Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend
Drs. Oz& Roizen
Q: I have a bit of squamous cell skin cancer onmy face. I’m hoping that black salve will knock it out without my having to have surgery or radiation. My wife says I have to ask you first. So?— HANK F., LIVINGSTON, N. J.
A: Smart woman, your wife. Black salve is dangerous. While sellers claim it kills skin cancer cells and leaves healthy cells untouched, it actually erodes your skin, causing permanent scarring and disfigurement, often triggers serious infection and leaves cancer cells deep in the skin untouched.
The Food and Drug Administration recently issued an alert saying that it should not be used to treat any condition, especially skin cancer.
What is this menace? It is a salve, cream or paste containing sanguinarine, Sanguinaria canadensis, or bloodroot, alone or in combination with zinc chloride. The FDA says the ointment is sold as black salve, drawing salve, red salve, Cansema, bloodroot, Indian Herb, Hawk Dok Natural Salve, Black Drawing Ointment and other names.
Squamous cell cancer is the second most common form of skin cancer in the U. S., accounting for 15% of cases. Fortunately, it’s usually easily treated. Thekey is not to delay — especially by messing around with dangerous, unproved remedies.
While we’re on the subject, there are many bogus cancer cures available online, and the use of all of them simply postpones effective treatment. The FDA says signs that a so- called “cancer treatment” is useless at best and dangerous at worst are claims that the product:
— Treats all forms of cancer — Shrinks malignant tumors — Selectively kills cancer cells and tumors, leaving healthy cells intact
— Is more effective than chemotherapy
— Cures cancer
There are complementary treatments ( meditation, acupuncture, yoga, diet, exercise) that cancer specialists know help improve outcomes of treatment with proven medical therapies. So ask your doc about those, but avoid alternatives to proven care or you’ll risk making the outcome of your diagnosis far worse than it need be.