Americans Really Want to Believe in Alternative Therapies for Cancer

By Maggie Fox | NBC News |

Nearly 40 percent of Americans incorrectly believe that alternative medicine can cure cancer, a new study out Tuesday finds.

The survey finds that 38 percent of people who care for cancer patients believe in alternative therapies, and 22 percent of cancer patients or former cancer patients believe in such remedies.

That’s despite overwhelming evidence that such treatments not only do not work, but can shorten the lives of cancer patients.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology commissioned The Harris Poll to survey more than 4,800 people, including 1,000 cancer patients or cancer survivors. They found 39 percent of them believe alternative therapies alone — such as enzyme and oxygen therapy, diet, vitamins, and minerals — can cure cancer.

They’re wrong, the evidence shows.

“There’s no question that evidence-based cancer therapy is necessary to effectively treat the disease,” said ASCO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Schilsky.

“The vast majority of alternative therapies either haven’t been rigorously studied or haven’t been found to benefit patients. When patients are making critical decisions about which cancer treatments to undergo, it is always best to follow the evidence from well-designed research studies.”

Younger people were more likely to believe in “natural” or alternative therapies, the survey found. It showed that 47 percent of people aged 18-37 and 44 percent of people 38-53 believed in alternative medicine, compared to 21 percent of people 72 and older.

Read more at NBC News.