Can­cer crowd­fund­ing is ‘aid­ing’ cranks and con­men

The Daily Telegraph - - News -

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”.

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