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lternative and Complementary Therapies

Alternative Cancer Therapies

© Richard Walters

"Practicing physicians are intimidated into using regimes which they know do not word. One of the most glaring examples is chemotherapy, which does not work for the majority of cancers," Alan Levin, M.D., told a national conference on abuses in medicine held in 1985. A distinguished professor of immunology at the University of California at San Francisco Medical School, Levin added, "Despite the fact that most physicians agree that chemotherapy is largely ineffective, they are coerced into using it by special interest groups which have vested interest in the profits of the drug industry."18 Prescribing chemotherapy when it has little or no chance of working "is at best stupid and at worst criminal," notes Dr. Robert Atkins, well-known practitioner of complementary medicine.19 Yet mainstream cancer doctors do this on a daily basis.

Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, used on about half of American cancer patients employs high-intensity X-rays to cripple cancer cells' ability to reproduce. Radioactivity emanating from artificial implants- such as cobalt-60 or radium "seeds" inserted directly into the cancer-is also used. The problem with radiation is that like chemotherapy, it damages normal, healthy cells in the process of killing cancer cells. Radiation severely depresses immunity and can cause serious chromosomal damage at both diagnostic- and therapeutic-dose levels. Radiotherapy is a powerful carcinogen; it causes secondary cancers in many patients exposed to it. In one study, as many as 17 percent of the patients treated with radiotherapy developed secondary cancers within twenty years in the sites exposed to the radiation.

Radiation can achieve five-year remission in 80 percent of very early Hodgkin's disease patients and is effective in treating Iymphosarcoma, inoperable local prostate cancer, and localized tumors of the head, neck, and cervix. It is probably preferable to surgery for some cancers, such as cancer of the larynx or prostate. In treating breast cancer, lumpectomy combined with radiotherapy appears to decrease the chances of recurrence in the affected breast, although this is disputed since later cancers can occur ten years after exposure.

Other than these successes, radiation appears to be of limited value in the treatment of cancer and often does more harm than good.

Several studies have shown that people who undergo radiation therapy are more likely to have their cancer metastasize to other sites in their bodies. This was noted by oncologist Dr. Lucien Israel, consultant to the National Cancer Institute, in his book Conquering Canecr.20 The radioactivity used to kill cancer cells can also trigger the process of mutation that creates new cancer cells of other types.

Radiation therapy causes damage and dysfunction in body organs and tissues. Various studies have shown that it offers no survival advantage for most cancers. "The majority of cancers," writes John Cairns in the November 1985 issue of Scientific American, "cannot be cured by radiation because the dose of X rays required to kill all the cancer cells would also kill the patient." Cairns is a professor at the Harvard University School of Public Health.

Radiotherapy following breast surgery increases death rates, according to several clinical trials and a study published in The Lancet.2~1 Yet 50 percent of radiologists still radiate women following surgery for breast cancer. "Complications following high-dose radiotherapy for breast cancer are: fibrous, shrunken breasts, rib fractures, pleural and/or lung scarring, nerve damage, scarring around the heart . . . suppression of all blood cells, immune suppression," according to Robert F. Jones, M.D., writing in the Seattle Times on duly 27, 1980. "Many radiation complications do not occur for several years after treatment, giving the therapist and the patient a false sense of security for a year or two following therapy.... The bone marrow, in which blood cells are made, is largely obliterated in the field of irradiation.... This is an irreversible effect."

There is very little agreement in the medical fraternity about the proper role of chemotherapy combined with radiation therapy in the treatment of malignant tumors. Opinions among oncologists range from enthusiastic approval to strong condemnation. As noted earlier, people who undergo both chemotherapy and radiation experience later cancers twenty-five times more often than the general population.

