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 Nutritional Medicine: Progress Report in the War on Cancer 
Cancer is not a new phenomenon. Archeologists have discovered tumors on dinosaur skeletons and Egyptian mummies. From 1600 B.C. on, historians find records of attempts to treat cancer. In the naturalist Disney film, "Never Cry Wolf", the biologist sent to the Arctic to observe the behavior of wolves found that the wolves would kill off the easiest prey, which were sometimes animals suffering from leukemia. Cancer is an abnormal and rapidly growing tissue which, if unchecked, will eventually smother the body's normal processes. Cancer may have been with us from the beginning of time, but the fervor with which it attacks modern civilization is unprecedented.

President Richard Nixon declared "war on cancer" on December 23, 1971. Nixon confidently proclaimed that we would have a cure for cancer within 5 years, by the 1976 Bicentennial. However, by 1991 a group of 60 noted physicians and scientists gathered a press conference with the message: "The cancer establishment confuses the public with repeated claims that we are winning the war on cancer... Our ability to treat and cure most cancers has not materially improved."1 The unsettling bad news is irrefutable:
  • newly diagnosed cancer incidence continues to escalate, from 1.1 million Americans in 1991 to an anticipated 1.3 million in 1993
  • deaths from cancer in 1992 are projected at 520,000, up from 514,000 in 1991
  • since 1950, the overall cancer incidence has increased by 44%, with breast cancer and male colon cancer up by 60% and prostate cancer by 100%
  • for decades, the 5 year survival has remained constant for non-localized breast cancer at 18% and lung cancer at 13%
  • only 5% of the $1.8 billion annual budget for the National Cancer Institute is spent on prevention
  • grouped together, the average cancer patient has a 50/50 chance of living another five years; which are the same odds he or she had in 1971
  • claims for cancer drugs are generally based on tumor response rather than prolongation of life. Many tumors will initially shrink when chemo and radiation are applied, yet tumors often develop drug-resistance and are then unaffected by therapy.
  • by the turn of the century, cancer is expected to eclipse heart disease as the number one cause
    of death in America. It is already the number one fear.

Have we made any Progress?

Depending on which expert you subscribe to, the war on cancer has been either "a qualified failure" or "is progressing slowly". No one is willing to spread the propaganda that it has been a victory. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), five year survival rates (definition of a cure) have increased from 20% of cancer patients in 1930 to 53% of adults and 70% of children today.2 Critics of the NCI claim that living 5 years after diagnosis has nothing to do with being cured, and that earlier diagnosis alone could account for the improvement in survival.

There are 7 million Americans living today who have been cured of cancer. Twenty years ago, surgery for breast cancer routinely removed the entire breast, lymph nodes and chest muscles in a procedure called radical mastectomy. New methods favor a "lumpectomy" or removal of merely the lump, followed by radiation and/or chemotherapy. In other words, surgeons are becoming more rational and restrained in their efforts to surgically remove the cancer.

Richard Adamson, PhD, Chief of Cancer Etiology at the National Cancer Institute, says that progress has been made against cancer as death rates from colon and rectal cancer have fallen 15-20% in the last 20 years; and other death rates have dropped, including 20% for ovarian, 30% for bladder and 40% for cervical cancer.

Losing the War on Cancer -- Time for Examining Options

The purpose of this section is not to blast the National Cancer Institute, but rather to make it blatantly obvious that our current cancer treatment methods are inadequate and incomplete and that we need to examine some options--like nutrition. A growing body of dissidents cite data to refute the NCI's confident numbers. Among the skeptics is John Bailar, MD, PhD of Harvard University, whose outspoken article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine ushered in a champion for the many strident critics of the National Cancer Institute.3 Bailar, as a member of the National Academy of Sciences and former editor of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, cannot be ignored. Dr. Bailar confronts the NCI's unfounded enthusiasm with "We are losing the war against cancer" and has shown that the death rate, age-adjusted death rate and both crude and age-adjusted incidence rate of cancer continues to climb in spite of efforts by the NCI. Non-whites are excluded from the NCI statistics for vague reasons. Blacks, urban poor, and the 11 million workers exposed to toxic substances have all experienced a dramatic increase in cancer incidence and mortality. Less than 10% of patients with cancer of the pancreas, liver, stomach and esophagus will be alive in five years.4

As a percentage of total annual deaths in America, cancer has escalated from 3% in 1900 to 22% of today's deaths. Many experts have been quick to explain away this frightening trend by claiming that our aging population is responsible for the increase in cancer incidence--older people are more likely to get cancer. But aging does not entirely explain our epidemic proportions of cancer in America.

