Alternative cancer "cures": Nothing's changed in 34 years

Sometimes blogging topics arise from the strangest places. It's true. For instance, although references to how tobacco causes cancer and the decades long denialist campaign by tobacco companies are not infrequently referenced in my blogging (particularly from supporters of highly dubious studies alleging a link between cell phone radiation and cancer and the ham-handed misuse of the analogy by antivaccinationists, who seem to think that vaccine companies engage in deceit on a scale similar to the deceptive practices of tobacco companies in "denying" that vaccines cause autism and all the other conditions, diseases, and horrors their fevered imaginations attribute to them), I've never really delved particularly deeply into one of the most useful repositories of documents on the topic that exists, namely the UCSF Legacy Tobacco Documents Library. Actually, the reason I started poking around there is not due to tobacco science, but because a fellow blogger mentioned to me that there were some articles and documents about Stanislaw Burzynski there dating back to the late 1970s. My curiosity was piqued.

As I explored, however, I learned that the documents there were not so much about Stanislaw Burzynski per se. In fact, they were more about the state of the underground "alternative cancer cures" industry in the late 1970s, which interested me greatly. The reason is that, when it comes to having delved so deeply into cancer quackery, I'm a relative newbie. Compared to, for example, Wally Sampson, Stephen Barrett, Peter Moran, or even Kimball Atwood, I'm inexperienced, having only noticed this phenomenon in a big way in the Usenet newsgroup back around 2001 or so, give or take a year. As a result, I don't have the shared historical perspective that they do, mainly because I can only learn about that era from reading, studying, and talking to people who were active then. After all, in the late 1970s I was still in high school, and in the 1980s I was in college and medical school. There was no Internet (at least none that I had access to and that contained the wealth of easily accessible information to which we have become accustomed). In any case, in high school I had other interests, and throughout the 1980s I was too focused on getting an education and training to be a surgeon and researcher, a process that extended into the late 1990s. (Yes, it takes that long sometimes, particularly if you are masochistic enough to want to get a PhD, complete a general surgery residency, and do a fellowship in surgical oncology.)

The articles I came across were actually from a rather surprising source: Penthouse magazine. I suppose that, in retrospect, I should not be quite so surprised. Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione was apparently always into dubious cancer cures, later in 1995 having achieved some notoriety by promoting claims that hydrazine sulfate had cured his wife Kathy Keeton of metastatic breast cancer. Ultimately Keeton did go on to die of complications of surgery for upper intestinal obstruction, which sounds as though it was probably due to a recurrence of her cancer. Before her death, Keeton was a journalist and co-founder of Omni and Longevity magazines, the former of which, I'm ashamed to admit, I used to read rather frequently. In any case, she appears to have been a person who survived longer than expected while being treated with conventional therapy (Tamoxifen) and hydrazine sulfate, surviving two years after her diagnosis, which is certainly not outside the expected survival time for metastatic breast cancer in the 1990s, particularly if it was estrogen-receptor positive.

Be that as it may, back in the fall of 1979 I was in high school, and if I got my hands on a copy of Penthouse magazine, you can be sure that I probably wasn't interested in the articles, with the possible exception of the Penthouse Forum. (What can I say? I was a typical teen in the late 1970s.) In any case, back at that time I would also never have heard of one of the co-authors of this trilogy of articles, namely Gary Null, who is still at it more than 33 years later. The articles appeared in the following issues of Penthouse (click on the cover to go to the direct link to scanned PDF of the article from the UCSF Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (fear not—what's on the covers is tamer than what you can find in a typical Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue; it's another way that times have changed over the last three decades):



The Song Remains the Same, although the names do change

The first article in the trilogy, The Great Cancer Fraud by Gary Null and Robert Houston, is as good a place to start as any. It's the longest of the three and the most comprehensive (if you can call it that) broadside against conventional cancer care that Gary Null can apparently muster. If you leave out a couple of the quackeries that I had never heard of, it's also completely, utterly, and depressingly familiar to me, so much so that all Null would have to do would be to change some dates, update some figures, and add a couple of newer cancer quackeries, and it could very easily be published today on Null's website,, or If you want evidence that the arguments made by promoters of "alternative cancer cures" are all variations on the same theme, a theme unchanged for decades, you really do need to read this article. It's also amusing to look at the one ad left in for adult movies offering five Marilyn Chambers hardcore videos on sale for $366, marked down from $525. Who remembered porn was so expensive back in 1979? I just hope people who paid that much didn't buy the Beta version. Oh, the horror of obsolescence!

But I digress. Sorry about that. I'm like Dug the Dog sometimes, and you never know what sort of thing will affect me like the word "squirrel" affected Dug.

Regular readers of SBM will likely find this article as utterly familiar as I did, with the possible exception of the last section of the article being taken up by touting Laetrile, which is rarely mentioned in SBM because in 2013 even cancer quacks don't promote it much anymore, because even they seem to have accepted that it doesn't work and can have nasty side effect of cyanide toxicity. (Whoops! Maybe I spoke too soon.) Indeed, if you read the Quackwatch article on Laetrile and compare it with the version of Laetrile discussed in Null's article, you'll wonder if the two are even on the same planet. Probably not. Either way, truly The Great Cancer Fraud is a blast from the past, except that when it was published, Gary Null was a young quackery supporter just building his reputation, and Laetrile was actually new news, having gained some traction in legislation thanks to the efforts of an incipient "health freedom" movement. (Remember, after all, that 1979 was the year that Led Zeppelin released its last album, In Through the Out Door, and The Cars released their second album, Candy-O.) Still, it's worthwhile to look at some of the arguments and one or two of the "alternative cancer cures" that I hadn't heard of.

Null began, as is his wont, by discussing what he saw as the skyrocketing incidence of cancer, which at the time was estimated to affect one in four people, meanwhile trotting out what are now tried-and-not-so-true gambits, lamenting the "failure" of the war on cancer (which was not even eight years old when this article was published), ranting about the "suppression" of real cures, and insinuating all sorts of dire conspiracies of the medical establishment and the media, which, to him, were all in collusion, along with the government to push only the "cut-poison-burn" approach to cancer. Actually, according to Null, the combination included the National Cancer Institute, the American Medical Association, "powerful chemical and drug industries," the American Cancer Society, the Food and Drug Administration, and "many science writers who work for the national media." This latter part of the conspiracy is particularly interesting to me, because my fellow bloggers and I have often lamented the fall of science writers and science/medical reporters in the "traditional" media. Remember that back then there was no Internet (at least the Internet at the time was restricted to relatively few academic, industrial, and military institutions), and there was no World Wide Web. Nor were there blogs and Twitter and Facebook. Science writers and science journalists were it for disseminating reliable scientific information to the masses in a form that people without scientific training could understand. No wonder Eric Merola, in his propaganda movie for Stanislaw Burzynski, so viciously goes after skeptical bloggers. He's only doing exactly what Gary Null did 33 years ago when he attacked science and medical writers. As science journalism declined, science and medical blogging rushed in to fill the void as best as it could. So now we're the new targets of people like Gary Null.

In fact, Null accused the American Cancer Society of, in essence, training journalists:

Let us look at how the cancer establishment influences these reporters — and then see how the reporters go into action to quash new cancer treatments.

