A study tracked cancer patients using crowdfunding to pay for homeopathy. The results are troubling
2019-01-05 from cbc.ca
It's not hard to imagine the impulse of newly diagnosed cancer patients to want to use every means available for their treatment or to avoid its debilitating side effects.
But what if one of those methods is rejected by our health-care system because, after years of study, there's no convincing evidence that it's of any help? Where the health-care system won't cover the cost, there's always crowdfunding to pay for it.
Health policy researchers from Simon Fraser University (SFU) and University of Alberta wanted to find out how often cancer patients or their supporters turned to the popular crowdfunding platform, GoFundMe, to raise money for complementary treatment that includes homeopathy — a 200-year-old belief system based on the non-scientific claims that water has memory and the more something is diluted the more powerful it becomes.
The analysis published in The Lancet identified 220 active fundraising campaigns in June 2018. Of these patients, 85 per cent were based in the U.S., 10 per cent in Canada and four per cent in Europe.
Almost half of cancer patients sought some kind of alternative treatment, the study found, but the researchers did not approve of this trend.
"There are clear risks associated with this trend, including concerns that desperate patients can be exploited or that the ... treatment could be harmful, or result in an adverse interaction with conventional therapy," the study said.
Of greater interest to the researchers was the motivation of cancer patients to seek out non-conventional treatment, which research has shown can actually reduce their chances of survival if it delays evidence-based cancer care.
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