Friday, October 5, 2012

Liver Cancer - A Supplement Fairy Tale

Wizard of Oz Emerald CityLiver Cancer: A Supplement Fairy Tale

The Internet is a popular source for investigating alternative therapies to treat various disorders and diseases. However, we as consumers need to be wary of websites that claim health supplements provide a promise of a cure or quick fix for serious diseases. With the supplement industry so loosely regulated, it has become a forum for fraudulent behavior filled with some disturbing illegal claims.

A report released this week by the Department of Health and Human Services on supplements marketed for weight loss or immune system support found 20 percent of the 127 supplements analyzed carried labels that made illegal claims to cure or treat diseases. Some of the diseases included the common cold, herpes, and HIV, while others claimed to reduce cholesterol or prevent diabetes. The report warned: "Supplements that make disease claims could mislead consumers into using them as replacements for prescription drugs or other treatments for medical conditions, with potentially dangerous results." Consumers can download the complete report here.

In the draft report three recommendations were offered to the FDA, two were taken under advisement, noted by the Associated Press: "In response, the food safety agency said it would consider asking Congress for more oversight powers to review supplement companies' evidence proving their products' purported health benefits. FDA agreed that the agency should expand surveillance of the market to detect spurious claims that supplements can cure or treat specific diseases."

Supplements For Liver Disease

Liver disease patients were targeted recently on a website that offers, and I quote -  a "Refreshingly honest and outspoken holistic health and medicine review." The website "Healthbeat News", sure does promote and sell supplements in an unique and entertaining manner. For instance, the site answered a letter submitted by a gentlemen named Charles who was suffering from hepatitis C and liver cancer, he wrote in asking not for a cure but for some vitamin support to help treat his deficiencies and low energy level. The letter was answered by the sites "wellness team" and Nurse Mark.

The Wellness Club

The wellness team is comprised of two members - Nurse Mark, and Dr. Myatt. The upbeat news site provided a link to Dr. Myatt's Wellness Club, a club offering health tips to consumers in an array of jaw dropping articles. The articles highlight a particular health condition which can be treated by purchasing a number of supplements. For example in this article, Protect Yourself from Nuclear Radiation , Dr. Myatt warns "wellness members" that in the event of a terrorist attack at one of the 100 active nuclear reactors in the U.S., exposure to radioactive iodine could result in irreversible damage to the thyroid, and may lead to thyroid cancer. Not to worry, the fine Dr. Myatt wants consumers to know that  "Potassium Iodide (KI) can shield you from thyroid cancer in a radiation emergency." Dr. Myatt has her own line of supplements for the impending terrorist attack;
To make it easy to be prepared for a Radiation Emergency Dr. Myatt has 2 sizes of Iodoral available. Iodoral -90 tablets per bottle; 12.5mg iodine/iodide per tablet. $29.95 and Iodoral -30 tablets per bottle; 50mg iodine/iodide per tablet. $36.95

An additional warning from the doctor:

Remember that during an emergency, you may not be able to get to your home, thus it is recommended to have potassium iodide tablets stored in several places as well. Since the shelf life of this product is virtually unlimited, you should have to purchase your supply only once. Have this on hand for your family, and remember the children, pets, grandchildren, too!

At this incredible wellness club consumers are afforded a few wellness options, one can purchase a line of supplements from Dr. Myatt in a convenient package deemed the "Maxi Health Foundation Bundle", or for $60 take part in a Brief Twenty Minute Consultation with the doctor. If you're concerned about confidential information discussed during the $60 twenty minute consultation, you needn't be, the website will destroy all or any information you may have inadvertently divulged.

 "Any medical information that is received unsolicited will be treated as confidential medical records and will be destroyed immediately." 

No comment.

Nurse Mark and Charles

To appreciate the story of Nurse Mark and Charles we need to first understand the rules these "bad players" in the supplement industry must now play by.


The federal government can take legal action against a company or website when a site promotes the supplement as a treatment or cure for diseases, and or if the supplement is unsafe. To protect the public the FDA will issue a warning letter, if that doesn't work the agency then initiates an enforcement action. These warning letters are publicly posted on the FDA's website.

Fortunately, with these FDA polices in place, it has become somewhat difficult for sites to mislead consumers by using unproven claims. To sell the product the great OZ, or in this case a creative marketing wizard, may hide under the cloak of a physician or nurse, using paid testimonials with false claims to entice consumers into buying unproven products.

