By Peter Barry Chowka

There is a mad push on in this country by Democrat/socialist politicians to complete the job that Obamacare started and saddle us with single-payer socialized medicine. This is nothing but communism light and it would mean the end of individual freedom, freedom of medical choice, and the free market in medicine that has made the medical care system here the most advanced in the world.

I’ve been reporting on socialized medicine for three decades. For insight on the issue, I often turned to one of the most knowledgeable and accomplished practitioners of primary alternative medicine, the late Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D. Gonzalez was a brilliant medical student, receiving his medical degree from Cornell Medical College in 1983. Hecontinued post graduate studies in immunology under his mentor, the founder of immunology Robert A. Good, M.D. As a research project, Gonzalez evaluated the work of William D. Kelley, D.D.S., who pioneered an original, highly individualized nutritional and enzyme-based treatment for late stage cancers based on metabolic typing. After studying the results of Kelley’s therapy on seriously ill patients, Gonzalez concluded that there was significant demonstrable merit to Kelley’s approach.

 Dr. William Donald Kelley 1980 New York, NY Photo © by Peter Barry Chowka

Unable to get the medical establishment interested in his detailed review of Kelley’s patient records, Gonzalez began practicing the enzyme-based nutritional therapy himself, treating patients in a small office in New York City starting in 1987. Over the next 28 years, with his clinical colleague Linda L. Isaacs, M.D., Gonzalez treated thousands of people with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Reports of their clinical success were abundant, and led to significant coverage in the popular press and preliminary interest on the part of the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute.

Gonzalez never quite got the professional attention or the fair evaluation of his approach that he deserved – a story in itself which he documented in his 2012 book What Went Wrong – The Truth Behind the Clinical Trial of the Enzyme Treatment of Cancer. He died suddenly in July 2015 at age 67.

His work is being carried on by Dr. Isaacs, who remains in clinical practice, and by his widow, Mary Beth Gonzalez, who has established a tax exempt foundation in her husband’s name and posthumously published three significant volumes of his work.

Nick was a friend as well as a frequent interviewee and the subject of many of my articles over the years. He was not only a brilliant and original researcher and clinician, he was a remarkably clear thinker and an articulate voice on political and social issues. His work was also informed by his strong Christian faith and his encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible.

Nick and I often discussed the dangers that socialized medicine – lately given the name “single payer” – poses to a free society. The interview that follows is a transcript of one of our conversations from late October 2005. It is shocking to consider in retrospect that only three years after that conversation about the threat of socialized medicine, the United States would elect as president Barack Hussein Obama, who cut his teeth on radical socialism and vowed to “transform” America once he gained power. His first legislative initiative would be to ram government-controlled medicine, a.k.a. Obamacare, down our throats.

The interview with Nicholas Gonzalez, published online on November 1, 2005, with my original introduction begins here:

(November 1, 2005) In the summer of 2005, the legislature in California, the nation’s largest state, started to consider a serious proposal to outlaw private medical insurance in favor of a mandatory, state government-run and -controlled “single payer” system of universal health care that would cover all residents including millions of illegal aliens.

Surprisingly, there was widespread support for this scheme by many so-called stakeholders in the world of complementary alternative medicine (CAM). State-run medicine should be of utmost concern to truly knowledgeable and principled proponents of alternative and natural healing and people who rely on natural medicine. The fact is that primary alternative and natural medicine, medical freedom, and consumer choice would all be clearly restricted and ultimately threatened possibly to the point of extinction by a government takeover of health care.

After four decades of propaganda, support for government-controlled medicine apparently runs deep. On October 20, 2005, a Harris Interactive poll found that U.S. residents overwhelmingly support a variety of government-run health care programs. The online poll, which included responses from 2,242 adults, found that 96% of respondents “strongly” or “somewhat” support Medicare and that 91% support Medicaid. The poll also found that 75% of respondents support universal health insurance, compared with only 17% who oppose it.

Previously, I reported that organizations like the California Association of Naturopathic Doctors support state-run medical care. Even more shocking, the influential Foundation for Alternative Medicine cites the communist dictatorship of Cuba as the best model for complementary alternative medicine in the United States!

To discuss socialized medicine, I turned to Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D. Gonzalez trained as an immunologist and since 1987 he has practiced as a clinician in New York City, mainly treating cancer patients, exclusively with dietary therapies. I first met Gonzalez almost sixteen years ago and have been reporting on his work ever since. He is very smart and he is not afraid to speak his mind. He has a clear, incisive view, not only of the practice of clinical natural medicine but about history, philosophy, politics, and ideology – all of which influence the medical field.

 Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D. in his New York City office 2005 Photo © By Peter Barry Chowka

I began the conversation by expressing my dismay that California was seriously considering legislating a mandatory socialized medical system, with its proponents citing Canada’s single payer system as a model.

NICHOLAS GONZALEZ, M.D.: Medical science always thrives when there’s freedom to think independently. Socialized medicine doesn’t allow that because it requires physicians to practice according to pre-set standards. That’s the way the Canadian system is. You can’t deviate from those standards at all. The trouble is that medicine is not a fixed science. It requires creativity, originality in thinking in new ways. Socialized medicine doesn’t allow that. If socialized medicine worked, they would have had to build a Berlin Wall to keep people out. Instead, they had to build the Berlin Wall to keep people in because they were trying to escape socialism and socialized medicine.

A lot of liberals forget why the Berlin Wall was built. I guess they think it was built to keep people out because everyone wanted to go in there and get the free medical care. The people that had the free medical care in East Berlin and North Korea can’t wait to get out. They had to build a wall to keep them in.

 The infamous Berlin Wall (1961-1989)

The Berlin Wall probably says more about socialized medicine than anything – because, if it worked, you know, all of the illegal immigrants would have been going to Russia and North Korea and Cuba and East Germany instead of coming here. So why they want to recreate a failed system is beyond me.

When is the last time anyone heard of a great major advance coming from Cuba, North Korea, or East Germany?

PETER BARRY CHOWKA: It’s interesting that you mentioned Cuba. I don’t know if you’re aware of this: Berkley Bedell’s Foundation for Alternative Medicine sent one of their doctors to Cuba and they published a report rhapsodizing the Cuban system of medicine, claiming, in effect, that Cuba is the promised land for complementary alternative medicine. Meanwhile, Cuba, needless to say, is a Communist dictatorship with not only a lack of freedom at every level but a history of summary arrests, torture, and even grisly forms of execution. According to a recent PBS documentary on Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, a favorite method of executing political prisoners today is to let them die a slow and painful death from hunger and thirst in their prison cells.

GONZALEZ: A holistic way of death.

CHOWKA: In my opinion, for anyone to cite Cuba as a model for anything in a free country is madness.

 National Foundation for Alternative Medicine Web page extols Communist Cuba as its model 2004

GONZALEZ: A couple of things about Cuba. The only reason that Cuba even has a medical system, although it’s falling apart, is that Russia, when it was the Soviet Union, put $2 billion a year into Cuba. That’s why they were able to buy anything because Castro’s economy is a total failure. So they’re still living off of the days when the Russians were supporting them.

Secondly, if Cuban medicine were so good, they wouldn’t have had that episode of blindness about ten years ago where fifteen or twenty thousand Cubans – it might even be as many as thirty thousand – went blind because of a vitamin deficiency. There wasn’t a single Cuban doctor who could diagnose it properly. It took a charitable team of American doctors that were allowed to go in there to diagnose it. It was such a simple thing.

The fact is that Cuban medicine is in shambles. The machinery is starting to wear out. They no longer have the influx of $2 billion a year to support it. It may have looked like an ideal situation but the Soviet Union was going bankrupt supporting these states.

So that’s so much for Cuba. If Cuban medicine were any good, you wouldn’t have had fifteen or twenty thousand people going blind from a vitamin deficiency.

[Note: In fact, an epidemic of optic neuropathy in Cuba in 1991-’93 caused 50,000 cases of blindness. An international team of experts, after a trip to Cuba to investigate the epidemic, identified the cause as a vitamin deficiency. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine on November 2, 1995, “The epidemic of optic and peripheral neuropathy in Cuba between 1991 and 1993 appears to be linked to reduced nutrient intake caused by the country’s deteriorating economic situation and the high prevalence of tobacco use. . .The number of new cases decreased after the initiation of vitamin supplementation in the population.” Another scientific article, published in May 1994 in the Archives of Opthalmology, reflecting the more dominant, internationalist, politically correct view, concluded “Recent political, economic, and social changes in Cuba may have contributed to the nutritional and/or toxic compromise of mitochondrial function of an acquired nature.”]

GONZALEZ: This says several things. First, that their diet is so inadequate because of the economic straits they’re in. Secondly, that their medical system is totally inadequate. They have fancy equipment and, yes, they use herbal stuff and all of that. They use it because they can’t afford anything else. That’s good that they’re interested in alternative approaches. It hardly says anything positive about the Cuban health system. Nobody could make the correct diagnosis there! That was a big scandal. In a Western country, tens of thousands of people went blind because the doctors were so incompetent and uncreative that they couldn’t identify a vitamin deficiency.

