The following is Chapter One from Ruth Sackman’s forthcoming book, Rethinking Cancer. It is based on her long years of experience in touch with outstanding practitioners worldwide and her observations dealing with thousands of cancer patients.
Chapter One deals in the main with the overall ideas that define the biological approach to health and disease. Succeeding chapters in the book are devoted to elaborating the different treatments that FACT has found most effective in restoring health.
TOWARD AN UNDERSTANDING OF HEALTH AND DISEASE
“Cancer is one of the most frightening words in our language.” So begins an important book on this subject-written by a group of distinguished scientists and physicians under the auspices of the New York Academy of Sciences.
As this publication, named Cancer and the Worker, so graphically notes, there is every good reason, indeed, for the &tad which the mere mention of this disease strikes in the hearts of so many. “At the present rate, three out of every ten Americans now living,” the book continues, “will eventually have cancer…It can be expected to strike in two of every three families,”
According to the authors, 351,000 Americans died of cancer in 1973. In 1974 deaths had climbed to 357,000; in 1975 to 364,000 (1000 per day). In 1977, the year the book appeared, the death toll had reached 370,000 – one every two and a half minutes.
And, we are told, “the cancer rate continues to go up steadily,”this despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that the government spends annually on its so-called war on cancer. We need only look at the number of Americans in 1996 – over 1,000,000 who found out that they had cancer – to see that the warning sounded in this book continues to be tragically confirmed.
One must consider, too, that these staggering figures do not include the additional number of persons who died of cancer but whose deaths were officially attributed to conditions such as heart failure, renal failure, flu, malnutrition, respiratory failure, etc.
In one sense it is very valuable to be reminded by an influential group in the scientific and medical community that traditional forms of therapy have failed dismally to stem the tide of cancer. In another sense, however, the continued recital of bleak statistics – without providing a hopeful alternative – can only further contribute to the feeling of despair which already permeates most people’s attitudes toward this disease.
I have a great deal of respect for the skill and compassion of the medical profession as a whole. And I am I in no way down-grading the highly qualified research and theoretical advances which have produced present-day cancer treatment. But it must be admitted that the traditional treatments have failed to halt this scourge, and no solution to the cancer’ problem appears to be on the horizon in orthodox circles. If we at FACT thought that current therapies were effective, there would be no point to our existence, nor would research have to be supported by such massive assistance from government and private agencies. It is my belief, on the basis of positive experiences, that the concept of biological repair – which is FACT’s focus – should be regarded as a significant and valid approach to prevention and control of cancer. It seems to me, therefore, that what is needed is a greater understanding of the basic principles underlying this approach to health and disease. Such a clarification will be helpful not only to the cancer patients who are already using biological therapies, but to anyone who is seeking a different pathway toward maintaining health and prolonging life.
WHAT DOES HEALTH MEAN?
To begin with, we at FACT define health from the “total person” perspective. That is to say, the human body was designed by nature as a unified whole in which all parts work together to achieve a balanced, fully coordinated functioning organism. Are Waerland, the originator of a well-known, European system of health restoration, which was the basis for establishing many health clinics in Europe, has described this interrelation of the human body as follows: “By means of the blood and nervous system, all the different organs and minutest parts of the body are bound together in an exquisitely adjusted homogeneous cell community, in which, normally, everything functions in normal harmony. A disturbance in any one part affects the whole. An aching tooth or a rheumatic pain in a single joint may affect the functioning of the whole body.”
From this whole person viewpoint, good health, under ideal circumstances, is a condition in which the individual is sound in every aspect of his being – psychologically as well as physiologically. And this harmonious state of being can come about when we conduct our lives, in accord with the biological rhythms of nature. It requires a lifestyle which includes a biologically sound nutritional regime, efficient elimination of body wastes, sufficient exercise, rest, relaxation, proper body alignment, normal breathing, as well as healthy glandular, digestive and enzymatic function, etc.
Since the mind no less than the body is important in keeping us well, the healthy individual strives to maintain, as much as possible, positive emotional attitude and spiritual values which can give direction, fulfillment and meaning to life.
