“Cancer is... [a] disease whose incidence is on the rise. The extent of the increases is consistently trivialized by a variety of statistical manipulations . . . . The public is denied access to accurate information about the causes of cancers, which lies buried in government and industry files and in relatively inaccessible scientific literature. The cheerleaders in the media, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the various carcinogenic industries are all doing an extraordinary job of keeping the lid on information about this epidemic.”95
Medical orthodoxy claims that some alternative therapies don’t meet acceptable scientific standards with controlled double-blind studies. However, between 80% and 90% of current orthodox medical procedures have NEVER met such criteria, according to a 1978 (!!) report by the Office of Technology Assessment.96 “For some conventional treatments in the U.S., the success rate is abysmal.”97
Information about alternative therapies is sometimes skewed by being required to meet stricter standards than conventional therapies. For example, it is illegal for an herbal supplement to state what it is used for on its label, ostensibly because clinical research has not proved it effective. Yet, “…fewer than one-third of …over-the-counter drug ingredients have been shown to be safe and effective for their intended uses,” according to Dr. William Gilberson of the FDA. The media 98 warns us about possible hazards of using herbs. They don’t compare the dangers of herbs with those of conventional drugs; a 1994 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that more than 106,000 deaths resulted from adverse drug reactions to conventional medications among hospitalized patients that year. In 1998, The New England Journal of Medicine, mentioning this study, noted that complementary and alternative therapies are much safer, yet are held to stricter rules. The Journal editors called for one single standard of accountability for all of medicine.99
Let’s look at some of the players in the game:
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA). “The U.S. Food & Drug Administration does not generally research or test medical treatments itself – it depends on private companies to do that. And because of this fact, the FDA does not have first-hand knowledge of which treatments are effective and safe and which aren’t; THEY RELY ON THE COMPANY THAT HAS DEVELOPED THE TREATMENT TO TELL THEM WHICH TREATMENTS SHOULD BE MARKETED TO CONSUMERS.”100 This cannot possibly result in unbiased recommendations.
"In the FDA, the drug companies have representatives on nearly all the committees." Dr. Michael Carpendale, researcher and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of California School of Medicine.101
A complication to action on the part of our government is the WTO. This secretive and uncontrolled, self-selected body has the power to force governments to alter their policies, including product safety and environmental pollution standards. For instance, members must abide by the “Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.” In the past, an industry had to prove that a product was safe (i.e., does not cause cancer) before it was allowed to put the product on the market. Even though products deemed safe turned out to be unsafe, at least the law had health in mind. Now, under the WTO Agreement, a government has to prove that a product is unsafe before being allowed to ban it. Also, countries can be forced to accept unhealthy products: the European Union was forced to remove its ban on hormone-treated U.S. beef, and Japan was forced to accept products with higher levels of pesticide residues than it seemed safe. So the work ahead of us is large – we not only need to reform FDA policies, we need to reform (or abolish) the WTO in order to be able to enforce new policies.
The National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). About five years ago, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) formed an Office of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NIH-OCAM). I watched it take years to form its bureaucracy, and then finally begin funding an excruciatingly slow and small group of research studies. In 1999, OCAM was promoted out of the NIH and became a National Center (NCCAM). About a month ago, I discovered information that this federal program was actually created to discredit alternative therapies, not to discover the truth about them. I re-read the most recent NCCAM newsletters with that viewpoint in mind, and it made a lot of sense. In fact, it made sense out of several statements and articles which had baffled me, such as the NCCAM president’s vigorous interest in gene therapies – these therapies are as far from natural and complementary medicine as it is possible to be – and the fact that nearly all of the research of alternative methods for cancer patients has been on terminal patients; they are already far beyond their ability to recover, no matter what means is used. How can alternative methods prove themselves in such cases?
Then there was this: “The Advisory Council renewed its commitment to implementing NIH’s policy on reducing health disparities and addressing the needs of special populations in clinical research. NIH adopted the policy in 1994 after a federal law was passed to stop the widespread exclusion of women and minorities in biomedical research.” It took a law 102 to do that? And why do they need to renew their commitment – what happened to it? And why has the situation not been remedied after seven years?
It may be that the agency simply is bizarre at times and not very competent. However, in light of all the other evidence, I suspect it is doing its real job all too well.
The Pentagon. How objective is the Pentagon? One quote should suffice here (see the electromagnetic radiation section earlier for more):
|“Control over the scientific establishment was maintained by allocating research funds in such a way as to ensure that only “approved” projects – that is, projects that would not challenge the thermal-effects standard [of usage of electromagnetic radiation] – would be undertaken . . . . Many scientists’ goals were subverted by unlimited grant funding from the military.”103|
The American Cancer Society (ACS). Facts about the ACS:
|“Furthermore, the ACS’s Unproven Methods list is a self-serving blacklist. This unscientific compendium is used to smear effective or promising alternative cancer therapies as “quackery.” How ironic that a Vice President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center admitted to [author] Ralph Moss that the ACS blacklist was “where they got all their best ideas.”104|
Richard Walters, author of Options: The Alternative Cancer Therapy Book, states that the ACS collects around $400 million a year from the American public, then spends less than 30% of this huge cash hoard on research. No major breakthrough in treating cancer has ever come from an ACS grant. In The Healing Of Cancer, Barry Lynes states that “the ACS does not meet the standards of the National Information Bureau, the charity watchdog.” Treating cancer is a megabillion-dollar industry. Lynes continues, “The American Cancer Society is not interested in a cure. It would go out of business.”105
The National Cancer Institute (NCI).
