The following article by Ruth Sackman, co-founder and past president of FACT, was written over 15 years ago. Unfortunately, not much has changed since then.
Are you under the impression that Americans have the most advanced medical care delivery that is available? If you think that, you are mistaken.
I would like you to become knowledgeable about Whole-Body Hyperthermia – Fever Therapy – and wonder, as I do, why it isn’t available in every oncology department in every hospital. Fever Therapy, in contrast to chemotherapy, can destroy cancer cells without destroying healthy cells, therefore, it does no harm to the patient. Isn’t this what cancer research is looking for?
The fact that heat destroys cancer cells is an accepted fact. Whole body hyperthermia (WBH), under carefully controlled medical conditions, represents a natural approach to combating disease since it works with the body’s innate fever response to eliminate toxic material.
We have to examine the conditions which the medical community uses to decide whether or not a therapy should be added to the accepted protocol. The individual doctor is not in a position to advance new ideas. He is usually too busy providing direct care to the patient. The final determination is up to research centers and our government agencies, primarily the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Fever Therapy has been known and used, literally, for centuries. Hippocrates routinely buried patients in the desert sand to elevate their core body temperature in an attempt to cure disease. In the middle 1800’s a German physician, Dr. William Bush, noted spontaneous remission of sarcoma tumors in patients who sustained prolonged episodes of fever. Dr. W.C. Colley at the turn of the 19th century injected cancer patients with different toxins to create artificial fever with good results, and Dr. Julius Wagner- Jauregg, an Austrian physician, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1927
for his successful work inducing malaria serum fever in patients plagued with severe complications of syphilis.
In the mid 1900’s, a Dr. Robert Pettigrew treated patients in Scotland by using a clumsy method to raise body temperature to 110 degrees. Instead of failure, tumor reduction took place so rapidly the kidneys couldn’t eliminate the dead cells fast enough. He referred to this problem as “kidney crunch.” Today, WBH as practiced in European clinics and elsewhere is much more sophisticated and easier to perform. Body temperature is usually raised only to 107.5 degrees and intravenous fluid is administered to help flush out the dead cells through a catheter in the bladder.
In the late 1960’s Dr. Robert Berman, an anesthesiologist at St. Johns Hospital in Far Rockaway, New York, read about Dr. Pettigrew’s work and started his own experiments. He subsequently developed water-filled blankets to raise body temperature and used light anesthesia to keep the patients comfortable during the procedure. The hospital only allowed him to treat severely advanced patients. The response was favorable, in that, the patients gained additional time, and usually pain alleviation, but unfortunately, the patients were too debilitated to reverse the condition completely. Research was also done at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) by Joan Bull, M.D. She was also able to get tumor and pain reduction for advanced patients. But, again, she was only allowed to help very advanced patients.
In the early 1980’s, I introduced two oncologists, Drs. Donald Cole and John Pung, to Whole Body Hyperthermia. They subsequently treated patients with Systemic Thermotherapy at the American International Hospital in Zion, Illinois, but the work was discontinued, I believe, because it was not covered by insurance. In my view, it is this lack of insurance coverage that is holding back the widespread use of WBH as hospitals prefer to have bills paid by third-party payers. I called Blue Cross to see about third-party payment and they said as long as FDA classified Hyperthermia as “experimental,” they were unable to pay for the treatment.
WBH has been classified by the FDA as “experimental” in spite of the fact that the agency knows that heat can destroy cancer cells without harming healthy cells. As long as FDA maintains that classification, as it has for decades, insurance carriers have no obligation to cover the therapy as a routine cancer protocol.
Understanding why the FDA considers WBH “experimental” after all the years it has been shown to be effective is quite puzzling. We automatically assume that the role of a government health agency is to advance any health program that will improve the well- being of people in need of medical care. Well, that doesn’t seem to be its actual service. One can only speculate on the reasons that this treatment is not available in the United States. A cynical person might posit that the powerful pharmaceutical industry, having grown accustomed to huge demand for its chemotherapy products – a veritable cancer industry – might seek to use its influence to discourage use of a competitive non-drug approach.
I took the time to call FDA to see if there was a sound explanation for the “experimental” classification and to learn what the procedure was to upgrade the status of Whole body Hyperthermia so that it could be made available and paid for by insurance carriers for the benefit of cancer patients. I am sure it will be no surprise to learn that I could not reach a person who understood what I was talking about and I’m still trying.
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Update: Local hyperthermia to kill cancer cells is done in the U.S., but, in our view, it is not a viable alternative to the whole body method, though it may have short- term results. Local hyperthermia is generally done with microwave which can have irreversible, negative effects on cellular and molecular structure. Moreover, in our experience, approaching disease from a systemic point of view generally produces the best long-term results. There is one circulation system, one nervous system, etc.- all functioning as an integrated whole. The body is designed to generate a system- wide fever when the situation calls for it and if it has the vitality to do so. Whole Body Hyperthermia enables a system-wide fever when the immune system may be too weak to do so on its own. Raising temperature in only one part of the body goes against a natural process and can be unbalancing and harmful in the long run.
Currently, in the U.S., clinical trials are underway using hyperthermia in conjunction with toxic conventional treatments. The theory is that because heat weakens cancer cells, it will, therefore, make the chemo and/or radiation more effective. In our view, this is overkill and negates the whole point of an effective non-toxic therapy like Whole Body Hyperthermia. By simultaneously stimulating the body’s natural healing capacity and poisoning it with synthetic chemicals, progress becomes inherently limited. A few more weeks or months of life- rather than long-term survival – are considered a “breakthrough.” In our view, this speaks to an endemic lack of imagination – the short- sighted belief that the body does not possess the inherent resources to overcome a disease like cancer and, therefore, external manipulation, even if it violates natural function, is necessary to produce clinical results, however meager.
It’s important to note that, in terms of the Biorepair approach, Whole Body Hyperthermia is an adjunctive therapy. That is, it is not a total program. While it may be effective in killing cancer cells without harm to the host, it does not correct the chemical imbalance that is causing abnormal cell production. WBH is helpful in relieving the body of a toxic burden, but does not insure that cancer cells will not continue to proliferate. That, in our experience, is best accomplished with a comprehensive metabolic approach – Biorepair – which seeks to provide the body with all the materials and conditions necessary to create healthy cells and restore optimum function, including balanced diet, detoxification, organ and skeletal integrity, stress management, etc. – FACT