Updated: Feb 9, 2020
So my job in this life; which I’ve been sure of for quite some time, is to change the way people look at things.
I tend to focus more on the roots of their faulty thought patterns. Rather then attacking their ideas which are the direct result from incorrect cognitive processing.
I haven’t done a book review in awhile. I use to do them frequently and it isn’t that I don’t read as much — because I actually read more now, but rather that it takes me an incredibly large amount of time and I wasn’t sure if others benefit much.
This one feels worthy to me due to my recent cancer diagnosis and treatment options.
Side note/rant: Evidence based internet trolls (coined by my bestie Chris) often like to discount what science actually truly is. Good science doesn’t always have adequate data to support it... not yet anyways. Immunotherapy is a prime example here, up until very recently it was considered quackery.
Pubmed warriors take note here; what in the actual fuck is alternative medicine? Medicine either works, or it doesn’t. If it works, it isn’t “alternative.” If it doesn’t work, it isn’t medicine. So what then constitutes “Alternative Medicine”?
The best definition seems to be: those practices that are not taught in conventional medical schools.
Because medical schools are sticklers for a little detail called “evidence". For good reason! Cancer patients have a right to expect that a course of action recommended by an oncologist has a reasonable chance of working.
But get this; in science evidence means statistically significant results from properly controlled experiments, as evaluated by experts in the field.
Lack of evidence of course does not mean that a particular treatment cannot work.
Only that it has not been demonstrated to work. And that is when it can be termed “alternative”. If sufficient proof is demonstrated, “alternative” transforms into “conventional".
“Alternative” medicine encompasses a vast array of treatments, ranging from the possibly useful but unproven (cancer vaccines, DDW, HBOT, IVC, etc.), to the ludicrous (almighty gods power over your health, homeopathy, diet modifications alone, standing on your head for exactly eighteen minutes twice daily, etc.).
You must use your own common sense and judgment here.
Now that I’m done ranting, let’s dig into the book.
BREAKTHROUGH — THE RACE TO CURE CANCER
They sure don’t do human studies like they used to. Why do I say that? Hold on I’ll give a little background...
Coley known as the "Father of Immunotherapy” experimented on his patients that would rightfully be considered unethical as fuck now days. He took dirty bandages and applied them to his patients open wounds, killing some in the name of science.
Coley was at least a century ahead of science’s understanding of the immune system. He was dismissed as a charlatan, and once he started bottling and peddling his “cancer-fighting toxins”, he was also called a snake oil salesman. Like most individuals with a true science based mind — he was obsessed with something he was seeing work in his patients, but couldn’t yet figure out why, and wouldn’t just drop it because there was no Pubmed link available.
Generations of oncologists and cancer biologists either heard nothing about Coley’s observations or lumped them together with cancer quackery.
Immunology became a vaguely disreputable bullshit idea in cancer research.
Pulled from an article by Sharon Begley:
===It took an immunologist, not a cancer biologist, to crack the code on this. James Allison realized it wasn’t that the immune system needed boosting. Instead, molecules on tumor cells that thwarted the immune system needed to be disabled.
Allison figured out how to disable those molecular brakes, or checkpoints, and allow the immune system to rip: His discovery led to the first approved “checkpoint inhibitor” cancer drug, in 2011, and won him a share of the 2018 Nobel Prize in medicine.
With checkpoint inhibitors like Allison’s, which target the molecular brake called CTLA-4, followed by inhibitors of brakes called PD-1 and PD-L1 and then genetically engineered T cells called CAR-Ts, once-hopeless cancer patients are actually obtaining something physicians have been loath to mention: a cure.
Pioneers who had to wrangle fellow scientists into investigating the interaction of the immune system and cancer. These determined few valiantly fought a cancer hierarchy that viewed the whole thing as a dead end.
Gatekeepers at prestigious science journals rejected research papers in the stubborn belief that the immune system can’t attack cancer — data be damned. Eventually, the data could not be denied.
The PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors, including one that has helped former president Jimmy Carter survive the melanoma that spread to his brain, also work for only a minority of patients. Researchers hope that combining the immunotherapy drugs with each other or with chemotherapy or radiation might increase that fraction; some 1,500 clinical trials are testing such combinations.===
So friends, I want to hammer home this point; first line standard of care treatment being recommended to me was considered quackery not that long ago. Let that sink in...
This book is fairly heavy in biology and wouldn’t recommend it to those who don’t enjoy science. It would be far to dry for most. I found it fascinating.
Comment over here.