Laetrile: The Suppressed Cure for Cancer
Continued attempts by the cancer industry to prove that Laetrile is worthless; the suppressed lab reports from the Sloan-Kettering Institute which proved that Laetrile works; the Rockefeller connection to the pharmaceutical industry; the story of how a group of employees at Sloan-Kettering leaked the truth to the outside world.
In addition to the California Report, there have been numerous other Laetrile studies by supposedly qualified and reputable organizations. These include a 1953 project at Stanford University, a 1961 study at the University of California-Berkeley, one in 1962 at the Diablo Labs in Berkeley, and a 1965 study on behalf of the Canadian Medical Association at McGill University in Montreal. Every one of these has been tarnished by the same kind of scientific ineptitude, bias, and outright deception as found in the 1953 California report. Some of these studies openly admitted evidence of anti-cancer effect but hastened to attribute this effect to other causes. Some were toxicity studies only, which means they weren’t trying to see if Laetrile was effective, but merely to determine how much of it was required to kill the patient.
In most of these experiments, the only criterion used to measure the success of Laetrile was reduction in tumor size. That may sound reasonable at first, but one must realize that most tumors are a mixture of malignant and benign cells and that the transplanted tumors used in laboratory mice contain only about three or four percent outright cancer tissue. The more malignant tissues are rejected by the healthy mouse and cannot be successfully transplanted. Even if Laetrile eliminated one-hundred percent of the cancer, these tumors would be reduced only three or four percent at the most. Life extension, not tumor size, is the only meaningful test of therapeutic success.
In 1973, after months of extensive Laetrile studies on mice, the Southern Research Institute in Birningham, Alabama, released a report of its findings to the National Cancer Institute. The NCI then announced that these studies once again proved Laetrile had no effect in the treatment of cancer. Upon further investigation, however, all was not as it appeared. Digging onto the raw data contained in the report’s tables and charts, Dr. Burke discovered that there were three groups of mice in the experiment:
A large group received too little Laetrile, (2) another large group that received too much, and (3) a small group that received an optimum dose. Those that received too little died just as quickly as those in the control group which received none at all. Those that received too much died sooner than those in the control group. But those that received the proper dosage survived significantly longer than those that received none at all!
In view of these results, one may wonder how the National Cancer Institute could have said that Laetrile was of no value. Here is how it was done. All three groups were lumped into the same statistics- including those which received too little and those that received too much. When these large groups were added to the small group that survived significantly longer, they brought down the average to the point where they honestly could say that these mice, as a total group, did not survive significantly longer than those which had received no Laetrile at all. The statistics didn’t lie. But liars had used statistics.
Meanwhile, the number of recovered cancer patients singing the praise of Laetrile continued to grow. These patients and their families established a national, grass-roots organization called the Committee for Freedom-of-Choice in Cancer Therapy. Several hundred chapters across the country held public meetings and press conferences, and provided testimony before state legislative committees calling for the legalization of Laetrile. Somehow, these "laetrilists" had to be answered.
So, in 1978, the National Cancer Institute launched yet another study to debunk the movement. Ninety-three cancer cases were selected in which the medical records indicated that Laetrile had been effective. The details were submitted to a panel of twelve cancer specialists for evaluation. Cases involving traditional therapy were also mixed in, and the panel was not informed which cases received which treatment. Judgment would be based only on results. NCI sifted through the Laetrile cases and rejected most of them, so the panel was allowed to review only twenty-two.
How does one evaluate the success of a cancer treatment? Is it the length of life? The quality of life? The feeling of well-being and absence of pain? The ability to function normally on a daily bases? All of these are the criteria used by doctors who apply nutritional therapy. They are not concerned with the size of a tumor because, as stated previously, they know most tumors are a mixture of malignant and benign cells, and that most tumors have only a small percentage of cancer cells. If Laetrile succeeds in removing 100% of a patient’s cancer, his tumor may only decrease by 5% or 10%. But who cares? The patient is back among the living again. The tumor is not the disease; it is merely the symptom of the disease.
