Patrick Quillin Ph.D., R.D. (Excerpted from Beating Cancer with Nutrition)
Alternative Cancer Therapies
If you need emergency medical care, reconstructive surgery, orthopedic surgery or critical life support, then a hospital is where you will get the best care. Many patients with cancer, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, arthritis, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, mental illness and muscular dystrophy find little help from traditional medicine. When the accepted approach does not work, the grounds are fertile for "alternative" approaches to develop.
Studies now show that up to 50% of all cancer patients use some form of unconventional cancer therapy, with most of these people being of above-average income and education.4 A newer study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine from David Eisenberg, MD of Harvard Medical School shows that Americans make more visits to alternative therapists than to family physicians.
While critics brand alternative cancer therapies as "unproven, questionable, dubious, quackery and fraudulent"; proponents prefer the labels "complementary, comprehensive, innovative, nontoxic, holistic, natural and noninvasive." Meanwhile, the American Cancer Society has kept a list of about 100 cancer therapies that the ACS calls "unproven". This blacklist has become the "gatekeeper" in cancer treatment in America. Insurance companies will not reimburse for "unproven or experimental" therapies.
Yet, are we using dual standards in judging our health care options? According to the Office of Technology Assessment, only 10-20% of all surgical procedures practiced in the United States have been "proven" to be effective by controlled clinical trials.5 Much of what Americans do throughout medicine, law, education and even business are more based on a "Grandfather clause" or tradition, rather than being the best way to do things. We oftentimes "pave cow paths" which are usually inefficient routes from point A to point B, then consider these sacred and inviolable. If 50% of cancer patients this year will seek alternative cancer care, which is non-reimburseable, imagine the stampede toward alternative cancer treatment if people could choose their own therapies.
Improvement in cancer treatment options may be coming soon. Retired Iowa Congressman Berkley Bedell could only find cures for his Lyme disease, then advanced and untreatable prostate cancer from alternative therapists. Mr. Bedell told his powerbroker friends on Capitol Hill of his experiences. Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the subcommittee on health issues, then convinced his colleagues to allocate $2 million to form the Office of Alternative Medicine as a branch of the National Institutes of Health. Many insurance companies are awakening to the profitability of alternative cancer therapy because: 1. the public wants it and is willing to pay for it, 2. alternative cancer therapy costs about 10% of conventional cancer care and therefore can be more profitable. Some pioneering insurance companies now reimburse for alternative cancer treatment.6
The medical freedom advocates argue that a person afflicted with a terminal disease deserves a chance at whatever therapies offer hope. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration cites examples in which premature permission to use newly discovered therapies ended in disaster--like the Thalidomide situation. However, lets compare the risk to benefit ratio of Thalidomide and alternative cancer treatment:
It is unconstitutional to think that protecting the end-stage and otherwise untreatable cancer patient from inexpensive and non-toxic therapies is a government obligation. AIDS patients have become models of political activism and have won this logic debate as the Food and Drug Administration now allows many "compassionate use" variances for otherwise unapproved drugs in AIDS therapy. Cancer patients, also, need a broader scope of treatment options. To quote Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, 2400 years ago: "Extreme diseases call for extreme measures." Nutrition therapy, surely, is no more extreme than chemo, radiation therapy or surgery.
Alternative cancer therapies would best be categorized as:
It is clear that humans are a complex interplay of physical and metaphysical forces. Many documented cases of paranormal psychology have shown that people can alter autonomic bodily functions by entering suspended animation, walking on hot coals without any burns, reading minds and living outside the laws of nutrition. As humans become more spiritual or metaphysical, we tend to transcend physical laws. Hence, the ultimate cancer cure may come from this relatively untapped area of healing.
Pioneers and TheirThe alternative therapists are at a serious disadvantage in the battle of documentation. Even after $35 billion spent on government-funded research and thousands of researchers working for decades, scientists are hard pressed to prove efficacy in the assortment of conventional cancer treatment. Alternative therapists don't publish results for a number of reasons:
Alternative Cancer Therapies
- poorly financed and cannot support research efforts
- poorly organized and shy away from cooperative pooled data
- outlawed in the U.S. and ineligible for government research grants
- leery of reporting their data in the U.S. for fear of medical license revocation and/or imprisonment.
