Copyright 1997 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.

An article in the orthodox journal, Cancer, has established that a natural hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, or "hCG," is an accurate marker for the presence of cancer. This finding could have profound implications for understanding the cause of cancer, as wel las suggesting how to detect and prevent it.

The association between hCG and cancer has been suggested in unconventional research circles for decades, but this is the strongest suggestion to date found in the standard medical literature.

HCG formed the basis of the H.H. Beard "Anthrone" test and the Novarro diagnostic test for cancer. Both of these were roundly condemned by the American Cancer Society which, ironically, is the publisher of Cancer.

For decades the link between this particular hormone and cancer was championed by Ernst T. Krebs, Jr., the co-discoverer of laetrile, who passed away in late 1996.

Given its "disreputable" past, it was somewhat startling to find ideas about the role of hCG given such vigorous support in Cancer.

The finding that hCG is present in most cancers raises again the age-old question, "Where does cancer actually come from?" The first great theory of cancer's origin was proposed by Julius Cohnheim (1839-1884) and was called the theory of embryonal rests. Cohnheim was a great cancer scientist, and the first to scientifically classify tumors the way we still do today (i.e, carcinomas, fibroma, sarcoma, etc.).

Cohnheim thought he had discovered the core of the problem of the origin of cancer in embryonal factors. In the course of development of an embryo, he said, more cells than are produced than are necessary for the formation of any given part. This left an excess of germ cells behind. In cancer's development, he said, the principal fact is this excess material.

In 1902, a Scottish professor of embryology named John Beard published a variant on this interesting theory. He called this the trophoblastic theory of cancer's origins. It was not so much refuted as ignored by the medical establishment. Over time, the focus of research shifted to the study of the individual cell, and especially its genes.

Beard's 1911 book, The Enzyme Treatment of Cancer, received little attention and most scientists have never heard of it. But the theory did not disappear, but went underground. It has formed the basis of an enormous number of alternative explanations and treatments.

In 1946, Dr. C. Oberling predicted:

"Someday perhaps it will turn out to be one of the ironies of nature that cancer, responsible for so many deaths, should be so indissolubly connected with life."

Well, "someday" is here. Never has the link between the process of birth and of death been more closely linked.


Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is defined as a negative charged glycoprotein hormone (a "sialoglycoprotein") that is produced by the trophoblastic cells of the human placenta as well as by certain cancer cells.

This hormone is well known in conventional clinical medicine as the basis of the urinary diagnostic test for pregnancy. Every time a worried teenager buys a pregnancy kit at Rite Aid she is engaged in a search for hCG.

In 1994, Dr. A. Krichevsky and colleagues showed that cancer cells express hCG in all its forms, including the related human luteinizing hormone (Endocrinology 1994;135:1034-1039).

Then in mid-1995 Dr. Hernan F. Acevedo, PhD and his colleagues at the Allegheny-Singer Research Institute in Pittsburgh published a landmark article on the topic in the ultra-orthodox journal Cancer (1995;76:1467-1475).

Acevedo is well-known for his prior work confirming some of the assertions of Virginia Livingston-Wheeler, another doctor whose treatment was enriched by the Beardian thesis. Using conventional and accepted methods, this time Acevedo rigorously showed that the "synthesis and expression of a common biochemical denominator of cancer."

This finding provided the scientific basis, he explained, "for studies of prevention and/or control by active and/or passive immunization against" hCG and related compounds. In other words, if hCG is always present in cancer, you can then `turn your guns' on it as a target in therapy.

Ask a conventional oncologist and she will tell you that hCG is known to be the defining marker in choriocarcinoma and some other rare tumors, but is not found with any consistency in more common cancers. This is the crux of the controversy.

By using more sophisticated techniques, such as quantitative analytical flow cytometry, Dr. Acevedo has now seemingly demonstrated the presence of hCG, its subunits, and/or fragments in cells from 85 different cancer cell lines (Cancer 1992;69:1818-1828; Cancer 1992;69:1829-1842; and Cancer Detect Prevent 1995;19:37).

