Another clean kill by sCAM

Not so long ago there was the death of Gloria Sam, whose eczema was treated with homoeopathy. Now I'm reading about this case:

Inquest focuses on alternative medicine: ..."Prominent Perth toxicologist Peter Dingle made a pact with his dying wife that if alternative medicine cured her rectal cancer, they would write a book about it, an inquest was told yesterday.

But Penelope Dingle died in August 2005 aged 45 and the inquest will examine whether the advice and treatment of homeopath Francine Scrayen contributed to her death. It will also investigate Mr Dingle's role. The alternative remedies included a diet with no meat or fatty foods and animal or dairy products. Advice from a specialist that Mrs Dingle needed an operation to remove a rectal tumour was not heeded for more than seven months. Mrs Dingle's older sister Toni Brown told the inquest in Perth that a friend of her sister had informed her of the book pact. The couple planned to write about how Mrs Dingle was saved by homeopathy, antioxidants, vitamins, protein drinks and a positive attitude. Ms Brown said friend Jennifer Kornberger claimed to have been sworn to secrecy by Mrs Dingle.

Ms Brown said she first became aware of her sister's cancer in August 2003. Mrs Dingle and her husband first told the family she was had another ailment and Ms Scrayen was treating her. "She seemed to be happy taking this treatment," she said. She said she and other relatives thought Mrs Dingle was in pain and losing weight. "What I saw was that Pen's condition was deteriorating, but Pen and Peter assured me that all was going well," she said. "We were told the homeopathies had to be used solely." In October 2003, Ms Brown and her sisters decided to get Mrs Dingle to seek conventional medical treatment. She said that when she arrived at her sister's Fremantle home on October 10, 2003, Mrs Dingle was in excruciating pain. But the couple did not want pain-killers and Ms Brown was unable to discuss conventional treatment...."

The West Australian is following the inquest, there are plenty of denials there that the people treating her had anything to do with the end result.

I'll be waiting with baited breath to see what the Australian Homoeopathic Association and other places like the Australian Register of Homeopaths does about this, they have codes of conduct that clearly have been breached. This includes right from the start, Penelope Dingle was being treated by the Homoeopath prior to the development of the rectal bleeding in 2001. She was "prescribed" homoeopathic remedies for this and it wasn't until 2003 that she was diagnosed with bowel cancer indicating there was delayed diagnosis. Here was a person displaying clear indicators of a potentially serious life threatening condition and she was never referred on to anyone that could really help her. The cancer was already quite advanced at stage 4 in 2003, but still considered treatable with a good chance of long term survival, but then surgery was refused in favour of homeopathy, diet and other alternative approaches. It's a standard problem that these people are working well out of their expertise, and often don't have any training at all in health care except in the most nominal sense that they studied homoeopathy.

Then there's Dr. Dingle, I feel for him to an extent. He was emotionally involved and that might mean that he made less than rational decisions. He's certainly well qualified from the look of it, teaches at Murdoch University and has made many appearances on television and radio, including on Campbell Live. However, he says he had nothing to do with his wife's treatment. He is reported to have been asked whether he'd analysed what she was taking, he stated "....he said he did not because he was an indoor air quality expert and unless the substances were thrown in the air and breathed in he would not know what to do with them." Odd. If you look you will find work on diet, nutrition and the "dangers" of products like shampoo and cosmetics as well on medicine. He's got a book "There is a cure for diabetes". I've got a cure too for Type II diabetes as well, it's lose weight but it's not worth a book as it is well known conventional advice. I'd say not one of those areas relate at all to air quality, and if the claim of a book being written on cancer is true then he was also operating well out of his expertise and was unable to see his limitations.

You can see an interview with him here on You Tube: Interview with Dr. Peter Dingle Interesting looking at it in the light of what's happened.

The people I really feel for though is his family and the physicians and nurses who tried so hard to persuade to receive treatment that could have saved her life. Even the medically trained doctors working in dubious areas like "nutritional medicine" that she consulted tried and failed to persuade her to have the surgery, recognising that she would not survive without the tumour being removed and that it would cause her much pain and suffering.

