Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Sad to see doctor promoting false hope

This letter was published in the March 25, 2004, edition of the Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper.

Sad to see doctor promoting false hope

To the Editor:

I found the article about Joseph Gold March 15 one-sided and exceptionally poorly researched. Dr. Gold has been claiming for 30 years that the big, bad medical establishment is suppressing an inexpensive miracle cure for cancer. But hydrazine sulfate is not a wonder drug, and there is no conspiracy. The entire story is long and complex, but I will attempt to summarize the key points.

In the early 1970s, Dr. Gold did some research on the effects of HS on tumors in rats. He reported results suggesting a possible inhibition of tumor cells. These preliminary findings led him to conduct a study of the effect of HS in 84 terminal cancer patients. He reported beneficial effects, but it was a poorly designed study with a number of scientific flaws.

Those preliminary results led other researchers to conduct further, better-designed studies of hydrazine sulfate. These studies, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, failed to demonstrate any benefit in patient survival, weight loss or quality of life.

Supporters of HS claimed the NCI studies were flawed and demanded an investigation. At the request of Congress, the General Accounting Office undertook an investigation matter and concluded the NCI studies were not flawed, and that indeed HS does not have any proven anti-cancer effects.

The sad part of this story is not that the spirits of Joseph Gold are dampened when he thinks about children who are deprived of a worthless, possibly dangerous drug. It is that even years after HS has been demonstrated to be useless, Joseph Gold persists in promoting a worthless treatment and offering false hope to the desperate.

Equally sad is that you printed a poorly researched article and failed to investigate even the most basic facts. I'd like to see an interview with at least a local bona fide oncologist, given the fact that Syracuse is home to an academic medical center, University Hospital. Or you could have made at least the minimal effort required to speak to experts who have published articles debunking Gold's theories.

It's unfortunate that this sort of health misinformation has taken on a life of its own. The myth of an inexpensive, miracle cure for cancer is just that--a myth.

Eva F. Briggs, M.D.
Marcellus, New York

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