- Legal Laetrile Looms Large
- Helene Brown Silenced
- McNaughton Unloads Beach House
- Happy Rockefeller Abandoning The System?
- NCI Charged with Smuggling Endangered Species for Use in Cancer Experiments
- The Strange Case of Phillippe Shubik
- The Awful Numbers and Misplaced Priorities Reviewed Once More (and found, as Amy Carter’s “killer nanny” (“credit” to The National Enquirer) might put it, “more awfuller than ever”)
- The Future/& The End.
Manfred Von Ardenne:
From Atom Bomb to Cancer Cure in One Lifetime?
(Let us pray.)
Back before WWII, one of the whiz-kids of science in Germany was a chap by the name of Manfred von Ardenne. A brilliant physicist, he contributed to the development of the oscilloscope and cathode ray tubes that soon made television possible. He was a principal pioneer in the realm of electron microscopy. What happened to him during the war is a matter of conjecture, but at its conclusion he was taken into custody and delivered into the presence of the dreaded head of the Soviet secret police, one Lavrenti Pavlovich Beria. Beria had it on good authority, it seems, that the one man most likely to succeed in building the atomic bomb for Stalin was MvA. MvA allowed that he was not terribly eager to accept this “honor.” Still, the sequela of a refusal, Beria quickly convinced the scientist, with a deft slash of the forefinger across the adam’s apple, would be none too pleasant.
If von Ardenne would cooperate, on the other hand, Beria assured him, then the Soviets would take him to Russia in high style, build him a castle identical to the one he was occupying in Dresden, import his valuable art collection, his antiques, furniture, his wife and, of course, his indispensible co-workers. He would hardly know, in his new surroundings in the Crimea, that he had left home. MvA thus finally agreed to head up at least one, critical phase of the operation — the heavy water problem. Beria promised him that if he succeeded in his project he would be allowed to go back to Dresden and live happily ever after. And he was, this time, as good as his word.
Today, having succeeded brilliantly in his Soviet mission, von Ardenne again occupies that castle in Dresden. He has no money, but acquaintances say he wants for nothing. All of his needs are filled by a government grateful to him for a panoply of technical developments which have earned it millions in foreign exchange. For a time, MvA was not allowed to leave the country with his wife; the fear was that he might not return. But that restriction has been lifted — and MvA has left E. Germany with his wife and returned. He is not a dissident. More recently, the scientist was pressed into duty again — this time on behalf of the Chinese, in their successful effort to join the nuclear nations.
Today von Ardenne, whose research has long overlapped into the field of medicine and medical physics, directs the Institute Manfred von Ardenne in Dresden. The Institute employs hundreds and is concerned with, among other things, cancer. He is the author of numerous books, dozens of scientific and medical papers and though his work is little known in this country by the public-at-large, he is highly regarded among many experts in physics and medicine. A few years ago he was invited to lecture at Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York. He has written voluminously about his findings — but always in German. That fact, coupled with the complexity of his concepts and the barriers that exist between the communist and non-communist worlds, has prevented wide dissemination of his findings here.
The “Unproven” Wonders of Hyperthermia
Nothing truly promising, however, is ever too obscure or abstruse to escape detection and then calumny by the American Cancer Society. In 1971 ACS, apparently alarmed by news that MvA and associates were getting remarkable results with something called “hyperthermia,” hurried into print one of its “unproven” diatribes, in which, as usual (see DMR-6 for documentation), the research was misrepresented, criticized without foundation and presented out-of-context. Today, hyperthermia, which is only a part of von Ardenne’s therapy, is attracting wide attention in orthodox circles in the United States and has even been reported upon, glowingly, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. ACS is keeping its mouth shut for the time being.
Before I explain the von Ardenne approach I must acknowledge my debt to Mark McCarty, a medical student at the University of San Diego who has made an in-depth study of the East German research. His patience in explaining the work to me was considerable. He has himself written about MvA’s work and, for those with a penchant for all the fine, technical details, copies of one of his papers may be obtained — at cost — by sending $3.00 directly to McCarty at 1515 Madison Ave., San Diego, CA 92116. Request the paper entitled “Implications of Tumor Vascularity and Substrate Availability for Cancer Therapy: A Review.”
One of the more intriguing aspects of von Ardenne’s work in cancer is that it bears some resemblance to his work on the atomic bomb. His attack on cancer brings into play a unique biological chain reaction which reminds one of the chain reaction so critical to the explosion of a nuclear device. And as in the detonation of a bomb, von Ardenne’s biological bomb can also be triggered by a burst of X-radiation.
But let us start at the beginning.
The German assault on cancer takes advantage of three ways in which solid tumors differ significantly from normal tissue: 1) Tumors have sluggish bloodflow; 2) to make energy, they rely heavily upon “fermentation” rather than respiration; 3) they have elevated levels of an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase. These differences, respectively, make tumors selectively vulnerable to attack by heat therapy (hyperthermia) acidification an enzymatic destruction. In combination, these differences synergize that vulnerability in a most remarkable and explosive fashion.
Let’s look first at the inhibited blood flow through tumors and understand how this chink in cancer’s armor can be exploited without destructive side effects. Unlike normal tissues, cancers are supplied almost exclusively by capillaries, those tiny blood vessels that complement veins and arteries in healthy tissue. These small vessels, many of them only large enough to accommodate a parade of blood cells marching in single file, provide considerable resistance to the onrush of blood from outside the tumor. It has been reliably estimated that, generally, blood flow through tumors is only two to fifteen percent that of normal tissue. This is a significant difference — and one that has profound implications in terms of “substrate supply” to the tumor and heat dissipation within the tumor.
Here a slight digression is in order to explain, in part, why the standard, prevailing anti-cancer therapies so often fail. The capillary vascularization of the tumor mass has a lot to do with that failure — even as it contributes to the success of hyperthermia and the East German assault. Stagnant blood flow minimizes the amount of drugs that can penetrate the tumor and attack the cancer cells. But these chemotherapies, which are all cell poisons, have little difficulty in reaching the rest of the body, with its normal vascularization. It is true that they are designed, in a sense, to be selective. But the degree of selectivity is limited. Cells are most vulnerable to attack while undergoing division — and particularly certain stages of division. Cancer cells are rapidly dividing and so, theoretically, at least, provide a good target for cytotoxic drugs. Unfortunately, the precursors of the cells that are the frontline soldiers in our natural, immunological defense systems, are also rapidly dividing and provide equally good targets — better, in fact, because they are not shielded by poor vascularization. Chemotherapeutic agents reach them easily.
There are still other problems. Some tumor cells, because of sluggish blood flow, get so little oxygen and other necessary “substrate” supplies that they stop cycling and go, in effect, into a state of temporary suspension where they are largely immune to the anti-mitotic (cell-division) chemotherapies. They form a malignant core from which trouble can — and will — arise again. As for radiation, it, too, is very likely to be more destructive of the body’s immune cells than of cancer. It is well established that cancers exhibit “hypoxic radioresistance”: X-radiation needs oxygen to be optimally effective. So once again that poor vascularization serves cancer well. Even when radiation and chemotherapies succeed in dissolving some of the cancer mass, cancer antigens (those little proteins that tip off the body that a foreign invader is present) attached to the tumor debris flood through the body, including the lymph nodes (factories for the body’s immune surveillance and attack systems). The immune factories then respond by producing (through cell division) massive numbers of defensive cells designed to inactivate the invaders. This mitotic response immediately puts the immune system in the same danger as the cancer cells: destruction by chemotherapies (and/or radiation) which singlemindedly take advantage of cell-cycle rate differences.
So all too often we gain an inch and lose a mile.
The same peculiarities of the body — and of cancer — that previously contributed to our defeat, however, may now be used to help us succeed. As McCarty comments: “Rather than basing therapeutic selectivity on cell-cycle rate differences, a promising alternative approach is to use stagnant tumor blood flow and depressed substrate levels as a point of therapeutic attack.”
