Big Brother

A blog reader (thank you!) sent me some interesting info and links about warnings issued recently by the FDA (= Food and Drug Administration) to 23 companies and 2 individuals promoting various unproven cancer treatments that falsely claim to cure, treat or prevent cancer (see: I found this all so interesting and maddening at the same time that I wrote about ten pages of comments and denunciations…then did some drastic editing so I wouldn’t bore you all to tears.wink smiley What follows is what is left over from my drastic bit of chopping (so I hope it makes sense!).


The following link takes you to an FDA page titled “125 fake cancer cures consumers should avoid”: I became exceedingly concerned when I saw that curcumin is listed here, too.


Now, I agree that, even though curcumin inhibits Notch signalling (important for the well-being of cancer stem cells) etc., it will not “cure” cancer, not by itself at any rate. As far as myeloma is concerned, we have to eradicate the myeloma stem cells to achieve a cure, and that, I am afraid, is not in the immediate future.


So curcumin may not be a cure, but in my particular case (I could also cite dozens of other curcumin-taking cancer patients whose results have been even better than mine!) it has kept my myeloma inactive and stable for more than two years…not to speak of how much I have benefited from more than a few unexpected side effects: cholesterol decrease, no more infections, aches or pains, etc. etc. etc.!


No, I was not at all pleased to find curcumin mentioned on this page in the same breath as “fake.” this FDA page is titled “Beware of Online Cancer Fraud” and contains some valid suggestions, for instance how to protect ourselves from fraudulent cancer-curing online claims. Run in the opposite direction if you read sentences such as “treats all forms of cancer,” “skin cancers disappear” and so on. I too have come across some blatantly false, even absurd, cures for cancer online…and I for one would be very glad to see these types of websites disappear into the huge cyberspace rubbish bin.


However, scrolling down this particular FDA page to “Red flags,” I had a bone to pick with the warning against anything that claims to be “non-toxic.” Now, why should “non-toxic” be considered to be a “red flag” as a general rule if, and I repeat IF!, there are scientific studies to support such a claim for a certain substance?


Let’s take curcumin, for instance. Every single scientific study that I have read so far classifies curcumin as “non-toxic.” Therefore, based on the FDA red flag warning, I should avoid taking it… right? Does that make any sense? No, thought not. This business totally irritated me, and even the fact that Italy won against France last night didn’t mollify me.


A June 17 Bloomberg article (see provides an overview of the recent FDA activity. A few sentences in particular struck me: Regulators are concerned that patients could suffer side effects or forgo treatments that work, said Michael Levy, director of the FDA’s division of new drugs and labeling compliance. And, he continues, the FDA is very concerned that consumers will purchase these products from the Internet and use them instead of products that have been proven safe and effective. “Proven safe and effective”? Wait a sec. What the heck does that mean?


Hmmm, let’s see…if I got it right, according to the FDA it’s okay to take something that might harm or poison or even kill us if we fall within the small percentage of folks who have a reaction to an approved and allegedly “safe” FDA drug (shall I tell you the FDA-approved Vioxx story?), but it’s not okay to take something that has been used by folks for centuries and that has zero toxic side effects? I see…


In sum, I would like to state that I agree with the FDA that there are a lot of bogus online claims peddling miraculous cures for cancer. I have read some of ‘em myself. So if you come across a substance that sounds intriguing, please make sure it is backed up by scientific studies (the NCBI website can be very helpful in that sense:


At the same time, I am concerned that curcumin is mentioned on an FDA no-no list. I am afraid that that might scare people off, people who instead might benefit from taking curcumin. I hope that won’t happen.


It’s easy enough to sift through and separate the good information on Internet from the bad. If there is no scientific support for a product/substance, I don’t even take a second look at it. Period.


  1. Hi Margaret!

    Another great post, thanks!

    I think even the “independent” FDA is not as independent as it would like us to believe it is. Hence such a statement that irritated you as it does all of us I believe.

    And about curcumin – I guess not all branches offered on the internet are good, non-toxic or safe. You yourself witnessed the inefficacious of some testing them, after all. I know that is NOT the same as being bad, but still… Business is business, the taste of money is too sweet for some.

    Thank god we have you and your blog to learn from, to differ seeds from weeds. Thank you.

    Best wishes!


  2. One cannot trust everything the FDA says unfortunately, but it does serve a necessary purpose. I will still continue to take my curcumin along with the treatments my oncologist recommends.

  3. I also saw that page on the FDA site and was really annoyed at its unmeasured, misleading and illinformed tone.

    I feel it borders on a neglect of duty of care when you consider the mission statement on their website which says in part:

    “The FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines and foods more effective, safer, and more affordable; and helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their health.”

  4. Let’s not forget that about 50% of FDA employees are former pharmaceutical company employees, who use (abuse?) a revolving door to go back and forth between the FDA and the pharmaceutical company from whence they came. Imagine someone toiling over a new drug for several years. When it’s time to get FDA approval for that drug, that’s also the time for the pharma employee to apply for a job at the FDA, where he will work until the drug gets approved. This doesn’t happen every time, but it has happened before and will likely happen again.

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