Keen to avoid the problems that blighted the last conference, organiser Dr Stephen Hopwood has been careful to point out that the conference will not discuss treating people for cancer, but treating people with cancer. This seems to me to be a blatant and cynical way of sidestepping the Cancer Act.
His argument makes no sense whatsoever if you take a few minutes to consider the background and specialisms of some of the speakers. Certainly, it is my belief that cancer patients and their families would fail to see the distinction – people who may actually be considering treatments offered by the planned (now cancelled) speaker, Dr Andre Young-Snell, sold by the speaker Kevin Wright and advocated by the speakers Dr Patrick Kingsley, Dr Julian Kenyon and Dr Rosy Daniel.
You can watch Hopwood tying himself in knots on this point (and a few others) in this video of his recent interview on Totnes FM, where he addresses questions put forward (via Twitter) by me, @lecanardnoir, @ScepticLetters and @david_colquhoun. Topics discussed included the fact that speaker Dr Patrick Kingsley is no longer GMC registered and that the speaker Dr Sarah Myhill was banned from prescribing drugs by the GMC in 2010. As I also pointed out, Myhill has also been in trouble again much more recently – she was in fact given a warning in October of this year.
What about the rest of the speakers?
Professor Dr Michael Baum is a leading British surgical oncologist who specialises in breast cancer treatment and who has been openly critical of alternative medicine. To be honest, I’m not sure why I’m even bothering to mention him since he will not actually be attending the conference. They’ll just be showing a PowerPoint presentation of Baum criticising the breast cancer screening programme. While I believe Baum’s views are strictly based on evidence, it will be interesting to see what the attendees make of his conclusions.
Other planned speakers who will also not be attending the conference include:
- Dr Kate James, who will not be able to attend due to overwhelming family commitments
- Dr Damien Downing, who had a prior engagement (but offers a PowerPoint presentation)
- Dr Etienne Callebout, currently languishing in a Thai hospital
- Dr Andre Young-Snell, who’s busy with some Italian professor working on “some Vit D3 precursor”
Hopwood’s full explanations for these absences may be read here.
So who’s left..?
- The Alliance for Natural Health‘s Robert Verkerk PhD. He is a vitamin and herbal pill lobbyist, resident WDDTY expert, and previous Totnes speaker.
- The NLP quack and fire walking teacher, speaker “Dr” Claudius van Wyk (who we also saw at the last conference).
- Acupuncture enthusiast Dr Julian Kenyon, previously uncovered by BBC Inside Out using a machine that had been discredited by his own research.
- Controversial and litigious previous Totnes speaker, Dr Sarah Myhill.
- Previous Totnes speaker Barbara Wren, who has odd ideas about vaccines, WiFi, water and iodine, as uncovered by BBC Inside Out.
- Nurse Patricia Peat of Cancer Options, canceractive and Yes to Life – all of which promote unproven and disproven cancer treatments to the British public.
- WDDTY expert Dr Patrick Kingsley, no longer GMC registered but still using the title “Dr” while advocating highly dubious cancer treatments in public.
- Robin Daly – previous Totnes speaker and trustee of the thoroughly dangerous cancer charity, Yes to Life
- Previous Totnes speaker, Kevin Wright. Purveyor of a selection of unlicensed, unproven, often unsafe medical treatments for cancer, currently on bail denying charges of charity fraud. Would happily stick sewing needles in the eyes of his critics (check out the Q&A after his last talk, at 46:00).
- Dr Rosy Daniel, former Medical Director of Bristol Cancer Help Centre (now Penny Brohn Cancer Care), again of Yes to Life, who in 2004 discussed Carctol (in the Guardian)- a ‘miracle’ untested cancer cure which she enthusiastically prescribed to her patients.
- Affable conspiracy theorist and conference organiser, Dr Stephen Hopwood, who has now twice been on the ropes on Totnes FM (and also popped up in the Daily Express over the last conference).
If you’d spent £70 on tickets for the full weekend you might be disappointed to find that most of the speakers are just the same ones as last time, and that four of the newly advertised speakers had pulled out at the last minute.
But what bothers me much more is the very real damage that can be done by encouraging false hope and by spreading misinformation about cancer treatments and mistrust in medical professionals.
There is no conspiracy against ‘natural’ treatments such as intravenous vitamin C, intravenous hydrogen peroxide ‘oxygen therapy’, coffee enemas, transdermal magnesium chloride, Carctol and the rest. The reason these treatments have not been embraced by mainstream doctors is that they have not been shown to be safe or effective.
People like me aren’t motivated by money. We aren’t receiving back-handers from Big Pharma.
If in any doubt about my motivation, I recommend you read “Would you kick a dying man?” That family were under no illusion that the alternative medical treatments recommended by the likes of Patricia Peat and Patrick Kingsley were merely to treat people with cancer.
The package of treatment as a whole caused harm, as it was expensive using up my parents limited life savings, took my dad away from home using up his energy and resources and caused emotional damage.
My parents were reassured by the cancer consultant, as she was previously an oncology nurse and had a positive write up from a website offering advice to cancer patients (run by an an independent charity of which she is a patron).
This blogger’s father had been told that if he were to follow the advice of this woman, he could be tumour-free in 3 to 4 years.
Trading Standards shouldn’t be fooled by Hopwood’s promise to only discuss treating people with cancer. Such promises are meaningless.