MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Guest post by Louise Lubetkin

Those who recognize and appreciate a fine example of pseudoscientific baloney when they see one know that there is no richer seam, no more inexhaustible source, than the bustling, huckster-infested street carnival that is alternative medicine. There one can find intellectual swindlers in abundance, all offering outrageously implausible claims with the utmost earnestness and sincerity. But the supreme prize, the Fabergé egg found buried among the bric-a-brac, surely belongs to that most convincing of illusionists, the physician reborn as an ardent advocate of alternative medicine.

Why would any physician, exhaustively trained in the basic sciences that underpin every aspect of medical practice, decide to toss aside the entire canon in favor of a return to blatant mumbo jumbo?

There can be only two possible explanations, and they’re mutually exclusive.

First is the unsavory possibility that the physician who embraces alternative medicine is a cynical charlatan who knows full well that what is being offered is worthless, but sees it as a path to a more lucrative form of practice that is largely paid for out of pocket, in cash, requiring no tedious insurance company paperwork and avoiding the unpleasant possibility of Medicare audits.

And then there is the opposite explanation: the physician has actually become a true believer, in which case the wholesale rejection of his or her scientific training is essential in order to resolve the uneasy tension between what the physician knows to be fundamentally true and what he or she ardently believes and wishes were true. The two are diametrically opposed: one is a system of thinking in which each component has been painstakingly validated, assessed and reassessed over time, and revised where necessary with the emergence of new knowledge. The other is a simply a belief system founded on faith and wishful thinking.

Alternative medicine, particularly in the realm of cancer, has a long history of attracting people who are seduced by simplistic explanations of this dauntingly implacable and hugely complex constellation of diseases and become gripped by a messianic conviction that this is the true path to a cure. Never mind that such explanations have usually been around for a very long time and have been repeatedly debunked in carefully conducted studies. There is usually an element of paranoia involved: they see themselves as martyrs and explain the medical profession’s indifference to this revolutionary truth as a conspiracy designed to maintain a profitable status quo by silencing dissidents, especially when they arise from within the medical profession itself.

Which of these explanations is the correct one in any particular situation is not always easy to discern. Take the case of Nicholas James Gonzalez, M.D., a New York physician turned alternative practitioner whose practice focuses largely on the treatment of advanced cancer by nutritional means.

THE ORIGINS OF GONZALEZ’S TREATMENT

Gonzalez presents himself as a true believer who became a convert to alternative medicine after coming across the work of William Donald Kelley, D.D.S., a Texas orthodontist who had his own Damascene conversion when his doctors told him that he was dying of pancreatic cancer and that there was nothing more that they could do for him. Undeterred, Kelley claimed that he had cured himself by means of a rigorous diet combined with frequent self-administered coffee enemas. After thus miraculously dragging himself (and his enema bucket) back from the banks of the River Styx, Kelley decided to abandon straightening children’s teeth in favor of treating people with advanced cancer – perhaps not the most logical career move, to be sure, but Texas is Texas.

Probably the most famous of Kelley’s patients was the actor Steve McQueen, who, in the advanced stages of mesothelioma, turned to the erstwhile orthodontist in search of a cure. Not surprisingly, McQueen died despite Kelley’s ministrations, an unfortunate turn of events which Kelley rationalized away by claiming that he had in fact successfully cured McQueen, but that the medical establishment had subsequently had McQueen murdered in order to prevent him “blowing the lid off the cancer racket.”

But back to Gonzalez.

Like Kelley before him, Gonzalez bases his treatment on the work of James Beard, a long-dead Scottish embryologist who, more than 100 years ago, put forward the notion that all cancer was caused by wayward cells called trophoblasts. Trophoblasts are the cells which organize around the developing embryo very early in pregnancy, and which ultimately give rise to the placenta. Beard, of course, lived and died long before the advent of electron microscopy, the unraveling of the structure of DNA and a myriad other crucial discoveries that have helped to elucidate the hugely complex phenomenon that is collectively referred to as cancer. While his observations concerning the similarities between the invasiveness of cancer and the ability of the primitive placenta to tunnel its way into the uterine wall were undoubtedly astute, they are inadequate to explain what is now known about the etiology and progression of cancer.

Having observed that the placenta’s invasion of the uterine wall ceased at the very moment that the fetal pancreas became active, he took a leap of faith and postulated that it was the fetal pancreatic enzymes that were responsible for arresting the growth and invasion of the trophoblast layer. Beard went further, suggesting that quite apart from their role in digestion, pancreatic enzymes actually represent the body’s main defense against cancer, and therefore it should be possible to control cancer by administering large quantities of pancreatic enzymes.

This hundred-year-old hypothesis forms the cornerstone of the cancer treatment program devised by Gonzalez. (It should also be mentioned that Gonzalez doesn’t limit himself to the treatment of cancer, but uses the same methodology for treating a range of chronic degenerative diseases, including multiple sclerosis, presumably on the assumption that wayward trophoblasts are responsible for these, also, although it is difficult to imagine exactly how.)

