By Dr. Mercola
New York City physician and cancer specialist Dr. Nick Gonzalez focuses on alternative cancer treatment using a three-pronged nutritional approach. He’s had remarkable success treating patients diagnosed with some of the most lethal forms of cancer that conventional medicine cannot effectively address.
Alternative cancer treatments are a kind of "forbidden area" in medicine, but Dr. Gonzalez chose to go that route anyway, and has some remarkable success stories to show for his pioneering work.
He didn't set out to treat cancer at first, let alone treat patients. His original plan was to be a basic science researcher at Sloan-Kettering, a teaching hospital for Cornell Medical College. He had a chance meeting with William Kelley, a controversial dentist who was one of the founders of nutritional typing. Dr. Kelley had been practicing alternative and nutritional approaches for over two decades at the time, leading him to begin a student project investigation of Kelley's work in the summer of 1981.
"I started going through his records and even though I was just a second year medical student, I could see right away there were cases that were extraordinary," he says. "Patients with appropriately diagnosed pancreatic cancer, metastatic breast cancer in the bone, metastatic colorectal cancer... who were alive 5, 10, 15 years later under Kelley's care with a nutritional approach."
This preliminary review led to a formal research study, which Dr. Gonzalez completed while doing his fellowship in cancer, immunology and bone marrow transplantation.
The "Impossible" Recoveries of Dr. Kelley's Cancer Patients
After going through thousands of Kelley's records, Dr. Gonzalez put together a monograph, divided into three sections:
- Kelley’s theory
- 50 cases of appropriately-diagnosed lethal cancer patients still alive five to 15 years after diagnosis, whose long-term survival was attributed to Kelley’s program
- Patients Kelley had treated with pancreatic cancer between the years 1974 and 1982
According to Dr. Good, the president of Sloan-Kettering who had become Gonzalez' mentor, if Kelley could produce even one patient with appropriately diagnosed pancreatic cancer who was alive 5-10 years later, it would be remarkable. They ultimately tracked down 22 of Kelley's cases. Ten of them met him once and didn't do the program after being dissuaded by family members or doctors who thought Kelley was a quack.
The average survival for that group was about 60 days.
A second group of seven patients who did the therapy partially and incompletely (again, dissuaded by well-intentioned but misguided family members or doctors), had an average survival of 300 days.
The third group consisting of five patients, who were appropriately diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer and who completed the full program, had an average survival of eight and a half years! In Dr. Gonzalez' words, this was "just unheard of in medicine."
One of those patients included a woman diagnosed by the Mayo Clinic with stage four pancreatic cancer who had been given six months to live. She'd learned about Kelley's program through a local health food store. She completed his treatment and is still alive today, 29 years later.
The Truth about Medical Journals: Why Gonzalez's Book Was Never Published
However, despite-or rather because of-the remarkable success of the treatment, Gonzalez couldn't get his findings published.
"We tried to publish case reports in the medical journals; the whole book, parts of the book, individual case reports-with no success," he says.
This is an important point that many fail to realize.
Those of us who practice natural medicine are frequently criticized for not publishing our findings. My justification for that is that it's not going to be published anyway, and Dr. Gonzalez' anecdotal story confirms this view.
His mentor and supporter, Dr. Good, was one of the most published authors in the scientific literature at that point, with over 2,000 scientific articles to his name. He'd been nominated for the Nobel Prize three times, and yet he was refused because the findings were "too controversial," and flew in the face of conventional medical doctrine.
If the cream of the crop is refused, how does a general primary care physician get an article published?
"Robert Good was at the top of his profession: President of Sloan-Kettering, father of modern immunology, and did the first bone marrow transplant in history. Yet, he couldn't get it published," Gonzalez says. "He couldn't even get a single case report published.
In fact, I have a letter from one of the editors, dated 1987, who wrote a blistering letter to Good saying, "You've been boondoggled by a crazy quack guy. Don't you see this is all a fraud?"
It was just the most extraordinary, irrational letter... [Because] the patients' names were there, the copies of their pertinent medical records were there... Any of them could have called these patients, like Arlene Van Straten who, 29 years later, will talk to anyone... But no one cared. They wouldn't do it; they didn't believe it.
They couldn't believe it.
It was very disturbing to me because I say, "It is what it is." I come out of a very conventional research orientation, and it was astonishing to me-I had assistance; I had the president of Sloane-Kettering who couldn't get this thing published because it disagreed with the philosophy that was being promoted in medicine; that only chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy can successfully treat cancer, even though the success rate was abysmal.
The idea that medical journals are these objective and unbiased repositories of the truths about science is total nonsense. Most of them are owned by the drug companies. They won't publish anything that disagrees with their philosophy."
