Untested cancer treatments – expert responds

Recent claims that certain plant-derived chemicals can fight cancer are not backed up by the evidence, says a natural remedies expert.

blue pillsThe SMC collected the following expert commentary regarding the coverage of salvestrol compounds linked above. Feel free to use these quotes in your reporting. If you would like to contact a New Zealand expert, please contact the SMC (04 499 5476; smc@sciencemediacentre.co.nz).

Dr Shaun Holt, natural remedies expert and adjunct Professor Victoria University Wellington, comments:

“Although it is not impossible that this product could have a clinical benefit for people with cancer, there are no published clinical studies that support its use, only a few case studies, which are do not provide anywhere near the strength of evidence that would mean that children or adults with cancer should take this product.

“As well as a lack of evidence of effectiveness, as there are no formal clinical trials, it is not even known if the product is safe, or if it might stop proven cancer treatments from working. Just because it is natural does not mean it is safe.

“I am concerned that the supplier of the product, Mr Vousden, appears to be conducting clinical research without approval of the New Zealand Ethics Committee or MedSafe. There are no trials of this product registered on the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, yet the article in the Herald states that he used …’money he made from Wendy’s to support his research into the 20 children he is working with’. From this it also appears that he is giving medical advice and treatments without being a qualified doctor, which again, is of dubious legality.

“This product is not recommended for people with cancer or in fact any condition, it is highly unlikely to be effective and may be harmful.”