Jade Goody and cervical cancer

Jade Goody and cervical cancer

I was deeply saddened to hear yesterday of the death of Jade Goody from cervical cancer. My thoughts go to her family, her new husband and her children.

A week ago I wrote the notes below, in which I stated that I felt that, although she was trying to maximize the coverage of her death so as to leave a financial legacy for her children, third parties were using her illness to convey their own message. Almost bang on cue after the announcement of her death came this statement from Dr Leslie Walker, Cancer Research UKs Director of cancer information: In the long term, the introduction of the cervical cancer vaccine has the potential to prevent cervical cancer in the UK. The vaccine is being offered to all 13 year old girls in UK schools with a catch up programme for girls aged up to 18. Parents can help protect their daughters against cervical cancer by ensuring they receive the vaccine.

For the avoidance of doubt, there is no factual evidence whatsoever, that if Jade Goody had been vaccinated at age 13 and 18 (and every 5 years) that she would not have contracted cervical cancer and she would not have died. The current vaccines have been tested for less than 6 years at best. They prevent attack by between 2 and 5 forms of a virus, which has 16 strains. The virus is anyway rendered inert by a strong and healthy immune system after about 18 months. There is no research that says this will prevent cervical cancer in a woman at the age of 33. There is no research that says the vaccine lasts more than a five year period. There is a potential that preventing this virus taking hold through vaccination will restrict the formation of SOME cervical cancers, that might not have been dealt with by the immune system, and that were caused by just these strains of HPV. Any other conclusion is poor science. 

I am not alone in this view the New England Journal of Medicine has just published two articles with similar views (see below).

The best way to prevent cervical is to go for regular screening.  

6 million women contract HPV a year in the USA. 13,000 develop cervical cancer and there are about 3500 deaths. Most of the HPV is driven from the body by having a strong immune system. The research is very clear.

Go to: Cervical cancer overview: symptoms, causes and treatment alternatives

This is what I wrote in Mid-March 2009:

Jade and Complementary cancer therapies

As most people in the UK know, TV personality Jade Goody has cervical cancer. Chris Woollams of CANCERactive has been approached by representatives and people working with her, three times over the past 4-5 months. Each time the request has run along the lines of Jade would like to try complementary cancer therapies. Is there one you could recommend?  On the last occasion it was even mentioned that she fancied doing Reiki.

CANCERactive is the UK’s Number 1 charity for evidence-based complementary and integrative therapy information.

The news is grave. No one who reads the UK Press can have failed to understand that Jade is in a very poor state, and our thoughts are with her. Her boyfriend (now husband) remarked that it was sad that she had put herself through the pain of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy all to no avail.

There are several important points we would like to make, many of which have not been covered by the UK press:

Overcoming the taboo of cancer

As Chris said on BBC radio, he admires Jade enormously for bringing her cancer out into the open. We remember covering Mark James book on his experiences with his testicular cancer. His wife said at the time that had he broken his leg, people would have been coming up to her in Tesco asking if he was OK. But with cancer, she found people were scuttling away from her. One of the reasons CANCERactive launched its quarterly magazine icon into hospitals and cancer centres, was to bring this taboo subject out into the open; and to promote awareness of a wide range of preventative issues and important therapies being discussed worldwide, if not in the UK. Our 2000 page web site continues this magazine style, easy-to-read, populist format.

Orthodox treatments to no avail

We sympathise with Jade’s husband enormously. The current orthodox package of treatments in the UK is very limited. We do, of course, have a very full ’Overview’ on the treatment of Cervical cancer click here to read it. As you will find, we express our concerns that the so-called Gold Standard drug used in the UK, is criticised in several US hospitals.

We do have several fans of our charity who have had cervical cancer and beaten it through the use of a much wider range of therapies than UK medical practitioners usually propose. One lady, having been diagnosed with the disease and given barely three months to live, is still alive today - over 6 years later - and her French doctor has told her she can now forget about ever having had it. But then she is rigorous with her diet, runs every day, uses complementary therapies and takes a host of supplements.

The use of Complementary Cancer Therapies

The aim of our charity is to help people increase their personal odds of survival by helping them to build thorough and disciplined treatment programmes using not just orthodox therapies, but complementary and alternative cancer therapies too. The best of the best.

When Chris was approached he said he was quite prepared to help Jade, but that Jade needed to undertake a proper programme of activities to really stand any chance of now beating the disease. The lady we mentioned above has done just this.

The logic is simple. Cancer is a multi-step or multi-stage process. It is not a cockroach to be trodden on. An individual can have any or all of the stages. (precancer cells, cancer cells, tumour formation, blood supply formation, metastases etc. John Boik of M.D. Anderson estimates that there are 20 stages.) And as such it requires a multi-step package of activities to cover all the bases. Interestingly in January top US brain tumour Professor Dr Henry Friedman stated that it is absolutely ludicrous to believe that any malignancy can be cured with single-agent chemotherapy. For our money he could have said single-agent therapy, full stop. A drug, a vitamin, Reiki. There is no single cure for cancer.