Orthodox medicine, on the other hand, is totally focused on the tumor. To most oncologists, the tumor is the cancer. If they remove it surgically or burn it away, they happily announce to the patient: "Good news. We got it all!" They may have all the tumor, but did they get what caused the tumor? And, in the process, did they dislodge some of those malignant cells, causing them to migrate through the circulatory system only to find new homes elsewhere in the body? Is that the reason so many cancer patients die of metastasized cancer to multiple locations only a few months after hearing those ludicrous words: "We got it all"?
In any event, Laetrile practitioners have always warned that reduction in tumor size is the least meaningful of all the measures of success. So what was the primary criterion chosen by NCI? Tumor size, of course. Not only was that consistent with the orthodox view of cancer, but it also would skew the results in favor of treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, which have a more pronounced effect on tumor shrinkage than Laetrile. A living and healthy patient with a tumor reduced by only 15% would be classified as a failure. A sick and dying patient with a tumor reduced 60% would be a success.
In spite of this stacked deck, here is what the panel found: Among the Laetrile cases reviewed, 2 patients showed complete response (total tumor disappearance), 4 had partial regression (Greater than 50%), 9 were "stabilized" (tumors had stopped growing), and 3 had "increased disease-free intervals." In other words, 18 out of 22, or 82%, had some kind of beneficial response-even when using tumor size as the criterion. There are very few "approved" anti-cancer drugs that can show a report card as good as that.
None of these encouraging numbers made any difference. The official report of the NCI stated: "These results allow no definite conclusion supporting the anti-cancer activity of Laetrile."
The wording was brilliantly deceptive. No one was expecting "definite conclusions" from a single study. But an honest and full report of the results would have been quite nice, thank you. Nevertheless, the carefully structured statement conveyed the impression that Laetrile once again had failed a scientific test. Words had been used, not to communicate, but to obfuscate.
The next act in this drama of pseudo science was a clinical trial involving 178 patients at the Mayo Clinic. Amygdalin was to be tested again, but this time it was to be combined with "metabolic therapy" consisting of diet, enzymes, and nutritional supplements-exactly what the nutritional doctors had been advocating. The leading Laetrile practitioners, however, bitterly objected that the protocol used was not comparable to theirs. Furthermore, there was serious doubt about the purity of the amygdalin being used. It was suspected that the entire experiment was carefully crafted to fail. And fail, it did. The Mayo doctors reported: "No substantive benefit was observed."
It is hard to beat this unbroken record of deception in the cloak of science, but the granddaddy of them all occurred a few years later at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. For five years, between 1972 and 1977, Laetrile was meticulously tested at Sloan-Kettering under the direction of Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura. As the senior laboratory researcher there, with over 60 years of experience, Dr. Sugiura had earned the highest respect for his knowledge and integrity. In a science laboratory, where truth is sought to the exclusion of all else, he would have been the perfect man for this test. For the purposes of Sloan-Kettering, however, he was the worst possible choice.
Sugiura broke his experiments down into a series of tests using different types of laboratory animals and different tumors: some transplanted and some naturally occurring. At the conclusion of his experiment, he reported five results: (1) Laetrile stopped metastases (the spreading of cancer) in mice, (2) it improved their general health, (3) it inhibited the growth of small tumors, (4) it provided relief from pain, and (5) it acted as a cancer prevention. The official report stated:
The results clearly show that Amygdalin significantly inhibits the appearance of lung metastases in mice bearing spontaneous mammary tumors and increases significantly the inhibition of the growth of the primary tumors…. Laetrile also seemed to prevent slightly the appearance of new tumors…. The improvement of health and appearance of the treated animals in comparison to controls is always a common observation…. Dr. Sugiura has never observed complete regression of these tumors on all his cosmic experience with other chemotherapeutic agents.