Perhaps the most tragic "pawns" in this game are the children. The NCI admits to a 28% rise in the incidence of childhood cancers from 1950 through 1987, much of which is due to the ubiquitous presence of environmental pollutants.5 On the other side of the coin, progress in pediatric oncology has produced cure rates in some forms of childhood cancer of up to 90%, which makes chemotherapy for childhood cancers an NCI victory, of sorts. However, while these patients do survive longer, they have a much higher risk for developing bone cancer later in life as a result of the chemo and/or radiation therapy.6

Not that money should be a top priority when health and life are at stake, but our health costs are out of control. We spend about $950 billion per year or 12% of our Gross National Product on health care, compared to Sweden at 8%, a socialistic country with free health care for all, and our former American level of 3% in the year 1900. Even after adjusting for inflation, we spend twice as much money on health care for the elderly as we did prior to the inauguration of Medicare.7 Cancer care is the most expensive of all diseases, costing Americans about $110 billion annually.

Albert Braverman, MD, a full professor of oncology at the State University of New York, has published in the prominent medical journal, Lancet, a biting review of chemotherapy as sole therapy against cancer: "Many medical oncologists recommend chemotherapy for virtually any tumour, with a hopefulness undiscouraged by almost invariable failure."8 And if Bailar started all this rancor, then Ulrich Abel, PhD of the Heidelberg Tumor Center in Germany has brought the issue to a fever pitch. Abel, a well-respected biostatistics expert, published a controversial 92 page review of the world's literature on survival of chemotherapy-treated cancer patients; showing that chemotherapy alone can help only about 3% of the patients with epithelial cancer (such as breast, lung, colon and prostate) which kills 80% of total cancer patients. "...a sober and unprejudiced analysis of the literature has rarely revealed any therapeutic success by the regimens in question."9

A prominent scientist from the University of Wisconsin, Johan Bjorksten, PhD, has shown that chemotherapy alone destroys the immune system beyond a point of return, which increases the risk for early death from infections and other cancers in these immunologically-naked people.10 Critics of American cancer treatment point out that the therapy may sometimes be worse than the condition. Researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that the risk of developing leukemia from chemotherapy treatment of ovarian cancer outweighs the benefits of the therapy.11

Breast and prostate cancer have recently surfaced in the press as "forgotten cancers" due to their intimate nature. While one out of 20 women in 1950 were hit with breast cancer, today that number is one in nine. Even with early detection and proper treatment, a "cured" breast cancer patient will lose an average of 19 years of lifespan. Breast cancer kills about 45,000 women each year.12 Lack of faith in cancer treatment has led a few physicians to recommend that some women with a high incidence of breast or ovarian cancer in their family undergo "preventive surgery" to remove these high risk body parts.13 Life and health insurance companies now refer to healthy intact women as "with organs" and at high risk, therefore forced to pay higher health insurance premiums.

And while breast cancer is tragic, prostate cancer is equally prevalent in men and even more lethal. The NCI spends one fourth the amount on prostate cancer research as on breast cancer research. There are no good early screening procedures for prostate cancer, which means that in 85% of the prostate cancers found, the cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland and is difficult to treat. Comparing the outcome of 223 patients with untreated prostate cancer to 58 patients who underwent radical prostatectomy, the 10 year disease-specific survival was 86.8% and 87.9% respectively. There was essentially no difference in survival between the treated and untreated groups.14

While tamoxifen is being administered to thousands of cancer patients and trials are underway to eventually use tamoxifen as a chemo-preventive agent for millions of high risk breast cancer patients, other data shows that tamoxifen is carcinogenic, with a 60% increase in cancer in the tamoxifen-treated humans.15

