CancerGuide: Alternative and Complementary Therapies
I'm going to admit to you right up front that I haven't carefully researched Hulda Clark's theories. In fact, I've spent a total of about fifteen minutes looking over her book, The Cure For All Cancers, in a local health food store. That's all the time I needed to figure out if there is anything worthwhile there, but take my advice for what it's worth.
Briefly, Clark believes that cancer is caused by parasitic infection, and can be cured in just a few days with an herbal mixture. In her newer book, the even more grandiosely titled, The Cure for All Diseases, she claims that an electronic device called a zapper can also cure cancer, along with whatever else might ail you.
When I looked at The Cure for All Cancers, the first thing that caught my eye was the list of 100 documented cases. To paraphrase the watchwords of the '92 Clinton Campaign, "It's the Data, Stupid!" So I turned right to the cases to see what there was, and what I saw was "Stupid Data".
Hulda Clark's cases are classic examples of rotten methodology. She doesn't provide good documentation of the diagnosis of her cases (Such as the biopsy report), but, based on what she says, most probably did have cancer. But that's the least of the problems. What's really laughable are the methods she uses to determine if a patient is "cured". In one case that sticks in my mind, Clark actually told a woman with advanced pancreatic cancer that she was "cured" after two days! She also reports, without a trace of humor, that the woman was "incredulous" on hearing this. As well she should have been!
What is wrong is that she determines whether a patient is "cured" by doing tests for "Ortho-Phospho-Tyrosine", or a hormone called HCG, using an electronic device of her own invention called a "Syncrometer." She presents NO independent verification at all that these tests really work (Though HCG, tested for using reliable methods, really is a marker for a few cancers, including testicular cancer). Her cases validate her tests and her tests validate her cases. The snake swallows its tail! There is no excuse whatever for her not to monitor her patients with standard methods such as X-Rays, MRI's and valid antigen marker tests. If you have the book, you might want review her cases after reading my article on Evaluating Alternative Therapies which talks about how to evaluate cases.
In addition to her bogus tests, the follow-up times she reports for her patients are absurdly short, often just a few days or weeks. As too many of us know by hard experience, cancer is a disease that can recur years after apparently definitive treatment. But Hulda declares her patients cured in a few days on the basis of her quack tests. There is no data.
If there's no data, I don't believe it. And neither should you. In fact, I wouldn't believe anything from someone who, based on these case reports, apparently has as poor a grasp on what constitutes evidence as Hulda Clark does. I have to say that I find the popularity of this therapy extremely disheartening evidence of a low level of critical thinking. If you have no rational skeptism, you'll fall for the first alternative therapy you encounter. And since there is so much nonsense out there, you'll very likely pay the price. In this country, the price of relying on nonsense can be very, very high.
A Visit to Hulda Clark's Clinic
Hulda Clark has a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico. If you are thinking of trying her treatment or especially if you are thinking of going there, you should read this report on a visit to Hulda Clark's Clinic.
Why I Should Have Spent More than Fifteen Minutes: A Modest Apology
I have gotten more critical email about this article than anything else in CancerGuide, and almost all of it takes me to task for spending only fifteen minutes looking at the cases in The Cure for All Cancers. I must apologize, for all of these complaints are quite correct. I have missed some of the truth due to my failure to spend enough time. As it turns out, had I invested the time, I would have had very good reason to be even more skeptical!
Ralph Moss reviews The Cure for All Cancers in his book Herbs Against Cancer: History and Controversy and he is positively scathing. Not only is the parasite theory shown to be bunk, but wormwood, one of the herbs in Clark's "cure", is described as potentially rather toxic. Of particular interest, he analyzes several cases more carefully than I did (having spent more than 15 minutes) and he concludes that, in fact, many patients did not have any reliable diagnosis to begin with. So my statement that, "most patients probably did have cancer" was optimistic. You should know that Ralph Moss is one of the foremost advocates of alternative therapies. He is also a true scholar. If there were value to be found in Hulda Clark's "cure", Ralph Moss would be about the last person on the planet to shy away from it.
Steve Barrett is a tireless alternative therapies skeptic, and the founder of QuackWatch. Dr. Barrett also spent more than 15 minutes on The Cure for All Cancers. In fact, he analyzed the cases individually, and by his count, in at least 59 of the 100 cases there wasn't a reliable diagnosis of cancer! Get the details in his very informative (and properly skeptical) article on Hulda Clark.
When Quackbuster, Steve Barrett, and alternative therapies scholar and proponent, Ralph Moss, actually agree on something it's surely a remarkable event! To get agreement between these two must take something rather cut and dried - like the absurdity of Hulda Clark's Cure for All Cancers.
The Flukey Parasite Theory
Kirk Kolas, a Canadian veterinary student, has put up a good page exposing some of the problems with Clark's parasite theory. He also has some good quotes from other sources - ending with a particularly delicious quote from Ralph Moss's review. Check it out!
Hulda Clark's Legal Troubles
In the Fall of 1999, Dr. Clark was arrested in California and extradited to Indiana on charges of practicing medicine without a license in Indiana dating from 1993. In April 2000, all charges were dropped on a legal technicality - her right to a speedy trial had been infringed.
As far as I'm concerned this arrest has to to with whether Clark followed legal rules, not whether her therapy is actually effective. The prosecutor in the case, James Oliver, is quoted as saying so in an October 6th, 1999 article from the Hoosier Times:
"This case is not about alternative medicine or whether Hulda Clark's treatments are effective," Oliver said Tuesday. "This case is about an unlicensed individual diagnosing and treating patients."
Likewise, that the charges were dropped had absolutely nothing to do with whether she has an effective therapy for cancer - or even whether she illegally practiced medicine without a license in 1993. It was strictly a matter of legal procedure.
As a cancer patient I am happy to let lawyers decide what is legal, but this has nothing to do with what works, which is all I care about. So I am not swayed for or against alternative practitioners by what the lawyers do.
This CancerGuide Page By Steve Dunn. © Steve Dunn
Page Created: 1996, Last Updated: November 24, 2000