Dear Mr. Senator:

Last night, I caught the end of the discussion on cancer research on C-SPAN. There are some comments and suggestions I would like to make, but they may be long . . . but, I believe, important.

First, however, I would like to offer my personal appreciation for the question you asked at the end on spontaneous remissions, events that occur with encouraging frequency and little scientific notice although the Noetic Sciences Society and a few individuals here and there take the matter seriously. It is, for the most part, a challenge to science because the stage that is set prior to the remission is generally subjective and spiritual, not quantifiable. It was touching to me that you raised the issue, and this prompts me to write at length on other issues.

Second, you noted, I hope with sincere concern, that spending on military research and development in the last two years exceeded the total of spending on health research, I believe you were saying for the entire 20th century. If this is true or even remotely close to the truth, it really behooves us to examine the values that guide our investments, for R&D are ostensibly investments in future outcomes.

Third, the issue of research on cancer or any other disease requires a really hard examination of where we have been, where we are and why, and where we wish to be. If you are serious, and I pray you are, then there has been nothing remotely resembling an honest effort to find a cure for cancer. You implied, if I understood you correctly, that throwing a few billion dollars at a problem ought to solve it. This presupposes that the money will be spent well rather than invested in future job security and projects that tend to buoy up the status quo rather than relieve suffering.

As it stands today, a person who is diagnosed with cancer or even one who has a history of cancer in the family is precipitated into fear by the very mention of the "C" word. So, the first rather cynical question to be posed is why a person who has cancer is unaware of the existence of the disease and yet afraid of something as silent as cancer. What I am saying is that arthritis or even a splinter in the finger is more painful than most early cancers and yet people are more afraid of cancer. Why? I propose that it is not because cancer is the most dangerous disease but that huge amounts of money have been spent on generating the fear. As is easily seen by the anthrax scare, this level of terror tends to result in submission to measures that under normal circumstances would not be acceptable.

At the end of my email, I hope to have made a case that the separation between the military, the military-industrial complex, the pharmaceutical companies and medicine is thin, far too thin to work in the highest interests of the patient.

At present, a patient with cancer will generally be given a choice of surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation or some combination of these three mainstream offerings. Despite hundreds of studies, the specialists recommending these treatments will probably not suggest that any other remedial measures might enhance outcome; and because these people are also trained to keep patients in the system, they will generally not provide any positive commentary on other options a patient and his or her family might consider.

Why is this the case?

Partly, the issue is ignorance. In the eight or more years that doctors are crammed full of knowledge, they are never taught nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture, guided visualization, or any of dozens of other modalities that are absolutely relevant to health and healing. While this is the case in most American universities, it is not as much true in third world countries, such as Sri Lanka, nor even Germany where medical students often spend their summers in acupuncture or homeopathic colleges.

What we have today is a virtual monopoly on what is called scientific medicine, but is it scientific and does it work? According to the statement made by the doctor, there is success treating leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and testicular cancer. This is more or less consistent with the findings of Dr. Ulrich Abel of Heidelberg University whose work has been extensively reported in the popular press in Europe as well as the alternative press globally though many years ago Scientific American reported similarly low success rates for cancer.

The picture is clear: billions of dollars are spent on research, even more billions are spent on treatments that are at best questionable, and serious efforts to develop more effective protocols are ignored, denigrated, or left unfunded.

My interest is less in funding than the enormous sociological ramifications.

The most heinous of all is when children are forced into conventional treatments that have no real promise of success. When their parents try to take these children abroad, they are threatened with loss of custody, child abuse, and a host of other intolerable consequences for actions that are totally conscionable, responsible, and caring.

The news occasionally reports such cases, but I know several first hand. I want to talk about one of these because it paints a picture that is so shocking that we really need to look ourselves squarely in the mirror to ask whether we, as Americans, like what we see.

