Vicki Latele, who was jailed for mortgage fraud, has had a tough time. She has cancer, and has had her stomach removed. It appears that the standard treatments, such as chemotherapy, have not helped her, and she's been released from prison on compassionate grounds.

Vicki has turned to alternative therapies, and I can't really blame her. She appears to be in a desperate situation, where conventional medicine has nothing left to offer her. It's unfortunate, however, that for people in this situation there is no lack of others out there willing to sell unproven treatments at high prices. In this instance, the product Vicki is using is TBL-12, which contains sea cucumber.

As is normally the case for these kinds of alt-med products, the price is high. A box of 56 tubs is around NZ$1,000, and it is suggested that you take 2 tubs a day if you have cancer, or one for prevention. An expense of $1,000 a month for someone with cancer is pretty high, but the fact that it's also being sold for prevention at half that cost - $500 a month - seems like a straight out con, considering that there is no evidence at all that this product can prevent any cancers.

Martin Crowe, New Zealand cricketer, sadly died in March last year after using sea cucumber to try to treat his cancer.

It's a pity that news articles generally end up reading like an advert for some of these crank therapies. It's better off that they receive no publicity, or failing that publicity that is properly researched and gives accurate survival rates for these therapies.

There's an ASA complaint against TBL-12 where the ASA decided that:

The Advertiser had used preliminary findings about the potential of the drug to treat myeloma and prostate cancer to make strong unsubstantiated therapeutic claims about the product's efficacy which had not been substantiated.