Episode 3: Cancer Quackery Part 1 - Scorpion Venom, Entelev, Shark Cartilage, the Livingston-Wheeler Regimen, Iscador, and the Macrobiotic Diet

This episode covers alternative cancer treatments with bizarre ingredients and wacky dietary requirements, including scorpion venom, Entelev, shark cartilage, the Livingston-Wheeler regimen, Iscador, and the macrobiotic diet.

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Disclaimer

We make fun of the con artists and quacks who promote this stuff, and not the victims of their trickery and flimflam. We understand that desperate people, probably physically and mentally not at peak performance, can be lead to believe these hucksters and scammers can cure them.

History

Quack cancer cures are not new. In fact, the first federal law against false drug claims was enacted in response to a fake cancer cure in 1912. After the Food and Drugs Act of 1906, we thought everything would be just groovy. We were wrong. Dr. Johnson’s Mild Combination Treatment for Cancer comes out in 1908. Surprisingly, it doesn’t do the trick. Supreme Court ruled (in the Johnson case) that the FDA did not outlaw false “therapeutic” claims, only false claims about the content of drugs. The Sherley Amendment of 1912 changed that, and we were free from goofy cancer cures forever… or not.

Scorpion Venom (Escozine)

In 2004 Dr. Arthur Grant Mikaelian (founder and CEO of Medolife) became interested in the medical use of Caribbean Blue Scorpion venom. In 2010 he registered a patent in the Dominican Republic and 6 other countries to the polarization process that was supposed to improve the delivery of the peptide minerals. In the U.S. it’s only sold as a dietary supplement. It’s apparently now used in 40 countries, according to the website. 

The claims from the Medolife website state,

Escozine™ works as a sodium, potassium and chloride ionic chanel inhibitor. The patented polarized technology ensures binding by increasing the positive charges in Chlorotoxin up to five times which is why it transfers as a smart missile and targets only abnormal cells in the way – leaving healthy cells unharmed.

The website states that the serem is odorless and colorless and should be administered orally. It also says that you can use this in the convenience of your own home. Apparently according to the site, one bottle will lasts approximately 30 days.

Shockingly there is zero evidence Escozine can help at all in any of the ways in which it claims to help cancer victims. Oh yeah, so the silver lining here is that at least Medolife suggests that those who take Escozine don’t stop the standard treatments by a licensed physician.

According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website under the heading “Purported Uses: Cancer Treatment” it says,

No scientific evidence supports this use. The “scientific” papers published online about scorpion venom products have not been properly evaluated by the scientific community.

Entelev

(Also known as Protocel, Sheridan's Formula, Jim's Juice, Crocinic Acid, JS–114, JS–101, 126–F, and CanCell)

According to their website, Medical Research Products,

Cantron® is an amazing bio-electrical wellness formulation. It provides astonishing health benefits like no other substance on Earth. It is the world’s most potent antioxidant and scavenger of abnormal proteins which accumulate in the blood, tissues, organs and joints. Cantron is known to dramatically aid the body’s own natural defenses. Since 1984, it has received rave reviews from those who have taken it. One customer summed it up perfectly on an Internet chat site when she emphatically stated: “How blessed we are to know about Cantron.

Invented by James V. Sheridan, a biochemist with Dow Chemical, in 1936. How did Sheridan come up with the name “Entelev”? It came to him in a dream, of course! He even said it was inspired by God! He combined the word “Entelechy”, which is the elan vital or vital force that drives all life, and “Ev” for “electrovalent”. 

So, what’s in this stuff? According to the FDA, it contains “inositol, nitric acid, sodium sulfite, potassium hydroxide, sulfuric acid and catechol.” The makers of CanCell, however, argue that this FDA analysis is faulty because CanCell cannot be analyzed at all. The problem is that it varies with “atmospheric vibrations” and “keeps changing its energy”. This is also probably why the producers say it can’t be near electrical outlets

Having such fancy unanalyzable ingredients, Entelev must be made in a super secret factory, right? Not exactly. During an FDA inspection, Sheridan was seen performing pH testing in the kitchen while his wife was cooking chicken for dinner. See, it’s safe! This wasn’t just a one off occurrence either. Edward J. Sopcak, who sold Entelev (then called CanCell) in the 80’s, manufactured the product in his kitchen, too. The kitchen truly is nature’s medicine cabinet.

