One of the ways companies make money on cancer is by using words that sound great but mean little.
“Detoxification” is one of them.
Let’s take a closer look at this. On the surface, getting rid of “toxins‘ is a good idea, right? “Toxins” bad, “detox” good, correct?
Well, sure, except nobody really knows what this means. Take the “toxic” effects of drugs. We have drugs like medications, illegal drugs, drugs in food and drink (alcohol, caffeine, others) and “natural drugs” made in the body (don’t get me started on the word “natural”!)
“Toxicity”, when used in this vague sense, could be organ injury from the drug directly, or it could be a harmful effect produced by the body itself in response to the drug, or it could be an allergic reaction, or it could be a withdrawal effect from an addictive substance…just to name a few.
So “detox”, related to drugs, is pretty hard to wrap one’s brain around. What does it mean? Does a “detox” supplement help with any or all of these?
Let’s look at another area that ups the confusion ante. The body makes a lot of “toxic” waste products during normal living. Many of those made end up passing out in urine and feces, a product of busy organs like the kidney and liver. The skin excretes some in sweat, and a wee bit are exhaled. Does a “detox” supplement insure that more of the body’s wastes will be excreted?
Normal metabolism creates a whole slew of “toxins” (bad, bad poisons made by Mother Nature). Free radicals and aldehydes are just two examples. Enzymes within the body handle these, with the help of substances found in the diet. This cluster of mechanisms would be another way to look at “detoxification”. Does a “detox” supplement increase these effects?
But wait! What about all those nasties from diet, water, and air? We have our usual slew to consider, including heavy metals (lead, mercury, and so on), aromatic hydrocarbons from fossil fuel combustion (car exhaust, factories, etc), nitrates and nitrites (preservatives that end up carcinogenic in the body), plastics and everything made out of them, pesticides, herbicides….an endless list. These are all “toxins”. So “detoxification” would point to reducing the harmful effects of some or all of these, am I correct?
Does a “detox” product actually address these things? There are so many aspects of the picture. We can decrease exposure. We can decreasing absorption of them once on the skin, or in the lungs or GI tract. We can boost the needed enzymes and other internal factors. We can increase the excretion in the urine or feces. Which is being addressed, and how?
What is the evidence? How is the claim shown to be true? Where is it shown that the promise of “detoxification” is fulfilled?
Here is my main problem with “detoxification”. You, the concerned dog lover, are in the cross-hairs of unethical companies advertising “detox” products all over the place. If you were to call the manufacturer for real data showing the product did what they claimed, and really analyze what you were sent, you would most often be disappointed.
Some of us are not trained in the finer points of critiquing information that is used to back up flimsy or false claims. And thereby, some are vulnerable to grifters out to make a quick buck.
I do not like businesses that take advantage of people in a crisis. The use of vague words that sound good, as if they contain measurable effects and definitions (but usually do not), is one of the ways innocent people experiencing pain get bamboozled.
So keep your eyes open, dog lovers.
Remember, the first step is always information gathering. The way to gather information is by questioning. Always question. You will be happy you did!
Best to all,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.