And so back to hyperthermia. Heat will kill tissue — both normal and cancerous, but it will kill those tissues in which there is stagnant blood flow first. The body, after all, is not so different from an engine, the various parts of which will not overheat and be destroyed so long as an ample flow of water or other coolant circulates through passages within the engine block, carrying off heat generated by the combustion of fuel within the cylinders. Tumors are engines with a coolant supply insufficient to cope with temperatures not too much above that which normally exist within the body, temperatures which, felicitously, leave normal tissues, with their more adequate coolant supply, largely unscathed. The safety margin is widened further by the fact that many cancers, independent of the vascularization issue, perish at temperatures lower than those necessary for the destruction of normal tissue; why this is, no one knows.
Hyperthermia in the U.S.: Remarkable Results
The American Cancer Society was already trying to discourage anyone from investigating hyperthermia (high-temperature therapy) several years ago, citing Manfred von Ardenne as the principal practitioner of this “unproven” idea. Fortunately, MvA paid the ACS no heed, and neither did several researchers in this country who have now come forward with extremely promising results. The field looks so promising in fact that the ACS was recently pressured, by some very orthodox individuals, I have learned, into removing from its “Unproven” list the so-called “Coley Toxins” developed by the late W. B. Coley, M.D. These toxins, consisting of various infectious agents, apparently brought about striking remissions in several advanced cancer patients. They constituted, many now believe, an early form of whole-body hyperthermia, which may have worked not so much by directly killing cancer cells through heat but by stimulating the body’s overall immune-response systems. There is evidence that generalized (whole-body) hyperthermia can do that.
Indeed, there is fascinating speculation now that this sort of whole-body heat effect may be responsible, at least in part (dietary factors are certainly also important), for the lower incidence of cancers of the breast, penis, testis and skin in Japan. In a land essentially without central heating, the Japanese, over the centuries, have learned to love and rely upon daily — and sometimes twice daily — baths in special tubs that leave them immersed to the neck. These are extremely hot baths, meant to have a lingering effect, and they are indulged in for long periods of times. The water temperature is amazingly hot — 42-48 degrees C. or 110 to 120 degrees F. Investigators have found that such bathing often produces rectal temperatures of 104 degrees F.
Commenting on this phenomenon in an address delivered to the International Conference on Hyperthermia and Radiation in Washington D.C., not long ago, Helen Coley Nauts, daughter of the late Dr. Coley and executive director of the Cancer Research Institute in New York (the medical director of which is Dr. Lloyd Old, vice president of Sloan-Kettering), noted that “in Finland, where very hot sauna bathing is practiced, the incidence of testicular and breast cancer is also lower than in neighboring countries where the sauna is not used. The end results in Finland following lumpectomy and relatively low doses of irradiation for breast cancer are markedly better than in other countries using more radical surgery and radiation.”
All of this, as I note, remains speculative. Controlled experiments in the United States, however, demonstrate that heat, quite clearly, can kill cancer while sparing normal tissue. Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association (May 17, 1976), Harry H. LeVeen, M.D., and colleagues from the department of surgery, Veterans Administration Hospital, Downstate (NY) Medical Center and State University of New York, Brooklyn, reported on the response of 21 cancer patients to hyperthermia. In their article, called “Tumor Eradication by Radiofrequency Therapy,” the New York researchers reported that they were able to shrink or completely eradicate a variety of tumors in most of the 21 patients after exposing their growths to heat-producing electromagnetic waves at a frequency of 13-56 megahertz (13-56 million cycles per second).
Electrodes are placed on either side of the tumor (e.g., on either side of the chest wall in the case of lung tumors) and energy pulsed between them. Only in the tumor itself, with its inefficient blood flow, do the temperatures reach significant, destructive levels. This sort of “local,” as opposed to “whole-body,” hyperthermia, is thus aimed directly at the tumor. So far it has been effective against solid tumors of a wide variety, including those of the lungs, kidneys, neck, head and intestines. It is not effective against leukemias and other widely disseminated cancers, although whole-body hyperthermia may be of some benefit even in those categories.
The number of heat treatments needed to destroy a tumor varies from patient to patient; each treatment usually lasts 30 to 45 minutes. In many cases, the heat treatment does not totally destroy the tumor but shrinks it sufficiently that it can be safely and effectively removed by surgery. It is not a cancer “cure” in and of itself because it does not, so far as anyone knows, correct the fundamental problems that gave rise to the cancer in the first place or allowed it to take hold. But since it is apparently devoid of serious side effects and since it does not suppress the body’s immune-response systems (and, indeed, especially in the case of whole-body hyperthermia, may actually enhance them) it appears to be a very significant step forward and a substantial advance over radiation and chemotherapy.
Other researchers, at the Animal Resource Facility of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, using what they call localized current field hyperthermy (emitting at 500 kHz), say they are effecting complete tumor eradication in about one-third of their cancerous test animals. Another third experience partial tumor regression; the final third evince no change. And another group in New Mexico, also affiliated with a VA hospital, has reported significant shrinkage of tumors in 14 of 20 advanced cancer patients brought about by a combination of hyperthermia and chemotherapy. In this instance, whole-body hyperthermia, was induced by wrapping patients in hot-water-heated blankets and by circulating hot gas through tubes inserted into the lungs. The results, the researchers conclude, were much better than could have been expected through the use of chemotherapy alone.
The Lysosomal Cytolytic Chain Reaction
(Delivering the Coup de Grace)
Apart from all the other beneficial effects of hyperthermia, there is yet another factor that it brings into play — one that is central to Manfred von Ardenne’s unique approach to combating cancer. To understand this additional factor, let us move on to the second way in which cancerous tissues differ from normal tissues: they derive energy through the fermentation of glucose rather than through oxygen respiration. The end product of all this is lactic acid. As the lactate accumulates in the tumor, its pH falls, that is, it becomes acidified. Cancerous tissues are thus more acidic than normal tissues. Manfred von Ardenne recognized some years ago that tumor acidity might be used quite effectively to help destroy the tumor and he quickly devised ways of making tumors even more acidic than they normally are. One way to do this is to give the tumor all the glucose it wants in order to boost lactic acid production. This can be achieved by inducing hyperglycemia in cancer patients through glucose infusion which continues for many hours, during the course of treatment.
What does the acid do? Well, it happens that there are organelles, structures within the cells of the body, including all cancer cells, called lysosomes. These contain lysomal enzymes capable of lysing, destroying, cell membranes. McCarty calls them “the cells’ suicide bags.” Happily, nature has arranged things so that the conditions that could release great quantities of these self-destruct enzymes all at once seldom exist. It’s equally fortunate, however, that conditions can be created so that massive lysosomal release occurs selectively in cancer cells. These enzymes are activated and potentiated by a btrung acidic milieu. There is evidence, additionally, that tumor acidification is enhanced by hyperthermia, which somehow further impairs the cancer cells’ ability to utilize oxygen (and thus must rely ever more heavily on the energy-making process that produces lactic acid as an end-product). Hyperthermia, then, contributes to acidification, and acidification, when intense, makes cancer cells selectively vulnerable to lysosomal destruction. (The enzymes are not activated in presence of less acidic, normal cells.)
So, now it can be seen, all that needs to be done is to find some way to break open the lysosomes in the cancer cells, once the tumor has been hyperthermically primed and acidified. All it takes is a few lysosomes to get the chain-reaction started, and von Ardenne and his colleagues have found a number of ways of triggering this unique explosion. Bursts of local hyperthermia and very strong acidity will, themselves, labilize, break open, some of the lysosomes, releasing their enzymes and freeing them to attack acidified neighbor cells. With the ever-escalating intracellular release of activated cytotoxic lysosomal enzymes, the chain reaction builds, eventually engulfing the entire tumor mass, provided it has been thoroughly acidified. (The greater the acidity the greater the chances of wiping out the whole thing.) Other very effective triggering devices include small bursts of X-radiation and large doses of vitamin A.
To reiterate: once released, the first lysosomal enzymes, highly potentiated by the acidity and heat, kill the cells in which they originated and then attack neighbor cells. The lysosomal organelles in the neighbor cells are ruptured by the enzymes in the process and their own enzymes are released and, in turn, begin attacking other cells. The process expands, involving more and more of the tumor until there are no more cells left to attack. This is von Ardenne’s lysosomal cytolytic chain reaction. Once the “explosion” is over, the Germans “mop up” with a combination of therapies, which may include more immunostimulating whole-body hyperthermia and the BCG vaccine, also a general immunostimulant. (BCG is Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, a living, but attenuated, strain of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis in cattle. It has been observed that TB victims have an unusually low incidence of cancer. The theory, borne out to some extent in animal and clinical testing, is that BCG is a “non-specific” immunological substance that stimulates the body to respond to a wide variety of foreign antigens, including cancer antigens. It is now attracting considerable attention around the world, as an anti-cancer substance.)
