AN OPEN SEASON ON 'QUACKS'
From The Cancer Chronicles #18
© 1993 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
Autumn, beloved season of dunking for apples, peeping at crimson maple leaves,
and carving grimacing Jack o' lanterns. And now, a new fall pastime has
sprung up: the pursuit of high-flying 'quacks' through the pages of America's
"It's of three jovial huntsmen,
"And a hunting they did go;
"And they hunted, and they holloed,
"And blew their horns also."
--Old English Ballad.
"Immuno-augmentative Therapy: An Unproven Cancer Treatment" by Saul
Green, PhD, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Oct. 13,
1993, vol. 270, No. 14) is a prime example.
This article by Green, the author of previous JAMA attacks on Dr. Burzynski
and Dr. Gerson, repeats many charges that have been leveled in the past
against the late Dr. Lawrence Burton. Dr. Green, who did some of this
work at taxpayer¼s expense (NCI SBIR grant 2R-44-CA-41953-02, a.k.a. the
Emprise, Inc. grant), omits much positive data on IAT. He gives credence
to reports that were actually based on degraded and contaminated samples
of IAT sera. And although he raises all sorts of theoretical considerations,
he never addresses whether or not IAT worksãor how people of good will
could find out.
Burton's 26 peer-reviewed publications are ignored in the text of Green¼s
article. These include data supporting the efficacy of this approach in
animals. Instead, the article simply rehashes the negatives, and devotes
much space to an attack on the entire notion that the human immune system
is instrumental in guarding against cancer.
This immune surveillance theory was promulgated decades ago by orthodox
scientists, such as Lewis Thomas and Nobel laureate Sir Macfarlane Burnet.
It now is suspect because it has been enthusiastically adopted by some
laypeople. This theory, Green says, "is so appealing and full of emotionally
charged wishful thinking that it has become dogma in the lay literature,"
but in his view is an "unproven hypothesis."
Of course, few doubt that the original "immune surveillance" theory
requires modification. But most scientists still believe there is evidence
linking various failures of the immune system to cancer. Vincent DeVita's
orthodox "Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology "(1993) states that
"äspecific tumors are particularly affected by the immune status of the
host. Non-Hodgkin¼s lymphoma, sarcomas, melanomas, and to a lesser extent
lung cancer and stomach cancer, appear to be modulated by the immune system"
Similarly, the Merck Manual (1992) states "...the presence of immunogenic,
surface structures on human neoplastic cells permits their recognition
by immuno- competent host cells as well as their interaction with humoral
antibodies." In fact, this field "is the object of intensive investigation"
Sir Gustav J.V. Nossal in the September 1993 "Scientific American" states
that "...immune surveillance may act to hold at least certain cancers
in check" and that "...another way to fight cancers involves boosting
the immune response...." Even the American Cancer Society believes that
"immunotherapy holds the hope of enhancing the body¼s own disease-fighting
systems to control cancer" (Cancer Facts & Figures ‚1992). Yet Dr. Burton¼s
adherence to this commonly held view is depicted as some unique flaw.
And JAMA is comfortable with this one-sided approach. When fighting alleged
"quackery," it seems, anything goes.
Naturally, the final paragraph got our full attention: "While this paper
was being reviewed for publication, an IAT proponent newsletter called
The Cancer Chronicles published the news that Lawrence Burton died of
a heart attack in March 1993. The editor of this newsletter, Ralph Moss,
PhD, stated that Burton¼s clinic would remain open." IAT proponent newsletter?
Before this brief notice of Burton¼s death in March, the last thing we
published on the topic of IAT was a critique of the Office of Technology
Assessment in the Winter 1989/90 issue. That article quoted Burton as
saying "I don¼t think there¼s a cure. There¼s no such thing. We¼d rather
talk about a control."
Apparently, one such article every three years makes one a "proponent."
No attempt was made by JAMA or Dr. Green to ascertain our position.
In fact, this editor has been an outspoken critic of Dr. Burton for
his failure to fully publish his results. In Moss¼s Cancer Therapy (1992),
the IAT section concludes:
"If these claims [of therapeutic success] are false, then IAT is truly
a delusion or fraud of monumental proportions. If they are true, however,
then IAT is an astonishing discovery, with profound implications for
the treatment of every cancer patient. Only good scientific studies
can answer such a question."
On another front, in a publication called The Chronicle of Higher Education
(9/15/93), several individuals make personal and political aspersions
against Ralph W. Moss, PhD, editor of this newsletter, and People Against
Cancer's Frank Wiewel. Moss and Wiewel are called "true believers," who
promote untested alternatives through this newsletter and through PAC¼s
own publications. This activity allegedly "flies in the face of NIH standards
and ethics." Moss and Wiewel serve in various advisory capacities at the
Office of Alternative Medicine of the NIH.
According to one detractor, the OAM itself was set up by some alleged
organized quackery "mafia" to get a billion dollars' worth of favorable
publicity for the dangerous, harmful, and sometimes lethal products they
Let us therefore state once again for the record: The Cancer Chronicles
is not part of any "mafia" nor does it promote or sell any treatments,
whatsoever. We shun all employment, consultancies, stock ownership, paid
expert testimony, or honoraria from the practitioners and methods we write
about. The editor of this newsletter laid out its guiding principles in
the first issue (Summer 1989):
"The Cancer Chronicles is and will remain a totally independent
voice in the cancer field....I do not endorse health products. In short,
I value my independence. That's still the firm policy of The Cancer Chronicles,
as we enter our fifth year of publication...."
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