Q: A friend of mine undergoing treatment for lymphoma is getting flooded with advice and videos from friends stating that chemotherapy is not only ineffective but that it can cause secondary cancer. She is wondering if it’s a reasonable approach to discontinue chemo and start an “all-natural” treatment regimen.
A: It’s attractive to believe that nature has the tools to heal us. In fact, nature is the source of most of the drugs used to fight cancer today. Adriamycin is based on a naturally occurring antibiotic.(del taxol-written twice) Taxol is derived from the Yew tree, but drinking tea made from the raw tree bark also has many chemicals that are harmful and not effective against cancer. Modern medicine’s goal is to reap as much from the natural world as possible but if/when that is insufficient then ask the greatest minds in biology and chemistry to help develop tools that fill the void. As a result, twice as many lymphoma patients are cured today as were cured 25 years ago and those not cured often live years longer than they would have just a decade ago. We’ve used science and technology to better our lives in so many ways and medicine is just one. These concepts have been a part of medicine in the twentieth century. Penicillin may be derived from bread mold but we wouldn’t eat moldy bread and forego taking penicillin for pneumonia. The treatment of cancer shouldn’t be thought of any differently.