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An email yesterday alerted me to YesToLife. This outfit seemed to me to be so dangerous that a word of warning is in the public interest.

Their own description says “YES TO LIFE is a new charitable initiative to open up a positive future for people with cancer in the UK by supporting an integrative* approach to cancer care”. That sounds sort of cuddly but lets look below the surface.

As so often, the funding seems to have been raised as the result of the death of an unfortunate 23 year old woman. Instead of putting the money into real research, yet another small charity was formed. My correspondent pointed out that “I came across them at St Pancras Station on Friday afternoon — they had a live DJ to draw in the crowd and were raising funds through bucket collections”. No doubt many people just see the word ‘cancer’ and put money in the bucket, without realising that their money will be spent on promoting nonsensical and ineffective treatments.

The supporters list.

The list of supporters tells you all you need to know, if you are familiar with the magic medicine business, though it might look quite convincing if you don’t know about the people. Sadly the list starts with some celebrities (I didn’t know before that Maureen Lipman was an enthusiast foir quackery -how very sad). But never mind the air-head celebrities. The more interesting supporters come later.

  • Dr Rosy Daniel of Health Creation is an old friend. After I complained about her promotion of some herbal concoction called Carctol to “heal cancer”, she was reprimanded by Trading Standards for breaching the Cancer Act 1939, and forced to change the claims (in my view she should have neen prosecuted but, luckily of her, Trading Standards people are notoriously ineffective). There is, of course not the slightest reason to to think that Carctol works (download Carctol: Profits before Patients?). Read also what Cancer Research UK say about carctol.
    Dr Daniel is also well known because ran a course that was, for one year, accredited by the University of Buckingham. But once the university became aware of the nonsense that was being taught on the course, they first removed her as the course director, and then removed accreditation from the course altogether. She then tried to run the course under the aegis of the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health, but even they turned her down. Now it is running as a private venture, and is being advertised by YesToLife.
  • Boo Armstrong, “Chief Executive of The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health and Founder and Executive Director GetWellUK”. The web site is out of date since the Prince’s Foundation shut its doors a year ago. She runs a private company, GetWellUK, that was responsible for a very poor study of alternative medicine in Northern Ireland. So she has a vested interest in promoting it. See Peter Hain and GetwellUK: pseudoscience and privatisation in Northern Ireland
  • Professor George Lewith. This is beginning to look like the usual list of suspects. I’ve had cause to write twice about the curious activities of Dr Lewith. See Lewith’s private clinic has curious standards, in 2006, and this year George Lewith’s private practice. Another case study. The make up your own mind about whether you’d trust him.
  • Dr Michael Dixon OBE, Chairman NHS Alliance and Medical Director The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health. Again the job description is a year out of date. You can read about Dr Dixon at Prince of Wales Foundation for magic medicine: spin on the meaning of ‘integrated’. He seems to be a well meaning man for whom no new-age idea is too barmy.

    In fact both Dixon and Lewith have moved to a reincarnation of the Prince’s Foundation known as the “College of Medicine” (actually it’s a couple of offices in Buckingham Street). See Don’t be deceived. The new “College of Medicine” is a fraud and delusion.
    It seems to me incomprehensible that people such as Sir Graeme Catto, Sir Cyril Chantler and Sir Muir Grey are willing to be associated with people who behave like this.
  • Charlotte Grobien, Managing Director, Give it Away. This seems to be a fund-raising organisation that has supported YesToLife. The lesson seems to be, never give money to fundraisers unless you know exactly where your money is going.

The Help Centre

YesToLife has a help centre. But beware, There is no medical person there. Just Traditional Chinese medicine (rather dangerous), acupuncture, osteopath and naturopathy (which means, roughly, do nothing and hope for the best).

Patrick Holford,

There can be no better indication of the standard of advice to be expected from YesToLife than the fact they are advertising a lecture by Holford, with the enticing title "Say no to cancer"."Through learning about the effects of diet and nutrition, people with cancer or at risk of developing cancer can be empowered to say Yes to Life and No to Cancer". Would that it were so easy. It will cost you £15.00.

