published last August.

It emerges that the Shang et al meta-analysis was an offshoot from a Swiss government study, the Programm Evaluation Komplementärmedizin (PEK), which was designed to allow politicians to assess whether or not five complementary therapies – anthroposophical medicine, homeopathy, neural therapy, phytotherapy and traditional Chinese herbal therapy – should be included in the list of services covered by the Swiss compulsory health insurance scheme (KLV). The cost of complementary therapies were, until 1998, reimbursed under the basic national scheme, but a change in the regulations in 1998 put the decision over which therapies were or were not valid for reimbursement in the hands of the Swiss Department of Internal Affairs (EDI). Public outcry forced the government to back-peddle and the five most popular therapies were reinstated in the KLV scheme from 1999 to 2005, on condition that each therapy was provided by FMH-certified physicians only, and that a simultaneous study in each therapy’s effectiveness was carried out (the PEK study). The decision on whether the therapies were retained within the basic health insurance scheme after 2005 would depend on the demonstration of their efficacy, appropriateness and cost effectiveness.

The study was set up under the Federal Office of Social Insurance (BSV) with a well-defined management structure and review board of internationally-acknowledged experts. It received widespread praise for the quality of its design and the degree of cooperation and transparency amongst its participants. As each area of the study began publishing their findings, the project was cited as an exemplar for future CAM research.

But as the extent of the findings in favour of the five therapies began to become clear, in 2004 PEK’s management structure was abruptly changed and the control of the study was passed to the Federal Office of Health (BAG). From that point onward, many attempts were made to interfere with and derail its emerging conclusions. Transparency was immediately compromised. Economic data showing the cost benefits of CAM were suppressed. The economist preparing to present the results of his work was dismissed without reason and placed under a gagging order. Other departments were prevented from publishing their work.

One member of the PEK steering committee, Dr med Peter Heusser, was so disgusted by what he witnessed that he has written an account of what happened, Medizin und Macht am Beispiel des Programms Evaluation Komplementärmedizin PEK (currently only available in German, but machine-translated here), and this brief summary is drawn largely from his account.

The Swiss authorities – both the government and the Federal Office of Health (BAG) – tried to sweep the PEK study under the carpet. A conference scheduled for April 2005 to present and discuss its results had to be cancelled because the Federal Office of Health prevented the publication of the study data. Some collaborators were even coerced into deleting all PEK-related data from their computers. The final meeting of the PEK international review board (six professors from Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and the UK responsible for the scientific quality of the study), scheduled for June 2005 for a final assessment of the project, was cancelled. (The review board eventually produced a summary report in September, which is highly critical of the political interference in the study.) Many contributors had their contracts terminated before their work could be completed. The recommendation in the final draft that homeopathy, anthroposophical medicine and herbal medicine should stay in the compulsory health insurance scheme was deleted in the final publication.

Review board member Harald Walach PhD protested:

“I protested on behalf of the international review board whose membership was against this highly unusual procedure. I had an interesting exchange of e-mails and letters with the vice-president of the Swiss federal health agency, which told me a lot about the irrelevance of scientific data in the face of political decisions. What I basically learned was that the data gathered by the researchers were absolutely irrelevant to the decision. The vice-president, in an e-mail to me, literally called the data “waste products which do not bear any relevance to the political decisions.” It is important to highlight this situation in the face of editorials and information in the public press, which seem to imply that the Swiss decision was based on evidence about the higher costs and ineffectiveness of complementary medicine. Very likely, the opposite was true: The data probably suggested some cost effectiveness and they certainly did not imply zero effectiveness. But this information was held back from the public in order to veil the political nature of the decision, I assume.”

Walach concludes his editorial,

“This is a very interesting, informative, and, in fact, very sobering piece of recent history in the evaluation of complementary medicine. Public authorities, health systems researchers, and, in fact, all CAM researchers should at least take some note of this process in order to understand the complexities of the issues at stake and of the power-plays of different stakeholders in the game.”
(Walach, H. The Swiss Program for the Evaluation of Complementary Medicine (PEK). Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, April 2006; Vol 12, No 3, pp 231-232)

The Swiss government pre-emptively decided to exclude all CAM therapies from the compulsory health insurance scheme as of 30 June 2005, effectively ignoring not just the weight of scientific findings and economic benefits (which could save SFr millions on the health budget) which were emerging from the still-to-be-completed PEK study, but also the weight of Swiss public opinion.

