A young Chinese actress, Xu Ting, died on September 7 because she initially chose to shun ‘modern’ treatment and opted for traditional Chinese medication instead. Xu Ting, 25, was suffering from lymphoma. This form of cancer responds well to chemotherapy, as a first0line treatment.
Xu Ting’s death has triggered world-wide debate on the cons of using traditional medicine. According to photos widely circulated on social media after her death, Xu Ting’s body was swollen and bruised. This has cast doubt and highlighted the adverse impact traditional Chinese therapies can have over conventional medication.
The Chinese actor, had in July, declared that she would refrain from chemotherapy as she didn’t want to be tortured. “I want to enjoy every day of my life,” Xu said.
The actresses who acted in a comedy Lost In Macau, also said, “I won’t let chemotherapy torture me to the point where there’s no beauty and talent left”
Xu added that chemotherapy was very costly in China and she feared side effects of that treatment.
Alternatively, she chose treatments like cupping, acupuncture and ‘gua sha’ (it involves scraping skin with a hard instrument). Xu admitted that traditional Chinese was painful too.
Later in August, Xu Ting’s sister urged her to undergo chemotherapy as her health deteriorated. But she died shortly after her first few sessions.
The American Cancer Society states that there is no scientific evidence that cupping has any health benefits. But supporters of Chinese traditional therapies came out in support of her decision to abdicate conventional ones. Dr Feng Li of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing said, “While conventional therapies like radiology and chemotherapy are effective in reducing the tumour”, Chinese therapies were “effective in reducing after-effects like as vomiting and pain.”
He added Chinese therapies help repair the immune system and minimise chances of the tumour’s re-emergence.