Preliminary von Ardenne Results
Concerning the early results of von Ardenne’s work, McCarty has reported:
In vivo (living animal) trials of therapeutic strategies designed to achieve tumor-specific lysosomal enzyme release and activation have been conducted by the Forschungs-Institute Manfred von Ardenne in Dresden. Various combinations of a single 1000 rad [triggering] dose of radiation, a whole-body hyperthermy of several hours duration, and hyperglycemic tumor acidification, were tried on rat DS carcinosarcoma. Any of these modalities alone, or the combinations of radiation with hyperthermy or acidification with hyperthermy, produced no tumor regression or life prolongation as compared to controls. The combination of radiation with acidification produced slight but significant tumor regression in most animals. The concurrent use of all three modalities produced complete tumor regression in all animals with tumor mass less than five grams; comparable results were found with Ehrlich ascites carcinoma of the mouse.
And on preliminary human works, McCarty reports:
First results from clinical trials in East Germany involving mild 39 degree C. whole-body hyperthermia, simple hyperglycemic acidification, vitamin A injections and low triggering doses of radiation have been reported. Seven consecutive cases of inoperable cervical cancer were treated with one-fourth to one-third of the usual dose of radiation accompanied by hyperthermic acidification; complete tumor regression was achieved in all cases. A single dose or 500 rads reduced a 48 mm diameter breast tumor to 12 mm diameter; the lowest dose of radiation capable of inducing a comparable regression in mammary tumors at that clinic had been 6,000 rads. No significant toxicity from these methods was reported. Further trials will make use of additional local microwave hyperthermy of main tumor masses, a technique, which in itself is capable of inducing complete regression in many tumors. Supplementary techniques for enhancing hyperglycemic acidification, which might strongly enhance the therapeutic efficacy of these methods, have not yet been tried in humans.
The addition of local hyperthermy, McCarty indicates, will reduce even further the need for triggering X-radiation. And some new methods of enhancing tumor acidification worked out by von Ardenne, McCarty observes, have been so potent that complete tumor regressions have been achieved in some animal systems without adding hyperthermia, X-rays, vitamin A or any of the other modalities. In some of these tests, hyper-acidification alone completely obliterated tumor masses.
McCarty concludes one of his papers on von Ardenne with diplomatic understatement:
Further research along these lines is urgently indicated. The optimization of tumor-specific lysosomal enzyme cytotoxicity by means of hyperthermic acidification techniques may prove to be the greatest advance in cancer therapy since the advent of chemotherapy.
And very likely, I will add, since before the advent of chemotherapy.
Virginia Livingstone’s Exotic Bug & The Vital Vitamin A Connection
(Some Amazing Coincidences)
Dr. Virginia Livingstone of San Diego, a remarkably innovative researcher by any standard, has isolated and studied, for years now, a strange micro-organism she says is present in every cancer she has ever examined. Dr. Livingstone has her feet firmly on the ground and possesses excellent, orthodox credentials. Still, she has experienced considerable difficulty in her attempts to acquaint the rest of the scientific community with this peculiar bug. Respected scientific journals, such as the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, have published several of her papers on the organism, but oncologists have still paid little heed.
Part of the problem, Dr. Livingstone points out, is that the characteristics of the bug are so unusual as to seem, at first blush, far-fetched. It is a “pleomorphic” organism, one capable of undergoing striking transmutations. At different points in its life cycle, it exhibits the characteristics of a bacterium, a fungus and a virus. Dr. Livingstone has painstakingly charted it — and microphotographed it — through all of its life phases.
Dr. Livingstone will quickly concede that she was not the first to observe this entity. My own survey of the literature reveals nearly a dozen others who, over the past several decades, have had a handle on it. But Dr. Livingstone has done more than anyone else to elucidate its nature. Many of her predecessors, men and women who repeatedly spotted this organism in cancerous tissues, jumped to the conclusion that it must be the unitary cause of most, if not all, cancers. This rush to judgment cost them dearly; most were dismissed as quacks or frauds. By claiming too much, without evidence, they set back the study of this organism by decades and often foreclosed the possibility of outside, serious inquiry into what they claimed to have found. In short, they made it easy for orthodoxy, with its antagonistic vested interests in other therapies, to dismiss them out of hand. A good deal of that prejudice lingers on.
Dr. Livingstone has avoided most of these pitfalls and, by virtue of her methodical, step-by-step approach, has managed to have more impact than all of her predecessors combined. Nonetheless, she is an explorer in what is, to orthodoxy, unfamiliar territory (or, in the minds of some, discredited territory) and still faces an uphill battle to win acceptance for her ideas or even to get others to investigate her findings. Fortunately, a couple of her more recent discoveries, related to this organism, have been so compelling that there now appears to be some favorable movement in her direction. Whether it will prove to be sufficient movement remains to be seen.
A little background. Dr. Livingstone’s medical career began on the East Coast in the 1940s and was unusual almost from the beginning. She was the first woman ever appointed to be a resident physician in an accredited New York City hospital, though the assignment given her was not one that the typical woman of that day would have welcomed. Dr. Livingstone was placed in charge of a prison hospital for venereally infected prostitutes. The enterprising Dr. Livingstone, however, was able to make the most of the situation and now recalls that period as “one of the most rewarding of my life.” The job gave her the unusual opportunity to study, firsthand, such killers as tuberculosis and leprosy, both of which are caused by micro-organisms in the order known as Actinomycetales.
Later, while working with patients with other diseases, notably cancer, Dr. Livingstone noted the presence (in cultures obtained from urine, feces and fluids from tumors) “of a strange, many-formed acid-fast organism.” The “acid-fast” refers to a test microbiologists use to help them separate disease-causing pathogens from more benign bugs. Leprosy and tubercle organisms seemed to have some characteristics in common with the newly observed bug, and Dr. Livingstone ultimately classified it as another cousin in the Actinomycetales order.
While on the faculty at Rutgers University, Dr. Livingstone was able to study more intensively the organism she came to call Progenitor cryptocides (meaning “ancestral hidden killer”). Though it was assumed, initially, that it was a bacillus, its amazing changeability soon became apparent via filtration and electron microscope studies. Generally, a certain sized filter is used to separate bacteria from viruses. Anything that gets through these definitive filters is considered viral. Yet, the cryptocides, which definitely exhibits itself as a bacterium at one point, survives filtration. An albuminous gel gets through the filter, and this gel gives rise to the fullblown cryptocides which goes through its predictable bacterial-fungal-viral transmutations.
Dr. Livingstone and cohorts have gone to considerable trouble to demonstrate that the bug is indeed found in every cancer. That when grown in culture and then injected into other animals they, too, develop cancer. All standard and, indeed, extraordinary, precautions have been taken to ensure that the culture media are free of contaminants. Cancers have been produced in this fashion in animals normally resistant to the types of cancer induced. Vaccines made with cryptocides, moreover, have been effective in diminishing the incidence of cancer in test animals.
The Livingstone Clinic
It wasn’t until she relocated to the West Coast that Dr. Livingstone began making vaccines for use against human cancers. Her first vaccine patient was a friend who had been declared hopeless by his doctors. Dr. Livingstone had observed marked beneficial effects from cryptocides vaccines in test animals. At her friend’s urgings and with the knowledge that the man had nothing to lose, Dr. Livingstone agreed to give him the vaccine. She cultured cryptocides from the man’s urine and injected it into him, hoping that this autogenous vaccine would alert the man’s innate immune responses to the presence of a dangerous foreign invader. The man recovered. That was twenty years ago. The man, a dentist, is still practicing his profession in San Diego today.
And today the Livingstone Clinic in San Diego is devoted entirely to the treatment of cancer and to the preparation of autogenous vaccines (those made from the patients’ own blood and other fluids). “We use all the modalities we can,” Dr. Livingstone says, “provided they are not immunologically destructive.” These include the vaccines, diet (largely vegetarian), bowel cleansings, antibiotics that do not suppress white blood cells and, most recently, local hyperthermia. (discussed in the first section of this newsletter).
