My Malignant Melanoma

Seanty's experiences with Metastatic Malignant Melanoma. Part of Email us direct at

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Cancer Chat

I hadn't realised before now that Cancer Research UK's site had a cancer chat section called Cancer Chat. Looks like they have also recently had a controversial banning incident. I've joined today, if anyone from What Now would like to join me there...

Of course being part of CRUK, there is very tight control of any promotion of quackery, though What Now seems if anything overzealous in stomping on any alternative medicine promoters and their dupes nowadays...

This hasn't stopped people from attempting to plug zeolite and propolis on there mind, or claims being made that the dairy-free "Plant Diet" can slow cancer.

Professor Plant, the originator of the diet is not a professor of medicine, or even biology. She is a geologist. She makes great play of her scientific credentials in publicity, but she has no relevant qualifications in nutrition, medicine, or any related field. She knows about rocks. This is just another cancer patient's anecdote turned into a money-spinning series of books.

Her book claims that she repeatedly cured herself of cancer by elimination of dairy produce from her diet. Any claim that the remission of her cancer was caused by her new diet rather than the conventional treatment she also received is a logical fallacy, as any scientist should know. And of course, if she had actually cured herself, she wouldn't have had to do it repeatedly.

The evidence with respect to dairy and cancer is far from conclusive. The most recent studies suggest it it actually protective with respect to bowel cancer, and found no association with breast cancer.

This peer-reviewed scientific evidence trumps any amount of personal anecdotes from people with cancer who changed their diet whilst having proven medical treatment, and then attributed not dying to the diet.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


Cocamide DEA and skin cancer

There has been more scaremongering to cancer patients over on the What Now board, with a claim that Cocamide DEA in shampoos is a cause of skin cancer, based on a scientifically illiterate misinterpretation of a 1997 study by what appears to be a spammer. Here's the unedited post, which is all over the net under a number of names:

"Cocamide dea- a reson for skin cancer

Cocamide DEA is cocamide diethanolamine. It is used to thicken the shampoo, a body wash, or a facial cleanser and give it a nice goopy consistency.

It is made by reacting fatty acids in coconut oils with diethanolamine. It is a viscous liquid and is used as a foaming agent in bath products like shampoos and hand soaps, and in cosmetics as an emulsifying agent.

Product manufacturers believe that the thicker is the product, the more appealing it seems to the customers. Maybe they think the product is more “rich” or “nutritious” or “natural”. But there’s nothing natural about cocamide DEA.

DEA and its variants are suspected of increasing the risk of cancer. DEA can combine with amines present in cosmetic formulations to form nitrosamines (N-nitrosodiethanolamine), which are known to be highly carcinogenic."

1. The study does exist but tested mice and rats, not people. Of course mice and rats don't use shampoo, and are not the same as people. They are in fact not even that similar to each other- the rats showed no evidence of cancer in the study, whilst the mice did.

As is so often the case, the amounts of the substance tested would never be obtained by shampooing. If you liked that one, there's another which suggests that it causes problems with foetal development at concentrations only ten times those which would be obtained by shampooing.

The poster misunderstands and exaggerates the conclusions of the study in an unhelpful way.

The cancers found in the study were NOT skin cancers. DEA does not combine with amines as stated, it IS an amine. And so on...

If you are going to give what amounts to medical advice to your fellow cancer patients, please try to have some clue what you are talking about. How about....

It seems a bit like the saccharin thing. Concentrations wildly in excess of those that any user would ever see are harmful to mice, but of course all things are toxic-it is the dose which matters.

To put things into context, here's the safety datasheet for pure ethanolamine. At high concentrations it is a severe skin, eye and respiratory irritant, with a maximum recommended concentration in air of only 3 parts per million. Yet we put it on our heads several times a week without being hospitalised, because the dose is very low.