Just in case there is still nobody who has heard of Holford, he is the media nutritionist who has an entire chapter devoted to him in Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science book, He has a whole website that has exposed his dubious advice, the excellent HolfordWatch. And you can find quite a lot about him on this blog. Try, for example, Patrick Holford’s CV: the strange case of Dr John Marks, and Response to a threatening letter from Mr Holford, or Holford’s untruthful and unsubstantiated advertisement

The treatments directory

Now we get to the truly scary bit of YesToLife, their treatment directory. Try searching for ‘cancer type’ and then "breast (metastatic)".. We find no mention of the advances in understanding of the genetics of breast cancer, nor ot real therapies like tamoxifen. What we find are four "alternative treatments".

  • Neuroimmunomodulation Therapy It sounds impressive until you learn that its only proponent is a an 82 year old Venezuelan doctor with a clinic in Caracas. Even YesToLife doesn’t pretend that there is any evidence that it works
  • Vitamin C Therapy The old chestnut cure-all Vitamin C Again even YesToLife don’t pretend there is any good evidence but it is still offered; treatment cost £3140.00 (what? Vitamin C is very cheap indeed)
  • Dendritic Cell Therapy Said by YesToLife to be "well-researched", though that isn’t so for breast cancer (metastatic). Although possibly not as barmy as the other things that are recommended, it is nevertheless not shown to be effective for any sort of cancer,
  • Gerson Therapy It is a sign of the extreme unreliability of advice given by YesToLife that they should still recommend anything as totally discredited as Gerson Therapy.Although YesToLife describes it as "well-researched" that is simply not true: there are no proper clinical trials. Cancer Research UK say

    "Overall, there is no evidence to show that Gerson therapy works as a cure for cancer. "
    "Available scientific evidence does not support claims that Gerson therapy can treat cancer. It is not approved for use in the United States. Gerson therapy can be very harmful to your health. Coffee enemas have been linked to serious infections, dehydration, constipation, colitis (inflammation of the colon), and electrolyte imbalances. In some people, particular aspects of the diet such as coffee enemas have been thought to be responsible for their death."

    Recommended reading: The (Not-So-)Beautiful (Un)Truth about the Gerson protocol and cancer quackery, by David Gorski (breast cancer surgeon, writing in Science-based Medicine.


The information supplied by YesToLife is more likely to kill you than to cure you.

The next time you see somebody collecting for a "cancer charity" be very careful before you give them money.


November 2012. It gets worse.

I had an email from someone who was distressed because a friend was trying to raise £15,000 to cover the cost of treatments recommended by YesToLife. The treatment is high-dose intravenous Vitamin C infusion. This is pure quackery. There isn’t the slightest reason to think it will affect the course of cancer, or the wellbeing of the patient. It is exploitation of the desperate. My heart sinks at the thought that a “charity” can be quite so wicked.

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36 Responses to A thoroughly dangerous charity: YesToLife promotes nonsense cancer treatments

  • neiltingley says:

    Depressing reading. A hefty disclaimer would appear to keep them out of trouble with trading standards or falling foul of the cancer act.


    Clearly the “charity” is a marketing vehicle for dodgy quackery. Sadly people will fall for it, and a friend of my Mum’s did (and died).

    WTF were they doing collecting money ? I’ll keep an eye open for this con-artists.

  • Mike Eslea says:

    Oh no, I’m sad to discover that Maureen Lipman is a woo-head. Her brother Geoffrey was my GP when I lived in Leeds, and there was no nonsense like that from him. Maybe he needs to have a word with his sister!

  • Steelclaws says:

    I certainly hope this “charity” will fold up soon.

    This bit from their page seriously angered me: “Access to these treatments could be absolutely vital to a patient who has reached the end of the line with orthodox treatment or to complement orthodox therapies where there is little certainty of efficacy.”

    I sincerely detest cancer quacks who charge big fees for useless treatments.