The action begins every spring, when the American Cancer Society, one of the largest "charitable" organizations in the world, holds its national Science Writers' Seminar at a resort locale. Here, selected health reporters from the leading media are soireed and surfeited in poolside luxury — a luxury that bespeaks the $126 million the ACS raised last year from the public — and slipped rah-rah cancer progress stories from acceptable researchers. The American Cancer Society seminars are essentially the spring fashion shows of cancer research, letting health and science reporters know where the big money's going — although in actuality the expense has yielded almost complete failure at reducing the overall mortality level. There is always a "breakthrough" or two announced, and this right around contribution time, which nearly and coincidentally dovetails with the science writers' conference.

Who knew the American Cancer Society was so powerful? Who knew it indoctrinated generations of health and science writers like that? What horrible things and dark secrets did the ACS inculcate into the science writers of the 1970s at these conferences? Well, it turns out that the UCSF archive actually has a summary of one of these seminars, the one held in 1975. Let's take a look. According to the document, the seminar consists of daily morning and afternoon sessions in which noted cancer scientists give presentations followed by Q&A sessions, along with a general discussion after the end of each session. In 1975, there were sessions on genetics, the meaning of "high risk" when it comes to cancer, viruses in cancer (a hot topic even back in the 1970s), immunotherapy, hormones and breast cancer, and treatment advances in cancer. It all sounds so mundane and science-based. Of course, that's the problem to someone like Null. Teaching journalists the latest in the science of cancer is generally considered a good thing, because journalists with a solid understanding of what they are reporting are more likely to get the science right, which is exactly what Null didn't want and doesn't want to this day. To him, it was all a conspiracy to indoctrinate science writers. Elsewhere in the article, Null lauds the rise of "self help" groups and writers as an antidote to that, the same way quacks laud the rise of alt-med bloggers today.

The more things change...

Does ACS still hold its Science Writers' Seminar? I could see that the ACS was still doing them at least into the late 1990s, but I couldn't find much after that. Maybe the ACS should resurrect the seminar series and include bloggers as well.

Null also touted a bunch of the usual quackery, such as the Gerson therapy, which is nonsense. One thing that piqued my interest was a treatment called Koch's Glyoxylide. The reason that this caught my attention was the local connection. Dr. William F. Koch was a Detroit physician, and Null was particularly incensed at how the Wayne County Medical Society wrote a report in 1923 condemning Glyoxylide as worthless:

Koch's work was judged and condemned to be worthless by the "Cancer Committee" of the Wayne County Medical Society in 1923 — a committee made up for the most part of surgeons and radium or X-ray "experts," a class of people that assumed cancer to be curable only by these methods. As a result, both Koch and his cancer treatment were suppressed, and the oppression extended to the other doctors who attempted to use his methods in any kind of test.

Good going, Wayne County Medical Society! It apparently correctly identified the issue with glyoxylide, namely that it probably didn't exist as a chemical and that his methods didn't appear to do anything for cancer. The story of glyoxylide is actually rather fascinating, and perhaps I'll revisit it sometime. For now, however, it suffices (to me at least) to say that it doesn't work.

In that, glyoxylide was a lot like Lincoln's Bacteriophage Method, which was promoted by Dr. Robert E. Lincoln:

Lincoln identified bacterial strains as contributing factors in hundreds of perplexing disease symptoms plaguing the human body, symptoms ranging from tiredness to leg cramps to mental depression to the common cold — and, ultimately, to cancer. In the late forties, Lincoln isolated two such strains of pathogens and with various diseases achieved a successful cure rate by using certain viruses (bacteriophages) against them. One cured cancer patient was the son of Sen. Charles Tobey, who spread the word about Lincoln's therapy.

In 1952, after Lincoln was expelled from the Massachusetts Medical Society, Senator Tobey became so incensed that he presented the particulars to Congress: (1) in 1946 the Journal of the American Medical Association rejected Lincoln's paper on clinical results with his 'antibiotics"; (2) in 1948 the same paper was rejected by the New England Journal of Medicine; (3) in 1948 the director of a large Boston hospital was "unable to find the time" to review Lincoln's work, after being invited to do so; and (4) Lincoln's requests for assistance in publication were ignored by science editors.

So basically, Lincoln used bacteriophages (viruses that attack bacteria that today are commonly used to genetically engineer bacteria) to lyse Staphylococcus aureus. These lysates were either injected subcutaneously, applied intranasally, or administered orally or applied topically. The claim was that these lysates would somehow boost the "defensive mechanisms" of the body, particularly if "ubiquitous staph infection is a complication." Unfortunately, the investigation of the Massachusetts Medical Society was quite thorough and concluded that there was no scientifically valid or convincing evidence presented that the phage lysates impacted the biology of cancer in any way. No wonder Null liked it.

Of course, the greatest evidence that the ACS was "suppressing" alternative "cancer cures" to Null was the existence of something that I really wish were still in existence today: The ACS list of unproven methods:

The unproven-methods list is in effect a blacklist of remedies that include some of the most promising methods for the control of cancer in the world today, among them many dietary and nutritional programs. Once a treatment gets on the list, it becomes virtually impossible for any of its proponents to continue their research. Grants dry up; doors to publications are closed. The unproven-methods list can be compared to the index of heresy in the Catholic Church in medieval times. It is a fast and efficient way of dealing with new remedies without the fuss and bother of "trials."

Yes, indeed. Some tropes have been around forever, seemingly, and that applies to the "science is a religion" trope that is trotted out whenever professional societies try to uphold scientific standards against quackery. In fact, these days, the ACS appears not to maintain the dreaded list anymore and even has a "complementary and alternative medicine" section on its website. Maybe it's a good idea not to segregate treatments into an entire category for "unproven" therapies and just list them in another way but say the same thing about therapies that are, in fact, unproven. I don't know. But Null sure didn't like it; so it couldn't have been all bad.

Stanislaw Burzynski: The Early Years

Part II of the Null trilogy was written by Gary Null only and entitled The Suppression of Cancer Cures, lest you have any misconception where Null is coming from. Although other "brave maverick doctors" were mentioned in it, the article was primarily about Stanislaw Burzynski. In a way, I like to call this article, which is the shortest of the bunch, "Burzynski: The Early Years." Although at the time the article was published Burzynski had isolated antineoplastons from urine, he hadn't yet found a way to chemically synthesize them, mainly (apparently) because he hadn't fully chemically characterized them yet. This meant that he actually was isolating them from gallons and gallons of human urine, all in order to do his experiments and, unfortunately, treat patients, which led to a hilarious analogy from Null:

Although antineoplastons are found in all normal body tissues and fluids, they are most easily extracted from urine. They appear to "normalize" cancer cells without inhibiting the growth of normal cells. Actually, urine therapy has been used as a folk remedy for cancer and other ailments for over 2,000 years. Even within the past 30 years, at least 45.000 injections of urine or urine extract were given in the United States and throughout Europe without any toxic side effects.

I'm guessing that Dr. Burzynski wasn't too thrilled with that passage. To this day, he gets pretty irate when people refer to antineoplastons as coming from urine, being quick to correct them and tell them that he synthesizes them in a laboratory now. For an example, scroll down to question #3 in Eric Merola's FAQ about Burzynski and Merola's movie.

The real point of this article, however, is here:

The list of scientists who have been harassed includes names like Durovic, Ivy, Koch, Lincoln, Gerson—names that are, probably unknown to most people. But they can be compared with such innovators in science as Galileo, Pasteur, Semmelweis, and Jenner, all of whom were practically destroyed in their time by various powerful organizations, such as the Church and the medical establishment.

Today this kind of suppression is reserved not for astronomy, ecology, antisepsis, or vaccinations, but for the most steadily increasing and least understood disease of our time—cancer. The suppression of valuable treatments is the cancer blackout.

