Alternative therapies are not safe: leaving medicine shoots up to five times the risk of death

We have to be honest: it is not easy to measure the risks of alternative therapies . That was a serious problem that was evident in our difficulties in answering the innocent and simple question that "What evil can they do?"
"A lot" was the answer and we intuited it, but until now we could not prove it . Patients do not always tell that they have abandoned treatments and if they do, they do not always want to provide the data to study them. A study that has just come out tries to put the points on the I's and, although we have yet to be prudent, it was necessary that someone put them.

Data confirming our worst fears

A Yale team has plunged into the depths of US cancer databases to quantify the real risk that hides behind those non-endorsed therapies.
The results are crystal clear and very worrying: those who abandoned or delayed conventional treatment to use other alternative treatments had a much higher risk of dying in the next five years than those who did not.
The numbers vary according to the type of cancer , but more because of the dynamics of each one than the effectiveness of alternative treatments. Patients with breast cancer were 5.7 times more likely to die within the next five years. Colorectal cancer patients had 4.6 times.
Using alternative treatments increases the risk of dying in the next five years to nearly six times as much
There are special cases. On the one hand, in patients with lung cancer the mortality rate in five years only doubled. This is probably because these types of cancers are very aggressive and even with the best treatments the survival rates are low.
In the other we have prostate cancer, the only cancer that was not affected by the poor effectiveness of alternative therapies. It fits with our knowledge of the disease: it is a very slow progression cancer and an average survival in early stages of more than 10 years.
The team of researchers, coordinated by Skyler Johnson , a professor of therapeutic radiology at Yale, studied these four types of cancer because they were the most prevalent between 2004 and 2013. They examinedthe medical histories in detail to determine rare patterns and the occurrence of treatment codes Alternatives.

It is too early to draw conclusions

It is important to note that, although they were quite careful in patient selection, it is a small study (only 280 patients treated with alternative therapies out of a total of 840) and it has many methodological limitations. However, it provides enough evidence to provide an overview of the problems that these types of health scams bring.
And, what is more important and for what I think is actually more interesting, this study raises black on white the importance of investigating this topic. Observational studies like this only serve to begin to explore the problem .
Above all, because some conclusions are very alarming : the patient profile that is passed to alternative treatments is female, middle-aged, high socioeducative level and few health complications. A group especially prone to breast cancer, which, as we see, is especially sensitive to the absence of treatment. Here are some crucial issues that medicine must address urgently.

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