CHOWKA: I was thinking of how the powers that be who are ramming socialism down our throats claim “Oh, this will take care of the crises in medicine, and the costs – you know, who can afford medicine today unless the government is paying for it?” You’re an interesting example because the therapy you offer is non-toxic, naturally based, completely alternative, and curative. You’re offering it as a treatment, not as an adjunct. And most important to this discussion, the cost of your treatment is tiny compared to what the typical cancer patient spends, for therapies that mostly don’t work, I might add.

GONZALEZ: Look, a bone marrow transplant can cost anywhere from $150,000 to a half a million dollars with all of the supportive care. Our nutritional therapy for the first year, which is the most expensive year, might run $8,000 which includes buying a juicer and a water filter which everyone should have anyway. In subsequent years it gets cheaper. It’s very inexpensive, comparatively. One course of standard chemotherapy can cost $20,000 to $25,000. Six weeks of radiation therapy can cost $15,000 to $25,000. Oncology is a very lucrative profession. Six weeks of radiation would support three to four years on my complete therapy and the patients get better results.

Again, you have to remember that if everyone was so happy with socialized medicine, they wouldn’t be dying to leave it.

CHOWKA: When I discovered recently that California was well along the path to outlawing private medical insurance and having the state take over medical care, I mentioned it to several friends, including Rollye James, who hosts a national radio talk show. She hadn’t heard about it, either. We both searched the Internet and could find hardly any opposition to the California socialized medicine plan. Surprisingly, there was also very little reporting about it in the media, especially for something so significant.

What we did find was support for single payer on the part of hundreds of special interest groups representing every liberal left wing constituency, and also on the part of complementary alternative medicine groups like the California Association of Naturopathic Doctors. These groups all have their Web sites and they link to various think tanks, academics, and publications (fancy sounding white papers, studies, and phony economic analyses) all supporting single payer. One might think that there has to be some opposition to this, on the part of Libertarians, or Republicans, or somebody. One looks in vain for it. The reality is that you can count the opposition on one hand.

I found two op ed columns published in California newspapers mildly opposing the single payer plan – and that was basically it.

I downloaded the latest version of the single payer bill SB840 from the California legislature’s Web site. It’s like a light version of the Clintons’ failed 1993 national health care reform plan. It’s shorter but the devil is in the details.

GONZALEZ: The Canadian model, which is the model for all of these things, is falling apart. You have to wait eighteen months to get gall bladder surgery in Canada. Even standard therapies, like cancer chemotherapy – ovarian cancer patients have to wait 2-3 months to start chemotherapy. They could be dead in that time. Too bad. That’s been the case in every socialized state.

CHOWKA: Rationing.

GONZALEZ: Forgetting alternative versus orthodox, the best medical system in the world has always been American. That’s why, when Gorbachev’s wife developed leukemia, she wasn’t treated in Moscow. She flew to the West. When Boris Yeltsin had heart problems, he flew a team of doctors in from Boston. All of these dictators and tyrants always want to come to the U.S. We have the best medical system in the world. A free market medical system allows for creativity, either alternative or orthodox. You always get the best medical system. Socialism destroys creativity.

The difference between capitalism and socialism is, as Hamilton said, in capitalism there is a reward for achievement. In socialized countries, you get punished for achievement. The more you succeed, the more you’re disliked and the more they take away from you. In England, as in Cuba, doctors are clerks. I know doctors in England. They work nine to five. There’s no incentive to work late. It’s not your own thing, you’re not in charge. They come in at nine, and at five o’clock they’re out of there. It’s a nine to five job like a clerk; that’s how they essentially see themselves. They’re lackadaisical. Creativity and originality are punished.

CHOWKA: And the proposed regulations and the laws, like the one in California, are a complete straitjacket. All you have to do is to read the documentation. Plus, the creators of these schemes leave themselves a lot of loopholes. In California, the bill’s authors say, in effect, “Well, we expect that this is going to save X billions of dollars compared to the status quo and that’s how we’re going to fund it but if something unforeseen comes up or we don’t save the money that we expect to, then we reserve the right to ration care and to raise taxes as required in order to achieve universal coverage.” They leave themselves a lot of outs.

GONZALEZ: In Canada, they ration. In England, they ration. They have to ration.

CHOWKA: Right. And here, if they have to start rationing, they’ll say, “Well, it was in the small print in the law.”

GONZALEZ: If anyone wants to see the end result of socialized medicine, all they have to do is to study socialized medicine in the Soviet Union. That was Marxism at its best! Free medical care for everybody. The trouble was that it was free medical care according to an eighteenth century standard. Now that they have capitalism, they’re starting to get really good quality medical care.