The US FDA's advice is here. Unfortunately by advising people how they can avoid the substance, they give credence to the poster's claims. As a result of the uncertainty, ethanolamine derivatives are far less frequently used nowadays than before the study, even though its conclusions have not been verified in over ten years.

2. The study never suggested any link between DEA and any human cancer. And of course even if they had, that something might contribute towards getting cancer in the first place is nothing to do with whether it promotes existing cancer. This scaremongering on a board frequented by people who already have cancer helps no-one.

3. There is a clear trend behind all of these claims of toxic toiletries-crusties are mounting a campaign against all forms of personal grooming. Vidal Sassoon have responded by producing a new shampoo especially for crusties. It's called "Go & Wash".

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Monday, 13 July 2009



Kerry O'Dwyer died last Friday. RIP Kerry.

Monday, 6 July 2009


Johnny Deep and others

Just found out that Johnny Deep, another MM blogger died last Thursday. What with Alison C dying recently, Kerry having been given weeks to live, and the memory of Katie's death just over a year ago, it's getting to be a bad time of year for MM survivors....

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Homoeopathic A+E. LOL.

Sunday, 5 July 2009



More "cancer-curing" quacky nonsense on What Now: guyabano, camel's milk, honey and olive oil.

Guyabano is also known (amongst other things) as cherimoya, guanabana, soursop, custard apple, brazilian paw paw, graviola, guansavana, cachiman epineux and triamazon. The multitude of names can make it hard to find reliable information, but here's what Cancer Research UK have to say about it. To summarise, there is no evidence that it cures cancer, but there is evidence of brain damage.

Camels' milk has no evidence at all to support any cancer-curing claims. Of course it is just milk, so side-effects are minimal. The lactoferrin which its supporters claim is the active ingredient is present in cow's milk as well. Someone needs to show it works before we have to start speculating about a mechanism of action, however.

Camel milk doesn't taste too good though and isn't readily available in the UK of course, though many of the articles about camel's milk have the flavour of camel milk marketing board press releases. At least the poster wasn't promoting camel urine, which also promoted in the Middle East as a cancer cure with no more scientific backing than the milk.

Honey has not been shown to cure cancer, boost the immune system, or help cancer patients in any other way, though that hasn't prevented some scumbags from promoting one particular brand to cancer patients at £45 a jar.

There is no evidence that I am aware of that olive oil has any effect on cancer once you have it.

And of course as ever all of these things are sold based on a supposed anecdote from a person who to the best of our knowledge consists of no more than a few typed words on a computer screen.

There is no evidence that they exist at all, ever had cancer, or were told the things they claim.

They do however admit that they have had repeated conventional treatments, ("radiotherapy to chemetharipy and stemcell transplant and even now as i am writing to you i am having a velcade")but still somehow believe that it was positive mental attitude and camel's milk wot done it.

In evaluating a testimonial like this there are three main questions:

1. Was cancer definitely present, as shown by reliable tests, when treatment was commenced?

2. Did it go away? (or clearly respond otherwise, as judged by the same tests)

3. Was the advocated treatment the only one used ? (within 2-3 months of the apparent cancer response)

Anything which does not verifiably meet these three tests isn't even an anecdote

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Wednesday, 1 July 2009


Vegetarianism is NOT proven to lower cancer risk

You might have heard on the news today that a vegetarian diet leads to a lower risk of cancer. That's not what the authors of the paper actually said, despite the lead author being a member of the vegetarian society, and all of the veggies in the study being recruited from the same society. See here.

"The results presented in this study are simply descriptive of the incidence of cancer in fish eaters and vegetarians relative to meat eaters. More detailed analyses of individual cancer sites are needed to explore, for example, whether the differences observed might be linked to particular types of meat or to other dietary or lifestyle characteristics of non-meat eaters that were not adjusted for in the current analysis."

The survey fails to detect the established link between meat and colorectal cancer, but instead claims a link to certain blood cancers. It does however admit that it may have failed to adequately control for factors other than diet.

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