And so begins the narrative about Stanislaw Burzynski supposedly having a cure for cancer (or at least some cancers) that is being "suppressed" by mainstream oncology because...well, it's never quite clear why: Because it interferes with profits; because it's against the dogma of the time; because doctors and scientists apparently just can't stand something that's outside of the mainstream. The reasons why mainstream oncology would want to suppress these alleged cures are ever-morphing, seemingly into endless variants, depending upon the needs of the myth builder of the time spinning the yarn of a Great Man (or Woman) whose work is unappreciated by mere peons, who are either too unimaginative to understand or too threatened by the work ever to accept it. When you come right down to it, it's not unlike Ayn Rand, and, in fact, reading this article by Null about Burzynski I couldn't help but shake the image of Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged, a man who invented Rearden Metal, the best alloy in the world, and as a result had his competitors plotting against him and spreading lies about its danger. Or maybe he's John Galt. Whatever. There is the attitude that somehow Stanislaw Burzynski is a Great Man being persecuted by fleas who fear his genius and want to mooch off of it. Null plays up this narrative.

For instance, Burzynski left Communist Poland in the late 1960s, as so many young Polish scientists did. The reason, it is implied, was because he was so much better than that, although it's not particularly surprising that a man with few opportunities to pursue his dreams in Soviet-controlled Poland would yearn for the freedom of the West. In any case, Burzynski arrived in Houston and secured a job as a Research Associate at the Baylor College of Medicine, which is higher than a technician but not usually a faculty position. Generally, it's the sort of position that PhDs who are either ineligible for a postdoctoral position or don't qualify for a tenure-track position take doing research in someone else's laboratory. He then managed to score an assistant professor position at Baylor, which is good. Clearly, he showed enough promise to compete for and obtain the position. He was even funded by the NCI from 1974 to 1977. According to this article, Burzynski got an NCI grant from 1974 to 1976 to fund his research involving gel filtration techniques to isolate peptides from urine and for testing their ability to inhibit in vitro growth of several types of cultured human cells. Ironically, as Null quotes Burzynski as saying, the NCI actually did fund Burzynski's discovery of antineoplastons to some extent.

Unfortunately, when Burzynski applied to renew his grant in 1976, he apparently failed, although his funding continued until 1977. Not so coincidentally (to me, at least) 1977 was also the year that Burzynski left Baylor to form his own research institute. I can probably guess what happened. He failed to renew his grant; so he was probably told he would have to shut down his lab and either start seeing patients full time to support his position or find a job in someone else's lab. Given that he had been there for five years, a common time after which medical researchers go up for tenure, he might have even failed to win tenure and been told to find another position. Whatever happened at Baylor, combine his failure to renew his grant with his being faculty in the Department of Anesthesiology, and what happened next doesn't seem quite as conspiratorial as Null makes it sound:

Dr. Burzynski presented his startling results to the annual meeting of the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology. When he met with enthusiastic responses, he knew then that it was time to begin human research.

However, soon after this Dr. Burzynski's funding was decreased: then it was discontinued. His work was channeled into other areas of research, and his superiors discouraged his pursuit of cancer therapy. He couldn't know at this time that this was only the beginning of his long battle with the medical establishment. Determined to continue, Dr. Burzynski struck out on his own and leased a 2,500-square-foot garage space in Houston, which he turned into an impressive private lab and office despite warnings that the medical establishment would challenge his activities.

Or, it could have been that Burzynski failed to renew his grant, and his Chair, being a Chair of a department of anesthesia and all, didn't see the point in his continuing to do cancer research, which is more appropriately carried out in an oncology department, biochemistry department, or pharmacology department. Somehow, I doubt that there was any sort of grand conspiracy by The Man to keep Burzynski down. Whatever happened at Baylor, clearly there was some sort of a falling-out between Burzynski and the administration of the department of anesthesia, whether it was from his lack of grant funding or other conflicts. However, Burzynski used what happened to his advantage to construct the myth of the Great Man whose vision forced him to leave to pursue his scientific dream. Perhaps there was a grain of truth to that at the time he left, but over time in retrospect, now that we know what happened and how Burzynski turned out, it's harder for an objective observer to accept that narrative. After all, why would a department of anesthesia support cancer chemotherapy research—which, let's face it, Burzynski was doing—particularly if the investigator was losing his NIH funding? My guess, which could be wrong, is that Burzynski chewed through his startup funds between 1972 and 1974, parlaying them into an NIH grant, but was unable to keep the momentum going and renew that grant. Probably his department put up with him because he had achieved NIH funding and every department in a medical school loves an investigator with NIH funding, but was less enthusiastic about it when he lost that funding. In any case, the 1970s were a critical period in the development of the myth that is Burzynski. I'd love to know what really happened in the years leading up to 1977 that led to his leaving Baylor. All we get now are stories designed to make Burzynski look like a "brave maverick doctor" and a scientist on par with Galileo.

That myth-making and legend-building clearly had begun before Null wrote his article, the rest of which follows a script that was new back in 1979 but has become old and tiresome now. Any time anyone or any professional organization investigates Burzynski for unethical conduct, in this case administering his antineoplastons to patients even though (1) they were not approved drugs, (2) he hadn't done any tests in animal tumor models yet, and (3) he wasn't doing proper clinical trials, all of which were indications for an investigation, it couldn't possibly have been because there were legitimate concerns about his activities. Oh, no. To Burzynski and his supporters like Null, it was (and still is) because the medical establishment was closing ranks to suppress a promising new cancer therapy.

Let's compare and contrast to my situation. (Why not?) When I fail to get a grant or to renew one that I've had before, I view it as being because funding has tightened up (which it has), making what was good enough a few years ago no longer good enough, and/or because that time around I just didn't do a good enough job convincing the reviewers. In other words, I view failure to be funded as being either my failing and/or due to circumstances not directed at me personally (e.g., the really crappy NIH funding situation right now). That wasn't, however, how Burzynski thought. If he didn't get a grant, it was obviously because the NCI was plotting against him. If his department discouraged him from pursuing antineoplaston research, it couldn't possibly have been because Burzynski was losing his NIH funding and was not doing the sort of research that a department of anesthesia would generally take an interest in. Oh, no. It had to be because his department was trying to suppress his work as well, possibly because the government was putting pressure on it. When the AACR doesn't accept my abstract for its annual meeting, I don't blame the AACR; I ask myself what I could have done better and try again. Not Burzynski. If his abstract wasn't accepted, it must have been part of a conspiracy by the "cancer establishment" to suppress his work, just as when Eric Merola recently related the story of Burzynski's recent attempt to publish in The Lancet being rejected rapidly he not-so-subtly suggested that it must be either groupthink or a conspiracy among journal editors.

In this, Eric Merola is following a well-established script that was developed 30 years before his first movie. His "innovation" (if you can call it that) is to add The Skeptics™ as a new enemy keeping The Great Man down and trying to keep cancer patients from being cured of their cancers.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

The third installment of Gary Null's 1979 trilogy of woo was co-written by Anne Pitrone and entitled Alternative Cancer Therapies. It was basically a tour of cancer quackery, circa 1979, combined with—you guessed it!—more conspiracy mongering about suppression of cancer cures and a lot of excuses, such as this:

Many of the clinics where we interviewed are understaffed or don't have the funds to do important statistical analysis and follow-up of patients that would provide the general public, as well as the scientific community, with some idea of the results they're getting. Many are so new that the statistics have limited meaning. Records of patient response are sometimes sketchy because of the nature of the treatment, which often involves the patient's taking responsibility for a complete change of life-style as well as self-medication. Sometimes it is impossible for these clinics and doctors to get proper testing and/or cooperation with the medical community, although this has been changing dramatically as more positive research to support the alternative therapies has been discovered.

