Saturday, August 11, 2012

Holistic or horrifying? Canine care and controversy

**Note-although this started with dog info, the concepts are quite balanced between human and even if you don't have pets please keep on a' reading!!

This post is regarding something near and dear to my heart-my dogs. Let me first say they are dogs. They are not my "furkids", they don't "love"me (Trust and respect, yes. Depend on, pretty much.) and they live like dogs. Cared for and integrated into a household sure, but they are still DOGS.

Now that is not to say my attachment to them isn't very strong. I have lived without dogs for a time and I was very unhappy and unfulfilled. I spend a good portion of my day caring for them and alter my schedule to accommodate their needs. I have also done an extensive amount of research on health care and nutrition. **Please note, I am not a vet nor am I a professional nutritionist. The knowledge I have is because it was very important to me to be able to care for them properly and to be honest, because preventive care is SUBSTANTIALLY cheaper than curative, as long as you don't blindly follow every recommendation you read/hear/dream about.

So in the process of my research, I came across an.....interesting......theory. Which apparently came from studies on humans. Accordingly to a Dr. Johanna Budwig cancer can be easily cured by a simple dietary adjustment. So before I even get any further a number of things are racing around in my brain.

  1. Why do so many people still get/die from cancer?
  2. How can a diet attributed to an omnivore be so effective for a carnivore?
  3. Who actually BELIEVES this bizarre crap?
So to be fair, maybe there really has been One of the most important and far reaching health discoveries of the Twentieth Century (Swami Sivananda)1 and I just missed it. I do spend a substantial amount of time watching the Disney Channel and Syfy!  Since my father had lung cancer twice now, and cancer treatment for dogs is quite expensive in the event any of mine get it, well I certainly should investigate shouldn't I? o_O

So in the interest of science (as opposed to hope or blind faith) I have looked into this "cure" as objectively as possible beginning with the originator, Dr. Johanna Budwig. Who was this unbelievably talented woman that the world lost in 2003? I am pretty shocked myself that with all the media buzz about cancer research and the multitude of causes that her face has not been plastered everywhere!

According to the Budwig Center website Dr. Budwig was a qualified pharmacologist, chemist and physicist with a doctorate in physics who worked as the chief expert-consultant for drugs and fats at the former Bundesanstalt fur Fettforschung (Federal Institute for Fats Research).2 who was nominated for the "alternative Nobel Prize" seven times. 

The Health and Well being site by Swami Sivananda describes her as  a German biochemist who is a leading European authority on fats and nutrition.1 who was nominated for the "Nobel Prize" seven times. (Please note the difference between described nominations-and below find a comparison of the 2 along with other relevant information). And apparently cancer was not her only forte-She used her methods to successfully heal terminal cancer patients, people with heart diseases, arthritis and other ailments after they had been given up as hopeless by the conventional medical practitioners.

The Holistic Dog (the site which initiated this little venture) states Dr. Budwig holds a Ph.D. in Natural Science, has undergone medical training, and was schooled in pharmaceutical science, physics, botany and biology 3

In the interest of time and boredom (both mine and my readers) I am not going to cite every single website I went to to find a description of who Dr. Budwig was. Suffice to say many Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Also known as "CAM") websites confirmed the 7 time nomination, as well as others saying 6. I found the "german biochemist" designation on quite a few, but as far as her Ph.D. about half I found said physics and half said Natural Science-whereas NONE said both so I am not quite sure where that disconnect happened.

Apparently even the CAM folks cannot agree on this protocol however, as I found a Dr. Weil who is a self-professed "Integrative Medicine" specialist-and an actual MEDICAL doctor. His opinion is that its probably a pretty darn good idea to eat flaxseeds-ground, and instead of just the oil as oil has no fiber and goes rancid rather quickly. And putting it in cottage cheese is good for you as well-personally, I think cottage cheese is quite tasty and a good way to put dairy into my diet. I have used it with the dogs to put healthy weight on, especially for my very active working dogs and pregnant/nursing bitches. So Dr. Weil's opinion of this is as follows: This sounds completely fanciful to me. For the record, I found only four studies by Dr. Budwig in a medical literature search. None of them supported her "cancer cure.

So at this point I am still not sure what kind of education this person pursued. "Will the real Dr. Budwig please stand up, please stand up, please stand up?" However I do understand scientific research, and that not everyone who is an expert on something  has a degree. I fancy myself an expert on behavior modification and am pretty dang good in the medical arena (won't be performing any major surgery any time soon, so please don't ask. Besides, I don't take insurance) but I don't have a degree in either. I do a lot of research, and have an extensive amount of experience in both, as well as having a college education which includes aspects of both. Just haven't completed the degree yet. So I can see where she may have just gained the knowledge required to research these topics.

Now time to evaluate the research (this should be FUN!).

