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Certain concepts of holistic health care are alien to the medical profession as a whole. One is 'cleansing' the body of toxins, another is the idea of a 'healing crisis' where symptoms get worse before they get better. Whilst both can have value in the right context it is vital to differentiate between healing phenomena and the symptoms of serious disease, such as cancer.

It is the experience of many clinicians (and I have read this in every single orthodox article on the subject of cancer) that occasionally patients will come to them saying they noticed an abnormality a while ago, but had been told that it was the result of toxins in the body, or had been given some other explanation. This is a dangerous situation as early diagnosis is a

life-saver. I must stress that if any lump or other untoward symptom is encountered, medical advice must be sought to rule out cancer. Professor Baum said in 1995 that he saw one person a month who delayed treatment while they tried other therapies, and that the other 3,000 consultant surgeons around the country probably had similar experiences.

Cancer is an area where alternative programmes and remedies abound. Some alternative therapies advocate rigorous dietary regimes, consisting of exclusively vegan, macrobiotic or fruit-and vegetable-based diets encompassing juices and enemas. Whilst these may have had merit for some individuals, there is insufficient evidence that they can stand alone as successful therapies for the majority of people. And by far the majority of people who can be helped with nutrition are not going to entertain such strict regimes, let alone disciplines which might advocate not using conventional treatments.

If cancer has been diagnosed, the optimum way forward for the majority of people, with our current state of knowledge, is to use the best that conventional medicine can offer and the best that nutritional therapy can offer, along with a smattering of 'what makes you feel good' therapies.



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