At the end of the last chemotherapy session due to breast cancer, Isabel Vaquero "escaped": "Now, go home and take the turmeric and the rest of the diet." "The face of the oncologist changed. 'Do you know that that inhibits the treatment?' He said. Everything collapsed. " "Overall, I followed a naturopathic diet that interfered with chemotherapy."
He tells it "half ashamed". "They're going to think I'm dumb," he reflects almost half a year after that. Like many oncology patients (and of any other illness), Vaquero, a 45-year-old from Zaragoza, went to the Internet when he was told that he had "triple A, the worst" breast cancer. "I wanted to help with my healing", is justified. So ended in the consultation of a naturist nutritionist for 50 euros the visit gave him a strict regime "full of things with names that I do not remember." Apart from the turmeric -publicized in the nets with almost miraculous properties-, he also made the diet of the lemon (to drink the juice of one every morning). "To me, I've always had problems with digestion, I destroyed my stomach," he tells by phone.
Cowboy is just one more of a trend that is increasing. The oncologists agree that more and more patients are accessing cancer bulletins on the Internet and attend consultations influenced by what they read. Most of these rumors are related to food. "There are those who say that nutritional supplements reduce the toxicity of chemotherapy," says the oncologist at the José Ángel García Sáez Clinical Hospital. But the worst thing, according to Dr. Vicente Guillem, is that the use of alternative medicine is tremendously frequent. And, in the case of food, that many interfere with the treatment. Behind the hoaxes about cancer are the interests of those who create them.
J. P. / E. DE B.
Mammograms cause thyroid cancer: The Spanish Society of Radiological Protection (SEPR) states in a report that during the mammography, the thyroid is not directly exposed to X-rays, and that the technique used makes the dose of radiation received by the thyroid insignificant. They also do not protect against cancer, they help detect it beforehand, which is not little.
A daily spoonful of olive oil prevents cancer: The website Salud sin Bulos warns that the chemopreventive activities of the consumption of olive oil come from observational studies and that the scientific evidence is low. Although there is a study that shows that the women who took it continued to experience a significant reduction in the risk of breast cancer, it can not be attributed to the oil, since normally the person who consumes it also follows a diet closer to the Mediterranean, which does It has shown protective effect. The oncologists defend that they should not attribute propedades to a single food, since it is their set that acts.
Cartilage and shark extract against cancer: According to this myth, sharks do not have cancer and shark cartilage heals it. But from Salud sin Bulos they warn that there is no study that has shown that shark cartilage is effective as a treatment against cancer. And that tumors have been found in several shark specimens. In addition, the cartilage is not absorbed as such by the human digestive system.
Beet juice and lemon with bicarbonate prevent cancer: In Salud sin Bulos remember that there are no miraculous foods. The so-called alkaline diet has no scientific basis, because the pH of food is compressed by that of stomach acids, and does not pass into the blood.
Guillem says that "natural remedies move millions of euros." About 200 euros paid Vaquero for alleged remedies. "And it is little, because I am very look," he explains. But in situations of concern, the hoaxes proliferate. And the false expectations that they generate spreads easily through social networks. However, the vice president of the Association of Researchers in eHealth, Carlos Mateos, says that "who shares the hoaxes on the Internet, does so because they believe they are true." And that is what the initiative Salud Sin Bulos, which in less than a year has achieved a leading role on the Internet, is fighting.
As Vaquero, Elena Paredes, a 41-year-old from Madrid, was also tempted to seek alternatives when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. They made it easy for him. "In the Ramón y Cajal hospital, Reiki treatments were offered, and they said they could help me." After a quarter of an hour he realized that this was not his thing. "I did not need a stranger to put their hands on me with a little tune to relax me." Juan Luis, 64, also tried another of these therapies that the Spanish Group of Patients with Cancer (Gepac) describes as useless: mindfulness, Improve health with concentration and breathing. "The first session was fine, it relaxed me a bit, but as soon as I went out, it happened to me". "At the third consultation, they suggested that I should also see a sister of the therapist. All at 40 euros the session, "he says. He was convinced that all this was of no use to him and now he goes to a physiotherapist and a psychologist. "It's slow, but it seems better," he says.
They are just examples of what the scientific secretary of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), Guillermo de Velasco, explains: "Cancer is a disease that continues to have a social stigma: many people still believe that cancer equals death "He says. For them, hooligans satisfy their need to hear that they will heal unhindered; something that sometimes does not happen in the consultations. "The solutions we offer to patients are not easy," argues Raúl Córdoba, haematologist at the Jiménez Díaz Foundation in Madrid. "The consultation is the best place to fight the hoax," says De Velasco, an oncologist at the Hospital 12 de Octubre in Madrid, who adds that if the patient trusts his doctor, he will go to appointments.
It is difficult to know how many patients use the so-called alternative therapies. According to García Sáez, "one in three women with breast cancer go to these treatments." Something that, he says, "only generates a placebo effect that costs up to 300 euros per week."
The spreading of the hoaxes has consequences. The gynecologist Maria Herrera, coordinator of the Breast Unit of the Clinical Hospital, has been frustrated that "two patients decided to substitute the treatment I gave them for the alkaline diet". Herrera says that, in addition to the sick, "there are people who live in fear because of the hoaxes."
And those who live. The patients who have spoken in this report could tell it. Guillem calculates that he has lost about 20 because they abandoned scientific medicine. Torcuato Fernández, president of the Spanish Association of Laringectomized, still tears when he remembers a friend who decided to treat a breast cancer with a naturist: "Not only died. The family was ruined and they lost the business they had near home. And that he had me, that I am an expert patient, "he laments.
It is an extreme case. Córdoba argues that "it is rare for patients to abandon the treatments prescribed by oncologists, because medicine offers them healing". But studies indicate that those who do it continue to make their recommendations worse. Juan Luis, the man with prostate cancer, despite his experience, affirms that he is "open to trying anything, but that may be true". Isabel Vaquero does not think she'll bite again. "You start looking on the Internet and it's super dangerous. People advise you with good will, but they bind you. I felt like a panoli, "he says. Elena Paredes has been cured in health – and never better said: "I, to what my doctor tells me. And period. "