My Malignant Melanoma

Seanty's experiences with Metastatic Malignant Melanoma. Part of Email us direct at

Wednesday, 6 May 2009



I see someone is promoting a dietary supplement called Biovitali Vitalcells on the What Now board with what looks to the unsophisticated eye like some reasonable scientific evidence. I guess the moderators will eventually get round to deleting this, but wouldn't it be better to have a look at how strong the evidence is?

So let's have a look at that evidence, which is:

1. The product has apparently been patented

2. It is supposedly endorsed by the MD Anderson Cancer Research Centre and the National Foundation for Cancer Research

3. Laboratory trials show it not just to stop cancer and cardiovascular illnesses in their tracks, but to prevent them occurring in the first place, and to extend life by 30%

Taking these claims one by one-

1. Patenting something does not mean that anyone has shown it to actually work. It is a commercial device to prevent anyone copying your work. Having a patent does not mean that something does what it claims. This is no evidence at all.

2. It seems not to be endorsed by either the MD Anderson Cancer Research Centre, or the National Foundation for Cancer Research as is claimed in the manufacturers literature. Both of the organisations in fact have advice against cancer patients and others taking non-prescribed food supplements on their websites, here and here. Neither of their websites make any mention of this product.

3. If the non-peer-reviewed in-house research on the manufacturer's website were true, and applicable to humans, cancer would be no more serious than the common cold. Every single one of the ingredients shows at least 80% tumour inhibition, and together they are even more powerful. But every one of these ingredients is a substance present in normal foodstuffs. How can this be?

Let's see what might be going on. Have a look at the table at the end on lifespan increase. 100% of these mice get cancer during their lives. That is because this strain of mouse has been specially bred to get skin cancer.

The experimenters made getting cancer a racing certainty in their antioxidant experiments by also injecting the mice with a powerful cancer-causing agent, and then constantly feeding them with something which helps cancer to grow.

They have not published their experimental protocol, but let us generously assume it was similar to that used in this real scientific research, despite us not being in a position to check whether they did things properly.

They fed the supplements along with the substance which helps cancer to grow, so that exposure to the promoter and the antioxidants was simultaneous.

Every single one of the ingredients showed incredible levels of tumour inhibition, far higher than that shown by the real treatment linked to previously. If I were a mouse genetically engineered to get a type of skin cancer who happened to have accidentally been injected with a potent carcinogen, and to be unfortunate enough to be on a drip of a drug which promoted the growth of cancer, it seems like this product would be well worth a look. Any other species, any other sort of cancer? Well, we'd have to look at the peer reviewed evidence.

Of course, this product is just a vitamin and antioxidant supplement, which contains the usual stuff, including a number of substances that in real people have been shown promote cancer when taken as a supplement, rather than inhibiting it, such as:

Beta Carotene
Vitamin A
Vitamin E
Vitamin C

Furthermore, the claims that taking combinations of these substances improved their effect is the opposite of what has been found in real studies. Combining beta carotene with vitamin A or vitamin E actually kills more people than either ingredient alone. Source.

There is therefore no chance whatever that the lab results shown in its website have any meaning for cancer patients.

Cancer Research UK advise as follows about all food supplements:

" We need a lot more research in this area before we will know for sure which vitamin and diet supplements may play a role in helping treat, prevent or control cancer. The best way to get the vitamins and minerals you need is through a balanced and varied diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Vitamin supplements don’t have the same benefits as naturally occurring vitamins in fruit and vegetables."

And of course we now know that for those receiving active treatment, antioxidants and vitamin C can block the effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Source.

Someone has suggested on the What Now site that explaining all of the above is unnecessary, and that the last thing the site needs are know-alls telling you all what to think. But here is that same person thanking me for educating them on this very subject after they gave bad advice to someone.

Maybe the site doesn't need know-alls, but know-somethings are useful in situations like this, aren't they? Failing that, the know-nothings could at least not give advice to desperate people in areas they know nothing about.

I see someone has started a new "natural treatment" thread on WN. I'll be interested to see if Gary's polite and sound advice is well-taken. History suggests no, but the site is under moderator lockdown whilst my complaint is being investigated, so who knows?

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While you and I differ in our approach (neither praise nor insult implied here), I believe that we have the same motives.

We both recognise that innovation comes from many and varied sources: from "the systematic" to "the punt". BUT (and it's a big but) until a product has undertaken objective, double-blind, statistically sound, and peer-reviewed trails AND proven to be effective then all claims for its efficacy should be treated with caution.

On first reading, I’ll give everyone the benefit of the doubt - they might be: naive, charlatans, or complete frauds. That’s not for me to judge. But until they bring sound evidence to support their claims (and I really hope they can) then I’ll assume they are worthless, and try to help stop them preying on the vulnerable.

As I say, our motives are the same. And I shall keep coming back here to make sure I’m not missing a trick.


“One step at a time”
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