Though her results have never been thoroughly analyzed, it is apparent that many have come to regard the Livingstone clinic as a medical court of last resort. And it is evident that Dr. Livingstone has pulled off more than her share of dramatic rescues, after all else has failed. This is the more remarkable since so many of her patients, indeed, most of them, have been declared terminal by other doctors. Typically, they come to her with their immune systems shattered by chemotherapy and radiation — and still she is able to save some of them, more, by far, than could ever be expected by chance or miraculous “spontaneous” remission. Among those who say they were saved by Dr. Livingstone is the man she recently married, himself an M.D. Dr. Livingstone hastens to add that many will still die, and she never promises a “cure.” With the addition of hyperthermia to her armamentarium, Dr. Livingstone expects even better results in the future.
A “Provocative” Discovery
Dr. Livingstone recently made two new discoveries related to cryptocides that may secure for her and her work the outside recognition that is so badly needed and certainly deserved. First, she found that this organism appears to produce a potent hormone that is apparently identical to the hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). A number of researchers, in recent years, have noted the presence of HCG in cancer tissue and have found evidence that the substance may be conferring some measure of immunity (from the body’s defensive cells) upon cancer. If cryptocides does, indeed, produce this hormone and if the hormone does have the ability to protect cancer cells then Dr. Livingstone has a major breakthrough to her credit. Can those “ifs” be satisfied? Well, the researchers who have said that HCG appears to have this protective ability have all been thoroughly orthodox types — and they have published in thoroughly orthodox journals their findings related to this subject. And Dr. Livingstone has repeated her tests on cryptocides over and over and always finds it making something which the best analyzing equipment around says is so close to the human variety of this hormone as to seem indistinguishable. Further, independent researchers have now confirmed the Livingstone discovery.
Interestingly, if it hadn’t been for laetrile and the trophoblastic thesis of cancer (see DMR-2), Dr. Livingstone might never have made this discovery. She does not use laetrile in her practice but for years has believed that it must be helpful in some way (though certainly not the whole answer). She had talked to too many patients who seemed to get better while using it. (“Even if I believed in it fully, however,” she comments, “I wouldn’t have used it, simply because I don’t have an extra $100,000 to fight off FDA harassment, court actions and so forth.”) She thought that amygdalin might have some efficacy against cancer, in some cases, but doubted that it worked the way Ernst Krebs and others claimed it did. The trophoblastic thesis of cancer, as postulated by the late Dr. Beard of the University of Edinburgh and advocated by many of the laetrilists, was fascinating — but didn’t ring true. Part of Beard’s theory has it that trophoblast cells can arise from primitive undifferentiated germ cells, about 80 percent of which are confined to the gonads where, as they mature, they become the sperm and ova, and about 20 percent of which are dispersed, for reasons not well understood, he said, throughout the body. Unless kept in check by the pancreatic enzymes and other body chemicals, these widely dispersed cells, he hypothesized, could evolve into cancer (particularly if the body was under stress from environmental carcinogens, poor diet, etc.).
Now it is true that trophoblast cells produce the hormone HCG. And HCG appears to be the substance that confers immunity on the embryonic, trophoblastic cells (which do, indeed, show many of the invasive characteristics of cancer cells — up until they are “switched off” by bodily enzymes). So: the same chemical substance which prevents the developing fetus from being gobbled up as a “foreign body” by the mother’s immune systems may also be preventing cancer cells from being destroyed. It is easy to see how many may have been persuaded that cancer must have a trophoblastic origin. And, indeed, Virginia Livingstone’s new discovery might seem, at first glance, to lend further credibility to that notion.
The trouble is, says Dr. Livingstone, “you can dissect cancer til you’re blue in the face and never find any trophoblast.”
Still, the idea that the hormone was in there providing cancer with immunity of some sort was tantalizing, and Dr. Livingstone couldn’t help but wonder whether her bug, which she found in all cancers, might not have something to do with it. She started some test-tube experiments and got one of the thrills, chilling though it must have been, of her life when, on the ninth day of incubating the bug, she detected HCG in the culture. Extensive analysis and repetition followed. The finding held up. And since the microbial HCG is apparently identical with the human HCG Dr. Livingstone says we should not, automatically, assume that there are two types. HCG could be produced only by cryptocides. This, she observes, is “a frightening prospect,” inasmuch as HCG, if produced only by the microbe, becomes the vehicle for both life and death.
Last year the Livingstone group got a considerable boost when a paper was published in the highly respected Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology confirming their work. Dr. Herman Cohen of Princeton Laboratories was the principal author of the paper. In his article he calls Dr. Livingstone’s discovery “provocative” in classical scientific understatement. He then relates experiments in which he and his colleagues were also able to observe cryptocides producing HCG which, again, appeared identical with the hormone presumably produced by human cells. Another researcher who has not yet published, but who has a substantial contract from the NCI, has also confirmed this aspect of the work.
The Absisic Acid / Vitamin A / Apricot Kernel Connection
Dr. Livingstone’s second recent discovery involves a substance that appears capable of either halting microbial HCG production or of neutralizing the HCG once it has been produced. And, again, there is a substantial coincidence in evidence here, for the substance in question, though unrelated to amygdalin in terms of chemical structure, is also contained in high concentrations in apricot kernels and most of the other natural sources rich in amygdalin! The substance is called absisic acid.
Because of its fungal, almost plant-like characteristics, cryptocides might be vulnerable to attack, Dr. Livingstone reasoned, by various plant hormones. From her botanical studies she knew about the plant hormones known as “dormans” (from whence comes the word “dormancy”) that keep seeds from sprouting in the wintertime. Again, Dr. Livingstone thought of laetrile, derived primarily from apricot kernels. Surely, she thought, apricot seeds must contain one of the dormans. Further study revealed that absisic acid, which is one of the dormans, is present in apricot kernels in high concentrations.
Dr. Livingstone was further encouraged by news just then issuing out of the National Cancer Institute that a substance called retinoic acid was showing indications, in animal tests, of being a potent cancer inhibitor and possibly very effective cancer preventive, at least in some categories. Dr. Livingstone knew that absisic acid is closely related to retinoic acid, that both are vitamin A analogues. A great many seemingly disparate threads suddenly seemed to be coinciding. Some further sleuthing revealed that the “wheat-grass” cancer control that has been so long decried as quackery might have some rational basis, after all, because Dr. Livingstone found that wheat grass is one of the richest sources of absisic acid.
By this time the San Diego researcher had more than enough data to convince her to begin testing absisic acid on animals with cancer. Unfortunately, purified absisic acid currently sells for $70,000 a pound. (Costs will go down when/if the stuff is mass produced.) Still, she was able to get enough to do studies on some 1,500 test animals. Some of this work is still going on. A preliminary analysis indicates that if you give the substance to animals that spontaneously develop tumors you get a 40 percent reduction in the overall weight of the tumors (as compared to controls). If you give absisic acid and the cryptocides vaccines to the same type of animal, Dr. Livingstone says, you can nearly obliterate the tumors (of this particular type), reducing them by better than 90 percent. More definitive figures must await the conclusion of testing.
In vitro tests confirmed that cryptocides, exposed to absisic acid, stops making HCG.
Because of the expense of refined absisic acid, Dr. Livingstone indicates she will, for the time being anyway, prescribe diets that are naturally rich in the substance — wheat grass juices, sprouting grains of all kinds, possibly apricot and peach kernels.
Because absisic acid is obtainable from apricot kernels some are now claiming that it is this substance and not amygdalin that is fighting cancer. This is misleading, however, because in the manufacture of amygdalin from apricot kernels most, if not all, of the absisic acid is lost. It would appear that apricot kernels may contain two potentially powerful anti-cancer substances — amygdalin and absisic acidd. One might expect, then, that apricot kernels might actually be more useful against cancer than amygdalin alone. Andrew McNaughton is one chief backer of laetrile (see DMR-4) who is quick to concede this possibility. He recalls one period in which there was a shortage of refined amygdalin and laetrile patients had to rely, instead, on large numbers of apricot kernels.
“It was my impression — and that of some others — that these patients actually did better than patients who get the pure stuff.” He plans to follow-up on this possibility.
