Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

“Alternative” Is Not a Compliment

By Sue Ieraci

There is no such thing as “CAM”, only medicine, complementary therapy and scam.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The industry supplying “remedies” outside of conventional medicine is often referred to by the abbreviation “CAM” – complementary and alternative medicine. Within that title, however, resides a multitude of diverse therapies – some safe and potentially beneficial, others frankly deceptive and dangerous. It’s time to carve up the term “CAM”.

Medicine is therapy that works, complementary therapy can help well-being, and alternative medicine has not been shown to work. There is no “CAM” – only medicine, complementary therapy and scam.

Recent prominent media stories of fake cancer cures have brought this issue into sharp focus. “Alternative cancer treatments” are ones that can’t work, and don’t work. Packaging up the terms “complementary” with “alternative” can deceptively lead people to believe that the entire category is somehow embracing the “holistic” and “natural”, when the opposite is the case.

In actual fact, conventional cancer treatment is the most “holistic” service we have. Modern cancer institutes don’t just provide chemotherapy, radiation or surgery, but also counselling, peer support, psychology and psychiatry, social work and even fashion advice.

The Cancer Council of Australia lists evidence-based complementary therapies on its website. The practice of meditation or yoga, massage and even music therapy can enhance a person’s sense...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.