Actually, it’s ironic: The former Soviet Union is moving towards free market medical care and we’re going the opposite way, toward their kind of failed system. By the time the Soviet Union collapsed, doctors were making less than cab drivers and they behaved accordingly. They weren’t even sterilizing their hypodermic syringes.

CHOWKA: When we point out that proposals for single payer plans and universal health care are socialistic and communistic, the proponents always deny that. They say, “No, no, you’re name calling, this is mainstream, this is single payer, this is ‘health care reform.'” They’ve so brainwashed everybody that we can’t understand or identify collectivism when it’s right in front of us.

 Conquering Cancer Vol. 2 reporting successful case histories of the Gonzalez Protocol 2017

GONZALEZ: Just so that you feel more relaxed, the good thing about it is that it will totally fail.

CHOWKA: A disturbing element of statist control of medicine that I’ve been reporting on is the need for electronic data basing, everyone and everything they do medically from cradle to grave. Electronic medical records (EMRs), everyone with his number, everyone with his electronic medical history recorded and saved and accessible in a government data bank.

GONZALEZ: The good news is that it’s going to fail, just like it did in the Soviet Union. When is the last time anyone flew to North Korea to get their medical care? No one would. It’s Third World, eighteenth century medical care.

CHOWKA: Maybe one way to look at it is that we’re getting the kind of health care system that’s reflective of this country, as it becomes more like a Third World country.

GONZALEZ: That’s right. That’s exactly right. It will fail, and then it will have to go, just like the Soviet Union – they’ll have to reinvent free market capitalism that was discovered and fostered in the U.S.

The biggest problem with socialized medicine is that it takes the responsibility for health care away from the patient. You know, if you smoke and abuse your body, well, the government’s going to come and spend $300,000 on useless chemotherapy and take care of you. The trouble is, as they learned in England and in Canada, there comes a point where you just can’t afford to pay for everyone’s mistakes. If hundreds of thousands of people are getting lung cancer every year because they smoked, first, they can’t save them because they don’t have good treatments and, second, they can’t spend $150,000-200,000 per patient. You wind up with a situation where people who really watch their health and take care of themselves support people who don’t. Kind of a paternalistic baby state where no one has to take responsibility.

CHOWKA: I follow the British press online. Almost every day there are articles about the British National Health Service, its failures, the desperate attempts to reform it. It’s on its last legs.

GONZALEZ: There are two tiers to health care in England. There’s the private health care, which they allow; people pay for it. They go outside the system. The doctors I know in England are all outside the national health care system. In Canada, you can’t do that. You have to be part of the system. The Hillary Clinton health care plan [1993] would not have allowed physicians to be outside the system. That would have been a criminal act. Canada’s the same way. But in England they allow doctors to practice privately. The California plan will bankrupt the state.

CHOWKA: In California they are also going to offer free care, including dental, eyeglasses, etc., to everyone including illegal immigrants. There are millions of illegal immigrants in California.

GONZALEZ: That’s terrific. See, what will happen is that taxes will go up, businesses will leave the state, there won’t be any tax base, and California will collapse, like England is collapsing now.

CHOWKA: California is rapidly becoming like Mexico El Norte and this will just hasten that.

GONZALEZ: It will collapse.

CHOWKA: There will probably be even more illegal immigration if this plan passes. All of the Mexicans and others will want to cross the border for free comprehensive medical care. It will be like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina – they’ll hold out their hand to the federal government to bail them out.

GONZALEZ: The federal government will reach a point where they can’t do it anymore. The thing to be optimistic about, and why I kind of shrug about it, it’s going to fail. It’ll be a total fiasco.

CHOWKA: Won’t things like this put you out of business?

GONZALEZ: New York state isn’t going in that direction. There’s always that danger.

CHOWKA: If this plan passes in California, wouldn’t it be difficult for you to work there?

GONZALEZ: It’s illegal for me to work in California now anyway because it’s a felony there to treat cancer with alternative medicine. That law is still on the books. So I couldn’t practice there anyway. So my attitude is, Let them bankrupt the damned state. They deserve it.

I’m still optimistic, though. Anytime socialism has been tried, it’s always failed. Liberals are so stupid. They blame conservatives for living in the past. The trouble with liberals is that they never learn from the past. All over the world, socialism has failed. It’s not like it’s an untried experiment, a new adventure – “we’re going to try this new adventure and bring peace and tranquility and wealth to everyone on earth.” It’s already been tried all over the world. In fact, a majority of counties have been socialistic, not free market capitalist. And the places that fostered socialism, like China, are desperately trying to turn themselves into the U.S. model. Meanwhile we’re trying to get rid of it. It’s amazing. People in government are so stupid; all they need to do is to read the newspapers. China is trying to develop a capitalist system and we’re trying to get rid of it [laughs].