It is fortunate that the NCI has begun to grasp the anti-cancer potential of vitamin A and its analogues. Dr. Livingstone’s work may give other researchers a handle on the reasons why these substances may be so effective. If they would seriously examine her work they might also discover a common point at which a great many cancers could be effectively attacked — the cryptocides. It should be noted, in this regard, however, that Virginia Livingstone does not claim that this micro-organism is the unitary cause of cancer. She recognizes that cancer has many origins — ranging from environmental pollutants to stress. But all of these diverse factors, she believes, weaken the body’s defenses to the point where cryptocides, generally held in check by a healthy immune system, runs rampant, produces HCG and confers immunity on cells made cancerous by extraneous factors.
The Vitamin A Evidence
Vitamin A work in cancer goes back some years. Typically, it has taken NCI more than a decade to followup on what must certainly have been one of the most significant findings of all time in cancer research. In October of 1966, at the Ninth International Cancer Congress in Tokyo, Dr. Umberto Saffiotti, a pathologist at the Chicago Medical School, reported that he had first induced lung cancer in nearly 100 percent of his test animals (hampsters) and then, by administering vitamin A, achieved significant reversals of those cancers. He chose vitamin A because it is known to be important in maintaining healthy respiratory membranes. When he gave large doses of the vitamin, along with doses of the carcinogen he was using to induce cancer, few of the animals developed cancer — eventhough the carcinogen dose was the same that had induced cancers in nearly 100 percent of the animals who received no simultaneous vitamin A.
Dr. Saffiotti warned that his results, though very dramatic, were preliminary and that there could be some danger to humans in taking very large doses of vitamin A. The amount of vitamin A that most of us can safely tolerate, however, is now widely believed to be well above that which is needed, at least in terms of using vitamin A as a partial cancer preventive. Many well-informed nutritional texts now recommend daily doses of 20,000 International Units daily. The authoritative Merck Manual, used by doctors, observes that “with one possible exception, this rare condition [hypervitaminosis A] thus far has been described only in patients receiving more than 100,000 units a day.” In any event, the symptoms of hypervitaminosis A become quickly apparent — dry rough skin, cracked lips and coarse hair followed by severe heachache and generalized weakness — and are quickly reversed upon lowering the vitamin A dose. Persons who smoke heavily and are exposed to smog and other pollutants are particularly likely to need large doses of vitamin A.
But back to Dr. Saffiotti. What became of him and his promising work? Actually, I touched upon this episode in a “Short Take” in DMR-2 — nearly a year ago. I noted that Harold J. Taub in his excellent book, Keeping Healthy in a Polluted World (Harper & Row, 1974, Penguin Books, 1975), covered Saffiotti’s early work. After Taub’s description of that work there appeared this unintentionally melancholy paragraph: “After this work was done, Dr. Saffiotti was appointed to an important post at the National Cancer Institute and is now working there in Bethesda, Maryland. Although there is little doubt he is pursuing his studies of vitamin A as a cancer preventive, no public information about his work has been issued since he moved to Bethesda.” No information for nearly ten years. Right. In fact, the public didn’t hear much of anything of Dr. Saffiotti again until April, 1976 when he announced he was resigning as head of the NCI division that investigates and tries to identify cancer causing agents so that they can be banned or preventive measures taken against them. He resigned, he said, in protest over lack-of-support-for and mismanagement of the program from higher up the NCI chain-of-command.
Saffiotti is gone (maybe now he can get back to his vitamin A work) but some others at NCI have expressed interest in the vitamin, eventhough the agency has dragged its feet on funding any research in the area. (Apparently some.trials will get underway next fall.) When Dr. Eli Seifter, a very distinguished scientist, went to NCI with his promising vitamin A leads his requests for funds were rejected. This isn’t surprising, of course, since the NCI, despite its nearly billion in funding each year, invested only a few million in nutritional cancer research last year — and even that pittance had to be squeezed out of the agency by Congressional mandate. This year, shockingly, after all the talk and all the lip service in recognition of dietary factors in cancer, there is, I am reliably informed, absolute no money whatever available to fund new diet/cancer projects. But there’s still plenty going into the virus program, which damn near everybody agrees is worthless.
Considerable new data on vitamin A efficacy has been forthcoming recently from Vanderbilt University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Hoffman-LaRoche Research Laboratory in Basel, Switzerland. Vitamin A has shown favorable results in cancers of the lungs, rectum, skin, trachea, digestive system and breasts. One MIT professor of nutritional chemistry estimates “that about 30 percent of the American public suffers from some degree of vitamin A deficiency, early symptoms of which include a loss of smell and taste, a dryness of the skin and the mucous linings of the nose and throat.”
Dr. Michael B. Sporn, chief of the lung cancer division of NCI, is particularly interested in the possible use of large doses of synthetic vitamin A analogues (without high dose toxicity associated with natural vitamin A) for use against lung cancer — both as treatment and preventive. One of the retinoic acids looks particularly promising.
Experts are still at a loss to explain exactly how vitamin A acts against cancer. Some have suggested that it inhibits enzymes that are necessary for some chemicals to become carcinogenic. But vitamin A has been shown to be effective even against chemical carcinogens that definitely do not require enzymatic activation. Others are now suggesting that it may work by stimulating the body’s immune responses against cancer. Support for this idea comes from research showing that BCG, another stimulant of the body’s anti-cancer mechanisms, is potentiated (one-hundredfold in one experiment) when given in conjunction with a vitamin A derivative.
It is surely time now for the NCI — and others — to consider the possible role Progenitor cryptocides might play in this intriguing puzzle.
Afterword: Vitamin A and the Gerson Diet
While they are at it, the NCI might profitably take another look-indeed, a first look — at the Gerson diet. Albert Schweitzer credited Dr. Max Gerson with saving his wife’s life and described him as “a medical genius who walked among us.” Dr. Gerson presented voluminous data in support of his contention that his dietary regimen was very effective against a wide range of cancers. Yet, Gerson, whose credentials were excellent, was maligned as a fraud by the New York County Medical Society and others in he medical establishment who never bothered to investigate his work firsthand. In addition to the diet, which was as rigorous in terms of what one had to avoid as what one had to eat, Gerson insisted upon a variety of treatments designed to cleanse the bowels and some of the other organs of accumulated wastes. In general, his therapies seemed to enhance the overall well-being of the patient so that he/she could better cope with the cancer. It seems likely that the diet was efficacious, if for no other reason than (as a recent analysis carried out by medical students at Hahnemann Medical College, the University of Massachusets and Boston University has revealed) it delivers at least 100,000 IUs of vitamin A daily to the body. Additionally, the diet delivers an extraordinary one to two grams of vitamin C daily. This is “extraordinary” at least by comparison with the typical, vitamin C deficient diet of most Americans. And as reported in DMR-7, vitamin C (as demonstrated by Dr. Pauling and now also by a researcher at NCI) has an immunostimulant effect.
It’s amazing — and wonderful — how these things seem to be pulling together in a sense: Vitamins A and C, the vitamin A analogues, such as retinoic acid and absisic acid, apricot kernels, wheat grass, BCG and other vaccines, such as those pioneered by Dr. Livingstone, and, last but not least, perhaps that most mysterious of bugs, Progenitor cryptocides.
The California Senate Health and Welfare Committee was assembled to hear testimony on the pros and cons of a bill, introduced by Senator William Campbell, that would allow doctors to prescribe laetrile for use against cancer. All the big guns from the state health department, the ACS and the rest of the medical establishment were on hand to oppose it. They protested, they exaggerated, they lied, they shouted. Heard once again were all those hoary, never-substantiated tales of people being poisoned by apricot kernels. One health official claimed that laetrile had “killed” a youngster not long ago — but he had nothing to back up the charge. At one point, arch-foe of the laetrile movement Helene Brown, former chairman of the board of the ACS in California, became so strident that she had to be gavelled into silence and told that her outbursts were not appreciated. One observer on hand said it was “all rather like the Army-McCarthy hearings; they cried ‘Commie’ once too often; only this time they were screaming ‘quack.”‘ And one Senator said he was swayed in favor of laetrile for the first time during the hearings, “more by the assininity of the opposition” than by anything else. At the end of the hearings the committee quietly and quickly voted 7-0 in favor of the pro-laetrile legislation, presaging probable passage in the Senate as a whole — a most unexpected development.
