“I guess I will see what my iridologist thinks.”
With this verbal equivalent of a sucker punch, my patient reduced 15 years of medical training to a duel between medicine and quackery.
The young woman had worsening symptoms from an ignored cancer and now, neared a complication that worried the surgeon who wished to avoid an emergency. I introduced myself and carefully described what lay ahead: some challenging months for a high chance of cure. She asked a lot of questions and I answered them all. Then she closed her notebook and with it, her mind to medical advice. A year later, she came to hospice to die.
Iridologists purport that colour changes in the iris detect underlying disease. It has zero scientific basis in cancer management, yet it doesn’t stop patients from falling prey to disinformation about this and other alternative therapies. Indeed, the more outlandish the suggestion, the greater its attraction.
I recalled the…