Chris Woollams, Golden Duck nominee

Chris Woollams is the UK’s number one cancer researcher and founder of Britain’s number one holistic cancer charity.

According to the CANCERactive website, that is – but don’t believe all you read on there. It gives favourable coverage to any unproven or disproven cancer quackery you care to name, complete with handy links to clinics in the UK and beyond.

You name it, it’s on there – from Gerson therapy to laetrile; from intravenous vitamin C to cannabis.

According to CANCERactive, the controversial Dr Burzynski could be on his way to a Nobel Prize with his “pioneering, non-toxic treatments” (despite significant toxicity and a distinct lack of published data in over 35 years of research).

And Woollams isn’t just an online presence – CANCERactive’s icon magazine claims to bring the very latest news and information to anyone and everyone touched by cancer. He has also written two books: The Rainbow Diet and Everything You Need to Know to Help you Beat Cancer, which has been described by one reviewer as a “compendium of every new age fantasy about nutrition and cancer“.

But what influence does Woollams actually have..?

I’m not sure really but there are some pretty big names among the list of patrons. These include celebrities like Gloria Hunniford, Geoffrey Boycott and Will Champion of Coldplay; politicians like John Bercow, and notorious quacks such as the Dutch supplement magnate Jan de Vries.

And even if CANCERactive have little influence over the general public, their pseudoscientific articles, claims to be ‘evidence-based’ and celebrity support may just be enough to give them significant influence over their intended audience – cancer patients.

The CANCERactive site claims to have ‘No Vested Interests’…

CANCERactive Trustees and management take no remuneration for the work they do; we do not receive funds directly or indirectly from large corporations such as pharmaceutical companies, and so this site is truly independent with no vested interests and based on the research that is available, interpreted in a balanced way.

This hints at the cancer quacks’ favourite conspiracy theory, implying that reputable cancer charites and medical professionals are biased and therefore not to be trusted.

This insulting drivel can do a great deal of harm, driving a wedge between patients and their doctors, perhaps leading patients to make poorly informed choices over treatment. In a worst case scenario, it could drive vulnerable patients into the hands of ruthless, opportunist quacks, even leading them to deny themselves effective treatment – for all the wrong reasons. It can rob people of their life savings and cause conflict between patients and their loved ones at the worst possible time.

I am in no way suggesting that the icon magazine, the CANCERactive site or the linked Natural Selection Shop belongs to Chris Woollams or that he any way advertises or endorses dubious cancer treatments. And I certainly don’t assume that he makes any financial gain from either of these endeavours. I wouldn’t want him to sue me and in any case, the truth of the matter is a little more complicated than that.

Full information on the Golden Duck award is available on the Good Thinking Society website. My list of nominees is here.

5 responses to “Chris Woollams, Golden Duck nominee

  1. Pingback: My Golden Duck nominees: an introduction | Josephine Jones

  2. Reblogged this on skeptichamster.

  3. The shop is controlled by Woollams’ offshore company. That is a provable (and self-admitted) fact. Whether he makes money from it is doubtful: its “products of choice” figure as a the largest income item in CANCERactive’s accounts. However, I’d be interested to see where the very substantial professional fees and outgoings of CANCERactive end up, it absorbs a vastly greater proportion of its funding in internal costs than any other charity I have ever seen.

  4. Pingback: Book Review: Everything You Need To Know To Help You Beat Cancer by Chris Woollams | Josephine Jones

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