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Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Truth About Cancer and a QuackWatch Review

My thoughts have been tumbling since watching episdoe 1 of The Truth About Cancer...

Especially the interview with Pamela Kelsey... cured of pancreatic cancer decades ago with a natural remedy called the Hoxsey Formula.

Are you like me?  Believing that it's just too good to be true?

A part of my heart wants to believe so badly that this is a real, bonafide option for pancreatic cancer treatment... then again, part of my cynical self can't believe that it's possible... for if it were true than why have the doctors not been advocating it's use... why would so many suffering the nightmare of pancreatic cancer be allowed to waste away under conventional treatments??

Tumbing emotions... wild, crazy feelings...

And, let's be clear... conventional treatments for pancreatic cancer have a dismal track record.

Statistics show that someone diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic (exocrine) cancer has a 1% survival rate after 5 years... dismal results... heartbreaking suffering... and grievous loss...

So, this daughter can't let it rest.  And does what we've always done... gone into research mode...

The Hoxsey Formula.

Looking for reviews, I found this QuackWatch report... Here's the short(er) version, please click here to read the (long) review in its entirety:

"The Hoxsey treatment involves several herbal preparations, all of which are made from combinations of herbs and inorganic compounds. At present, this treatment is offered only at a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, although from 1924 until the late 1950s it was offered at a number of clinics in the United States under the direction of the late Harry Hoxsey (1901-1974). Awareness of the treatment was recently renewed by the release of Hoxsey: Quacks Who Cure Cancer?, a documentary film on the history of the Hoxsey treatment and on Harry Hoxsey's personal role in its development and promotion.

According to Hoxsey's autobiographical book You Don't Have to Die, the herbal formula for the Hoxsey treatment was developed in 1840 by John Hoxsey, Harry Hoxsey's great- grandfather. It was derived from grasses and flowering wild plants growing in a pasture where one of John Hoxsey's horses, afflicted with a cancerous growth, grazed daily. The horse's cancer reportedly disappeared, and John Hoxsey surmised that the wild plants had caused the recovery. He gathered some of the plants from the pasture, and later added ingredients from old home remedies for cancer. He used the resulting herbal mixture to treat similarly afflicted horses near his farm in southern Illinois.

The herbal formula was bequeathed to John Hoxsey's son, then to Harry's father John, and finally to Harry Hoxsey in 1919, whose father charged him with using it to treat cancer patients "if need be, in defiance of the high priests of medicine". Although Harry's father, a veterinary surgeon, was the first to use the formula to treat people with cancer, it was Harry Hoxsey who made it famous. The first clinic offering the Hoxsey treatment opened in the early 1920s and by the 1950s, the Hoxsey Outpatient Clinic in Dallas was reportedly one of the largest privately-owned cancer centers in the world, with branches in 17 states. By Hoxsey's account, the clinic had at its peak of operation 10,000 patients "under constant treatment or observation".

Hoxsey was widely known for his flamboyant and confrontational style. His reluctance to disclose the treatment formulas and his bold claims reportedly led Morris Fishbein, then editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, to publish articles labeling Hoxsey and his late father as charlatans. Hoxsey sued for libel and won. In 1956, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner ordered that a "Public Beware!" warning against the Hoxsey treatment be posted in U.S. Post Offices and substations across the country. Repeated clashes with FDA over violations, and a number of arrests, eventually prompted Hoxsey to close his main Dallas clinic in the late 1950s.

Since 1963, the Hoxsey treatment has been offered at a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, under the direction of Hoxsey's longtime chief nurse, Mildred Nelson. The herbal preparations Nelson uses to treat cancer patients are reportedly based on Hoxsey's herbal formulas and method of preparation .

Rationale for the Treatment

In 1956, Hoxsey described his belief that cancer was a systemic disease, however localized its manifestations might appear to be. Although he did not "pretend to know its fundamental cause," he believed that "without exception it occurs only in the presence of a profound physiological change in the constituents of body fluids" and that it leads to a "chemical imbalance in the organism" (418). Hoxsey summarized the theory behind his approach this way:

It follows that if the constitution of body fluids can be normalized and the original chemical balance in the body restored, the environment again will become unfavorable for the survival and reproduction of these cells, they will cease to multiply and eventually they will die.

He also did not claim to know how or why his herbal cancer treatment worked, but he maintained that it "corrects the abnormal blood chemistry and normalizes cell metabolism" by "stimulat[ing] the elimination of toxins which are poisoning the system".

Nelson believes that the Hoxsey tonic "normalizes and balances the chemistry within the body," a process she believes results in tumor regression. In a 1984 interview, Nelson said:
"When you get everything normalized, the abnormal cells —the tumor cells —cease to grow. And very slowly the tumor is absorbed and excreted, and it's gone".

