Another one for the Streisand Effect


There is a naturopath named Colleen Huber who is suing Britt Hermes for pointing out that she’s a quack. Huber runs an organization called The Naturopathic Cancer Society. Hermes had a few words to say about that.

The organization raises money for cancer patients who desire to use, but cannot afford, expensive alternative cancer therapies such as intravenous vitamins, mistletoe injections, and special diets, which is then funneled to Huber’s clinic Nature Works Best and others.

The Naturopathic Cancer Society makes it clear that it exists for cancer patients who do not want to use chemotherapy, radiation, or other medical cancer treatments and maintains a provider network of naturopaths agreeing to treat patients with alternative therapies, even against the recommendations of medical oncologists.

Huber claims that she has developed cancer treatments with a 90% success rate and “without the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.” She boasts on her clinic’s homepage that “most cancer patients who complete our treatments go into remission” and that her clinic has “better results than any other cancer clinic over the last eight years.” These statements meet most of the cancer treatment scam warnings put out by the FDA.

Huber treats cancer patients using an assortment of quacky therapies including strict diets to cut out sugar and intravenous injections of baking soda, high-doses of vitamin C, and other nutrients. She claims to have conducted research on 317 patients over seven years in her clinic using naturopathic nutrients and herbs and the elimination of sweetened foods, which allegedly prolonged the life of her cancer patients.

She claims a 90% remission rate by treating with baking soda and vitamins? Bullshit. She also claims to have carried out the largest clinical study, with 317 patients, which is actually rather feeble, and she says she has the highest success rate of any cancer clinic in the world.

If that were true, she wouldn’t need to engage in any of the tactics she’s up to right now. Someone has bought up Britt Hermes’ associated URLs to hide Hermes’ criticisms, probably Huber or an associate. Even worse, Huber is suing Hermes and demanding she take down a blog post that exposes her quackery. Huber wants to silence statements like this, from a qualified oncologist who analyzed Huber’s data honestly:

Putting aside the ethical issues of the extremely bad study design, the lack of ethics committee approval or patients’ agreement, a quick n’ dirty analysis of the data reveals following odds ratio: 2.1 (95% CI 1.01 – 4.40, p<0.05) in favour of state of the art treatment. In other words, patients under natural care have more than a two-fold higher risk to die.

This is criminal.

I hadn’t heard of Huber until she went litigation-happy, so that’s one good side of this story — maybe the word will get out about the fraud being committed at “Nature Works Best”. The bad side is that Hermes needs donations to support her legal defense. Jeez, but these SLAPP suits seem to be popping up everywhere, always by unpleasant loons with way too much money in their hands.

Comments

  1. Alverant says

    Hermes was interviewed on Skeptics Guide to the Universe a few weeks back. They mentioned the lawsuit last week and are setting up a fund to help her defend herself. If all goes well they’ll keep the fund open to help other people who are being sued into silence. SGU was sued a few years ago and was handed a solid victory. Now they just have to get the lawyers’ fees reimbursed by the plaintiff.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    She claims to have conducted research on 317 patients over seven years in her clinic…

    She also claims to have carried out the largest clinical study, with 317 patients

    I don’t read it that way. That she treated 317 patients over time is not that same as saying that those 317 patients were part of the same controlled clinical trial. Presuming it’s not a total lie, she probably tried this and that, negating the statistical validity of the results.

  3. =8)-DX says

    @Alverant #1
    Wait, the SGU is back in operation? I thought they closed shop a few years ago (distinctly remember the “last episode, episode”…?
    =8)-DX

  4. says

    This is absolutely infuriating. On Friday, I’ll be undergoing tests from 7:00am to 3pm to see if I can qualify for an actual clinical trial. It’s difficult getting enough adults to sign up for trials in the first place, and they can do so much good, and help so many people. Fuck Huber. I’ll donate to the cause when I’m able.

  5. weylguy says

    With 7.6 billion people currently residing on the planet, and another 100 billion who have already departed, lots and lots of things can happen (the Law of Large Numbers), including what might be called sporadic cases of miraculous, spontaneous healing. If one person out of a zillion is spontaneously cured of cancer, and if that person just happened to believe in homeopathic medicine, then confirmation bias guarantees that millions will believe in it too and fork over their hard-earned dough. That also conveniently explains “faith healing.”

  6. chris61 says

    @4 Caine

    Good luck with your efforts! (I hope what you’re looking at and find is a phase 3 trial.)

  7. efogoto says

    @7 thirdmill: Ya know, the mistletoe administered by Hoder to Baldur (man have these guys got alternate spellings for their names) at the behest of Loki came to mind immediately. I wonder if Huber’s method is any less toxophilitic.

  8. garnetstar says

    Caine @4, my best wishes to you.

    Everyone knows that mistletoe only works when you kiss under it, that is just science fact. Injections are a waste of good mistletoe.

  9. mattand says

    @#3:

    I’ve been listening to the show since right after it’s inception, which is like 10 or 12 years or something. They’ve never once mentioned shutting down operations.

  10. Rich Woods says

    She claims to have conducted research on 317 patients over seven years in her clinic using naturopathic nutrients and herbs and the elimination of sweetened foods, which allegedly prolonged the life of her cancer patients.

    So, to sum up: small trial, many illnesses, many treatments, many confounders = 90% positive result.

    Yeah, she’s a lying quack. Safe to say, her interventions have stolen years of life off people.

  11. says

    Yeah, I was going to suggest it’s a Stargate Universe joke, but for some reason I couldn’t log in earlier.

    One thing that I always wonder about stories of miracle cures is how many of those supposedly cured were misdiagnosed for whatever illness they supposedly had, and if any were never diagnosed at all. There must be at least the occasional person who is convinced they have a disease, despite a physician telling them they are perfectly healthy.

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