Beard rightly surmised that pancreatic enzymes could not be successfully administered by mouth because the acid environment of the stomach would inactivate them immediately. Furthermore, being proteins themselves, any orally administered pancreatic enzymes would be quickly broken down by the gastric enzyme pepsin. Beard therefore advocated administering the enzymes by hypodermic injection.

In this, and in other ways, Beard seems to have been considerably more circumspect about his theory and its therapeutic implications than his modern day acolytes. It is interesting to note that he conspicuously refrained from making any claim that his method was a cure for cancer. A contemporary account of the public debate over Beard’s theory of cancer origins and treatment, which appeared in 1907 in the New York Times, is available here.

Much has happened since Beard’s day, it’s true, but gastric physiology and the essentials of protein digestion have not changed an iota. Pepsin is still pepsin, and the stomach is still awash in acid. Nevertheless, Gonzalez insists that the oral route is perfectly adequate. This odd departure from otherwise strict historical orthodoxy may have more to do with regulatory issues than pharmacokinetics: the type of enzymes he uses are viewed as dietary supplements by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rather than as prescription drugs, and are therefore unregulated.

GONZALEZ’S TREATMENT

In addition to pancreatic enzymes taken by mouth, Gonzalez prescribes a restrictive diet (which, even for those whom be pronounces to be obligate vegetarians, includes raw liver), and a staggering number of nutritional supplements which patients must take at regular intervals throughout the day and night.

The dietary guidelines he issues to his patients contain an amazing array of obviously unsound statements which bespeak not only a total abandonment of logical thinking on the part of their author, but also a casual disregard for objective fact, as though the solid benchmarks of physiology and biochemistry, such as pH, were just another narrative.

And then of course there’s the obligatory detoxification, without which no alternative treatment regimen could possibly be considered complete. But beyond its role as a doctrinal tenet, the notion that the body is inadequate to the task of handling its own waste holds a special utility for the practitioner of alternative cancer treatment. By insisting on regular and vigorous detoxification, the practitioner can reinforce the idea that the treatment regime – in this case, the pancreatic enzyme barrage – is working so well that the patient’s liver and bloodstream are in danger of being overrun by waste products from tumor breakdown. This must be a great boost to a patient in the advanced stages of cancer who is grimly contemplating his umpteenth coffee enema of the week and struggling to swallow another round of 30 supplement pills. However, most self-respecting physicians and patients would surely like to have that comforting assertion about massive tumor destruction confirmed with some kind of objective test such as imaging. And if the liver is really so hobbled by its task that it has to be supported by regular retrograde sluicing with tepid coffee, perhaps a few blood tests of liver function might be in order? It appears that such considerations are purely for pedants and infidels: real believers have no need for such niceties.

And then there are the supplements, in staggering quantities and bewildering combinations:

Five times during your waking hours take:

  • 16 pancreas glandular tissue
  • 1 magnesium citrate 60mg

With two doses of pancreas glandular take

  • 2 chicken collagen type II

During breakfast and dinner (twice daily) take:

  • 1 amino acids
  • 1 Calsym (vitamin D3 and calcium carbonate)
  • 1 thyroid (sic)
  • 1 vitamin E 100 IU

During each meal (3 times daily) take:

  • 1 adrenal glandular
  • 2 vitamin C
  • 1 Atlantic kelp
  • 2 Formula #1 (sic)
  • 1 liver
  • 1 lung
  • 2 magnesium citrate 60mg
  • 1 digest aid
  • 1 multivitamin
  • 1 multimineral
  • 3 pancreas glandular tissue
  • 3 thymus glandular tissue
  • 1 vitamin 400 IU

During lunch only take:

  • 1 beta carotene 25,000
  • 1 copper gluconate
  • 1 potassium citrate
  • 1 vitamin A 10,000 (which incidentally is twice the recommended daily allowance)

At bedtime take:

  • 2 iron
  • 2 magnesium citrate 60mg
  • 4 RNA/DNA (sic)

At 3:30am take:

  • 16 pancreas glandular tissue

The patient following such a program would take 187 supplement pills daily. Regardless of the dosage of active ingredients involved, the sheer volume and weight of excipients that are ingested during any one 24 hour period is surely something to take into account, especially in a patient debilitated by the ravages of advanced cancer. In a regimen that puts such emphasis on detoxification this is a curious departure indeed.

But onward.

THE EVIDENCE

In 1999, Gonzalez published a paper in the journal Nutrition and Cancer (abstract here) claiming that he had achieved significantly increased survival in 11 patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer by treating them with what he described as “an aggressive nutritional therapy with large doses of pancreatic enzymes.”

Now bear in mind that pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive and deadly of all malignancies. The majority of people with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, which is by far the commonest form of pancreatic cancer, die within a few months of their diagnosis; only one in five patients survive the first year, and just four percent of patients live five years beyond diagnosis.

So when Gonzalez published his paper asserting that 9 of the 11 patients (81%) whom he had treated with this regimen survived one year, while 5 (45%) survived two years, and the remaining 4 patients were still alive and holding their own at the 3 year mark, people sat up and took notice.