The reader is advised to go back and read that last section again for, as we shall see, just a few months later, spokesmen for Sloan-Kettering were flatly denying that there was any evidence that Laetrile had any value.
To fully appreciate what happened next, a little background is in order. The board of directors at Sloan-Kettering is virtually controlled by corporate executives representing the financial interests of pharmaceutical companies. Most of that control is held by the Rockefeller dynasty and their cartel partners. At the time of the Sugiura tests, there were three Rockefellers sitting on the board (James, Laurance, and William) plus more than a dozen men whose companies were within the Rockefeller financial orbit.
The history of how the Rockefellers became involved in the pharmaceutical industry is contained in Part Two of this book. But to appreciate how that effects this part of the story, we must know that John D. Rockefeller, Sr., and his son, J.D., II, began donating to Memorial Hospital in 1927. They also gave a full block of land on which the new hospital was built in the 1930’s. Nothing was given without something to be received. In this case, it was control over one of the great medical centers of the world. How that happened was described by Ralph Moss, former Assistant Director of Public Affairs at Sloan-Kettering. Speaking of the expansion of Sloan-Kettering after World War II, Moss worte:
The composition of the board of trustees at that time reveals a kind of balance of power, with the Rockefellers and their allies in overall control, but with those representing the Morgan interests assuming many positions of power…. From this period forward the world’s largest private cancer center was ruled by what looks like a consortium of Wall Street’s top banks and corporations.
By the mid 1960’s, the MSKCC board had begun to take on a rather uniform appearance. What stood out was that many of its leading members were individuals whose corporations stood to loose or gain a great deal of money, depending on the outcome of the "cancer war."
With this background in mind, it should come as no surprise to learn that Sugiura’s findings did not please his employer. What goes on inside the laboratories is generally of little interest to board members. It is assumed that, whatever it is, it will result in a new patented drug that will keep the cash flow moving in their direction. They were slow to pick up on the implications of Sugiura’s work but, when they did, all hell broke lose in the board room. If a cure for cancer were to be found in an extract from the lowly apricot seed, it would be a terrible economic blow to the cancer-drug industry.
Never before had Sugiura’s work been questioned. In 1962 more than 200 of his scientific papers were published in a four-volume set. The introduction was written by Dr. C. Chester Stock, the man in charge of Sloan-Kettering’s laboratory-testing division. Dr. Stock wrote:
Few, if any, names in cancer research are as widely known a Kanematsu Sugiura’s… Possibly the high regard in which his work is held is best characterized by a comment made to me by a visiting investigator in cancer research from Russia. He said, "When Dr. Sugiura publishes, we know we don’t have to repeat the study, for we would obtain the same results he has reported."
\ All that was forgotten now that Sugiura’s findings were threatening the cash flow. The same Dr. Stock who wrote those words was now a Sloan-Kettering vice-preisdent and part of the pack howeling for a whole now series of tests. Sugiura had to be proven wrong!
As it turned out, several others had already duplicated Sugiura’s experiments and had obtained essentially the same positive results. One was Dr. Elizabeth Stockert and another was Dr. Lloyd Schloen. Both were biochemists at Sloan-Kettering when they did the work. Schloen had gone so far as to add proteolytic enzymes to the injections-as is commonly done by Laetrile doctors-and reported a 100% cure rate among his Swiss albino mice! That was not the result they wanted. In fact, it was down-right embarrassing. It would have been nice if they could simply dump these reports into the memory hole and then claim that they never existed. But it was far too late for that. They were already in the public record, and too many people knew the facts. It was now time to bury all of these findings under a mountain of contrary reports and statistics. Even the sweetest smelling rose will be ignored in a heap of garbage.
The easiest thing in the world to accomplish is failure. It is not difficult to fail to make Laetrile work. All that is necessary is to make a few changes in protocol, lower the dose, switch the source of material, change the criteria for evaluation, bungle the procedure, and, if necessary, lie. All of these stratagems were used to discredit Sugiura's findings.
