TO THE OTA (1990)

From The Cancer Chronicles #5
© July 1990 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.

PETER BARRY CHOWKA is an investigative journalist and video photographer whose work appears in a variety of national publications.

Thank you for these five minutes, during which five Americans will die of cancer. The daily toll exceeds 1400; over half a million this year. Most will die despite receiving the benefits of conventional therapies.

Paralleling the incessant rise in cancer incidence and mortality is the increase in spending. Around one trillion dollars has been spent on conventional cancer research and treatment since the cancer war began in 1971.

The only victory now in sight is one of public relations over the reality that has become a medical Viet Nam. According to independent national public opinion polls, the majority of adult Americans are dissatisfied with conventional medical care and support freer access to unconventional therapies. The OTA report does not adequately address the urgency of this context.

Also underaddressed: the persistent, pervasive, cumulative legacy of decades of unfair condemnation and neglect of unconventional therapies without regard to their promise or demonstrated efficacy. This context is absolutely vital to understanding many of the current institutional and other roadblocks that marginalize alternative therapies.

There's an axiom that conventional, status quo science seldom willingly admits or submits to challenges by unorthodoxy, especially in the case of cancer therapy, where many of the alternatives are simply incompatible, scientifically and economically, with an interlocked system that admits only expensive, toxic approaches.

For decades now, unconventional medicine has been locked out by official science. Not surprisingly, then, the OTA draft finds official evidence of efficacy lacking That should have been the starting point for the OTA's analysis. But for each therapy under review here we get a section entitled, pejoratively "claims", followed by another section entitled "adverse effects." The last words shall always be negative.

Two very different therapies. vitamin C and Hoxsey's herbal treatment, are dealt with similarly: no attempts by OTA to contact the Linus Pauling Institute or the Biomedical Hoxsey Center; instead, an emergency room physician is dispatched to do a literature-search hatchet job on vitamin C while a largely-positive contract report on Hoxsey by a noted independent academic is covered up.

OTA was stymied in a search for adverse reports on the Hoxsey therapy, so the authors resort, instead. to citing toxicity resulting from high doses of individual herbs that are ingredients of the Hoxsey medicines. And arsenic, we are told, can be fatal when ingested, but arsenic is used only topically, and never internally, in the Hoxsey therapy.

I wish the authors of this report had ventured into the real world of unconventional cancer treatment, like Benedict Fitzgerald, a respected Justice Department attorney, who led a similar government investigation in 1953. His method, however, was on site, thorough, and probing.

The OTA draft cites Fitzgerald a couple times, but ignores his important conclusions. It also twists his assertions 180 degrees. Did the OTA ever try to contact Fitzgerald?

This draft is not neutral and comprehensive. Rather, in the sections that count, it is an uncritical, selective review of biased, uninformed, official science.

Curiously, parts of the report seem relatively fair, like the section on macrobiotics. But parts of the -report also strike one as the latest chapter in a long campaign of official denial, disinformation, and suppression of unconventional therapies. The draft's recommendations are inadequate. Its minor tinkering will only help to perpetuate the medical twilight zone that alternative therapies are automatically relegated to.

OTA has faced a major challenge during the last three and one half years. Perhaps it's beyond the present capabilities of OTA, judging by this draft. Yet it's an important mission. The Congress and the American people demand clear information, reasoned insight and possible solutions regarding this life-and death situation. Instead, we get an obsolete, inadequate road map of a challenging, rough terrain.

For the sake of the millions of people with cancer who will die in the years ahead and for the future of free scientific inquiry and progress, I suggest that this draft needs major, if not complete, revision, or else it should be scrapped.

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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