The case in question involved a child whose father gained custody of her in a divorce, based mainly on the argument that the mother had another child by a previous partner and therefore the father could have the second child. She was severely abused and the social worker told her that if she ever told anyone else what she had told the social worker, her father would be sent to prison. In her early teens, the mother finally got custody, only to learn that her daughter had brain cancer. At this point, the doctor said, "If you don't have surgery and radiation, your mother will go to jail." No child should ever have to be between such a rock and a hard place. The treatments, which never did have any real chance of success, failed. I met this girl when she was told she had less than a week to live, and I still have tears every time I think of her. At this point, her mother had what is called in the natural healing community "the golden handshake." This means the institutions have done everything "they could" and given up; the patient is then free to explore alternatives without fear of reprisal by doctors and social workers.

The most heart-breaking part of this account, which unfortunately is typical, is that there is a very good possibility that the girl's life might have been saved by an untested, unproven, or experimental protocol—and it was 100% certain that her life would not be saved by conventional medicine.

I want to leave this story at this point and go to the larger picture which is that countless alternatives that are freer of side effects exist, and many of them are not as unproven as detractors would have doctors, politicians, and the public believe. In our xenophobia, we tend to ignore studies done in foreign countries, but treatments such as Iscador, mentioned only because Suzanne Somers drew attention to it when she chose it over chemotherapy, are not lacking credible evaluation.

Interesting, too, we have a double standard. Whereas, it is perfectly legal for someone such as Ms. Somers to go to the Lukas Klinik for Iscador, it would not have been legal for the mother of the little girl with brain cancer to have taken her child out of the country for such treatment. While I am sure the laws that make this difficult or impossible are intended to protect people from the disappointments of false hope, there are no comparable laws protecting the public from the false claims made for the efficacy of conventional treatments.

I will give one case in point and leave the rest to others. When a dear friend of mine decided to try Herceptin, I did extensive research on the Internet and found that some 900+ women had been involved in a six-month study. Only one person survived beyond the six-month trial, but the drug was approved because it "represented a promising new technology." My friend died, and she died an agonizing death as did the next person I know who was similarly convinced to try Herceptin.

While there could be arguments that in the interest of science, such experiments and approvals are necessary, there might be a middle ground to explore. For instance, since the initial trials were not promising for the patient, there could perhaps be some sort of informed consent to use a drug that is only approved for experimental use in ongoing trials. Personally, I agree that there are promising technologies on the horizon, but the patient and public should not be confused by blurry boundaries between promising ideas and actual results.

This is, in fact, the case. Chemotherapy is an approach that almost never works. The European studies suggest that it has a 1% success rate, this exclusively with "non-organ cancers," i.e. precisely the leukemias and non-Hodgkins lymphoma referred to by the doctor. It is hence largely a hoax, but one that is protected by various approvals and consensus among oncologists who are not, for the most part, looking seriously at outcomes. Insurance companies tell me there is a zero percent cure rate for cancer.

The picture is bleaker even than this. There is a persistent and consistent effort to suppress alternative treatment. The notion that one system of medicine is entitled to monopoly status because it best represents science is flawed to begin with because there are many ways to heal that do not involve anything more than prayers that are answered. These will never be properly researched unless there is a clear separation between patents and medicines.

The way "scientific medicine" is structured, all approved substances must meet the rigorous demands of science. In truth, science has been perverted to serve the patent holders rather than the patients. In this, I am saying two things: first, in order to patent something, one must focus exclusively on the action of a single substance and attribute all results to that and nothing else. If a substance held this kind of power, it would be worthy of recognition, but the assumption is that carrot juice and prayer played no part in the outcome; and this is rarely the case. Second, because patents expire, it is necessary to reinvent miracles and "promising new technologies" every 20 years. The result is that there is no longer anything remotely resembling traditional medicine that benefits by an approval process.

To overcome this, there must be a return to pure science and pure research. Pure science is impossible without pure research and pure research is impossible without significant funding by governmental or non-profit organizations who renounce the possibility of benefiting by the outcome.

At a party at the home of a famous TV anchorman, a friend of mine asked the CEO of a pharmaceutical company what he would do if there were an $8 cure for cancer. He said, "Make sure it never gets to market." Another friend of mine had a gun stuck in his ribs and was told to stay away from alternative medicine.