There have been efforts recently to examine certain alternative cancer therapies. Harold Foster, PhD at the University of British Columbia showed some rather promising results from alternative cancer treatment. "Spontaneous regression" is that elusive miraculous cure that comes to a few cancer patients after traditional therapists have given up. It seems wise to study these "winners" and see if there is something that they have in common. Of the 200 cancer patients that Foster studied who had experienced "spontaneous regression", 87% made serious dietary changes which were mostly vegetarian in nature, and many others underwent some detoxification program or used nutritional supplements.
All of the following alternative cancer therapies are practiced somewhere in the world. My most humble apologies to the pioneers or therapies that have been left out of this brief overview. For more information, read:
- THIRD OPINION by John Fink, Avery Press, NY, 1988
- UNCONVENTIONAL CANCER TREATMENTS by the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. government printing office, 1990
- CANCER THERAPY by Ralph Moss, PhD, Equinox Press, 1992
- OPTIONS by Richard Walters, Avery, 1993.
Max Gerson, MD emigrated from Europe to the United States in 1936 and began practicing medicine in New York. Gerson was labelled by the famous missionary doctor, Albert Schweitzer, as "I see in Gerson one of the most eminent geniuses in medical history." Gerson was treating cancer patients with a diet and toxin purgative approach. Gerson's program included a diet that was high in raw unprocessed plant food, low in fat, included raw liver injections, thyroid extract, pancreatin (digestive aids), and supplements of minerals and vitamins, especially high doses of vitamin C.
One of the more intriguing aspects of Dr. Gerson's therapy was an emphasis on foods and supplements high in potassium. Realize that we evolved on a "caveman" diet which was high in potassium from fresh plant food and low in sodium (pre-salt shaker era). Our modern American diet reverses this ratio from an ideal of 4 to 1 (potassium to sodium) to our current 1 to 4, a full 16 fold deterioration in this crucial balance of electrolytes. All of your cells are bathed in a salty ocean water, with higher concentrations of potassium inside the cell to create the "battery of life."
Birger Jansson, PhD at the University of Texas finds a strong link between dietary sodium to potassium ratio and cancer.7 Stephen Thompson, PhD researcher at the University of California San Diego, found that increasing sodium content could accelerate the metastasis of colon cancer in animals. Maryce Jacobs, PhD, former research director of the American Institute of Cancer Research, has written an extensive technical chapter on the link between the sodium to potassium ratio and cancer progression.8
When the National Cancer Institute reviewed Gerson's book which illustrated his 30 years of clinical experience with 50 patients who recovered from end-stage cancer, the NCI felt that the evidence was inadequate. The American Cancer Society heavily criticized Gerson for several decades and did not recognize a nutrition cancer link until the 1980s. The modern ACS anti-cancer diet looks remarkably similar to Dr. Gerson's diet.
William D. Kelley, DDS was a dentist who claimed to have healed himself of pancreatic cancer with his own therapy in 1964. Kelley's program included metabolic typing to provide a patient-specific dietary program, detoxification (coffee enemas, etc.), neurological stimulation through chiropractic adjustment and supplements of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Until 1977, the MERCK MEDICAL MANUAL, considered the "bible of physicians", included coffee enemas as an accepted means of detoxification and constipation relief. Yet coffee enemas became the focal point of critics who considered the Kelley program unscientific.
Meanwhile, there has been an abundance of scientific studies in Europe showing that enzymes (protease, amylase, lipase) can improve the general course of the cancer patient.9 Kelley's work is carried on by a Sloan-Kettering trained oncologist, Dr. Nicholas Gonzales, in New York City. In his 1970s trial, Kelley was ordered by a federal judge never to speak or write about cancer again. Kelley has since become a recluse.
Macrobiotics. This program is based on the writings of a Japanese physician, Sagen Ishizuka (1850-1910) who cured himself of cancer by abandoning the refined diet of affluent Japan and reverting back to the unpurified Japanese diet of brown rice, soybeans, fish, miso soup, sea vegetables and other traditional Oriental foods. When you read the "laws of nutrition" later in this book, you will notice the importance of consuming one's ancestral diet. Some proposed mechanisms why the macrobiotic diet helps some cancer patients:
- low in fat
- high in fiber
- high vegetable intake
- improved sodium to potassium ratio
- ability to change an acid (cancer) environment back toward alkaline (healthy)
- potent anti-cancer agents found in soybeans, sea vegetables and other fresh produce
- thyroid stimulating substances found in sea vegetables.
Macrobiotics includes an Eastern philosophy of balancing yin and yang, which are opposing forces. Michio Kushi established a macrobiotic center in Boston in 1978 and has gained a noteworthy following. Kushi has publicly encouraged cancer patients to continue with conventional care.
