Alternative Cancer Therapies: The Search for a Cure

This year, one million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer, and 500,000 will die of the dreaded disease. Roughly 2 out of 3 cancer patients will die of the illness (or related therapy) within 5 years of diagnosis. Despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent on research and treatment since 1971, the "war on cancer" is a colossal failure. Contradicting the medical industry's official optimism, its periodic announcements of cancer "breakthroughs," the cures are occuring mainly in the press releases.

The overall age-adjusted cancer death rate has actually risen by 5% since the "war on cancer" began. Two-time Nobel Prize-winner Linus Pauling wrote, "Everyone should know that the `war on cancer' is largely a fraud." In 1987 a federal government study reached this dismal verdict: "For a majority of the cancers we examined, the actual improvements have been small or...overstated."

To orthodox physicians, there are three basic ways to treat cancer: chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Each of these methods is invasive and potentially harmful. Each is enormously profitable for those providing the treatment.

- Chemotherapy, which uses toxic drugs, not only destroys cancer cells, it also attacks normal cells, including those of the bone marrow - the foundation of the immune system - and cells of the intestinal walls and hair follicles. Chemotherapy can drastically undermine the immune system's ability to fight off otherwise harmless bacteria. Many of the drugs used in chemotherapy are known carcinogens or cancer-causing agents. According to John Cairns, M.D., of Harvard University's School of Public Health, chemotherapy drugs objectively help no more than 5% of cancer patients. Overuse of chemotherapy - a $750-million-a-year racket in drug sales alone - is a national scandal.

- Radiation is useful in slowing down certain cancers but rarely cures. It often causes significant damage and dysfunction in organs and tissues. Like chemotherapy, radiation can severely weaken the patient's immune system.

- Surgery leaves cancerous cells behind in 25% to 60% of cancer patients, allowing malignant growth to recur, as numerous studies have shown. In disrupting the tumor, both surgery and surgical biopsy (a procedure to detect cancer in its early stages) may contribute to the spread of cancer.

Although conventional techniques have been successful in controlling early stages of cancer and relatively rare forms of the disease, these treatments do little to improve the outlook for most patients. On the contrary, "The possibility exists that treatment makes the average situation worse," according to the late Dr. Hardin Jones, then professor at the University of California, Berkeley. After analyzing cancer survival statistics for several decades, Jones concluded in 1975 that "patients are as well, or better off untreated." Jones' disturbing assessment has never been refuted. In fact, three studies by other researchers upheld his theory.

Alternative Approaches to Cancer

To mainstream doctors, cancer is viewed as a localized disease, to be treated by localized means. By cutting out, irradiating, or poisoning the tumor, the traditional doctor hopes to kill it and thus save the patient.

In opposition to this allopathic model based on aggressively attacking an "enemy" disease, alternative cancer therapies regard the tumor as a symptom. To the alternative practitioner, cancer is a systemic disease, one that affects the whole body. In holistic medicine, the body is a healthy, self-regulating organism which doesn't get sick unless something harmful is done to it. Instead of attacking the tumor, many alternative therapies aim at rebuilding the body's natural immunity and strengthening its own ability to destroy cancer cells.

Alternative cancer methods range from nutritional therapies to naturally occurring biological substances. Many practitioners combine a variety of methods to stimulate the immune system or various organs and promote healing. Some incorporate counseling, imagery, or other psychological techniques. Virtually all of the unorthodox therapies are nontoxic - they won't destroy healthy cells.

"We're not talking about quackery or snake-oil medicine here. There are serious, scientifically based approaches to cancer which do not happen to fit the mainstream model," says Michael Evers, executive director of Project CURE, a Washington, D.C.-based patient advocacy group. Project CURE's goal is to have nontoxic cancer therapies available to patients as part of standard medical practice. To this end, it lobbies Congress to support "a pluralistic medical system" in which competing options will be available to all consumers.

