Divine tobacco doctor responds, but what is she talking about?

My apologies must go to the Indonesian “scientist” Greta Zahar for failing to see her lengthy reply to my posts about her purported cancer treatment. Having read her website quite thoroughly I wasn’t inclined to revisit it, hence I missed her response.

Just to update, the good “doctor” thinks she can cure cancer through “traditional” oils and massage combined with the smoke of “divine cigarettes” fitted with nano-particles that she claims remove free radicals etc etc. She actually encourages smokers, non-smokers and cancer sufferers to smoke cigarettes. Cancer, she claims, is caused by amalgams in dental fillings, not smoking.

If it sounds weird it’s because it is. In the interests of fairness perhaps I should give some space here for her explanation. For expediency’s sake I’ll just quote two illuminating excerpts from her response, so you can make up your own mind. The rest of it is, frankly, beyond my ken.

Anti-smokers are asked to put aside their skepticism and try it out, first maybe by smoking the plants around them seeing the change of color etc.. The invention of this divine cigarette opens up a new occupation in agriculture by smoking the land with divine tobacco; even cows who are given the divine smoke improve the quality and quantity of their milk. Our current program, is to smoke damaged land which is planned for replanting, smoking seeds and fish in the ponds with Divine tobacco. Astonishingly those who work smoking the cigarette feel energized and happy.

The employment program will accelerate the cleansing of the Indonesian environment and change the nation to be wealthy in spirit and body as the traditional smoking of old times.

The cigarette advertisement on cigarette boxes is part of the “Nicotine War” program. It is indeed strange that our fathers who were heavy smokers who had many children were obviously not impotent, and we have not heard anybody having lung cancer in their villages, while those who suffer lung cancer are those who have money and amalgam fillings in their teeth.

Not happy just with curing cancer and autism (yes, she reckons her cigarettes treat that as well), Zahar claims her “method” also improves cow milk and restores degraded land. Wow!

As to why she hasn’t published her findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal and claimed the Nobel Prize which is certainly hers, she says:

It has been almost 13 years, doing the research of balur Divine with my own money, without the help of any foundation, but  only with faith in the Almighty , that the TRUTH would one day be revealed and accepted.

That’s an old take on the scientific method – trust in God. In fact, it’s what people did before they had a scientific method.

None of this would have warranted any comment if it hadn’t been for the intervention of the likes of Australian businessman Murray Clapham and the The Jakarta Post. Clapham trumpeted the curative qualities of Zahar’s techniques in an op-ed piece in the English-language daily, using an association with the Victor Chang Foundation (named after the late pioneering heart surgeon) to boost his questionable credentials. The Post then followed this up with a lengthy and positive feature entitled “Divine cigarettes used to treat cancer”.

The Australia-based Victor Chang Foundation, embarrassed by the stir Clapham had caused, quickly denied it endorsed his comments in any way. But others came to his defence, namely David Sangster, a retired chemist who is listed as an Honorary Research Associate in chemistry at the University of Sydney. (Zahar calls Sangster a “supervisor who I respect and love very much, who, all this time listens and mentors me”.)

Without a shred of scientific evidence to back it up, this kind of coverage of smoking and cancer issues in The Jakarta Post strikes me as more than just irresponsible. Indonesia, after all, is a country where smoking-related illnesses kill an estimated 400,000 people every year, and where rates of addiction, especially among the young, are on the rise. The industry remains almost completely unregulated by international standards, and packs of 20 cigarettes retail for around $1. 

There are no health benefits from smoking tobacco in any form.

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