(Kaare - After 25 years of use and over $30 billion of so-called 'research'...)
Do We Need a New Approach to Cancer?
In 1971, President Richard Nixon announced the War on Cancer and promised a cure by the 1977 bicentennial. In each of the 25 years since, more Americans have died of cancer than the year before.
The failure of chemotherapy to control cancer has become apparent even to the oncology establishment. Scientific American featured a recent cover story entitled: "The War on Cancer - It's Being Lost." In it, eminent epidemiologist John C. Bailar III, MD, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McGill University cited the relentless increase in cancer deaths in the face of growing use of toxic chemotherapy. He concluded that scientists must look in new directions if they are ever to make progress against this unremitting killer.
Adding its voice, the prestigious British medical journal,
The Lancet, decrying the failure of conventional therapy to stop
the rise in breast
cancer deaths, noted the discrepancy between public perception and reality. "If one were to believe all the media hype, the triumphalism of the
[medical] profession in published research, and the almost weekly miracle breakthroughs trumpeted by the cancer charities, one might be surprised that women are dying at all from this cancer" it observed. Noting that conventional therapies - chemotherapy, radiation and surgery - had been pushed to their limits with dismal results, the editorial called on researchers to"challenge dogma and redirect research efforts along more fruitful lines."
John Cairns, professor of microbiology at Harvard University, published a devastating 1985 critique in Scientific American.
"Aside from certain rare cancers, it is not possible to
detect any sudden changes in the death rates for any of the major
cancers that could be
credited to chemotherapy. Whether any of the common cancers can be cured by chemotherapy has yet to be established."
In fact, chemotherapy is curative in very few cancers - testicular, Hodgkin's, choriocarcinoma, childhood leukemia. In most common solid tumors - lung, colon, breast, etc. - chemotherapy is NOT curative.
In an article entitled "Chemotherapy: Snake-Oil Remedy?" that appeared in The Los Angeles Times of January 9, 1987, Dr.Martin F. Shapiro explained that while "some oncologists inform their patients of the lack of evidence that treatments work...others may well be misled by scientific papers that express unwarranted optimism about chemotherapy. Still others respond to an economic incentive. Physicians can earn much more money running active chemotherapy practices than they can providing solace and relief...to dying patients and their families."
Dr. Shapiro is hardly alone. Alan C. Nixon, PhD, Past President
of the American Chemical Society wrote that "As a chemist
trained to interpret
data, it is incomprehensible to me that physicians can ignore the clear evidence that chemotherapy does much, much more harm than good."
In 1986, McGill Cancer Center scientists sent a questionnaire to 118 doctors who treated non-small-cell lung cancer. More than three quarters of them recruited patients and carried out trials of toxic drugs for lung cancer. They were asked to imagine that they themselves had cancer, and were asked which of six current trials they themselves would choose. Of the 79 respondents, 64 said they would not consent to be in a trial containing cisplatin, a common chemotherapy drug Fifty-eight found all the trials unacceptable. Their reasons? The ineffectiveness of chemotherapy and its unacceptable degree of toxicity.
Famed German biostatistician Ulrich Abel, PhD, also found in a similar 1989 study that "the personal views of many oncologists seem to be in striking contrast to communications intended for the public."
Breast cancer activist Rose Kushner wrote that by 1981 "indiscriminate, automatic adjuvant chemotherapy was replacing the Halsted radical mastectomy as therapeutic overkill in the United States." Thomas Nealon, MD, Professor of Surgery at New York University School of Medicine, concluded in 1990 that "The treatment of this tumor now has slipped from too much surgery to too much adjuvant therapy."
Why so much use of chemotherapy if it does so little good?
Well for one thing, drug companies provide huge economic incentives.
In 1990, $3.53
billion was spent on chemotherapy. By 1994 that figure had more than doubled to $7.51 billion. This relentless increase in chemotherapy use was accompanied by a relentless increase in cancer deaths.
