Intolerable Delays!July 2014
By William Faloon
The first surgical attempt to cure pancreatic cancer was demonstrated in Germany in 1909.1 In 1935, a doctor named Allen Whipple devised a more effective way to remove the pancreas and adjacent body parts.2
Dr. Whipple’s technique involves the removal of the head of the pancreas, along with portions of the stomach, small intestine, gall bladder, and common bile duct.
The surgical impact on the body is severe. There is a higher death rate from this procedure than many other hospital operations.3 Sometimes the rearranged internal organs do not hold together and infection spreads inside the patient. This leads to follow-up surgery where the remainder of the pancreas and the spleen are removed to correct problems caused by the first operation.4
Some patients do not heal well and leak pancreatic juice from where body parts are sewn together. This happens so frequently that the surgeon leaves in drainage catheters for fluids to exit so they don’t accumulate inside the patient.4,5
Another complication is paralysis of the stomach that can take over a month to heal. During this time a feeding tube is surgically placed into the small intestine to provide nourishment.6
Some patients develop type I diabetes because the insulin-producing areas of their pancreas is removed, requiring life-long insulin injections.7
Despite these horrific surgical side effects, most patients who survive the painful hospital ordeal die from metastatic pancreatic cancer. Few are cured.
The name of this surgery is the “Whipple Procedure.” While it’s been refined since Dr. Whipple’s work in 1935, pancreatic cancer still kills the vast majority of its victims—79 years later!8
Pancreatic Cancer Victim
The snail’s pace of progress against malignancies like pancreatic cancer should provoke societal outrage against the establishment. Yet like lambs standing in line awaiting slaughter, the public tolerates mediocre medicine that is inflicting horrific suffering and massive numbers of needless deaths.
We view these bureaucratic lags as intolerable delays that will be ridiculed by future medical historians. This article describes a drug long ago approved by the FDA that can improve outcomes in pancreatic and other cancer cases. This treatment, however, is not being incorporated into conventional practice.
Steve Jobs was criticized for delaying a Whipple Procedure for nine months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.9 The initial approaches Jobs tried (acupuncture, vegan diet, herbs, spiritualists) had no chance of eradicating his primary pancreatic tumor.
It’s hard to blame the then 49-year-old co-founder of Apple, however, for not wanting his body cut up via a Whipple Procedure. Steve Jobs eventually died at age 56 after undergoing multiple aggressive treatments, including a liver transplant.10-12
How many technologies developed in the early 1900s do consumers still use today? Even the stethoscope (invented in 1819) remains state-of-the-art in today’s archaic world of medical practice.
If one is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at a relatively early stage, the Whipple Procedure is still the best treatment option. Overlooked are a myriad of adjuvant therapies that can markedly improve long-term survival and reduce the horrific complications inherent to the Whipple surgical procedure.
The cancer treatment I describe next is not new. It has long been recommended to Life Extension® members.
Interleukin-2 Improves Survival 3-Fold!
Interleukin-2 (IL-2) enhances overall immune function, most notably by enhancing natural killer cell activity.13-15 Natural killer cells are among the body’s most important immune defenses against malignant and viral-infected cells.16-20 (Cells infected with certain viruses are more prone to convert to malignant cells.)21
IL-2 was long ago approved to treat kidney cancer22-26 and metastatic melanoma.27-29 Its efficacy was likely limited by the advanced disease stage patients are at by the time IL-2 is administered.30 There is toxicity associated with high-dose IL-2.31,32
Intriguing research suggests that administering moderate-dose IL-2 to patients before surgery and chemotherapy may improve survival and other outcomes.33-37 It does this by boosting immune function prior to it being impaired by conventional treatments.
Surgery results in significant immune impairment, something we warned against long before the mainstream considered it a factor in the poor survival rates seen in many types of cancer.38-43 Immune suppression that occurs during chemotherapy is a well-established treatment complication.44,45
In a study conducted on pancreatic cancer patients, half the group was administered moderate dose IL-2 for three consecutive days prior to a Whipple Procedure. Two years after the operation, 33% of patients pre-administered IL-2 were alive compared to only 10% of control surgical patients. Three-year survival was 22% in the IL-2 group compared to 0% of the controls.46
Surgical complications occurred in 80% of the control surgical patients compared with only 33% in the IL-2 pretreatment group. While the control group spent 19.5 days confined to the hospital after their Whipple Procedure, the IL-2 group escaped the hospital in 12 days.46
Life Extension has been recommending moderate-dose IL-2 since the 1990s, yet the mainstream oncologists behave as if these drugs are limited to advanced cancers for which they originally gained FDA-approval. The reality is that IL-2 and other immune-boosting drugs may have far greater efficacy when administered early in the disease process against of a wide range of solid tumors and some types of leukemia.