In this context, the appearance of the Shang et al meta-analysis in The Lancet two months later – notably pre-empting the final report from the PEK international review board – can do little else but appear even more biased and reverse-engineered than it does already in its own right (see Myths and Misconceptions). A letter to The Lancet from the Swiss Association of Homeopathic Physicians raising objections to the study was not even granted publication.

None of this – aside from the initial frenzy surrounding the announcement of the conclusions of the meta-analysis on homeopathy – appears to have raised so much as a whisper from the English-speaking international media.

Perhaps it’s worth noting that Switzerland is ranked as 8th most competitive nation in the 2005 World Competitiveness Yearbook. (In comparison, the UK came 22nd.) And it’s also ranked 8th in terms of the major exporting countries of chemical and pharmaceutical products. Around 5% of current global pharmaceutical R&D is attributable to Swiss companies. Since many university medical research laboratories would cease to exist without the support of the pharmaceutical industry, it’s perhaps no surprise that “at the end of 2004, professors of the medical faculties had expressed the intention at a meeting of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences … to do everything in their power to prevent complementary medicine remaining in the basic insurance. A dean voiced the prevailing opinion: “We must provide hand grenades [literal quotation, personal communication of a participant of that conference] against complementary medicine.”” (Dr med Peter Heusser).

On a more metaphysical note, it’s interesting too how the number 8 appears twice in the Swiss rankings (not to mention being the final ridiculously small number of homeopathic trials selected to represent the therapy in the Shang et al meta-analysis) given its numerological associations with executive character, political skills, handling of power and authority, working for a cause, command, ambition, lacking humanitarian instincts, repression and materialism … and itself a figure, in the form of the lemniscate, often connected with the maxim “as above, so below”.

More comment on this topic:
Dr Manish Bhatia

“The prerequisite for today’s medical policy is naturally the currently predominant system of medicine. The sick are the source of income, therefore it is necessary for sick people to be there, yes, it proves advantageous if one makes the people artificially sick.”
Dr med Steintl: ‘International Medical Policy’, 1938, Berlin

NO d’oh

Sunday, July 3rd, 2005

The Earth

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Albert Einstein

Last month’s essay (Time for a Change of Heart?) suggested that there may be a single underlying factor at work in the global epidemic of cardiovascular disease (and in many types of cancer and a whole range of modern “syndrome”-type conditions into the bargain). Not only do compounds of nitrogen have a very specific affinity for the cardiovascular system (they’ve been used to treat these conditions for over 100 years), but the patterns, spread and incidence of the disease worldwide correlate very closely to the extent and manner in which humankind has gone about disrupting the global nitrogen cycle. We are presently estimated to be fixingtwice as much nitrogen into material form as can cycle back into the atmosphere again through the normal functioning of the biosphere. That’s a 100% increase on the input side of the equation.

To even imagine we could blithely mess about with the balance of the global ecosystem to this extent without getting into this kind of trouble seems not only childishly naïve but quite hopelessly stupid. Few, if any, complex biofeedback systems that we’ve studied can tolerate that kind of latitude without serious consequences, so it doesn’t take any great genius to extrapolate that to the global level. (D’oh …!)

What we now appear to be getting as a result of our actions – at least 17 million deaths per annum – is exactly what First Nation peoples have been warning us about for a long time now: “If we fail to [address environmental deterioration] then Mother Earth will cleanse herself of the offending organism that is killing her. This is our teachings.” (Mi’kmaq Warrior Chief and Sacred Peace Pipe Carrier Sulian Stone Eagle Herney in his statement to the 1994 public enquiry into the then proposed superquarry at Mount Roineabhal in Harris.)

It seems quite incongruous really. Even ironic. In the wake of any disaster – including natural disasters like the December 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean – there are invariably knee-jerk calls for massive investment in all manner of early warning systems. Yet here we have an early warning system which is functioning perfectly and who’s klaxons have been blaring up and down the corridors of every doctor’s surgery and hospital across the West for the last 60-odd years. And what are we doing about it? We’ve so inured ourselves to the cacophony that we’ve come to accept it as a “normal” part of everyday death.

Is it that it’s simply too big for our heads to grasp or our hearts to hold? We can experience tidal waves of emotion in the wake of tsunamis which carry off little more than 1% of the annual mortality from cardiovascular disease, while the steady blinking out of all those individual lights, so often prematurely, year in, year out, nearly 2,000 every hour, leaves us largely unaffected. Yet in terms of numbers, it’s the equivalent of a tsunami every 5 days!