This was, however, just the latest in a series of serious setbacks suffered by those who have opposed laetrile with such tenacity and bitterness for the past two decades. At this writing (Easter Day) there are now 23 states considering pro-laetrile legislation. Alaska has already passed a bill making the substance legal in that state. Indiana’s lower house followed suit a few weeks ago by nearly unanimous vote; last week the upper house there did likewise, and the governor, an M.D., says he will not veto the legislation. Which means that laetrile is now also legal against cancer in Indiana. Tomorrow Nevada is almost certain to become the third state to legalize laetrile. Arizona’s lower house has voted unanimously to approve laetrile there; the senate is scheduled to vote tomorrow and will almost certainly vote favorably. Arizona’s governor has said he will sign the bill. Also, last week, the health committee of Texas’ lower house voted 8-2 in favor of pro-laetrile legislation. The two votes were abstentions rather than “nays.” Passage of the bill seems virtually assured in Texas, where the governor has also said he will sign.
Some trouble may arise in Nevada since the backers of another presently “banned” substance, Gerovital H3, have managed to get their product tacked on to the laetrile bill. MeNaughton and others in the laetrile movement want no part of this other product and have asked the Nevada governor to veto any bill that includes it. Thus laetrile may have to be separated from Gerovital and another vote called for; either way, laetrile will be legal in Nevada in short order. By the end of this year at least four states should be harboring legal laetrile. Funding has already been obtained for a laetrile clinic in Nevada.
As the barricades against laetrile fall, one by one, the California health department, which has always been orthodoxy’s front-line unit in the losing war on laetrile, has become increasingly desperate. It is definitely in its last ditch. And what it is slinging now is considerably dirtier than mud. Its latest ploy, in fact, places it right outside the law, not that it hasn’t been there before (see, for example, DMR-5 concerning faked testimony against a laetrile doctor). In an apparent effort to sway the California Senate health committee, the food and drug section of the state health department mailed a letter in March to packing firms, health food distributors and some retailers of apricot kernels. The letter stated:
“It is the position of the department of health that the sale or distribution of apricot kernels is the sale or delivery of an adulterated and/or misbranded product and is contrary to law. It is the intention of the department to take action against such sale or distribution.
The tactic, though sure to intimidate some distributors, backfired badly. When a senator asked a representative of the health department about this extraordinary letter and wanted to know under what authority the department could take such a stance, the representative in question quickly backed down, claiming the letter was merely a proposal, a suggestion.
Since a U.S. court of appeals has ruled that the FDA does not have enough data even to ban refined amygdalin it should be apparent that the considerably more inept California health department lacks authority to ban apricot kernels. If it could ban the kernels it could also ban apples, peaches, various sprouts and literally dozens of other foods in which amygdalin accumulates in significant quantities. What is so remarkable about all this is that the idiots who direct the California health department (the people Pat Brown Sr. described to me as “the worst”) haven’t learned that their heavy-handed tactics are speeding the day when laetrile will enjoy full legal status in the state of California. Helene Brown et al have done more to promote laetrile than all of the thousands of pro-laetrile activists combined.
Elsewhere, however, some of the more reasonable opponents of laetrile have apparently read the writing on the wall. Dr. Chester Stock, vice president of Sloan-Kettering, has just told the FDA that he would not oppose clinical trials of the substance nor its administration to terminal patients. Even the AMA is getting the message — or so it seems. It sent the feature editor of its AMA News to Tijuana and San Francisco to confer with the laetrile generals, after first inquiring as to whether its rep would likely be “assassinated” if he showed up on enemy ground. Seeing an AMA spokesman dining with Ernst Krebs Jr., in the latter’s San Francisco manse, conjured up images of Kissinger conferring with Ho Chi Minh. The end is near.
And, meanwhile, everyone eagerly awaits word from Israel, where laetrile studies under the direction of orthodox oncologists are underway. Sloan-Kettering is clamoring to send observers (since they botched or covered-up most of their own laetrile studies). The Israelis, if they have any sense and I know they do, will say politely, but firmly, no to S-K. The word that I get is that preliminary results are very promising but at this stage the emphasis is very much on preliminary and the first findings relate mainly to palliative, pain-killing effects which are, however, not to be made light of.
Reporters, at a loss to find any hard data on which to base their attacks on laetrile, have been fond of painting Andrew McNaughton as a “shadowy” figure who qualifies, at least, as a close cousin to the Godfather. These reporters usually imply, without any evidence, that McN. has been salting away millions and living like a lord in a palatial beach house just outside Tijuana. Marci MacDonald (DMR-4) claimed that McNaughton’s beach pad was worth as much as $100,000 which, in light of his claimed penury, she said she couldn’t quite reconcile. The problem is she never laid eyes on the place and ignored McN’s claims, which she could have verified by examining the legal papers, that he had paid only $15,000 for the place and that it was modest, indeed. Richard Levine (DMR-7) later made similar misjudgments, referring to the beach cottage he had never seen as a “villa” worth, he implied, a bundle. Well, McNaughton has now sold the place — and the records indicate he was paid $21,000 and a mobile home for it. Why did he sell? “I needed the money.” He must have, because properties in the area are appreciating at a heady rate and if he had held on to the house for another five years it might, indeed, have been worth a bundle.
A moderately reliable source informs that Happy Rockefeller is scheduled to begin experimental immunotherapy, with adjunctive laetrile treatments, in an effort to control her cancer. The story goes that she will be whisked off to the Cook Islands for a series of immunotherapeutic injections. If this is true, and if it means she is abandoning chemotherapy, then I’d have to reckon, offhand, that I’ve probably underestimated Happy and Rocky’s collective I.Q. If the immunotherapy is something along the lines of Virginia Livingstone’s vaccines (or Dr. Maruyama’s in Japan) she could be on the right road. And laetrile, as an adjunctive treatment, is just what the stateside dox didn’t order — but should have. Happy voyage. Oh, and my source adds that the Murdoch press got wind of all this and has disptached one of its Australian execs to the islands to check it all out.
I recently received a startling letter from Shirly McGreal, co-chairperson of the International Primate Protection League, which has offices in the U.S. and England and is represented in some 18 other countries. It begins:
I read about your work in the [Nicholas] von Hoffman column, and contacted the Alicia Patterson Foundation, which gave me your address.
IPPL has become marginally interested in the politics of the cancer program, especially the virus program, mainly because of what seems to us to be unjustified and wasteful research conducted on apes belonging to an endangered speices….smuggled to a laboratory from their homeland (Thailand) in the most sordid of circumstances. The National Cancer Institute has been making a concerted effort to get these gibbons, eventhough they are legally protected in every country they inhabit.
McGreal reports that she was able to dig up this information only after applying for certain documents under the Freedom of Information Act. What makes all of this so appalling is that the League has developed information which seems to demonstrate pretty conclusively that these endangered gibbons are being wasted in research which, even by the admissions of some of those involved, will never shed any light on human cancers — nor on any gibbon cancers. Yet the work purports to be aimed at human leukemias.
The League’s Newsletter (vol. 4, no. 1, February 1977) contains this unsettling item:
The International Primate Protection League has obtained a copy of a contract between the National Cancer Institute and the New Jersey Foundation for Research in Mental Hygiene. The contract (no. N01-CO-65319) was signed on 31 July 1976, and called for the acquisition of 30 “juvenile gibbon primates.” On delivery of these gibbons to the NCI, the foundation would receive $30,000….The selection of the New Jersey Foundation for Research in Mental Hygiene as a go-between to procure gibbons for the NCI is not as surprising as it might appear …. The Foundation was one of several organizations with interlocking personnel involved in bizarre “behavior modification” experiments carried out on Hall’s Island, Bermuda. (See IPPL Newsletter, March 1976.) Despite Thailand’s ban on gibbons, the Hall’s Island project had been able to obtain 20 gibbons in still unexplained circumstances….Apparently, the NCI thought that [the Foundation] had the contacts to get more gibbons.
