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Re: The bottom line: OPC works no matter how you look at it
happyhealthygal Views: 6,829
Published: 15 years ago
This is a reply to # 1,187,658

Re: The bottom line: OPC works no matter how you look at it

“To set the record straight, I never asked you not to comment further on his supplement or his trial. What I said was that I have a very large track record here at CureZone and lying is not part of it. I also said that likewise I have known Marc Swanepoel for years and have closely followed his work with oleander, HIV/AIDs and cancer. I know him to be completely honest and ethical. Given all that, I said that if you continued to doubt the truth of what I am posting then you would essentially be calling both myself and Mr. Swanepoel liars and in that case I would have nothing further to debate with you.”

Well, to me that is essentially the same thing as asking me not to comment on it. “If you have anything further to say about it, you’re calling me a liar!” which I feel was a sort of unfair point considering I never questioned your sincerity or honesty. In fact, over a whole lot of years of evaluating evidence (in various contexts), I don’t think I have ever called a person who I did not know personally “a liar” – things in the real world are just not usually that clear-cut. If the evidence weighs against a person’s claim, s/he may be “honestly mistaken, misinformed, misinterpreting, experiencing cognitive dissonance, etc.” I rarely jump to the moral judgment of “liar”, and it’s probably not productive to make accusations that cut off dialogue (such as accusing others of calling you a liar). To say that I am calling you a liar is putting words in my mouth that are not there.

I’m not actually interested in debating whether OPC herbal cancer cure works – I have no way of knowing whether OPC herbal cancer cure works (I have my intuitions, predictions, and opinions, based on what IS known [from scientific journals; I rarely make up my mind based on testimonials, no matter who the source is], but I’ll keep them to myself at this point, although I’ll eventually post them in response to animated star and others, since they have asked), because at this point, it is just speculation. Unless the evidence is overwhelming on a point [which it is not here – I really would just be making an educated guess without enough information], I rarely make statements on whether something works or not, but rather what the evidence shows. What I have no problem with discussing (some might call it “debating”; others might call it “correcting”) are misstatements on what the evidence actually IS. This is a separate question from whether a product actually works (which, in the context of alternative remedies, is often unknowable based on available evidence). However, the statements that individuals make in support of their products are often easily fact-checked. When they turn out to be misstatements (note that I do not say “lies”), this DOES call their credibility into question (it does not necessarily mean that they are liars; it may mean that they do not have a proper understanding of their subject matter, that they do not know how to properly conduct research, or have not been taught how to select reliable primary sources, etc., but whatever the reason, it questions the reliability of their conclusions. A person's conclusions are only as valid as the research techniques that produce them). The number of misstatements in Mr. Swanepoel’s dissertation is overwhelming, and represents such shoddy research techniques that I’m shocked that he was able to defend it and was awarded a doctorate for it from any legitimate university in the United States (I am not saying this to be mean or hyper-critical; I am simply being honest in saying that if an UNDERGRAD student turned this paper in to me, I would make them re-do it entirely [because I’m a softie and believe in second-chances as learning opportunities!], but it is the sort of work that probably deserves to fail. Whatever university he went to obviously failed him [which is likely not his fault] and his thesis advisor, as an educator, should be ashamed). He may be an honest man and sincere in his efforts, but this piece of work will not be taken seriously. Since neither Mr. Swanepoel nor the pharmaceutical company marketing the mix have any plans to conduct further studies, this dissertation is all that will be out there. Even if he has no plans on publishing it in a scientific journal, it is still out there for public eyes to see, and those who have interest in these things (like me) will dismiss the credibility of both the author and the compound because of the shoddy manner in which the research was performed. This could easily fixed with minimal effort (2-3 hours of cleaning up errors, sourcing, running appropriate tests, a few caveats) and this could give the study some of the credibility which, as things currently stand, it lacks entirely.

“Now, as to that study you cannot find about oncologists, maybe this will help:
In 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that in the previous year, the average oncologist had made $253,000 of which 75% was profit on chemotherapy drugs administered in his/her office. Yet, surveys of oncologists by the Los Angeles Times and the McGill Cancer Center in Montreal show that from 75% to 91% of ongologists would refuse chemotherapy as a treatment for themselves or their families. Why? Too toxic and not effective. Yet, 75% of cancer patients are urged to take chemo by their oncologists."