Is it a case of burying our heads in the sand and hoping it’ll just go away or that nobody will notice? We don’t much like the idea that we might be responsible for the things that go wrong with us, do we? We shy away from that one. Get quite angry about it even. No! It’s got to be some nasty vicious germ-type thing that’s got it in for us. Nothing to do with us, oh no … What us? Stupid? Impossible!

Or is it that we’ve made this way of death a way of life for too many? Global agricultural practices, agribusiness, food supply, processing, distribution, retailing; the tobacco industry, doctors, nurses, hospitals, care-homes, the pharmaceutical industry, the research community, the health-and-fitness industry, other industries that ride on the back of it all – finance, insurance, legal; the bureaucracy that ties it all up in knots, and many more besides … the global disruption of the nitrogen cycle is big business and there’s a lot invested in keeping it that way. Not the sort of thing you can unwind overnight.

“In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
Eric Hoffer

Of course you could argue that we’ve all got to die from something some day. And against the background of an unprecedented explosion in human numbers – the global population is estimated to have quadrupled in the last century, having taken the previous nineteen to multiply ten-fold – perhaps it’s just as well something’s keeping us in check. Trying to grasp the enormity of the global nitrogen cycle or the scale of the CVD epidemic might be beyond us, but big though they might be, they’re still only a symptom of something far bigger, far more insidious, far more deeply destructive. What is heart failure on a global scale if not failure of heart on a global scale? A failure of compassion, of empathy, of the understanding necessary to live in harmony with our environment.

And if, in our failure of heart, we are behaving like a cancer in the body of the Earth, no small wonder that so many of us are dying of that as well. As above, so below.

Yet it’s only taken a generation or so for this particular twisted bloom to flower, even if its roots wriggle way back into the seeds of time. Can we nip the rest of the Bush in the bud? As Stone Eagle said, “It is my firm belief that we, of this generation, have no hope in solving the environmental deterioration that is ongoing as we speak. However, I also have firm convictions that we of this generation, may be able to slow down the destruction of our Mother Earth enough so that the next generation that will be replacing our leaders will find the solutions and the cure for Mother Earth.”

Sulian 'Stone Eagle' Herney

“Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.”
James Thurber

The hit man

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

“The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired.”
Stephen W Hawking

Bush as saviour. Bush and Christ photo © Timothy Cleary/AFP
Bush as Hitler

Again from another forum, the subject of the present US administration came up. Someone wondered why Gore never fought back, and felt a real opportunity had been lost at that point.

This is my take on all of this.

Gore didn’t fight because somehow he knew he was on a hiding to nothing. He just had to stand aside and let history take its course. What is going on now is nothing short of archetypal. It’s way bigger than any of the individuals involved. Nobody’s controlling it because nobody, individually or collectively, has anywhere approaching the kind of power to do so. All of us are just pieces on the chess-board in the game that the collective consciousness is playing out.

Start from the premise that we are all one. Being all one, then everything is part of that oneness. Which means, essentially, that everything is as it should be. If everything is as it should be, then how can we account for the likes of George W? I think it’s like this …

George W Bush is a pretty special individual and it’s some role he’s taken on for this lifetime. It’s probably as well he seems so vacant in the brain department, because if he wasn’t then I don’t think he could go through with what he’s going to be going through with. His role is absolutely pivotal to these times. As is the role played by the rest of his adminstration, every last one of them.

Many comparisons have been made – with good reason – with Hitler’s Germany in the 30s. Many are openly stating that they believe Bush to be the Antichrist. Probably about as many as believe he has some Christ-like aura. So take the polarisation out of the equation, and what have we got? What is the coin the two sides of which are Christ and Antichrist? What do Jesus and Hitler have in common? As far as I can see, the Christ energy is all about taking the hit for humanity. Being the lightning conductor for the issues that all of us, en masse, need to integrate; and whether you’re doing it consciously with good intent, or being run unconsciously by your shadow, in some ways is not so important.

This is what seems to be the key to Bush’s role. He’s here to take the hit. He’s here to take the hit for the entire corrupt edifice that is corporate immorality in pursuit of pure profit. He’s the means by which we rediscover the heart-centred morality and ethics which has all but wholly disappeared from Western society and fast leaving the East as well as they all get hitched to the $-bandwagon. Laws aren’t the answer. If you have to force morality on people on penalty of whatever, you’re just going to end up with a permanent program of prison-building. Morality has to come from the heart.

