Over a twenty-five year period, Dr. William Donald Kelley, a dentist by training, developed a complex approach to treating many chronic and degenerative diseases, including cancer. The three main elements of his metabolic program are nutrition, detoxification, and supplements of pancreatic enzymes. Although the controversial Kansas-born practitioner was condemned as a charlatan by the orthodox medical establishment, thousands of severely ill patients sought his advice and followed his program, many with reported good results. Today, a number of practitioners claim to be using the Kelley regimen, though whether they actually are is open to question.
Interest in Kelley's therapy has increased dramatically in recent years, largely due to the work of Nicholas Gonzalez, a New York City physician who treats cancer patients in advanced or terminal stages using a modified version of the Kelley program. A graduate of Cornell University Medical School, Dr. Gonzalez undertook a five-year case study of Kelley's own cancer patients who had done well on the program.1 Gonzalez's 500-page study was prepared under the sponsorship of Robert Good, M.D., Ph.D., then president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. It is "widely regarded as the finest case review ever conducted concerning an alternative cancer therapy," according to Misinformation From OTA on Unconventional Cancer Treatments, by Robert G. Houston.2
"Gonzalez has given us convincing evidence that diet and nutrition produce long-term remission in cancer patients almost all of whom were beyond conventional help," wrote the late Harold Ladas, Ph.D., a biologist and former professor at Hunter College. "Because the cases [in Gonzalez's study] represent a wide variety of cancers, the implication is that the paradigm has wide applicability to cancer treatment.... What should happen is that ACS or NCI should immediately follow up with a half million dollar study to evaluate the rest of Kelley's cancer patients. But don't hold your breath," added Ladas, who concluded, "The evidence is in, and it is stunning. Kelley is vindicated."3 Dr. Gonzalez's findings on Kelley's patients are discussed later in this chapter.
William Kelley held that a root cause of cancer is the body's inability to metabolize (digest and utilize) protein. "The person gets cancer because he's not properly metabolizing the protein in his diet," said Dr. Kelley. "Then, to make matters worse, the tumor has such a high metabolism that it uses up much of the food which is eaten." If a person's disordered protein metabolism is not corrected, Kelley continued, "it will give rise to more tumors in the future, even if the first one is successfully removed. This, by the way, is the unfortunate reason why so many seemingly successful cancer operations end up in recurrences a year or two later. The tumor was removed, but the cause-improper protein metabolism-remained."4
Dr. Kelley linked faulty metabolism to a deficiency of pancreatic enzymes, which he regarded as a fundamental cause of cancer. He believed that certain pancreatic enzymes, especially those that are proteolytic (protein-digesdng) enzymes, are the body's first line of defense against malignancy. This theory stands in marked contrast to conventional medicine, which holds that the immune system, with its natural killer cells, protects people against cancer.
As every biology student learns, the pancreas releases enzymes directly into the small intestine to aid digestion. But Kelley maintained that the pancreas also secretes enzymes into the bloodstream, where they circulate, reaching all body tissues and killing cancer cells by digesting them. Studies in the clinical literature lend support to this theory, first proposed by Dr. John Beard, a Scottish embryologist working at the turn of the century.5
Imbalance of mineral metabolism is another condition that allows malignancy to occur, according to Dr. Kelley. He identified mineral imbalance as a root cause of the breakdown of the immune system. Additionally, he said, cancer cells produce immune-blocking factors and seem to generate an electromagnetic force field that inhibits the proper response of the immune system.
The Kelley anticancer program combines therapeutic nutrition, supplements intended to destroy cancer cells, and vigorous detoxification of the body. Kelley divided people into what he called ten metabolic types, with slow-oxidizing vegetarians at one extreme and fast-oxidizing carnivores at the other. Each person is different, he asserted, not only in nutritional needs but also in food utilization.
For each of the ten different metabolic types, a different nutritional program was recommended. An individualized diet was tailored to match the metabolic character of each patient, taking into account his or her physiology, neurological and physical make-up, basic metabolic rate, and personality. Some common threads ran through the diets, however. The consumption of raw, organic fruits and vegetables was emphasized, while protein intake was reduced considerably in order to preserve the enzymes needed to digest the fruits and vegetables.
In addition to following a diet, Kelley's patients also took up to 150 supplement pills per day, including pancreatic enzymes, vitamins and minerals, and concentrates of raw beef or organs and glands believed by Kelley to contain tissue-specific growth factors, hormones, natural stimulants, and "protective" molecules.
A direct antitumor effect has been observed repeatedly in patients on various metabolic therapies who receive enzymes either orally or by injection. As the enzyme "digests. the tumor, large amounts of cellular debris are released into the bloodstream and surrounding tissues, according to Kelley. These breakdown products from cancer cells are foreign to the normal body and can be very toxic, he maintained. Even though the liver and kidney can filter these substances out of the bloodstream, the wastes from tumor destruction form so quickly during enzyme therapy that the body's normal detoxification processes may become overloaded.
To assist their bodies in detoxification, Kelley's patients periodically discontinued their enzymes and other supplements for several days. This rest period, Kelley believed, allows the liver and kidneys to catch up with the body's load of tumor by-products. As a second aid in detoxification, Kelley advised all his patients to take at least one coffee enema daily. His reasoning was that coffee enemas clean out the liver and gallbladder and help the body get rid of the toxins produced during tumor breakdown.