For those who cannot believe that scientists would lie about such important matters, it should be remembered that, in 1974, Sloan-Kettering was the scene of one of the greatest scientific scandals of the century. Dr. William Summerlin, one of the top-ranking researchers there, claimed to have found a way to prevent transplanted tissue from being rejected by the recipient. To prove his case, he displayed white mice with square black patches of fur, claiming that the skin grafts from black mice were now accepted by the white mice.
Not so. He had created the black patches with a marker pen.
If success can be falsified, so can failure. Dr. Daniel S. Matin at the Catholic Medical Center in Queens, New York, had previously failed to obtain positive results with Laetrile, but had not used the same protocol as Sugiura. To overcome this problem, Sugiura was asked to participate in a second series of tests by Martin, which he did. This time, however, the results were in favor of Laetrile.
By visual examination, there were twice as many new tumors in mice that did not receive Laetrile than in those that did. The next step in the Sugiura protocol would have been to use a microscope to examine the lung tissue (which is where the cancer had been located) to measure the extent of tumor growth at the end of the experiment. Martin, however, refused to accept either visual or microscope examination and insisted instead that a process be used called bioassay. In bioassay, the mouse’s lung tissue was shredded and then injected into two other mice. If cancer developed in either of them, it was assumed that the injected tissue was cancerous.
This cleared away all the variances between great improvement, small improvement, or no improvement at all. No matter how much the cancer might have been weakened, no matter that it might be in the process of being destroyed altogether by Laetrile, so long as there were any cancer cells left for transfer to the living mice, it was called a failure. Since the original mice were sacrificed before the Laetrile had a long-term chance to do its work, it was assured that virtually all of them no matter how improved they may be, would still have at least some cancer cells. Therefore, they all would be classified as failures for Laetrile. By this method, Dr. Martin was able to announce with a straight face that there was no difference between the treated and the control animals. Once again, science had been used to conceal the truth.
By this time, a group of employees at Sloan-Kettering became angered over the way their top management was attempting to cover up Sugiura’s findings. They began to circulate a series of open letters to the public under the name Second Opinion. The identities of the authors were not known, but it was obvious from the data they released that they were well connected within the organization. Photocopies of important internal memos-even copies of Sugiura’s laboratory notes, were sent to Laetrile advocates and to selected members of the press.
These broadsides became a source of embarrassment to the administrators who were anxious to close the book on the subject and let it fade from public attention. One of the most outspoken proponents of this view was Benno Schmidt, Sloan-Kettering’s Vice Chairman. Schmidt was an investment banker with powerful connections in all the right places. He was a close friend of Laurance Rockefeller, a member of SK’s board of managers, and
Chairman of President Carter’s National panel of Consultants on the Conquest of cancer. That is the group that dreamed up the so-called "war on cancer" which turned out to be primarily a means for channeling billions of tax dollars into research centers such as Sloan-Kettering.
To Schmidt, the only purpose of testing Laetrile was to convince the public that it doesn’t work. Whether it might work or not was unimportant. This reality was brought to light quite accidentally, no doubt-in an interview with Dr. Martin that appeared in the December 23, 1977, issue of Science. When the reporter asked Martin if the Sloan-Kettering tests were aimed primarily at scientists, he replied: "Nonsense. Of course this was done to help people like [Benno] Schmidt and congressmen answer the laetrilists."
Not to advance science, not to test a possible cancer cure, not to find truth, but to "answer the laetrilists"!
In a statement carried in the August 11, 1975, issue of Medical World News, Schmidt said: "Clinical trials? No way! There’s no way, I believe, that they can convince the people at Sloan-Kettering there’s any basis for going further."
Normally, if the Vice Chairman says there’s no way, there’s no way. But the furor caused by publication of Second Opinion forced the strategists to keep the book open a little longer and to assume the stance of fairness and open-mindedness. And what could be more fair than another test?
