Chapter Seven: Debunking the Debunkers
Between the years 1975 and 1980 there were so many things happening that I am sure I do not remember all of them. Some of them were going on at the same time. These stories need to be told. While the exact chronological order of these stories may be incorrect, the stories are true.
Certainly one story that needs to be told is that of Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura. In 1975, Dr. Sugiura was, and had been for some years, one of the most respected cancer research scientists at Sloan-Kettering. In working with cancerous mice, Dr. Sugiura found that, when he used Laetrile on these mice, seventy-seven per cent of them did not develop a spread of their disease (metastatic carcinoma). He repeated this study over and over for two years. The results were always the same. Dr. Sugiura took his findings to his superiors at Sloan-Kettering, but his study was never published. Instead, Sloan-Kettering published the results of someone else who claimed that he had used Dr. Sugiura's protocol. This "someone else's" study showed that there were no beneficial effects from the use of Laetrile. Dr. Sugiura complained. He was fired. A book was written about all of this entitled The Anatomy of A Cover-up. This book has all the actual results of Dr. Sugiura's work. These results do, indeed, show the benefit of Laetrile. Dr. Sugiura stated in this book, "It is still my belief that Amygdalin cures metastases." Amygdalin is, of course, the scientific name for Laetrile.
A few months later, a cancer researcher at Mayo Clinic, in a private, informal conversation with a friend of mine, stated that it was very unlikely that any positive effects from the use of Laetrile would ever be published because "the powers above us want it that way."
During this period of time, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) stated that it wanted to run a study to show the difference between patients treated with orthodox therapy (surgery, radiation, chemotherapy) and those treated with nutritional therapy. I was asked to participate in this study. I went to New York to meet with one of the doctors who was conducting the study. I will call him Dr. Enseeye (not his real name, of course). There was a group of perhaps six or seven of us who had dinner that night with Dr. Enseeye. Betty and I were seated next to him.
Dr. Enseeye explained the study to me. The NCI would take a group of cancer patients and treat them in the orthodox method. Those of us who were using nutritional therapy would take a similar group of patients and treat them by our method. The NCI would then compare the results. This is the conversation that followed:
"What will the NCI use as a criteria for success or failure in these treatments?" I asked.
"Tumor size," Dr. Enseeye replied.
I said, "Let me make sure I understand what you are saying. Suppose you have a patient with a given tumor. Let's suppose that this patient is treated by one of these two methods. Let's say that the tumor is greatly reduced in size in the next three months, but the patient dies. How will the NCI classify that?
"The NCI will classify that as a success"
"Why?" I asked.
"Because the tumor got smaller," he replied.
I then asked, "Suppose you have a similar patient with a similar tumor who was treated with a different method. Suppose that after two years this patient is alive and well, but the tumor is no smaller. How will the NCI classify this?"
"They will classify that as a failure."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because the tumor did not get any smaller," he said. Dr. Enseeye went on to say, "In this study the NCI will not be interested in whether the patient lives or dies. They will be interested only in whether the tumor gets bigger or smaller."
I chose not to participate in this study!
During this period, the FDA was sending speakers throughout the country to talk about the' "evils" of Laetrile. One such speaker was scheduled to appear on the campus of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota in the spring of 1978. It just so happened that my son Rick was a sophomore at Macalester College at that time. Rick was very knowledgeable on the subject of Laetrile. When he found out when the talk was to be given, he called his older brother, Bill, who was a senior at the University of Wisconsin in LaCrosse. Bill was equally knowledgeable about Laetrile and agreed to come to Macalester for the speech. Rick had also recruited a friend who was a freshman at his school, Michelle Kleinrichard, who knew as much about the subject as the two of them.
The three of them went to the speech, but they did not sit together. Bill sat near the center just beyond half-way back in the auditorium. Rick sat toward the front on the right. Michelle sat toward the front on the left.
According to all three of them, the speaker left much to be desired. It was easy to see he had been given the speech to read, and that he had only a superficial knowledge of the subject. At the end of the speech he asked for questions. The first one on his feet was Bill (in the center). What happened was as follows:
Bill: "You said that you knew of a patient who had cancer and was treated with Laetrile. You said that the patient died, and this proved that Laetrile was worthless. Hubert Humphrey had cancer and was treated with chemotherapy. He died three months ago. Doesn't that prove that chemotherapy is worthless too? But, that's not my question. You also said that a little girl in New York took five Laetrile pills and died from cyanide poisoning. The parents now state that she took only one Laetrile pill. She was fine for three days. Then the doctors started treating her for cyanide poisoning. The next day she died. How do you explain this?"
Speaker: "I have no explanation for this."
Bill: "Another question."
Speaker: "No, we'll go to someone else."
With this, the speaker turned to another nice looking young man on his left. This other nice looking young man was Rick. (I have to say they were "nice looking" because I'm their father.) Rick pointed out that the speaker had stated that work done by Dr. Harold Manner, using Laetrile alone, had shown no positive results on cancerous mice. This, the speaker had said, was considered to be of great scientific value. Subsequent work done by Dr. Manner using Laetrile in combination with pancreatic enzymes and Vitamin A had shown excellent results. Yet, the speaker had indicated that these latter results were of no scientific value. Rick's question was why were these latter results ignored. The speaker could not answer that question.
The speaker then turned to his right. There, standing and smiling at him, was a pretty young lady. The speaker must have thought, "At last, a friendly face." The young lady was Michelle. Michelle was a member of the debate team at Macalester. The speaker was badly out-classed. She hit him with both barrels. She asked for a full explanation of why, if so many people die from chemotherapy, is chemotherapy so good? Why, if Laetrile makes people feel better, is Laetrile so bad? She asked who determined that Dr. Manner's recent results were not scientific. The poor speaker was in trouble. He hemmed and hawed, but never answered her questions. Finally, he said, "The question and answer period is over." He turned and rapidly left the stage. In five minutes Bill, Rick and Michelle had completely destroyed the credibility of the forty-five minute speech.
So, you ask, whatever became of those three free-thinking undergraduates who perpetrated this dastardly deed on this unsuspecting FDA speaker? (You probably weren't going to ask, but I'm going to tell you anyway!).
Bill got his law degree from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He worked for Congressman Lawrence P. McDonald as his legislative director until the KAL Flight 007 incident. Subsequently, he worked for Congressman A1 McCandliss as his legislative director. Later, he became the Republican counsel for the House Banking Committee. He has since gone to work for a private business.
Rick got his Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Texas. He is a professor of astronomy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rick was, incidentally, the first astronomer to view the moon around the planet Pluto.
The International Astronomical Society has named an asteroid (a small planet), Asteroid 2873 Binzel, in his honor. In 1982, Rick and Michelle were married.
Michelle, in addition to being a full-time housewife and a full-time mother of two children, has also managed to complete her Ph.D. in Business Management. When those two children become teenagers, Michelle is going to need all of her debating skills. I don't know anything about business management, but as the father of six children, I sure do know about debating. I wish I had taken it in college.