Part of the problem in analyzing statistics is that there is no single standard for measuring "positive results" in cancer. For example, when a doctor says he's getting good results, does it mean that he's getting objective (measurable) responses, such as tumor stabilization or regression? Or does he mean that he is getting subjective improvements, such as increased appetite, elimination of cachexia (wasting away), overall well-being, or elimination of pain? For some doctors "positive results" means simply that the patient dies in one month rather than in two weeks.

Regrettably, there is an element of vagueness in today's alternative-therapy network not only because of the nature of the disease (cancer is not limited to one type, organ, or system) and the nature of the treatment (which is often self-administered), but also because there is a lack of long-term statistical observation. There are few doctors that have been able to keep statistically thorough records over a five- or ten-year period. Most clinics have at least some strong subjective results to report.

Null even conceded that, because of this lack of outcomes data, it would be "unwise" to "throw out conventional therapy altogether."

More than 33 years later, nothing has changed. The same three self-excusing paragraphs could be written by Gary Null, Joe Mercola, Mike Adams, Julian Whitaker, Suzanne Somers, or any of the many apologists for and promoters of "alternative cancer cures" and published in a book or on a website today. Basically, there is no statistical evidence, because alternative cancer clinics are not about rigorous science and tracking of patient outcomes. They are about belief, standing against conventional cancer therapy, and magical thinking.

After that passage laying the groundwork for excuses as to why "alternative cancer clinics" can't prove that what they do actually helps cancer patients or could do any better than what "conventional" cancer therapy could do at the time, Null then took Penthouse readers on a tour of cancer quackery: Gerson therapy, Linus Pauling's high dose vitamin C, other high dose vitamin regimens, chelation therapy (yes, chelation therapy for cancer) and, of course Laetrile. The sad thing is, most of these treatments (if you can call them that) are still around and still being used by quacks, just in different combinations. For instance, I could easily find clinics for which a description like this would still apply:

"The main problem is that people wait until it's too late, and then they want to take Laetrile and expect it to be a miracle for them," said Dr. Robert Gibson of Ponca City, Okla. Basically using Laetrile in conjunction with a salt-free, high-fiber, and high-vegetable diet very similar to Dr. Gerson's, Dr. Gibson also makes use of vitamins A, C, and E and enzymes. Formerly involved in a large general practice, Dr. Gibson has treated more than 2,000 cancer patients over the last three years, many of whom have "waited too long." "For the very ill," said Dr. Gibson, "we can relieve the pain with Laetrile and the diet and many times extend their lives beyond the expected survival; actually, the use of Laetrile is a little bit unpredictable. But if the medication does work, we've been getting very good responses with many different tumors. And with those patients that are in better shape than 'terminal' over the past three years, I'd say we've been getting about sixty-eight percent positive results." Dr. Gibson points out that this is not really an adequate statistic, since most data on recovery require a "five-year survival time."

Ah, yes. The old "If only the patient hadn't waited too long to come to me" gambit.

Just for the heck of it, I tried to see how many of the clinics mentioned by Null 33 years ago are still around. As you might expect, many of these 1970s-era promoters of "alternative cancer cures," like Dr. Dean Burk, have since died. (One notes that Dr. Burk was also an anti-fluoridation crackpot who was known for saying that "fluoridation is a form of public mass murder.") Dr. Ray Evers, a promoter of chelation therapy for everything, including cancer, apparently died in 1990, and his fellow quacks paid tribute to him in 1991. Dr. R. Glen Green was apparently inducted into the Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame in 2007 at age 84 but died in 2010. Nor is the Livingston Clinic still in operation, its not having been able to survive too many years after the death of its founder. In 2004, Dr. Jack Slingluff pled guilty to one count of introducing an unapproved new drug (Laetrile) into interstate commerce. The State Medical Board of Ohio suspended his medical license for a year and permanently revoked it in 2008, and he died in 2011. Similarly Dr. Emmanuel Revici died in the 1990s, but his clinic still exists and is still seeing patients.

In some cases, it's not always clear whether the clinic is still in operation. For instance, it isn't clear whether the Gibson Clinic still exists in Ponca City, OK; if it does it doesn't have a web presence, although it's listed in It does, however, turn out that one of these "brave maverick doctors" featured by Null is apparently still practicing. I'm referring to Dr. Michael Schachter, who runs the Schacter Center for Complementary Medicine, where he treats cancer using a combination of chelation therapy, various nutritional interventions, detoxification, intravenous H2O2 and/or vitamin C, and other woo. His center's website even includes a Quack Miranda warning right here.

Oh, and Stanislaw Burzynski, as we all know, is still practicing.

Sadly, however, even though the unavoidable ravages of time have taken their toll on the "brave maverick doctors" profiled in Null's article, each and every dubious and unproven therapy espoused by them is still being practiced today by someone somewhere. No matter how often the stake of science is driven into their heart (or, if you prefer The Walking Dead, the arrow or katana of science is driven into their brains), they always rise again. What taking this little step back into a time when I was still in high school has shown me is that, as the French say, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, or, as I like to say, there is nothing new under the sun, at least when it comes to "alternative cancer cures." It's kind of depressing to think that, not only has nothing really changed much in the last 33 years, but that, if anything, elements of what was once called quackery are more accepted than they were when Gary Null first published his trilogy of woo in Penthouse.


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I find the way history repeats itself in the world of woo fascinating. For another example, compare Perkins Tractors (late 18th century pseudoscience) with the Amega wand (early 21st century pseudoscience). The only real difference is that in the 18th century they talked of "noxious electrical fluid" and in the 21st they talk of " ‘Life Force Energy’, Source, Chi or Zero- Point energy" and throw in some vague references to quantum physics. Plus ça change indeed.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, an aspiring woo fighter needs first to comprehensively explore the long history of quackery. Nearly all the tactics, tropes and gadgets have been used before; the wheel turns and they come up yet again. :)

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

Krebiozen @2 -- I don't see how you can be so sure that the Perkins Tractor and the Amega wand don't both work exactly as advertised! [I kid, I kid.]

By palindrom (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

I love this suggested use of the Amega wand:

"To use on pets to supplement energy deficiency "

Eu weh. [original speling of "oy vey"]

By palindrom (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

I particularly despise the multi-level marketing model Amega uses to sell their various useless gadgets, all of which are tested using other pseudoscientific gadgets or pseudoscientific methods like live blood analysis. The Live Blood Analysis and Bio-energetic Field Evaluation videos on their website are quite amusing, or would be if people weren't being deceived by this nonsense. At least dish-washing liquid does what it is claimed to do.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

I'm a few years younger than Orac. In 1979 I had heard of Penthouse, and heard that it was really hardcore stuff (more so than Playboy, which supposedly had interesting articles on topics other than you-know-what). I had also heard about Laetrile, and had heard that there was something not-quite-respectable about its use as a cancer treatment (although at that age I wouldn't have fully understood the issues). Of course, Walter Cronkite was still presenting the national news on CBS, and TV news was still regarded as a public service rather than yet another entertainment vehicle which had to turn a profit for the corporate masters. That latter point may have had something to do with science journalists of the day actually taking the time to learn a few things about the stories they reported.

