By Diane Small
Arguably, the greatest flaw in modern healthcare is that it aims to treat symptoms rather than the underlying causes of disease – and nowhere is that more apparent than in cancer research.
Rather than studying the effects on our bodies of the myriad chemicals we are faced with every day in our air, water, clothing, makeup and cleaning products, cancer research instead looks at how to cure the disease. And not very successfully, at that. Cancer rates are ever-increasing, and as yet, most oncologists admit that there is virtually no cure for certain kinds of cancers, such as pancreatic, brain or lung, and the mainstream ‘cures’ that do exist – including chemotherapy and radiation – often do more harm than good.
No wonder more people are now turning to alternative medicine and changing their lifestyles to ensure good health.
Increasingly, traditional approaches comprise only part of a holistic approach to cancer treatment, alongside complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM as it’s called. Compared to chemotherapy and radiation, CAM is far less damaging to the body. Yet most oncologists ignore CAM research and cancer prevention studies in favour of the mainstream cancer industry, despite the fact that several doctors, such as Peter Glidden, have admitted chemo only works in around 3% of cases.
The vast majority of cancer research funding goes to universities, health institutes, teaching hospitals, and mainly Big Pharma–who themselves often directly fund those educational institutes themselves, or offer scholarships and postgraduate jobs to students. With a strong belief that cancer therapies should also be profitable, these bodies tend to look scornfully upon CAM, due to its non-pharmaceutical, non-patentable nature.
Cancer survivors who’ve eschewed traditional medicine in favour of CAM, like Chris Wark and Eluxe’s own Candice Litchfield, know the scorn too well. Beyond the life-threatening challenges of facing disease and treatment, these courageous individuals have also endured harassment from medical traditionalists after writing about beating cancer.
Why would such heartwarming triumph elicit bitter responses from Internet trolls (hello, Big Pharma shills!) and physicians (hello, Dr David Gorski!) alike? Might the harassers—or the organizations they represent—be fearful of CAM’s success stories, and the perceived threat of inexpensive, easily accessible treatments to the Big Money cancer industry?
The prevailing belief among CAM supporters and traditional-medicine skeptics is that if there’s no hope for a patent—which there isn’t for natural products, nor for preventative measures—there’s no hope in making money. The American Medical Association (AMA), the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and major pharma companies (to name a few big-money bureaucracies) have a vested, bottom-line–craving interest in perpetuating a pattern of patent-based cancer cures.
Several US surveys indicate significant numbers of patients are using CAM in conjunction with conventional treatments (e.g., here and here), whether for philosophical, religious, cultural or economic reasons. With greater demand comes a greater need to investigate such treatments. Yet it seems that many such investigative bodies are either starved of funding if they are genuinely looking into CAM, or are giving misleading information.
For example, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) was established in 1992 as the Office of Alternative Medicine with a budget given by the US government of a paltry $2 million to see how mind and body interventions (e.g., acupuncture, yoga, meditation, massage therapy) and natural products (e.g., dietary supplements, probiotics, herbal or botanical products) affected those with cancer.
While large, corporate charities like the Pink Ribbon receive donations in the tens or even hundreds of millions, since 2004, NIH research funding has decreased by more than twenty percent.
Other organizations that report on CAM seem to give misleading information. For example, the “Concerted Action for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Assessment in the Cancer Field” (CAM-Cancer) website, which was originally funded by the European Commission and is now hosted by the National Information Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NIFAB) at the University of Tromsø, Norway, reviews myriad CAM options, including Gerson therapy, acupuncture and ozone therapy.
After spending much time on their site, it seems that virtually none of the alternative therapies offered would appear to work at all–but even if they did, the site relieves itself of the necessity to tell you with this caveat: “the CAM-CANCER Project provides no assurance, guarantee or promise with regard to the correctness, accuracy, up-to-date status or completeness of the information it contains.” In other words, some of the information it gives in dismissing certain natural alternatives to cancer treatments may be flat out wrong, but oh well.
But aren’t we better off knowing whether or not a treatment produces the desired effects, especially considering the increased demand for CAM treatments of cancer and other diseases? The obvious answer is yes, no matter how many investigations may determine that certain therapies produce no significant effects. After all, the very point of good, ethical research is to make cancer sufferers, their loved ones and physicians aware of all possible benefits and risks of potential treatments, as well as alternative or adjunctive therapies.
Alternative Treatments Muzzled
Over the decades, many CAM practitioners have claimed success in treating cancer, only to be called “quacks” by mainstream organizations. One of the most famous of these is called Quackwatch.com, which has 20+ affiliated sites which you can see here. However, the founder of that site, failed doctor Stephen Barrett, has admitted in a Canadian court that:
“The sole purpose of the activities of [Quackwatch is] to discredit and cause damage and harm to health care practitioners, businesses that make alternative health therapies or products available, and advocates of non-allopathic therapies and health freedom.”
The ridiculous Quackwatch aside, just because the AMA, FDA or similar governing bodies don’t sanction it doesn’t mean a treatment has no effect, and conversely, what the AMA or FDA approves doesn’t mean it’s safe. As Ben Goldacre, the author of Bad Pharma points out, death from pharmaceutical drugs is fast becoming one of the main ways Americans die–and yet it’s CAM that is usually deemed ‘dangerous’ because of its ‘unapproved’ methods. Indeed, it’s essential here to point out that how and why cancer drugs are actually approved is something that should be more closely examined–but that’s a whole other topic for a whole other article.