So here we go again. On October 6, less than four weeks after the "no basis for going further" statement, Medical World News carried another story explaining that a new round of trials had been scheduled. It said: "He [Sugiura] will have another chance to check [his] belief, in a collaborative experiment with Dr. Schmid."
Franze A. Schmid, was a veterinarian with many years of service with Sloan-Kettering. He also was Sugiura’s son-in-law who shared his living quarters in Westchester. Needless to say, that relationship was placed under considerable strain in the following months.
Schmid was apparently chosen to co-conduct these tests because of two previous Laetrile tests he performed which produced negative results, or at least that’s that the press was told. In truth, in the first test, Schmid had not used microscope examination to evaluate the results, so there was no way to know what the results really were. In the second test, he had been instructed to use a dose of Laetrile that was one-fiftieth the amount used by Sugiura. Naturally, there was no positive effect on tumor shrinkage or metastasis. But, in both cases, the Laetrile-treated mice lived longer than the control mice- a fact that was never reported to the public. No one outside the Institute knew of this until a reporter extracted the information from Dr. Stock a year later.
The new test, conducted jointly by Sugiura and Schmid, solidly confirmed Sugiura’s original results. There was less than half as much cancer in the mice receiving Laetrile than in those in the control group.
The results were promptly leaked to the press by Second Opinion, and the fallout was not good news for SK’k damage-control department. In a feature article in the San Francisco Examiner, reporter Mort Toung wrote: "The mice in Doctor Schmid’s test divided this way: 100 per cent of the control mice had lung metastases, while of the group given Laetrile, 31 per cent had lung metastases…. It is a dramatic reversal of Dr. Schmid’s previous tests."8
The casual observer might have concluded that the issue was finally settled. Sugiura was vindicated at last. But the casual observer might have been wrong. There was too much at stake here to simply jump over the net and congratulate the victorious opponent. It was a case of "Damn it all. Let’s play another round, and another, and another until the proper side wins."
Sloan-Kettering handled its defeat in the only way it could—with total silence. Dr. Schmid was told to say nothing to anyone about his results, and he dutifully complied. Management, on the other hand, responded by scheduling still another test to "clarify" the results of the previous one; the implication being that somehow, it had been flawed. No one would discuss it.
The next test was to be performed at the Catholic Medical Center and supervised, as before, by Dr. Martin. This time, however, Dr. Sugiura was to be what they call "blinded." Blind testing means that the patients and the people administering the program are not informed who is receiving the real medication and who gets the placebo. That serves a valuable function with humans because, otherwise, the patient might be influenced by a subconscious anticipation of what the results are supposed to be. But, in this case, the patients were mice. Apparently, it was feared that Sugiura would handle the Laetrile mice more gently, imparting to their little psyches the anticipation of becoming well. Or power which would corrupt the judgment of the evaluation team. In any event, only Dr. Martin was to know which mice were being treated-or, for that matter, whether any of them were. Ah, isn’t science wonderful?
Apparently half of the mice were being given Laetrile in this test because, after four weeks, Sugiura was able to see which cages contained specimens with fewer and smaller tumors. And they were friskier, too. His guess was eventually confirmed by none other than SK’s vice president. Sugiura was jubilant when he told the news to Ralph Moss. "Last Friday", he said, "Dr. Stock told me that I picked the controls and the experimental correctly…. That means I don’t have to rewrite my progress report."9 The tally at the end of the test showed that the Laetrile-treated mice had less than half the number of tumors as the controls. Once again, Sugiura had been proven correct.
The reaction of Sloan-Kettering management was predictable. They had no choice-considering the nature of the economic forces that control them-but to scrap this test, also, and move on to another one. Dr. Stock told reporters that the experiment had to be terminated because Dr. Sugiura had figured out which mice were being treated. "We lost the blindness aspect of it," he said. In an interview with Science magazine, he added that the experiment "went bad because of clumsy injection procedures."
