Monday 16 December 2019

Noel Edmonds criticised for 'nonsense' cancer comments

Noel Edmonds appearing on This Morning
Noel Edmonds appearing on This Morning

"Nonsense" comments by game show host Noel Edmonds have been slammed by scientists.

Experts have said that Edmonds' suggestions that a cancer sufferer's ill-health was caused by "negative energy" were "claptrap".

The Deal Or No Deal star has come under fire after claiming that an electromagnetic pulse machine, EMPpad, "tackles cancer".

When a cancer sufferer questioned 67-year-old Edmonds about his comments on Twitter, he responded: "Scientific fact-disease is caused by negative energy. Is it possible your ill health is caused by your negative attitude? #explore".

Reacting to the comments, Jim Al-Khalili, professor of physics at the University of Surrey, said: "Britain leads the world in many areas of health and medical research and is making remarkable advances in understanding and tackling the horrors of cancer, so when a celebrity comes out with such nonsense it's laughable, sad and dangerous in equal measure.

"I'd understand it if we were living in the 12th century rather than the 21st, but there really is no excuse for such claptrap in the modern world. What is really sad is that the scientific community have to confront such ludicrous claims and explain why they are nonsense rather than simply ignoring them."

Frank Close, professor of theoretical physics at the University of Oxford, said: "The Catch-22 is that science cannot prove a negative. With that caveat out of the way: the claim is bunk. It is an example of the modern cult of celebrity. If anyone else made such baseless remarks they would be rightly ignored. 'Negative energy' means whatever you want it to mean, it certainly has no scientific basis in the context that Mr Edmonds appears to be using it."

Edmonds, who suffered from prostate cancer, claimed that the £2,315 device "slows ageing, reduces pain, lifts depression and stress and tackles cancer".

But the machine's manufacturers have said that they did not agree with comments made by the celebrity "in any shape or form".

Appearing on ITV's This Morning, Edmonds said that pulsed electromagnetism "has a role to play in tackling cancer".

Host Holly Willoughby asked if he would ask a child if their cancer was caused by negative energy.

He replied: "I think you're completely missing the point here. The point here is that when I found out I had prostate cancer, I went out there and started to ask as many questions as possible. I changed my diet, I exercised in a different way ... I then had my tumour destroyed by sound waves, proving yet again energy is at the heart of this issue."

He continued: "I was, I thought, very, very healthy. I know why I got my cancer: because I had gone through a very stressful, very negative period in my life."

Co-host Phillip Schofield asked: "The stress in your life gave you prostate cancer?"

He replied: "Yes, because the definition of stress is negative energy. It didn't just decide to manifest itself, there was cause.

"You have cancer in you, we all have it. Something triggers it, I don't believe what you say or think triggers it, but outside forces trigger it ... All I want to encourage is: Get the information."

Edmonds said his father Dudley, who died of prostate cancer in 1990, died of "ignorance" as he urged people to seek a second opinion and not accept "convention" on diagnosis.

He said: "We don't understand energy, that's why we have quantum physics and a bunch of people in CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) trying to understand it.

"The medical profession can't even define the exact definition of health, but I'm encouraging people - please don't do what my father did and die of ignorance.

"I could have gone down the same route. I believe pulsed electromagnetism has a role to play in tackling cancer and I will always believe that."

Adrienne Betteley, interim head of health and social care at Macmillan Cancer Support, urged people to contact the charity if any comments had made them confused about the best treatments for prostate cancer.

She said: " It's really important that people with cancer are able to have conversations with trusted healthcare professionals before making a decision about the type of treatment so that they can make an informed decision and discuss any potential side effects."

"If anyone is confused or worried about comments made today, or would particularly like more information about treatment for prostate cancer we'd urge them to consult a trusted professional or get in touch with Macmillan on 0808 808 00 00 or visit our website."

Prof Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor at the University of Exeter and co-author of the book Trick Or Treatment? Alternative Medicine On Trial, said: "The reason why most of us put 'negative energy' in inverted commas is simple: it is a pure figment of the imagination of fantasists.

"That would not be so bad except that, as we see, some VIPs seem to take this nonsense seriously. The result might be that some desperate patients believe them, and choose the nonsense over the best that real medicine has to offer. And that could hasten deaths."

Co-author of the book, Dr Simon Singh, added: "When people are seriously ill, the last thing they need is ill-informed celebrities promoting the latest miracle gadget. Sadly, Noel Edmonds and his particular favourite device are just the tip of the iceberg - some celebrities do act responsibly when talking about health, but many others make pseudoscientific claims and put patients at risk."

Professor John Gribben, chair of medical oncology at Queen Mary University of London, added: "This is complete gibberish and undermines all the good work everyone does with evidence-based medicine and targeted approaches. There is no justification whatsoever for these types of claims."

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