During a coffee enema, claimed Kelley, the caffeine that is rapidly absorbed in the large intestine flows quickly into the liver. He held that in high enough concentrations, caffeine causes the liver and gallbladder to contract vigorously, releasing large amounts of stored wastes into the intestinal tract and greatly aiding elimination. Kelley also believed that enemas are important in stimulating the immune system, since most waste products eliminated by detoxification are enzyme inhibitors. Frequent enemas prevent the suppression of protein-digesting enzymes. These enzymes can break down the cancer cells' fibrin (protein) coats, making the cancer cells more vulnerable to the immune system.
Nonorthodox doctors other than Kelley, among them Dr. Max Gerson (Chapter 17), have recommended coffee enemas.
The original Kelley program also included purges to cleanse the liver, gallbladder, intestines, kidneys, and lungs. Like many other metabolic therapists, Kelley believed that the functioning of these organs is severely impaired in the cancer patient. Colonic irrigations, liver and gallbladder flushes, and controlled sweating accomplished the cleansing tasks. Kelley also often recommended some form of manipulative therapy, such as chiropractic adjustment or osteopathic manipulation, to stimulate enervated nerves.
A frequently overlooked aspect of the Kelley system is its spiritual component. Kelley called his approach metabolic ecology, taking into account the cancer patient's total environment-physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. He urged the patient to "accept the fact that you are afflicted with a symptom (malignant cancer) and that recovery is possible. Establish a faith in a power greater than yourself and know that with His help you can regain health and harmony."6 Patients were encouraged to conduct a searching self-analysis and to eliminate negative behavioral patterns and emotions.
The rigorous Kelley regimen is not easy. It requires self-discipline and a strong will to alter established dietary and other habits. Some patients experience fear and anxiety during "healing crises" involving Iymph-system swelling, pain, and fever, all normal responses as the body detoxifies and heals. Critics of the system are deeply troubled by the enormous number of pills the patient is required to consume. Orthodox medicine holds that megadoses of vitamins and minerals are unnecessary and can be harmful. Excessive amounts of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are stored in the body and can be toxic, according to mainstream physicians.
But Kelley proponents counter that the nutritional program supplies various aids to the digestive system enabling the large doses of supplements to be absorbed and fully utilized. These digestive aids include hydrochloric acid, said to be abnormally low in many people, lessening their ability to digest proteins. Kelley also prescribed a combination of the herb comfrey and the digestive enzyme pepsin. These supplements dissolve the mucous coatings that cover the villi (the fingerlike projections) of the small intestine and block the absorption of nutrients.
Kelley's theory that people are genetically carnivorous, vegetarian, or somewhere in-between is rejected by many vegetarians and by others.
Some prospective patients were put off by the idea of frequent enemas, although Kelley claimed that most of his patients quickly adapted to this procedure. In fact, many patients on metabolic-therapy programs have reported a dramatic increase in energy and improved outlook after a coffee enema, presumably because of the elimination of toxins from the bloodstream, cells, and liver. The procedure appears to calm and soothe the nervous system, dispelling nausea, irritability, lethargy, lack of appetite, and sometimes even severe pain.
Pat Judson, a woman from Dearborn, Michigan, became Dr. Kelley's patient in 1972, having been operated on for cancer of the colon two years earlier. She is now in excellent health and completely cancer-free after her original diagnosis of "incurable" cancer. As she told a Michigan State Legislature committee investigating alternative cancer treatments in 1977, "I speak as . . . a cancer patient who seven years ago was sent home to die by a doctor who told me there was nothing more traditional medicine could do for me.... One of the doctors that performed my surgery told me that I had the fastest-growing type known to man and cobalt or chemotherapy would not help me. Expressing surprise that I even survived the surgery, he told me I had six months to a year to live. However, I was given diethylstilbestrol [DES] for hormone balance since they had also removed my ovaries. I have wondered many times why a medical doctor would prescribe a cancer-producing drug to a cancer patient."7
In January 1972, almost two years after the original surgery, Pat had a recurrence of the blockage of her colon, and the cancer had metastasized to the lymph glands. Reluctant to go through the ordeal of surgery a second time, she turned to a different doctor, who advised her that she might survive "possibly three months" with surgery. At that point, she heard of the nutritional therapy of Dr. Kelley and went to visit him in Texas.
After taking a blood sample and conducting diagnostic tests that were subjected to computer analysis, Kelley determined that Pat had a cancer index of 600. This scale was devised by Kelley to gauge the body's ability to defend itself; it runs from an optimal 1 (normal) to 1,000 (terminal, beyond help). Following these tests, Kelley prescribed a combination of diet, rest, exercise, and detoxification.
When Pat Judson returned to Kelley's office five months later for a checkup, her index rating had dropped to 300 and her cancer was under control. Eleven months after the initial visit, a shriveled mass of excreted material was found to be necrotic, or dead, tissue from the colon tumor. Pat's next cancer-index reading with Kelley was 50, which is within the normal range. Standard diagnostic tests subsequently confirmed her to be in remission.