As for our old friend Dr. Burzynski, we can't know as much as Orac would like about his departure from Baylor. There are federal privacy laws protecting that information. We don't even know that he was fired--he might have resigned ("You can't fire me! I quit!"). It's notable that he was playing the Galileo gambit even then.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

I wonder if Dr. Burzynski's experiences in Poland colored his interpretation of events in the U.S. Is it possible that his work was actively suppressed in Poland? I know this plays into stereotypes about Communist governments, but I wonder if perhaps he had experiences there that he simply assumed were also at play in the U.S.

Unfortunately, I have read most of Null's articles old and new, which can be found at his many websites although their specific location may vary over time. Who knows why.

There is however, one tale which, AFAIK, does not exist anywhere in printed form and it sheds light upon how his scurvy mind works. I've heard it many times and have recounted it before : I will again for the benefit of newbies. So through the miracle of reconstructive LTM:

One day after broadcasting his show in lower Manhattan many years ago, Null was approached by a fat, bald man in a tiny, yellow sports car who asked him to get into the vehicle. The woo-meister declined and asked instead to meet around the corner- near the police station.

The man, sweat beading on his bald head, confessed that he had been hired by powerful people to get "dirt" on Null because his investigations about medicine were endangering business-as-usual. The black op related how he had to get details on Null's life, his past and even set up encounters with women . "Remember that tall blonde at A's party? Well, she was one of us."

He found that absolutely everything was above board: no dirt at all and that even the efforts of an experienced, paid temptress were to no avail because his target was immaculate and incorruptible.

These blackguards had sabotaged career opportunities for the brave maverick: "Remember that big contract you were to sign for a television show or that 10 book deal? Well, why do you think those negotiations just fizzled out? It was US!"

The sweating man said that he had had a terrible fit of conscience and felt that he had to warn Null that he would continue to be a target as long as his work continued: his writings threatened entrenched forces who had a lot to lose. These people might even go* beyond* career sabotage: "Be careful where you walk at night", warned the undercover man. "By the way, you'll never see me again". He started the ignition and sped away down the canyons on the financial district.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

Denice Walter - all that's missing from that is Harry Lime appearing out of the inky shadows with a dire warning before fleeing through the sewers of Vienna.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

Todd W: If any of his work in Poland had actually been suppressed, you can be sure he would have told us all about it. As it is, his CV lists only one paper (co-authored) that was published before he left for the US.

His CV is interesting in other ways. For example, he doesn't list any kind of oncological qualifications or experience. And there are pages and pages listing the patents he has taken out - not just for antineoplastons, but treatments for autoimmune diseases, AIDS, Parkinsonism, skin conditions etc. Which makes you wonder why he's concentrating his wonderful biochemical expertise on cancer patients.

Oh hell, no, it doesn't. The answer is obvious. People with skin conditions, Parkinsons and so on aren't dying and desperate.

@ Mephistopheles O'Brien:

Is that the one with zither music?

And the blonde wears a trench coat with sunglasses-
scratch that- it sound too much like yours truly.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

And the blonde wears a trench coat with sunglasses-scratch that- it sound too much like yours truly.

That explains why you have a grudge against Null ;)

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

But they can be compared with such innovators in science as Galileo, Pasteur, Semmelweis, and Jenner, all of whom were practically destroyed in their time by various powerful organizations, such as the Church and the medical establishment.


Today this kind of suppression is reserved not for astronomy, ecology, antisepsis, or vaccinations, but for the most steadily increasing and least understood disease of our time—cancer.

Isn't Null hardcore anti-vax and a germ theory denialist (or at least a perpetuator of the Pasteur death bed admission the Beauchamps was right myth) to boot*?

I have discovered that the only shoes that don't give me corns are safety shoes, so I will be happy to do the booting.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

@ Militant Agnostic:

Actually, I'm only here to distract attention away: it was lilady.
Oooops! Sorry about that.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

Wait - Burzynski's initial work on antineoplastons was funded by NCI? So when big pharma charges enormous fees for drugs discovered in part by govt funded research, they're evil parasites. When Burzynski does it, he's a brave maverick doctor?


I would think that a "tiny yellow sports car" would be a poor choice of vehicle to follow someone with.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

@Denice - On behalf of everyone at RI I would like to commend you for reading the the entire Nullocomicon on our behalf.

The intense mental anguish you must have suffered, and the image of you begging for the brain bleach to scour away the insanity, well - it tugs at my heart. That you would undertake such a psychologically tortuous task to save the brain cells of others, elevates you to the status of an icon.

As for yellow sports cars,I think it's obvious, they're the new black helicopters. After all, nobody suspects the man in the fluorescent Porsche.

If Burzynski's early work was government funded, does that explain the NCI "stealing" his patents?

After all, nobody suspects the man in the fluorescent Porsche.

Naked is the best disguise.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink


After all, nobody suspects the man in the fluorescent Porsche.

There was a switch, too, that extended an arm fitted with a blacklight.

"Dr. Burzynski presented his startling results to the annual meeting of the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology. When he met with enthusiastic responses, he knew then that it was time to begin human research."

Depending on how you define it, I've gotten 'enthusiastic responses' at FASEB. I'm sure most of the presenters there do; people are very interested in novel data and want to talk about it. It doesn't necessarily mean it's time to jump right into patients. :p

"Or does he mean that he is getting subjective improvements, such as increased appetite, elimination of cachexia (wasting away), overall well-being, or elimination of pain?"

If only there were non-subjective ways of measuring things like appetite and cachexia, such as caloric intake, weight, muscle mass...

By Roadstergal (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

a journalist and co-founder of Omni and Longevity magazines, the former of which, I’m ashamed to admit, I used to read rather frequently.

Omni back-issues have been digitised and placed on the Internat Archive:

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

@ elburto:

Ooooh! I am flattered- an Icon!
-btw- is that 'icon' as in the 'persistence of sensation in visual perception' or as in those gold encased Russian sacred artworks? Both good.

HOWEVER I did not suffer as I am mysteriously immune to the effects of self-serving and self-servicing egregious nonsense, a trait which served my ancestors well and enabled them to become very successful in business.
I'm glad I inherited the tolerance.

I did want to save others' brain cells because they probably are not immune** to the level of highly concentrated bs that comprises the Nullocomicon.

At any rate, I thank you for the commendation.

**with the possible exception of our peerless and fearless leader who has survived a meeting with Jake which takes either heavy-duty brain cells or circuitry!

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

@ Denice Walter: What did I tell you about revealing my identity? You took a blood oath in Lord Draconis's presence.

What year was that blonde wearing a trench coat involved with that secret mission? I seem to recall a "blonde stage", a "titian red stage" and other unusual hair color stages.

How about this ***factoid/quote from the Penthouse archives?

"The Great Cancer Fraud" Gary Null and Robert Houston

(Page 6, middle column, second paragraph)

".....Gerson died in 1959 at age seventy seven. The man who cured Albert Schweitzer's wife of tuberculosis was hailed at the end by Schweitzer: "We who knew him and valued him, mourn him today as a medical genius who walked among us, and as a man who was destined to be a fighter in adverse fate".....

I ***know* one science blogger, who would be interested in that factoid/quote from Null.

BTW, I read the early editions of Playboy Magazine. Big brother always purchased them in their plain brown paper wrappings at the local news stand. (Big brother also taught me 5-card stud and draw poker when I was six years old).

@Militant Agnostic

"Tiny Yellow Sports Car" ?

Obviously Noddy............