  • pberry says:

    There are few things more depressing to read than quackery dressed up with marketing bollocks. What is one supposed to make of the line “people with cancer or at risk of developing cancer”? That would be everyone then.

    What I object to is that it’s been deliberately worded to sound positive and inclusive but also to implicitly counter critiicsm. I imagine their view is that if you’re against it’s almost as if you would be saying yes to cancer.

  • GDP says:

    I find it rather depressing that it is the “usual suspects” who are supporting this charity. It suggests to me that there is a kind of personality which prefers to view the world in a credulous manner. If such people are always with us, how can we ever eradicate this sort of nonsense?

  • lecanardnoir says:

    One of the charity trustees is Jerome Burne -co-author with Patrick Holford of the book, Food Is Better Medicine Than Drugs.

    Another reason to run a mile from this charity.

  • ClaireOB says:

    Perhaps I’m being over-sensitive but even the name of the charity dismays me as I find it just a bit manipulative. Are they (not so) subtly implying that people who forgo their favoured treatments are somehow saying “no” to life?

  • lapin says:

    Medical adviser Dr Tom Gilhooly has form – he appears to be the subject of a current GMC complaint.. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12637191

  • […] breast cancer expresses a strong preference for Vitamin C or Gerson therapy, as  advocated by the YesToLife charity.  The fact of the matter is that the relationship can’t be equal when one party, usually (but […]

  • […] expresses a strong preference for Vitamin C or Gerson therapy, as  advocated by the YesToLife charity. The fact of the matter is that the relationship can’t be equal when one party, usually (but […]

  • […] Lewith is also one of the practitioners recommended by BSEM. He’s a director of the "College of Medicine". And he’s also an advisor to a charity called Yes To Life. (see A thoroughly dangerous charity: YesToLife promotes nonsense cancer treatments). […]

  • @richy has published an indignant objection to this post, in the wrong place. You can find it at http://www.dcscience.net/?cpage=4#comment-10133

    It’s followed by my attempt to reply calmly.

  • PhDelinquent says:

    Another clear breach of the 1939 Cancer Act?

    Prohibition of certain advertisements.E+W+S.(1)No person shall take any part in the publication of any advertisement— .
    (a)containing an offer to treat any person for cancer, or to prescribe any remedy therefor, or to give any advice in connection with the treatment thereof

  • esther68 says:

    I am very sad to hear how quick the people here are to critisise Yes to Life. Yes to Life certainly does not lead anyone astray as far as treatment is concerned, they purely provide support and suggest possibilities nothing that would ever be termed dangerous. The NHS also suggests possibilities because with cancer there are so many uncertainties. I have had personal experience with the Yes to Life service and am inspired by the work they do, which is mainly voluntary. It is honest, supportive, empowering and helpful. Please, please stop slandering people it says a lot more about you than it does about them.

  • @esther68
    I appreciate your sincerity, because both I and my wife have had cancer in the last three years. Luckily they were both caught early, so we hope that surgery has got rid of them without the need for radio or chemotherapy. Just the diagnosis is very scary, though death rates are improving all the time.

    It seems to me to be very wrong to offer false hopes by suggesting bizarre treatments (like Gerson for example) that are known not to work. And, if people were to choose that sort of ‘treatment’ over proper advice they might well die, so it is dangerous as well as cruel.

    I expect some people from Yes to Life might well be empathetic and perhaps help in practical ways. My own preference would be to get the treatment that was most likely to save my life (even of the oncologist were not very empathatic, though mine was).

    I’m afraid that a whole industry has grown up that offers false hope to cancer sufferers, and they are easy prey because they are mostly so scared.

