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BARBARA WALTERS, ABCNEWS Good evening and welcome to 20/20 FRIDAY. Tonight, a doctor who believes that he has found a better way to treat cancer without radiation, without chemotherapy. His method includes daily coffee enemas, enzymes from pigs and something called hair analysis. That may sound strange to you, but the government is putting up more than $1 million of your money to study his treatment. And while we wait for those findings, Arnold Diaz has been doing his own investigating into this unconventional doctor and his unconventional therapy.
1ST MAN Supplements. Samples.
ARNOLD DIAZ, ABCNEWS (VO) Whether its herbal supplement shark cartilage or acupuncture, alternative medicine is growing more popular every day and attracting interest from mainstream medicine. At this conference in New York recently, one practitioner stood out.
2ND MAN To show our appreciation to a true pioneer.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) Cancer Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez has become something of a hero in the world of alternative medicine.
DR NICHOLAS GONZALEZ What Im seeing is a complete change in attitude. Where if you show good results, they are going to listen. Where if you show data, they are going to read it.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) Last year, he published a case study involving 11 of his pancreatic cancer patients showing they lived an average three times longer than the usual survival rate. Dr. Jeffrey White is with the National Cancer Institute.
DR JEFFREY WHITE His results were the kind of results that make you sit up and take notice.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) And it led to a $1.4 million federal grant to study Dr. Gonzalezs controversial cancer fighting regimen in a clinical trial with Columbia University. Key to his treatments are enzymes from the pancreas of pigs. In a previous interview with ABC in 1996, he said the enzymes attack cancer cells.
NICHOLAS GONZALEZ It seems to work against any cancer. We havent found any cancer thats resistant to the enzymes at this point.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) He says he has 600 to 800 patients. Many swear by his methods, including Jeffrey Kaufman. Following surgery for thyroid cancer 10 years ago, Kaufman rejected radiation treatments and came to Dr. Gonzalez instead.
JEFFREY KAUFMAN Heres another ascorbic acid.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) Each day, he takes 150 pills including amino acids, vitamins and pancreatic enzymes. He follows a special diet of juices and organic foods and he has to do coffee enemas twice a day, part of what Dr. Gonzalez calls detoxification. Kaufman says his life now revolves around the program, but its worth it.
(OC) What makes you believe that its working?
JEFFREY KAUFMAN Well, Im still alive. Im in very good health. And Dr. Gonzalez also gives you a number, a cancer number.
ARNOLD DIAZ The cancer number. Its supposed to be one indication of how well patients are doing on Dr. Gonzalezs regiment. But its based on a very controversial testa hair test. Patients give him a lock of their hair. And he has it analyzed, but not in the way you expect. Dr. Gonzalez tells patients the test is experimental but very accurate.
(VO) One of those patients was Joan Reickert who had advanced stage breast cancer. Over the course of nearly two years, Gonzalez used hair analysis to measure nearly 100 different thingsfrom her vitamin and mineral deficiencies to how her organs were functioning. Dr. Gonzalez often audiotapes his sessions. Listen as he tells Joan about the supplements she needs because her hair test scores are so low.
NICHOLAS GONZALEZ (From audiotape) Your lymphatic system is low. Im giving you some lymph. Your ovarian function was low, Im giving you some ovarian substance.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) Dr. Gonzalez also used the hair test to determine what he called her CT rate or cancer total.
AMY I remember very vividly getting calls from her where she was very excited because she had just gotten results of her cancer rate and had it gone down.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) Joans children Mimi, Madeline, Josh and Amy whos married to an ABC producer say, while conventional testing by other doctors showed their mothers cancer was spreading, Dr. Gonzalez hair tests showed her CT rate was going downfrom 31 to 12.
MIMI She died riddled with cancer. And how her cancer rate could have been going down by his measure of hair analysis beats us.
ARNOLD DIAZ Arnold Diaz.
(VO) So how was the hair test done? Dr. Gonzalez didnt seem anxious to explain it. But its something called radionics.
(OC) What do you know about the hair test, this radionics?
NICHOLAS GONZALEZ Were testing it to seeits an experimental tool that were evaluating. I dont see why thats difficult to understand.
ARNOLD DIAZ Well, how is it done?
NICHOLAS GONZALEZ II dont do it. So its not something I do myself.
ARNOLD DIAZ But you send all your patientsyou have gone through that. You dont even know how its done?
NICHOLAS GONZALEZ Im not an expert. Look, I dont know how an MRI is done. I dont know how MRIs are done.
ARNOLD DIAZ But is it a scientific test?
NICHOLAS GONZALEZ Yeah. Absolutely.
ARNOLD DIAZ Absolutely?
NICHOLAS GONZALEZ Yeah.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) Radionics has actually been around for decades, developed by a neurologist in California. But how scientific is it? Take a look at this demonstration we got from this Bob Beautlich of the Psychotronic Association.
(OC) Can you show me how this machine works?
BOB BEAUTLICH Well, its a similar device.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) There are several types of machines. But he says they operate basically the same way. The hair sample goes into a cup-like device called a well. The operator chooses the setting for a particular organ or disease, then rubs a pad with one hand while turning a dial with another. When he gets an intuitive hit, his hand sticks to the pad giving him the reading.
BOB BEAUTLICH There it is. And its reading about 85 percent.
ARNOLD DIAZ You are not chemically analyzing the hair?
BOB BEAUTLICH No. Were not chemically analyzing it.
