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She was dying. There was nothing to lose in trying alternative cancer treatments, right? Wrong. The choice is not between scientific medicine that doesn’t work and alternative medicine that might work. Instead there is only scientific medicine that has been tested and everything else (“alternative” or “complementary” medicine) that has not been tested.

OCTOBER 2004 HOW PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY WORKS DOCTORS WHO ADMINISTER photodynamic therapy deliver photosensitive chemicals called porphyrins intravenously. These chemicals then collect in rapidly proliferating cells and, when exposed to light, initiate a cascade of molecular reactions that can destroy those cells and the tissues they compose. Some targets for the therapy include abnormal blood vessels in the retinas of people with age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of adult blindness), cancerous tumors and atherosclerotic plaques in coronary arteries.

In addition, recent research shows that Provera interferes with estrogen’s ability to prevent memory loss and dementia. “Estrogen is able to protect neurons against toxic assaults that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” notes Roberta Diaz Brinton, a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California. Using in vitro studies of several types of progestin, she found that Provera— and no other progestin— blocks the mechanisms that allow estrogen to fight the brain’s immune response to Alzheimer’s.

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