[Dr. Aristide] Esser and [George] Nagle’s July visit to Bangkok was cancelled after adverse publicity in the Bangkok Post. [Esser and Nagle are both with the New Jersey foundation.] It was later rescheduled, and Esser and Nagle were reported to have reserved rooms in the Dusit Thani Hotel in Bangkok. An official of the Thai Wildlife Conservation Division contacted the hotel several times in order to inform them that the export of gibbons from Thailand was not allowed, and to ask them how they obtained the gibbons already in their possession. However, Esser and Nagle did not arrive as planned, and the contract expired unfilled.
Although the sale of gibbons is illegal in Thailand, some trading continues on the black market. The local price of gibbons in Bangkok is around $25-$50 per animal. Yet the New Jersey Research Foundation was allotted $1,000 for the purchase of each gibbon by the NCI. It might appear that the Foundation, which is registered as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization, was potentially in a position to realize a profit from this venture. However, it is more probable that the inflated sum of the contract can be seen as a disguised form of bribery, although possibly unintentional, by the NCI. It is very difficult for Thailand, or any other Asian country in which gibbons are indigenous, to enforce its export regulations in the face of such a large difference between the local and international prices.
Though the NCI was thwarted, at least temporarily, in importing, through black market purchases, the endangered gibbons in this instance, the IPPL has information indicating that it has been successful in others. NCI should be called to account for what can only be termed unconscionable acts. Imagine the uproar and the outrage in this country if representatives of the Thai government — or, more realistically, some Arab government — were suddenly found to be buying up and smuggling out of the country the last of our grizzly bears or bald eagles, either to do research on or have sport with back in their own land.
More information may be obtained by writing to League headquarters in this country at IPPL, P.O. Box 9086, Berkeley, CA 94709. Those who wish to become members may send $3.00 (student member), $7.50 (regular member) or $25.00 (sustaining member). Make checks payable to the International Primate Protection League. The League has a distinguished, scientific advisory board and badly needs new members, contributions, support.
The Long Island daily Newsday has been running an excellent series of articles on cancer. The best of these, in my view, appeared under the headline:
Scientist’s Role is Questioned
The article begins:
Industry traditionally has sought to make itself heard at the highest levels of government, most commonly through lobbying and campaign contributions. In the war on cancer, however, some corporations and industry groups have established business relationships with a few of the scientists in top government councils.
The most prominent of those scientists is Dr. Phillippe Shubik, an influential pioneer in cancer research and the senior member of the National Cancer Advisory Board. Shubik — whose influence has helped to weaken regulation of environmental carcinogens, according to his critics — has been a paid consultant to a number of firms subject to just that kind of regulation.
Newsday describes a particularly important meeting that occurred on November 10, 1975 at the National Cancer Institute. The meeting was convened at the request of then-NCI-director Frank Rauscher (now at ACS at twice his old salary). Rauscher had asked Shubik, who is supposed to be one of the world’s foremost experts on chemical carcinogenesis, to put together a subcommittee in an attempt to arrive at a functional definition of a carcinogen. This definition would obviously have far-reaching impact on industry and would be of vital importance to all citizens.
Listening in, very attentively, at the NCI hearings that day were representatives of several large companies, some of which Shubik had accepted money from in a “consultant” capacity. Companies represented that day which had paid or still were paying Shubik included Abbott Laboratories, Procter & Gamble and General Foods. (He has also consulted for and presumably received money from Miles Laboratories, the Royal Crown Cola Co., the Colgate-Palmolive Co., the Extract Manufacturers Association and the Calorie Control Council.) The representative from General Foods, which had millions riding on the definition under consideration, almost certainly was paying particularly close attention to Shubik that day.
Shubik, whose corporate connections were unknown to most of the others present, succeeded, in the course of this meeting, to persuade NCI to dispose of a system of cancer “alerts” that were then in use at the Institute. The alerts were used to warn industry that evidence was accumulating that suggested that a particular product was carcinogenic. Such alerts seem entirely reasonable, if public safety is the prime consideration. Industry, predictably, was bitterly opposed to continuation of the alert system. General Foods, specifically, had been badly stung by an alert issued on one of its products, a chemical designated “TCE” that was being used in the decaffeination of some of its coffee. There was preliminary evidence that TCE was a carcinogen. When the alert was leaked to the press General Foods said it lost millions of dollars.
Subsequently it was proved that TCE is definitely a carcinogen. General Foods has withdrawn it. But Shubik says he still doesn’t think TCE constituted a hazard. “The public has been misled by this terrible business. They [General Foods] are killing themselves to make sure those things are safe.”
Are they? When TCE was demonstrated to be dangerous, General Foods calbusly substituted another substance for it which its scientists knew had never been demonstrated to be any safer than TCE. Many scientists think it, too, will be carcinogenic. Even Shubik has said that the new chemical has “an unknown risk.” Did he advise General Foods, which he characterizes as “killing” itself in the name of safety, not to use it? No.
Shubik was caught in another serious conflict of interest in 1971. This time the product in question was a detergent additive called NTA. Procter & Gamble was eager to use the stuff and presented data which it said proved its safety. Dr. Umberto Saffiotti, the scientist who headed NCI’s carcinogenesis program and who resigned from that post last year in disgust over NCI’s “mismanagement” and misplaced priorities, disagreed with Procter & Gamble; he said that their data, to the extent that it could be relied upon at all, actually pointed toward a carcinogenic risk. He said NTA should not be marketed until adequate tests were performed.
Shubik disagreed with him, leaping to Procter & Gamble’s defense. He conceded that the company’s tests were, as he put it, “lousy,” but he said the company should still be free to market the product until new tests were completed — a process that might take years. He made it clear he doubted the product would ever prove hazardous.
At the meeting where this was under discussion, Saffiotti, puzzled by Shubik’s attitude, suddenly asked, “Phil, would you, for the record, identify what capacity you are here under?”
“Procter & Gamble,” Shubik responded.
When the new NTA data was finally in it was clearly demonstrated that the substance is a carcinogen. Had it been marketed, as Shubik proposed, enormous quantities of it would have contaminated our water supplies all across the country.
“Nevertheless,” Newsday has reported, “Shubik said he saw no conflict in accepting research grants from the institute, serving on the advisory board and taking money from Procter & Gamble all at the same time. ‘If they can’t get advice from people like me, where are they going to go?’ Shubik said.”
Shubik’s Eppley Institute is currently studying chemical and other environmental carcinogens under a $3.1 million NCI grant — another classic case of putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop (and at public expense). And Shubik continues to serve as a member of the cancer army’s high command, the National Cancer Advisory Board, whose members are appointed by the President. Shubik should be asked to resign forthwith. To ask for anything less is to endanger (further) the welfare of all of us.
Rauscher, as expected, given his own uninspiring track record, was a staunch Shubik supporter. But Dr. Samuel Epstein, a prominent and widely respected cancer researcher at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, has characterized Shubik’s action on the cancer alerts as irresponsible. “Shubik,” he said, “clearly was wearing two hats.” And the director of the health and environment department of the AFL-CIO, Sheldon Samuels, has said that “Shubik is not an independent scientist. The fact is that his attitude toward science was forged by his need to be acceptable to his clients.”
More than a year ago (DMR-1), I presented data based, in part, on the NCI’s own raw statistical data, indicating that, the claims of the cancer establishment notwithstanding, we are losing the battle against cancer. I quoted Nobel Prize winner Dr. James Watson, who summed things up when he said: “The American public is being sold a nasty bill of goods. While they are being told about cancer cures [by ACS/NCI], the cure rates have improved [since the 1950s] only about one percent.” And, in a less unguent mood, as I noted in DMR-1, Dr. Watson characterized our national cancer plan as “a bunch of shit.”
ACS/NCI propaganda went largely unchallenged by the press until science writer Daniel S. Greenberg, using information largely developed by Mort Klein, an HEW health economist with a refreshingly clear mind, wrote an article for Columbia Journalism Review (January/February 1975) deploring both the misrepresentations of the cancer establishment and the press’ unquestioning acceptance of those claims. The article, which was later published, in somewhat different form, in the New England Journal of Medicine and The Washington Post, loosed a storm of controversy and, finally, a flurry of “rebuttals” which were uniformly unsuccessful, managing only to point up more flaws in the official claims and to reveal an even greater capacity for official distortion than had previously been exhibited.