Despite the fact that this was a very small study, and rife with biases (not least, an obvious selection bias: a further 12 patients who were unable to comply fully with the treatment were excluded from the analysis), it was sufficiently positive a report in an otherwise unrelievedly gloomy prognostic landscape that it prompted further investigation. Ultimately a full-fledged phase III clinical trial comparing Gonzalez’ nutritional protocol to the standard chemotherapy regimen in pancreatic cancer patients was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and was carried out at Columbia University.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the trial turned out to be hugely contentious and very unorthodox. As a means of eliminating experimental bias, clinical trials are typically “blinded” and randomized – i.e., they are carefully designed so that patients are randomly assigned to one group or the other, and neither the patients nor the physicians know which treatment they are receiving. But in this case there was no way that the trial could be randomized or blinded. Patients could choose whether to undergo chemotherapy or to be assigned to the Gonzalez protocol group, so both they and the investigating physicians knew what treatment they were getting from the beginning.

When it became apparent, as it quickly did, that the results were not going to reflect well on his treatment protocol. Gonzalez began clamoring loudly for an investigation, claiming that the clinical trial had been deliberately rigged to discredit him. (Those interested in the background to the clinical trial, including a very thorough discussion of its ethical and scientific implications, can read about it in several installments, titled “The Ethics of CAM Trials” (parts I-V), here.)

The results of the clinical trial were reported in a paper published in October, 2009, in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (article here). To summarize the results, the 32 patients who underwent traditional chemotherapy lived more than three times as long (14 months vs 4.3 months), and had a measurably better quality of life, including less pain than those treated by the Gonzalez protocol – and since pancreatic cancer is notoriously painful, this is a hugely important consideration in any treatment, regardless of whether or not it extends survival.

But perhaps the most extraordinary and disturbing aspect of the paper was this paragraph, in the Methods section, describing the Gonzalez protocol:

“The enzyme treatment included orally ingested proteolytic enzymes, nutritional supplements, detoxification, and an organic diet (unaltered from the pilot study). Patients received three pancreatic enzyme and two magnesium citrate capsules with each meal. The patients also took specified numbers of capsules with magnesium citrate and Papaya Plus every 4 hours on an empty stomach. The dose for patients with stage II disease was 69 enzyme capsules, and the dose for patients with stages III or IV was 81 capsules per day. After day 16, patients had a 5-day rest period and then resumed treatment on day 22. Treatment could be adjusted by the physician and could be increased for cancer progression. A diet that required at least 70% of the food to be raw or minimally cooked was required. All food was organic. Prescribed detoxification procedures included coffee enemas twice each day; skin brushing and cleansing; salt and soda baths; and a liver flush, clean sweep, and purging.”

Excuse me? A liver flush? What is that, exactly? And could someone please explain what is meant by “a clean sweep”? And purging? If it’s not an indelicate question, might we be told exactly what that consists of?

How this extraordinary paragraph found its way into print, unchallenged, in the venerable Journal of Clinical Oncology is unfathomable. Why didn’t the editors, or the authors, for that matter, feel that it might be useful – in fact, essential – to (a) append an explanation of exactly what was meant by these terms, and (b) to include some kind of rationale for their use?

And then, of course, there’s the larger question of how the institutional review board at Columbia managed to sidestep the ethical issues inherent in approving a trial that was set up to compare the apples of standard treatment with the oranges of liver flushes and clean sweeps. If there was genuine clinical equipoise here we’re in deep, deep trouble.

You might think that this study, with its damning result, would be the end of it. But you’d be wrong. Gonzalez has written a book, a paranoid, self-exculpatory monologue, a martyr’s manifesto detailing what he perceives as his deliberate persecution at vast public expense by a pernicious cancer industry mafia whose goal is to silence him forever. (Presumably the hit man who got Steve McQueen was no longer available?)

So what are we to make of Gonzalez? Is he a cynical fraud or does he genuinely believe that coffee enemas, skin brushing and massive doses of supplements are capable of holding back the tsunami of cancer?

At the end of the day it hardly matters: either way, he’s a dangerous man.

33 Responses to The alternative cancer “cure” of Nicholas Gonzalez

  • Thanks for this post. I have read much about this man but not a lot of detail. I cannot imagine anyone thinking any of such nonsense would “cure” cancer, or worse, think that tens of thousands of doctors would deliberately repress such knowledge if it were so.

    • You should start with knowledge about cancer. It may be simple for me: I know cancer (the word is usually used instead of “malignancy”) is basically group of wrong cells, and cells become wrong as result of accident. Cancers are very different, treatment is getting better, knowledge is getting better (including fact that some cancers can be just observed at lest for some time)….
      BUT PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW IT AND OFTEN DO NOT WANT TO. And as long as we do not know, such quacks are safe. Maybe people perceive treatment offered by modern medicine too primitive, maybe too brutal, maybe they are not ready to accept accident as cause, maybe they percieve (unconsciously) cancer as part of their body, so they do not want an foreign substance to come near it, maybe they perceive everything that is not found in the nature as equal and do not distinguish between carcinogens (including probable ones and cancer drugs)…..