Most Americans, it seems, endorse this goal. A recent national poll revealed that half of the population believes alternative cancer clinics should be allowed to operate in the U.S., even if the treatments they use are opposed by the medical establishment. Fifty-two percent of those polled said they would seek such treatment themselves if they were diagnosed as having cancer (Associated Press/Media General Poll, Sept. 1985).

Today, the alternative cancer community exists as a network of clinics, physicians, support groups, referral services, health care rights organizations, and information centers. Yet, despite the public's tolerance and growing interest in unorthodox approaches, the medical establishment has waged a fierce campaign against such therapies, labeling them as "quackery" and, in many instances, attempting to shut down treatment centers. Doctors who support or practice alternative systems may be fired, demoted, ostracized, or lose their medical licenses.

Avoiding Stereotypes

Misconceptions about alternative cancer therapies abound. Here are the most common ones:

MYTH #1:All alternative cancer therapies are worthless.

This is the general position of the $80-billion-a-year "cancer industry." But the facts tell a different story. Patients of alternative practitioners - many of them diagnosed as terminal by orthodox M.D.s - are alive and well 5, 10, or even 15 years after diagnosis and treatment. Many more patients at least have been able to hold their cancers in remission. Some alternative physicians have amassed clinical evidence demonstrating safety and effectiveness, although these therapies have yet to be subjected to evaluations that would meet with official approval from the orthodoxy.

"We find patients alive today who would not be survivors if they had followed conventional treatments," observes Ruth Sackman, president of FACT (Foundation for Advancement in Cancer Therapy). "This is a phenomenon worthy of scientific investigation by the medical establishment."

Orthodox doctors sometimes claim that all nonconventional cures are due to spontaneous remissions or the after effects of conventional therapies. This argument is untrue. Spontaneous remission may reverse cancer in 1 out of 10,000 cases. Radiation, toxic chemotherapy, and surgery, as we have seen, can inflict severe damage on the body's immune response and normal functioning. Indeed, alternative therapists maintain that most of the people they treat have already undergone one or more of the conventional treatments, which wreaks havoc on the patient's bodies, making successful alternative treatment more difficult.

This is not to say that all nonconventional methods work. Some may be ineffective or fraudulent. "Some of the alternatives are unbelievably bad," notes Sackman. Patrick McGrady, Jr., founder of CANHELP, cautions: "Most alternative therapies are almost totally useless - just like the conventional therapies." Through periodic computer searches and feedback from thousands of cancer patients and doctors, CANHELP will prepare a customized report for patients seeking suitable alternative or conventional forms of treatment.

Statistics on success rates vary widely. What works for one individual or type of cancer may fail with another patient or a different malignancy. "In the case of terminal cancer, success ratios have ranged from 2 to 20%," claims holistic health advocate Gary Null, who spent years tracking down nontoxic practitioners' patients and investigating various clinics. Some sources cite higher success rates with particular nontoxic therapies. McGrady of CANHELP is quite skeptical of all such claims: "It would be good, if it were true." One thing is certain - there are no "magic bullets," no guarantees.

MYTH #2: Alternative cancer therapists are quacks - unscrupulous, unlicensed, untrained in medicine, out for a fast buck.

This stereotype may apply to some practitioners. Too often, though, it's used to paint with one brush all doctors and therapists who work beyond the limits of traditional medicine. The reality turns out to be just the opposite.

In a 1984 study in Annals of Internal Medicine, Barrie Cassileth, Ph.D. and fellow researchers found that 60% of the 138 alternative cancer practitioners they investigated were M.D.s. Of the remaining 40%, many held doctorates in biology, chemistry, or other related sciences and had extensive research backgrounds.

