I have a problem with CANCERactive. Nothing personal, it’s to do with the claims they make. On the face of it, as the evidence in the posts below shows, their main source of income is the sale of quack cancer “cures”, the advice they give is badly out of line with the scientific consensus, and they make greatly inflated claims of their and their founder’s importance.
- “Britain´s Number 1 holistic cancer charity” or “the UK’s number 1 cancer charity for evidence-based information on holistic cancer therapies” – these claims use the typical SCAM tactic of implying that medicine is not holistic. That is bullshit. Britain has a number of highly regarded cancer charities, all of which are holistic in that they give information on lifestyle support, health and wellness, treatment options and palliative care. They may be Britain’s number one cancer quackery charity, but even that is open to doubt and in any case I won’t challenge that claim until they make it.
- Chris Woollams is “The UK’s number 1 cancer researcher”. Absolute nonsense. PubMed shows zero publications by Woollams, no relevant hits naming Woollams, no hits for CANCERactive. This claim is simply unsupportable.
- The claim to give advice “based on the research that is available, interpreted in a balanced way“. This is provably false. Their page on [R:Gerson therapy] is largely uncritical, whereas the scientific consensus is that “[a]vailable scientific evidence does not support any claims that Gerson therapy can treat cancer” (CRUK). This is the fallacy of false balance, endemic in SCAM, which asserts that the scientific consensus should be “balanced” by an uncritical presentation – the same “balance” would give parity of platform to NASA and moon hoaxers. To place an elephant on one side of the scales and a feather on the other, and assert that the scales are level, is not balance in any meaningful sense of the word.
- The charity only spends about a third of its income on its charitable purpose, according to its returns to the Charity Commissioners. This is extremely low. Their costs, especially accountancy costs, also seem very high for a charity this size.
- Their finances are undoubtedly very curious. The charity prominently promotes a company whose shareholders are the charity’s founder and his cousin, until recently both the charity and the company were at the same address. It is acceptable for a charity to run a trading subsidiary, but that is not how this has been put together. Instead the charity is driving traffic to a company controlled by the charity’s founder through his own company registered in the British Virgin Islands through. To say that this is irregular is putting it mildly.
- The charity appears to be in violation of the Charities Act, which forbids using a charity for significant personal gain. Founder Chris Woollams appears to benefit form the charity as a platform promoting hio as an expert, on the back of which he appears to sustain an international public speaking career. Whether or not this is the sole source of promotion, the charity undoubtedly does promote Woollams in the most forceful terms – as “the UK’s number 1 cancer researcher”, “cancer guru” and so on.
- The charity also appears to be violating the Cancer Act, discussing products as cures for cancer and then selling the same products through off-the-page links to the company apparently controlled by Woollams. The links promote “products of choice” – a description which matches the largest single item in the charity’s income, leading to the inescapable conclusion that the charity’s main source of income is the sale of products advertised as curing or treating cancer. Which is illegal. Woollams has used the site’s blog as a platform to campaign against the cancer act.
- Finally, their response to discussion of some of these anomalies was to reach for a libel lawyer and issue threats against Professor Daid Colquhoun. Quite aside fomr the fact that a simple request for clarification would almost certainly have worked, use of libel law to stifle criticism has been a stable feature of quacks and charlatans in recent time – they are keeping some very bad company including the BCA, Matthias Rath and sundry others. A brief inspection of how those libel suits went for the plaintiffs (i.e. expensively and very publicly wrong) should have been enough of a clue that this was not a good idea.
Posts discussing CANCERactive
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