By the end of 1987, it was clear that the work would never get published, and since Dr. Good had retired from Sloan-Kettering, they no longer had the power-base to conduct clinical trials.
Dr. Kelley, realizing his work would never be accepted, let alone get published, "went off the deep end," in Dr. Gonzalez' words, and stopped seeing patients altogether.
"When I last spoke to him in the summer of 1987, he accused me of being part of a CIA plot to steal his work, and I knew that I had to move on," Dr. Gonzalez says.
"To this day, of course, I give him credit for his brilliant innovation. It's kind of like Semmelweis, who ended up going crazy during the 19th century after showing doctors should wash their hands before delivering babies and no one accepted that. Semmelweis just went off the deep end, and that's what kind of what happened to Kelley, I say with great sadness."
Starting the Alternative Cancer Treatment Practice
Dr. Gonzalez set up a practice in New York together with his associate, Dr. Linda Isaacs, and started seeing patients using Kelley's three-pronged approach. The results were impressive.
One of his remarkable success stories includes a woman diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, which is the most aggressive form. She'd been given a death sentence.
Today, over 23 years later, she's still alive and well, and cancer free.
"Here's a woman that was given six months to a year to live AND developed metastases while getting aggressive multi-agent chemotherapy, yet 23 and a half years later, she's alive and well, enjoying her life and just doing so well.
We could see that Kelley's approach really worked and when I report these cases I'm giving Kelley the credit because he developed this treatment," Dr. Gonzalez says.
Recognition from the National Cancer Institute
In 1993, as part of a legitimate effort to reach out to alternative practitioners, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) invited Dr. Gonzalez to present 25 of his cases in a closed-door, invitation-only session. On the basis of that presentation, the NCI suggested he conduct a pilot study with patients diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer, which in conventional medicine is known to be an untreatable, highly lethal form of cancer.
Interestingly, Nestle stepped in to finance this pilot study. It may seem an odd choice, but the business motivation was the same then as it is today-making junk food appear healthier is a good business move, even if it's only in theory.
Supervised directly by Dr. Ernst Wynder, a premier cancer researcher, the study was completed in early 1999 and published in June that year. According to Dr. Gonzalez:
"It showed the best results for the treatment of pancreatic cancer in the history of medicine."
Chemo Therapy vs. the Kelley Treatment
To put his results in perspective, the chemo drug, Gemzar, approved for pancreatic cancer dates back to 1997, and the major study that led to its approval had 126 patients. Of those, 18 percent lived one year. Not a single patient out of the 126 lived beyond 19 months.
Dr. Gonzalez' study had 11 participants, of which:
- Five survived for two years
- Four survived three years
- Two survived five years
Based on these results, the NCI decided to fund a large-scale clinical trial, to the tune of $1.4 million, to test his nutritional approach against the best chemo available at the time.
"My friends say, "Why did you get involved with something like this? How could you trust the NCI?"
Well, the NCI had been very fair, up to that point, and the then-director, Richard Klausner, in face-to-face meetings with him said he thought I was doing something really interesting and needed to be properly supported," Dr. Gonzalez says.
But that goodwill soon disappeared.
How to Sabotage a Clinical Study 101
About a year after the study was approved, Klausner left the NCI and was replaced by new management with a wholly different attitude.
"[F]rom our first meeting, we knew something has changed significantly," Dr. Gonzalez says," and all the people that had initially been assigned to the study, who were supportive and believed we were doing something useful, were taken off it. In fact one of them couldn't even talk to me. She said she'd be fired if she talked to me; if she took my phone call.
I was told by another person who had supported me at the NIH that I shouldn't call him at his office; that he was afraid his line was tapped, and I should only call him at home.
That's how insane the politics over this clinical study got. I couldn't believe it! I thought this was just something you'd read about or see on TV, or that some paranoid or crazy person would make up. But here I was living it. Coming out of Robert Good's group, I don't say that to impress people, but my background is so pure and conventional! It was unbelievable to see that the profession I respected and wanted to join could behave like this."
Unfortunately, the study was, in the end, sabotaged.
"Turned out the principal investigator at Columbia, who's supposed to be completely neutral, had helped develop a chemo regimen that was being used against us-a conflict of interest that was never declared," Dr. Gonzalez explains.
"[T]here are specific requirements for entry into a clinical study. Ours is a nutritional program, and when the first protocol version was written, we had a list of specified criteria... They have to be able to eat... Ours is a nutritional program, so patients have to be able to eat. If they can't eat, they can't do the therapy. They have to be able to take care of themselves...
This is a program the patients have to follow at home.