Is this America? I believe strongly in our Constitution and in the principles of democracy. I believe in the people, in the rights of individuals, in freedom and choice, and in the possibilities that exist if we honor our obligation to work in the highest interest of the people and forego the temptations to profit by undeserved monopolies.

In theory, a patent is a monopoly. It affords the patent owner the exclusive right to profit by something in which he has invested. In an ideal world, the opportunity to recoup the investment is awarded and protected, but if the world is not ideal, patents become a kind of tyranny and basis for coercion and domination rather than healing. This is the present situation.

Taking a really broad view of the history of medicine, we will see that there has always been allopathic medicine and the alternative or natural medicine. Hippocrates told his students that if they were interested in surgery, they should follow the army because that is where surgery is practiced. Is it any wonder that when the borderlines between the military-industrial complex and medicine are eroded that surgery becomes the popular solution it is today? Is it any wonder that such invasive procedures are performed much more often in the country with the largest investment in military and perhaps the country with the worst health care system of any developed country?

To solve the problem, one has to think outside the box. Grants always follow a format. Submit a proposal for a variation of something that is already well known and the grant will be approved, maybe not funded, but approved. Submit a grant for something no one has thought of before and be prepared not only to be refused but perhaps derided for eccentricity rather than praised for originality.

On one of my web sites, I have proposed that the government itself establish five teaching hospitals of integrative medicine in the north (Minnesota), south (Texas), east (Vermont), west (Oregon or Idaho), and center (Iowa?) In these fully funded institutions, all alternatives would be explored without reference to their profitability or patentability but merely to their efficacy. No effort would be made to rely on a single modality to see whether it and it alone works; rather, every effort would be made to meet all the needs of every patient: wholesome organic food and juices, processing of emotional issues and fears, and treatment for the disease itself. Every patient would be assigned a coordinator, someone conversant with all the modalities and their probable relevance to the patient and the patient's condition. The coordinator would help the patient to understand the options and make choices, but would not make the choices for the patient. In the event of communication glitches or personality conflicts, the coordinator would act the patient's representative and advocate. The patient would choose the treatments he or she wanted, with the full understanding that this is a personal choice and that something else can be tried if this fails.

I understand the lobbying and pressures on elected officials. I only wish that constituents were as influential as lobbyists. I understand the position of the pharmaceutical and health care industries. It is a pity that our social consciences are not refined to the point that the only concern is with the patient.

My experience as a medical philosopher is that valuable traditions of healing are lost when greed supplants reference to outcome. To get where it is today, modern medicine has to rely heavily on "progress," a word coded in inferences and innuendo. Progress is good, tradition is obsolete if not pure bunk. Huge amounts of money are spent to create this appearance, but it is merely a Madison Avenue conjuration. People with no experience with protocols design ad copy to promote the images of happier and healthier people, people who in reality suffer from countless side effects and at least 100,000 iatrogenic deaths per year.

My concern is that with the events of 9/11 and what I have elsewhere called the disembowelment of Congress, no serious progress will be made in health care. The anthrax scare, no doubt invented by our own military-industrial complex, portends nothing short of full blown horror for the public.

I understand that mandatory inoculation is a public health issue for smallpox, but it is not a public health issue for anthrax. Therefore, Congress needs to start thinking clearly and holding the line voluntarily so as to avoid the perception of collusion with those who are inspired by evil. Enlightened health care is needed, but it does not exist, and it will not exist in this country unless some freedom is preserved.

Returning, however, to cancer research, I think you will find that everyone who ever had anything promising to offer was either destroyed or forced to expatriate in order to carry forward the commitment to health and healing. This is a serious blemish on our civil rights record as well as our status as a leader in the alleged free world.

If one looks at the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of books and papers on alternative cancer treatment, one finds success rates of approximately 75-80% with modalities that belong to the public domain. These are our heritage and our rightful inheritance. They constitute the fruits of the labors of dedicated doctors, scientists, herbalists, and healers who for centuries have served humanity; and yet their gifts are not readily available because of the politics of avarice.

I would like to play a constructive role in shifting this impasse. I hope you and your colleagues on The Hill will do the same.

Sincerely yours,

Ingrid Naiman



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