Now, a year later, things look no better, despite the fact that nearly another billion in public funds have gone into the voracious cancer machine. Dr. Donald Gould, an editor of the distinguished British journal New Scientistrecently wrote: “The commonest cancers are as resistant to treatment today as they were 40 or 50 years ago. Nothing is to be gained by pretending that the battle against cancer is slowly and surely being won.”
Writing in the March 4, 1977, issue of Science, Dr. James E. Enstrom of the UCLA School of Public Health and Dr. Donald F. Austin, chief of the California Tumor Registry of the California State department of health, explained in detail why the NCI’s survival statistics cannot be relied upon to reflect reality. Those statistics, these authors assert, are based on a sampling that cannot be regarded as representative of the nation as a whole. Blacks, with their higher cancer mortality rates, for example, are almost entirely excluded from the sample. Rural areas, with their poorer ancillary care and probable higher death rates, are barely represented. Large metropolitan areas, with their much higher death rates, are similarly given insufficient weight in the sample. The hospitals that do get heavy representation are among some of the best in the country; survival rates, owing to superior all-around care in these hospitals, are misleadingly better than in the rest of the country. Most of the statistics come from hospitals in Connecticut, California and Massachusetts. A very significant proportion of the sample is drawn from six large university hospitals.
“There are no data on cancer cases in about 40 states,” Enstrom and Austin report. “In fact, only about 1.5 percent (100 out of 7,000) of the hospitals and about 3 percent (20,000 out of 650,000) of the annual cancer cases in the United States are included.” But even using this data, which is significantly biased in the direction of making things look a lot better than they really are, the authors observe that “since 1950 the total 5-year survival rate … has remained constant.”
Despite all of this, NCI/ACS go on projecting substantial progress. Marvin Schneiderman of the NCI’s biometry division recently declared that the official NCI “End Results” figures couldn’t be off the mark by more than one or two percent. Asked how he could say this in light of the sample’s demonstrated, major weaknesses, he responded, lamely, that this was his “educated guess.” (I’m now taking contributions to send Marv back to college.)
Meanwhile, the ACS, rapidly becoming known as the lunatic fringe of cancer orthodoxy, has been boasting for some time in its fund-raising propaganda that 1.5 million Americans are alive and cured of cancer today because of early detection, standard therapies, etc. (This tall tale was repeated just a few days ago by the current — figurehead — president of the ACS, Dr. R. Lee Clark.) This figure, it turns out, is a projection of statistics that were originally gathered from some of the best hospitals in Connecticut, going back to 1935. But Connecticut stopped following up on these patients awhile back and the fate of most of them is utterly unknown. The 1.5 million figure has got to be one of the shakiest statistics ever conjured up. Even the ACS’s chief statistician is uncomfortable with it; he claims he recommended that the figure be dropped, given the unreliability of the base data. Did ACS listen? No. In fact, in the 1977 edition of its “Cancer Facts and Figures,” the ACS now claims that “two million … can be considered cured of cancer.”
Finally, Enstrom and Austin point out that survival rates are not the best measure of progress or lack thereof, in any event. Attention should be focused, instead, they say on cancer incidence and mortality. The survival statistics, apart from the misrepresentative samples, they maintain, are easily distorted by numerous other factors. Earlier diagnosis, for example, can easily give the impression that people are living longer due to available therapies, eventhough in reality their survival is not being extended by a day.
“If the death rates don’t decrease,” Austin has said, “then, no matter what survival statistics show, we are not winning the cancer war.” In 1930, roughly 112 persons per 100,000 died of cancer; by 1940 the figure was 120 per 100,000; it was 125 per 100,000 in 1950 and 132 per 100,000 in 1974. Clearly, cancer still has the upper hand — and it is still tightening its grip.
As I conclude my term as an Alicia Patterson Fellow I would like to thank a few individuals whose assistance went far beyond the ordinary or the expected. Mort Klein, health economist at HEW, has been tireless in keeping me abreast of developments in Washington. Klein has a network of scientific and political contacts that is nothing short of formidable. As a connector and conduit of valuable information, all of which is channelled in the public interest, Klein has no equal in my experience. The public should be grateful to him, if for no other reason than that it was he who alerted so many of us to the fallacies inherent in those claims of “progress” that issue, with so little credibility, from the ACS and NCI. Today Klein is working to see to it that government scientists keep an open mind about vitamin C and A research and that more emphasis be placed on promising nutritional leads in the search for effective cancer treatments.
I also wish to thank Andrew McNaughton, a man whose contributions to wise cancer research are, in my view, nearly inestimable. For twenty years, McNaughton has devoted himself and his non-profit McNaughton Foundation to the seeking out and support of unusually promising therapies that minister not only to the body, but also to the mind and the spirit. McNaughton has truly been a pioneer in the realm of holistic medicine. Though associated most closely with laetrile in recent years, McNaughton has supported and encouraged innovative research related to nutrition, immunotherapy, hyperthermia and a wide variety of metabolic diseases. As a facilitator and catalyst he has selflessly devoted himself to numerous laudable goals. Over the years, he has been the single most important man in the thankless fight to keep laetrile alive. He has never profited from laetrile; indeed, in the late 1960s, he spent hundreds of thousands of his own dollars to win for laetrile an IND — investigational new drug status — from the FDA. He succeeded only to have politics rob him — and the public — of the well-earned prize. With Dr. Dean Burk, then chief of the cytochemistry division of NCI, McNaughton was the first to recognize the awesome merit of Manfred von Ardenne’s cancer work. Over the years he has assisted the East German researcher in other ways, helping to arrange, for example, for him to lecture at Sloan-Kettering, which also benefited from the exchange. Now that laetrile is on the brink of legalization in numerous states, McNaughton is working very hard to ensure that the laetrile laws will be good laws, that they will protect the public from charlatanism and profiteering. It’s owing to the fact that cancer has a few enemies as formidable as Andrew McNaughton that we can all have confidence that the disease, despite all the aid and comfort NCI and ACS give it, will eventually be overwhelmed.
And, finally, I would like to thank Mark McCarty, a medical student at the University of San Diego for helping me over a number of technical barriers. McCarty, with his clear-headed, biochemically informed and manifestly objective analysis of the laetrile controversy (summarized in DMR-2), did more for the substance in a period of weeks than many of laetrile’s more ardent supporters have done for it in their lifetimes. Similarly, McCarty is now expertly exegeting the occasionally recondite and sometimes downright arcane details of Manfred von Ardenne’s battle plan against cancer, making him accessible here for the first time.
And to all the others who have assisted me, both on and off the record, and to the highly professional, always helpful and supportive staff of the Alicia Patterson Foundation, thank you.
And so this is the end of what has been for me, at least, a most fruitful and exciting year. Many have asked why the Patterson Foundation did not “extend” my “grant” for another year. So I would like to say that I did not seek such an extension; nor would one have been granted in any event. The Patterson Fellowships are set up to provide professional journalists with support for one year — and for one year only — to investigate difficult topics, free of the encumbrances of their normal jobs. And these are fellowships, not renewable grants. There is nothing to extend. I shall, however, continue to be heard on the cancer question, though, frankly, I have no intention of making it my life’s work. At the moment I have three books under contract, one of which will deal with cancer research and will, if all goes according to schedule, one day, perhaps a couple years hence, be published by Harper & Row. This book will embrace cancer research not only here in the U.S. but in many overseas countries, as well. I’m hopeful that next fall I will be able to visit East Germany and the Soviet Union to report on what is happening there. Later I may be able to go to China. And, of course, I will be interested in what is developing in Europe, India, Japan and any other country producing interesting results. Meanwhile, I have just been offered my own monthly column in New West magazine, now the most “visible” publication on the West Coast. In it, I will cover a broad spectrum of developments in science, medicine, psychology and technology.
Godspeed, and when the American Cancer Society comes calling, do us all a favor — ask them for money.
Received in New York on April 13, 1977
©1977 David M. Rorvik
David M. Rorvik, a freelance writer, is an Alicia Patterson Foundation award winner. He is studying the politics of cancer research in the United States and elsewhere. This article may be published with credit to Mr. Rorvik as a Fellow of the Alicia Patterson Foundation. The views expressed by the author in this newsletter are not necessarily the views of the Foundation.