Daughter conned into selling her possessions

August 6, 2017

Categories: Pseudoscience, CAM , Tags: Cancer

Lori Harris from the UK has sold all her belongings (opens new window) to pay for treatment for her mother, Lisa, who has stage 4 ovarian cancer. The Go Fund Me (opens new window) page for the fundraising effort for this treatment, which asks for £200,000, talks of needing money for immunotherapy in Germany, and links to a great article (opens new window) describing how this new therapy has the potential to allow us to treat some cancers in a novel way.

The idea of the treatment is that some drugs can help the body's T-cells to recognise and attack cancer cells.

However, digging a little deeper (opens new window) into this story uncovers some worrying red flags. The clinic offering this therapy is called the Hallwang Clinic (opens new window), and is in Germany:

http://www.hallwang-clinic.com/ (opens new window)

Therapies are offered such as Micronutrients, Whole body hyperthermia, Ozone therapy and Photopheresis are on offer - along with homeopathy and naturopathy. None of these have been proven to be able to treat cancers.

The website is very slick looking, but lacks any kind of detail of the therapies they offer, the staff they employ, etc. It's basically a one page "brochureware" website which is thin on details.

That one page has testimonials, saying things such as "miracles do happen".

The clinic also offers stem cell injections, but rather than using the patient's own cells the cells of lambs are used. This is supposed to confer the "vitality" of the lamb to the recipient.

It turns out that the immunotherapy that is on offer at Hallwang is very different than that understood by science. Hallwang offers IAT, and a page on the ever useful website Quackwatch is pretty damning (opens new window) on the topic of IAT.

Most dodgy cancer clinics are in countries such as Mexico, where there is little or no medical regulation. It turns out that in Germany there's a class of medical "professional" called a Heilpraktiker, and after taking a relatively simple exam Heilpraktikers can treat people with alternative medicine and are permitted to make all sorts of unproven claims about the therapies they offer.