Wednesday, 2 April 2014

How cancer research harms and kills

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Cancer research has - like medical research generally - two basic categories: irrelevant pseudo-medical science, and pseudo-clinical randomized trials in reality designed for marketing.

1. Medical research funding has been doubling every decade for about half a century - consequently many biological and chemical sciences have re-spun themselves as 'medical' research on the most remote/ tenuous/ dishonest grounds.

In a nutshell, scientists pretend that their research has medical implications - sometimes they even convince themselves - but they really have no idea whether it really does, nor do they care - so long as grants are forthcoming.

(Because nowadays, 'scientific' reputation, and your living wage, depend on successful grant-getting. Actual real scientific discovery has nothing to do with it.)

This makes for mediocre/ bad science (because researchers are following the funding rather than the science) and zero improvement of clinical medicine - but results in a crowding-out of real (and much more likely to be helpful) clinical research.

It also has created a cadre of know-nothing and care-less fake 'experts' on cancer who are merely glib fundraisers and lab project managers - and who constitute the peer review cartel that controls the prestige, publishing, prizes and funding in the whole field.

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2. A lot of 'research' money is spent on performing randomized 'therapeutic' trials - but these trials are actually designed, conducted, analyzed, published and pushed to enhance drug marketing.

And since the pipeline of useful new drugs has long-since all-but dried up; and since cancer chemotherapy has been little more than a decades long list of sickness producing and misery inducing failures; this means that almost all new drugs are inferior to the existing drugs - and some of them are dangerous without any serious prospect of benefit - and this means that patients in cancer trials are certain to be harmed (because all these supposedly anti-cancer drugs always have bad side effects) - and perhaps fatally harmed - and will have near zero-prospect of being helped.

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But none of this matters to the armies of people whose livelihood and prestige depends upon designing, performing, analyzing, publishing and hyping ever-more of these pseudo-trials.

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So this is how your charity money for 'cancer research' is mostly actually being spent - on shroud-waving extortion, institutionalizing self-serving dishonesty, damaging lives, and on actually harming people - including mortally.

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5 comments:

Bruce Charlton said...

A commenter says: "You write--In a nutshell, scientists pretend that their research has medical implications - sometimes they even convince themselves - but they really have no idea whether it really does, nor do they care - so long as grants are forthcoming.

Agreed. In my case, the funding is for HIV, but the actual research is, in the grander scheme of things, absolutely trivial. Sure, exploring the kinetics and disassociation constants of an oligomeric protein is an interesting thing -per se-, but the fact is it means little to the cause of stopping HIV/AIDS.

(...)

It seems to me the strategy of any budding scientist is to try to fit the square peg of their interests into the round hole of what public funds can be spent on. Private grants do exist but postocs /PI's /grad students avoid them "because they're hard to get." "

alexi de sadesky said...

Bruce,

Indeed. The resources wasted on this problem are staggering. I am sure you're aware of Paul Ewald's work via Greg Cochran. A couple of years ago he put out a great e-book, co-written with his wife, called "Controlling Cancer". Anyone interested in this topic should consider reading it.

His hypothesis (infectious disease cause of cancer) is not entirely original, though I am sure he would be the first to tell you that. It has been proposed throughout the 20th century. Seemingly not many want to touch it because it could mean the end of all these cancer dollars.

The Crow said...

I remember being forced to dissect a frog in a biology class, years ago. I pretty much decided, then and there, that science was a destructive thing, rather than a creative one.
The evidence of many years only serves to reinforce that idea.
Science inevitably destroys the things it studies, and often the things it applies those studies to, as well.

Don said...

I have been wondering how to tell the women in my family these facts. They've all bought into the hype. I feel badly about explaining how the food aid sent to starving children in Africa was actually spent to my mother.

She was upset and for no reason because there was nothing she could do about and she didn't know she was arming warlords.

How do you tell someone something they believe so viscerally is simply wrong? Especially when so much of their self-identity is tied up in supporting these 'causes'.

Ingemar said...

Don: I don't know. I simply don't know. I have a feeling that women are more likely to fall for authority than men are.

I once sat through an informal lecture about the FDA clinical trials process. It was enlightening, mainly because I learned what a gigantic, expensive and blatantly rent-seeking process it is. When she (of course it was a woman) asked the class if they had any questions, I raised my hand.

"So basically, what you're telling us is that the FDA is one gigantic racket."

Nonplussed, she replied, "I want my drugs and treatments to be approved by a source I trust." Yes, of course. The FDA is completely free of corruption and incompetence. I learned my lesson right there [/sarcasm]