Alternative Cancer Remedies
Alternative Remedies and Congress
Late , in Part Two of this book, you will read about more than fifty alternative treat- ments for cance .
Over the years, the ongoing battle over them has sometimes led to congressional hearings. But one such case resulted in a law by the U.S. Congress, mandating that research studies be undertaken to verify ex- isting alternative methods of treating can- cer or produce new ones.
This law resulted from two facts which, in the course of years, had become very obvious:
First, the orthodox methods of treating can- cer (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation) rarely extend life more than one to three years.
Second, when alternative methods have been proposed, many of which seem to produce re- markable success, they have generally been hounded to death by the major cancer organiza- tions.
Here is how the law came about: In July 1985, the National Cancer Institute and certain other U.S. agencies managed to get the Bahamian Health Department to close Dr. Lawrence Burton’s Immuno-Augmentative Therapy (IAT) Centre, located in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island.
When that happened, a large number of wealthy cancer victims, who had been taking treatment at Burton’s hospital, were aroused to a white-hot anger. They demanded that the U.S. Congress take action. Guy Molinari, a New York congressional representative, with the help of 38 other representatives, moved on Congress to re- quest the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) to investigate Burton’s IAT.
Although the original request was for the test- ing of IAT, it was later expanded into a full-scale evaluation of alternative cancer remedies. This investigation resulted in the longest, most expen- sive, and most controversial study that OTA ever produced.
John Gibbons, OTA director, summarized
the reasons for the study in these words: “To thousands of patients, mainstream medicine’s role in cancer treatment is not suffi- cient . . The attractiveness of unconventional cancer treatments may stem in part from the acknowledged inadequacies of current medi- cally accepted treatments, and from the too fre- quent inattention of mainstream medical re- search and practice, to the wider dimensions of a cancer patient’s concerns.”—Office of Tech- nology Assessment, Congress of the United States, Unconventional Cancer Treatments, September 1990.
In the request, John Dingell, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on En- ergy and Commerce, asked that the following points be covered in the OTA study:
The types of uncoventional cancer treat-
ments most available to Americans.
How people gain access to unconventional
Costs and means of payment.
Profiles of typical users of unconventional
The potential for increasing our knowledge
about the efficiency and safety of these cancer treatments.
The OTA study began in 1986 and contin- ued for four years. Throughout that entire time, charges of bias, conflicts of interest, and cover- ups were hurled back and forth by various in- terests.
Finally, in 1990, the 312-page report was re- leased to Congress. The Associated Press head- lined the story, “Federal Study Urges Testing of Unconventional Cancer Treatments.” But op- ponents denounced it as “bad science” and “bi- ased research.”
The OTA report called on Congress to pro- vide funds for research into alternative cancer methods. Based on that report, the National Can- cer Institute, which receives the largest portion of government funds, was told by Congress to