Shark Cartilage 

Even though we’re a few months shy of “Shark Week” let’s take the dive into “Shark Cartilage” as a goofy-as-fuck cure for cancer as well as arthritis.  So this is exactly like what it sounds like. This goofy cancer “cure” is cartilage taken from actual sharks. 

There are no scientific studies that show it’s success but that doesn’t stop quackery from moving on this one. The double-blind studies conducted have shown to be completely ineffective. The name of the investigational drug derived from this shark cartilage is called Neovastat

Shark cartilage peaked scientific interest due to the presence of a protein in the cartilage that had possible effects in preventing angiogenesis (development of new blood vessels from existing ones). It was thought that this could theoretically halt the growth of cancerous tumors.  However, the results of these studies were inconclusive and still are under current testing. 

Of course you would not be a good quack cure salesman if you didn’t pounce at the opportunity to make money off of people’s pain and hardship. Alternative health writers had a field day in the 90s over this. William Lane’s book, “Sharks Don’t Get Cancer” was a bestseller when it was released in 1992. 

Sharks actually do get cancer! Scientists have actually known this for 150 years now! In fact marine biologists have actually found a foot wide by foot long tumor protruding out of a Great White Shark. Tumors have been found in 23 different species of sharks. In an article, I found this quote by David Shiffman, who was a doctoral student at the University of Miami and shark researcher,

Sharks get cancer. Even if they didn’t get cancer, eating shark products won’t cure cancer any more than me eating Michael Jordan would make me a better at basketball.

Also, this particular quack potion is potentially dangerous! Evidently, shark cartilage has been known to cause inflammation. Chronic inflammation is known to actually cause cancer. 

William Lane suggested doing shark cartilage enemas. The fact is no matter how you take Shark Cartilage or in whatever form, it cannot be absorbed in the bloodstream so it’s essentially useless.

Besides being a complete waste of money at best, harmful and cancer-CAUSING at worst, taking shark cartilage also threatens the shark species by contributing to overfishing in some areas. According to a March 2013 study humans kill about 100 million sharks per year. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, one in six known species of sharks are threatened with extinction. To be fair, It’s not all for SC it’s also for shark fin soup.

Livingston-Wheeler Regimen 

Named for Dr. Virginia Livingston and her husband Owen Webster Wheeler, who was “cured” by her treatments of “head and neck cancer”. While researching Scleroderma, she claimed to find an “acid-fast organism”, later named “Progenitor cryptocides”. The name is Latin for “ancestral hidden killer”, which is pretty darn cool. 

This became her hammer so to speak, as this organism was not only responsible for scleroderma, but Wilson’s disease, myocardial vascular disease, and CANCER. Not only that, but this thing is OLD, at least precambrian (485 million years ago). Livingston claimed it was “endogenous to life itself”. Unfortunately I have no idea what the hell that could mean.

The basic idea is that all humans (and probably all life don’tcha know) has these little baddies in them. When the immune system is weakened, they go to work causing cancer. Bastards! The cure, obviously, is to bring the immune system back to full strength via. 

  • Vaccines made from patient’s urine.

  • “Detoxification” with enemas.

  • Digestive enzymes

  • A vegetarian diet that avoided chicken, eggs, and sugar

But DOES IT WORK?! Nope. 1991 study of late-stage cancer patients with very bad prognosis were just as likely to die under conventional (ie not dumb) treatment as Livingston-Wheeler Therapy. Also, quality of life was much better for the conventionally treated. And that killer microbe? Turned out to be a simple common skin bacterium. Whoops. 

Iscador (Mistletoe Extract)

Iscador is a one goofy “cure” for cancer. It derives from extracts of European mistletoe. The scientific name is Viscum album. Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian spiritual teacher, invented the potion. He did so as part of anthroposophy, what he called a “philosophy” that attempted to bridge the gap between science, art, and religion. 