The American Cancer Society's compendium of "Unproven Methods in Cancer Management" is the cancer establishment's chief tool to label alternative therapies as "pseudoscience," charges Ralph Moss, author of the hardhitting exposé The Cancer Industry. "The ACS list resembles the list of `subversive' organizations that the House Un-American Activities Committee once kept. Just including a scientist's name on the list has the effect of damning that researcher's work and putting the tag of `quackery' on him," Moss adds.

Moss's analysis of the unorthodox therapists whose names appear on the ACS Unproven Methods list reveals that 65% of them were M.D.s, many from prestigious medical schools; an additional 13% held Ph.D.s in medical or scientific disciplines.

"A number of the scientists on the ACS Unproven Methods list were undoubtedly persons of genius," observes science writer Robert Houston. Among the examples he cites is Max Gerson, M.D., whose dietary treatment of cancer anticipated many current research trends. Gerson was hailed by Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who wrote, "I see in him one of the most eminent medical geniuses in the history of medicine."

These practitioners hardly fit the image of "snake-oil salesmen."

MYTH #3: Patients who seek alternative therapies are driven by desperation. They're ignorant, gullible, or both.

Contrary to the stereotype, Cassileth's 1984 study found that patients using unorthodox cancer therapies were a lot better-educated as a group than patients on conventional treatments only. The 356 cancer patients under alternative care whom she interviewed "did not conform to the stereotype of poorly educated, end-stage patients who had exhausted conventional treatment." Few of the doctors whom Cassileth and her team studied charged high fees. Most of the patients paid less than $1,000 for the first year of alternative treatment. Even taking into account inflation and sharp variations in fees, these costs are modest compared to expenses of $2,500 per day that the medical establishment demands for its invasive procedures.

MYTH #4: Alternative cancer therapies are "unproven," therefore untested and unscientific.

The American Cancer Society has listed 72 alternative cancer therapies on its Unproven Methods list. Inclusion of a nonconventional therapist's name on the ACS list can lead to loss of funding, great difficulty in publishing, FDA harassment, rejection of testing applications, and harassment by medical associations.

In his revealing analysis of the ACS blacklist, Ralph Moss discovered that for 44% of these condemned therapies no investigation at all was carried out by the ACS or any other agency. In another 11%, the investigations actually yielded positive results. Inconclusive findings were reported for 16%. In the remaining cases (28%), the ACS judges determined the methods in question to be ineffective, yet, as Moss points out, "Virtually all of the ACS judges are orthodox physicians with a vested interest in the system. In making their assessments, they rely on second- or third-hand reports like magazine articles and foreign medical associations."

Hyperthermia (heat therapy), once branded as a "worthless remedy" and "quackery" by the ACS, was removed years later from its Unproven Methods list. Today, hyperthermia is in trial use at major medical centers; it has been hailed by some oncologists as the "fifth modality" in cancer treatment, after surgery, radiation, drugs, and immunotherapy. Yet this is the same exact method that the ACS banished to limbo in 1967.

Four other unorthodox cancer treatments, once stigmatized by their inclusion in the ACS blacklist, were later removed from it - hydrazine sulfate, the Coley therapy, the Lincoln therapy, and Hendricks Natural Immunity therapy. Their Stalinist-like "rehabilitation" came about through pressure from prestigious researchers and institutions with a keen interest in exploring these methods.

These examples demonstrate the bias built into the ACS's unscientific system - and the need to keep an open mind about all the available options.

Patients should exercise caution when seeking information about a specific alternative therapy. A case in point would seem to be the computerized, nationwide database of alternative cancer therapies currently being compiled by Emprise, Inc. This firm's president, Grace Powers Monaco, is a longtime outspoken opponent of alternative cancer therapies. Emprise was recently awarded over $500,000 of taxpayers' money by the National Cancer Institute to compile a database on 29 "questionable cancer treatments." Once completed, this database may be distributed to doctors and hospitals around the country through the National Cancer Institute's widely used Physicians Data Query (PDQ) database.