  • Liz says:

    Consevatives have got blood on there hands big time the 1939 cancer act killed more brits than Hitler.
    Did you know theres always been cures for cancer?
    Did you know whenever someone found a cure the consevatives because of there vested interests with the pharmacuetical industry made false statements that they were dangerous or did’nt work because they and there pharmacuetical buddies could’nt make any money out of them and rather than let the NHS know and save lifes they did exactly the opposite and silenced anyone with a cure.
    The 1939 Cancer Act bans anyone from advertising a cure for cancer or trying to help anyone and give medicine for cancer and its still being used to silence people today (google 1939 cancer act)
    USA and Canada have the same problem whenever someone has a cure they are silenced.
    Why? because most of the cures come from nature and cannot be patented. (No money to be made by big pharma)
    did you know cannabis cures cancer?

    you thought the plant was banned becuase it was dangerous and made you high.
    Rena Caise had a cure back in 1938 the 1939 cancer act would have silenced that.

    B17 Vitamin found in Apricot kernalls kills cancer cells but they said it contains cyanide and dangerous but the Hunza people have a diet very high in apricots and kernalls and other foods with high B17 Vitamin content and live to 120 years and no cancer and are the healthiest people in the world! (google hunza people).
    Graviola plant cures cancer but there trying to say it causes parkinsons disease, which is funny cause everywhere its eaten don’t have parkinsons disease.
    Cancer treatment in the so called technological world has’nt changed in 50 years they use the slash and burn method with radio and chemopherapy both of which give cancer and kills more patients than it cures.
    Once they have banned the plant they no longer can be used to treat cancer by anyone included themselves meaning millions of peolple have died for no reason except corporate greed

    Stanislaw Burzynski found a cure 40 years ago. If the 1939 Cancer Act don’t make you sick this will

    you should watch the video see how low some of the highest institutes go to silence anyone with a cure and although its in USA
    we all got the same problem, Canada , USA , UK and probably many other countries to.

    hope you enjoyed the vids have a nice day

  • @Liz

    You seem to have fallen hook line and sinker for every myth in the book.

    Just for your information, I have no buddies in the pharmaceutical industry, and no axe to grind for them.

    It’s particularly offensive to see your defence of the Burzynski clinic. He’s a multi-millionaire who profits from the desperate by charging astronomical amounts of money for treatments that he has declined to test properly.

    For people like you, lack of evidence seems to be a sufficient reason to advocate a treatment. I find it baffling that you should support fraudsters while decrying those who are trying to improve treatments.

  • Liz says:

    @ David
    You missed the 3 video links otherwise you would’nt have made the ridiculous reply. Maybe your pc is not good enough to watch them (with sound).

  • @Liz
    I’m not sure what planet you are living on, but that Burzynski movie has been taken apart endless times on the web. he has produced no evidence whatsoever. Why you are so keen to support an uber-rich quack beats me.

    Likewise, apricot kernels (note spelling) have been around for many years and they don’t work. Once again, please read the evidence.

    All they do is lighten the wallets of the gullible (and result in their premature death).

  • Liz says:

    Anyone reading this post will know you did’nt watch the video’s or only took in a tiny percent of it’s content or can’t except the fact your wrong which is probably the correct reason. I guess you must be getting on a bit to brainwashed by the system.
    And you think apricot kernals or vitamin B17 does not kill cancer Cells eh David?
    then I give you this Vid

    maybe this info won’t save your life but it might save someone else’s

    have a nice day

  • @Liz

    “Anyone reading this post will know you did’nt [sp] watch the video’s [sp] or only took in a tiny percent of it’s [sp] content or can’t except [sp] the fact your [sp] wrong which is probably the correct reason.”

    I’m afraid your spelling is as deficient as your ability to assess evidence. If you can produce some proper evidence, from journals, not from YouTube sales videos, I’ll post it here. Otherwise the argument is fruitless.

  • Liz says:

    I see you haven’t looked at the vids.
    The internet and youtube and facebook and others are the journals of the present and future if you choose to ignore them then thats your problem.
    More important for people to know is Cannabis Cures Cancer heres some casestudy’s happening now 22/05/12
    Squamous cell carcinoma on the arm:

    Click to access 2ndpatient_casestudy_feb072012.pdf

    Squamous cell carcinoma on the skull.