According to an extensive review of the literature, there has been no improvement in cancer mortality from 1952 through 1985.16 These authors state: "Evidence has steadily accrued that [cancer therapy] is essentially a failure." There are no good screening tests for colon cancer. Meanwhile, we spend millions researching molecular biology in a futile quest for a "magic bullet" against cancer.17 A London physician and researcher has provided statistical backing for his contention that breast cancer screenings in women under age 50 provides no benefit in 99.85% of the premenopausal women tested.18 The average cancer patient still has only a 40-50% chance of surviving the next five years, same odds as 30 years ago. A gathering chorus of scientists and clinicians proclaim that success from chemo and radiation therapy has plateaued and we need to examine alternative therapies.19

A 1971 textbook jointly published by the American Cancer Society and the University of Rochester stated that biopsy of cancer tissue may lead to the spread of cancer.20 Although encapsulated cancer can be effectively treated with surgery and 22% of all cancer can be "cured" through surgery21, 30% or more of surgery patients with favorable prognosis still have cancer recurrences.22 A study of 440,000 cancer patients who received chemotherapy or radiation showed that those treated with radiation had a significantly increased risk for a type of leukemia involving cells other than the lymphocytes.23 Long term effects of radiation include: birth defects and infertility. Short term effects include: mouth sores and ulcers which can interfere with the ability to eat, rectal ulcers, fistulas, bladder ulcers, diarrhea and colitis.

Analysis of over 100 clinical trials using chemotherapy as sole treatment in breast cancer patients found no benefits and significant damage from the chemotherapy in post-menopausal patients.24 A member of the National Cancer Advisory Board, Dr. Rose Kushner, pointed out that toxic drugs are "literally making healthy people sick" and are "only of marginal benefit to the vast majority of women who develop breast cancer."25 While some scientists and clinicians argue that chemotherapy does not cure breast cancer but can add a few years to the patients' lives; other experts counter that chemotherapy actually shortens the life of breast cancer patients.26`

According to a psychologist writing in the American Cancer Society Journal, "the side effects of cancer chemotherapy can cause more anxiety and distress than the disease itself."27 A well-recognized side effect of chemotherapy is suppression of bone marrow, which produces the white blood cells that fight infection. This common immune suppression leads to the all-too-common death from infection.28

According to the literature which comes with each chemotherapeutic agent, methotrexate may be "hepatotoxic" (damaging to the liver) and suppresses immune function. Adriamycin can cause "serious irreversible myocardial toxicity (damage to heart) with delayed congestive heart failure often unresponsive to any cardiac supportive therapy." Cytoxan can cause "secondary malignancies" (cancer from its use). It is widely known among health care professionals that just working around chemotherapy agents can cause birth defects.29

In spite of $35 billion in research at the NCI and billions more spent in private industry, there have been no new chemotherapy drugs discovered in the past 20 years.30 Not even NCI official, Dr.Daniel Ihde, can conjur up any enthusiasm for the failure of chemotherapy drugs against lung cancer.31 Given the limited successes in traditional cancer treatment, it is not surprising that 50% of all American cancer patients seek "alternative therapies".

Biological therapies, such as interferon and interleukin, are extremely toxic, with treatment requiring weeks of hospitalization, usually in intensive therapy, with multiple transfusions, severe bleeding, shock, and confusion as common side effects.32 Interferon causes rapid onset of fever, chills, and severe muscle contractions that may require morphine.33

Where did we go Wrong?

There has been a lot of finger pointing since the war on cancer was so heavily criticized. For starters, it would be easy to blame bread mold, from which springs penicillin, which was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928 and gave us hope that there was a "magic bullet" against every disease. We could rest equal blame on Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine in 1952, for such a tremendous show from his medicine bag. With a simple vaccine, one of the most tragic pandemic plagues of history was felled. Again, more reasons to believe that a "magic bullet" against every disease must exist.

Another scapegoat is good old patriotic pride. After all, it was the Americans who rode into World Wars I and II to rescue the world. Americans stepped in to finish the Panama Canal after the French had failed. Americans have more patents and Nobel laureates than any other nation on earth. We had good reasons to be confident of curing cancer.

