So now we know.
Back when it was announced that the second Burzynski movie by Eric Merola would be screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival on April 27, Merola announced that there would be a “special celebrity guest.” Those of us who have been following Burzynski for a while scratched our heads, not knowing who it could likely be. We considered and rejected multiple possibilities: Suzanne Somers, Ralph Moss, and many others. Well, now we know who would be giving the celebrity endorsement for the Burzynski Clinic, and, no, it’s not Josh Duhamel.
It’s Fabio Lanzoni:
Yes, that Fabio. The same guy who did these commercials:
On thing I didn’t know about Fabio was that he was also a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society years ago, and appeared in this famous poster:
Not surprisingly, the interviewer doesn’t fail to mention this, nor does Fabio.
The question, of course, is why. Why did Fabio fall under the spell of Stanislaw Burzynski, to the point that he is appearing in Eric Merola’s promotional videos and spouting misinformation about cancer? As is often the case when this happens, the answer boils down to a relative with cancer. Fabio tells us that his sister has ovarian cancer, and she is receiving treatment at the Burzynski Clinic. He further tells us that her conventional doctors said they didn’t have much to offer other than palliative care; so they went to the Burzynski Clinic. The story, as we hear so often, is that his sister is doing much better after only three weeks. Of course, he doesn’t mention whether her tumors have shown any sign of response, but he can’t say enough good things about Burzynski, calling him a genius and saying that he has the cure for cancer and that he compares favorably to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He also slams the American Cancer Society, for which he was once a spokesperson, pulling out the usual accusations that it doesn’t spend enough on research and spends too much on overhead. This is a complaint about the ACS that doctors pushing alternative cancer cures have been pushing for decades now.
Even remembering that Fabio’s sister has cancer, it was hard for the cancer doctor in me not to be outraged as Fabio parroted lines straight out of a cancer quack’s playbook in the service of Stanislaw Burzynski.
Don’t get me wrong. I can definitely sympathize with Fabio based on his sister’s illness. That’s truly horrible, and ovarian cancer is a bad actor that all too often kills women in their prime. (Think Gilda Radner.) What I cannot sympathize with are the swaths of burning stupid he lays down in the video above. The standard pro-Burzynski tropes are all there: The only “approved” treatment for cancer is “cut, poison, burn.” Chemotherapy kills more people than cancer (a lie). Radiation is horrible and causes cancer. Not surprisingly, Fabio can’t understand why we would use radiation against cancer because it causes cancer! I mean, seriously. That’s Oncology 101. Radiation treats the cancer now at the cost of an increased risk of cancer decades down the road. In other words, it can save your life but, as is the case with most things in medicine, there are tradeoffs. Here’s a hint: You don’t suffer the risk of an increased risk of cancer twenty years down the road if you die of your existing cancer.
Fabio then carpetbombs the audience with stupid even more by telling people to ask the Japanese about radiation because they know about it from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I kid you not. He then concludes by urging people to support Dr. Burzynski because he is the way to the cure for cancer.
Of course, one wonders whether Fabio, after having criticized chemotherapy so harshly, realizes that Dr. Burzynski’s antineoplastons are, in fact, chemotherapy with significant toxicity and that Dr. Burzynski also uses a lot of chemotherapy in his “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy.” Somehow, I doubt it. Burzynski’s arrogance of ignorance knows no bounds. Fabio can’t see through it because he has a loved one who is suffering from advanced stage cancer, and to him Burzynski is the cure. While I can understand why he might think that Burzynski is the only person who can save his sister, even so, I would have hoped that Fabio would have learned enough during his time as a spokesperson for the ACS not to parrot such nonsense about cancer. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. No one knows how he or she will react to a loved one dying of cancer. However, even such duress, while it might explain it to some extent, does not entirely excuse the spouting of pure nonsense in the service of an unproven cancer cure that could endanger other patients by enticing them to go to the Burzynski Clinic too.
Note: An earlier version of this post contained a snarky Photoshopped image of Fabio that probably went too far. After my mistake was pointed out to me, I removed it. My bad. Sorry about that.