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Acme Elixir - The Miracle Cure

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Tom Galli

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Remember the western movie scene — the debonair dressed pitchman rides into a small frontier town in a wagon whose canvas sides are emblazoned with Dr. Arturo Pedic’s Acme Elixir.  He sets up a stage, draws a crowd, and delivers the pitch.

Yessireeebob! My specially formulated Acme Elixir is a sure-fired medicament for any illness. One bottle of this miracle wonder is guaranteed to cure any malady.  It is an antidote for ablepsy, ague, apoplexy, barrel fever, biliousness, dropsy, camp fever, consumption, french pox, grip, and even bronze john fever. Step right up folks. Ten dollars buys this marvel medicine!

According to an American Society of Clinical Oncology opinion survey, almost 40-percent of Americans believe alternative remedies alone can cure cancer — that’s right 40-percent believe in Acme Elixir! Oh my, we’ve been teleported right back to 1870 era medical idiocy! Our collective faith in evidenced based cancer treatment has taken a severe hit.

Why? I see a parallel to the campaign against childhood vaccines.  In 1998, a fraudulent research paper published in The Lancet asserted combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine caused autism. Innumerable scientific studies proved vaccines harmless, but blaming autism on vaccines was a sensational and compelling newsworthy story, and I remember the stories! 

The internet allows the easy creation of a sensational and compelling newsworthy event — a cancer cure.  Webpages abound with astonishing survival stories from treatment by this, that, or the other alternative medicine thing. One common thread: all promise a sure cure for cancer. These are very believable presentations with videos offering jaw-dropping testimony bolstered by pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo.  The internet today functions like the 1870 era snake-oil salesman!

When diagnosed with lung cancer, one has but three choices: do nothing, alternative methods, or evidence based methods. Do nothing costs nothing and may work because cancer sometimes stops metastasizing without treatment.  Alternative and evidenced based methods cost you money.  Evidence based methods have another seemingly unrecognized advantage: outcomes are repeatable. Surgery, targeted therapy, precision radiation or immunotherapy works the same way for a very, very large number of people. Funny how hard it is to rundown actual results for large numbers of people treated with sure cure Acme Elixir.

Stay the course.

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I've been very disturbed the past few years at the increasing number of articles promoting quack "remedies" for all kinds of conditions that are posted on even credible news sites, mixed in with harmless clickbait and legitimate news items.  My personal opinion is that the mainstream media (which I regularly defend, and believe in) would do well to examine their own contributions to this kind of REAL fake news.  

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