Some of our problem lies in scientific research models. Using animals with induced leukemia, a non-localized disease of the blood-forming organs, is not a realistic representation of how well a cancer drug will work against a solid human tumor. We have also made the erroneous assumption that "no detectable cancer" means no cancer. A million cancer cells are undetectable by even the most sensitive medical equipment. A billion cancer cells become a tiny and nearly undetectable "lump".34 When the surgeon says,"We think we got it all."--that is when the war on cancer must become an invisible battle involving the patient's well-nourished immune system.

We also have wrongly guessed that "response rate", or shrinkage of the tumor, is synonymous with cure. As mentioned, chemotherapy works on cancer cells like pesticides work on insects. Spraying pesticides on a field of plants may kill 99% of the bugs in the field, but the few insects that survive this baptism of poison have a unique genetic advantage to resist the toxicity of the pesticide. These "super bugs" then reproduce even more rapidly without competition, since the pesticides killed off biological predators in the field and reduced the fertility of the soil for an overall drop in plant health. Similarly, blasting a typically malnourished cancer patient with bolus (high dose once per week) injections of chemotherapy alone may elicit an initial shrinkage of the tumor, but the few tumor cells that survive this poison become resistant to therapy and may even accelerate the course of the disease in the now immune-suppressed patient. Meanwhile, the once marginally malnourished patient becomes clinically malnourished since nausea becomes a prominent symptom in bolus chemo usage. An expert in cancer at Duke University, Dr. John Grant, has estimated that 40% or more of cancer patients actually die from malnutrition.35

We also made the mistake of becoming enamored with a few tools that we thought could eradicate cancer. We focused all of our energies in these three areas and ridiculed or even outlawed any new ideas. Because the real reason for our failure lies in our error in thinking. The wellness and illness of our bodies is almost entirely dependent on what we eat, think, drink, move, and breath. These forces shape our general metabolism, which is the sum total of bodily processes. Our metabolism then either favors or discourages the growth of both infectious and degenerative diseases. Cancer is a degenerative disease of abnormal metabolism throughout the body--not just a regionalized lump or bump.

Our health is composed of a delicate interplay of nutrients consumed, and toxins expelled, coupled with mental and spiritual forces that influence metabolism. We are a product of our genes, lifestyle and environment. We are not dumb automobiles to be taken to the mechanic and fixed. We are physical and metaphysical beings who must become part of the cure, just as surely as we are a part of the disease process. Healing is a joint effort between patient, clinician, and that mysterious and wonderful Force which most of us take for granted. The days of "magic bullet" cures are over. The days of cooperative efforts between patient and clinician are here to stay.

Only Teamwork will Beat Cancer

Shortly before the turn of the millenia, cancer will become the number one cause of death in Western society.36 Cancer is a cruel disease that infiltrates the body with abnormal tissue growth and finally strangles its victims with malnutrition, infections or multiple organ failure. We need teamwork in cancer treatment because of the formidable "Predator" that we face. We cannot discard any cancer therapy, no matter how strange or perpendicular to medical theories, unless that therapy does not work. There are no "magic bullets" against cancer, nor can we anticipate such a development within our lifetime. We need to join the forces of traditional oncology with the ancillary fields of nutrition, psychology, detoxification, exercise physiology, botanical extracts and others to develop a more complete arsenal against cancer.

Chemotherapy has its role, especially for certain types of cancer and when administered in fractionated dose or via intra-arterial infusion to a therapeutically nourished patient. Radiation therapy has its place, especially as the highly targeted brachytherapy. Surgery has its place, especially when the tumor has been encapsulated and can be removed without bursting the collagen envelope. Hyperthermia can be extremely valuable in about 4% of all cancer cases. Combinations of these traditional therapies are becoming better accepted in medical circles. Later in this book, you will see the synergism in creative combinations of conventional and unconventional cancer therapies, like quercetin (a bioflavonoid) and heat therapy or niacin with radiation therapy. The take home lesson here is: "Just because traditional medicine has failed to develop an unconditional cure for cancer, doesn't mean that we should categorically reject all traditional approaches."