"A colorectal cancer specialist and a specialist nurse tried repeatedly but failed to persuade the wife of a prominent Perth toxicologist to have surgery that could have saved her life, an inquest was told yesterday...When asked to comment on a paper by Mrs Dingle's husband Peter suggesting that surgery and chemotherapy were ineffective in treating cancer, Professor Platell said: "I completely disagree with Dr Dingle's statement." He had contacted Mrs Dingle when she failed to keep an appointment and expressed concerns to her GP that she was delaying surgery.

So desperate was he to treat Mrs Dingle that he asked nurse Pam Thompson to speak to her. Ms Thompson said she had never before been asked by a senior consultant to persuade a patient to undergo life-saving treatment and that Professor Platell was devastated that someone so young was refusing surgery. Professor Platell said he was called to Fremantle Hospital in October 2003 for emergency surgery on Mrs Dingle, who "looked almost dead". She had been his only rectal cancer patient to refuse treatment....

This case is yet another example of the complete failure of these so-called alternative methods, and even worse how they steer people away from life saving medical treatment. The body count is stacking up.

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The title of the article says poor science, but it was actually anti-science that killed her. If something is truly an alternative, it has be at least as effective as other options and a viable choice to make. It's never the case with alternative therapies that promise everything and give nothing.

'Poor science' led to WA woman's death: A coroner has found that "misinformation and poor science" led to the death of a Perth woman who refused conventional treatment for her cancer. Penelope Dingle died in August 2005 after initially refusing surgery for rectal cancer, opting to be treated with alternative remedies instead.

The 45-year-old underwent emergency surgery in October 2003 to remove a life-threatening tumour but the cancer had already spread to other parts of her body. Delivering his findings on Friday, West Australian Coroner Alastair Hope said homeopath Francine Scrayen "was not a competent health professional" and had given "dangerous advice" to Mrs Dingle when treating her. He also said Mrs Dingle's husband Peter, a prominent toxicologist, was "a victim of his own misinformation" and had "no qualifications in health and wellness". Dr Dingle, who was a guest presenter on the ABC's Can We Help? program, had written papers arguing that chemotherapy was ineffective in treating cancer. The coroner also recommended that doctors William Barnes and Igor Tabrizian, who Mrs Dingle consulted, be referred to the Medical Board of WA over their conduct.
Mr Hope said Dr Barnes' suggestion Mrs Dingle use vitamin C and Carnivora to potentially stop the tumour growing and Dr Tabrizian's failure to examine her properly was enough reason to refer them to the board.

But the coroner said the decisions on treatment were ultimately made by Mrs Dingle herself. He said she conducted her own research and made her own decisions not to have chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery until it was too late because she was told she would be infertile after the treatment....

Update #2

Ah, and now we find out what the Homeopathic associations are doing about this. Nothing. It's up to the individual practitioner to decide whether or not they'll bother with codes of conduct. That's not registration, registration is meant to protect the public and ensure that the people that hold it adhere to standards. It's a heavily diluted form of registration that we are seeing here.

Homeopath acted outside code of conduct: The Australian Homeopathic Association says a Perth practitioner who told a patient she could cure cancer, was acting outside the industry's code of conduct.....The National President of the Australian Homeopathic Association Michelle Hookham says Mrs Scrayen is registered with her organisation.

"We do have codes of conduct and we are continually updating members and advising them of legal aspects," said Ms Hookham. "But at the end of the day it's up to practitioners to ensure they keep up to date and abide by these codes of conduct," she said.

Homeopathy Regulation, but only in dilute quantities?

In the interest of balance, Dr Dingle regularly writes articles for Nova magazine and, until this inquest, regularly appeared on radio and TV providing all sorts of health information.

As for homeopathically controlled restraint on making extravagant claims, I think this unlikely. I've covered the hypocrisy of homeopaths at length recently on my blog:

H is for Homeopathy and Hyprocrisy
H is for Homeopathy and Horror
H is for Homeopathy and Hocus-Pocus
H is for Homeopathy and Hoodwinking

In summary, homeopaths appear to be able to make whatever statements they wish, and are led in this habit by the WA President of the Australian Homeopathic Association.

Maybe I was being too kind

Maybe I was being too kind there.