I’ve lost count of the times of people saying “what’s the harm?” towards me when I tell them that you shouldn’t use alternative medicine. After all, if it doesn’t work it can’t harm you. Right?
I’ll skip the ethics of selling something that doesn’t work to people who are desperate. The financial consequences of spending money on expensive treatments that don’t work. Adverse effects of some strange concoction someone took or from a procedure they underwent. Nor will I go into how these treatments can undermine adherence to treatments or make them less effective.
No, what I’ll be talking about how it will make you more likely to die. The overal risk, if you don’t look at specific cancers, is that you’re twice as likely to die if you go for alternative medicine instead of conventional treatments. In the case of women who have breast cancer they have a five fold increased risk of dying. For patients with lung cancer it’s a twofold increase. Those with colon cancer also have a five fold increased risk. They’re dying from cancers that haven’t spread and should be treatable.
This is from the paper Use of Alternative Medicine for Cancer and Its Impact on Survival published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. It demonstrates perfectly what the harm is of alternative treatments. So please do not say that it cannot harm you if it doesn’t work. It certainly can if you use alternative medicine instead of the conventional treatments that do work.