    • I was cured of metastatic cancer to the liver 25 years ago solely on the basis of following the protocol from Dr Gonzalez. I know of many other equally improbable if not miraculous cures due to his protocol.

    • This sad female obviously works for Big Pharma. Dr Gonzalez cured 6 family members who had months to live.(Irish catholic family) I think it such a shame that people like Louise put money before lives. Some would rather see you bury your child than have someone like Nicholas Gonzales threaten their bank account.
      Quote “You might think that this study, with its damning result, would be the end of it. But you’d be wrong. Gonzalez has written a book, a paranoid, self-exculpatory monologue, a martyr’s manifesto detailing what he perceives as his deliberate persecution at vast public expense by a pernicious cancer industry mafia whose goal is to silence him forever. (Presumably the hit man who got Steve McQueen was no longer available?) Louise Lunetkin
      Well Louise, looks like he was not paranoid, after all as he is now deceased. Any decent intelligent human being, upon reading your post can sense the evil venom in your words. If this man was not such a huge threat to your industry then why would you be exhibiting such venom especially towards alternative medicine, which I can assure you is NOT ALTERNATIVE. Western medicine has been in existence for around 200 years compared to alternative i.e acupuncture ayurvedic which dates back thousands of years. Shame on you and your lot!!!!! May the God that you deny forgive you and all your conspirators. There are many sociopaths in our world and we should all recognize them by their words!!!!! I urge you all to watch “The truth about cancer” videos airing today. It could save you and your loved ones. By the way. you people whoever you are??? are not so smart. In writing this slanderous material you are drawing more people towards the miraculous work of this man and alternative medicine. So thank you for that. Keep up the good work Louise and co.
      !

  • Dear Louise Lubetkin: Your article raises a critical issue of our times; namely, shoddy editorial practices in journals of all kinds. Not a week goes by when I do not find yet another article in a peer-reviewed scientific journal with so many fundamental problems that it should have been rejected or corrected beforehand.

    The greater problem, and the one I thank you for addressing, is the perilous lack of disclosure surrounding so-called alternative treatments for cancer. Each one needs to be critically appraised in the light of evaluable evidence. While I know how time-consuming that can be, I can only hope that others will step up to task.

  • I landed here upon reading Dr Ernst’s untoward comments about Dr Gonzalez.

    ‘It is hard to know where to begin in responding to your utterly contemptible slander of Dr Gonzalez. The harshness of your words is only matched by the ignorance of your analysis.

    I write as a 25 year surviver of metastatic cancer to the liver treated by Dr Gonzalez. Of course I am only one person so my account is irrelevant except to suggest that I knew the man and his protocol and theories intimately over the past quarter of a century.

    I will only comment on a couple of your assertions as it is clear that you are not engaged in a fair minded search for truth.

    First there is much research showing that enzymes do survive the digestive system to recirculate through the blood. Had you taken the time to read Dr Gonzalez’s book “The Trophoblast and the Origins of Cance”r you would have seen a 10 page section devoted to that question with a number of references from major journal articles demonstrating survival. But of course that be ‘an inconvenient truth’ so it’s one you chose to ignore or not adequately research.

    You seem terribly upset over the use of terms like ‘liver flush’ and ‘clean sweep’ in a Journal article. But what does that have to do with the validity of those interventions? And you can’t hardly blame Gonzalez as he was not even shown the manuscript before it was published despite being the subject of the trial.

    You label his book about the trial ‘What Went Wrong’ as a paranoid martyr’s manifesto. Could you kindly quote any excerpt that exhibits these characteristics?
    I found the book to be a tediously exhaustive and meticulously sourced narrative of the trial. We must have been reading from different versions.

    Your venom is utterly inexcusable, your bias is appalling, and your search for truth is non existent.
    There is much more I could write and may write should you be interested but I’m too tired and dismayed at the loss of a man whose work – if only given a fair trial – could revolutionize medicine and cancer prevention and treatment.

    • Please read the first line of the post carefully. Then, after looking up the definition of slander, provide good evidence for your assertions about claims for Gonzalez’s ‘treatment’.

    • @Herb
      “You seem terribly upset over the use of terms like ‘liver flush’ and ‘clean sweep’ in a Journal article. But what does that have to do with the validity of those interventions?” The journal article seems to have shown the Gonzalez treatment was not a valid intervention for curing cancer. When an article contains terms that are utterly meaningless in biology and medicine, any reasonably knowledgeable reader has a right to assume something has gone badly wrong with the normal peer-review publication process, and that nonsense has been committed to print. (My guess is that reviewers and editors nowadays often skip the methods section if they deem it unimportant.)

      • My point Is simple. The article was suggesting that Dr Gonzakez was responsible for those terms- clean sweep and so forth. But he had nothing to do with the article. He didn’t even know it was being published.
        And the article was terribly deficient, should never have been published and should in no way be used to discredit Dr Gonzalez.

  • @Herb: There’s plenty of money from the sale of questionable cancer treatments for another clinical trial. The question is, why has no one bothered to conduct one?