Admittedly, this ideal state of well-being is hard to achieve in our disease-ridden society, where stress and anxiety are the rule rather than the exception, where so much of our food is devitalized and chemically polluted and where the environment in which we live is constantly bombarded with dangerous contaminants. In spite of these negative factors, many people do manage to live long, disease-free lives and others recover from disease. Moreover, it is possible for many others who are afflicted with major diseases like cancer to look forward to relatively healthy and productive lives.
I say this with a full awareness that controlling cancer is never easy. It is a formidable task that places great demands on the patient in terms of time, knowledge, determination – as well as on a therapeutic program that includes all the resources needed in order to effect a recovery.
Fortunately, we humans have been imbued by nature with a remarkable self-healing capacity which I like to refer to as our “biological repair system.” When this inherent repair ability is left intact – or when it is not interfered with but properly guided – it can help prevent disease and, with proper guidance, restore the body’s biological integrity when cancer or other diseases occur. The longer I am involved with cancer patients, the more amazed I am to see what marvelous instruments our bodies are and how tenacious is the body’s capacity to survive and fight for health even under the most difficult of circumstances. I am convinced that if only we do not get in the body’s way – if only we do not abuse our bodies with destructive habits – we can go a long way toward conquering the whole range of diseases – cancer among them – which still afflict so large a part of the human race.
At a recent conference sponsored by FACT, Leo Roy, M.D., expressed this idea so beautifully that I think it is worth quoting, “Nature has given us as a birthright a reservoir of vital, self-healing forces which are the source of our enormous recuperative powers. Anything that diminishes this life force – whether it be exhaustion, dead foods, fear, anger, tension – thereby diminishes the body’s defenses against disease. Anything that enhances this life force – whether it be sun, rest, good food, positive thinking and feeling, the joy of life – thereby renews the body’s ability to repair itself.”
If you are ill, you may discover for yourself that one of the most important aspects of your recovery is being able to listen to and heed the counsel of your body. When it tells you that it is tired – rest or sleep. When you are tense or under severe stress, seek ways to relax. Eat only when you are hungry. Watch for telltale signs that your wastes need to be eliminated. Listen well. It is the best way to help the human organism repair the biological breakdown which has brought about the disease in the first place.
WHAT DOES DISEASE MEAN?
Turning from health to disease, we know, of course, that conventional medicine deals with illness largely in terms of symptoms – tumor in the case of cancer, the aches and pains of arthritis, palpitations of high-blood pressure, gnawing pain of ulcers, etc. Very rarely is much emphasis placed on the individual’s destructive life patterns (poor food, lack of sleep, exercise, etc.); constitutional weaknesses; or the damaging effects of the environment – all of which play a vital role in producing the illness. For. the most part “curing” the disease consists of attempting to alleviate the symptoms, generally by means of a vast variety of drugs, or other medications, or when deemed necessary, by surgical intervention, or other non-biological means. Should one or another of these treatments result in the disappearance of the symptom – often for a short period of time, if at all – the disease is deemed to have been cured, even though the causative factors behind the symptoms have not been dealt with at all.
Most of the time when people experience distress such as a headache, they take an aspirin or another painkiller. When they can’t fall asleep, they, take a sedative. And when they visit a doctor for a more serious problem – like high blood pressure – the doctor often prescribes an even more potent drug to relieve the symptom. This is the kind of abuse that gets heaped upon the body over the years, eventually, contributing to a serious disturbance or breakdown of the biological processes.
For those like myself who believe in biological conc.epts, disease is seen as an outward manifestation of a long-term process (often decades in the making) that involves a biological breakdown in the capacity of the body as a whole to carry on its life functions normally. Much of the time a degenerative disease, such as cancer, originates in more than one cause, instead of being the result of one contributing factor. In this view the best way to avoid the disease is by avoiding the cause of the disease. When disease does strike, it can be overcome or controlled only by normalizing the causes – whether they be nutritional, psychological, emotional, environmental, structural, or a combination of causes.
When the body repairs with the help of a sound biological therapy and is once again functioning harmoniously, disease and its symptoms can be expected to be under control, at least up to the optimum level possible.
It isn’t that the distressing symptoms are ignored, far from that. As a matter of fact, a sound system of alternative therapies often relieves aches, pain’s, exhaustion, constipation, gas, and other symptoms as the dysfunction that is causing them is restored to normal.
