Cancer: the Forbidden Cures
Messimo Mazzucco (2010)
Cancer: the Forbidden Cures examines the deliberate effort, by the medical establishment and Big Pharma, to suppress non-phamaceutical cancer treatments. According to filmmaker Messimo Mazzucco, this is the main reason there have been no innovations in cancer treatment in the last hundred years.
Treating cancer is a big business, worth more than $50 million a year – despite the extremely poor track record of conventional cancer treatment. Both radiation therapy and chemotherapy are carcinogenic (i.e. cause cancer). Moreover because both shut down the immune system, it’s common, particularly with chemotherapy, for the treatment to kill the patient before the cancer does. According to Mazzucco, at most 5% of patients “cure” their cancer with chemotherapy.
The documentary begins by tracing how Rockefeller, Carnegie and J. P. Morgan, as barons of the chemical industry (which would morph into the pharmaceutical industry) facilitated the corporate takeover of modern medicine. Prior to 1900, American doctors mainly relied on natural healing methods involving diet and herbs, as many Asian countries still do today. All this changed after World War I when the chemical barons used their wealth and influence to win seats on the boards of major medical schools, as well as taking over the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Bureau of Chemistry (which became the Food and Drug Administration in 1927).
By the 1930s, the AMA had achieved a monopoly on medical licensing in all forty-eight states. This meant that only AMA-approved doctors, trained exclusively in drug treatments, could legally practice medicine. By 1990, the pharmaceutical industry also controlled most medical research. This was thanks to systematic cutbacks in National Institutes of Health (NIH) research that began in 1980 under Reagan administration.
The remainder of the film is a celebration of cancer pioneers who have put their livelihoods, careers and often their lives on the line to offer (often at no charge) alternative cancer treatments. Over the last hundred years, dozens of “natural” cancer treatments have successfully treated hundreds of thousands of patients. Mazzucco believes if these treatments were widely available, cancer mortality could be reduced by 50%.*
Of the treatments listed below, laetrile and bicarbonate are the most controversial, as both have a very narrow margin between the therapeutic and toxic dose. They should only be used under professional supervision.
• Essaic – first developed by Canadian nurse Rene Caisse (1988-1978) in the 1920s based on herbal treatments she learned from the local Ojibwe tribe. In the 1930s the county council allotted her a free clinic on condition that her patients were diagnosed by a licensed doctors and treated free of charge. After successfully treating thousands of patients, she lost the clinic when she refused to sell her treatment by to a group of American “entrepreneurs” for one million dollars.** In 1958, Senator John Kennedy’s doctor Charles Brush referred Essiac to Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Center to be evaluated for FDA. The research never happened.
• Hoxsey therapy – Texas businessman Harry Hoxsey (1901-1974) was the first to treat human beings with an herbal remedy his great-grandfather had used successfully to treat cancer in horses. Hoxsey set up clinics offering free cancer treatment in seventeen states for nearly twenty-five years. Thanks to his phenomenal success rate, he somehow eluded all attempts to prosecute him (for practicing medicine without a license). One prosecutor who had arrested him a hundred times secretly brought his brother in treatment and (following the brother’s recovery) became Hoxsey’s defense lawyer. When Hoxsey request an FDA review of his treatment (for possible approval), the head of the AMA, Dr Morris Fishbein offered to buy the rights to Hoxsey’s formula. When Hoxsey refused, Fishbein spearingheaded a nationwide media campaign depicting Hoxsey as a dangerous quack. After Hoxsey successfully sued both Fishbein and the Hearst newspaper empire for libel, the FDA padlocked all his clinics. In 1963, he helped one of his nurses set up a Hoxsey clinic in Tijuana Mexico.
• Gerson therapy – Dr Max Gerson (1881-1959) believed his nutrition-based cancer treatment, consisting of a non-meat diet of raw and cooked vegetables and juices, improved immune function by reducing the “acidity” associate with a meat diet. In 1946, and five patients he had cured testified before Congress in support of the Pepper-Neely Anti-Cancer Bill. The latter would have appropriated one hundred million dollars to research novel cancer treatments. After being banned from practicing or publishing in the US, he published his research in German medical journals and saw patients privately in his apartment. Following his death, his daughter Charlotte set up a Gerson clinic in Mexico. His followers have also established Gerson clinics in Germany, Spain and Japan. See Rethinking Cancer Treatment
• Shark Cartilage – In the early nineties Dr William Lane pioneered the use of shark cartilage in treating cancer owing to its antiangenic properties (i.e. it suffocates the cancer by blocking the formation of blood vessels to supply it). Despite efforts by FDA and American Cancer Society to discredit the treatment, pharmaceutical companies are vigorously competing with one another to isolate the specific therapeutic agent in the lab.
• Mistletoe – First proposed by Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925) as a cancer treatment, owing to its immune modulating properties, 100 years ago. Enormously popular in Europe, where Druids worshiped it for its miraculous healing properties. Although mistletoe doesn’t occur naturally in the US, it’s currently being studied as a cancer treatment at John Hopkins Medical School.
• Laetrile (aka Vitamin B17) – Laetrile, derived from apricot and peach pits, was first proposed as a cancer remedy in the late 1800s. Dr Ernest Krebs Jr first brought it to public attention in the 1970s. Practitioners who have prescribed it have found it effective in treating breast, lung, collar and prostate cancer. It’s believed to work by releasing cyanide and benzaldehyde when it comes in contact with cancer cells. The FDA banned it in 1977 after it was linked with several cases of cyanide poisoning.
• Sodium bicarbonate – first developed as a cancer treatment by conventionally trained Italian doctor and oncologist Tullio Simoncini. Simoncini believes cancer is merely the body’s reaction to an internal candida infection. He believes bicarb works by suppressing the infection, as the fungus only thrives in an acid environment. Because large oral doses of bicarb can be very dangerous, Simoncini infuses it through a catheter to blood vessels adjacent to the tumor. In 2003 he was stripped of his medical license and in 2006 he was given a 3 year suspended sentence for fraud and wrongful death after one of his patients die of alkalosis from an overdose of bicarbonate.
*This 2010 documentary predates a flood of research about the anti-cancer effect of high cannabidiol (high CBD) cannabis.
**They refused to agree to Caisse’s condition that they offer Essiac to patients the treatment free of charge.