Amazon is criticised for showing documentaries promoting ‘dangerous’ and ‘unrealistic’ alternative cancer therapies on its Prime Video service
- An investigation by Wired magazine revealed documentaries showing quackery
- ‘Vulnerable’ cancer patients may be taken in by promises of cures, experts warn
- Amazon has removed the offending material which was called ‘dangerous’
Amazon has been criticised for showing documentaries promoting cancer quackery and unproven cures on its Prime Video service.
Experts accused the company of having ‘no idea’ what’s on its site and added dodgy documentaries could take advantage of vulnerable patients.
There are around 15million Prime subscribers in the UK with access to a library of films and TV shows, some of which may contain ‘dangerous’ information, experts warn.
Documentary films Second Opinion (pictured), Cancer Can Be Killed and Burzynski: Cancer Cure Cover Up, are all accused of promoting unproven cancer therapies which experts warn could be dangerous to ‘vulnerable’ patients
An investigation by Wired magazine found the first search result when someone searched ‘cancer’ was a film called Cancer Can Be Killed.
The documentary claims a woman was ‘cured’ of cancer in just 30 days after having an alternative treatment in Germany called laetrile.
Laetrile, also known as amygdalin or vitamin B17 – although it isn’t a vitamin – turns into cyanide in the body and is touted as a cancer cure.
But scientific research has found there is no evidence to recommend laetrile as a cancer treatment because the risks of taking it outweigh the benefits.
The US’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Commission banned the drug because it was ineffective and could cause cyanide poisoning, but it can still be bought online.
Laetrile was also the subject of another documentary, Second Opinion, which Amazon recommended to people who watched Cancer Can Be Killed.
Cancer Research UK’s head information nurse said promoting unproven or unapproved cancer ‘treatments’ was a danger to people’s health.
‘They can interfere with any ongoing treatment in some unknown way, making it less effective or causing patients harm,’ Martin Ledwick told Wired.
‘Plus they can be extremely expensive, leaving patients and their families in a difficult financial situation.
‘Many cancer patients will understandably cling to any hope that is offered to them, however unrealistic.
‘As a general rule, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’
In a review beneath one of the documentaries, Second Opinion, a man claiming to be a former cancer patient said he would ‘definitely’ take an experimental and banned therapy if he got the disease again. Second Opinion is no longer available to watch through a Prime subscription
GOOGLE CAUGHT PROMOTING ADVERTS FOR ‘DANGEROUS’ SKIN CANCER REMEDY
Google has been accused of promoting an unproven cancer cure which can burn through people’s skin.
Adverts for black salve, an ‘extremely dangerous’ paste which is applied to the skin, appeared in the sponsored section of the search engine, The Times revealed last month.
Touted as a treatment for warts, skin tags and even skin cancers, the controversial remedy works by burning through the flesh.
But it can leave customers mutilated, with permanent scars and patients may potentially avoid effective medicines in favour of the paste.
Health authorities in the US and Australia have warned people not to use the risky treatment, and the US banned its sale as a cancer cure, but it is still available online.
An expert at Cancer Research UK called it ‘extremely dangerous’.
Google said the offending adverts would be taken down and in a statement said it excludes adverts for ‘supplements with dangerous ingredients’.
Another documentary exposed by Wired was Burzynski: Cancer Cure Cover Up, about Stanislaw Burzynski, who promotes alternative cancer medicine.
This was the first result for people searching the phrase ‘cancer cure’ until Amazon removed the documentaries named in the investigation from its site.
Mr Burzynski claims drug regulators refuse to approve his antineoplaston therapy for financial reasons and the ‘cure’ has been suppressed for more than 40 years.
Antineoplastons are chemicals in the body which, Mr Burzynski said, are lacking in people with cancer and could be replaced by some made in a lab.
Experts, however, said there is no evidence this works, the FDA has not approved it as a treatment, and scientific studies are lacking.
A professor of cancer medicine at Imperial College London, Justin Stebbing, told The Times publicising unproven treatments is dangerous.
‘Cancer patients are vulnerable and it’s very important that there’s a good understanding of the risks and benefits of any treatments,’ Professor Stebbing said.
‘It is very dangerous to rely on anecdotes or hearsay about cancer cures when there is just no real clinical trial data to support these sorts of assertions.
‘To suggest products such as antineoplastons or laetrile cure cancer is farcical.’
Further recommendations made to Prime viewers included documentaries claiming HIV does not cause AIDS and that fluoride in water damages people’s health.
Amazon’s own guidelines say Prime doesn’t allow anything that ‘promotes, endorses, or incites the viewer to engage in dangerous or harmful acts’.
Renee DiResta, a media, misinformation and trust expert at internet company Mozilla, told Wired: ‘Amazon has no idea what kind of content is actually up on its site, not at all.
Amazon said it had removed all offending material named in the investigation.
MailOnline has contacted Amazon for comment.
It comes after it was revealed Amazon was selling books encouraging parents to feed their children toxic chemicals to cure their autism.
The books, since taken down, claimed autism – an incurable, congenital disorder – can be treated by drinking potentially toxic chemicals.
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