So George W is going to be the exemplar. He’s standing up there to be tore down for all he stands for. He and his administration collectively exemplify Western society’s shadow. And all of them are up there, putting it all right in our faces so we can no longer ignore it. So we can look deep within our hearts and find the George W Bush within, the Dick Cheney within, the Donald Rumsfeld within, the Condoleezza Rice within, the Alberto Gonzales within. So we can look at the nations of which we’re part and see that what’s going on behind the scenes to provide the way of life we take for granted is not far from being on a par with the Holocaust. So we finally have to dosomething about it. It’s not just the administration that needs to come down – it’s the entire corrupt corporate culture that underpins Western society. This is why Gore didn’t take the election, why Kerry didn’t either. They’re not the men for the job. Bush is. Because it’s what he stands for, what ensured he got to power in the first place.

So don’t disown George W, whatever you do. We have to own him because otherwise his sacrifice, along with everything else he’s laying waste to, will be in vain. He’s the means by which we own our shadow. We dreamed him into existence for this precise purpose. If we turn our backs on him then we, not he, will have failed the Earth.

But this isn’t all. This is just part of a much bigger picture.

There’s nothing really ‘new’ in this world. It’s all down to how you join the dots and make the connections, and if you look hard enough, you’ll always find someone’s been there before you to light the way; wheels within wheels, spiralling on down the gyre … Looking at energy patterns (working as a homeopath that’s rather inevitable) and how they manifest, macrocosmically and microcosmically, the Bush administration’s relevance to overall patterns seemed altogether rather obvious a while back and so far events are running true to form. Re-election was inevitable. Gonzales’ appointment was inevitable.

People have commented that the Bush program is so extreme that it’s hard to see anything positive coming from it. It is extreme, but that’s an inevitable part of the sea change that’s underway. (Think of the yin-yang symbol.) These guys are just, well “guys” (see below); effigies for burning. They’re just the tip of the iceberg. The real menace lies in the energy pattern which they represent. This pattern manifests also in the faceless corporations whose interests are so well served by the present administration, in the rest of society which allows them to carry on doing what they do (“anything for an easy existence, just don’t make me think for myself”), and in the homes, hospitals and hospices filled with those suffering from the second most common cause of death in most of Western society.

Our corporations are the tumours in the body of society. Like cancer in an individual person, they have no sense of a purposeful role in the body. All they know how to do is to grow, even if there’s no sound reason for doing so. They’ve got to keep growing, got to keep appropriating more of the body’s energy and resources. Cancer is so rife in Western society today because our collective energy is cancerous, our thinking is cancerous, and you can see reflections of the dis-ease pattern everywhere, on all levels. This is what is coming into consciousness in all kinds of ways so that our entire society can recognise it’s time to dance to a different tune. And it’s coming to consciousness in a manner in which we can realise how we’re allimplicated.

The surgeon’s knife is no cure, because the fundamental dis-eased energy hasn’t changed and other tumours will just pop up elsewhere (this is why changing the administration or taking out the odd Enron won’t work). Radiation is no cure (and I sincerely hope that it won’t get tried on a societal level over the next while) because it tends to deplete the patient to too great an extent, again without altering the fundamental energetic signature.

Cancer, at base, is about life energy which has lost its intended focus, individually and in society as a whole. The cure is for each and every one of us to step into our own lives, to think for ourselves, live for ourselves, come from our own hearts, and to express ourselves for who we truly and uniquely are. Blindly defering to the interests, opinions and agendas of others just because they seem to have some power or knowledge greater than our own is out. Abrogating responsibility to others for things that intimately affect our lives is out. Selflessly putting all our energies at the service of others without engaging it though the proper channels is out. Turning a blind eye to corporate misdemeanours while continuing to buy their products is out. You get the drift, I’m sure. (And it will take some time … it’s not like too many of us have an option to immediately stop buying gas/petrol or heating oil because the oil companies are ripping up another part of Alaska. Alternative renewable energy sources need to be installed, but they could do with a lot more support.)

Seems more than just a little strange to be touting George W Bush as the cure for cancer, but in a funny kind of way it appears to be what he’s all about! On a societal level, he’s one of the principal catalysts by which we’re going to move out of this energy.

“All actions take place in time by the interweaving of the forces of nature, but the man lost in selfish delusion thinks that he himself is the actor.”
Bhagavad Gita

Thanks to the current insanity revolving around homeopathy in this country, in both media and blogosphere, it's become necessary to insult your intelligence by explicitly drawing your attention to the obvious fact that any views or advice in this weblog/website are, unless stated otherwise, the opinions of the author alone and should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you choose to take anything from here that might be construed as advice, you do so entirely under your own recognisance and responsibility.

smeddum.net - Blog: Confessions of a Serial Prover. Weblog on homeopathy, health and related subjects by homeopathic practitioner Wendy Howard