Death toll fears amid claims patients choose ‘natural remedies’ over conventional medicine

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THOUSANDS of people could be dying each year in Spain because they trust alternative medicine.

Between 1,210 and 1,460 deaths can be attributed to complementary and “natural remedies” according to Spain’s Association for Protection against Pseudo-Scientific Therapies (APETP).

Homeopathic products are available in most Spanish pharmacies and although universities are gradually withdrawing tuition, many still offer alternative medicine courses.

The situation is particularly serious in Madrid and Valencia, non-profitmaking APETP maintains, where at least 60 members of the Official Colleges of Physicians offer “dangerous pseudo-therapies,”

APETP members include patients affected by the effects of pseudo-medicine as well as doctors and medical researchers who welcomed the national government’s “war” on alternative therapies.

Last November Health and Science ministries presented ambitious plans which, if approved, will prevent both public and private health centres from offering treatments not backed by scientific evidence.

An APETP study linked the problem to the 18,000 centres in Spain that offer alternative medicine even to patients with cancer or other serious illnesses.

The association estimates that between 550 and 800 cancer patients have died in this country after abandoning or delaying conventional treatment, including chemotherapy, because they used pseudo-therapies.

The APETP also quoted a 2003 study which provided evidence that cancer patients who resorted to alternative medicine increased the possibility of dying by 14 per cent.

Fifteen years later another study found that this rose to 470 per cent in women who chose alternative medicine for breast cancer.

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