To critics in the alternative medical community, the Emprise database is virtually an electronic blacklist. They point out that Monaco is a board member of the National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF), a self-appointed watchdog group whose aggressive campaign to stamp out what it perceives as pseudoscience in the health field has earned it the nickname "Quackbusters." (Among NCAHF's many targets are health food stores.) The critics further charge that the Emprise project involves a blatant conflict of interest. Monaco is a lawyer who helps defend major insurance companies against "claims for worthless, unproven, questionable methods of cancer management" (as she described herself in her NCI grant application). If Emprise were to give a particular nonconventional therapy a negative evaluation, critics contend, an insurance company might well refuse to pay for a cancer patient's treatment under that therapy.

"The insurance companies stand to profit in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars from this," says Frank Wiewel, president of People Against Cancer, a grassroots organization based in Otho, Iowa. "The Emprise database is the worst kind of witchhunt because the people putting it together are cloaking them selves in the guise of consumer advocates." Project CURE's Michael Evers states: "The database will contain all of the alleged negative information about specific treatments, put together by the professed enemies of those treatments. It has the potential to blacklist alternative therapies without any real investigation - and with the government's official seal of approval. This is an almost Orwellian product."

Monaco, whose daughter died from cancer in 1970, denies that any conflict of interest exists. She says she has no bias against alternative practitioners, and defends the integrity of Emprise's work for the NCI. She alleges that the alternative community's criticisms of the database project betray the reluctance of unorthodox practitioners to have their work independently evaluated. The NCI, after an internal review of the Emprise project, extended its funding but asked Emprise to implement safeguards against "conflicts of interest."

How "Cancer, Inc." Suppresses Promising Cures

Many people hold a naive belief that the suppression of useful therapies - especially cancer therapies - is impossible in modern America. They are dead wrong.

Cancer is a megabillion-dollar industry. There are more people working in the field than there are patients dying from the disease annually. Getting a new drug tested and approved, even with FDA cooperation, usually takes close to 10 years at a cost of roughly $100 million - a process which in itself excludes many promising alternatives from ever being tested. Given the high stakes, it's not likely that the medical-industrial complex would welcome an innovative outsider who came up with a safe, nontoxic, inexpensive cancer cure. After all, a diet, an herbal compound, a simple chemical, or a vitamin cannot be patented. Huge profits can't be squeezed from non-proprietary treatments.

Today's medical cartel is spearheaded by the American Medical Association with its extremely powerful lobby. The AMA has waged a campaign in Congress and state legislatures to push legislation that strengthens its grip on U.S. healthcare policies. Over the course of its history, the AMA has denounced midwifery, self-care, optometry, homeopathy, osteopathy, acupuncture, and lay analysis as being dangerous, fraudulent, or both. In 1987 the AMA was found guilty of restraint of trade in a "conspiracy to destroy and eliminate" the chiropractic profession, a legitimate competitor. The AMA is appealing the case.

Allied with the AMA are the government's National Cancer Institute (NCI) with its bloated $1.5-billion annual budget, the private American Cancer Society (ACS), pharmaceutical giants, insurance companies, hospitals, and medical schools. The insurance companies provide third-party reimbursements to doctors, making up 70% of doctors' incomes. This group of interlocking and vested interests has been dubbed the "cancer industry" or "Cancer, Inc."

The NCI distributes hundreds of millions of dollars yearly in research grants and, together with the ACS, sets dominant trends in research. Incredibly, 90% of the members of the NCI's peer review committee get NCI money for their own research, while 70% of the ACS's research budget goes to individuals or institutions with which ACS board members are affiliated. "In any other part of government, it would be a corrupt practice for the persons giving out the money and the persons getting it to be the same people," said Irwin Bross, former director of biostatistics at Roswell Park Memorial Institute, the nation's oldest cancer research hospital. Testifying before a Congressional subcommittee, he added: "It is a corrupt practice even when it is called `peer review' or `cancer research.'...This set-up is not worth revamping and should simply be junked."