Contrast Mediocre Cancer Treatment To HIV
Cancer is not relegated to modern times. It has killed human beings forever, but has become prominent as people live longer and cancer incidence markedly increases. Pancreatic cancer, for instance, increases sharply in individuals over age 50, and most patients are 60 to 80 years old when diagnosed.72
HIV rose to prominence in the early 1980s, though the virus existed in the human population before then. The problem was that no one paid attention until thousands started dying.
Within 15 years of HIV infection becoming pandemic, effective anti-viral “cocktails” were discovered that turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable chronic disease.73-75
In 1981, AIDS was a disease of unknown origin.76 It is controllable today because of rapid scientific innovation. It is controllable today because of rapid scientific innovation. Pancreatic cancer, on the other hand, still kills virtually all its victims with the best hope for long-term survival being the Whipple Procedure first refined in 1935.8
So why were AIDS treatments discovered so quickly while effective cancer therapies languish?
The difference was the aggressive way that experimental multi-modal therapies were implemented in HIV/AIDS patients compared to the suffocating bureaucracy that stymies cancer research.
In the early days of AIDS treatment, any therapy that might work was tried immediately on dying patients and the results evaluated and documented. These treatments were often administered by those infected with HIV who faced pending death if a cure were not discovered quickly. The FDA was cast by the wayside as AIDS activists made certain that potentially effective treatments were not obstructed by bureaucratic red tape.77
We at Life Extension are proud of the part we played in saving the lives of AIDS patients by defying FDA attempts to shut us down. An editorial published late last year in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed how HIV revolutionized the way global health is pursued, and how it resulted in accelerated delivery of innovative life saving treatments.78
We Were Jailed!
The FDA did not like our aggressive stance when it came to accelerating medical research, particularly as it related to helping AIDS victims. The FDA did everything in its power to shut Life Extension down and imprison us for life.82 According to the FDA, we were ripping off dying AIDS patients by recommending unproven therapies.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (Nov 27, 2013) featured an article describing a 54% reduction in the risk of progressing from HIV to full-blown AIDS using selenium and multi-vitamins.83 Life Extension first recommended these nutrients in the October 1985 edition of this publication (called at that time Anti-Aging News).
While the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association was conducted in a region of Africa where malnutrition is rampant, and the study had other flaws (like a 25% dropout rate in both groups), the delay in HIV-induced immune suppression in patients taking these nutrients was remarkable.
A number of previous studies support the benefits of certain nutrients in delaying HIV progression79,84-86 Even FDA Consumer Magazine eventually acknowledged the value of AIDS patients using nutrient supplements.
We also recommended a drug called isoprinosine to AIDS patients in the October 1985 issue of Anti-Aging News. This contributed to our being arrested by the FDA because isoprinosine was not an approved drug. In the June 21, 1990, edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, a study found that HIV-infected humans who took isoprinosine were eight times less likely to progress to AIDS compared to placebo.87 This was not enough, however, to keep us from being indicted in 1991.
What helped save us was the continuing publication of research findings corroborating that isoprinosine and certain nutrients significantly delayed disease progression in HIV-infected patients, thus negating the FDA’s argument that we were “ripping off AIDS patients” by recommending “unproven” therapies.
The FDA was on the wrong side when it sought to destroy us in the 1980-1990s. Regrettably, millions of Americans continue to perish from needless bureaucratic red tape from virtually all diseases except AIDS. The reason AIDS is the exception is that AIDS activists made it clear to the FDA that there would be no bureaucratic delays in delivering experimental therapies to HIV-infected patients. The FDA capitulated and this enabled rapid medical innovation to occur in a free market environment.
Cancer patients, on the other hand, sit by like timid sheep, as the FDA decides which experimental therapy they are “allowed” to try and how far their disease must progress before the experimental therapy is made available on a so-called “compassionate-use” basis. FDA’s granting of “compassionate-use” sometimes occurs weeks after the patient dies, or is so close to death that it has no chance of working.
“In conclusion, our data suggest the relevance of NK (natural killer) cells as primary effectors not only against high-risk leukemias, but also solid tumors.” 44
Quote from study published in the April 2013 edition of the journal Oncoimmunology