INTEGRATIVE CANCER THERAPIES
6(1); 2007 pp.
Surviving Against All Odds:Analysis of6 Case Studies of Patients With CancerWho Followed the Gerson Therapy
A considerable number of patients with cancer have usedor are using the Gerson therapy, an alleged anticancermetabolic diet. However, there is almost no scientific sup- port for this regimen. Hence, the present case review study of 6 patients with metastatic cancer who used the Gersontherapy aims at critically evaluating each case to derivesome valid interpretations of its potential effect. All 6 caseshad a cancer diagnosis with poor prognosis. Despite the presence of some confounding variables, it seems that theGerson regimen has supported patients to some extent both physically and psychologically. More scientific atten-tion needs to be directed to this area so that patients can practice safe and appropriate therapies that are based onevidence rather than anecdotes.
Keywords:Gerson diet; alternative therapy; alternative medi- cine; complementary medicine; cancer
The Gerson therapy is a nutritional approach that allegedly has anticancer effects. It was developed by Max Gerson in the 1920s as a metabolic therapy that claims to cure a number of chronic and degenerativediseases by detoxifying the body and boosting theimmune system.
This dietary regimen is basedbroadly on detoxifying the body with coffee enemas,a diet based on organic fruits and vegetables, a largeamount of freshly made juices, and supplementation with several enzymes or natural medication (ie,niacin, acidol pepsin, Lugol’s solution [iodine], pan-creatin, potassium, co-enzyme Q10, and/or thyroidextract), as seen in Table 1.
Since Gerson published his book in 1958 (now in itsthird edition) detailing the “cure” of patients withadvanced cancer,
the medical community has beenhighly skeptical and sharply hostile toward this nutri-tional therapy. There is consistently strong criticism of it in the medical literature, and attempts to assess theeffect of this regimen have failed to identify any bene-fit, with some of the reasons behind this including neg-ative medical attitudes, unavailability of funding, lim-ited availability of appropriate patient data, and lack of follow-up in treated patients. The American CancerSociety and the US National Cancer Institute (NCI)do not recommend the use of Gerson therapy, warn-ing that patients should not turn away from main-streamtherapy.Besides the (potentially biased) publication of suc-cessful treatments in the book by Gerson
and a sum-mary of the experience of the therapy published in the1970s,
there is only 1 report in the international med-ical literature that has attempted to show some positiveresults in a more coherent and scientifically appropri-ate manner.
The latter report was a retrospectivereview of 153 patients with malignant melanoma, com-paring their 5-year survival rates with those of pub-lished reports of patients receiving conventionaltreatments. The authors showed that the survivalrates of patients using the Gerson therapy were sig-nificantly higher than rates published in the litera-ture for stage II melanoma (100% vs 79%), stageIIIa (82% vs 39%), stage IIIa and IIIb (70% vs 41%),and stage IV(a) (39% vs 6%).
This is the only peer-reviewed publication showing positive results usingthe Gerson regimen in the medical literature. Anothercase series report summarizing the 6-year experienceof using a drastically modified type of the Gersontherapy in an Austrian medical center was publishedin 1990, which provided strong clinical impressionsof the effectiveness of this regimen.
The authors pre-sented findings from 18 matched pairs of cancerpatients (gastrointestinal and breast cancer were the2 most common diagnoses) who underwent surgery with adjuvant modified Gerson therapy or surgery
AM is at the University of Manchester, Manchester, UnitedKingdom.RP is at Cancer Options, London, United Kingdom.
Prof.A.Molassiotis, RN, PhD, University ofManchester, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work,Coupland III, Coupland Street, Manchester M13 9PL, UK.E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.