The side effects of radiation therapy include severe, prolonged immune deficiency and chromosomal damage resulting in later cancer. "Even very moderate amounts of radiation of the testicles and ovaries may cause sterilization or induce genetic mutations," notes Dr. Israel.22 Radiotherapy can permanently stunt growth in children. Its other side effects include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and excessive weakness and fatigue, sometimes rendering patients
  • "Sores or ulcers . . . in the mouth, throat, intestines, genital areas and other parts of the body...." (American Cancer Society, Cancer Book, 1986.) Mouth sores can make it difficult to eat.
  • Bone death in the mouth following irradiation of the tongue, mouth, or gums.
  • Temporary or permanent hair loss, depending on the dosage.
  • Welts and extensive burns of the skin and mucous membranes.
  • Permanent dilation of the small capillaries and arteries under the skin in patients who have a wide area irradiated, as with breast cancer.
  • Amenorrhea in women close to menopause who are exposed to as little as 400 reds of radiation. (Rad stands for "radiation absorbed dose," which is the basic unit of ionizing radiation.)
  • "Rectal ulcers, fistulas, bladder ulcers, diarrhea, and colitis" in "women undergoing radiation of the pelvic cavity." (ACS, Cancer Book, 1986.)
  • The swelling of tumors after a single large dose of radiation. This is especially dangerous for brain tumors. Patients may receive corticosteroids in an attempt to prevent this effect.

    Many doctors believe that radiotherapy is relatively harmless, so they continue to recommend this highly lucrative treatment to patients as a palliative. But even "safe" levels of radiation are suspect. Early studies at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York showed that radiotherapy was deadly and that patients who received no radiation lived longer than those who were irradiated. These and similar findings were presented to Congress in 1953 in the famous Fitzgerald Report, which charged that the medical establishment was actively conspiring to suppress promising alternative cancer therapies.28 But these important studies were ignored, and the radiotherapy industry got its way. "For 30 years radiologists in this country have been engaged in massive malpractice," charged Dr. Irwin Bross in 1979.24 Bross, former director of biostatistics at Roswell Park Memorial Institute, was unable to get adequate funding to research the thirty-year cover-up of what he calls doctor-caused cancer from radiation therapy.

    Surgery is sometimes a necessary, lifesaving procedure in treating cancer. It is effective as a cure for early, small tumors that have not spread to other parts of the body. For example, surgery achieves roughly 70 percent five-year survival in uterine cancers, 85 percent in skin cancers, 60 percent in breast cancers, and 40 percent in colon cancers. But once a tumor has grown beyond a certain size or has spread to other sites, it is frequently inoperable. There is no reliable way to tell whether a tumor is localized or has metastasized. In early-stage breast cancer, 30 percent or more of women given a favorable prognosis after surgery experience recurrences of their cancer, according to the latest figures from the National Cancer Institute.25

    Surgeons routinely tell cancer patients, "I got it all," but many studies have shown that some cancer cells are left behind in 25 to 60 percent of patients, allowing malignant growths to recur. Surgery itself is often responsible for the spread of the cancer, according to many physicians. A microscopic miscue or careless manipulation of tumor tissue by the surgeon can "spill. literally millions of cancer cells into the bloodstream. Surgical biopsy, a procedure used to detect early-stage cancer, can also contribute to the spread of cancer. "Often while making a biopsy the malignant tumor is cut across, which tends to spread or accelerate the growth. Needle biopsies can accomplish the same tragic results," observed Dr. William Kelley.26

    Surgery weakens immunity, places great systemic stress on the patient, and can cause sudden death. Many cancer patients have died on the operating table, or shortly after leaving it, from complications of surgery. Some surgical operations are performed needlessly. "Even though it's been proven conclusively that lymph node excision after radiation does not prevent the spread of cervical cancer, you will still see lymphadenectomies performed all over the country routinely. This despite the fact that lymphadenectomies make women feel so bad they wish they were dead-and are a proven useless procedure."27

    Pain, disfigurement, and restriction of function often accompany surgery. Many cancer patients are left debilitated, crippled, traumatized, or humiliated after the operation. A surprising number of "cured" cancer patients have had their lives ruined by the "successful" surgery. For all these reasons, cutting up the body is not the final answer to cancer.