    Click to access patientthree_may162012_update7-1.pdf

    rick simpson website the guy who discovered Cannabis Cures Cancer (Nothing for sale just info)
    If anyone wants to look at more real life people cured with cannabis
    search Youtube.com : Cannabis cures cancer
    also google search the same words.

    spelling mistakes nobody cares david the message is more important for all you know I could be a foreigner living in another country.
    have a nice day

  • “The internet and youtube and facebook and others are the journals of the present and future if you choose to ignore them then thats your problem.”

    At this point, I think I give up. You clearly haven’t the foggiest idea about how to distinguish between truth an falsehood.

    It should be self-evident that I don’t ignore the internet, having written 346 posts for this blog alone, in an attempt to explain how one can assess evidence. I have to admit that, in your cased, I have failed entirely.

  • kerledan says:

    Could Liz perhaps be Liz Efiong, as here: http://www.yestolife.org.uk/aboutus/ytwolteam.html ?

  • @kerledan
    That would certainly explain her eagerness to defend YesToLife, but I don’t know whether you guess is right.
    The link you give says

    ” Liz has an honours degree in Nutritional therapy and worked for two years with Patrick Holford as a researcher and writer. She is co-author of Say No to Cancer, published in 2010 and also worked as a researcher and editor for two of Patrick’s other books: Say No to Arthritis (2009) and Balance Your Hormones (2011).”

    I suppose working with Holford might explain her cavalier attitude to evidence. It must be disappointing to the university that gave her a BSc (Hons) to see the poor show she has made in defending quackery, not to mention the illiteracy of her comments.

  • kerledan says:

    This looks depressing. Top of the list of a curious mixture of people involved in this ‘cancer convention’ is Patricia Peat, ‘medical adviser to the Yes to Life charity’. The convention covers topics such as Natural Killer Cell activity, Essential dietary micro-nutrients and cancer, self-help initiatives, Naturopathic ways to support healthy breast tissue, Thermal Imaging,  Vitamin C, Disease from an evolutionary aspect, Chirokinetic Therapy (CKT), Alkaline forming diet, Hydrotherapy, Hydrogen peroxide.”


  • […] of alternative medicine cancer treatments and as such has attracted criticism from the likes of David Colqhuon and Andy Lewis.  The charity offers advice on a number of treatments that have either […]

  • […] Daly – previous Totnes speaker and trustee of the thoroughly dangerous cancer charity, Yes to […]

  • […] came across Robert Thomas because it was pointed out to me that he spoke at a meeting of YesToLife, an organisation that advocates all sorts of treatments that are unsupported by evidence. That […]

  • […] A thoroughly dangerous charity: YesToLife promotes nonsense cancer treatments David Colquhoun, DC’s Improbable Science […]

  • Jan.o says:

    I recently had a 28 year old friend (and mother of three small children) die from cancer. The treatment she received from the NHS (Whom I work for incidentaly) was amazingly bad. As far as I am concerned, and I know I am not alone here, she was killed by chemo and the last months of her life where miserable due to the damage caused by chemo. Chemo has a very low success rate and a fund was started to enable her to have alternative therapy but she insisted on completing her chemo treatment before starting this. The cancer spread from the original cervical cancer, which was ‘cured’ and therefore seen as a success, to almost her entire body. I will NEVER donate money to cancer research or back the cancer ‘industry’ in any way, it is a business out to make money and cares not about human life, big pharma = big lies= big money. I would never agree to chemo and always opt for alternantives, especially nutritional. I believe there is more than enough evidence to prove that hemp cures cancer along with many other natural remedies. I have had dealing with ‘Yes to Life’ and have nothing but praise for them.

  • @Jan.o

    I’m sorry to hear about your experience with the NHS.  You don’t say what they did that was so bad.  Both I and my wife have had cancer (fortunately early stage) and our experience could not have been better.  We were both seen very quickly and the necessary surgery could scarcely have been done sooner.  The necessary genome sequencing was done very quickly for my wife’s breast cancer and luckily the results were such that she didn’t need to have chemotherapy or radiotherapy.  Breast cancer is one of the areas in which the promise of personalised genetic medicine has been a big success (no doubt there will be more in time). That is something which we owe to cancer research.  If you refused it you would be (sorry) just crazy.