WHAT DO I MEAN BY A BIOLOGICAL BREAKDOWN?
At this point you may well ask: what do I mean by the term “biological breakdown” which I use often and is central to an understanding of nontoxic biological alternative therapies? To provide a better understanding, I will touch on some of the specific areas that can contribute to this process.
The human organism has many ‘systems and different functions. Any one of them can malfunction for a variety of reasons – age, birth defects, serious illnesses, accidents, chemicals, stress, structural imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, drugs, x-rays, and so forth. When there is constant interference with any of the normal body functions, a biological breakdown can result. Dr. Max Gerson, who had a clinic in Nanuet, New York, and authored the book, A Cancer Therapy, Results of Fifty Cases, claimed that cancer resulted from a breakdown in liver function. Dr. William Donald Kelley, who developed a metabolic program, claimed that cancer resulted from a breakdown in pancreatic function. I agree with both of them. I also believe it can be caused by a chronic dysfunctioning of other organs or systems – nervous system, glandular system, circulatory system, elimination system, immune system, digestive system, enzymatic function, endocrine system, etc.
A biological breakdown can be triggered by a disturbance in proper food metabolism A common complication is a deficiency in enzymatic function, as enzymes are the catalysts that extract the minute components from our food, making the nutrients available for all body functions including cell production and cellular repair, a process which takes place constantly. Maintaining digestive competence is crucial for boosting the vitality of the organism and restoring health. Without these valuable elements, the body will be unable to produce good quality cells. This problem can be remedied by using digestive enzymes.
Each day waste is accumulated just by living, eating, drinking and even from the air we breathe. Allowing these wastes to stagnate in the colon pollutes the blood stream causing the body to function at less than its optimum level. Nature has provided the human body with a remarkable self-cleansing system that includes lungs, liver, colon, skin, kidneys, lymphatics and other organs. Any number of disruptive influences, whether they be environmental pollution, harmful chemicals in our food, stress or overloading the waste removal organs, can lead to a situation where dangerous toxins are retained by the body for overly long periods of time, putrefying and polluting the blood stream.
I cannot stress forcefully enough the damage that can be caused by accumulated toxins. Perhaps the following example will help make this clear: Dr. Alexis Carrel of Rockefeller University set up a research project to determine the life expectancy of cells. He was able to keep chicken heart cells alive for over 20 years by giving them all the nutrients necessary for maintaining life. The research was discontinued when Dr. Canell died. But an interesting phenomenon occurred that should be considered extremely important. If he neglected to clean the waste discharged by the cells , the cells sickened even though they were given the required amount of life-sustaining nutrients. There are practitioners who feel that all degenerative disease develops from poor elimination of the body’s waste which they feel pollutes the blood stream and the cells. A number of techniques can help the body maintain competent waste elimination.
This is an area for the body to temporarily store the overload of pollutants that accumulate in the blood stream. It is one of the intelligent functions of the organism, our body , to give us relief until the blood stream is capable of handling the elimination of the toxic bio-accumulation. The glands sometimes become engorged which could be used as an indicator that the blood stream is overloaded with toxins. Detoxification is a key element in a good biological program.
A breakdown can occur in the nerve network that sends signals to the different organs telling them to do their job of participating in the life processes. Some individuals, for example, can have a misalignment of the skeletal structure. When this occurs in the spine, it can depress the nerve ends which are located between the vertebrae. If these ends are blocked , and not actively sending out competent signals, it will cause a depression of the strong signals necessary for normal body function.
I want to make more people aware of what is meant by the autonomic nervous system. This is the involuntary system that controls various functions of the body such as heart, lungs, colon, endocrine system, kidneys, etc. If the nerve end is related to the pancreas, it signals the pancreas to release enzymes vital to digestion. If the body is relaxed, the pancreas will perform it’s function appropriately. But if there is some interference with the nerve signal – such as stress or spinal misalignment – the digestive system will suffer.
So you see, nerve interference can originate in the mind, or from improper skeletal alignment. It needs to be understood that the autonomic nerve system is connected to all of the major organs of the body, and that these must function harmoniously if health is to be maintained. Under normal conditions, all the processes are coordinated. Any disruption of the signal system throws this synchronization out of balance. Osteopathy and chiropractic can help make this adjustment.
TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT (TMJ)
Speaking of the autonomic nerve system, we don’t want to overlook a problem that is too often overlooked – and that is a misalignment of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This is the name of the joint just in front of the ear where the lower jaw hinges (there is one on the right side, and one on the left). In recent years more and more people have come to realize the harm this displacement can cause. Doctors and dentists who are working with patients where they can’t find any apparent cause for certain health problems are beginning to recognize that the TMJ can easily be displaced, creating a number of painful and serious conditions by cutting off nerve signals and circulation to the head area. It can even affect the spinal column. Some dentists are experienced in calibrating a splint that makes the correction.
Certainly, mental problems as well as physical difficulties can also contribute to the biological breakdown of the body. So much research has been done in this area, especially by Hans Selye, M.D., formerly Director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery at the University of Montreal, that no one can ignore the effect on the body of chronic emotional distress. What we need to explore, however, are the specifics of the body/mind relationship – for example, just how chronic stress and tension can adversely affect the physiological process.
Dr. Hans Selye determined that stress, if unrelieved, can play havoc with the endocrine system by disrupting the nerve network that sends signals to the various organs. When this occurs, the organs cannot perform their work normally. As scientists like Dr.Hans Selye have shown, this can disorganize digestion, elimination, circulation, healing and other normal body functions.
This is a two-way process. Stress and other severe mental disturbances undoubtedly bring about damaging physiological reactions. On the other hand, physical problems can work in reverse and induce stress. There are ways that stress can be alleviated. For example: biofeedback, meditation or psychoanalysis can be helpful.
The thing that has to be grasped, in this connection, is the incredible interrelatedness of this whole process. When you put something in your mouth, the presence of the food triggers other parts of the body to get ready for their role in the digestive and other aspects of the metabolic process. When the signals are not operating at full capacity, a whole nexus of body functions – from digestion and absorption, to waste elimination, breathing and circulation, are thrown out of whack.
This complete interdependency of the human organs and their functions is really at the heart of my discussion of the biological breakdown. I want, therefore, to comment here on the role that orthodox medicine has played in emphasizing the treatment of symptoms. For a long time now it has been standard medical procedure to fragment the body into isolated parts and to treat those parts as though they were separate entities from the whole organism. Thus, if the kidney is damaged, the kidney specialist tends to treat this organ alone, without taking into consideration other biological factors – seemingly unrelated – that are improperly affecting kidney function. It could also be that you are overloading the kidney with waste products to the point where these organs are exhausting themselves in trying to eliminate the toxins.
In most cases health problems emanate from more than one direction, and have to be seen in a multi-causal light if the proper therapy is to be chosen. The workings of the body are subtle and complex, so that the biological breakdown is seldom a matter of simple cause and effect. The following example might make this clear:
Dr. Lothar Wendt and several colleagues have done a good deal of research – much of it published – on the effects of the overuse of proteins. They found that protein metabolism can break down when the pancreas cannot supply sufficient enzymes needed to handle the excess protein. This excess or unused protein is stored around the periphery of the cells which normally should have a density of about 300 angstrom units; but too much protein can build this up to a density of thousands of angstrom units. At this density, because of the thick coating on the cells, they can no longer absorb an adequate supply of nutrients or oxygen. We know that if cells do not get their needed nourishment and oxygen, it can lead to a serious dysfunction of the whole body.
Many competent practitioners who use biological therapies advise pancreatic enzyme supplements as a means of breaking down the excess protein – which is, by the way, a form of waste product when it is stored in the fashion we have described above. This again is an example where one poorly functioning or overloaded organ – in this case, the pancreas – can have a damaging effect on the cellular level.
I’ve had experience with a few patients, whose breast cancer had metastasized to the bone, where it was finally determined by the practitioners that poor thyroid functioning was interfering with the utilization of calcium. I can theorize that, under these circumstances, the body was using up its reserves of calcium from the bones in its effort to build up the calcium supply needed by the blood. It could well be that this was the reason why the patients above ended up with such a severe form of breast cancer.
