Australian Chiropractor Who Claimed Cancer Cure
Convicted in Landmark Case

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

In August 2016, in the Downing Centre Local Court, chiropractor Hance Limboro pleaded guilty to 13 charges filed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Limboro, who operates the Action Health Centre in Sydney, was convicted of unlawfully advertising and using testimonials. (Section 133(1)(a) of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law states that a health practitioner and/or provider of a regulated health service cannot advertise in a way that is false, misleading or deceptive, or is likely to be misleading or deceptive.)

Limboro argued that he had hired a search engine optimization company to increase traffic to the website for his clinic, Action Health Centre, and was unaware of the content of the ads on the Cancer Cure Sydney site. He also said he was ashamed and embarrassed. But the presiding magistrate rejected the suggestion that Limboro was not personally responsible, noting the website was registered under his wife's name [1].

In February 2017, the court fined Limboro AUS$29,500 and ordered him to pay AHPRA's legal costs. AHPRA's CEO Martin Fletcher said the outcome sent an important message to anyone who advertises a regulated health service:

Today's conviction is a landmark ruling. Our purpose, working closely with the Chiropractic Board of Australia, is to protect the public. This shows that we will take action and that people breaking the law will be held to account. Making false claims to treat serious illnesses through unproven methods is both unethical and illegal. In her ruling, Magistrate Viney said that while the practitioner personally may not have loaded the advertising onto the website in question, he could not deny responsibility. This is an important lesson for others who are advertising regulated health services. Today's outcome is a reminder to all of us as health consumers and patients that if an advertisement seems too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you ask your health practitioner what evidence they have to make these claims and if you're still unsure, seek a second opinion [2].

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Limboro‚Äč is the first person in the country to be prosecuted by the AHPRA for misleading advertising, which involved a series of lengthy ads on the Cancer Cure Sydney Web site. The ads—which linked to the website for Limboro's clinic—included claims that spinal adjustments could cure cancer because posture issues are "believed to be the root problem of all diseases and disorders, including cancer." The site also claimed that, "A natural cancer cure that most people choose nowadays is chiropractic treatment as it has no significant side effects and guarantees long-term relief." Another article on the site said chiropractic treatment was "worth a try" to treat brain tumors [2].

References

  1. NSW chiropractor who claimed cancer cure convicted in landmark case. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency news release, Feb 15, 2017.
  2. Gardiner S. Sydney chiropractor Hance Limboro fined $27,500 for cancer cure advertisements. The Sydney Morning Herald, Feb 165, 2017

This article was posted on February 20, 2017..

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