Null was in Toy town again and is battling not Big Pharma but the combined might of Enid Blyton's imaginary characters and his own insecurities.

is that ‘icon’ as in the ‘persistence of sensation in visual perception’ or as in those gold encased Russian sacred artworks?
I think it's an Apple product.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

Omni back-issues have been digitised and placed on the Internat Archive

I'm pretty sure I've recounted the horrifying result after I followed their instructions for lucid dreaming.

Gary Null is still being followed by a fat bald man in a little yellow vehicle, but in a more subtle fashion

I'm just glad Null's tale didn't occur in a sampan.

Back in my youth, I told my parents that I looked at Playboy for the articles because I was ashamed to admit looking at the pictures. With Penthouse, it would have been the reverse.

@ lilady:

Sorry about that - so many blood oaths and sacrifices I sometimes lose track.

@ herr doktor bimler:

Please don't say the A- word: Mr Gates will not be pleased.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

There is no shame in having read Omni. It was in Omni that I first read William Gibson, and even more, it was the first place that the wonderful "They're Made Out of Meat" ever appeared. If you've never read it, you're in for a treat:

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

I wouldn't be surprised if Gary Null was follow by men in white coats with a net.

By Kelly M Bray (not verified) on 13 May 2013 #permalink

After all, nobody suspects the man in the fluorescent Porsche.

My worst suspicions are directed at the Man in the Black Sedan.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 14 May 2013 #permalink

Best. Orac post. Ever.

We're the same age.

By Ron Edwards (not verified) on 14 May 2013 #permalink

Alternative cookie please.

By Marc Stephens … (not verified) on 14 May 2013 #permalink

One might claim nothing has really changed in 50-60-75 yrs about the IV vitamin C embargo in medical funding, disinformation, and publishing...

"...high dose vitamin C" for cancer. Cancer is by far the most difficult application of vitamin C. It is the untested IV ascorbate regimes for viral and poisons that scandalize the CAM world about permanent bias and hypocrisy in government funded medicine after 1/2-3/4 of a century.

CAM authors typically distinguish between "preventative", "maintenance" or "therapeutic" levels of nutrients. It would be nice, and a little bit more scientific, if terminology here could at least distinguish between camps, eras, or quantitative levels by a factor of 10 or more.

High dose vitamin C might be above 50 mg for Mssr. V Herbert.

Pauling started at 3 grams per day for his maintenance / preventative level for allergies and colds, ended ca 18 grams per day, unless more while fighting a cold. I think Cameron and Campbell set him on the tests of 10 grams oral for life and brief 10-45 grams IV vitamin C for days to weeks for cancer.

Later authors have advocated oral 12 grams to bowel tolerance for cancer, and tapered infusion from daily-weekly-monthly across a year or two, typically in the range 50-100 grams C per infusion, up to about 220 grams in hospital settings. More distinction ascorbate and dehydroascorbate would be indicated from the Poydock related test series, and indirectly perhaps Cameron and Campbell.

Several levels of CAM application for cancer should be recognized as a minimal level of literacy:

oral vitamin, 2-12 grams, probably for built up histamine and C depletion.
oral C, bowel tolerance e.g. perhaps 40-200 grams per day depending on severity.
IV vitamin C mostly alone with some supplements
IV vitamin C with natural cancer adjuncts or redox components
IV vitamin C with chemo and cancer adjuncts generally

@ prn:

Sorry but didn't Pauling himself die of cancer?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 May 2013 #permalink

Gosh Denice, this statement reflects common misinformation spread about both Pauling and vitamin C.

Pauling died at age 93, about 50+ years after his first conventional mainstream medical "death sentence". Charles Moertel, maimstream's cancer expert adversary to Pauling died of cancer at 66. Does this mean the mainstream performance was 25 or 50 years behind Pauling? :)

Pauling in his book was careful to claim only a palliative benefit for a majority of cancer patients, with improved quality of life and longer life with Cameron's treatment, not a cure. Pauling's cancer recommendations never ventured into the major modern therapeutic application, e.g. the 50-100 gram IV + adjuncts or chemo as well as slightly lower than .

bowel tolerance levels of oral vitamin.

Moertel didn't even test Cameron and Pauling's recommendations with the acuity of a college freshman. Apparently Moertel et al had problems reading or following cookbook instructions, since he muffed so many of them and other basic stuff.

I was hopeful that some might want to distinguish their discussion level beyond usual "high dose" illiteracy and ambiguity.

Pauling in his book was careful to claim only a palliative benefit for a majority of cancer patients

He noneltheless cites a Cameron "cure" in chapter 19 of How to Live Longer and Feel Better.

Indeed, he doubles down on the proposition on p. 234 of the Avon paperback:

"Their [Moertel et al., etc.] results provided no basis whatever for this conclusion, because in fact their patients died only after being deprived of the vitamin C."

Narad, if actual neutralization of histamine and removal of the metabolite as well as reduction of inflammation and neutralization of reactive oxygen species, the statement is entirely sensible after 1-2 days of washout. Inflammation spurs adverse cytokine production, and histamine triggers VEGF production.

Pauling claimed a rare potential for cure because of instances where the tumors massively necrosed within 24-48 hours of IV vitamin C administration.

I rest my case.

I rest my case.
Truly none, completely absent relevant experimental information. You can criticize Pauling's case for being thin and investigational. I criticize mainstream for lack of investigation and mind bending inaccuracies are easy to observe.

I'm familiar with much of the ascorbate literature, I own and have read 'Ascorbate' by Hickey and Roberts*, and I even took large quantities of vitamin C myself for several years**. The best I can say is that there may be something to some of the claims made about it, but they are far from proven. There's a sympathetic review of ascorbate and its effects here that concludes:

If unambiguous benefit can be shown even in a few cases, the use of ascorbate should be explored in more controlled studies. After all, even a small benefit is worthwhile as ascorbate is nontoxic and inexpensive, in contrast to the many chemotherapeutic agents in use. If the results show a clear lack of benefit, the use of ascorbate as a chemotherapeutic agent in cancer should be abandoned.

I agree with them. However, thay also refer to three clinical trials of high dose ascorbate in cancer that were ongoing at the time they were writing in 2009. These were NCT00441207:

The proposed Phase I trial with vitamin C should achieve millimolar concentrations of vitamin C that have been shown to kill tumor cells in vitro. The maximum tolerated dose (MTD), PK, possible drug accumulation with repeated dosing, quality of life, pain response, fatigue status, and hints of efficacy in patients with advanced cancer will be examined.

The trial is marked as completed almost 3 years ago on the Clinical Trials website, but no results have been posted either there or on PubMed.

The second trial is NCT00626444:

Eligible candidates will be adults with aggressive or very aggressive NHL (WHO classification diagnosis confirmed by histological tumor examination). [...]Intravenous ascorbic acid will be given in a dose based on the plasma vitamin C level to reach a level in the range of 300 to 350 mg/dL. Vitamin C infusions will be given three times a week on a schedule that allows at least 24 hours between each infusion, for a total of ten weeks (30 infusions). If disease progression occurs before or at the ten week assessment, then we discontinue protocol, based on futility. Toxicity and adverse events also will result in immediate discontinuation (details available in full protocol). If there is lack of disease progression or disease improvement, proceed and reassess again at 10 week intervals, for a total of three 10 week intervals.

This trial was completed in December 2011 but again no results have been posted.

The third is NCT00284427 which is still running, looking at the effects of high dose antioxidants, including ascorbate, in ovarian and uterine cancer. It is scheduled to complete at the end of this year.