This WOULD help – if that primary source actually existed. As far as I can tell, it does not exist. It exists in numerous “secondary sources” (which I imagine all got it from the same book by Mr. Henderson, but he apparently made them up wholesale, because there was no such report in JAMA in 2002. You can try to find it in JAMA – you will not. Or at least I could not. This is why primary sources for data are so important (for a researcher who is willing to put their credibility on the line), because you can never rely on secondary sources to be accurate.

I could also not find a primary source on the McGill/LA Times Survey (do you have dates/references/links on those? They do not appear to exist either, from what I can tell. I could be wrong, but I suspect that this one was fabricated too [not only because I cannot find it, but because it doesn’t quite ‘make sense’ that a Californian newspaper who wanted to survey oncologists would team up with a cancer center in Canada rather than in the US, and/or vice-versa. Canadian doctors would not necessarily make the same decisions as American doctors! Why wouldn’t they just ask MDs in their own countries?])

“OK, let's cut to the chase here. If you and a boatful of passengers get swept into shark infested waters and a rescue boat comes by and begins throwing out lifelines with a life preserver (think OPC) on the end, and you see your fellow passengers grabbing hold and being pulled to safety while you are slowing drowning and on the verge of being gnawed by sharks (think HIV/AIDS), are you going to debate whether the life preserver has been properly tested or has the right warning label or will you grab hold and save your butt?”

Well, before saying “yes” to an analogy, the first thing I always have to ask is “does the analogy actually fit the situation?” (after all, that IS the core of the controversy! If we agreed on the appropriate analogy, I daresay, we would agree on the appropriate solution, then probably hug-hug-kiss-kiss, sing kumbaya around the campfire, roast a couple marshmallows...)

If you have your own lifeline (think antiviral drugs) which is mutually exclusive with the lifeline being offered to you (which it is by the way; turns out that the Sutherlandia is an almost complete inhibitor of the isoenzyme CYP450 3A4, which just about every protease inhibitor is metabolized by [you may want to pass this on to the manufacturer; I can get a link for the article that discovered this if they want it; a whole lot of drugs shouldn’t be mixed with it – 3A4 metabolism is common; some drugs are substrates, some are inhibitors, some are inducers, and Sutherlandia can mess up the blood levels of a whole bunch of them. I actually think this gives it a potential role as a ‘booster drug’, depending on its pharmacokinetics and toxicity, and how it compares in this respect to ritanovir, but this needs to be studied]. Also, you have seen many passengers saved by your lifeline, you have not seen a single passengers saved by the new lifeline, but have merely heard rumors which you’re not sure are true – you have no idea if the new lifeline floats or sinks, or if it floats, if it will float above water long enough to carry you to shore. You are not even sure that the lifeboat is really a lifeboat rather than a shark in disguise. Seems a bit risky to me (in fact, it seems that a life preserver is EXACTLY the sort of thing that you want to have tested before you try to float on it!)

I am not actually drowning, by the way. I’ve been quite healthy immunologically since 1996, and doing very well this year since a new, amazingly non-toxic med was added to my regimen.

“You wrote (regarding cancer): "Patients would take the toxic regimen if it offered a 1% chance of cure, an extra year of life, or 10% chance of symptom relief. " In which case I would think you would see the obvious logic in taking an essentially non-toxic herbal mix that has been taken by thousands of people and which has a 100% chance of reversing HIV/AIDS, providing relief from all symptoms and allowing one to live many healthy years.”

If there WERE an essentially non-toxic herbal mix that had been taken by thousands of people and had an 100% chance of reversing HIV/AIDS, providing relief from all symptoms and allowing one to live many healthy years, not only would I take it, everybody would! There is, however, no evidence that such a thing exists! Nobody can claim an 100% success rate because nobody has followed up on 100% of the people who have taken this substance, or even a small fraction of them (Mr. Swanepoel himself says that he has not had the time to track more than one of them – he states that he only knows what is going on with people who take the combination when they bother to call him and let him know. [“Unfortunately, I do not have time to keep track of all the patients. They just collect the mix from me and phone me from time to time to say that they are doing well”
] As any researcher knows, this leads to a serious problem with selection bias, because it is those who are doing well [i.e. those who have not died or switched to antivirals] who are most likely to call him and thank him), nobody has ANY clue what has happened to the thousands of people who have gotten the OPC herbal cancer cure since it started to be manufactured by the pharmaceutical company. To declare 100% success for this compound is just not supportable based on the information known, since the majority of patients have not been followed (for all anybody knows, many of them have died). The claims made about it simply cannot be known at this point, based on the information that has been collected. One may believe them to be true, but one may not know them to be true. It has also not been shown to provide relief from “all” symptoms (Mr. Swanepoel did not even define “symptoms” in his dissertation), and it even based on the limited information we have, it does have toxicity risks, some of which are severe (see below).

