Thoughts About Chemotherapy and Cancer Treatment

An interesting article came through my email recently that caught my eye.  I subscribe to a weekly Israeli newsletter called Israel 21c that has articles about the latest innovations coming from that tiny country in the Middle East.  Most of the articles are quite fascinating, most people don’t realize how much of their daily lives have been enhanced by Israeli technology.  But this one particular article made me sit up and go “huh?” It discusses a new product called Equashield, created by the company of the same name, which is “a new air-tight system for administering hazardous drugs…” I’m thinking, “Hazardous drugs? If drugs are supposed to save lives, why are they hazardous?” 

Equashield created this product to solve the problem of protecting health personal from “exposure to vapors, residues, and needle jabs from toxic (chemotherapy) pharmaceuticals…linked to an increased risk of skin rashes, infertility, birth defects, and even cancer for the millions of health professionals who prepare, dispense, and administer them.”  It makes me wonder: If these drugs are so toxic that breathing their vapors can cause such horrible health problems in healthy people, what are they doing to the people who are already sick?  If a drug is so poisonous that it can cause cancer, how is it supposed to cure cancer in someone who already has it?  This just doesn’t make sense. 

The idea behind the administration of chemotherapy for cancer treatment is to kill cancer cells before they kill the patient.  These drugs interfere with the cancer cells’ ability to grow and reproduce.  The problem is that the mechanisms that cancer cells use to do that are the same as normal cells, and since the drugs can’t tell the difference between healthy and cancer cells, all the cells of the body are affected by these drugs. 

If we look at the effects (I don’t like the term ‘side-effects’, all drugs affect the body and not just the way we want them to) of various chemotherapy drugs, we can see that they, as a group, can commonly cause:

  • Decrease in blood cell counts (i.e. kills bone marrow and the immune system)
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain (i.e. kills the lining of the intestinal tract)
  • Kidney and bladder damage
  • Heart and lung damage
  • Confusion
  • Fertility impairment
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Liver damage

These damages may be permanent and may also lead to secondary cancers later on.  No wonder these drugs are called “toxic pharmaceuticals” because they are essentially killing the body. But, do they work?

Researchers from the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Northern Sydney Cancer Centre studied the 5-year survival rates of chemotherapy on 22 types of cancers in the US and Australia.  Over a period of 14 years they analyzed 154,971 Americans and Australians with cancer, age 20 and older, that were treated with conventional treatments, including chemotherapy.  Only 3,306 had survival that could be credited to chemotherapy, which is a little more than 2%.  This is very alarming, and something that doctors probably are not sharing with their patients. To be fair, there are a couple forms of cancer that do respond to chemotherapy: testicular cancer, 42% effectiveness; and Hodgkin’s Disease, 36% effective. Also some childhood cancers and leukemia respond, but these were not mentioned in the study.

The study concluded: “As the 5-year survival rate in Australia is now over 60%, it is clear that cytotoxic chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival. To justify the continued funding and availability of drugs used in cytotoxic chemotherapy, a rigorous evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and impact on quality of life is urgently required.”

It’s obvious that something is wrong with a therapy system designed to save lives, yet is so dangerous that health personal must take huge precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the drugs, and is only 2% effective in the people being treated. Perhaps, instead poisoning people half to death, it would make sense to find ways to make their bodies stronger so they may overcome the disease in a healthy fashion. 

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