There are varying levels of intensity in complying with macrobiotic principles, with the ultimate level (+7) being a diet of 100% whole cereals. An American physician, Anthony Sattilaro, cured himself of advanced prostatic cancer with the macrobiotic diet and wrote a book to further popularize this approach. While the macrobiotic lifestyle is certainly a major improvement over the typical American diet, certain aspects of this program are a bit mystifying:
- unlimited access to miso and pickles, which are high in sodium
- limited intake of fruit and fish
- potential for protein and B-12 malnutrition.
This program includes cotton clothes, fresh air and exercise.
Herbal Therapies. Plant extracts are mankind's oldest medicines. One third of all prescription drugs in the U.S. are based on plant extracts. There is a desperate scramble among drug companies and even the National Cancer Institute to develop patentable variations of the many anti-cancer agents found in plants. Many of the people listed below have staked their claim to herbal cures of cancer, including Caisse, Hoxsey, Winters, and others. Periwinkle plant is now the very acceptable cancer drug, vincristine. Undoubtedly, plant extracts will become a major source of cancer drugs in the future. James Duke, PhD, a well respected botanist with the United States Department of Agriculture, has written textbooks on the anti-cancer ingredients in many plants. If you have seen the movie "Medicine Man", then you can appreciate the complexities of trying to find the active ingredient(s) in plant extracts. Botanicals used to fight cancer include Pau D'Arco (LaPacho), ginseng, green tea, mistletoe, polyphenols, carotenoids, bioflavonoids, echinecea, astragalus, chaparral, blood root, garlic and various mushroom extracts.
Rene Caisse, a Canadian public health nurse, was told by a patient in 1922 that an Indian herbal tea had saved her life from breast cancer. Caisse obtained the recipe, reportedly used it successfully on a few of her patients and then named the therapy "Essiac", or Caisse spelled backward. Her troubles with the government waxed and waned for the coming decades until 1978, shortly before her death, when she signed over the rights to her secret formula to a Canadian manufacturing firm.
Harry Hoxsey (1901-1974) popularized his great-grandfather's herbal formula which had reputedly cured horses of cancer. Harry Hoxsey's father was a veterinary surgeon who also used the formula on both animals and people with cancer. Yet Harry is the man who made the formula famous. Hoxsey's flamboyant and controversial style led to many encounters with federal officials and the American Medical Association. At his zenith in the U.S., Hoxsey had thousands of very happy cancer patients going to his 17 clinics across the country. After uncountable arrests, he closed his Dallas clinic in the late 1950s and moved to Mexico to continue practicing. Hoxsey's formula included bloodroot, burdock, buckthorn, cascara, barberry, licorice, red clover, pokeroot, zinc chloride and antimony trisulfide. Hoxsey's general formula has ended up in many escharotics, or topically applied ointments that successfully burn away surface cancers.
Rudolph Steiner, PhD popularized the use of mistletoe in the early 20th century. A certain lectin in mistletoe has been found to inhibit the growth of proliferating cells. By the 1980s, about 40,000 patients worldwide were receiving Iscador, a fermented form of mistletoe that is injected. Iscador and its variations are licensed in Germany as drugs.
Stanislaw R. Burzynski, MD, PhD theorized that certain anti-neoplastons, or naturally occurring peptides, could inhibit the growth of tumor cells without interrupting normal cell growth. Burzynski first isolated his anti-neoplastons from human urine and later synthesized these compounds in the laboratory. Dr. Burzynski uses about 10 types of anti-neoplastons in both oral and intravenous fashion. Government authorities have restricted Burzynski to administering his cancer therapy only in his clinic in Houston, Texas, and now even that narrow scope of practice is in jeopardy.
Paul Niehans, MD developed his "cell therapy" techniques in Switzerland in the 1930s. The principle is that "something" in young tissue is able to regenerate old and sick tissue. Hence, injecting cells derived from whole fetuses is supposed to make old people feel younger and sick people get well. Cell therapy has been used for a wide range of otherwise untreatable conditions, most notably for aging wealthy people to feel younger.
Joseph Gold, MD of the Syracuse Cancer Research Institute reported good results in the 1970s using hydrazine sulfate to inhibit the growth of tumors in animals. While there certainly are some less effective approaches among alternative cancer therapies, hydrazine sulfate has been found in human clinical studies at the University of California at Los Angeles to reduce lean tissue wasting (cachexia) and improve the abnormal glucose and insulin levels which are common among end stage cancer patients.10 Hydrazine sulfate, for some unknown reason, has become a tainted subject among traditional cancer researchers, which is a real travesty for millions of cancer patients worldwide.
