Pat Pilkington Death, Cancer Epidemic, Treatment Changes Overdue

I am very sad to report the recent death, aged 84, of Pat Pilkington, much-loved co-founder of Bristol Cancer Help Centre Peace. Pat was inspirational and a pioneer who, with Penny Brohn, helped to transform the acceptability, respectability, and demonstration of efficacy of holistic cancer treatments. Her obituary on PH Online, a respectful tribute, doesn’t begin to do justice to her immense achievements which will continue to be felt among cancer patients for decades to come.

At the time our paths intersected in the early 1990s, I had recently returned to the UK from the USA, had written and had published books about organic germanium and vitamin C. A media debacle, reported and published by Martin Walker in Dirty Medicine, followed a series of ‘witch hunt’ reports intended to discredit the then most respected figures in Complementary and Alternative Medicine. These resulted not only in the ban of organic germanium supplements, a story in its right, but additionally in a television programme and research paper purporting to show that women with cancer attending Bristol Cancer Help Centre (BCHC) for holistic treatments, died earlier than women receiving conventional treatment.[1,2]

The ensuing two decades has unfolded, I was commissioned to create the Cancer and Nutrition Database for BCHC, following which I co-founded in 1994, with my partner Mike Howell, Positive Health magazine and PH Online –
Much water under the bridge – about 20 years, >3000 articles and research updates later, many about cancer, we are currently working on Issue 209, again with a focus upon novel, holistic cancer treatments, including Deuterium Depletion and Mistletoe Therapy and Hyperthermia.
What has changed in the intervening years? When I recently visited my family in Canada, my sister remarked to me “all my friends are getting cancer”; the same is the case with my elderly relatives. Here in the UK, via PH Online and in my ‘spare time’, I have becoming even more involved in attempting to publish information about cancer and its myriad treatment regimens, including nutrition and herbal medicine approaches, immunotherapy, oxygen therapies, information to help cancer patients better inform themselves of the multitude of available tests and treatment approaches.
I don’t feel that integration of cancer treatments into conventional oncology treatment is occurring quickly enough – even at all, and have discussed my understanding of the situation and in the most recent Editorial in issue 208. I am not the only frustrated critic of the inability of conventional oncology professionals to be able to integrate treatments other than the same old, same old regimens, but also acknowledge the hurdles faced regarding the draconian law, the weak evidence base and the lack of organized research about efficacy of more holistic approaches.

There is a deafening roar from the public supporting the adoption of more integrated cancer treatments. This drive, emanating from the information and evidence base available worldwide via the internet, and developments in genetic and molecular biological understanding of cancers, will ultimately prevail, resulting in improved, more humane and person-oriented treatment. That day cannot come soon enough in my view.

1.    Walker M. Dirty Medicine – Science, Big Business and the Assault on Natural Health Care. Slingshot Publications. 1993.
2. Bagenal FS, Easton DF, Harris E, Chilvers CED, McElwain TJ. Survival of patients with breast cancer attending Bristol Cancer Help Centre.Lancet 336: 606 –10. 1990.

Weight Loss >50 lbs – It’s Definitely my Attitude

I had been looking forward to viewing Jacques Peretti’s BBC2 TV documentary The Men Who Made Us Thin, as I appreciated how, in his previous series The Men Who Made Us Fat he examined the historical links between the agrichemical, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries and scientific research establishment going back >50 years. He interviewed many of the major nutrition scientists including giants such as John Yudkin who helped to demonstrate the relationship between sugar consumption, increases in tryglycerides, diabetes and weight gain. He also teased out the reasons for fructose becoming such a ubiquitous ingredient in many foodstuffs.

In the documentary The Men Who Made Us Thin, despite interviewing and documenting hugely important and interesting giants of the slimming and weight loss industry, including founders of Slim Fast and Weight Watchers, physicians including the now deceased Dr Robert Atkins and Dr Pierre Dukan, Peretti stuck to his often-repeated conclusion / verdict about the Diet Industry – that it is a con, doomed to failure.

According to Peretti, and he presented innacurately presented statistics to attempt to prove his thesis, dieters are destined to fail. People will initially lose weight if they engage in a program limiting their caloric intake. When, however their weight falls to their normal weight, or if they perceive themselves to be in ‘starvation’ mode, they will eat more to compensate and thereby gain weight. There was a very interesting research study from the 1940s with hundreds of dieters confined to a type of institution, their diet strictly controlled and their metabolisms monitored. They began to suffer psychologically and perceived themselves to be starving that some of them even attempted suicide.

However, Peretti argued that all diets are a con trick; that most people are destined to re-gain the weight they lost – and more – and that the diet is at fault. In a discussion with Daniel Abraham – Founder of Slim Fast and still going strong at age 90, Abraham hit this argument on the head, refuting Peretti’s charge that diets are a con and destined to fail, but stating that it is people’s motivation, their attitudes, their continuing to weigh themselves with scales and attempt to self-monitor their behaviour which will dictate success or failure, not a ‘diet’ substance of regimen per se.

I have lost >50 lbs – >3.5 stone – over the past 2 years. I hadn’t realized how much I weighed as I hadn’t weighed myself over several decades. Granted, my clothes size had gone from size 14 to 18, even 20; it was only when I got on a set of scales and realized what I weighed that I determined to lose weight.

I haven’t used any commercial regime or formula; I analyzed what I had been eating, decided to cut out cakes, muffins and sweets, limit my bread intake to 2 slices of wholemeal toast per day, halve my wine to 1/2 small glass per day and only have 1/2 glass of orange / mango juice in the morning. Other changes involved poached rather than fried egg in the morning. However, overall, I eat normally, still have vegetables, some potatoes, butter on my toast, but gone are the cakes, muffins and sandwiches I used to eat.

It took about 20 years to gain this weight, and it has been very slow to come off, perhaps 1-2 lbs per month; but the result is fantastic. I am now a size 14 and I really like what I see in the mirror.

Like many people, I have experienced diets and weight loss throughout my life and had been subjected to nasty comments during my adolescent and very sporty early life. I am obviously a highly disciplined individual and capable of deferring the transient pleasure of some naughty dessert or other calorific food by forward thinking that I will be upset when I next weigh myself and gain 1-2 lbs. And that I will have to spend weeks getting back to where I was before. So I don’t do it.

But I would never blame failing to lose weight on a faulty recipe or regimen – but on my own lack of control, will power and gluttony.