From Abracadabra to Zombies
Cure Cancer the Natural Way?
(note: for a more comprehensive article on natural cancer cures see Natural Cancer Cures [posted in Nov 2014] in The Skeptic's Dictionary)
6 September 2010. One of the most common medical scams is the "natural" cures scam and it is particularly pernicious for cancer patients. Combine fear of death with fear of radiation treatments and chemotherapy, add hope for an effective therapy that is cheap, easy, and avoids the painful and boring treatments of science-based medicine, and you have a prescription for a powerful opiate for the vulnerable. Throw in a healthy dose of ignorance about human physiology and some mistrust of the "medical establishment" and the quackaloon's job of luring you into his fantasy world of fabricated bodily processes and natural cures is as easy as setting up an authoritative-looking website.
Currently making the rounds in a chain e-mail among the natural cures crowd is an alleged letter from an alleged "Dr. Stephen Mak." (There's even a Facebook page for this e-mail.) I can find nothing about this Mak fellow except the same alleged e-mail and article from him that appears on hundreds, maybe thousands, of websites. The e-mail is usually prefaced with a paragraph about Mak being a friend known through a BSF course [Bible Study Fellowship course?]. The preface is usually posted with an "article" that contains a number of absurd, false, and deceptive claims about the human body and cancer. (A Google search of the first line of the preface to the e-mail gives about 35,200 results. The BSF course must be held in a very large room.)
First, the preface and the e-mail:
Dr. Stephen Mak treats terminal [sic] ill cancer patients by "un-orthodox" way [sic] and many patients recovered. He explained to me before he is using solar energy to clear the illnesses of his patients. He believes on [sic] natural healing in the body against illnesses.*
[The carelessness of the people passing on this garbage is evident by the fact that none of them even bothers to clean up the grammar of this alleged friend of Dr. Mak.]
Thanks for the email on fruits and juices. It is one of the strategies to heal cancer. As of late, my success rate in curing cancer is about 80%. Cancer patients shouldn't die. The cure for cancer is already found. It is whether you believe it or not? [sic] I am sorry for the hundreds of cancer patients who die under the conventional treatments. Very few can live for 5 years under the conventional treatments and most live for only about 2 to 3 years. The conventional treatments do not make any difference because most cancer patients also live for about 2 to 3 years without undergoing any treatment. It is difficult to cure those cancer patients who have undergone chemo and radiotherapy as their cells are toxic and weak. When there is a relapse, the cancer will spread very fast as the resistance is poor.
Thanks and God bless.
Dr Stephen Mak
I'm not an expert on cancer treatment, but I do know that there are different kinds of cancers and that some cancers are much more amenable to treatment than others. Some have high success rates and some don't. A competent writer on this subject would not make a blanket statement about cancer patients' survival rates. Furthermore, even I know that treating cancer with toxic chemicals doesn't make the cells toxic, as this person claims. The claim about relapses and rapid spreading because "resistance is poor" is something I'd like to see the evidence for.
The top result of my Google search for "Dr Stephen Mak" was a site called Morning Liberty run by a fellow named Robert "RJ" A. Hender Jr. Google says it found about 2,450,000 results for "Dr Stephen Mak." I narrowed it down to under 100,000 by adding "cancer cure" to the search. Now the number one hit was a site called Panacea-BOCAF (BOCAF stands for building our children a future). RJ posts the phony cancer cure material without comment. Panacea-BOCAF lists many phony cancer cures. The type of person who might be attracted to this site is revealed by the first message one sees:
History and contiuned [sic] recent cases have shown that there have been many alternative cancer cure treatments in existence which have shown successful results. These results remain virtually un known [sic] by consensus reality and go un reported [sic] to the mainstream medical establishment. This is due to (as case files here illustrate) suppression!
Completely oblivious to the contradiction, the next paragraph asserts that the mainstream press continues to report on the success of these suppressed alternatives. I've written about a couple of these cures and their promoters, e.g., Royal Rife and radionics and Hulda Clark. Panacea-BOCAF lists Dr. Stephen Mak as a "research link" that takes you to Chris Walker's blog where, under the heading of "Eating Fruit", Walker posts the alleged article by the alleged Dr. Mak with the prefatory remark "I got this article by email and it sounds perfect from a Tibetan Medicine angle."
I looked at about a dozen of the pages that reproduced the Mak stuff. None offer any critical comments except those offered by readers, some of whom recognize nonsense when they read it. One blog (YellowStarEssentials) posts Mak's stuff with the heading "Eat Fruit to Cure Cancer, Get Healthy and Lose Weight." Mak does claim to cure cancer in his alleged e-mail, but his article doesn't claim that fruit cures cancer. Rather the article puts forth a false claim that has been circulating on the Internet since 1998, according to Barbara Mikkelson of Snopes.com. A chef living in Singapore, Devagi Sanmugam, claimed that fruit should be eaten on an empty stomach because that will help you "detoxify," get energy, and lose weight. This claim was also made by Dr. Herbert Shelton (1895-1985), a naturopath who is cited in the Mak article and who was arrested and jailed many times for practicing medicine without a license.
