From The Cancer Chronicles #13
© Dec. 1992 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.

[The comments about the New York Times at the end of this article now strike me as ironic, considering the barrage of generally negative reporting that came out of "the Paper" in 1996. --RWM]

One of the most amazing sea changes in this amazing season of change has been the dizzying conversion of the mainstream media from quackbusters to enthusiasts of alternative therapy. The existence of the ofÞce of alternative medicine at NIH has lifted much of the lethal smog that has characterized the coverage of unconventional therapies in the past. Alternative medicine has suddenly become highly visible--and the media like what they see!

First out of the box, and to date the best, has been the Washington Post. The Post has been both objective and fair. By early October it had run three stories, two of them by Margaret Mason in her excellent "Body & Soul" column. On June 26, Mason (one of the few mainstream reporters who has actually attended the sessions) began, "Something wonderful happened--and a quiet grass-roots revolution in health care was ofÞcially recognized--last week on the sixth œoor of government Building C in Bethesda." That "something wonderful" was not any particular treatment, but "the atmosphere of respect and affection accorded about 90 spokesmen for unconventional therapies...Few people in the packed hearing room could have missed the momentousness of the occasion." Mason didn't miss it, for sure.

In her October 2nd article, which followed the Chantilly, VA meeting, Mason described the rise of a new kind of practitioner. "There¼s no sitting back and dishing out identical medicine to different people, even if they do have the same diagnosis," she wrote. And she ends with the stirring words, "The momentum is there. Hundreds of men and women--kindred health-care professionals--have found each other. There is no turning back."

[NOTE: You can also download portions of the important Report that came out of this historic Chantilly meeting and was published by the Government Printing Office.]

Such serious, even eloquent, treatment of alternative medicine has almost never been seen before in mainstream US journalism. Another remarkable milestone was the series that appeared Þve days running on the "Eye on America" segment of the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather. The series began with footage of the September meeting and then sympathetically investigated acupuncture, ethnobiology, biofeedback, herbs and even the use of Macrobiotics to treat cancer. (A planned segment on the Gerson therapy was allegedly dropped at the last minute, however.) The series, titled "New Age--New Rage" was colorful and upbeat and Dan seemed fascinated.

For counterpoint, we had the business-as-usual vice president of the American Medical Association. He disparaged alternatives. On July 13, Newsweek made a startling discovery: "The medical establishment has for years shunned so-called alternative medicine and insurance companies have refused to pay for it, while federal ofÞcials have harassed its practitioners." But faced with spiraling health costs, it announced, "the federal government can no longer afford to be so smug." They are now "serious about unconventional therapy."

The Los Angeles Times, which has in the past been quite hostile to alternatives, joined the love feast (9/ 29) with a long piece, "Scrutinizing Alternative Paths to Health." This quoted Frank Wiewel "I believe this is about the changing face of American medicine. We cannot afford to lose 520,000 to cancer every year." We¼re even nibbling at the edges of the New York Times. The Times Magazine¼s Good Health supplement ran a cover story on the "Mainstreaming of Alternative Medicine." So who knows? Perhaps someday we¼ll even get a kind word from the science news writers at the daily New York Times , who have virtually boycotted the subject thus far.

articles on media and cancer

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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