Healthbeat is attempting to sell consumers on the use of supplements for liver cancer while dancing around the claim it can treat the disease. What is so clear in this article is the expertise used by "Nurse Mark" to incorporate a disclaimer in all the appropriate places. I ask you, is there a supplement to treat stage 4 liver cancer? You decide.

Charles's Question:

I have been found to have HCC (cancer) tumor as a result of long term HCV and cirrhosis.
I want to purchase a vitamin supplement that is simple and easy to take and aids in liver cancer support.
I looked at all of the stuff to take for cancer and I can’t take that many pills a day.
Instead of Multi Vitamins and a boatload of other supplements, I’m very interested in the vitamin pack (take one daily with food).
I’m not looking for a cure but some vitamin support to help me with deficiencies and give me a little more energy.
Would the multi-packs be okay for me?

The Disclaimer
Before Nurse Mark answered the question, he explained that he didn't know what stage of liver cancer Charles had, he also noted that the survival rate for liver cancer under conventional treatment wasn't all that good. Nurse Mark was determined to help Charles, he only wished that there was "one" vitamin or herb that he could use, - "only one tiny easy-to-swallow capsule a day".

Nurse Mark continued with what a conventional oncologist may offer, which was chemotherapy by intravenous infusion, possible radiation therapy, and lastly maybe surgery. Nurse Mark finished off the sentence with;
- and those might seem more convenient to you than a hand-full of vitamins and other dietary supplements a few times a day 

Nurse Mark Uses An Example Of Another Consumer To Make His Claims

After Nurse Mark established in "bold italic print" that Charles was not looking for a cure but instead the man had decided the end of his life was near, did the nurse offer Charlie this revelation;

 "Dr. Myatt and our team at The Wellness Club are not strangers to dealing with both Hep C and with liver cancer."

It just so happens that one of the clubs current patients came to them complaining of fatigue and abdominal pain. The woman's own doctor, from Yale, thought she may be suffering from constipation or bowel problems. Fortunately, Dr. Myatt suggested a few tests the woman should request, the woman returned to her bumbling physician and did just that. The end result? Stage 4 liver cancer.

The Woman Now Has Almost No Evidence Of Disease

Thank goodness this ended well, Nurse Mark reported the woman who now takes many vitamins and herbs with other supplements is happy and traveling around Europe. After only two years the woman with stage 4 liver cancer has almost no evidence of disease. Yes, the woman may need to take multiple number of “pills” everyday, but they didn't get in her way of traveling and school. I was completely relieved - one never knows how these things may turn out.
The article mentioned another patient, but I will spare you the details.

The Second Disclaimer - The Websites  "My Pack Once Daily" is not targeted nutrients for liver disease 
Nurse Mark summed up his article nicely with this advice for Charles;
So, yes – to answer your question, taking a “vitamin pack” such as "My Pack Once Daily" is going to be ‘way better than taking some “fairy dust dose” one-a-day vitamin tablet, and certainly better than nothing at all. But please bear in mind that My Packs are designed for otherwise healthy people who want convenience for traveling – not for people with life-threatening illnesses who need serious nutritional deficiency correction. And they are not targeted nutrients for liver disease.
In your case, a minimum protocol would be:
Maxi Multi Optimal Dose Multiple Vitamin, Maxi Marine O3 fish oil, and Milk Thistle. If you wanted to do something extra for energy in addition to the healing supplements I listed you could add some vitamin B-12 – B12 Extreme is a little tablet that dissolves under the tongue – so it wouldn’t add too much to your daily “burden” of pills…
Nurse Mark closed with - "The liver is a very forgiving organ if it is treated right. Given a half a chance it can heal and regenerate. Liver cancer need not be a “death sentence.”

Poor Nurse Mark , although the fairy tale about Charles and the traveling woman was fascinating, it fails in comparison to a terrorist attack at one of our U.S. nuclear reactors exposing children, grandchildren, and small pets to radioactive iodine.


Natural Approaches to Hepatitis C and Liver Health
Dr. Keivan Jinnah talks with host, Dr. David Naimon, about natural treatment approaches for Hepatitis C and overall liver health.

Consumer Reports magazine: September 2012
10 surprising dangers of vitamins and supplements
Don't assume they're safe because they're 'all natural'

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

Effects of Milk Thistle Extract on Chronic Hepatitis C

What Is CAM?
All about complementary and alternative medicine.

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