    We were lucky because both our cancers were early stage.  Once it has metastastized your chances are much lower.  One of the dangers of quack treatments is that it will delay diagnosis until it is too late. 

    You are quite right that the success rate with chemotherapy is still distressingly low,  I recommend that you read The Emperor of All Maladies, by  Siddhartha Mukherjee,  That gives a superb history of the efforts made by dedicated researchers to find better treatments for cancer.  It is frank about the failures as well as the successes.   It seems to me to be quite astonishingly arrogant to write off the efforts of all of these people as “the cancer industry”. 

    I have some sympathy with your attitude to Big Pharma. I have supported strongly the Alltrials movement.  It is skeptics like me, and, above all, Ben Goldacre, who have actually been doing something about it.  What you seem to forget is that the genuinely useful treatments, like tamoxifen, are products of that same big pharma.

    Cancer has proved to be a very difficult problem.  Real progress has been made in some areas, but in others there has been very little advance.  That is very sad, and I expect that progress will continue, slowly but surely.  Perhaps there will even be a big breakthrough. It could take another 20 years or another 100 years. Nobody knows.

    What can be said with certainty, though, is that no progress will be made if we give up and put ourselves in the hands of profiteering quacks.  You assert

    I believe there is more than enough evidence to prove that hemp cures cancer along with many other natural remedies”

    That, I fear, is totally untrue. It is a dangerous delusion that could kill you or anyone who believes you.  I think you will find it’s a great deal more complicated than that.

  • Guy Chapman says:

    To be fair, while the record of chemo as an adjuvant therapy is taking a bit of a hit, especially as radiotherapy gets better and surgery more accurate, it does remain highly effective as a primary therapy in Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with 5 year survival at around 85% and some patients now reaching the 40 th anniversary of first treatment.

    Quacks consistently pick the worst outcomes for a class of treatment and portray them as representative.

    When I get cancer I want one that can be nuked with surgery and radiotherapy. See to it, would you?

  • chas lankester says:

    I have recently recovered from what was deemed terminal cancer of the Liver. How did I do it? Gerson & IVVit C. No evidence of effectiveness is not the same as evidence of ineffectiveness. Perhaps you should look at why there is no enthusiasm for investigating therapies which will have little financial payoff. I remember having almost the exact argument with Drs in the 70s, when they would swear at me for suggesting that nutrition had an effect on heart disease & cancer. I hope you now agree with me that it does, but that would have made you a dangerous lunatic back then.

  • @chas lenkester

    I’m very glad that you recovered. But no cancer (if that’s what you had) kills 100% of its victims.  You were one of the lucky ones, but it’s most unlikely that it had anything to do with Gerson nonsense, nor IV Vitamin C.  There is certainly a financial payoff for the people who sell these things.  And of course they’d make much more money, if they’d just arrange a proper trial to test their claims.  The only reason that they don’t do that is because they must know that the chances of the test being passed are very low. Why run the risk of losing your income?  It’s really very easy. Just produce the evidence and you’d have the world at you feet.  

    The point that you make about diet is interesting. Please take a look at http://www.dcscience.net/?p=6300 It’s a great deal more complicated than you seem to think.  The WCRF report looked at a vast range of food and none had a large protective effect or a large harmful effect.  A few years ago it was fat that killed you. That proved to be wrong, and now the fashionable villain is sugar.  That’s probably wrong too.  It’s one of the great mysteries. Some aspect of lifestyle seems to influence cancer risks, but nobody knows what.

    I think you exaggerate what’s known.  When you read the original papers, and know enough to understand them, you realise how little is known for certain.  It makes me angry that quacks are so willing to prey on the desperate.  If they had any conscience they’d do some proper research.

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