According to the official Sloan-Kettering report on Laetrile, released at a much later date, Dr. Martin claims that he did not keep all of the Laetrile mice in the same cages but mixed them together with the control mice. Therefore, Sugiura could not have picked the right cages.10 Interesting. That means either (1) Dr. Stock lied when he said the blind had been removed, or (2) Dr. Martin lied when he said the mice were mixed, or (3) the report was in error.
Most likely, the report was in error. The authors possibly confused the circumstances with the next series of tests (yes, one more) which, indeed, did mix the mice all together. This was also under the supervision of Dr. Martin and it was also blinded to Sugiura, but it was conducted at Sloan-Kettering where things could be watched more closely. Sugiura warned that mixing the mice was very dangerous, because there would be no dependable way to insure that the lab technicians would always make the correct identification. What would happen if the controls were accidentally given Laetrile instead of saline solution? His warnings were ignored , and the experiment proceeded. Martin was in total control.
It is apparent that treating the wrong mice is exactly what happened. The data showed that some of the mice supposedly receiving saline solution had their tumors stop growing 40% of the time! That is impossible. Salt water never before in history stopped tumor growth. Yet, in this test, all of the sudden it is a magic bullet. How did the Laetrile mice fare by comparison? Their tumors were arrested only 27% of the time. The untreated mice did better than the treated ones! At last, they had the results they had been waiting for.
Dr. Sugiura was incensed at the audacity of releasing blatantly impossible statistics. He said:
There’s something funny here. The small tumors stopped growing 40% of the time in the saline control group and only 27% of the time in the treated group. We people in chemotherapy use saline solution because it does not affect tumor growth. Now this happens. They must not forget to mention that there was more stoppage in the controls than in the treated! I won’t give in to this. Dr. Stock was not concerned about the integrity of the data. It supported the desired
Conclusion and was good enough. His final statement was short and to the point: "Results from the experiment do not confirm the earlier positive findings of Sugiura." Of course, they didn’t. The experiment was rigged.
Once again, truth was sacrificed on the altar of monetary avarice. The book was finally closed. There would be no more tests.
Five months later, on June 15, 1977, a news conference was called at Sloan-Ketteriing to announce the conclusion of the Laetrile trials. All of the key players were in the room: Dr. Robert Good, Director and President of the Center; Dr. C. Chester Stock, vice president; Dr. Daniel Martin, from the Catholic Medical Center; and seven others including Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura who had been invited to attend but not to participate.
Dr. Good began the conference by reading aloud the press release which said that, after exhaustive and carefully controlled testing, "Laetrile was found to posses neither preventive, nor tumor-regressant, nor anti metestatic, nor curative anti-cancer activity. After he was finished, the floor was opened to question
"Dr. Sugiura," someone shouted out suddenly. "Do you stick by your belief that Laetrile stops the spread of cancer?"
The television cameras quickly turned to Sugiura for his reply. A hush fell across the room. Sugiura looked at the reporter and in a loud, clear voice, said: "I stick!"
The following month, in July of 1977, hearings were held before the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research, which was under the chairmanship of Senator Edward Kennedy. The nature of the hearings was made obvious by the title under which they were published, which was "Banning of the Drug Laetrile from Interstate Commerce by FDA." One of the experts to testify was Dr. Lewis Thomas, President of Sloan-Kettering. This is what he said:
There is not a particle of scientific evidence to suggest that Laetrile possesses any anti-cancer properties at all. I am not aware of any scientific papers, published in any of the world’s accredited journals of medical science, presenting data in support of the substance, although there are several papers, one of these recently made public by Sloan Kettering Institute, reporting the complete absence of anti-cancer properties in a variety of experimental animals.