    1. Gary Null "Medical Genocide Part 16," Penthouse, 1987, quoted in Barry Lynes, The Healing of Cancer (Queensville, Ontario: Marcus Books, 1989), p. 10. .
    2. John Cairns, The Treatment of Diseases and the War Against Cancer," Scientific American, November 1985.
    3. W.H. Cole, "Opening Address: Spontaneous Regression of Cancer and the Importance of Finding Its Cause," Conference on Spontaneous Regression of Cancer, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, Monograph 44, Department of Health, Education and Welfare Pub. No. (NIH) 76-1038, 1976, pp. 5-9. .
    4. Judith Glassman, The Cancer Survivors (Garden City, NY: Dial Press, 1983), pp. 323-324. .
    5. Harold D. Foster, "Lifestyle Changes and the 'Spontaneous' Regression of Cancer: An Initial Computer Analysis," International Journal of Biosocial Research, vol. 10, no. 1, 1988, pp. 17-33, reprinted in Healing Newsletter, vol. 5, no. 3, available from the Gerson Institute. .
    6. Peter Barry Chowka, "The National Cancer Institute and the Fifty Year Cover Up,. East West Journal, January 1978, cited in Lynes, op. cit. .
    7. Hardin B. Jones, "A Report on Cancer,. speech delivered to the American Cancer Society's 11th Annual Science Writers' Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, 7 March 1969, published in The Choice, May 1977. .
    8. Barrie Cassileth et al., "Contemporary Unorthodox Treatments in Cancer Medicine," Annals of Internal Medicine, vol. 101, 1984, pp. 105-112. .
    9. Robert Houston, Repression and R~eform in the Evaluation of Alternative Cancer Therapies, Project CURE, Washington, D.C., 1987, p. 13. .
    10. Ralph Moss, The Cancer Industry (New York: Paragon House, 1989), p. 98. .
    11. Houston, op. cit., p. 7. .
    12. "Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technologies," U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, PB 286-929, 1978, p. 7. .
    13. Ken Wilber, Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber (Boston: Shambhala, 1991), chap. 15. .
    14. New York State Journal of Medicine, March 1971, p. 554. .
    15. John Laszlo, Understanding Cancer (NewYork:~ Harper and Row, 1987). .
    16. Dick Richards, The Topic of Cancer: When the Killing Has to Stop (Oxford, England and New York: Pergamon Press, 1982). .
    17. T.J. Powles et al., "Failure of Chemotherapy to Prolong Survival in a Group of Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer," The Lancet, 15 March 1980, p. 580. .
    18. Dissent in Medicine: Nine Doctors Speak Out (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1985). .
    19. Robert C. Atkins, Dr. Atkins' Health Revolution: How Complementary Medicine Can Extend Your Life (New York: Bantam Books, 1990), p. 332. .
    20. Lucien Israel, Conquering Cancer (New York: Random House, 1978), p. 95. .
    21. Jan Stjernsward, "Decreased Survival Related to Irradiation Postoperatively in Early Operable Breast Cancer," The Lancet, 30 November 1974; and Mark Fuerst, "Doctors Persist With Outmoded Cancer Therapies," Cancer Forum, vol. 9, no. 7-8, Winter 1988-1989, p. 11. .
    22. Israel, op. cit., p. 95. .
    23. Ben Fitzgerald, Congressional Record, 28 August 1953; and see Lynes, op. cit. .
    24. Quoted in Moss, op. cit., p. 72. .
    25. "Primary Treatment Is Not Enough for Early Stage Breast Cancer," Update, National Cancer Institute, Office of Cancer Communications, 18 May 1988. .
    26. William D. Kelley, Dr. Kelley's Answer to Cancer (Winthrop, WA: Wedgestone Press, 1986), p. 11. .
    27. Patrick McGrady, Jr., "The Cancer Patient's Quandary," Townsend Letter for Doctors, no. 16, June 1984, p. 99.

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