In any discussion of biological breakdown, you cannot, of course, omit the important role of the body’s natural defense system against disease. There is, of course, no one organ that can be considered the immune organ. It is actually a combination of many organs working together. As long as this unified defense system is active, it will make every effort to protect the body against the retention of any foreign material – and cancer is a foreign material.
We don’t want to ignore the specialized cells such as the T-cells which are manufactured by the thymus gland to engulf foreign substances. But this is only one part of the complex system which makes host resistance to disease possible. No one knows for a certainty all of these processes as yet, but enough is known to make theorizing worthwhile.
The immune system is not something that develops after a childhood disease and then protects you against this disease only. This is only one and very narrow concept of immunity. A number of different organs and glands make up this system, including, of course, the thymus. But even the colon, liver and kidney are accepted as part of this process, since they help to eliminate the waste products. And these waste products – if they are retained too long in the body – act as foreign matter that must be eliminated.
In the event that the eliminatory organs are forced to overwork because of chronically poor nutrition, or smoking, or chemicals in the food and atmosphere, or stress, etc., sooner or later they may become debilitated to the point where they do not function adequately. As a result of this breakdown the immune system can no longer sufficiently clear the accumulated toxins from the cells, organs and blood stream, thus depleting the immunological ability of the body to ward off diseases.
The strength of any one individual’s immune defenses depends on many factors, including a genetic predisposition. An interesting experiment done over 25 years ago provides some evidence that a person’s constitution determines to a large degree how effective his defensive system will be. In this particular research study, conducted by a group of Sloan Kettering scientists, cancerous tissue from a human being was grafted onto the bodies of a number of volunteer prisoners. Some of the prisoners’ bodies accepted the grafts; others rejected them.
The reasons why some people accept and others throw off foreign materials is very complex. What is relevant here, however, is why some of the subjects were able to reject the graft. Undoubtedly, it has to do with the fact that their systems were healthier – less cancer prone – at the time of the experiment, with the result that their immune responses were stronger than those of the others.
I wouldn’t want anybody to get the idea that all they have to do to remain healthy and cancer free, is to get an injection of an immune-producing substance. Alas, there is no magic immune bullet; you have to first correct all of the factors that went into the breakdown of the body’s immune system.
WHY SOME SURVIVE AND OTHERS DON’T
Considering the many abuses to which the average body is subjected over a lifetime, and the various ways in which our systems can break down biologically, the wonder is that so many of us maintain a state of reasonably good health. The only explanation for this lies in the extraordinary resilience and capacity for self-repair which nature has bestowed upon us. We all know people who don’t eat properly, who smoke or drink, don’t rest enough and otherwise pay scant attention to their health. In spite of that, they can have long, comfortable and disease-free lives.
The story that Norman Cousins tells in his best-selling book, Anatomy of an Illness, is a wonderful example of this situation. The fact that he was able, in the course of a most serious illness, to achieve a state of positive thinking and relaxation, is most likely the main factor in his recovery. There are people like him everywhere, whose sense of humor, optimism and sanity acts as a counterweight to the many destructive influences in our environment and ourselves. When personal problems or serious emergencies arise, they can take them in stride and cope as best they can. In the same way, they treat world affairs lightly, in the understanding that evolution has been going on for millions of years and will continue doing so come what may. It isn’t that they are not concerned with serious problems – such as environmental pollution, or the possibility of war, the threat of dying or loss of employment. It is simply that they will not allow these problems – which have been with us for a long time – to worry them to the point where they can get ill.
Very often you will find that this kind of individual enjoys life, different sports, vacations and fresh air, walking and other forms of exercise and gratification of most of his/her desires. To a larger degree than you might think possible, these things may be able to offset the harm of dreadful foods that are being ingested or the polluted air and chemicalized water that are by now almost universal. At least they don’t allow abnormal stress or emotional strains to interfere with the body’s metabolism of food materials or elimination of waste. As a result their bodies can derive the maximum benefits from the food they do eat.
One of the things that most people don ‘t realize is that the human organism does not – believe it or not – need a great deal of food to provide the body with the essential nutrients and thus keep healthy. It will take the nourishment it needs and efficiently get rid of whatever foreign substances come into the system. I am speaking of a situation, of course, where the individual has not pushed his or her body to the point where one system or another has broken down biologically. For the most part, however, people with a reasonably sound constitution who don’t have a perfect lifestyle can continue in good health for many years, whereas, people with weak constitutions and the same lifestyle can succumb to ill health.