In the following months, the directors and officers at Sloan-Kettering continued to denigrate Sugiura’s findings, claiming that no one else had ever been able to duplicate them. In other words, they lied. Not only did they lie, they did so on a subject that directly effects the lives of hundreds of thousands of cancer victims each year. It is not an exaggeration to say that over a million people have needlessly done to their death as a result of that lie. There is a word for that.
It is genocide.
Ralph Moss was the Assistant Director of Public Affairs at the Sloan-Kettering during most of these events. In fact, he was the one who was required to write the press release claiming that Laetrile was ineffective. But Moss was one of the leaders in the Second Opinion underground and had helped to get the truth out to the rest of the world. Finally, in November of 1977, he decided to "surface" and go public. He called a press conference of his own and, before a battery of reporters and cameramen, charged that Sloan-Kettering officials had engineered a massive cover-up. He provided supporting documents and named names.
Not surprisingly, Moss was fired the next day. What was the official justification? As he explained it: "I had failed to carry out my most basic responsibilities’-in other words, to collaborate in falsifying evidence."12
Moss and the other whistle-blowers were soon forgotten by the mainstream media, and the public has been spared the trouble of hearing any more about it. In the end, the cancer industry had won. As in all wars, it is the victor who writes the accepted history. What follows is the way our medical historians now explain this episode. It was written by Dr. Arnold S. Relmen, and appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine on January 28, 1982:
Over the past few years we have devoted a lot of attention to Laetrile. By 1978 it had achieved a certain folk status, celebrated as a kind of anti-establishment natural remedy being suppressed by a venal conspiracy between pharmaceutical manufacturers and physicians. According to the folklore, the conspirators were ignoring evidence of Laetrile’s effectiveness and attempting to promote their mire orthodox (and more toxic) forms of cancer chemotherapy. There have never been any facts to support this folklore…. Laetrile, I believe, has now had its day in court. The evidence, beyond reasonable doubt, is that it doesn’t benefit the patients…. No sensible person will want to advocate its further use, and no stable legislature should sanction it any longer.13
This, then is the background on the so-called scientific evidence that Laetrile is a fraud. Based upon this perversion of truth, laws have been passed making it illegal to prescribe, administer, sell, or distribute Laetrile or to "make any representation that said agents have any value in arresting, alleviating, or curing cancer."14 Why would anyone, in or out of government, deliberately falsify the clinical results of past Laetrile experiments and then make it impossible for anyone else to do tests of his own? In spite of Dr. Relman’s smug derision, the pharmacuetical connection is the key to understanding the answer. That is an amazing and fascinating story in itself and it is so rich in detail that the entire second half of this book is devoted to the telling of it. But we must understand at the outset that the economics of cancer therapy often weigh more heavily than the science of cancer therapy.
This fact was dramatically revealed at a high-level meeting which was held at Sloan-Kettering on July 2, 1974. The discussions were very private and candid. We would never have known about it except for the fact that the minutes of the meeting were obtained several years later under the Freedom-of-Information Act by Representative John Kelsey of the Michigan House of Representatives. The minutes showed that, even then, numerous Sloan-Kettering officials were convinced of the effectiveness of Laetrile, although there remained some question about the extent of that effectiveness. Then the minutes read: "Sloan-Kettering is not enthusiastic about studying amygdalin [Laetrile] but would like to study CN [cyanide] –releasing drugs."
This is precisely the prediction this author made in 1974 in the first edition of the book you are now reading. (It is still there in chapter 24.) The substance of that prediction is that amygdalin cannot be patented because it is found in nature. Big money can be made only with patented drugs. Therefore, the cancer industry will never be interested in amygdalin, no matter how effective it may be. Instead, they will seek to create a man-made chemical to imitate the mechanism by which it works. Since the mechanism by which amygdalin works is the selective release of cyanide at the cancer site (see chapter 6), it is logical that the moguls at Sloan-Kettering were "not enthusiastic about studying amygdalin but would like to study CN-releasing drugs instead."