    • After seeing Gonzalez spend thousands of hours and 10 years of his life on that study and seeing how difficult it was to get a fair trial I’d be surprised if anyone else would want to ever go through that again – which was probably the goal of those who ran the trial at NIH and Columbia.

      • Ten years is not required to conduct a clinical trial. With the protocol apparently established, it could be run fairly at any number of research facilities.

  • It is of course of vital importance that terms used to describe cancer therapy components in a study, be either previously very well known and clearly defined or otherwise be described in detail in the paper or in an original reference so the reader can understand what is being described.
    It would of course be very interesting if @Herb can explain from his/her own experience of the Gonzales regimen, what the components “clean sweep” and “liver flush” consist of in this context. Can you tell us please?
    Until we get further information about these seemingly important parts of the regimen, I am afraid we are completely in the dark as any reader of the said article would be.
    I have unsuccessfully tried to find descriptions and/or definitions of these components by searching online. I have tried different databases including Google, PubMed etc. I have tried different combination search terms.
    Nothing comes up that is remotely connected to the matter at hand, i.e. cancer and its therapy, namely the Gonzales variety. The closest I get with “clean sweep” is several references to household help for cancer patients.
    Pubmed turns up 22 hits on the string “clean sweep” but nothing remotely connected to cancer or the treatment of it. Not even to alternative medical practice.
    A search for the term “liver flush” turns up all of six (6!) references on PubMed, none of them having anything to do with cancer. Of course Google comes up with scores of ad’s and infomercials for the old trick used to con people into thinking they “purge out” their gallstones. If I am not mistaken it was popularised by Hulda R. Clark and has long been a good source of income for alternative practitioners of various denominations.
    As a surgeon, I can confidently confirm that this does not work. I have operated on so many victims of this trick, who thought they had purged their stones when all that happened was they were fooled by the greenish pebbles in their feces that somehow form from the mixture of lemon juice, oil and whatever they put into that “liver flush” cocktail. If indeed it would work as purported, the passage of the usually very large pebbles through the relatively narrow biliary system would inevitably cause serious pain and on top of that, a dangerously high incidence of acute pancreatitis, which is a very serious condition with a high mortality. A high number of pancreatitis patients need intensive care! There is no way that you can “flush out” gallstones without both serious pain and serious risk of harm to the liver and/or pancreas.
     
    It is nothing less than incredible that a (seemingly?) respectable oncology journal let this nonsense through.

    • Clean sweep and liver flush are among the techniques recommended in the Gonzalez protocol to help eliminate the dead cancer cells that can sicken people. These dead cancer cells and other metabolic waste result from the rapid death of cancer cells that occurs when using the pancreatic enzymes. In mainstream medicine I believe the breakdown products and the illness they can cause is known as tumor lysis. The clean sweep uses the common natural laxative psyllium. The liver flush uses olive oil and other natural substances to induce the rapid removal of cancer cell debris.

      • @Herb
        I took your point above that Gonzalez had nothing to do with the study that used the words “clean sweep” and “liver flush”. Now you have undone that point by acknowledging that these terms really are part of the Gonzalez protocol, whether or not he had anything to do with the 2009 paper.
         
        Tumor lysis is a phenomenon mainly associated with haematological malignancies (leukaemias, lymphomas), not the pancreatic and liver cancers that have been the topic of this thread. Please point us to the evidence that either Psyllium or olive oil have any effect whatsoever on tumour lysis.
         
        From your first post onwards you give a clear impression of someone talking through the back of their neck. You don’t really understand medicine even at level 101 but you have a very strong faith that what you experienced from Gonzalez helped cure your liver cancer for 25 years. You may have picked up elsewhere on this blog that anecdotes are not evidence. In your own case, it’s not even clear what you originally suffered from: you say you had cancer metastasized to the liver. I took that to be a typo but now I’m less sure. Please consider the following possibilities: your cancer (whatever it was) was misdiagnosed in the first place. (You’d need to produce evidence from your original physician to confirm the diagnosis.) Whatever disease you suffered from cured itself spontaneously — it happens, even with cancers.
         
        More worrying is the possibility, now that you have given us a clear indication of your medical ignorance, that you’ve got the whole thing mixed up because you visited Dr. Gonzalez in the first place on the basis of self-diagnosis or similar. Do you begin to see why anecdotal evidence is no way to prove anything?

        • FrankO,

          Why do you ignore what I say and attack me for something I did not say? You suggest that I am attempting to use anecdotal evidence to prove that the Gonzalez therapy works. Yet I explicitly state that “I am only one person so my account is irrelevant….”

          So it really doesn’t matter what the circumstances are surrounding my cancer. But just for the record I had a primary cancerous tumor in my lung which spread to my liver. I started treatment with Gonzalez and soon thereafter my liver showed no signs of cancer and has been cancer free for 2 decades.

          Of course it could have been a spontaneous remission or maybe the scans and biopsies and other tests were misdiagnoses. Maybe all 4 doctors I visited were wrong in concluding i had cancer. Anything is possible. Is it likely that these very rare things occurred. Of course not. So what’s your point?