The fact that the first two have not been published strongly suggests that there were no benefits seen. It will be interesting to see what the third study finds, but I don't hold out much hope.

* In another of Hickey and Roberts' books about ascorbate, 'RDA: Ridiculous Dietary Allowance', Owen Fonorow relates how he and his wife experimented on their son with large doses of vitamin C before and since birth:

In 1989, following the advice of American physician, Fred Klenner, MD, and after receiving the endorsement of Linus Pauling, my wife and I, before conception, provided our son with high amounts of vitamin C. She continued with 9,000 mg daily during pregnancy and more during lactation (10 grams). Our son has ingested multiple grams of ascorbic acid from early infancy, and continues to do so at age 14.

He reports that his son has never been ill apart from a mild case of chicken pox. I'm not sure how I feel about this sort of experimentation, or what we can learn from an uncontrolled experiment with one subject. The adverse effects of large doses of ascorbate do appear to be very rare, apart from diarrhea, but hopefully they kept the boy's dose low enough to avoid that.

** I took 5 grams 3 times a day experimentally to see if it might help some chronic health problems (it didn't). I didn't have any colds at all for the first year and my usual seasonal hay-fever didn't materialize so I stopped the ascorbate experimentally to see what happened, and got a cold within a few weeks, but it appeared to respond to large doses of ascorbate. I repeated this a few times and was more or less convinced that the ascorbate was warding off colds and flu and allergies. Then, in a surge of skepticism, I quit the ascorbate entirely, a few years ago, and have only had a couple of mild colds since, and my hay-fever seems to have permanently gone. I conclude that the ascorbate probably had nothing to do with the effects I noticed, and that I had succeeded in fooling myself. I may have wasted some money on ascorbate, but I learned a useful lesson in how easy self-deception can be with self-experimentation of this sort.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 18 May 2013 #permalink

Do you have any examples of the "mind bending inaccuracies" in mainstream medicine you refer to? Just curious.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 18 May 2013 #permalink

The stretch of 2-3 orders of magnitude, or a clean miss, on relevant components is a good start to me.

The modern antiviral and toxic agent tests of vitamin C often fit the "mind bendingly different" description with 100-1000x misses. Mainstream has used 1-2 grams or less vitamin C, total and then declared failure on few points vs CAM use of say 100-200 grams .

Some differences in Vitamin C effects appear to be an example of differences in additive components - say where three components fail individually or pair wise including chemo but work in combination for tumor cells.

Moertel's lack of controls on cheating (controls buying vit C) that what little data exists implied a lot of irregularities and uncertainty, Moertel's pathetic treatment period vs Cameron's tx to life's end, substantially different oral formulation chemically, refusal of specific preclinical work that Cameron and Pauling were later proven right on (IV vs oral blood concentrations were significantly different).

Bear in mind, I don't follow Pauling and Cameron recommendations since I attempt to treat molecular targets with other things, specify a heavy redox version of IV vitamin C with concurrent extremely mild chemo (something that an ordinary oncologist did roll their eyes). I am experimentally following conventional literature examples.

If the results show a clear lack of benefit, the use of ascorbate as a chemotherapeutic agent in cancer should be abandoned.
In research, things don't work consistently,or at all, until the true minimum conditions are identified and consistently achieved. This is why I bitch so much about Moertel on cancer, and also the viral data. The "mainstream" has typically found a flimsy excuse not to test the actual CAM levels, methods and formulas for IV vitamin C. MSM seem to always quit before getting systematic test programs.

Solo ascorbate is typical for certain acute case classes. Chronic illnesses get complex fast.

The stretch of 2-3 orders of magnitude, or a clean miss, on relevant components is a good start to me.

The modern antiviral and toxic agent tests of vitamin C often fit the "mind bendingly different" description with 100-1000x misses. Mainstream has used 1-2 grams or less vitamin C, total and then declared failure on few points vs CAM use of say 100-200 grams .

Some differences in Vitamin C effects appear to be an example of differences in additive components - say where three components fail individually or pair wise including chemo but work in combination for tumor cells.

Moertel's lack of controls on cheating (controls buying vit C) that what little data exists implied a lot of irregularities and uncertainty, Moertel's pathetic treatment period vs Cameron's tx to life's end, substantially different oral formulation chemically, refusal of specific preclinical work that Cameron and Pauling were later proven right on (IV vs oral blood concentrations were significantly different).

Bear in mind, I don't follow Pauling and Cameron recommendations since I attempt to treat molecular targets with other things, specify a heavy redox version of IV vitamin C with concurrent extremely mild chemo (something that an ordinary oncologist did roll their eyes). I am experimentally following conventional literature examples.

If the results show a clear lack of benefit, the use of ascorbate as a chemotherapeutic agent in cancer should be abandoned.
In research, things don't work consistently,or at all, until the true minimum conditions are identified and consistently achieved. This is why I bitch so much about Moertel on cancer, and also the viral data. The "mainstream" has typically found a flimsy excuse not to test the actual CAM levels, methods and formulas for IV vitamin C. MSM seem to always quit before getting systematic test programs.

Solo ascorbate is typical for certain acute case classes. Chronic illnesses get complex fast.


The “mainstream” has typically found a flimsy excuse not to test the actual CAM levels, methods and formulas for IV vitamin C.

The clinical trials I mentioned appear to have used the magnitude of dose that ascorbate aficionados recommend. The first two had plasma targets of "millimolar concentrations of vitamin C" and "300 to 350 mg/dL" respectively. The lack of publication after more than 18 months, is troubling to say the least, as even negative results would be useful, since ascorbate is used so frequently.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 18 May 2013 #permalink

Apologies for the wandering comma in my previous comment.
I meant to add:

MSM seem to always quit before getting systematic test programs.

Or perhaps MSM recognizes when something has little to no promise when you don't. Why is there still no solid evidence for the efficacy of ascorbate when people have been using large doses for decades? Are alternative therapists unable to keep careful records for some reason? OCCAM has Best Case Series Criteria yet as far as I can tell no one has managed to present any evidence that conform to these criteria. Why not? If CAM therapists have the resources to use this treatment, how is it they apparently lack the resources to demonstrate it works?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 18 May 2013 #permalink


That tale about Null and the bald man reminded me of Skeptoid's podcast on the MIB. All of the anecdotes of MIB apparently stem from one fiction novel, and there have never been any confirmations of such eerie encounters with such strange government officials.

Still nothing from prn about the “mind bending inaccuracies” of modern scientific medicine, apart from doses of ascorbate? Still no response to the clinical trials of human cancer using high dose IV ascorbate that are complete but remain mysteriously unpublished?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 20 May 2013 #permalink

Oh, I missed that from the other day-

Prn, I refer to Pauling dying at 93 from prostate cancer via wikipedia.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 May 2013 #permalink

@ flip:

Which bald man?
Apparently there are TWO bald men... ( years ago) the one in the small, yellow sports car who warned him of evil plots and ( now) the pharma rep who accosted him in an airport, bragging of his filthy pharma lucre purchased at the cost of INNOCENT lives ( I re-accounted that elsewhere recently- perhaps the long thread about Angelina J, 2)
However both were fat.

I suppose he uses that description to solidify his claims of
the external reflecting the internal thus-
he is altruistic, heroic, humanitarian, thin, vegan and thus attractive**
and the other two are fat, bald, sweaty, greedy, compromised minions of evil pharmatocracy.

Right, good people are pretty; bad people are ugly.

** choke.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 May 2013 #permalink


The one in the yellow car was what I was referring to. It just smacks of being made up in order to impress people...