Although the entire second half of this book is devoted to an analysis of the economics and politics of the cancer industry, that one sentence taken from the minutes of a policy meeting at Sloan-Kettering tells it all.
Returning one more time to the vexing question of why the cancer industry wages war on Laetrile, let us listen to the answer given by the unsinkable Dr. Burk in a letter to the Honorable Robert A. Roe, dated July 3, 1973. He said:
You may wonder, Congressman Roe, why anyone should go to such pains and mendacity to avoid conceding what happened in the NCI-directed experiment. Such an admission and concession is crucially central. Once any of the FDA-NCI-AMA-ACS hierarchy so much as concedes that Laetrile anti-tumor efficacy was even once observed in NCI experimentation, a permanent crack in bureaucratic armor has taken place that can widen indefinitely by further appropriate experimentation… will be continued or initiated. On the contrary, efforts probably will be made, as they already have, to "explain away" the already observed positive efficacy by vague and unscientific modalities intended to mislead, along early Watergate lines of corruption….
There are now several thousand persons in the United States taking Laetrile daily. M.D.’s by the hundreds are studying or even taking it themselves, and certain hospitals are now undertaking its study. FDA or no FDA, NCI or no NCI, obfuscations or no obfuscations. The day may not be far off when face-saving on the part of the NCI-FDA spokesmen of the type first indicated will have lagged beyond possibility, as is already now the case for some Watergate casualties of Courts and Hearings, as a result of persons placing personal integrity secondary to other considerations.15
Now, that takes guts. For a man who is employed by the federal government, especially as head of the Cytochemistry section of the National Cancer Institute, to charge openly that his superiors are corrupt-well, such a man is, unfortunately, a rare specimen in Washington. Concluding his testimony on Laetrile before a Congressional committee in 1972, Dr. Burk explained:
I don’t think of myself as a maverick. I am just telling you what I honestly think, and when I think something is true , I am quite willing to say so and let the chips fall where they may….
And now, I will get back to my laboratory where truth is distilled.16
Let us, figuratively speaking, follow Dr. Burk to his laboratory. Let us put aside, for the moment, the question of politics and corruption, and turn now to the distillation of scientific truth.
1. Dr. Dean Burk presented a devastating expose of this manipulation of statistics in a fourteen-page open letter to Dr. Seymour Perry of the NCI, March 22, 1974. See Private Papers Relating to Laetrile, edited by G. Edward Griffin (Westlake Villiage, Calif.:American Media, 1997)
2. N.M. Ellison, "Special Report on Laetrile: The Nci Laetrile Review. Results of the National Cancer Institute’s Retrospective Laetrile Analysis." New England Journal of Medicine 299:549-52, Sept.7, 1978.
3. "A Summary of the Effect of Amygdalin Upon Spontaneous Mammary Tomors in Mice," Sloan-Kettering report, June 13, 1973.
4 .Ralph Moss, The Cancer Syndrome (New York: Grove Press, 1980), p.258.
5. Ibid., p.139.
6. See Joseph Hixon, The Patchwork Mouse; Politics and Intrigue in the Campaign to Conquer Cancer (New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1976)
7. Moss, Cancer Syndrome, op. cit., p. 140.
8 "Sloan-Kettering Tests Continue," San Francisco Examiner, Nov. 12, 1975, p.8.
9 Moss, Cancer Syndrome, op. cit., p. 147.
10 Ibid. p. 147.
11 Ibid. p. 148
12 Ralph Moss, The Cancer Industry; Unraveling the Politics (New York: Paragon House, 1989), p. xi.
13 "Closing the Books on Laetrile," New England Journal of Medicine, January 28, 1982, p. 236.
14 See Section 10400.1, Title 17, of the Calif. Administrative Code.
15 Letter reprinted in Cancer Control Journal, Sept./Oct.,1973, pp.8, 9.
16 From Hearings, Subcommittee on Public Health and Environment of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, Ninety-Second Congress.
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