Our reigning allopathic medical system has maintained a philosophy that most diseases have a readily identifiable enemy that can be surgically removed or blasted into submission with chemo and radiation. Comprehensive cancer treatment uses traditional cancer therapies to reduce the tumor burden, while concurrently building up the "terrain" of the cancer patient to fight the cancer on a microscopic level. That is the "one-two punch" that will eventually bring the Predator of cancer to its knees.


1. Ingram, B., Medical Tribune, vol.33, no.4, p.1, Feb.1992

2. Mayo Clinic Health Letter, vol.10, no.2, , p.1, Feb.1992

3. Bailar, JC, New England Journal of Medicine, vol.314, p.1226, May 1986

4. Squires, S, Washington Post, p.Z19, Dec.3, 1991

5. Epstein, SS, and Moss, RW, The Cancer Chronicles, p.5, Autumn 1991

6. Weiss, R., Science News, p.165, Sept.12, 1987

7. Stout, H, Wall Street Journal, p.B5, Feb.26, 1992

8. Braverman, AS, Lancet, vol.337, p.901, Apr.13, 1991

9. Abel, U., CHEMOTHERAPY OF ADVANCED EPITHELIAL CANCER: A Critical Survey, Hippokrates Verlag Stuttgart, 1990

10. Bjorksten, J, LONGEVITY, p.22, JAB Publ., Charleston, SC, 1987

11. Kaldor, JM, et al., New England Journal of Medicine, vol.322, no.1, p.1, Jan.1990

12. Neuman, E, New York Times, Insight, p.7, Feb.9, 1992

13. Bartimus, T., Tulsa World, p.B3, Dec.22, 1991

14. Johansson, JE, et al., Journal American Medical Association, vol.267, p.2191, Apr.22, 1992

15. Ralof, J., Science News, vol.141, p.266, Apr.25, 1992

16. Temple, NJ, et al., Journal Royal Society Medicine, vol.84, p.95, 1991

17. Temple, NJ, et al., Journal Royal Society of Medicine, vol.84, p.95, Feb.1991

18. Shaffer, M., Medical Tribune, p.4, Mar.26, 1992

19. Hollander, S., et al., Journal of Medicine, vol.21, p.143, 1990


21. American Cancer Society, "Modern cancer treatment" in CANCER BOOK, Doubleday, NY, 1986

22. National Cancer Institute, Update: Primary treatment is not enough for early stage breast cancer, Office of Cancer Communications, May 18, 1988

23. Curtis, RE, et al., Journal National Cancer Institute, p.72, Mar.1984

24. New England Journal Medicine, Feb.18, 1988; see also Boffey, PM, New York Times, Sept.13, 1985

25. Kushner, R., CA-Cancer Journal for Clinicians, p.34, Nov.1984

26. Powles, TJ, et al., Lancet, p.580, Mar.15, 1980

27. Redd, WH, CA-Cancer Journal for Clinicians, p.138, May1988

28. Whitley, RJ, et al., Pediatric Annals, vol.12, p.6, June 1983; see also Cancer Book, ibid.

29. Jones, RB, et al., California Journal of American Cancer Society, vol.33, no.5, p.262, 1983

30. Hollander, S., and Gordon, M., Journal of Medicine, vol.21, no.3, p.143, 1990

31. Ihde, DC, Annals of Internal Medicine, vol.115, no.9, p.737, Nov.1991

32. Moertel, CG, Journal American Medical Association, vol.256, p.3141, Dec.12, 1986

33. Hood, LE, American Journal Nursing, p.459, Apr.1987

34. Dollinger, M., et al., EVERYONE'S GUIDE TO CANCER THERAPY, p.2, Somerville House, Kansas City, 1990

35. Grant, JP, Nutrition, vol.6, no.4, p.6S, July 1990 supl

36. Meyskens, FL, New England Journal of Medicine, vol.23, no.12, p.825, Sept. 1990

(Excerpted from Beating Cancer with Nutrition: Clinically Proven and Easy-To-Follow Strategies to Dramatically Improve Quality and Quantity of L ISBN: 0963837281)
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 About The Author
Patrick Quillin PhD, RDDr. Patrick Quillin, an internationally respected expert in the area of nutrition and cancer, has served as the Director of Nutrition for Cancer Treatment Centers of America (800-577-1255) for the past ten years.......more
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