Friday, March 25, 2005

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Some unapproved cancer treatments not only have no proven
benefits, they have actually been proven dangerous. These include
Laetrile, which may cause cyanide poisoning and has been found
ineffective in clinical trials, and coffee enemas, which, when used
excessively, have killed patients. (See "Hope or Hoax? Unproven
Cancer Treatments" in the March 1992 FDA Consumer.)

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Cancer and AIDS
Cancer treatment is complicated because in some types of cancer
there are no symptoms, and in other types symptoms may disappear
by themselves, at least temporarily. Use of an unconventional
treatment coinciding with remission (lessening of symptoms) could be
simply coincidental. There's no way of knowing, without a controlled
clinical trial, what effect the treatment had on the outcome. The
danger comes when this false security causes patients to forgo
approved treatment that has shown real benefit.

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FDA has approved a sterile form of DMSO called Rimso-50, which
is administered directly into the bladder for treatment of a rare
bladder condition called interstitial cystitis. However, the DMSO sold
to arthritis sufferers may contain bacterial toxins. DMSO is readily
absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, and these toxins
enter the bloodstream along with it. It can be especially dangerous if
used as an enema, as some of its promoters recommend.
Treatments the foundation considers harmless but ineffective include
copper bracelets, mineral springs, and spas.

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Some commonly touted unproven treatments for arthritis are harmful,
according to the foundation, including snake venom and DMSO (or
dimethyl sulfoxide), an industrial solvent similar to turpentine.