Examples of Suppressed Alternatives

This article can only describe a few of the dozens of promising avenues in therapy that have been banished or stifled by the cancer establishment.

Burton. Dr. Lawrence Burton's Immuno-Augmentative Therapy (IAT) consists of injections of four blood proteins that augment immune system functioning and shrink tumors. Burton, former senior oncologist at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York, astonished the medical world in 1966 when he and a colleague injected cancerous mice with a serum, causing the tumors to shrink by half in just 45 minutes. Ninety minutes later, the tumors had practically vanished. This unprecedented demonstration, made under ACS auspices in the presence of 70 scientists and 200 science writers, generated front-page headlines in major newspapers around the world ("15-Minute Cancer Cure..."). Burton repeated the demonstration months later before an audience of oncologists at the New York Academy of Medicine, this time in a controlled experiment, with comparable results.

Burton opened a cancer clinic in Great Neck, New York in 1974, and treated many patients who reportedly experienced dramatic tumor shrinkage or remission. Dr. John Beaty, M.D., of the Greenwich Hospital, Greenwich, Connecticut, sent 20 advanced cancer patients to Burton; tumors regressed in 50%. "All ten," Dr. Beaty stated, "owe their very survival to Dr. Burton's treatment....I believe this is a breakthrough in the treatment of cancer." Despite these results, FDA harassment forced Burton to close his clinic in 1977 and open one in the Bahamas.

In 1985, U.S. health officials of the NCI and the Centers for Disease Control fraudulently accused Burton's Bahamian clinic of spreading AIDS-contaminated serum to patients returning to the U.S. Under American pressure, the Bahamian Ministry shut down the clinic. It was only reopened after lawsuits were filed against NCI and CDC, and after Burton's patients appealed to members of the U.S. Congress. This led Congressman Guy Molinari (R., N.Y.) to hold hearings at which impressive medical support for Burton's IAT method was presented.

Among those testifying was distinguished cancer surgeon Dr. Philip Kunderman (former chief of thoracic surgery, Roosevelt Hospital, New York), who stated that his own cancer was successfully controlled on Immuno-Augmentative Therapy. As a lung surgeon, he was also amazed at results Burton obtained in treating mesothelioma, a deadly type of lung cancer for which there is no effective orthodox treatment.

One of the most promising cancer treatments today is tumor necrosis factor (TNF) - a blood substance said to cause rapid tumor shrinkage - being slowly developed at Sloan-Kettering with NCI money. TNF was created directly out of Button's original research, in the opinion of a number of observers.

Burton is scorned by the cancer orthodoxy. Yet an unpublished 1987 study of 79 cancer patients on Immuno-Augmentative Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center found that the IAT patients survived twice as long as expected.

Burzynski. Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, a polish émigré physician, became at age 25 one of the youngest men in Europe ever to obtain both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. A former professor at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, Burzynski has developed a cancer treatment using harmless peptides which occur naturally in humans. His research points to a severe shortage of these substances, called antineoplastons, in cancer patients. In reintroducing the peptides into patients' bloodstream - either intravenously, or orally with capsules - he found that they experienced tumor shrinkage or complete remission.

The antineoplastons in effect "reprogram" cancer cells by carrying "good" information to abnormal cells which instructs these cells to develop normally. For most patients, there are no negative side-effects; on the contrary, the treatment sometimes produces beneficial side-effects, including increased white and red blood cell counts and decreases in blood cholesterol.

In a paper delivered at the 1986 International Cancer Congress, the world's most prestigious forum on cancer research, Dr. Burzynski reported 5-year follow-up results in a clinical trial of his method with advanced cancer - 47% of the patients experienced complete remission, 60% had objective remission, 20% survived over five years without cancer. Burzynski has published his results extensively in the peer-reviewed medical literature. Confirmatory studies at major U.S. medical centers are part of a large and growing body of evidence that antineoplastons are effective in treating human cancer patients.

