News Release

'You may have overstepped the mark' cancer expert warns Prince of Wales

An open letter to the Prince of Wales: with respect, your highness, you’ve got it wrong BMJ Volume 328, p 118

Peer-Reviewed Publication


In this week's BMJ, a leading breast cancer expert warns the Prince of Wales that he may have overstepped the mark with his public support for alternative medicine.

"Over the past 20 years I have treated thousands of patients with cancer," writes Michael Baum, Professor emeritus of surgery at University College London. "The power of my authority comes with a knowledge built on 40 years of study and 25 years of active involvement in cancer research."

"Your power and authority rest on an accident of birth. I don't begrudge you that authority, but I do beg you to exercise your power with extreme caution when advising patients with life threatening diseases to embrace unproven therapies."

He adds: "It is in the nature of your world to be surrounded by sycophants who constantly reinforce what they assume are your prejudices. Sir, they patronise you! Allow me this chastisement."

"I have much time for complementary therapy that offers improvements in quality of life or spiritual solace, providing that it is truly integrated with modern medicine. But I have no time at all for "alternative" therapy that places itself above the laws of evidence and practices in a metaphysical domain that harks back to the dark days of Galen."

"With respect your Highness, you've got it wrong."


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