Oncologist Albert Braverman, MD, wrote in 1991 that "no disseminated neoplasm (cancer) incurable in 1975 is curable today...Many medical oncologists recommend chemotherapy for virtually any tumor, with a hopefulness undiscouraged by almost invariable failure."
Why the growth in chemotherapy in the face of such failure?
A look at the financial interrelationships between a large cancer
center such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC)
and the companies that make billions selling chemotherapy drugs
is revealing. James Robinson III, Chairman of the MSKCC Board
of Overseers and Managers, is a director of Bristol-Myers Squibb,
the world's largest producer of chemotherapy drugs. Richard Gelb,
Vice-Chairman of the MSKCC board is Chairman of the Board at Bristol-Myers.
Richard Furlaud, another MSKCC board member, recently retired
as Bristol Myers' president. Paul Marks, MD, MSKCC's President
and CEO, is a director of
Thursday, 25 May 2000
By Thomas Walkom
The article appeared last week as a one-paragraph brief in a Toronto newspaper. It was, in a pure journalistic sense, old news. In fact, it was almost a verbatim reprint from a February edition of the prestigious New Scientist magazine.
Still, in the ongoing and increasingly bitter war over genetically modified foods, it was an intriguing bit of old news. An Alberta farmer, New Scientist reported, had made history. His genetically-modified canola crop had created mutant weeds that are now resistant to - not one, not two but three - common herbicides. The unnamed Alberta farmer hadn't set out to do this. He planted his genetically-modified canola in three separate fields and, as directed, sprayed them with broad-application herbicides. One of the main selling points about genetically-altered crops, it should be remembered, is that they are supposed to require fewer toxic herbicides. Genetically-engineered canola, for instance, includes an alien gene that makes the crop resistant to specific common broad-application garden herbicides, such as Monsanto Co.'s Roundup. If the farmer sprays his crop with Roundup, the theory goes, everything except the canola will be killed.
Otherwise, the farmer might have to use a cocktail of more toxic, weed-specific herbicides, including the very potent 2,4-D. This, backers say, is why genetically-modified crops are such a boon to the environment. Surprise, surprise. As New Scientist reports, the Alberta farmer began growing genetically-modified canola in 1997. He planted one field with seed resistant to Monsanto's Roundup. Another was immune to Cyanamid's Pursuit herbicide, while the third resisted Aventis' Liberty herbicide. But the alien genes in his canola refused to stay still. They migrated to the very weeds they were designed to control. By 1998, the farmer found he had weeds resistant to two of the three garden-variety herbicides he was using. By 1999, his weeds were resistant to all three. It was, New Scientist reported, the first officially confirmed case of its kind.
So now the Alberta farmer has to use 2,4-D to control the new superweeds created by his genetically modified crops - the same crops that were supposed to require no 2,4-D. What, you might ask, is the point? An excellent question, one which no one seems able to answer.
Back in March, The Star's Stuart Laidlaw reported on an Ontario government study being flogged by the province's biotechnology lobby. The study showed that insecticide use had dropped off in Ontario over the past 15 years. The biotech lobby hoped to tie this development to the use of genetically-modified organisms or GMOs. But, as Laidlaw reported, the study demonstrated the opposite. The drop-off in toxic insecticide use predated the introduction of genetically-engineered seed.
Rather, it resulted from better use of routine techniques, such as crop rotation. By contrast, herbicide use has increased by more than 50 per cent, caused largely by the introduction of - you guessed it - genetically-engineered crops. Keep all of this in mind this week as the GMO lobby begins to air commercials aimed at winning the public over to its cause.
The GMO lobby is desperate. Consumer resistance has spread to North America. One can now find some items in Canadian supermarkets labelled GM-free and more are sure to follow as the big food chains move belatedly to meet public opinion. Biotech stock prices have suffered. Monsanto, the pioneer of genetic-engineering, is hiving off its troubled agricultural division and changing its name, in order to avoid the negative publicity associated with GMO products.