CHOWKA: Western Europe is experimenting now with less socialism.

GONZALEZ: Even Germany, because they’re in chaos! They’re in chaos.

CHOWKA: And many of these countries have had a free ride because we’ve picked up the tab for their defense.

GONZALEZ: That’s right.

CHOWKA: So they can’t even make the socialist paradise work even though they don’t have the big costs of national defense.

GONZALEZ: That’s right, they can’t even make it work when they don’t have to have big defense budgets to defend themselves.

CHOWKA: And they’ve had, at least until recently, more homogenous cultures.

GONZALEZ: Everywhere socialism is tried, it fails. It’s destined to fail. It will fail in California. Like the welfare state in New York. Under [former Gov. Mario] Cuomo, New York was a welfare state with a million people on welfare in New York City alone. And what happened, as always happens with socialism, businesses got taxed more and more and they left the state. The economy almost collapsed. The voters got rid of Cuomo and then things got stable. There are far fewer people on welfare in New York City now. People actually have to work.

What will socialism do to alternative medicine? Alternative medicine is already under assault in California anyway.

CHOWKA: Alternative medicine has been so watered down – 

GONZALEZ: It’s collapsed.

CHOWKA: It’s increasingly difficult as a journalist to find anyone to report on who is doing truly alternative work –research or clinical practice in primary alternative health care.

GONZALEZ: They want to do complementary – they all want to be part of the medical system.

CHOWKA: Many CAM proponents are pro-statist socialists. If they can shoehorn what’s left of alternative medicine, renamed complementary alternative (CAM) or integrative medicine, into the system, that’s all they want. But CAM to me is an offensive term and concept. And how can you even prove that it works? Medicine, Inc. is so preoccupied with testing single agents. How can you ever hope to test complementary approaches that combine supposed alternatives with orthodox therapies?

GONZALEZ: You’re implying that they have the capability to think, which they don’t. You have to change your perspective. You have to expect people to be stupid [laughs].

CHOWKA: Medicare proponents claim the overhead is only 4 percent.

GONZALEZ: They cook the books on that one. It’s enormous. It’s tens of billions of dollars a year basically to take your money away and to give a little bit of it back to you. People think that’s a good thing. Instead of just saving money yourself, and going to the doctor you want. It’s just like buying a car – you buy the car you want, you buy the service you want. That’s why American medicine was the envy of the world. Our medical system, whether it’s orthodox or alternative, is still the best in the world. It was the best in the world because it was a free market enterprise that allowed doctors to think creatively and that’s why all of the great medical achievements came out of here. They didn’t come out of North Korea, or East Germany, or the Soviet Union – or out of Cuba, for that matter.

Whenever the state controls medicine or science, it becomes like – Hitler! Hitler was a perfect example. Nazi Germany was a national socialist state where medicine and science were controlled by the state. Look how it degenerated. That’s what always happens when the state controls medicine as opposed to in the U.S., where it flourished. I mean, I may not agree with orthodox medicine but still you have the smartest people doing the best work in the world in the U.S.

CHOWKA: When you combine the wonkish bureaucratic elitist agenda-driven policy makers with the medical Establishment, you get the worst of both worlds.

GONZALEZ: Yes, that’s right. When I hear people like Hillary Clinton talk about the Canadian system, although she hasn’t done it recently, I wonder which world she’s living in. All you have to do is read the newspaper. It’s a disaster. It’s a disaster even for orthodox medicine. It’s collapsing. The doctors hate it because they’re treated like civil servants, the patients hate it because they’re treated like crap.

CHOWKA: In England it’s even worse. The reports that filter through, despite the mostly left wing British press – the doctors sound like they’re indentured servants.

GONZALEZ: In the free market capitalist system, when you go and buy a car, you go to the place that sells cars and you buy the car you want – you pay the guy who sells the cars. It’s very simple. What socialism does is, you don’t buy the car directly. You have to give all of the money to the government and they hire a whole team of people that study buying cars and then they give you a little money back, much less than you put in, and tell you which car you can buy. That’s what socialized medicine is. Medicare alone – to run Medicare costs billions and billions of dollars. You have to pay for the buildings, for the computers, for the employees. The Medicare bureaucracy alone, just hiring people and having the buildings with tens of thousands of Medicare workers just to fill out forms, costs billions of dollars a year. When you think about the hundreds of billions of dollars that are wasted on the Medicare bureaucracy, that could have gone into research – that could have gone into health care. It doesn’t go into health care, it goes into the bureaucracy of health care. And that’s the tragedy. All of that money is lost.