          And as far as not knowing medicine 101 I am not a medical professional, never claimed to be one, but you have not demonstrated why you believe I ‘talk through the back of my neck’.

          • @Herb
            Thanks for the update. Yes, you acknowledged in your first post that you recognized the irrelevance of your one case, but since you have gone on to mount a strong defence of the Gonzalez treatment without producing one iota of supporting evidence I am probably not alone in assuming your motivation is conviction from your personal experience.
             
            When you write “The clean sweep uses the common natural laxative psyllium. The liver flush uses olive oil and other natural substances to induce the rapid removal of cancer cell debris.” as if this is meant to be helpful to thread readers who had searched and not found, you are overlooking the tiny point that you’re describing tosh.
             
            Nobody expects you to be a medical professional (I’m not, either), but a bit of objective reason and some pointers to evidence beyond your word would help your case.
             
            Of Louise Lubetkin’s original post you wrote “Your venom is utterly inexcusable, your bias is appalling, and your search for truth is non existent. There is much more I could write and may write should you be interested but I’m too tired and dismayed at the loss of a man whose work – if only given a fair trial – could revolutionize medicine and cancer prevention and treatment.” Yet that OP describes the fair trial the Gonzalez therapy was given, and the negative results it produced. Unfortunately for your case, the Gonzalez enzyme treatment and its barrel-loads of nutritional supplements lack experimental support as a cancer treatment, involve several concepts that lack or fly against experimental evidence. Like most of the bizarre approaches to curing disease featured on the pages of this blog it dates back a long way (Beard —>Kelley —>Gonzalez) and is sustained heavily by the experiences of the faithful, rather than by science.

      • @Herb

        Clean sweep and liver flush are among the techniques recommended in the Gonzalez protocol to help eliminate the dead cancer cells that can sicken people. These dead cancer cells and other metabolic waste result from the rapid death of cancer cells that occurs when using the pancreatic enzymes. In mainstream medicine I believe the breakdown products and the illness they can cause is known as tumor lysis. The clean sweep uses the common natural laxative psyllium. The liver flush uses olive oil and other natural substances to induce the rapid removal of cancer cell debris.

        Still completely in the dark. Psyllium is a seed, that makes the feces bulky and easier to eliminate. It is simply food and has no effect on tumour lysis or the elimination of its products.
        “…olive oil and other natural substances…” This sounds exactly the same parlour trickery that I described, which has no effect on the liver at all and is used by charlatans and make-believe therapists to fool people into thinking they are defecating their gallstones. Acid from lemons or similar, oil, epsom salts and perhaps other ingredients conglomerate in the bowels to form “pebbles” that fool the patients.

        Everything points to the conclusion that Gonzalez, as so many other inventors and prophets of miracle cancer cures, was suffering from grandiose delusions and fooled not only his patients but most of all himself.
         
        It is of course fantastic for you that your cancer (was it really cancer?) was permanently cured. But there are endless stories like yours, that are told as if they represent proof of a miracle but on further analysis (when possible) it always turn out that the “cure” result of one or more of many other possible explanations.
        Perhaps you should read this clear and sensible article before you continue to praise Gonzalez and his “miracle cure”, which is biomedically very improbable and has never been corroborated. If it was worth something, why is it not widely used?
        Do you really believe that the big pharmaceutical companies, the FDA and other agencies or for that matter different national governments could hold back the use of such (if true) fantastic panacea cure for cancer? Wouldn’t the news have spread and people have stopped dying all over the world if this fantastic and “naturally simple” cure was effective? Wouldn’t people be healing themselves right and left with psyllium, olive oil, coffee enemas, fruit cocktails etc. etc., in parts of the world not oppressed by “western” commercialism such as in North Korea for example? I think we would have heard of it by now.

        • You might read this abstract before you continue to characterize Dr Gonzalez as having grandiose delusions. This trial uses the pancreatic enzymes that Dr Gonzalez says are his main weapon in fighting cancer. He formulated them himself. The journal in which it was published is reputable and highly ranked. The results cry out for followup research which has yet to be done.

          Unless you believe that mice suffer from grandiose delusions as well.

          This reference is not presented to prove his protocol works – just to argue that his work not be dismissed so easily and disdainfully as Ms Lubetkin has done. (And you will notice there is no mention of this study in her screed against Gonzalez. It would be quite the inconvenient truth to have noted it wouldn’t it be?)

          The concluding sentence in the article published as Saruc M, Standop S, Standop J, Nozawa F, Itami A, Pandey KK, Batra SK, Gonzalez NJ, Guesry P, Pour PM: “Pancreatic enzyme extract improves survival in murine pancreatic cancer.” Pancreas 28(4), 401-412, 2004. said as follows:

          “In summary, PPE (porcine pancreatic enzyme) is the first experimentally and clinically proven agent for the effective treatment of PC (pancreatic cancer). The significant advantages of PPE over any other currently available therapeutic modalities include its effects on physical condition, nutrition and lack of toxicity.”

