Nevertheless, the damage was done. The ACS's blacklisting of hydrazine sulfate caused Gold's funding to dry up and scared away other researchers from following up on his early papers.
But Gold refused to give up. In 1975, he did a study of the drug's effects on eighty-four advanced cancer patients. A total of 70 percent of them experienced weight gain (or the cessation of weight loss) and reduced pain. Only 17 percent showed tumor improvements. Meanwhile, Russian scientists at Leningrad's Petrov Research Institute were getting impressive results. In one study of forty-eight terminal cancer patients treated with hydrazine sulfate, 35 percent had tumor stabilization or regression and 59 percent showed "subjective response" (ability to function normally, complete disappearance or marked reduction of pain, and so forth).
As a result of these and other favorable studies, the American Cancer Society announced in 1979 that it was removing hydrazine sulfate from its official blacklist. Only four other "unproven methods" that were once stigmatized on the ACS list as "quackery" have been removed from it. However, the ACS included hydrazine sulfate in the 1979 edition of the Unproven Methods list, and that edition continued to be circulated until 1982. Hydrazine sulfate was finally removed from the list the next time the list was revised, in July 1982.3
Tim Hansen, now in his early twenties, of Minneapolis, Kansas, is one person grateful for the existence of hydrazine sulfate therapy. In August 1984, when he was eleven years old, Tim was diagnosed with three inoperable malignant tumors that were growing quickly in his brain. He was placed on radiation therapy, but his health steadily deteriorated until, by early 1985, his weight had dropped to fifty-five pounds. "The radiation harmed his mental functioning, and in January 1985 the surgeon told me that Tim had one week to live," says Gloria Hansen, Tim's mother.
In February, after reading a short item about hydrazine sulfate in McCall's, Gloria and her husband, Ray, got in touch with Dr. Gold, and Tim was put on hydrazine sulfate therapy by his physicians in Kansas. By August, his weight was up to seventy-five pounds. By early 1987, two of Tim's tumors had completely vanished. In January 1991, a computerized axial tomograph (CAT scan) revealed further shrinkage of the remaining tumor, located in the base of the brain. Dr. Gold plans to keep Tim on the hydrazine sulfate protocol until the tumor is completely gone. Tim graduated from high school in 1990 and is now studying electronics at a trade school, getting A's and B's.
Dr. Gold first stumbled upon hydrazine sulfate's anticancer properties during his methodical quest for a specific type of therapy. Cancer has two principal devastating effects on the body. One is the invasion of the tumor into the vital organs, with the destruction of the organs' functions-the most common cause of cancer death in the public's mind. In reality, however, this accounts for only about 23 percent of the country's half-million annual cancer deaths.
The other devastating effect of cancer is cachexia, the terrible wasting away of the body, with its attendant weight loss and debilitation. In cancer, as in AIDS, patients succumb to the accompanying illnesses, which they would otherwise survive if not for the wasting syndrome.
"In a sense, nobody ever dies of cancer,. notes Dr. Harold Dvorak, chief of pathology at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. "They die of something else-pneumonia, failure of one or another organs. Cachexia accelerates that process of infection and the building-up of metabolic poisons. It causes death a lot faster than the tumor would, were it not for the cachexia."4