ARNOLD DIAZ So how is it telling you anything about whats going on in the body?
BOB BEAUTLICH This is based on the premise that we all have an aura.
ARNOLD DIAZ An aura.
BOB BEAUTLICH OK.
ARNOLD DIAZ Do you have to have psychic powers to operate one of these machines?
BOB BEAUTLICH You have to have an intuitive ability, yes.
ARNOLD DIAZ (To Dr. Gonzalez) They put it in this little tube. And then somebody rubs their hand on it, and they come up with a measurement.
(VO) Dr. Gonzalez says its electromagnetic energy being measured but wont say exactly how. Radionics is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
(OC) What do you think of radionics?
DR BARRIE CASSILETH Well, this is called voodoo magic, I think is the technical term for it.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) Dr. Barrie Cassileth is an expert on alternative medicine at New Yorks prestigious Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
(OC) This is not a tool to be used in cancer treatment?
BARRIE CASSILETH No, this is called silly.
ARNOLD DIAZ Not scientific?
BARRIE CASSILETH Not scientific. Worse than not scientific. This is pure ridiculousness.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) Dr. Gonzalez says the hair test is not the only thing he relies on to tell him how a patient is doing. He also sometimes uses traditional tests like X-rays and MRIs. However, he says in some cases, including Joan Reickerts, traditional tests can be ambiguous.
NICHOLAS GONZALEZ I didnt tell her she was getting better. All I said was the truth, that this cancer rates going down, and we discussed with her son what that might be.
JOSH If you are suffering from cancer, the physician looks at you and says your cancer rate is going down, to me, theresits a very clear implication that you are getting better.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) And Rikerts family says had their mother known what the hair test apparently was...
MIMI I can tell you if mom had seen this, she would have flipped.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) She never would have stayed on what for her became an increasingly grueling regiment.
JOSH She spent countless, countless hours every day in solitude of her room taking pills, doing enemas.
MADELINE She had to take two sets of enemas. Each one with four pints of coffee. And as she got sicker and weaker, then the whole process took longer, my guess is that she spent six to seven or eight hours a day on the enema process.
JOSH What Dr. Gonzalez really offered my mother was hopeI believe, false hope. She paid a very high price at the end for that hope.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) Dr. Gonzalez has come under attack in two malpractice cases. One, the case of Holly Schafer who died of lymph cancer. While not faulting him for the use of enzymes and enemas, the jury found him negligent for using the hair test to monitor her condition. He plans to appeal.
JULIANE CHARREL (From videotape) I just cant do anything anymore. Im just completely helpless.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) In another case, Juliane Charrel seen here in a videotaped deposition claimed, while Dr. Gonzalez told her her cancer rate was going down, her cancer was in fact spreading, causing her to go blind. He was ordered to pay more than $1 million in damages. And the New York state medical board found Dr. Gonzalez guilty of negligence and incompetence in the care of six other cancer patients in the early 90s. He underwent retraining and is appealing the decision. Patients spend thousands of dollars a year on supplements under his program, and there was a time in the early 90s when Dr. Gonzalez was getting a retainer from the supplement companies he recommended.
(OC) You were getting thousands of dollars a month from these supplement companies.
NICHOLAS GONZALEZ At certain times, I did.
ARNOLD DIAZ Why were you telling patients you had no interest?
NICHOLAS GONZALEZ It depends on the specific time.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) Gonzalez says he was paid to help develop the supplements and that he no longer gets money from the supplier. As for the upcoming government-funded study, he is confident it will show his treatments are more effective than chemotherapy.
NICHOLAS GONZALEZ I believe in science. And I believe in the method. I believe it works, and I believe the results, as in the first study, will be better than anybody elses.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) Dr. Cassileth says she respects Dr. Gonzalezs willingness to put his methods to the test to find out if the enzymes, diet, or detoxification procedures have any benefit. But like many cancer experts, shes skeptical.
BARRIE CASSILETH We will see whether, in the long run, it turns out that this approach has any merit. Many of us feel that in the long run, itit will not pan out.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) It may be several years before the results of the study are known. In the meantime, Dr. Gonzalez says the publicity has brought him more patients than ever. Many say the program has helped extend or save their lives.
JEFFREY KAUFMAN Ive lived it for 10 years. And I have seen what it has done for me.
ARNOLD DIAZ (VO) But others are troubled.
MADELINE Theres no question that, simply by giving him this grant, he has been granted a great deal of credibility.
JOSH I am also uncomfortable with the fact thatthat taxpayer money is being used to actually compensate this individual for treating people with the program that, at least in the experience that my mother had, seriously eroded the quality of her life.
BARBARA WALTERS Arnold, its a little hard to understand why the government is funding Dr. Gonzalez.
ARNOLD DIAZ Well, he is one of the few people involved in alternative cancer treatments thats published any kind of study. And thats willing to allow his method to be scrutinized and compared to more traditional treatments.
BARBARA WALTERS When will we know the results?
ARNOLD DIAZ It really depends on how long the test patients live. They all are going to have pancreatic cancer, which is inoperable. Half will get chemotherapy. Half will go see Dr. Gonzalez. The success of his regiment will depend on whether his patients live longer than those on chemotherapy.
BARBARA WALTERS It is a survival test.
ARNOLD DIAZ Thats the bottom line. Survival.
BARBARA WALTERS And one day you tell us what the results were.
ARNOLD DIAZ I hope so.
BARBARA WALTERS I hope we find out. Thank you very much, Arnold.