          • …not replicated AFTER MORE THAN A DECADE!

          • AND NOT REFUTED EITHER!

            Is there ANY doubt that if this result emerged from a test of a patentable pharmaceutical then virtually unlimited resources would have been directed at followup trials immediately after its first publication. And that it would have likely gotten worldwide press.

            Is there any other plausible explanation for why no followup trials were undertaken other than it is not a pharmaceutical and thus no obvious source of funding was found. Maybe there’s some other explanation. I just don’t know what it would be.

            Maybe I will write to a couple of the authors and see what they say.

          • aahh, I see: must be the fault of BIG PHARMA!!!
            and why would a mixture of enzymes not be patentable?

          • Why do you mischaracterize what I wrote. Where did I say it was the fault of pharma that no other studies were done?

            I simply said that it is inconceivable that if enzymes were patentable funding wouldn’t have been available. Am I incorrect?

            And I’m perplexed as to why no follow up studies were done. I thought maybe you would have a theory – instead of simply trying to make a
            caricature of my comments. And it’s hard to imagine a patent given on a natural substance. But maybe I’m wrong.

            The bottom line is that this study has not been seriously critiqued as far as I can find and nor has it been refuted. And I can’t imagine why anyone would not want to see such a promising result regarding a horrible incurable disease not being further studied to determine its validity.

          • Herb, you wrote “AND NOT REFUTED EITHER!”

            I think that you are far from adequately comprehending who owns the burden of proof, and who owns the burden of refutation.

          • @Herb
            I can’t access the full paper — it’s not open access nor is the journal e-accessed by my local medical school library — but in my experience and opinion the results (according to the abstract) look way too good to be true. Such a perfect outcome is rare even with well established, effective medical treatments.
             
            Following up interesting findings is by no means solely the arena of the pharmaceutical industry, and your comments about how “if this result emerged from a test of a patentable pharmaceutical then virtually unlimited resources would have been directed at followup trials immediately after its first publication” is downright wrong. The scientists who work for pharmaceutical companies are not idiots.
             
            Anyone who can put together a convincing case could seek to get funding from all sorts of non-commercial sources. However, in the present instance, the results of the clinical trial in human patients almost certainly trumps the animal experiment and is likely to make funding difficult, even though the animal work needs replication by someone wholly independent of the Gonzalez camp. Therapeutic research usually progresses from test tubes to animal experiments to clinical trials, not the other way round.

          • @Herb
            Yes you are incorrect and yes it can easily be refuted. Do you really think that such a cheap and ubiquitous substance as porcine pancreatic extract would not have found general use as a cancer remedy had it any practical effect? I prescribe it all the time for various patients, among them sufferers of cancer.
             
            For you, to show due respect for your ardent conviction, I downloaded the whole article and had a good look through it. Despite the 12 pages of scientific jargon this work is not difficult to dissect and refute. The reason it has not been replicated is that it is not worth the effort.
            Not much time to delve into details on this beautiful summer day but I will try to quickly summarise.
             
            It describes experiments on mice, which had human pancreatic cancer injected into their pancreas and grew terrible tumours, ultimately destroying their pancreas and killing them.
            A few important points:
            >It has been explained ad nauseam, countless times by many specialists that substances like pPE can certainly be refined as medicines and patented for profit. The argument that lack of patentability of a given nostrum precludes interest in it by the drug industry is a non-sequitur.
            >Experiments on mice or other animals for that matter extremely seldom translate to human results.
            >They used rather few mice, 15+15 in each round of their study. That would not be a problem if we were looking for numerically very definite differences between groups, which is not the case here.
            >The results in this study are much less than impressive numerically. For example, in the second experiment they followed the mice for 9 weeks and even if there was a quite apparent delay in mortality survival 0.3 vs. 0.5 in the treated group as demonstrated by life table analysis at 9 weeks (=half of the treated mice had died), the difference was not statistically significant (Fig. 4).
            In the first experiment, which was practically the same, all the untreated mice were dead at about 6 weeks and at eight weeks more than 86% of the treated mice were dead.(Fig 2) Even if this was a significantly less impressive result overall, the difference between the groups could be calculated with a fancy formula to be “statistically significant”, which only goes to show how much influence chance has on study results when the groups are too small for the purpose!
             
            >The mice died of starvation because the pancreas was destroyed by the cancer. The pancreatic enzymes were gradually lacking to digest the food. This is called pancreatic insufficiency and any gastroenterologist or GI-surgeon knows it and knows how very effectively it can be alleviated with a prescription for the dirt cheap and readily available porcine pancreatic enzyme capsules (PPE). No need for fancy drug patents or expensive development to make endless tests of this remedy.
            That starvation was setting in gradually was very evident from many of the parameters they measured, such as the amount of food and liquid intake between groups and from the fact that the mice over time develop ‘ketonuria’, a sign of severe starvation (Fig 9). The mice treated with PPE were simply living a bit longer and probably feeling a lot better because they digested their food better and most likely, their immune system could delay the cancer growth a little bit also, which explained some of the findings of slower tumour growth. THIS IS NOT CURE.
            For those of us that have experience of treating cancers, including pancreatic carcinoma, the results of this study is no news at all.
            The reason this study has not been replicated is very obvious. It is because we already know that we can give PPE to cancer patients with pancreatic insufficiency and we are doing it all the time but it does not cure them. Adding Gonzalez’s mumbo jumbo like the liver flush or coffee enemas only makes them more miserable.
            That PPE has any other effects on cancer is biomedically very unlikely and neither this nor other experiments, nor clinical experience has provided any indication of such an effect. What Gonzalez was looking at was the effect of his own wishful thinking driven by the hunger for doctrinal confirmation and relief of his cognitive dissonance. Were it real, others (than Gonzalez) would have started suspecting it ages ago.
             