Did the "cancer industry" hail Burzynski as an innovative pioneer? Not after he began to treat patients. The ACS put his antineoplaston therapy on their unproven methods list in 1983, where it remains. Just three months later, the FDA ordered Burzynski and his institute in Houston to stop all further research, development, manufacture, and use of antineoplastons. However, a federal judge allowed Burzynski to continue his research and treatment within Texas.

He then submitted an IND (Investigative New Drug) Application, which the foot-dragging FDA took 6 years to approve. FDA agents and federal marshals, armed with an illegal search warrant to look for vague "violations," raided the Burzynski Research Institute in 1985 and seized all of his scientific, medical, and personal records. (This raid was on the same day that the Burton clinic was shut down in the Bahamas.) Burzynski sued the FDA for the return of his records, but the FDA continues to hold them. These gestapo-style tactics have been ignored by the nation's civil liberties lobby, which looks the other way.

Clinical trials of Burzynski's therapy are underway in Japan, with unofficially reported early successes and trials will soon begin in Europe.

Iscador. This extract of the European mistletoe has played a central role at the Lukas Klinic in Arlesheim, Switzerland in the treatment of thousands of patients, many in the terminal or inoperable category. Iscador appears to destroy cancer cells, while simultaneously providing essential nutrients and stimulating the body's immune mechanisms by enhancing natural killer-cell activity. It is free from side-effects. A growing international medical literature supports its use. The ACS has placed the Iscador mistletoe extract on its blacklist.

ACS's condemnation of Iscador, according to Robert Houston, was based on "an evaluation of the literature by Dr. Daniel Martin, a surgeon who has been an outspoken opponent of unorthodox therapies...and by Dr. Emil Freireich, a pioneer of cytotoxic chemotherapy who was on record for his opposition to unorthodox approaches."

Coley's Toxins. Dr. William Coley, a prominent turn-of-the-century New York surgeon, developed a vaccine of mixed bacterial toxins to destroy malignant tumors. After treating 312 inoperable cancer patients with the vaccine, he reported that 124 were brought into complete remission and virtual cure. His daughter, Helen Coley Nauts, executive director of the Cancer Research Institute, documented 894 cases treated with her father's vaccine. In a 1976 summary as well as 17 monographs, she reported 5-year survival rates of 65% in inoperable breast cancer, 84% in giant cell bone tumors, 67% in Hodgkin's disease, and similar results in many other types of cancer.

A controlled clinical trial at NYU Medical Center in 1962 concluded that the Coley therapy "has definite oncolytic [cancer-destroying] properties and is useful in the treatment of certain types of malignant disease."

Despite such findings, the AMA loudly denounced "Coley's fluids," and the ACS put the vaccine on its Unproven Methods blacklist, labeling it a "quack remedy." The Coley treatment was quietly removed from the ACS list in 1975 through the influence of Dr. Lloyd Old, vice-president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, whose research team was pursuing directions similar to Coley's suppressed method.

Hoxsey. Harry Hoxsey, an ex-coal miner, used an herbal cancer remedy reportedly handed down through his family since 1840, when his great-grandfather devised the formula after watching a cancerous horse cure itself by grazing on medicinal herbs. The basic formula, taken internally or externally, uses 9 herbs, including licorice, red clover, cascara, burdock root, and stillingia root. Dietary stipulations, vitamins, and immune stimulation are part of the Hoxsey therapy as practiced today.

By 1955, Hoxsey's Dallas clinic, with over 12,000 patients, was the world's largest privately-owned cancer treatment facility. Hoxsey was frequently arrested for practicing without a license. In 1960 his clinics were banned in the U.S. He died in 1974. Today, his former chief nurse continues the therapy at the Bio-Medical Center in Tijuana, Mexico.

