The Inquiring Minds Program

Online Newsletter for Inquiring Minds

Stop, Look, Listen - Cancer Crime

By Diane Swanson

It's easy to imagine cancer victims desperate enough to try any kind of treatment. But it's hard to see them taken for a ride--and thousands of dollars. This year, two Canadians were charged with doing just that. They each face 10 counts of making false or misleading statements about their so-called cancer therapy and one count of defrauding people of their money.

For approximately seven years, the Canadians had advertised a cancer treatment worldwide. Patients would place their bodies through thick rings that supposedly sensed the sounds of cancer cells. Then the rings would "kill" those cells with doses of weak magnetic energy. In total, more than 850 people received Zoetron Therapy (Cell Specific Cancer Therapy), as it was called. The fee per person? US$15,000 to $20,000.

Could you have saved yourself or someone you know from buying into Zoetron Therapy? You might have--if you'd thought skeptically about it. For starters, you could have looked for any independent scientific evidence that weak magnetic energy actually kills cancer cells.

You also could have questioned the research that Zoetron therapists reported. One of their studies focused on only 50 patients--not much of a sample--and, among other things, it failed to state if any of the patients had received conventional medical treatment as well. Nor did this research report indicate if any of the patients were still alive.

Another of Zoetron Therapy's own studies compared cancer patients who had received its magnetic treatment with those who had not. Sounds good, but remember that solid science calls for a comparison of similar patients. In fact, the Zoetron research compared its patients only with descriptions of patients that were written up in a textbook. The researchers couldn't possibly have known if the subjects were similar or not.

Asking how the research was done could have helped you form your own conclusions about Zoetron Therapy. So remember: always be skeptical about claims for "breakthrough" treatments and cures. If you stop to think critically about them, look closely at the research, and listen to objective scientific authorities, you'll be better equipped to sidestep fraud.

About the Author

Diane Swanson's many books for young readers include Nibbling on Einstein's Brain: The Good, the Bad & the Bogus in Science as well as Turn It Loose: The Scientist in Absolutely Everybody. See


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