Efficacy of homeopathic therapy in cancer treatment

University of Exeter, Exeter, England, United Kingdom
European Journal of Cancer (Impact Factor: 4.82). 03/2006; 42(3):282-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejca.2005.09.025
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Many cancer patients use homeopathic approaches to increase their body's ability to fight cancer, improve their physical and emotional well-being, and alleviate their pain resulting from the disease or conventional treatments. Homeopathy is highly controversial as there is no plausible mode of action for these highly diluted remedies. The aim of this systematic review is to summarize and critically evaluate the efficacy of homeopathic remedies used as a sole or additional therapy in cancer care. We have searched the literature using the databases: Amed (from 1985); CINHAL (from 1982); EMBASE (from 1974); Medline (from 1951); and CAMbase (from 1998). Randomised and non-randomised controlled clinical trials including patients with cancer or past experience of cancer receiving single or combined homeopathic interventions were included. The methodological quality of the trials was assessed by Jadad score. Six studies met our inclusion criteria (five were randomised clinical trials and one was a non-randomised study); but the methodological quality was variable including some high standard studies. Our analysis of published literature on homeopathy found insufficient evidence to support clinical efficacy of homeopathic therapy in cancer care.

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Available from: Stefania Milazzo, Jun 27, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Recent discourses about the legitimacy of homeopathy have focused on its scientific plausibility, mechanism of action, and evidence base. These, frequently, conclude not only that homeopathy is scientifically baseless, but that it is "unethical." They have also diminished patients' perspectives, values, and preferences. We contend that these critics confuse epistemic questions with questions of ethics, misconstrue the moral status of homeopaths, and have an impoverished idea of ethics-one that fails to account either for the moral worth of care and of relationships or for the perspectives, values, and preferences of patients. Utilitarian critics, in particular, endeavour to present an objective evaluation-a type of moral calculus-quantifying the utilities and disutilities of homeopathy as a justification for the exclusion of homeopathy from research and health care. But these critiques are built upon a narrow formulation of evidence and care and a diminished episteme that excludes the values and preferences of researchers, homeopaths, and patients engaged in the practice of homeopathy. We suggest that homeopathy is ethical as it fulfils the needs and expectations of many patients; may be practiced safely and prudentially; values care and the virtues of the therapeutic relationship; and provides important benefits for patients.
    Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 07/2014; 12(2). DOI:10.1007/s11673-014-9563-y · 0.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Diese Querschnittsanalyse untersuchte vergleichend zwei onkologische Patientengruppen, von denen sich die eine in konventioneller Behandlung in einer onkologischen Schwerpunktpraxis (n=380) und die andere in einer komplementären klassisch homöopathischen Behandlung in einer homöopathischen Klinik (n=259) befand. Hierbei stellt sich die Frage, inwieweit sich die Patientengruppen bezüglich der soziodemographischen, krankheitsbezogenen und den lebensqualitätsbezogenen Variablen unterscheiden. Darüberhinaus sollten Matched-Pairs mit prognostisch vergleichbaren Patienten gebildet werden, welche die Grundlage für eine geplante vergleichende Längsschnittuntersuchung beider Gruppen bilden sollten. Bezüglich der soziodemographischen Daten ergab sich ein sehr unterschiedliches Bild: während die Geschlechterverteilung in beiden Gruppen relativ gleich war, waren die Patienten in der homöopathischen Gruppe durchschnittlich 6 Jahre jünger (54 vs 60 Jahre), hatten einen höheren Schulabschluss (Hauptschulabschluss: 16 % vs 48 %; Abitur/Fachhochschulreife: 54 % vs 25 %) und bekleideten eine höhere berufliche Position (Arbeiter/Angestellte: 48 % vs 75 %; Beamte: 17 % vs 6 %; Selbständige: 30 % vs 12 %). Patienten kamen im Durchschnitt zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt ihrer Erkrankung in homöopathische Behandlung gegenüber der konventionell onkologisch behandelten Gruppe. Bedingt dadurch war ein größerer Teil der homöopathischen Patienten bereits chemo- und strahlentherapeutisch vorbehandelt (50 % vs 33 % rsp. 32 % vs 19 %). 58 % der homöopathischen Patienten (vs 43 %) wendeten weitere komplementäre Verfahren an, 39 % (vs 18 %) befanden sich in psychotherapeutischer oder kunsttherapeutischer Behandlung. Gegenüber den ansonsten sehr unterschiedlichen Patientencharakteristika waren sämtliche Patienten-Angaben zur Lebensqualität (FACT-G und FACIT-SP), zur seelischen Belastung (HADS-D) und zur Beeinträchtigung durch Fatigue (MFI) nahezu identisch in beiden Patientengruppen. Beide Gruppen zeigten gegenüber den Normierungsdaten onkologischer Vergleichskollektive eine dezent (aber innerhalb der Standardabweichung liegend) beeinträchtigte Lebensqualität und eine erhöhte – im grenzwertig belasteten Bereich liegende – Beeinträchtigung durch Angst und Depression. Als Ergebnis des Matched-Pairs-Verfahrens beurteilten 3 Onkologen in einem abschließenden Konsensusverfahren insgesamt lediglich 11 Matched-Pairs für vergleichbar. Die Möglichkeiten einer vergleichenden Beurteilung des Therapieverlaufs im Rahmen der geplanten Längsschnitt-Untersuchung müssen somit sehr kritisch eingeschätzt werden. This cross section analysis examined comparatively two onkological groups of patients, from which the one in conventional treatment in a onkological practice (n=380) and the other one were in a complementary classically homeopathic treatment in a homeopathic hospital (n=259). Here the question arises, to what extent the groups of patients differ concerning the sociodemographic, illness-referred and the quality of life-referred variables. In addition matched-pairs analysis with prognostically comparable patients should be formed, who should form the basis for a planned comparative linear investigation of both groups. Concerning the sociodemographic data a very different picture resulted: while the sex distribution was relatively alike in both groups, the patients were on the average 6 years younger in the homeopathic group (54 vs 60 years), had a higher graduation (main graduation: 16% vs 48%; university-entrance diploma/specialized university-level graduation: 54 % vs 25%) and dressed a higher vocational position (worker/employee: 48% vs 75 %; An official: 17% vs 6%; Independent one: 30% vs 12%). Patients came on the average to a later time of their illness into homeopathic treatment in relation to the conventionally onkological treated group. Due to it a larger part of the homeopathic patients was already chemo and radiate-therapeutically pre-treated (50% vs 33% rsp. 32% vs 19%). 58% of the homeopathic patients (vs 43%) would use further complementary procedures, 39% (vs 18%) were in psychotherapeutic or art-therapeutic treatment. In relation to the otherwise very different patient characteristics all patient data were almost identical to the quality of life (FACT-G and FACIT FR), for mental load (HADS-D) and for impairment by Fatigue (MFI) in both groups of patients. Both groups showed one in relation to the standardisation data of onkologic comparison collectives dezent (however within the standard deviation lying) impaired quality of life and a increased - within the marginal loaded range lying - impairment by fear and depression. As result of the matched-pairs procedure the 3 oncologists in a concluding consensusprocedure judged altogether only 11 matched-pairs for being comparable. Those Possibilities of a comparative evaluation of the therapy process in the context of the planned linear investigation must be estimated thus very critically.