Fight for a Cure
The battle to find a cure for cancer has been a difficult one. Over the course of a hundred years, several doctors have claimed that specific alternative therapies, such as medicinal medicine, have been effective in curing cancer. But these doctors have faced numerous battles by the American Medical Association which has claimed that medicinal medicine has no scientific proof. However, there exist countless patients who have fought cancer and have won by using alternative therapies. Rhio O’Connor serves as an example. He was sixty-one years old when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a serious cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. O’Connor was exposed to asbestos when he was younger which brought about his mesothelioma. His physician gave him a year to live, but O’Connor outlived this prognosis by using nutrition as a concept to manage chronic disease. O’Connor’s battle serves to prove that alternative therapies should be considered for the treatment of cancer. In order for this to occur, there are numerous roadblocks in our healthcare system that must be overcome, if our society is to consider alternative therapies for the treatment of cancer.
Doctors should have the ability to treat cancer with alternative therapies. This is because current conventional therapies which consist of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy have very minimal results. Chemotherapeutic drugs, which are approved by the FDA to treat cancer, are known to be carcinogenic. Some of these drugs are so toxic that their disposal requires total incineration. In 1985, Dr. John Cairns, a professor at Harvard University, suggested that only 1 out of every 20 patients benefit from chemotherapeutic drugs; therefore, there is very little benefit from the billions of dollars spent on chemotherapeutic drugs. So, if conventional therapy is not very effective, then why aren’t physicians trying alternative therapies? Well, the short answer is because the cancer factory is business. According to America’s National Institute of Health, spending on cancer treatment will rise to at least $158 billion by 2020. In fact, the pharma industry would not allow any alternative low-cost therapy that could be a potential cure for cancer because the industry would come crashing down.
Today, it takes over $400 million to bring a new cancer drug to market and many pharmaceutical companies are willing to make this investment because of the high return from the use of their drugs. Drug companies’ profits soar as prescription prices zoom, which is why these companies are always interested in patenting compounds that can be useful in treating cancer. But when it comes to alternative therapies, these drug companies are not interested. This is because anything that comes from nature cannot be patented and so pharmaceutical companies will not spend money on any substance that comes from nature. In addition to this, the FDA says that by law, it is illegal to use a substance if it has not been tested for safety. Already, this establishes a roadblock for approval of alternative therapies because nothing from nature will be proven to be safe, since no pharmaceutical company will want to test it. Thus, in order for alternative therapies to be introduced to our healthcare system, pharmaceutical companies must want to take an interest in alternative therapies. This will not happen because there is very little profit in it.
Pharmaceutical companies have become so powerful that they have ostracized and discredited doctors who have suggested alternative therapies for cancer. Harry Hoxsey battled the American Medical Association for 25 years trying to prove that his treatment, the Hoxsey Treatment, was a successful alternative therapy for cancer. He faced numerous challenges trying to prove that his method worked, but the AMA continued to retaliate on the grounds that there was no scientific proof. Although he provided case histories of patients to the National Cancer Institute, Hoxsey lost the battle. Eventually, Hoxsey was forced to close down his clinic and moved it to Mexico, where he continued to use his treatment to treat cancer. Hoxsey’s alternative therapy comprised of a liquid elixir containing a mixture of herbs. Whether or not the Hoxsey treatment worked, the FDA refused to test the treatment because of the influence of pharmaceutical companies.
Another alternative therapy that was introduced in the early 1900s was by Dr. Max Gerson. During the 1930s Gerson demonstrated that his therapy-diet healed patients, however, very few peer-reviewed journals were receptive to his idea. In fact, Dr. Gerson was having a difficult time finding a publisher for his book, A Cancer Therapy: Results of 50 Cases. Dr. Gerson’s therapy demonstrated the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Cancer patients use these therapies even though they are not FDA approved because nutrition seems to benefit quite a number of patients. The Gerson therapy works by treating toxicity and nutritional deficiency of degenerative diseases. The therapy requires flooding the body with nutrients from fruits and vegetables that are eaten on a daily basis, in order to detoxify and eliminate wastes. And although Dr. Gerson was able to demonstrate that patients were getting better from his organic therapy, the FDA and AMA refused his claim on the basis that there were no scientific evidence. But even if there were no scientific evidence, the AMA did not consider running tests for this alternative therapy. Instead, they censored Dr. Gerson and ostracized him.
Now it comes down to the question of why alternative therapies are not approved. As previously mentioned, the pharmaceutical companies make immense profits from the sales of prescription medication and doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers become the avenues of their promotional market. Whenever a patient goes to visit a doctor due to sickness, that visit will probably end up in the prescription of medication. Our healthcare system breeds doctors who are trained to prescribe medicine and who know very little about nutrition. How did our healthcare system come to this stage? It all happened when wealthy families such as Rockefeller and Carnegie took an interest in patented medicine in the early twentieth century. They began investing money in medical schools and placed their own representatives on university boards which helped shift medical training to that of drugs. Shortly thereafter, the American Medical Association started to monopolize the industry and eliminated homeopathic physicians, or physicians that supported the use of alternative therapies. Thus, doctors became supporters of the cancer factory when undergoing their medical training in medical schools. In addition to doctors, pharmaceutical companies have control over design studies. During the 1980s, most clinical research was funded by the National Institute of Health but by the early 1990s, research was being pulled out of the universities and was brought to for-profit research organizations, which gave the pharmaceutical industry more power. Thus, the studies released by researchers are those that generally promote the use of synthetic drugs in the treatment of cancer, rarely mentioning any alternative therapies.
In order to improve the treatment of cancer and make sure that it is no longer the leading cause of death in Americans under age 85 requires a lot of work. It might be necessary to petition the United States government and bring this matter to their attention. But doing this might have very little change, because the pharma industry yields billions of dollars each year, and is in no rush to find a cure for cancer. What can be done on a smaller scale though is to introduce medical students to a nutritional perspective to the treatment of diseases. Medical students are trained from the inception to prescribe drugs, but by having them take a route towards nutrition, alternative approaches to the treatment of disease can be introduced. Perhaps then, as a society, can we begin the first steps towards finding cures for diseases such as cancer. But to introduce a change to medical schools is very difficult, because pharmaceutical companies influence medical school training. As long as pharma companies have an interest in producing or extracting a compound from nature that can be made into a man-made chemical and patented, then the days of using alternative therapies by doctors across the nation in treating cancer patients will continue to be postponed. The change must come from the top-down, and I am hesitant to say that United States Government would be willing to support this change, knowing that it can bring about the loss of a half a trillion dollar industry.
“Clinic Information.” Hoxsey Clinic Information Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 June 2016. <http://www.hoxseybiomedical.com/clinic-information/>.
“Gerson Institute | Supporting Health and Healing with the Gerson Therapy.” Gerson Institute RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 June 2016. <http://gerson.org/gerpress/>.
Thomas, John P. “We Lost the War on Cancer — Review of Alternative Cancer Therapies.” Google Books. N.p., Aug. 2014. Web. 03 June 2016. <https://books.google.com/books?id=DgRaBAAAQBAJ&pg=PT11&lpg=PT11&dq=johns%2Bcairns%2Bharvard%2Bchemotherapeutic%2Bdrugs&source=bl&ots=w7wvi-XUqb&sig=K-vJOnDnchPxNva7DV-7J8n_FC4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqsKeBjJHNAhXFrD4KHfGaDUUQ6AEIIjAB#v=onepage&q=johns%20cairns%20harvard%20chemotherapeutic%20drugs&f=false>.