What's wrong with this approach to cancer treatment

Study shows it doubles a patient's risk of death

Oncology patients who choose to include complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in their therapy regimen are more likely to refuse conventional cancer treatments, upping their risk of dying, research shows.

The study, which includes 1300 patients with four common cancers (breast, prostate, lung or colorectal), has found that CAM use is associated with a twofold greater risk of death compared with the use of conventional treatment only.

This is primarily a result of patients refusing conventional treatment, say the authors, who note that "the difference in survival may be alleviated by adherence to all recommended conventional cancer therapies”.

However, as patients receiving complementary medicine are more likely to be female, younger, more affluent, well educated, privately insured and healthier, the researchers suggest their sample may be biased in favour of greater survival for