The AMA labeled Hoxsey a dangerous quack but refused to investigate the Hoxsey medicines or to evaluate their efficacy. Yet two federal courts upheld the "therapeutic value" of Hoxsey's internal tonic, and a 1953 federal report to Congress confirmed Hoxsey's charges of a "conspiracy" by the AMA, NCI, and FDA to "suppress" an impartial assessment of his methods. The AMA later admitted that Hoxsey's external medication had merit.

Medical historian Patricia Ward recently found that 6 of the 9 Hoxsey herbs demonstrated anti-tumor or immune-enhancing activity in botanical remedies used around the globe. She summarized the "provocative findings of anti-tumor properties" in her 1988 report to the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), Congress's research arm. Her report was supposed to be part of OTA's planned survey of alternative cancer therapies, but Ward was outraged to learn that her Hoxsey data supporting the herbs' anti-tumor potency was absent from the 400-page OTA Draft Report, while another researcher's negative data (one patient's freakish overdose, for example) was included.

Other Alternative Therapies

Cancer is a biological puzzle. There is no unanimous agreement among scientists on the precise biochemical process or processes which result in cell malignancy, There could be many valid different approaches to treating cancer. The 3 unorthodox therapies described below, like the ones already examined, represent a diverse sampling. Nothing in this article is meant as an endorsement of any particular therapy or practitioner.

Livingston. Dr. Virginia Livingston, a Vassar graduate who received her medical degree from New York University, discovered a microbe (Progenitor cryptocides) which she maintained is the cause of cancer. In her theory, PC bacteria, present in all people from the time of conception, run rampant when immunity is weakened by such factors as stress, poor diet, old age, or surgery. In proliferating, PC bacteria produce the hormone HCG (human choriogonadotrophin) which, she believed, promotes tumor growth. Scientists have long known of the presence of high levels of HCG in cancer cells and in the blood of cancer patients.

Livingston's treatment at her San Diego clinic includes a vaccine (made from PC in the individual patient), antibiotics, immune stimulants, and a diet emphasizing raw or lightly cooked fresh foods. The diet is rich in abscisic acid, a plant hormone similar to vitamin A. This natural substance is said to neutralize the HCG and thus have an anticancer effect.

Kelley. Dr. William Kelley, an orthodontist by training (Baylor University, D.D.S.), treated cancer patients for some 20 years. Kelley believed that the pancreas, rather than the immune system, plays a critical role in cancer. Studies in the clinical literature lend some support to the theory, first proposed by John Beard, that pancreatic enzymes not only serve a digestive function but also circulate in the bloodstream and kill cancer cells.

Kelley's treatment includes large doses of pancreatic enzymes, vitamin and mineral supplements, and fresh, preferably organic foods. There are 10 basic diets, some vegetarian, which are prescribed to suit the patient's condition. Detoxification is assisted by coffee enemas, on the principle (developed by Dr. Max Gerson) that caffeine administered rectally opens the bile ducts and releases accumulated toxins.

Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez (M.D., Cornell University), in private practice in New York, analyzed the medical records of 455 cancer patients whom Kelley had treated between 1970 and 1983. In all, 26 different types of cancer were represented. He states that many patients treated by Kelley were alive 5, 10, or 15 years after having been diagnosed as terminal by their orthodox doctors.

Dr. Gonzalez also tracked down the 5 persons with inoperable pancreatic cancer who underwent Kelley's full treatment between 1974 and 1982. Their median survival (at the time of Gonzalez's study) was 8.5 years, and 4 of the 5 are alive today; one died of Alzheimer's disease. These reported results are virtually unheard-of in conventional treatment, which holds out a median survival of 3 to 6 months for this type of cancer.

Macrobiotics. Often misrepresented as an "all-brown-rice" regimen, the macrobiotic diet emphasizes whole cereal grains, beans, fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, sea vegetables, and occasional fish. Case histories of people who apparently reversed their cancers through this diet and lifestyle changes can be found in literature available from the Kushi Institute, Brookline, Massachusetts. Macrobiotics is rooted in the ancient Chinese principle of complementary yin-yang forces. According to Michio Kushi, the system's rebalancing of the body destroys some cancer cells, and causes other cancer cells to change to normal ones.