Even some of the biotech lobby's best political friends are abandoning ship. In Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair, until now one of the staunchest defenders of genetically-engineered food, is voicing doubts. Blair, no fool, has sniffed the wind. Here in Canada, the federal government has quietly decided to abandon research into genetically-engineered durum wheat for pasta. But the GMO lobby, including the biotech multinationals, as well as public institutions, such as the University of Guelph, has sunk too much of its money and reputation into this endeavour to give up easily. It is fighting back with a vigorous propaganda war.
The biotech lobby has already prepared kits for use in schools to persuade children that genetically-engineered foods are good for them. Its television ads will be aimed primarily at their mothers. The ads will laud biotechnology in general, and genetically engineered foods in particular. They are to include soft-focus shots of Canadian farms, canola fields blowing gracefully in the breeze. Presumably there will be no close-ups of the new Alberta superweeds.
Question: I read recently that studies have found a link between soy products and dementia. I thought tofu and other soy products were good for me. What's going on?
JM: You're right to be concerned. Many vegetarians rely on soy products, and the finding like the one you've desribed is cause for more research.
The study you're referring to was reported in the Honolulu Advertizer on Nov. 26, 1999. Dr. Lon White of the Pacific Health Research Institute studied 3,734 Japanese-American men in the Honolulu Heart Study. He found that Asian-American men were more likely to suffer cognitive loss or Alzheimer's Disease during middle age (45 or older) if they ate tofu more than twice a week. The more tofu consumed, the lower the score on standard cognitive test for determining dementia. In addition, in 300 autopsies, brain weight was conversely linked to tofu consumption. An independent association reached a similar finding when dementia was observed among the wives of these men.
My comments: I have long been dissuading people who are eating macrobiotically to refrain from eating tofu and other more yin soy products, like soy milk, soy cheese, tempeh etc. The main reason is that these more yin soy products are highly processed, tofu is over 50% fat and is very low in dietary fibre, as well as being high in protein. The main effect of this food is to lead to stagnation in the intestines, mainly the large intestine. Now, the large intestine is the paired complementary organ of the lungs and these two are correlated in the brain with the cerebrum, the frontal lobe, where cognitive functions are stimulated. Thus, stagnation of the lungs/large intestine signifies stagnation of the frontal lobe - thus cognitive dysfunction.
By Stephen Connor , London Independent.
Cloned animals have been found to suffer from serious genetic defects - a discovery that could deliver a fatal blow to hopes of ever using cloning for human reproduction.
A French team has found evidence that cloning interferes with the normal function of genes, which can lead to debilitating illness and death.
Professor Ian Wilmut, of the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh who led the first successful cloning of an adult animal, said the findings are the most detailed so far to explain the side-effects resulting from the cloning process.
Although Dolly the sheep herself appears normal, Wilmut, who cloned Dolly on 1996 by transfering the nucleus of a ewe's udder cell into an unfertilized egg that had its nucleus removed, said inherent problems with the technique may prevent it being applied to humans.
"It is the most detailed information to emerge so far of the abnormalities arising from the nuclear transfer, and it is further evidence that we should be extremely cautious in ever applying it to humans," Wimut said.
The French team, led by Jean-Paul Renard of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Jouy-en-Josas, investigated the death of a calf that was cloned from a skin cell taken from the ear of a 15-day-old calf, which was itself cloned from a bovine embryo.
The calf had developed normally for six weeks, then suffered a rapid depletion of blood cells and anemia.
In a paper published in the Lancet, a British scientific journal, the scientists state, "This is the first report of a long-lasting defect associated with somatic (adult cell) cloning."
Because the "parent" of the calf was itself an embryonic clone which had suffered no ill effects, the scientists concluded that the death must have been due to the process of nuclear transfer from an adult cell.