Ernst Krebs, Sr., MD, and Ernst Krebs, Jr. were the developers of laetrile, which is amygdalin, a cyanide-containing compound first isolated from the seeds of pit fruit, like apricots. The ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, and Romans all used seed pits, or amygdalin, as their "sacred seeds" against cancer. Since the 1970s, 70,000 people have used laetrile to treat cancer. Laetrile has become an irrational "head butting contest" between the conventional and unconventional cancer communities.
Ralph Moss, PhD was the science writer for the Sloan-Kettering cancer hospital in New York when research was being conducted by a celebrated scientist, Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura, on laetrile. Dr. Moss writes of a disturbing coverup that basically ended any legitimate assessment of laetrile.11 Dr. Sugiura found that laetrile did not destroy primary tumors in animals, but did inhibit the growth of tumors and signficantly retarded lung metastases. A San Antonio physician, Dr. Eva Lee Sneak wrote a letter to the editor printed in a publication of the American Medical Association: "Laetrile, properly used, has had, in my hands at least, as good a success as chemotherapy with far fewer side effects."12
In 1982, the National Cancer Institute funded a laetrile cancer study conducted by Charles Moertel, MD of the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Moertel's results, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, played "Taps" for laetrile, claiming that it neither helped cancer nor the symptoms of cancer. About 21 states still allow the use of laetrile in cancer treatment, while other states have revoked medical licenses for the same.
A curious footnote to laetrile is that young plants develop their own naturally occurring pesticides to provide some protection against insects and rodents. This "pesticide" is rich in nitrilosides, which are similar in chemical structure to laetrile. Could it be that a diet high in young fresh plants, like alfalfa sprouts, is like having continuous non-toxic chemotherapy to kill pockets of cancer cells before they can flourish?
Virginia Livingston-Wheeler, MD felt that cancer was caused by a specific pathogen, Progenitor cryptocides (PC), a cousin of the bacteria that causes leprosy and tuberculosis. Treatment includes immunologic vaccines of PC, pharmacologic therapies and nutritional components. Dr. Livingston helped many cancer patients with her nutritional approaches, which included avoidance of foods that contain PC, like chicken and eggs. However, most cancer patients are immune suppressed and subject to nearly every opportunistic infection that comes along, including PC.
While this bacteria and many others are present in most cancer patients, linking cause and effect is another matter. For instance, fire engines are present at most fires, but they do not cause fires. Yet, other researchers are equally intrigued with the theory that cancer is caused by a bacteria.13 It is known that older people are at greater risk for both developing cancer and experiencing a reduced output of stomach acid. Since the acid bath of the stomach is supposed to destroy many invading organisms, the theory of "cancer caused by a pathogen" would help to explain the prevalence of cancer in older adults.
I. William Lane, PhD has been the forerunner in the use of shark cartilage to inhibit angiogenesis and stop tumor growth. Dr. Lane's use patent on cartilage, bestselling book, Sharks Don't Get Cancer, and appearance on the TV series "60 Minutes" have heralded a modern champion for non-toxic cancer therapy.
Hans Nieper, MD is a European physician who uses conventional and unconventional drugs, vitamins, minerals (many of his own design), plant and animal extracts, a certain diet, and avoidance of "geopathogenic zones" which may incite disease.
Otto Warburg, PhD was awarded two Nobel prizes and first discovered the link between low oxygen levels and cancer growth. Other scientists have proven that cancer becomes more resistant to therapy as the tumor mass becomes more acidic and anaerobic.14 Warburg's theories provided the foundation for ozone and hydrogen peroxide therapies, which are given intravenously, orally and rectally. While the efficacy of these therapies is controversial, experts caution against drinking hydrogen peroxide, since it is such a potent free radical generator.
Emmanuel Revici, MD based his treatment on correcting an imbalance between fatty acids and sterols in the cancer patient; called "biological dualism". Revici was considered a very dedicated physician and developer of selenium as an anti-cancer agent.
Ewan Cameron, MD, a Scottish surgeon first popularized the use of high dose vitamin C in terminal cancer patients. Linus Pauling, PhD, twice Nobel laureate, furthered this cause with studies and writings. While vitamin C is far from a "magic bullet" against cancer, many cancer patients have been found to have clinical scurvy. Both in studies and my experience, high dose vitamin C does improve the quality and quantity of life for most cancer patients.