Many people regard patient testimonials as valid evidence that something worked. "Hey, it worked for me so it must be a completely valid and dependable treatment!" I can understand this completely, as scientific research includes results of the test-ALL the results. That means looking at how many test subjects were used, what factors were involved in each group of test subjects, and what the results were for each test subject, broken down by group. This is what determines the efficacy of what is being tested.

For example, take 400 test subjects (assuming animals) with the SAME KIND of cancer. Split into 4 groups. This is very important as the factors surrounding each cancer vary so much, to compare skin cancer and lymphatic cancer would completely invalidate the test-just due to statistical percentage of cured cases.  (This is going to be a very simplistic example-trust me when I say there are many more factors in reality!) Group one is given the proposed treatment with no other lifestyle changes. Group two is given the proposed treatment as well as a very regulated and controlled diet, which is consistent throughout every test subject in the group. Group three is also given the controlled diet, however no proposed treatment. Group four has no treatment, and no lifestyle change.  After a set amount of time the condition of each subject is recorded noting any health changes. They are compared to each other, and that is the initial test. Now, in the interest of science, a true test has repeatable results. So anyone else can perform the outlined procedure and achieve the same results. And this needs to be done a number of times to verify the accuracy of the initial test. It takes into account human error,and unaccounted for factors. 

So we did our experiment and found out our treatment alone cures 73% of subjects. With the dietary change it goes up to 87.5% (yay us!) The other two groups saw rates of 42% with the dietary change and 17% with no lifestyle change whatsoever. Keep in mind I am making this stuff up! So I would say we gots ourselves a purty good treatment! So another scientist comes along and performs our procedures and within about 5% gets the same results. That is a good thing. 2 more give it a shot, and again within about 5% replicate the result. This is a good example of a cure that is going to get a heck of a lot of attention! Now, if the next scientist came along and got a cure rate of 40% with our treatment and 42% with dietary change, and no change with a 12% cure rate.......well, people are still going to talk. But we sure won't like it. Now he could be a we talk a couple more guys into trying it. Unfortunately the results look a whole lot more like the first scientist's than ours.  Chances are that "cure"..well, wasn't. HOWEVER-we still cured ~40% of our subjects, right?? And that is pretty good-especially for the 40%! Well, we could go hide...or try to find a different cure....OR we could start advertising!!!! Assuming a larger test group, say 4000, it could look something like this "Revolutionary new cancer cure! Hundreds have tried it and seen that big bad disease go away!" or "Live cancer free like the other hundreds who have used our special peanut butter waffle cure!"  :-/

I bet the owners of the dogs (of course, for this blog lol) would be ecstatic to give us testimonials too! Just think-a website with hundreds of cured Boo-boos and Fidos and Triggers and Spots.........

So is a testimonial a good source of data? Here are a couple of pages that have some very good info-Highly recommended reading  :-)

So essentially, if I want the truth about this I cannot base it on patient testimonials. I need actual, recorded clinical test results with all the factors possible taken into account. Um, that could be a problem. Because I can't find any. I looked-really I did.
(by the way-if you notice that one is actual from an alt/comp medicine site)
(another site with a substantial amount of talk about CAM)
A video with some info on Budwig's diet and the fact that is has no clinical data to back it up.

So at this point I have some unreliable testimonials, and the only clinical data is that she never got past rats in the testing process, and apparently didn't even track those results in such a manner that we could make sense of it.

Add that to the fact that IF there really was some kind of green, gelatinous goo in place of hemoglobin in a cancer patient's blood I would have to imagine at least one other person would have noticed it.....and yeah, thanks-but I think I will stick with my vet's guidance if my dog gets cancer. Not to mention one of my loved ones!

Hope you enjoyed, and thanks for reading!

Alternative Nobel Prize vs. Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prize as stated on :
Every year since 1901 the Nobel Prize has been awarded for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace. The Nobel Prize is an international award administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize. Each prize consists of a medal, personal diploma, and a cash award

The "Alternative Nobel Prize" is actually something called the Right Livelihood Award and was developed by  Jakob Von Uexkull after his suggested additions for environment and human development awards were rejected by the Nobel Prize committee. (Authors opinion-While being very admirable awards, they really do not focus on science or medicine so carry little weight as an award with respect to doctors in cancer research....don't cha think?)

In addition, as far as the Nobel Prize and the Right Livelihood Award, anyone can be nominated. I can nominated myself. Or my husband, child, neighbor I don't even like or heck-I could nominate my dog. A nomination is no more than a letter written to the committee-of either award-saying I think you should give this person (or dog) the award because _____________. 

Lastly, the nominations for the Nobel Prize each year are kept sealed for 50 years, and nominees are never informed if they were even considered for the prize. So unless these sites have some serious contact with the prize committee, I have a hard time understanding how they confirmed this information. But then, I guess so do they-since depending on where you go it is 6 or 7!

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