... Initially, the patients could do it and responded to the treatment. Then, there was a sudden change, around 2000-2001, when the Columbia group took total control of the entry of patients in the study. We were excluded from that process, except during the initial months. The thinking was that if we were involved in the admission process, we'd enter the dreaded bias, whereas if conventional doctors were in control, they couldn't possibly be biased.
Of course, the chief investigator helped develop the chemo regimen used in the study. That's virtually the definition of a 'potential bias'!
He started sending us patients that couldn't eat. We had patients that were so sick we would never have accepted them into our private practice. That were so sick, they died before they got the treatment.
Whether it was a trick to the protocol or not, the Columbia team, the NCI, and the NHI insisted that we had an "intent to treat provision into protocol". This means that the minute a patient is accepted into the trial, they're considered treated, even if they never do the therapy. So the chief of the study at Columbia would enter patients that were so sick, several died before they could pursue their treatment. But because of this intent to treat provision into protocol, they were considered treatment failures.
Ultimately, 39 patients were entered for treatment. Maybe at best, being kind and optimistic, maybe five or six actually did it, the great majority were so sick they couldn't do it."
As a result, the chemo treatment appeared to be a clear winner in this head-to-head evaluation of treatments against incurable pancreatic cancer.
In 2006, Dr. Gonzalez and his partner filed a complaint with the Office of the Human Research Protection (OHRP), which is a group responsible for making sure federal-funded clinical trials are run properly. After a two-year investigation, the OHRP determined that 42 out of 62 patients had been admitted inappropriately. Unfortunately, this never made it to the media, and the Columbia team was able to publish the research findings without mentioning the results of the OHRP review.
"So the study was a total boondoggle; a waste of $1.4 million," Dr. Gonzalez says. "Even though I won the grant, all the money went to Columbia. It's all gone. The data, as far as I'm concerned, is worthless, and the NIH and NCI are using it to show that my therapy doesn't work.
So that's how this long journey of 30 years, from when I first met Kelley, has gone.
"I tell people now regarding the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), I wouldn't send a dog to that group.
They're not there to help you objectively investigate alternative therapies; they're there to undermine them. It gives the illusion that the government's interested in alternative therapies, when in fact that office is being used, as it was in my case, to help undermine promising useful alternative therapies."
Gonzalez's Three-Pronged Approach to Cancer Treatment
Although most of the studies done on this approach were done on pancreatic cancer, Dr. Gonzalez uses it to treat ALL cancers, from brain cancer to leukemia. His treatment, which is based on Kelley's work, consists of three protocols: diet, supplements and enzymes, and detoxification.
The Dietary Protocol:
The cornerstone of the treatment is a personalized diet based on your nutritional - or metabolic type (which happens to be a key component of my own optimized nutrition plan).
Dr. Kelley originally had 10 basic diets and 90 variations that ranged from pure vegetarian and raw food, to heavy-protein meals that included red meat three times a day.
"In terms of diet, Kelley... found that patients diagnosed with the typical solid tumors: tumors of the breast, lungs, stomach, pancreas, liver, colon, uterus, ovaries, and prostate needed a more vegetarian diet," Dr. Gonzalez explains. "But he had all gradations of a vegetarian diet; one that was 80 percent raw, one that was 80 percent cooked. So even on the vegetarian side, there were all different variations.
Some had minimal animal protein, some had fish, some had also red meat.
A patient with immune cancer (leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and sarcomas, (which are connective tissue cancers that are related to immune cancers) tended to do best on a high-fat, high meat diet.
... Then there are balanced people that do well with a variety of foods, both plant foods and animal products, but they don't tend to get cancer.
Cancer tends to occur on the extremes, the extreme vegetarians-those that tend to be too acid-or extreme meat eaters, who tend to be too alkaline. Balanced people don’t tend to get cancer too much. So we continued the individualized approach, as did Kelley."
Individualized Supplementation and Enzyme Protocol:
The second component is an individualized supplement protocol, designed for your particular metabolism.
"For example, our vegetarian patients need completely different supplements from our meat eaters. The vegetarians do very well with most of the B vitamins, while the meat eaters don't. The vegetarians don't do well with vitamin A, but the meat eaters do. The vegetarians do well with vitamin D; the meat eaters not so well with large doses, and so on," Dr. Gonzalez explains.
"The meat eaters do well with calcium ascorbate as a vitamin C source, while the vegetarians do well with large doses of ascorbic acid. So the supplement protocols are very individualized and very precisely engineered."
Omega-3 fats are also prescribed, but even here Dr. Gonzalez prescribes different types of omega-3's depending on the patient's nutritional type. In his experience, vegetarians, or carbohydrate types, tend to fare better on flaxseed oil, which contains alpha linoleic acid (ALA) - a plant-based omega 3.