            This mouse experiment simply confirmed what we knew all along!
            The authors actually knew this all along and stated as much in the article:

            This nutritional insufficiency was not reflected by the body weight, possibly because of the presence of large tumors and ascites*. Hence, the longer survival of treated mice, whose cancer showed the same invasive patterns as those in the control group, could be due to the compensatory effect of PPE on pancreatic enzyme insufficiency.

            *(Fluid collection in the belly)
            This they realised after the first of the two experiments. They however wanted to do better than cofirm prior knowledge and made the rather unlikely assumption (hypothesis) that the difference in cancer growth between the groups might be due to something other than the obvious dietary insufficiency. Perhaps it was the realisation that new grants would not be forthcoming for finding out the obvious, so they made a second experiment to test the hypothesis, which turned out not to be corroborated:

            This comparative study also showed that tumors in the treated mice grow significantly slower and are less invasive than those in the matched control mice. The reduced cell proliferation index was consistent with this finding. Our hypothesis that the PPE treatment, directly or indirectly, affects the tumor growth by altering the expression of the growth factors
            known to be overexpressed in human PC cells, however, was not validated.

            Remember also that the treated mice only lived slightly longer and the difference was not found to be statistically significant.
            Instead of keeping to the correct inference that the treated mice were simply displaying better nutritional status and therefore better able to fight the tumour growth and live a little longer as they say in the abstract conclusion, which is quite acceptable…:

            Conclusions: The treatment with PPE significantly prolongs the survival of mice with human PC xenografts and slows the tumor growth. The data indicate that the beneficial effect of PPE on survival is primarily related to the nutritional advantage of the treated mice.

            … they make the following completely unfounded proclamation at the end of the article:

            In summary, PPE is the first experimentally and clinically proven agent for the effective treatment of PC. The significant advantages of PPE over any other currently available therapeutic modalities include its effects on physical condition, nutrition, and lack of toxicity.

            PPE is NOT a “clinically proven agent for the effective treatment of PC” (PC = pancreatic cancer). This statement is completely unsubstantiated and groundless. Much the less does it have “significant advantages over currently available therapeutic modalities” The study corroborates neither of these statements and as I said before, PPE is already an essential part of the arsenal of the palliative therapy of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, i.e. if and when digestive insufficiency has set in. It can certainly improve their well being and nutritional status, which obviously may prolong survival. It has NOT been proven to have ANY other effect on PC, and is certainly not a curative remedy.

  • Apparently, there is or was some sort “skin brushing” and “cleansing” (see link below); however, in a brief search, I failed to find adequate descriptions of either the “clean sweep” or “liver flush”. Although “purging” is also mentioned, I have yet to ascertain the description intended by Gonzales or the means by which it was induced. As you undoubtedly know, the term could mean induced defecation, vomiting, or both.

    https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/gonzalez-regimen-for-cancer-of-the-pancreas-even-worse-than-we-thought-part-ii-loose-ends/

  • It may not be the most authoritative source, but I found this: “detoxification routine: enemas, liver flushes, and whole-body purges with psyllium husks, which Gonzalez refers to as “the clean sweep.”

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2001/02/05/the-outlaw-doctor

    An advocate of the regimen claims the “purge” consisted of drinking the juices of citrus fruit combined with Epsom salts. Though not entirely, he also describes the “liver flush”: ortho-phosphoric acid, apple juice, olive oil, “and other ingredients”.

    Source: http://www.burtongoldberg.com/page102.html

  • In a video interview titled “Nicholas Gonzalez, MD reveals the truth about cancer chemotherapy”, the late Dr. Gonzales stated: “The main anticancer element in our program are [sic] large doses of these pancreatic enzymes, which are derived from the pig pancreas.” Yet, at 29:12 minutes in the same interview, he made the following statement: “We’ve never had the billions of dollars [as if it would cost remotely near that much] in research funding to do the elaborate molecular biology, but we’ve had some funding to do some animal studies, and they seem to just directly attack cancer.”

    Antitumor studies on all manner of crude, natural products are conducted in animals by independent laboratories and researchers at universities all the time, regardless of whether the substances are patentable or not. To my knowledge, porcine pancreatic enzymes would be destroyed when ingested. Because the same route of administration is used in the human clinical regimen of Gonzalez, any animal studies designed to refute or support the regimen would require oral dosing.

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