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Homeopathy and Breast Cancer

Posted 4/26/2017

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  Although I have a cousin, whom I adore, who is a longtime practitioner of homeopathy, I know little about it and share the usual skepticism. This is a really interesting, rather long, article about the value (NOT) of homeopathy in breast cancer, specifically in breast cancer surgery. Even if you don't want to read through the whole thing, including charts and graphs, look at the beginning and the end.

The author is Dr. David Gorski ,a surgical oncologist specializing in breast cancer surgery at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, and an Associate Professor Professor of Surgery and faculty member of the Graduate Program in Cancer Biology at Wayne State University. 

Homeopathy for breast cancer surgery? Isn’t it bad enough that the
patient has cancer and needs a mastectomy? 

I like to refer to homeopathy as The One Quackery To Rule Them All, so much so that I almost always call
it that within the first two paragraphs of any post I write about some tasty bit of homeopathy
pseudoscience. It’s also a wonderful tool for teaching critical thinking because it’s easy to explain and
people grasp intuitively why homeopathy is pseudoscience when it’s explained properly to them. Basically,
it’s because of homeopathy’s two laws. The first is the Law Similars, which states that, relieve a symptom,
you must use something that causes the symptom. It’s nonsense. There’s no science behind a general rule
like that. Then, there’s the second law, the law of infinitesimals, which states that a remedy gets stronger
with dilution. That’s why homeopaths serially dilute their remedies—with intense shaking between each
step of dilution (homeopaths claim that the shaking, or succussion, is absolutely essential)—to the point
where it is unlikely that there is a single molecule of the remedy left. For instance, a 30C homeopathic
remedy is a remedy that’s been diluted 100-fold thirty times, which results in a total dilution of 10-60.
Given that Avogadro’s number (the number of molecules in a mole of a chemical) is roughly 6 x 1023, that
means a 30C dilution is over 1036 more than Avogadro’s number. Most people think that homeopathy is
nothing more than herbal medicine and have a hard time believing it when I tell them what homeopathy
really is.

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