Kerbiozen, for a profession that nominally doses to 1% or 10%, having multiple inputs (other components, frequency, duration) off by one, two or more orders of magnitude and then makes general statements, blows me away. One formulation is only a single data point, that succeeded or failed, not a general answer replacing either a broad formula or individualized applications. If 5FU development had been handled evenly with IV asvorbate, we wouldn't know much about some obscure 5FU tx either.

The obsession with random formula "one-and-done" vitamin C trials for cancer is a distraction from the more fundamental acknowledgement on viremias and toxins for IV vitamin C, over half a century late. It is insisting on a child climbing Mt Everest without training, despite skilled parents removal every generation.

As for Drisko's formulations with vitamin A, tocopherols and beta carotene, they seem kind of 80s-ish. I wouldn't know why, perhaps some kind of inertial lock in the application process.

Glutathione is used more in other chronic illnesses. In cancer, many consider glutathione an antagonist for H2O2 from IV vitamin C. Large scale vitamin A is in conflict with vitamin D for receptors, even Mercola made a U turn years ago. Beta carotene was a marker for various natural carotenoids, something even Victor Herbert voiced despite its promotion in that ever popular, Dr Barrett edited medical resource, Readers Digest.

As for your chronic whatever, and this includes cancer, solo vitamin C is likely not an answer, it is just one component or tool. Resolving chronic illnesses become more like peeling an onion if 1-2 formulations don't give enough performance.

Solo nutrient vitamin C answers have typically been for acute infections and poisons, not chronic ills. Oral viremias although often stated as XXX grams per day in divided doses, are often heavily front loaded, still skirting bowel tolerance events, like 10-12 grams every 12-20 minutes for the first hour or so until looseness or noticeable relief occurs. When oral absorption or loading is insufficient, IV is the more sure delivery.

If Burzynski is such a quack, why did it take so many court cases to tie his hands? Why did Congress give him a pass? How is it that he is still able to practice after all of these years? Why, if his methods and research are quackery, did the FDA try to steal his patents after recruiting one of his research assistants.
The FDA openly admits that they will never approve a trial, of drug therapy protocol, to an individual. That is reserved for pharma or nationally funded research labs. Burzynski finally came to terms with this. He joined forces briefly with the elan corporation who gave him a staff in preparation for FDA trials. After his staff was brought up to speed, the plug was pulled and his assistant defected to the NCI. From there, they proceded to attempt to take over his research in the name of his assistant. They couldn't/wouldn't get the protocols right and antineoplastins were deemed ineffective.
During the legal battle, without him knowing it, they attempted to patent his medicine. In fact, although he already owned the patent rights to his antineoplastin therapy, the FDA and his former assistant were in fact awarded duplicate patents for his work over several years (the years in which he was fighting court battles for his freedom). elan was also named in his patents.
It is all a conspiracy. The FDA and big pharma don't want a cure for cancer. A cure would bankrupt pharma and the FDA would no longer get the 1.2 million for each drug therapy submitted for testing. They are not in the business of curing disease. Ongoing and expensive treatment is how they cash in.
Wake up! You all sound so ignorant! You spend all of that money and 1/3 of your life becoming educated only to be so narrow minded? Unbelievable!
I suppose you believe that we really went to Iraq for weapons of mass destruction. You probably also believe that fossil fuels and petroleum based farm chemicals are healthy and necessary as well. There is absolutely no difference in crops that have been genetically altered with viruses and scorpion venom as pesticides. Tell that to the honey bees. Tell that to your future patients who suffer from breast cancer as a result of the round-up (glyphosate) in their water and the foods that have absorbed them.
Face it, there are technologies being suppressed everywhere because they threaten profits of large corporations and the control of our government over it's people. You have been well trained to treat severe illness, not cure it. Anyone who attempts to cure it is struck down, as are pioneers in any other Nicola Tesla and Burzynski.
Open your eyes. Think critically. There are cancer drives everywhere. Money is donated through payroll deductions in the form of charitable contributions, church offerings, the race for the cure, etc. from hundreds of millions of people in north america alone...billions worldwide. With all of the money spent on research worldwide do you really believe that someone wouldn't have at least stumbled upon something more effective than toxic, carcinogenic, chemical cocktails and cooking someone with radiation? I thought doctors were intelligent. You must all be Democrats


[citation needed], necromancer, and youtube videos don't count (and the burzynski movie doesn't even come close to evidence)

Also, why should we believe you, when burzynski has never revealed any results of his work?

At least your gullibility and lack of logical reasoning is out in the open. Please keep posting, we need a fool and you seem just like the perfect candidate for us to laugh at.

With all of the money spent on research worldwide do you really believe that someone wouldn’t have at least stumbled upon something more effective than toxic, carcinogenic, chemical cocktails and cooking someone with radiation?

Science is hard. Medicine is even harder.

Why don't you learn something about the amazing complexity of the human body and perhaps you'll understand why it is so very difficult to eradicate cells that have escaped the body's control.

Oncologists and other doctors, as well as medical researchers, lose family members to cancer or die of it themselves. They would all dearly love to find a cure. Of course, anyone who finds a cure for all cancer has a guaranteed Nobel, worldwide adulation, fame and fortune, and a place in the history books forever. No one has done it because it isn't easy.

Open your eyes. Think critically.

Someone needs to take their own advice. If Burzynski or anyone else has a cure for cancer, they could very easily publish their evidence and prove it to the world. He hasn't, and neither has anyone else.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 03 Aug 2013 #permalink

<blockquote<A more important issue is about those facts and techniques that have been exiled to the CAM tent, perhaps with Nifong quality “proofs”, are being resisted from being mainstreamed or well evaluated at some level, and are further dismissed by “guilt by association”.
Citations for these "Nifong quality “proofs”" please.

If you are referring to Moertel's Mayo Clinic ascorbate trials, perhaps you might comment on clinical trials NCT00441207 and NCT00626444 which used IV ascorbate at the CAM-recommended levels, were completed 2 or 3 years ago, but the results of which remain unpublished.

You continually mutter darkly, implying deliberate dishonesty intended to suppress the truth about ascorbate's effects. Special pleading about ascorbate having to be combined with whatever, or IV ascorbate only being effective in certain cases doesn't cut it, expecially since Cameron and Pauling claimed spectacular cancer cures across the board with ascorbate only. Here's what Cameron wrote:

The ascorbate-treated patients were found to have a mean survival time about 300 days greater than that of the controls. Survival times greater than 1 yr after the date of untreatability were observed for 22% of the ascorbate-treated patients and for 0.4% of the controls.

Wouldn't results like this be easy to replicate?

No one is stopping you from making a case for any of these exiled "facts and techniques", backed by plausible mechanisms and at least some evidence (by which I don't mean n=1 self-experimentation). You, or CAM practitioners using these techniques, could even submit case studies to NCCAM or OCCAM which have best case series criteria for CAM practitioners to follow. If you don't have compelling case studies to support these "facts and techniques", what reason do you have to believe they are true/effective?

As for your comments about skeptics and pedophiles, as is very often the case I'm not clear what you are implying. You have a habit of writing in a curiously over-erudite manner, as if convoluted language might somehow compensate for your lack of evidence. All it does is obscure your meaning.

If you are suggesting that the burden of proof is on antivaxxers to prove skeptics are pedophiles, and that analogously the burden of proof is on skeptics to prove "those facts and techniques that have been exiled to the CAM tent" unsafe or ineffective, then you have grossly misunderstood the scientific method.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 03 Aug 2013 #permalink

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