It's significant that the high-fiber, low-cholesterol, low-fat diet long advocated by a number of alternative cancer therapists shares many similarities with the dietary recommendations only recently set forth in major reports of the National Academy of Sciences, the ACS, and the NCI.

Medical Freedom of Choice

"In England, Germany, and Switzerland - countries with high-quality medical care - doctors and therapists who use nondrug approaches to healing are practicing in lively competition with conventional doctors," says Michael Evers of Project CURE.

"What Americans call `alternative medicine' is simply part of the legal medical system in many European countries," notes Catherine Frompovich of Coalition for Alternatives in Nutrition and Healthcare (CANAH). CANAH has gathered over 75,000 signatures for a proposed 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - the Healthcare Rights Amendment - which would ensure the right of every person to choose the form of medical treatment he or she desires. When the number of signatures approaches 100,000, CANAH will take the petition to President Bush, Congress, and key legislators. (CANAH is now defunct)

"To deny someone freedom to seek a therapy which they believe would save their life is a denial of every moral principle," asserts Frank Wiewel of People Against Cancer. "The U.S. government," he adds, "in suppressing nonconventional cancer therapies, is in direct violation of the international Helsinki Accords to which this country is signatory." The Helsinki Declaration stipulates that "the doctor must be free to use a new therapeutic measure, if in his judgment it offers hope of saving life, reestablishing health, or alleviating suffering."

"In effect," says Wiewel, "doctors in the U.S. have been restricted from practicing medicine. A doctor here can't even prescribe fish oil or coenzyme Q-10, which has been shown in millions of Japanese to affect heart function positively." People Against Cancer, CANAH, and several other groups are working to build a mass-based, democratic movement for medical freedom and healthcare reform. Medical activists also seek third-party reimbursement for alternative or complementary therapies from insurance companies, Medicare, and HMO plans.

Another big problem is environmental clean-up. As Dr. Samuel Epstein, author of The Politics of Cancer, made abundantly clear, the scientific consensus is that the great majority of cancers are preventable. Chemical and industrial wastes, workplace chemicals, medical X-rays, chemical food additives, air pollution, drugs, tobacco, improper diet, and chlorinated water are among the major culprits in the cancer epidemic. All of them represent highly profitable, vested interests. "The whole situation of carcinogens in the environment is a runaway disaster," says Ralph Moss. "The attack on the environment has stepped up, and so has the effort to discredit the advocates of cancer prevention."

The system for assessing alternative cancer therapies should be overhauled to eliminate built-in bias, critics charge. They advocate the creation of sensible protocols for testing th at would safeguard consumers without stifling the potential for therapeutic advances. Under the present system, the staggering cost of roughly $100 million required for FDA testing and marketing approval of a new drug squelches most independent research.

"Congress should earmark a substantial portion of NCI funding to go to research into nonconventional cancer treatments developed by independent scientists outside the medical mainstream," boldly suggests Robert Houston. In his view, NCI funding should go to private doctors, clinics, and research institutes whose nonconventional techniques have shown promise.

For years, the Food and Drug Administration has refused even to permit formal testing for alternative cancer therapies. The rationale behind their rejection is usually their lack of controlled clinical trials - which are forbidden them by the FDA - and their reliance on medical case reports. It's a "Catch-22" system, one that almost seems designed to block promising new advances in treatment or cure.

While we watch friends and family members die, research is stifled. As the Japanese leap ahead of us with clinical trials of innovative cancer treatments still condemned in the U.S. as "quackery," it becomes clearer that only a revamping of a bureaucratic, outdated, greed-driven system will make possible an effective "war on cancer."

Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients.


By Richard Walters

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