CHOWKA: And it’s a blank check for people to demand more and more medical care and coverage without taking any personal responsibility.

GONZALEZ: That’s right. It fosters irresponsibility, the same way welfare does. What happened in New Orleans [following Katrina] is a perfect example – the end point of a state welfare system where people are so dependent on the state that they haven’t even got the sense to leave.

CHOWKA: Or the common sense to fill a couple of bottles of water so they wouldn’t be dying of thirst after two days.

GONZALEZ: They’re so dependent on the state and on welfare for their entire lives.

CHOWKA: Proponents of government medicine claim that a huge percentage of health care spending in the current system is eaten up by insurance company bureaucracy.

GONZALEZ: I think insurance companies, too, are a problem. But that’s optional. People don’t have to have it. And the idea that little, uninsured Tommy is going to die on the street – That’s not true. America is the most generous country on earth. When people have freedom, they get to be very generous. Sloan-Kettering, whatever I think of the place, is totally subsidized by donations. It’s the most well-funded hospital in the world because free market capitalists pay back their success. There are hundreds of millions of dollars donated to that hospital.

Whenever the government takes over something in the sciences, they start legislating what the truth is. And that immediately destroys the opportunity to see what the truth is because the truth, like anything else, has to withstand competition. And if the government is the only game in town, supporting all of the science, then there is no competition. That’s what’s happened at the National Institues of Health.

Earlier this month Barry Marshall won the Nobel Prize for his work on the infectious nature of ulcers. During the 1980s he was hated by gastroenterologists – they thought he was crazy when he suggested that ulcers were an infectious problem. He’s now been proven correct. In an interview in the New York Times, he said the last place you’re going to find creative work is at the NIH. He said bureaucracies exist to destroy creativity. He’s a Nobel Prize winner now; he can say whatever he likes. There were no platitudes or bromides, because he lived through it. They tried to destroy him. And he survived and won the Nobel Prize and they’re still third-rate government bureaucrats. He came out of a very small university in Western Australia and he said that if he hadn’t come out of nowhere, he never would have been able to do what he did – that he would have been so imbued with the bureaucracy and the dogma, he never would have done his original work. He said the best thing that happened to him was that he came from nowhere.

Peter Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, health care, and popular culture. Follow Peter on Twitter @pchowka  Peter’s latest interview on The Hagmann Report from Nov. 15, 2017 can be watched here.

By Peter Barry Chowka

Actually, it was a bit longer than 40 years ago that I first became aware that in current events there is always a story behind the commonly accepted story. That is, there is a story closer to the truth that is more accurate than the dominant party line that is fed to the public through the mainstream news media. That may seem fairly obvious now, but it was not so readily apparent in earlier times before the Internet made it possible to instantly fact check questionable news offered up by the Establishment.

During the first week of November1977 – exactly 40 years ago as I write this now – I became involved in a story that significantly and forever raised my level of awareness about – and confirmed for me the existence of – what is now called fake news.

On 11/3/77 I traveled to Washington, D.C. to do intensive research and a series of interviews for the third article in a series that I was writing about the politics and economics of cancer. The series was titled “Cancer: A Metaphor for Modern Times.” It took a close look at the conduct of and the lack of progress in the nation’s so-called War on Cancer.

My first article in the series, subtitled “Probing the Medical-Pharmaceutical Complex,” was an overview of the cancer problem. At the time, cancer was the second leading cause of death in the United States, close behind coronary heart disease. More than half a million Americans a year were dying of cancer and that number, in spite of medical advances, was increasing.

First page of Peter’s second major article on cancer (April 1977)

My second article, “The Failure of Orthodox Medicine,” examined the shocking limitations in the much-hyped but largely unsuccessful conventional treatments for cancer – surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy drugs. In the third and fourth articles that I was planning, I intended to undertake a probing examination of the federal bureaucracies and the non-government, tax-exempt “charitable” organizations that were in charge of the cancer war, starting with the National Cancer Institute.

The NCI was founded in 1937, one of several small disease-focused institutes that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH), located in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Bethesda, Maryland. In December 1971, the NCI suddenly went from relative obscurity to the forefront of media and public attention after the Congress passed bipartisan legislation that declared a war on cancer, promoted by the burgeoning U.S. Medical Establishment and with the help of high profile celebrities like the popular newspaper advice columnist Ann Landers. The legislation pumped billions of dollars into the new “War on Cancer.” Proponents compared it to the effort during the 1960s that resulted in Americans landing on the moon less than a decade after President John F. Kennedy promised the nation that we would travel there. The unprecedented, focused medical effort of 1971 promised a cure for cancer in time for the Bicentennial on July 4, 1976. President Richard Nixon was an enthusiastic endorser of the National Cancer Act which started the cancer war. Nixon signed the act into law in a public ceremony in the White House East Room on 12/23/71, touting it as a “Christmas present to the nation.”