As I write this I recall a question which a man asked me at a recent nutrition convention: “How do you account for a two-year old child nurtured on the most perfect food them is, supposedly – breast milk – getting cancer as opposed to a sixty-year-old Bowery “bum” who is drinking alcohol and picking cigarettes off the street, and still manages to survive and live without cancer?”
“There’s something about that Bowery bum’s constitution,” I answered, “that is inherently strong and disease-resistant. Yet the two-year-old can start with a vulnerability to disease which has been acquired from its parents. That vulnerability is what leaves the child with a faulty defense system, so that even though the parents have provided the best of care, it couldn’t prevent her from getting cancer.” So you see, once again, that some people have the good fortune to be blessed from birth with a sound constitution – while others do not.
There is one thing that has to be said again and again: Not one but many elements have to be taken into consideration when an individual is involved in a biological therapy. There is, unfortunately, a tendency to fragment the healing concept, just as there is a tendency to fragment the disease process. Too many people use the word “wholistic or holistic” in connection with biological therapies without understanding its meaning in the complete sense.
One group wants to feel that psychotherapy is the sole condition that can help a cancer patient recover. Another group insists that relief from stress is the answer. Still other individuals put their trust in nutrition as the only way to deal successfully with diseases like cancer. Psychic healers, on the other hand, will swear that the laying on of hands will solve the health problem. And, of course, there is yet another approach that thinks that herbals represent the major form of therapy, or homeopathy or megavitamins or any single approach without relating to the individual’s physiological or psychological needs.
Suppose, however, that the patient needs the services of three different disciplines, or perhaps there is a biological dysfunction, such as poor thyroid function, poor absorption, a circulatory impairment, faulty elimination or any number of problems that cannot be handled by one treatment alone. Each of these breakdowns must be properly diagnosed and corrected. No one form of therapy – even nutrition, supremely important as it is – can help the patient recover when the health problem comes from different sources.
At a past FACT Cancer/Nutrition convention, Dr. William Kelley summed up the difficulties that come with a fragmented view of health as well as anyone can. “Yes,” he said, “now and then an individual can get well as a result of one of the single-therapy approaches.” From his own experience with patients, he could think of many different therapies from which people came away thinking they had the perfect cure. “But,” he added, “each of these individuals had gone to a therapy that happened to be applicable to their particular health problem, so it worked. But a thousand other people taking that very same path would fail, because it was not suited to their specific health needs.”
If, as is so very often the situation, the source of the problem is improper nutrition, and someone prescribed the right dietary regime, it could indeed help that person recover. But very often a person, even with the help of a practitioner, arranges a nutrition program and finds that it does not correct a biological dysfunction. It may have been an excellent nutritional regime, but in and of itself it could not help failing if other biological breakdowns were left uncorrected.
I might add here that the fragmented approach, with its emphasis on one or another panacea, has created a dangerous situation where people with amateurish standing, with little or no training, and less clinical experience, begin to promote their own favorite therapies. On the basis of their limited experience, they may enthusiastically advise others to use one or another form of treatment or substance. Or else, they may refer patients with cancer to practitioners or institutions whose work they do not know in-depth. Incompetent referrals waste a patient’s time and money, and may not include any or all of the services needed by that individual to effect a recovery.
The question of what is essential in each particular case is complex. It needs much study and one has to be guided by an experienced practitioner who has competently worked out all the facets of the healing process. Breakdowns which aren’t always evident from a superficial examination must be attended to in order to make a biological repair to a body that is producing abnormal cells. These things are important and experienced practitioners can make the proper determinations to see to it that the whole system works harmoniously, and in this way, the patient derives optimum benefit from a program.
Hopefully, in time the medical community itself will fill this vacuum. Their background, expertise, training, as well as the modern diagnostic tools and other resources they have available, combined with biological healing directions that have proven their worth, will someday soon give us an unprecedented situation for the restoration of health.
We should realize, too, that not all individuals can achieve 100% success even in the most sound therapeutic program. What we can strive for realistically is to attain a state of physical and mental well being to reach our optimum life expectancy.