By: Myles Power Edited by: Hannah
In October last year, I wrote an article about a 78-year-old man named Allan Taylor who apparently cured his incurable cancer with a new diet. Back in 2011, Allan was told that he had colon cancer and had around 22cm of his colon removed. He also underwent chemotherapy, but was later told that he would no longer benefit from the treatment and that there was nothing more they could do for him. Faced with his own mortality, Allan decided to investigate alternative treatments out of desperation - as most of us would do in his situation. After researching some theories online, Allan walked into his local health store to ask for further advice. He was sold a new diet and several products that he later believed cured his incurable cancer. His story was quickly picked up by The Sunday Mirror, who then irresponsibly published it, without it containing a medical/scientific rebuttal of Allan's claims. The paper listed the products in Allan's diet, along with explanations for how he believed they worked. In my article I discussed some of these products and how their anti-cancer properties are not backed up by evidence. I also talked about how one of the products sold to this critically ill man will have been metabolised within his body to produce the highly toxic hydrogen cyanide.
The truth is that without having access to Allan's medical records, we have to take his word on his treatment, his diagnosis and his health now. I want to make a point here to say that in no way am I calling Allan a liar, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof and neither Allan or the writers of the newspaper article (Dominic Herbert and David Paul) have given any. What really got to me about this story was that Allan is from my home town (Middlesbrough) and so was the health store. I could not believe that a store under my nose was selling false hope to critically ill people by recommending quack medicines that not only have been shown to be ineffective, but are actually potentially harmful. This was the reason I decided to write my first article on the subject in the hope that people who read Allan's newspaper article would find mine and not waste their time with this bullshit.
Five months later and I had almost forgotten about Allan and his miracle cure, when a family member told me that she had seen the newspaper article posted on the front of a health shop window. I immediately jumped in the car to see it for myself and 20 minutes later I was stood outside the offending shop with a look of utter shock on my face. Apparently not content with selling quack products to a critical ill man, they were now advertising that they had done this and were encouraging other cancer patients, and those who know cancer patients, to come in and ask about their cure.
At this point I was practically frothing at the mouth and could feel the anger building up inside of me. I walked in and began to talk to a rather frail looking woman behind the counter. I introduced myself, explained what I do on the Internet and said that I had come to asked about the newspaper article in the window. I said that I have previously written about it and that I did not believe a word of it. The woman honestly looked surprised that someone would question Allan’s story and immediately began to pass the buck. She said that she was not the one to talk to Allan, but the woman who did would be working in a few days and that I was more than welcome to come back and ask her some questions.
Two days later I returned to the shop, seeing Allan’s newspaper article was still stuck to the glass window, advertising to the ill people of Middlesbrough. The same frail woman was behind the counter and as she looked up gave me a look as if to say, “Oh bollocks, I was hoping you wouldn’t come back.” I smiled, walked over and asked to talk to the woman who sold the cure to Allan. Five minutes later a rather young, attractive woman appeared from the back of the shop. I introduced myself, smiled and explain why I was there.
I began with what I thought would be easy questions about the products sold to Allan, going from left to right in the newspaper article, starting off with barley grass powder. The paper claimed that barley grass powder is “thought to raise the alkaline level of the blood, reducing acid. Cancer loves acid.” I asked where she had heard this information. She picked up a barley grass powder bag from the shelf and frantically started to read the information on the back. There was an awkward silence until I said that I thought I know where this theory comes from. I pulled out my copy of The pH miracle from my bag and began to talk about the book’s interesting theories on treating the sick. At this point I was finding it hard to get a response from either woman and I saw them for what they are… nine ’til five snake oil peddlers. They did not care about their job, nor did they really know what they were talking about. They didn’t even know the basics of the bullshit quack theories they were peddling. I was very disappointed and could see I was wasting my time, so I jumped to my final question. I asked whether, after listening to a scientist (myself) who had spent the past two days researching the claims made within the newspaper article and had found research that debunks ALL of them, they would take down the newspaper article from their shop window. The young woman quickly dismissed my request by saying something along the lines of, “people will try anything if they are desperate”. First of all, this did not answer my question and secondly, it showed me how morally bankrupt these people are. I was honestly shocked at how someone could say something so horrid. I tried again to convince them that having this newspaper article on their window was potentially dangerous and how it was giving false hope to ill people, but they were not budging. At this point I decided to leave before I lost my temper, but before I did, I asked how she was able to give advice to Allan when she clearly does not know what she is talking about. She told me that she had asked for help from a man named Gareth Zeal, who I later contacted and am planning to meet up with in the future to ask about the miracle cure.