Mysterious cancer treatment 'backed by the Virgin Mary' is plugged by major Catholic news agency
UK Telgraph Blog link
Posted By: Damian Thompson at Jan 24, 2009 at 10:25:00 [General]
"Zenit, the Rome-based Catholic news agency, has a reputation for accurate and careful reporting. So what on earth is it doing effectively advertising CellAdam, a "natural" cancer cure whose manufacturers claim to be working under the special protection of the Virgin Mary and believe it will earn a billion dollars?
The report, by the English Catholic journalist Edward Pentin, conspicuously fails to explain precisely how this tumour-reducing drug works, and repeats utterly meaningless "research findings". Counterknowledge.com has my full fisking of this appallingly credulous piece of journalism, which contains statements such as this:
Janossy [from the manufactuers, Biostemworld] says an ongoing 10-year study in Hungary is currently focusing on two groups of cancer sufferers. One group, who all went through chemotherapy, have since died, but those who have been taking CellAdam are still alive.
You don't have to be Ben Goldacre to work out just how dodgy that statement is. Apparently, an unnamed religious order is preparing to test this medicine, which Biostemworld wants to keep out of the hands of unscrupulous US pharmaceutical companies. Instead, profits will be ploughed back into Catholic charities. Hmm. Here's another quote:
CellAdam works by breaking down a shield that is preventing cancer cells from communicating with the body’s natural immune system, allowing it to kill the cancer cells. “It is putting back your immune system into balance,” explains Beke, “assisting your immune system to cure the cancer, enhancing your own system to be natural and letting a natural process take over a sick body.” Certain cells react better than others to the drug, such as breast, lung and large intestinal cancer cells, melanoma malignum and certain types of obstetric tumours. But even large tumours can be blocked by CellAdam, claims Biostemworld.
It’s [sic] best track record, however, is as a cancer prevention therapy. When used as a dietary supplement, it works by building up the body’s adult stem cell count. Stem cells can decrease by as much as 80% in the course of a lifetime, leading to signs of ageing, a weakened immune system, and diseases such as cancer. With CellAdam and its other nature-based drugs, Biostemworld claims it can restore that count by as much as 75%, exceeding a similar product in California by 50%. Not only do they prevent cancer, but other diseases too.
Again, what is Zenit playing at, reporting these claims so uncritically? Pentin even says that "perhaps the most persuasive proof of this drug’s effectiveness is the belief among those running Biostemworld that this discovery is Providential". That is proof?
I should add that Pentin writes authoritatively for The Catholic Herald on Vatican affairs, where he knows what he is talking about. I am at a loss to explain the disappearance of his critical faculties on this occasion. And I'm even more surprised that Zenit ran the piece."