Covering all the bases thoroughness

Our discipline is The ACTIVE8 Programme. It forms the basis of personal Prescriptions that we do from time to time for patients. And Chris sent an outline to the ITV producer who is currently working with Jade on a Fly on the Wall (their words) documentary on Jades fight against her cancer. The response was that it was very thorough and would be passed to Jade. Unfortunately, it seems it is sadly all too late. A similar approach was taken with Geoff Boycott when he beat his cancer. (His cure has led him to dub Chris the Cancer Guru). Geoff beat his cancer and, indeed, did not even require the proposed surgery and chemotherapy.

However, we thought readers would appreciate a copy of what was sent to Jade Goody, so that they might spend some time thinking about their own programme of therapies and its thoroughness.

For the outline on the ACTIVE8 Programme sent to Jade Goody’s TV producer, click here.

Alternatives for people with cervical cancer?

Just for the record, there are other, newer alternative therapies achieving good results in other countries. For example, the use of Hyperthermia. In Germany, Peter Wurst (Charite Universitatsmedizin, Berlin) has been pioneering the use of hyperthermia and ultrasound. Stage III clinical trials have still to take place but results so far are exceptional. (Int. J. Radiat.Onc.Biol Phys 2006; 66: 1159-67).

You can find all the latest research information at the heart of our charity on our web site under Latest Research (click here) and in icon under Cancer Watch.

Using Jade for profit?

We are alarmed at one aspect of the media coverage. That of trying to use the Jade story as a way of justifying the need for all girls (and in some quarters, all boys too) to have Cervical Cancer vaccinations. This is little more than hype, unsuspecting journalists being used to convey a message which is based on poor science, with an underlying motivation of profit.

Poor Science

We have commented on the new vaccines available before (Merck’s and GlaxoSmithKlein’s). And that if every male and female is vaccinated every 5 years this is a 2 billion per year business in the UK alone. Readers can find our views by clicking here . Without repeating ourselves at length:

  1. There are no long-term studies that these vaccines are effective in preventing cervical cancer (research, at most has taken place over a six year period
  2. There is no long-term research on their safety.
  3. If the short-term data of their effectiveness against several of the 16 strains of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can be scientifically justified in extrapolation to conclude that therefore at some point 20 years ahead, this will reduce all cervical cancer resulting from those strains then there is an argument that 500-700 lives a year might be saved in the UK.
  4. Although some wise people advocate that males should be vaccinated too as they can be HPV carriers, there is absolutely no long-term research on the effectiveness or safety of the vaccines with males, and no evidence to support a view that this would cut cervical cancer rates! It is little more than conjecture at the moment.

While we do believe that the vaccine is a huge step forward, it is already well known that Cervical cancer is preventable:

  1. There is very important evidence from the USA that a strong immune system can defeat this virus over the course of just 18 months. Recent estimates for the USA state that at any time 6 million women can be affected, although total deaths are only around 3,000 per annum.
  2. In particular 4 research studies by The South Carolina Medical School showed that Ellagic acid could prevent the virus taking hold. The administration of Ellagic acid in the research studies? Half a cup of raspberries a day.
  3. Regular Cervical cancer screening can diagnose early pre-cancer symptoms and cut disease and death rates by over 50 per cent. (Sloan-Kettering in New York estimates that 84 per cent are preventable if women were adequately screened). Although the Pap smear is the chosen test in the UK, several research studies covered in Cancer Watch in icon over the past three years have shown the use of light in conjunction with a vinegar solution is both considerably cheaper, and more effective.

Researchers in the New England Medical Journal agree with us!

Before we get irate letters from pro-vaccination experts, let us say that we at CANCERactive are not alone in our views. According to two articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine, there is not enough evidence to confidently state that two popular vaccines against the human papillomavirus (HPV) will reliably prevent against the development of cervical cancer.

In the first article Charlotte J. Haug, editor of The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association stated that "Despite great expectations and promising results of clinical trials, we still lack sufficient evidence of an effective vaccine against cervical cancer. With so many essential questions still unanswered, there is good reason to be cautious." Haug noted that researchers still do not know if the vaccines are effective in the long-term, or what side-effects there were. Haug raised an interesting point. Since HPV is actually relatively common, maybe protecting the body from infection by certain strains might lead to unforseen immunological issues like reducing the bodys resistance to other viruses!

The other article by a pair of Harvard Researchers confirmed the points we make above about the fact that screening is a far better (and cheaper!) way to prevent. A woman who already has the virus will gain no benefit from a vaccine, but would from screening.

Our thoughts are with Jade and her family.


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