Progress Report in the War on Cancer

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

President Richard Nixon declared “war on cancer” on December 23,
1971. Nixon confidently proclaimed that we would have a cure for cancer
within 5 years, by the 1976 Bicentennial. However, by 1991 a group of 60
noted physicians and scientists gathered a press conference with the message:
“The cancer establishment confuses the public with repeated claims
that we are winning the war on cancer… Our ability to treat and cure most
cancers has not materially improved.”1 The unsettling bad
news is irrefutable:

  • newly diagnosed cancer incidence continues to escalate, from 1.1 million
    Americans in 1991 to an anticipated 1.3 million in 1993
  • deaths from cancer in 1992 are projected at 520,000, up from 514,000
    in 1991
  • since 1950, the overall cancer incidence has increased by 44%, with
    breast cancer and male colon cancer up by 60% and prostate cancer by 100%
  • for decades, the 5 year survival has remained constant for non-localized
    breast cancer at 18% and lung cancer at 13%
  • only 5% of the $1.8 billion annual budget for the National Cancer Institute
    is spent on prevention
  • grouped together, the average cancer patient has a 50/50 chance of living
    another five years; which are the same odds he or she had in 1971
  • claims for cancer drugs are generally based on tumor response rather
    than prolongation of life. Many tumors will initially shrink when chemo
    and radiation are applied, yet tumors often develop drug-resistance and
    are then unaffected by therapy.
  • by the turn of the century, cancer is expected to eclipse heart disease
    as the number one cause

    of death in America. It is already the number one fear.

Have we made any Progress?

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

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

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

Losing the War on Cancer — Time for Examining Options

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where did we go Wrong?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only Teamwork will Beat Cancer

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hippokrates Verlag Stuttgart, 1990

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A MULTI-DISCIPLINARY APPROACH, 3rd edition, Univ. Rochester, 1971

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Written by Patrick Quillin PhD RD

Explore Wellness in 2021