Cancer crowdfunding is ‘aiding’ cranks and conmen
CROWDFUNDING for alternative cancer treatments has opened up “new and lucrative revenue streams” for cranks, charlatans and conmen, experts have warned.
Figures published in The BMJ today show that such crowdfunding has soared in recent years, prompting fears that huge sums are being raised for treatments that do not work.
The medical journal is now calling for crowdfunding sites to vet cancer appeals to ensure patients are not being exploited, warning that while some experimental treatments have beneficial impacts, “many fear it has also opened up a new and lucrative revenue stream for cranks, charlatans, and conmen who prey on the vulnerable”.
The figures, collected by the Good Thinking Society, a charity that promotes scientific thinking, show that since 2012, appeals on UK crowdfunding sites for alternative cancer treatments have raised £8million, with the majority used to fund treatment abroad.
Justgiving’s own figures show more than 2,300 UK cancer-related appeals were set up on its site in 2016, a sevenfold rise on 2015.
Michael Marshall, the society’s project director, said: “We are concerned that so many patients are raising huge sums for treatments that are not evidence-based.”
Good Thinking now wants crowdfunding sites to “reject outright proposals that refer to specific drugs that have been discredited, extreme dietary regimes, intravenous vitamin C, alkaline therapy and other alternatives”.