He also found hCG in cells isolated from human malignant tumor tissues (Proc Am Ass Cancer Res 1994;34:27).Acevedo's summary is that "hCG, the hormone of pregnancy and development that also has chemical and physiological properties of growth factors, is a common phenotypic characteristic of cancer."

A clinical trial has in fact begun using a vaccine directed against hCG. It utilizes a combination of a synthetic form of hCG bound to diphtheria toxoid. A similar product was used in another clinical trial and "proved an almost incredible degree of efficacy and safety." This new product was originally developed for fertility control by the World Health Organization. Phase I trials of this vaccine have now been completed (Triozzi, PL, et al. Int J Onc 1994;5:1447-1453) and Phase II trials are underway.


What is amazing in all this is the near universality of the hormone in cases of cancer. The activation of a particular gene and gene cluster "always occur," says Acevedo.

Through the presence of hCG, cancer cells are able to independently regulate their own growth. Acevedo confirms that hCG makes a tumor "invisible" to the immune system, which is loathe to attack anything in the body that looks like a developing fetus. "These characteristics make cancer cells immunologically inert."

Dr. Acevedo summarizes: "cancer is development and differentiation gone awry.

"After 93 years," Acevedo continues, " Beard has been proven to be conceptually correct...."

Needless to say, this is a statement few of us ever expected to see in a publication of the ACS!

And, we read, it was Dr. Beard's observations that "gave rise to the trophoblastic theory of cancer." Here is certainly one of the most amazing turnarounds in the history of medicine--how a theory can lay dormant (like an embryonal rest) for almost a century before being finally accepted by at least part of the scientific establishment.


William Regelson, MD, whom we quoted elsewhere as co-author of the popular book, The Melatonin Miracle, has become a vocal supporter of Dr. Acevedo's work as well.

Dr. Regelson is a member of the Department of Medicine of the Medical College of Virginia. In an accompanying editorial in Cancer, Regelson points out that not only is hCG found in most cancers studied, but "its expression in cancer defines the metastatic aggressiveness of the tumors in which it is found."

He repeats that it "defines malignancy," again, an astonishing statement to see in an "orthodox" journal.

Normal (non-embryonic) cells do not express hCG. Nor do benign tumor cells. Instead, "hCG-beta becomes a defining phenotypic expression of malignant transformation," i.e. it defines cancer. If you find hCG present, and the patient is not pregnant, she probably has cancer. The more hCG, in fact, the more serious the case.

In the past, studies have shown hCG is present in between 14 to 79 percent of cancers studied, including breast, bladder, GI, ovarian, lung and melanoma.

These new-old findings on hCG open up prospects for treating cancer as well. They lend support to a number of unconventional treatments across the spectrum.

To the scientists involved we say: It's a good idea to quickly exploit this key characteristic of cancer. But it is equally important is to understand the history of trophoblstic-type theories of cancer. Go back and seriously study the works of Cohnheim, Beard, Gurchot, H.H. Beard, Kelley and Ernst T. Krebs, Jr. They held onto an essential truth, when more established scientists abandoned it.

Dr. Krebs especially deserves more credit than he has has ever received. Remember that he founded the John Beard Memorial Foundation to keep this idea alive at a time when very few believed in it. We now realize that an essential key to the cancer puzzle was explained--and then systematically ignored--almost 100 years ago.

Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. is director of the The Moss Reports for cancer patients. Dr. Moss is the author of eleven books and three documentaries on cancer-related topics. He is or has been an advisor on alternative cancer treatments to the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Urological Association, Columbia University, the University of Texas, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the German Society of Oncology. He wrote the first article on alternative medicine for the Encyclopedia Britannica yearbook. He is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in the East, and Who's Who in Entertainment (as a film documentarian). This Web site does not advocate any particular treatment for cancer. We urge you to always seek competent medical advice for all health problems, especially cancer. Before consulting our site please read our full Disclaimer statement.

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