Yep, if I thought I was going to die or suffer severe side effects in the next year, I might hazard a risk on something with little or no evidence to back it up. I have no reason to think that this is the case. I actually think I have a decent shot of out-living most of the people on this site!

There are opportunity costs to changing course mid-stream. When treatment A and treatment B are mutually exclusive, one DOES have something to lose by trying Sutherlandia: the excellent shot at life offered by antiviral drugs. They may be more expensive, they may have more side effects (actually, they’re nothing today like they were a decade ago, they’re really quite tolerable. Those starting treatment today have NO clue like it was for us when HAART first came out, on horrific regimens like full-dose Norvir, ddI + d4T! Now THAT was hell!). With the hundreds of thousands or millions of people who’ve taken any given antiviral drug (with the exception of the newest salvage drugs, where there have only been thousands or tens of thousands who have taken them so far), you know where your chances stand with each one: for example, with a given mutation pattern, the drug combination of X, Y, Z may offer you a 90% chance of reaching an undetectable viral load, a 10% chance of having a rash the first week (that will go away), a 3% of neutropenia, etc. These things can be predicted, and decisions can be made accordingly. With herbals and other natural claims, there is no real data to support their long-term efficacy. I have sent out some feelers to my South African friends. I will see what they say. But even though I trust them more than people who I don’t really know, I still can’t consider their anecdotes to be “evidence”. Even the best anecdotes cannot qualify as data until they are collected in a systematic way.

It's also not quite accurate that the S/O mix is "essentially non-toxic" (for one thing, it hasn’t been studied very much, but it’s already known to produce very real risks of toxicity):

“Constituents. The principal constituents of S. frutescens purported to be active include L-canavanine, GABA, and D-pinitol. L-canavanine is a non-protein amino acid that is the L-2-amino-4-guanidinooxy structural analogue of L-arginine”
“L-canavanine may be associated with important toxicities including a systemic lupus erythematous syndrome [46]. The non-protein amino acid can be incorporated into protein in place of arginine and may, after long term usage, result in autoimmunity [47,48].

And yet, the site claims that it is helpful for autoimmune disease!

The site claims that its products are helpful for everyone with the following:
People with an impaired or suppressed immune system from any cause
People with a high occurrence of infectious diseases, including colds and flu
People with allergies or skin conditions, including skin cancer
People with various types of cancer
People undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation
People over the age of 40 when the immune system starts to slow down due to the natural aging process
People over the age of 40 when the immune system starts to slow down due to the natural aging process
People affected by extra free radical production from external sources such as UV radiation, electromagnetic fields, poor nutritional habits and toxic chemicals
People with chronic diseases such as diabetes, chronic inflammation and chronic fatigue
Professional and amateur athletes, or anyone who works out intensively
People under severe physical or emotional stress
People with arteriosclerosis. Sutherlandia OPC helps draw extra cholesterol from the blood, thus preventing further plaque formation on the arterial walls
People with autoimmune diseases. Sutherlandia OPC helps the system to maintain homeostasis
People with HIV/AIDS

These are the sorts of claims that make me nervous. I have no way of evaluating their truth, but there does not seem to be evidence for most of them, and it makes little sense to me that you could cure autoimmune disease (hyperactive, or rather, auto-reactive immune system that needs to be ‘turned off’ ), for example, in the same way that you could cure cancer (where you essentially need to turn ON the immune system, trigger auto-immunity to altered [mutated] SELF cells that proliferate by evading the immune response) by the mechanisms elucidated (e.g. the site mentions TNF-like activity; if this is true, this would make auto-immune disease, chronic inflammation, and HIV/AIDS significantly worse, not better. The LAST thing a person with chronic inflammation, an auto-immune disease, or a disease made worse by immune activation needs is more TNF!).

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