Over the years, Sanmugam's advice about eating fruit on an empty stomach has made the rounds in various e-mails with additional claims. One added bit of misinformation is the notion that as soon as fruit comes into contact with food in the stomach and digestive juices "the entire mass of food begins to spoil." That bit of nonsense about food rotting in your gut if you eat fruit after other food may have originated with Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, according to Mikkelson. The Diamonds authored Fit for Life, a collection of false, misleading, and unproven claims about food and health.
Another anonymous e-mail added a list of several fruits with some accurate information about their vitamin and mineral contents joined with unsubstantiated claims about dissolving kidney stones by eating oranges, lowering your risk of colon cancer by eating apples, relieving constipation by eating guavas, "boosting your immune system," and preventing cancer with antioxidants. These e-mails seem to be a variation on the Chinese whispering game. Eventually, a version emerged that includes the claim that eating fruits prevents cancer. In any case, the Mak article making the rounds today seems to be a cut and paste job from several e-mails going back more than a decade. Along the way, a few juicy tidbits of misinformation have been added, besides the notions about fruits already mentioned:
You can prevent gray hair, balding, nervous outbursts, and dark circles under the eyes by eating fruit on an empty stomach.
Eating fruits on an empty stomach leads to a longer and happier life.
If you drink canned or bottled fruit juice, drink it mouthful by mouthful slowly because you must let it mix with your saliva before swallowing it.
This last bit of nonsense about cold water causing cancer is defended by the following piece of "reasoning":
.... the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down the digestion. Once this ‘sludge’ reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.
How people come up with this stuff is beyond my imagination. How people who read such stuff can write things like the following in response makes my stomach cringe:
Thank you for such valued information. How long should one wait to eat food or a meal after eating fruit?*
Thanks for this info, and I just want to add that it's much better to eat organic, especially apples and strawberries, because they are among the "dirtiest" fruit in terms of pesticides used on them.*
This is very interesting and I forwarded it to my brother who is in chemo for bladder cancer. If it helps at all, its worth it. Thanks for sharing.*
Only snopes says it is a hoax. A lot of web pages recommend it. A lot of others say it is a theory. I don't know who is right though. I think this is something people should ask a nutritionist!* [NO! Ask a dietician, perhaps; nutritionist is a title beloved by many quacks.]
How long do you have to wait to eat a normal meal after eating your fruit on an empty stomach ????* [answer: "not sure"]
Thank you for your article on fruit. My partner has been diagnosed with cancer, and went to a healer who recommended that he eat only fruit and nuts. I did further research and read that cancer does not live in an alkaline environment. [For more on this alkaline nonsense, see the SD entry.] To other cancer patients, the information is out there, western medicine practitioners are not aware of many healing cures outside of their industry. Most if not all cancer patients, I read, are highly acidic. It is worth changing their unhealthy eating habits for a quality way of life and respect for their own bodies. Thanks again for your article. At this point, we both believe that his cancer will be cured.*
I would like to refer that in The Holy Quran it is mentioned that eating fruit comes before eating the other foods.*
Has this Doctor written a book or pamplet [sic]?, I would like to order one.*
I suppose some cynical readers are thinking that this is natural selection at work. If so, why do these gullible folks flourish?
The idea that fruits cure cancer is being promoted by Raj and Suzanne who run a website called A Way of Life. They publish articles online by such characters as Jasmuheen and Deepak Chopra. They list Dr. Stephen Mak as one of their authors. His only article is the one we've been talking about. A Google search for "Eating Fruit - This Opened My Eyes" yields more than 20,000 potential sources for a set of unsubstantiated medical claims that have been exposed as fraudulent many times during the past decade. There's nothing wrong with eating fresh fruit and veggies, but almost every claim these fruitarians make has no scientific merit whatsoever. That would be evil enough, but the thousands who pass on this misinformation as if it were unquestionably true are guilty of a greater evil: they don't question either the source or the claims being made. They're paving the road to hell with their uncritical devotion to anyone claiming to have a natural cure that "they" have suppressed. No wonder Kevin Trudeau has so many groveling suppliants.
Natural Cancer Cures by R. T. Carroll
A Special Message for Cancer Patients Seeking "Alternative" Treatments by Dr. Stephen Barrett
How Quackery Harms Cancer Patients by William T. Jarvis, Ph.D.