|“Closely linked to the ACS through interlocking directorates is the National Cancer Institute, a government-funded agency.... NCI distributes these billions [of tax dollars] in research grants and, together with the ACS, sets the dominant trends in research. Incredibly, 90% of the members of NCI’s peer review committee get NCI money for their own research, while 70% of the ACS’s research budget goes to individuals or institutions with which the ACS Board members are personally affiliated. ‘In any other part of government, it would be a corrupt practice for the persons giving out the money and the persons getting it to be the same people,’ says Irwin Bross, Ph.D., former Director of Biostatistics at the famed Roswell Park Memorial Institute, the nation’s oldest cancer-research hospital…testifying before a congressional subcommittee.”106|
“Cancer treatment is a very lucrative business,” says Patrick McGrady of CANHELP. “Expensive conventional treatment is often prescribed despite the fact that the therapy has little, if any, efficacy….In Japan, for example, there is a center which reports excellent primary liver cancer recovery rates, but the treatment is not offered in this country.”107
In a report published on January 7, 2000 in The Lancet (a British medical journal), Peter C. Gotzsche and Ole Olsen, of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark, studied whether routine mammograms save lives. They examined eight studies of mammographic screening, looking at both the results and the way the studies were conducted, and concluded that, “There is no reliable evidence that screening decreases breast cancer mortality.” The study was begun after 108 a 1999 Swedish study showed that there had been no decrease in breast cancer deaths there, despite routine screening since 1985.
On the same track, an ACS/NCI panel had determined that routine screenings are necessary for women under 50 years old only if they are at high risk. Other studies agree with these findings. Yet the ACS and the NCI continue to recommend regular mammograms for women in their 40’s, even though that recommendation runs counter to the findings of their own panel.
Why do they continue to promote exposing every woman over 40 – rather than only those who are at high risk – to the danger of unnecessary X-rays, annually? (Yes, they’re dangerous – that is why technicians shield the rest of your body in lead, and leave the room themselves.)
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). JAMA is often quoted as an authoritative source of information about research and therapies. However, this is not always the case. JAMA holds alternative treatments to higher research standards than it does conventional therapies. It also chooses what research it wishes to publicize. A recent example of JAMA’s bias, and that of the media in general – which, of course, is subject to pressures from the drug companies, the government, and others – was evident in the huge amount of publicity given to a 6th-grader’s science fair project three years ago. Headlines in many papers, and an article in JAMA, (and even, I believe, Time Magazine and some and being used in an increasing number of hospitals. She had not disproved it. Her project violated many of the basic rules of research, and did not even include any treatment with Therapeutic Touch! (For the details, see the July, 1998 issue of “Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.”) Besides that, there have been 30 years of sound research proving that Therapeutic Touch does work. In no type of research does a single experiment ever disprove – or even prove – anything. Results must always be repeated by other studies before they are accepted as meaningful. Yet JAMA proclaimed Therapeutic Touch is a fraud, based on one poorly constructed experiment done by a child.
The Pharmaceutical Industry.The following quotes sum up the present situation.
|“The fact is that no matter how much research or how many amazing or successful clinical trials have been performed by researchers on safe, inexpensive medical approaches like urine therapy, if these therapies are not perceived as profitable by pharmaceutical companies, they will simply not be ‘picked up’ by the drug companies and presented for governmental approval, which means that the public will probably never hear about the research or receive the benefits of these substances, no matter how wonderful they are.”109|
“As a powerful economic and political force in the U.S. and around the world, these giant multinationals play a major role in determining government policy and influencing medical schools (through research grants) and physicians themselves through advertising in medical journals, sponsorship of conferences and seminars, outright gifts, and free samples of medications.
“…As these inexpensive, nonpatentable, and multidisease therapies become better known, we can be certain that THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY WILL STRENGTHEN ITS RESOLVE TO MAKE MEDICAL OZONE AND HYDROGEN PEROXIDE UNAVAILABLE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC, AND CONTINUE TO LOBBY TO PREVENT RESEARCH AND CLINICAL APPLICATION.”110
Insurance Companies. Several years ago, the Washington State legislature passed a law that insurers must pay for patient treatment by ANY LICENSED HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL. Yet, many people have told me that they could not get their insurance companies to pay for treatment by naturopathic physicians, who are licensed doctors. The patients’ choice was either to fight the insurance company by appealing to the Office of the State Insurance Commissioner, (who would endeavor to force the insurance company to pay for the treatment), pay for treatment themselves if they could afford it, or give up and forget about holistic treatment with alternative therapies. I don’t know one person who chose to fight – all were sick at the time, without energy or resources to spare. At this same time, the insurance company lobbyists were very busy trying to get the new law overturned. They have not succeeded, but in reality it doesn’t seem to make much difference whether there is such a law or not.
Why do the insurance companies refuse coverage, when alternative treatments generally are just as effective (or even more so) and less expensive than conventional treatments? Possibly because they don’t have enough information about these treatments to determine how long treatment should last and what it should cost, so as to define the limits of their payments. Possibly they are constrained by being controlled by other interests, such as drug companies.
ACS: American Cancer Society NCI: National Cancer Institute
FDA: U.S. Food & Drug Administration