Living Proof and the pseudoscience of alternative cancer treatments
Michael Gearin-Tosh was an English professor at Oxford University who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1994. He rejected conventional chemotherapeutic approaches and turned to a variety of alternative cancer treatments, particularly those involving nutritional supplements and dietary change. In 2002, Dr. Gearin-Tosh published a book, Living Proof: A Medical Mutiny, recounting his experiences. The book gained significant public and media attention. One chapter was written by Carmen Wheatley, an advocate of alternative cancer treatments. In distinction to Dr. Gearin-Tosh's personal story, Dr. Wheatley makes general claims about cancer treatment that are supposedly based on the research literature. This appears to provide scientific validation for a highly unconventional program of cancer care. However, the scientific case made for alternative cancer treatments in Living Proof does not bear serious examination. There are numerous inaccuracies, omissions, and misrepresentations. Many important claims are either entirely unsubstantiated or not supported by the literature cited. In conclusion, a highly publicized book gives the impression that alternative cancer treatments are supported by scientific research. It also suggests that little progress has been made in the conventional treatment of myeloma. This is highly misleading and may lead to cancer patients rejecting effective treatments.