Death by quackery
Just as I was coming up for air after the recent NIH grant deadline, Orac does another tremendous job discussing the case of the 2003 death of a young Coloradan cancer patient at the hands of an alternative "medical" practitioner.
I can't do the story the justice it deserves right now and it's making me sick to even think about the case (septicemia from "UV Blood Irradiation"), so just go to Orac's post. It's no wonder that ScienceBlogs has tapped him as a new team member.
Well, just so you know I'm not lazy but instead exhausted from grant writing, here are a couple of things that I can add:
The "practitioner" billed himself as a naturopathic physician, but even naturopaths won't touch this guy with a 10-foot pole. He did a two-week correspondence course instead of going to one of the four, 4-year North American colleges of naturopathy, then papered his office with diplomas and certificates from institutions that don't even exist.
According to Amber Taufen of Denver's Westword indy weekly, the practitioner has also been implicated in at least another death and a well-documented near-miss. Amber's outstanding article from last summer also cites Colorado naturopaths and CAM advocates as fighting among themselves when it comes to petitioning the state to license naturopaths (only about 13 or 14 states currently have licensing boards for naturopathy):
"Joanie Sevcik-Weichbrodt, president of the Coalition of Natural Health, sees regulation as ineffective. "The problem is, they want only certain schools to be allowed to sit for board exams for licensure," she says. "Only nationally accredited naturopathic schools. They want to put all the other 5,000 to 10,000 natural healers in the State of Colorado out of business; they want a monopoly."
So, "other natural healers" are now using the same argument against naturopaths who favor licensing requirements that CAM practitioners have used for years to rail against MDs.
Blind faith in charlatans who profess to do what allopathic medicine cannot is potentially dangerous and, in this case, even deadly. The continued scientific dumbing-down of the average American and the erosion of critical decision-making skills has created a populace ripe for the picking by unscrupulous marketers and pharmacomedical establishment conspiracy theorists who believe in cures too good to be true. People need to be equally vigilant, informed, and accept personal responsibility in their own conventional medical care as well.
Unfortunately, too many folks spend more time researching their next TV purchase than they do their own healthcare.