By the mid-1970s, especially after the 1976 Bicentennial came and went with no cure for cancer in sight, questions about the War on Cancer – its costs and effectiveness – were starting to be asked, in the Congress and in the media. I was one of those who was asking the questions.

When I began my reporting, I discovered that the people in charge of the cancer war – many of them M.D.s – acted more like politicians, self-serving bureaucrats, and spin doctors rather than medical doctors or healers.

My first contact in D.C. during that first week of November 1977 was Dr. Dean Burk. A renowned biochemist with an international reputation, Dean Burk, Ph.D., had been one of the founders of the NCI in 1937 and he had risen to the position of head of its Cytochemistry (cell chemistry) Section. He retired in 1974 at age 70 but remained active – not in conventional medicine, but in innovative areas of health care that questioned mainstream medicine and endorsed various natural treatments for cancer. He was also a critic of the mass fluoridation of public water supplies, claiming that the practice of dumping toxic chemicals into a community’s drinking water supposedly to prevent tooth decay increased the incidence of cancer by 18%. Dr. Burk impressed me as a very smart man and a deeply compassionate humanitarian who had dedicated his life to doing medical and scientific research that would help people.

After our first meeting, Dr. Burk and I became instant friends and we remained close until he passed away eleven years later in 1988.

In the fall of 1977, I had already done some reporting starting three years earlier on a fledgling program at the NCI that was tentatively exploring the potential role of diet in the cause and treatment of cancer. The program was unpopular within the huge NCI and NIH bureaucracy, which was dedicated to finding and testing toxic therapies for cancer and showed little interest in cancer prevention or non-toxic treatments. The larger context was that the entire American Medical Establishment had by that time long maintained that diet and nutrition had absolutely nothing to do with health, including cancer. To claim otherwise immediately got one labeled a quack or a criminal.

 Dean Burk, Ph.D. in his basement office at home, Washington, D.C. November 1977. Photo © by Peter Barry Chowka

At Dr. Burk’s home in NW Washington, D.C. soon after we met, I was surprised when, as we talked in his basement office and he learned about my interest in diet and cancer, he showed me several dusty volumes of mainstream medical and scientific publications from 40, 50, and 60 years earlier that were focused on diet, nutrition, and cancer! Dr. Burk explained that this area of research had shown great promise in the first decades of the 20th century and for several decades afterwards it was a vigorous area of mainstream scientific inquiry.

There were published studies in leading medical journals, conference proceedings, and books, for example by Dr. Michael Tannenbaum of Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, that showed that a diet low in calories (caloric restriction) and high in certain nutrients showed promise as a cancer preventive diet. With a small number of innovative researchers looking at the same areas of diet and cancer once again in the 1970s, Dr. Burk told me, “Peter, there is nothing new under the sun.” Needless to say, I was surprised if not shocked to learn about what Dr. Burk was saying and showing me.

So what happened to this early promising work on diet and cancer from the first decades of the 20th century? The simple answer is that it went out of fashion during World War II when physicians and researchers observed that chemicals similar to certain biological weapons of war, particularly nitrogen mustard, might have a role in cancer treatment. Virtually overnight, the field of cancer chemotherapy – cytotoxic or cell-killing chemical therapy – was born. Chemotherapy would remain the most fashionable and widely used form of conventional cancer treatment well into the next century, crowding out other, less harmful, more promising approaches. After World War II and for succeeding decades, mainstream scientific interest in diet and cancer went to less than zero.

 Lab mouse participating in tests of cancer chemotherapy at the NCI Bethesda, Maryland Nov. 1977 Photo © by Peter Barry Chowka

In November 1977 I also interviewed Gio Batta Gori, Ph.D., the director of the NCI’s Diet, Nutrition and Cancer Program.

 Gio Batta Gori, Ph.D. 1975

It was pressure from some members of Congress, particularly Sens. George McGovern (D-SD) and Robert Dole (R-KS), who co-chaired a Senate Subcommittee on Nutrition that had held hearings on the subject of nutrition and cancer starting in 1974, who championed the effort to fund the NCI’s small diet and cancer program. In fact, it was legislation that originated in the McGovern-Dole subcommittee, subsequently passed by the Congress, that mandated the NCI to start a new diet and cancer research program in the first place.

I knew Sen. McGovern from 1972 when I worked on his campaign for president. In 1977, I interviewed both him and Sen. Dole, as well as Dr. Gori and several other NCI researchers, for my article.