It is the subject of continuing research because apparently it kills cancer cells in vitro and stimulates immune system cells. In alternative medicine this is as good as settled science, but of course it’s not. According to cancer.org, the three components responsible for these effects are viscotoxins (small proteins which display cell-killing activity with possible immune-system-stimulation activity), lectins (complex molecules which are composed of both carbohydrates and proteins that have the ability to bind to the outside of cells), and lastly polysaccharides (which are carbohydrates with sugar molecules bonded together).

Since mistletoe may have the ability to stimulate the immune system it has been classified as a type of “biological response modifier”. 

Surprisingly, it may possibly do some to alleviate side effects of REAL cancer treatments called chemotherapy. It has shown absolutely no clinical effectiveness as a drug and because of this the US highly controls Iscador unlike Eastern Europe, where it’s one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for cancer treatment. 

Apparently, in the US you can only ship the mistletoe extracts for approved research or for “individual use”. According to cancer.gov in Europe, though there are other ways of taking the “drug”  it’s most commonly administered by injection. 

The plant and berries are actually poisonous to eat but the Iscador extract won’t likely harm you directly, it, like most of these goofy cancer cures, is just completely useless at fighting cancer.

Macrobiotic Diet

Macrobiotic is Greek for “long life”. This is a diet invented by guru and Japanese author and I’m certainly going to mangle his name here - Nyoichi Sakurazawa (his better known pen name was George Ohsawa). Started the macrobiotic movement with the publication of his book “Zen Macrobiotics” in 1965. In the West this diet was popularized by Ohsawa’s student, Michio Kushi as well as a handful of other assholes. 

Essentially how this diet works is categorizing foods humans eat based off of some random yin and yang schematics. Supposedly a perfect balance of food intake with the Macrobiotic Diet will maximize life extension. 

Oshawa said that schizophrenia is a “yin” disease which can be cured by drinking more “yang” fluids. Interestingly, meat is not banned from the Macrobiotic Diet but it is considered “stagnating” or “extremely yin”. Alcohol however is considered “extremely yang” or “overstimulating”, along with fermented foods and various spices. So Macrobiotic Dieters were pretty much vegetarians who didn’t drink very much alcohol for the most part. Macrobiotic foods tend to be Japanese food that is vegetarian. 

Kushi described cancer as being, “ the body's own defense mechanism to protect itself against long-term dietary and environmental abuse." Kushi defined the practice of macrobiotics as “the selection, preparation and manner of eating of our daily foods, as well as the orientation of consciousness.” And by implementing this practice he said, it is possible to apply “the order of the universe, nature, and life” to our daily lives. 

According to Kushi “macrobiotics is neither a treatment nor a therapy, but rather a common sense approach to daily living.” However, in Kushi’s own writings he focuses specifically on the use of macrobiotic diets to relieve and treat illness, such as cancer and AIDS. 

Even tho it was promoted as a life extension remedy the macrobiotic diet didn’t really extend life spans. In fact the founder and his wife both died relatively young (in their 70’s). Ohsawa died of heart disease at 72 and his wife Aveline Kushi died of cervical cancer. Ironic since Ohsawa promoted the Macrobiotic Diet as preventing cancer. Not a good selling point when the founder’s wife dies of cancer while eating exclusively your anti-cancer diet.

Ohsawa smoked cigarettes heavily. He concluded after zero research that gray smoke coming out the front end of a cigarette is yin (which is cancer-causing). The yellow/orange smoke portion which comes out the back, that the smoker breathes in is yang (obviously). 

You can technically be healthy by eating a macrobiotic diet but it’s merely by accident because the foods chosen to be consumed on a macrobiotic diet are based on their metaphysical properties, not nutrition. Those that adhere to a macrobiotic diet may be healthy not by the specific foods they consume but rather what they mostly leave out of the diet such as meat, milk, other animal products, refined and processed foods, etc. 

So Kushi not only emphasized the importance of the balance of diet but on mental states. He made it very clear that each individual is directly responsible for his or her own development of cancer in their own bodies. This manifested in their manner of thinking. If one is in the wrong state of mind they are open to the disease. This is not supported by the evidence and can lead to serious depression in patients feeling as if maybe they are the cause of their own illness.

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