J.H. Lawrence, a British scientist during World War II, found that something in urine seemed to have anti-tumor activity in animals. His work has since been refined and carried on by numerous disciples throughout the world.
Lawrence Burton, PhD developed Immuno-Augmentative Therapy by injecting various blood products into cancer patients to stimulate the immune system. Once a well-respected researcher, Burton was ridiculed by his colleagues and forced to practice in the Bahamas.
714X & Gaston Naessens. Naessens was driven out of France in the 1950s when he developed a treatment for leukemia called Anablast. He settled in French Quebec in Canada and developed a microscope that supposedly has a much better resolution than other conventional microscopes. Naessens claims to have found "somatids" or "elementary particles endowed with movement and possessing a variable life cycle of many forms." Pleomorphism is the theory that inanimate objects can change into living pathogens and back again. If this principle is true, then traditional microbiologists will have to add a new axiom to their texts: "Ignore all previous axioms." Naessens invented 714X, a compound of camphor and nitrogen, which is injected directly into the lymph system of the cancer patient to bring nitrogen to starving cancer cells.
CanCell (Entelev) was developed by an analytical chemist and patent attorney, Jim Sheridan. The basics of this formula came to Sheridan in a dream, in which he visualized interrupting the respiratory energy chain of cancer cells. Cancell contains a catechol, a natural chemical that can inhibit respiration. By 1942, Sheridan claimed to be getting better than 70% tumor response in mice studies. In 1953, human clinical trials with Cancell were blocked by the American Cancer Society. In 1961, Sheridan tried proving his theories to the government, which needed to see results in 5 days, while Cancell supposedly takes 28 days to show effect. In 1982, Cancell was put into "handcuffs" when the Food and Drug Administration gave Sheridan an Investigative New Drug (IND) number, then put the project on "clinical hold". By then, Sheridan gave up and turned the formula over to Ed Sopcak, a foundry owner, who has since given away 20,000 bottles of Cancell.
Where do we go from here?As you can see, alternative therapists have been busy developing their own versions of cancer remedies. There is a serious problem with this long menu of alternative therapies for cancer: the gatekeepers of the Food and Drug Administration, the insurance industry, the American Medical Association and the American Cancer Society have been quick to "throw out the baby with the bathwater". That is, some of these approaches warrant further study, yet they have all been lumped together under the tainted reputation of "fringe" and either discouraged or outlawed. We need to separate the chaff from the grain in these therapies and expose them to some much needed research scrutiny.
It is obvious that no unqualified cure for cancer exists, either in conventional or unconventional circles. Given the disappointing results of traditional cancer therapy, it only makes sense to expand our horizons and look at other possibilities. As cancer is about to become the primary cause of death in Western society and as the "war on cancer" drags into its third decade, we need to ponder the inspirational words from one of history's greatest minds, Benjamin Franklin: "If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking."
1. Romm, S, Washington Post, p.Z14, Jan.9, 1990
2. Herman, R., Washington Post, p.Z14, Dec.3, 1991
3. Boly, W, Hippocrates, p.38, Jan.1989
4. Family Practice News, vol.10, Sept.1990
5. Office of Technology Assessment, ASSESSING THE EFFICACY AND SAFETY OF MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIES, U.S. Govt. Printing Office,Washington, DC, 1978
6. American Western Life, 100 Foster City Blvd, Foster City, CA 94404-1166; ph. 415-573-8041; see also Sidha National Insurance Group, Box 122, Fairfield, IA 52556; ph. 800-383-9108; see also Alternative Health Insurance, Box 9178, Calabasas, CA 91372; ph. 818-509-5742
7. Jansson, B., Cancer Detection and Prevention, vol.14, no.5, p.563, 1990
8. Jacobs, MM (ed.), VITAMINS AND MINERALS IN THE PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF CANCER, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 1991
9. Wrba, H., Therapie Woche, vol.37, p.7, 1987
10. Chlewbowski, RT, et al., Cancer Research, vol.44, p.857, 1984
11. Moss, RW, THE CANCER INDUSTRY, Paragon, NY, 1989
12. American Medical News, Jan.15, 1982
13. White, MW, Medical Hypotheses, vol.32, no.2, p.111, June 1990
14. Newell, K, et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA, vol.90, no.3, p.1127, Feb.1990; see also White, MW, Medical Hypotheses, vol.39, no.4, p.323, Dec.1992