by Ralph Moss, PhD
"In 1974, I began working at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the world's leading cancer treatment hospital. I was an idealistic and eager young science writer, sincerely proud to be part of Sloan Kettering and Nixon's ‘War On Cancer.’ Ever since I was a kid, my main heroes were scientists (with the Brooklyn Dodgers running a close second!) The job at Sloan-Kettering seemed like a dream come true for me. I wanted to be part of the winning team that finally beat cancer.
“Within three years, I had risen to the position of Assistant Director of Public Affairs at the Hospital. At the time, I was 34 years old, married to my high-school sweetheart, and we had a daughter and son, then 9 and 7 years old. We had dreams of buying a house and saving for the kids' education, so you can imagine how thrilled we were when I was promoted, with a huge raise, glowing feedback from my bosses, and was told that perks of the job would eventually include reduced tuition for the kids at New York University. Needless to say, we all were really counting on my ‘bright future’ at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. But something soon happened that changed the course of my life forever.
“A big part of my job as Assistant Director of Public Affairs was to write press releases for the media about cancer news and to write the in-hospital newsletter. I also handled calls from the press and public about cancer issues. So I was just doing a normal day's work—or so I thought—when I began interviewing an esteemed scientist at the Hospital for a newsletter article I was working on. It turned out that the scientist, Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura, had repeatedly gotten positive results shrinking tumors in mice studies with a natural substance called amygdalin. (You may have heard of it as ‘laetrile’.) Excitedly (and naively!) I told my ‘discovery’ of Sugiura's work to the Public Affairs Director and other superiors, and laid out my plans for an article about it. Then I got the shock of my life.
“They insisted that I stop working on this story immediately and never pick it up again. Why? They said that Dr. Sugiura's work was invalid and totally meaningless. But I had seen the results with my own eyes! And I knew Dr. Sugiura was a true scientist and an ethical person. Then my bosses gave me the order that I'll never forget: They told me to lie. Instead of the story I had been planning to write, they ordered me to write an article and press releases for all the major news stations emphatically stating that all amygdalin studies were negative and that the substance was worthless for cancer treatment. I protested and tried to reason with them, but it fell on deaf ears.
“I will never forget how I felt on the subway ride home that day. My head was spinning with a mixture of strong feelings—confusion, shock, disappointment, fear for my own livelihood and my family's future, and behind it all, an intense need to know why this cover-up was happening. After long talks with my wife and parents (who were stunned, as you can imagine) I decided to put off writing any amygdalin press releases as long as I could while I discreetly looked into the whole thing some more on my own time. Everyone at the office seemed happy just to drop the whole thing, and we got busy with other less controversial projects.
“So in the next few months, I was able to do my own investigating to answer the big question I couldn't let go of: Who were these people I worked for and why would they want to suppress positive results in cancer research? My files grew thick as I uncovered more and more fascinating—and disturbing—facts. I had never given any thought to the politics of cancer before. Now I was putting together the pieces as I learned that:
• The people on Sloan-Kettering's Board of Directors were a ‘Who's Who’ of investors in petrochemical and other polluting industries. In other words, the hospital was being run by people who made their wealth by investing in the worst cancer-causing things on the planet.
• CEOs of top pharmaceutical companies that produced cancer drugs also dominated the Board. They had an obvious vested interest in promoting chemotherapy and undermining natural therapies.
• The Chairman and the President of Bristol-Myers Squibb, the world's leading producer of chemotherapy, held high positions on MSKCC's Board.
• Of the nine members of the Hospital's powerful Institutional Policy Committee, seven had ties to the pharmaceutical industry.
• The Hospital itself invested in the stock of these same drug companies.
• Directors of the biggest tobacco companies in the U.S., Phillip Morris and RJR Nabisco, held places of honor on the Board.
• Six Board Directors also served on the Boards of The New York Times, CBS, Warner Communications, Readers Digest, and other media giants.
“Not surprisingly, profits from chemotherapy drugs were skyrocketing and the media glowingly promoted every new drug as a ‘breakthrough’ in cancer. I kept all my notes in my filing cabinet at work. I had no idea what I would ever do with them. I just knew that I had to get to the bottom of it, for myself.
“Meanwhile, the public's interest in laetrile refused to go away. A lot of people were going across the border to Mexican clinics to get the stuff and my secretary's phone was ringing off the hook with people wanting to know what Sloan-Kettering thought of its value. I was once again told to give out the news that the studies had all been negative.
“At home, I called my family together for a meeting. With their support, I decided I couldn't lie on behalf of the Hospital. In November of 1977, I stood up at a press conference and blew the whistle on Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's suppression of positive results with amygdalin. It felt like jumping off the highest diving board, but I had no doubt I was doing the right thing. I was fired the next day for ‘failing to carry out his most basic responsibilities’ as the Hospital described it to the New York Times. In other words, failing to lie to the American people.
“When I tried to pick up my things in my office, I found my files had been padlocked and two armed Hospital guards escorted me from the premises.
“Luckily for all of us, I have a very smart wife who all along had been making copies of my research notes and had put a complete extra set of files in a safe place. Those notes turned into my first book, The Cancer Industry, which is still in print (in an updated version) and available in bookstores.
“That dramatic day, when I stood up in front of the packed press conference and told the truth, was the beginning of a journey I never could have predicted. I was launched on a mission that I'm still on today—helping cancer patients find the truth about the best cancer treatments.
“Well, we weren't able to buy a home until years later, the kids went to colleges on scholarships and loans, and my wife took on a demanding full-time job to help us get by. But in retrospect, my experiences as an insider in ‘the cancer industry’ were among the best things ever to happen to me. My values were put to the test and I had to really examine what was important in my life. It is because of this difficult experience at Sloan-Kettering that I found a truly meaningful direction for my professional life, rather than just climbing Sloan-Kettering's career ladder and losing my soul in the process."
—Ralph Moss, PhD, www.cancerdecisions.com/beatcancer_frm.html
The story of Ralph Moss, which is really the story of Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura, is just the tip of the iceberg. Numerous alternative cancer researchers have been rewarded for their discoveries with jail, being driven out of the country, loss of license, harassment, and many other things. This war is not for the weak at heart.
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.