 A Capitol Hill hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Nutrition chaired by Sens. Dole (L.) and McGovern September 1977. Photo © by Peter Barry Chowka

It didn’t hurt chemotherapy’s popularity that it was extremely profitable to the nation’s pharmaceutical companies, which made billions of dollars from the sale of the drugs. Their lobbyists in turn influenced the Congress and the direction of national cancer research policy. Physicians themselves, especially oncologists, also often derived significant financial benefits from prescribing chemotherapy.

The article that was generated from my work in D.C. in November 1977 was subsequently published as “The National Cancer Institute and the Fifty-Year Cover Up.” The fact is that, with the rise of chemotherapy and its dominance for decades, by 1977 about fifty years or more had been lost in the pursuit of a very promising option: the role of diet and nutrition in cancer prevention and treatment. Hence the title, “Fifty-year cover up.”

My article was well-received, widely quoted and cited, and frequently photocopied and republished, including in the official transcript of a 1978 United States Senate Subcommittee hearing on the NCI co-chaired by Senators McGovern and Dole (scan from original hearing transcript published by the U.S. Government Printing Office below).

As I look back now, it is my experiences as a gumshoe journalist and what I learned during this period of time four decades ago that enlightened me to the existence of what was and is, in effect, fake news – the Establishment’s insistence that diet had little or nothing to do with cancer and health. Five years later, in 1982, the highest levels of the U.S. medical Establishment undertook a profound shift virtually overnight with the publication of a report by the National Academy of Sciences, Diet, Nutrition and Cancer. This change was due to the fact that the powers-that-be recognized the growing  interest in diet and cancer and they wanted to appear to get out in front of it. This sudden policy shift represented the beginning of a sea change that would continue, with fits and starts, right up to the present day and would see diet and nutrition established as important factors in health in general and in cancer in particular.

With the government behind the new effort, the bureaucratic Deep State mindset, reflecting the needs of Big Pharma, immediately came into play. The new generation of doctors and researchers was co-opted and directed into fashionable and trendy new areas like chemoprevention – the isolation of anticancer factors from nutrients and other naturally-occurring substances that could be produced as drugs and prescribed and sold at high prices to cancer patients.

The question remains: How many millions of lives could have been saved if the medical Establishment had not effectively ignored or suppressed important and credible research and information on diet and cancer and nutrition and health – over the course of decades, starting in the 1940s or even earlier?

A possible answer to this question recently came to light – and right out of the center of scientific and medical officialdom. On October 3, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control – CDC – of the U.S. government released detailed scientific information that asserted, according to the title of a press release, “Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity Make up 40 percent of Cancers Diagnosed in the United States.”

About 630,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with a cancer associated with overweight and obesity in 2014. . . In 2013-2014, about 2 out of 3 adults in the U.S. were overweight (defined as having a body mass index of 25-29.9 kg/m2) or had obesity (having a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 and higher).

So, in the almost 100 years since the work of early diet and cancer pioneer Dr. Tannenbaum and other scientists who reported that cancer incidence is associated with being overweight, the word about diet and cancer is finally getting out – slowly. Meanwhile, the American way of of eating that has grown up around excessive caloric consumption since the end of World War II – the so-called fast-food culture – has resulted in two out of three American adults now being overweight or obese.

The official cancer survival statistics released by the federal government are massaged and manipulated but it is a credible assumption that around 50% of people who are diagnosed with cancer today will eventually die from the disease or from the deleterious impacts of the toxic treatments. (The NIH claims the “relative survival rate” for all cancers is 68% but that figure should be taken with a large grain of salt.) That translates to around 300,000 Americans a year who are dying from obesity-related cancers. Over the past 40 years, the cumulative death toll might be 10 million or more Americans – who died prematurely because the information on cancer prevention that was first uncovered almost a century ago was never applied in modern medicine and was never made available to physicians, public health officials, or the public.

This is a public health death toll that is unprecedented in modern times, and it points to yet another “failure of orthodox medicine.”

My experience with deconstructing the medical spin and obfuscation around diet and cancer 40 years ago – getting closer to the truth despite a sea of fake news – was excellent training and preparation for reporting on other areas of modern life, particularly politics which, as we see today, is corrupted and dominated by lies and an unending stream of fake news.

Peter Barry Chowka has been a journalist and a writer for all of his life. In 1992, Peter was appointed by the National Institutes of Health to serve on two of the first program advisory panels of the new Office of Alternative Medicine. Peter has also written for the peer review Medline-indexed scientific literature, most recently an article about Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D. (1947-2015). To stay in touch with Peter’s latest reporting, follow him on Twitter @pchowka.

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