Here are six alternative cancer treatments, that have been demonized or ignored by mainstream medicine, without sufficient testing of their methods. We’re not saying they would work for anyone with cancer, and we’re not promoting them as cures for cancer, but we are saying they’re certainly worthy of further investigation.
Dr Royal Raymond Rife & His Beam Ray
In the 1930’s, based on the notion that each disease in the human body has its own unique frequency of vibration, Dr Rife claimed to have created a “beam ray” device that destroyed cancer cells via audio frequencies. An independent team of medical specialists at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla, Ca. confirmed that Rife cured sixteen cancer patients in 1934—yet within five years, each team member denied knowing Rife. Why? Big Pharma allegedly pressured them to keep quiet. After Morris Fishbein, the AMA chief, tried and failed to purchase the rights to Rife’s beam ray, the AMA shut Rife down, destroyed his equipment and ultimately ruined him. Luckily, however, you can still find Rife machines today.
Harry Hoxsey Therapy
First marketed in the 1920’s, the herbal-based Hoxsey Therapy had already cured many cancer patients. Hoxsey established a clinic in Dallas in 1936, and subsequently was subjected to multiple attacks by Morris Fishbein in the latter’s capacity as editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Eventually, Hoxsey sued Fishbein and the JAMA, becoming the first so-called “quack” to successfully defeat the AMA in court. Hoxsey died in 1974, but the Bio-Medical Center in Tijuana, Mexico, continues to administer the Hoxsey therapy to cancer patients. Limited controlled studies have been done to test its efficacy.
Max Gerson & Gerson Therapy
The dietary-based Gerson Therapy began in the 1920’s as a tuberculosis treatment before applying its principles to cancer. Gerson subsequently published his results in A Cancer Therapy: Results of 50 Cases. In this, he outlined how a diet rich in organic fresh vegetables consumed mainly in juice form can shrink and even kill certain kinds of cancer tumors. For this, he was repeatedly attacked by the AMA and American Cancer Society and blacklisted by the medical establishment. Like Hoxsey, he was forced to operate from Tijuana, and he eventually died–by arsenic poisoning.
Stanislaw Burzynski: Antineoplaston Therapy
Perhaps the most polarizing figure on this list, Burzynski established his Texas antineoplaston treatment clinic in 1976. Antineoplastons are sodium-rich drugs synthesized from human blood and urine, marketed as a chemo and radiation alternative for certain types of tumors, especially in the brain. Burzynski has successfully treated thousands of patients since 1977. He’s also been harassed by the FDA and National Cancer Institute and faced hearings on Capitol Hill. Indicted in 1995, he was subsequently released on bail. His detractors say he’s the “worst kind of predator,” bleeding desperate, dying people of their savings, but his patients, who were given death sentences by traditional doctors but went on to live long, healthy lives after antineoplaston therapy, consider him to be quite literally a savior, and have defended him passionately in court.
Based on the idea that the lack of health that exists in every single cancer condition has to do with impaired, oxygen-less respiration of the body’s cells, Ozone Therapy claims to be able to deliver better cellular health and kill not only cancer cells, but viruses and infections in the human body.
Whilst popular in Germany, Russia and Bali for almost a century, few other places offer this treatment, despite its long standing safety record. Even as far back as 1896, Nikola Tesla patented the first ozone generator in the U.S, and ozone has been used as a safe and effective water purifier for more than a century.
Ozone has the impressive benefit of being toxic to unhealthy, damaged and dying cells while being non-toxic to healthy cells. For cancer, it should be an important adjunctive therapy to a good nutritional program combined with aggressive detoxification procedures. Whilst mainstream medical doctors may not approve of them, ozone generators have come down appreciably in price over the last few years making them more affordable for home use.
Peter Starr, DIY Cancer Cure
Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2004, award-winning documentarian Peter Starr researched the subject and allegedly cured himself without surgery, drugs or radiation. Then he made a documentary about his experiences, and is currently writing a book about it. His holistic cure included four main steps—blood analysis to determine nutritional deficiencies and correcting them through natural means such as Vitamin D, which is thought to possess antitumor properties; targeted detoxification (heavy metals, excessive calcifications, etc.); hormonal regulation; and addressing previous emotional trauma as a way of decreasing current stress and its physiological effects. In the eyes of the medical establishment, Mr Starr may be the most dangerous man on this list. His story proves that anyone, by exercising a positive attitude and due diligence, can potentially beat cancer with CAM methods.
The fact remains that without research money, these alternative treatments may forever languish in the “unproven” category in terms of effectiveness, despite their being at least some evidence that these could be extremely useful and save millions of lives.
Anti-cancer campaigns like the Pink Ribbon could ease that burden—and strengthen their overall impact on cancer treatment—by choosing to donate to organizations that support CAM research. If so, cancer patients may have additional treatments at their disposal to aid in recovery, and October would mean something even more special. But until the entire cancer industry and the charities that support it reform, and open themselves up to the notion that non-profitable cures for cancer may be the best way forward, self-education is our most reliable tool in the fight against cancer.
All images: Pixabay