Components of the Treatment

Hoxsey's 1956 book You Don't Have to Die lists the ingredients of his internal treatment given in "all cases of cancer, both internal and external" as potassium iodide combined with some or all of the following substances, on a case-by-case basis: licorice, red clover, burdock root (Arctium lappa), stillingia root (Stillingia sylvatica), berberis root (Berberis vulgaris), poke root (Phytolacca americana), cascara (Rhamnus purshiana), Aromatic USP 14 (artificial flavor), prickly ash bark (Zanthoxylum americanum), and buckthorn bark (Rhamnus frangula). The last two substances in this list are not specifically mentioned in Mildred Nelson's list of ingredients used in the Hoxsey treatment she currently offers.

The current Hoxsey treatment offered by Mildred Nelson at the Bio-Medical Center in Tijuana includes a liquid tonic, a salve, and a powder, all of which are reportedly based on Hoxsey's formulas. In addition, Nelson's treatment regimen specifically includes nutritional supplements and dietary restrictions. Nelson advises before-meal "tri-tabs," after-meal tablets, yeast tablets, vitamin C, calcium capsules, laxative tablets, antiseptic douches, and antiseptic washes. She also recommends that patients exclude certain foods that "nullify the tonic", such as pork, tomatoes, pickles or other products with vinegar, salt, sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and bleached flour. All patients tested for systemic infection with the fungus Candida albicans before treatment is initiated, although the reasons for such testing are not given in the patient literature. Treatment lasts up to three days at the clinic, with followup visits within three to six months after the initial visit.

Adverse Effects

Hoxsey's medical director stated in a 1952 publication that no toxic reactions had been seen in patients treated with the Hoxsey tonic, but he added that "the growth of a cancer can be stimulated if the treatment is used improperly".


Hoxsey presented numerous case histories of patients treated at his clinic in his 1956 book. Additional case histories supporting his claims are described in a 1954 publication by Defender Magazine. In his book, Hoxsey noted that cancer patients sought his treatment "as a last resort." He wrote:
We don't pretend to cure all of them. The vast majority are advanced and even terminal cases by the time we get them. Many come to us after the disease already has spread through the body; after surgery or irradiation has so impaired circulation of the blood to the affected areas that our treatment cannot reach them...Nevertheless we believe we cure a far greater percentage of cases treated than is cured by any other method at present known to science.

Attempts at Evaluating the Hoxsey Treatment

No clinical trials of the Hoxsey treatment have been reported. Several record reviews, initiated in the 1950s, have been discussed in the literature, however. The first was based on a site visit in 1954 by a group of physicians, who, by Hoxsey's account, spent two days inspecting the clinic, reviewing patient records, and talking to patients. Although the data on which they made their conclusions are not given in Hoxsey's book where an excerpt of their statement appears, the group concluded that the Hoxsey Clinic was "successfully treating pathologically proven cases of cancer, both internal and external, without the use of surgery, radium or x-ray".

Hoxsey made attempts (in 1945 and 1950) to have NCI review his patients' records. On both occasions, NCI determined that the records Hoxsey submitted did not meet NCI's previously established criteria at that time for documenting treatment effects.

According to several sources, NCI concluded on the basis of Hoxsey's data that no assessment of his treatment could be made.  Hoxsey believed, however, that it was NCI's responsibility to verify his case records; their failure to do so was deliberate, he believed, resulting from a widespread conspiracy organized against him by the AMA. In 1947, Senator Elmer Thomas of Oklahoma asked the U.S. Public Health Service to investigate Hoxsey's treatment, and the Surgeon General refused the request.

Hoxsey's point of view was echoed by a 1953 report to the Senate Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee by Benedict Fitzgerald, an attorney who examined records of Hoxsey's litigation with the AMA and the Federal Government. After reading about the circumstances of these attempted case reviews, Fitzgerald wrote that NCI "took sides and sought in every way to hinder, suppress, and restrict [the Hoxsey Cancer Clinic] in their treatment of cancer". To date, no independent, comprehensive assessment has been made to resolve the many allegations and issues raised by Hoxsey's tumultuous career."

Well... that was an involved review (for being the shorter version!)... and I'm no closer to determining the veracity of the Hoxsey Formula...

I am troubled however, by the refusal of the established medical community to investigate the Hoxsey treatment, as evidenced by the litigation charges near the end of the review, and also the fact that no independent clinical trial has been done on this treatment.

Is it possible that the Hoxsey Formula could be an option for pancreatic cancer patients?  If Pamela Kelsey is to be believed then, yes, it needs to be considered...

Not long ago, we did a series called Mapping the Journey: Pancreatic Cancer 101 and we talked about the hard decisions that must be made when first diagnosed with this dreaded disease.  These hard decisions are the hardest grace.  And no one should make them for you...

Each pancreatic cancer patient must make decisions that are right for their situation.  And I believe with all my heart that knowledge is truly a powerful thing... knowing your options when facing the foe is the first immeasurably important step

And so... when considering the options, perhaps the Hoxsey Formula needs to be on the table.

Ask the questions, do the research, leave no potential treatment unexplored.

Continuing on in the search together, walking this journey with determination and hope... So graced to be in your company...


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