From COVID care to cancer, there’s a pattern in Danielle Smith’s ‘alternative’ medical thoughts

It’s not a candidate’s ideal day on the campaign trail to post a video that goes out of its way to assert that, no, you didn’t intend to smear cancer patients and survivors. in your video from a few days ago.

Danielle Smith, who appears to be leading the race to become leader of the United Conservative Party and then premier of Alberta in October, stepped into dubious factual obscurity during a lengthy campaign video chat with a naturopath about the fact that the cancer is preventable and « entirely under your control » until the disease reaches stage 4.

Outrage ensued from the NDP (« cruel and evil », said Rachel Notley) and rivals in the UCP leadership (« irresponsible » – Travis Toews, « hurtful » – Brian Jean), as well than doctors practitioners and those who have Survived cancer or lost relatives to her.

When Smith tried to clarify her comments, she didn’t push them back; instead, she reiterated that “the first three stages of cancer are more controllable in terms of the comprehensive care available to a patient,” and insisted that traditional medicine and naturopathy were in agreement on this point. .

We can dissect those comments shortly, but do you know what is clearly more preventable? Getting into this delicate situation by injecting alternative or contrary medical arguments into a political discussion.

But so is the course with Smith, going back a few years.

What did she say ? – A retrospective

Her Twitter feed was completely under her control at the start of the COVID pandemic, when she used a single study and something she had read on a blog to proclaim that « hydroxychloroquine cures 100% of coronavirus patients within six days of treatment ». It would be later proven enough Wrong. The bosses of his AM radio show took action, and Smith apologized and deleted that tweet.

Smith then gained more control over his own messaging by quitting the Global News radio show. On an online podcast, she also gave long aeration to doctors, she reported that she was not allowed to house in her mainstream program – men who had great doubts about the science of COVID, including one who called him « the greatest hoax ever perpetrated. » She would also have lawyer for wider use of ivermectin as a coronavirus treatment, though it remained unapproved and would later be discredited and demystified.

A patient prepares for radiation therapy at a hospital in Kitchener, Ontario. Oncologists treat cancer with radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery at different stages of the cancer, not just stage 4. (Provided by Grand River Hospital)

Her own apparent curiosity on the fringes of established medical science brought her here, long before Smith was in a leadership race and cultivating a base of the same kind of pandemic rule skeptics and critics who rose up against the leadership of the UCP by Prime Minister Jason Kenney.

She now often speaks of the “vaccine choice movement,” which would include anti-vaccines and those who are reluctantly forced to get vaccinated due to mandates. At a rally in Calgary, she invited as her special guest Theo Fleury, the plotter former hockey player tell him crowd, the trauma of his sexual abuse was akin to the trauma of government pandemic rules.

Smith’s supporters applauded Fleury’s message and his own.

These positions deviate from the mainstream of Alberta opinion and expertise, as does its proposal for a « sovereignty law » to cease to apply in that province any federal law that a government led by Premier Smith considers it contrary to Alberta’s jurisdiction.

But Smith doesn’t need most Albertans to buy into his program. She just needs a small number, in the tens of thousands, to be UCP members by August 12 and vote for her.

The reason she ended up chatting for a full hour on video with a naturopath (including that bit about cancer being “controllable”) was in support of his campaign promise to give every Albertan a $300 health spending account.

Like the extra benefits offered by some employers, residents could spend it on areas the publicly funded system doesn’t cover, such as vision care, dental care, massage therapy — and (in some plans) naturopathy, a field that many conventional medical experts say suffer from lack of evidence and pseudoscience.

The podcast-style interview with former Calgary naturopath radio host Christine Perkins is largely promotional and complementary to her field. Smith even thinks at one point that the Alberta government needs, alongside a chief medical officer like Dr. Deena Hinshaw, a head of integrative medicine and a head of functional medicine. , of two « alternative » fields to traditional medicine.

Naturopathy has served to offer dubious alternatives for people who doubt mainstream health care and COVID science. Perkins tells Smith that her naturopathic regulatory college won’t allow her to discuss COVID-related issues, which the politician says is « concerning » her.

Sometimes the backlash follows political comments taken out of context. That doesn’t seem to be the case here.

Twenty minutes into their conversation, Perkins says naturopaths are better than traditional medicine practitioners at dealing with prevention, a point doctors who preach good diet, non-smoking and sunscreen ( as well as vaccines and face masks) would probably say. Without specifically discussing the stages of cancer, the naturopath says that she recognizes the need for chemotherapy or surgery for patients with advanced cancer, but wonders what happened in the body to allow this tumor to form and whether prevention was possible.

To which Smith says: « Once you’ve come in and you have stage 4 cancer, and there’s radiation, surgery and chemotherapy, it’s an incredibly expensive procedure – not just for the system , but also for the toll it takes on the body I think about everything that was built up before you get to stage 4 and this diagnosis, it’s entirely under your control and there’s something thing you can do about it that’s different. » Perkins responds, « Of course. »

In a video Smith posted to Twitter four days later, she attributes the backlash almost solely to the NDP, and also credits the statement she made to her interviewed naturopath:

Danielle Smith posts a video on July 25 to explain earlier remarks about early-stage cancer being “entirely within your control” for a patient. (Twitter/@daniellesmithAB)

« For over an hour I listened to Dr. Perkins on her medical opinion, and she is absolutely right. The first three stages of cancer are more controllable in terms of the comprehensive care available to a patient. But once when you get to stage four, that’s when the patient is less in control, and only traditional medicine, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and surgery and other difficult therapies are available as treatment. and western medicine agree on that and of course everyone knows that to be true, except apparently for the NPD.

Western medicine responds

The comments have both puzzled and infuriated cancer experts. There is consensus that some cancers are linked to behaviors such as smoking, diet and environmental exposure, but the relationship is not always linear and many cancers do not have clear root causes. .

The stage of a cancer refers to its spread in the body. The treatment recommended or required may vary more depending on the type of cancer than the stage, says Dr. Christina Kim, medical oncologist with CancerCare Manitoba and associate professor at the University of Manitoba.

« We use radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, or any combination of these in the early stage of the disease, and we can also use them in stage 4 of the disease, » Kim says. “It is wrong to think that early-stage cancers can be cured without these things.”

To Kim, Smith’s repeated remarks about patient control sounded awfully like blaming the patient.

« If you were talking to a patient who’s had cancer, I’m sure they’d tell you that having a cancer diagnosis is not something they have control over. »

In case it needs to be clarified, Danielle Smith is not a doctor. She is a former political opposition leader, business group advocate and former radio host who has spoken to many doctors, ranging from those who have touted life-saving conventional medicine to those who flouted her.

She is now running to lead Alberta’s ruling party and become premier, and to lend more legitimacy to alternative health care ideas — including her own — and those who promote them. This should excite some people, horrify others and potentially change the way 4.4 million Albertans live, get sick and die.


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