"It is thought that the conversion of the plant-based ALA into the fish-oil based eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is not that efficient," he says, "But we find that our vegetarian patients actually do it very well and don't use the fish oil or animal-based omega-3 fatty acids as effectively."
Chia and hemp seed oils can also be used.
Protein types, on the other hand, appear to need the EPA and the DHA and do better on animal-based omega-3 such as krill oil.
"They don't do well with flaxseed," he says. "Those are the people who can't make the conversion."
In addition to vitamins, minerals and trace elements, he also prescribes large doses of pancreatic enzymes.
"The essence of Kelley's work was based on the work of Dr. Beard, which goes back to the turn of the last century, about 110 years ago. Beard was a professor at the University of Edinburg, an embryologist actually, not a medical researcher, who first proposed that pancreatic proteolytic enzymes are the main defense against cancer in the body and are useful as a cancer treatment," he explains.
When treating cancer, however, he found it's important to take the right ratio of active and inactive enzymes. The inactive precursors are particularly active against cancer. They also have far longer shelf life, and are more stable.
"That would be my advice - get an enzyme that isn't completely activated," Dr. Gonzalez says. "More active isn't better when it comes to pancreatic enzymes, just like more and more D isn't better than getting the right dosage. You want the right proportions of activated and inactive-most of it as an inactive precursor."
His proprietary enzyme formula is manufactured by NutriCology. According to Dr. Gonzalez, pancreatic enzymes are not only useful as treatment for active cancer but are also one of the best preventive measures.
Antioxidants, such as astaxanthin, are also very helpful, both in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
The Detoxification Protocol:
The third component is a detoxification routine. Coffee enemas are used to help your liver and kidneys to mobilize and eliminate dead cancer cells that have been broken down by the pancreatic enzymes.
Coffee enemas, although often scoffed at today, were actually used as part of conventional medicine all the way up to the 1960s, and were included in the Merck Manual, which was a handbook for conventional medical treatments into the 1970s.
"They fell out of favor not because they didn't work, but because the drug industry took over medicine, so things like coffee enemas were kind of laughed at," Dr. Gonzalez says. "So Kelley learned about coffee enemas from conventional literature and incorporated them into his program and found them extremely helpful."
When you drink coffee, it tends to suppress your liver function, but when taken rectally as an enema, the caffeine stimulates nerves in your lower bowels, which causes your liver to release toxins as a reflex. Other detox strategies include colon cleanses and liver flushes developed by Kelley.
It's important to realize, however, that conventional coffee should NOT be used for enemas. The coffee MUST be organic, naturally caffeinated coffee, and were you to do this at home, you'd also want to use non-bleached filters to avoid introducing toxins into your colon.
"[Organic coffee] is loaded with antioxidants," Dr. Gonzalez says. "In fact, there are recent studies showing that coffee loaded with antioxidants can have an anti-cancer effect and that coffee may actually help suppress cancer.
But you have to use organic coffee, it has to have caffeine, and you have to use a coffee maker that doesn't have aluminum, and preferably no plastic."
Dr. Gonzalez also relies on sodium alginate as a detoxifying agent.
"We have a preparation that we put together and it's very effective... It's an algae and it chelates heavy metals and halides. I never use intravenous chelation; we just use sodium alginate."
He recommends taking three capsules three times a day, away from meals, for six weeks to detoxify your body of heavy metals, such as mercury, and halides.
This is one of the most fascinating interviews I've ever done, and it is chock full of information-far more than I can summarize here. So please, I urge you to take the time to listen to the interview in its entirety.
In addition to expounding on the subjects mentioned above, Dr. Gonzalez also reviews the benefits of optimizing vitamin D during cancer treatment, and how iodine supplementation can benefit breast cancer-not to mention help protect against thyroid cancer, in light of the current nuclear crisis in Japan.
We discuss the benefits of juicing and chiropractic adjustments, and the importance of regular exercise for cancer patients. We also review the dangers of electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure, in terms of how it may aggravate cancer growth and hinder cancer recovery, and the benefits, along with some surprising precautions, of Earthing or grounding.
For more information about Dr. Gonzalez and his practice, see www.dr-gonzalez.com. He's also working on a series of books, two of which have already been published and received five-star reviews: The Trophoblast and the Origins of Cancer, and One Man Alone: An Investigation of Nutrition, Cancer, and William Donald Kelley , which is the original monograph of Dr. Kelley's work that he couldn't get published 23 years ago.
This written summary is only a small glimpse of the insights that were shared in our interview. If you or anyone you know struggles with cancer I would strongly encourage you to listen to the entire interview
Thankfully Dr. Gonzalez is still on the front lines and actively engaged in helping people by helping coach them with natural alternatives to toxic drugs and radiation. His office is in Manhattan and he can be reached at 212-213-3337.