Surviving Ebola!

Steve Hickey PhD and Hilary Roberts PhD


Emerging diseases, such as Ebola, pose an increasing risk to health as the virus adapts, allowing it to spread in the human population. People are understandably concerned about epidemics with such a high death rate: up to 90% in this case. It is possible for people to reduce their risk of death from this and other emerging viral diseases, using vitamin C. However, in order to avoid or survive an infection, vitamin C needs to be used in a particular way. This is a simplified explanation of how vitamin C works to fight infections.

The Internet contains many claims about the use of vitamin C. The primary claim, that vitamin C can help people survive and combat the disease, is correct. Much of the rest of the information is wrong, wishful thinking, or else it has been generated by commercial concerns, to encourage people to buy a version of the supplement.

If you are worried about Ebola (or other acute infections), this is what you need to know.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is the primary antioxidant in the diet. Most people do not take enough to be healthy. While this is true of many nutrients, vitamin C is a special case. The government will tell you that you only need about 100 mg a day and that you can get this amount from food. Whatever the politics, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is not science. For almost a century, some leading doctors and scientists have been telling people that they need more – much more.

The required amount of vitamin C varies with the person’s state of health. To prevent acute scurvy, you need only 5 mg a day, or even less. Avoiding acute scurvy is the rationale for the RDA. A normal adult in perfect health may need only a small intake, say 500 mg per day. However, people are not always in perfect health and more is needed when someone is even slightly under the weather. Similarly, to avoid illness, the intake needs to be increased.

The intake for an otherwise healthy person to have a reasonable chance of avoiding a common cold is in the region of 8-10 grams (8,000-10,000 mg) a day. This is about ten times what corporate medicine has tested in their trials on vitamin C and the common cold. Ten grams (10,000 mg) is the minimum pharmacological intake; in other words, 10 grams a day may help if you have a slight sore throat but more (much more) may be needed. To get rid of a common cold, you may need something in the order of 60 grams (60,000 mg) a day. With influenza the need might be for 100 grams (100,000 mg) a day. Since it varies from person to person, and from illness to illness, the only way to find out is to experiment for yourself.

Dynamic flow

The problem with oral intakes is that healthy people do not absorb vitamin C well. This is due to something Dr Robert Cathcart called bowel tolerance. Take too much of the vitamin in a single dose and it will cause loose stools. In good health, a person might be able to take a couple of grams at a time without this problem. Strangely, when a person becomes sick they can take far more without this side effect: as much as 20-100+ grams a day, in divided doses.

High dose vitamin C has a short half-life in the body. The half-life is the time for the level in the blood plasma to fall back to half its concentration. Until recently, some people claimed that the half-life of vitamin C was several weeks. We have shown that this long half-life applies only to low doses. By contrast, the half-life for high blood levels is only half an hour. This short half-life has many implications for the use of high dose vitamin C and implies that the period between doses needs to be short – a few hours at most.

The aim is to achieve dynamic flow, to get vitamin C flowing continuously through the body. Dynamic flow requires multiple high doses, taken through the day. When separated in time, each dose is absorbed independently. Two doses of 3 grams, taken 12 hours apart, are absorbed better than 6 grams taken all at once. Multiple large doses, say 3 grams four times a day, produce a steady flow of the vitamin from the gut, into the bloodstream and out, via the urine. Some of the intake is not absorbed into the blood and stays in the gut, as a reserve against the early onset of illness. As illness begins, the body pulls in this “excess” to help fight the virus.

The idea behind dynamic flow is that the body is kept in a reduced (antioxidant) state, using high doses. There is always vitamin C available, to refresh the body and other antioxidants. Each vitamin C molecule (ascorbic acid) has two antioxidant electrons, which it can donate to protect the body. It then becomes oxidised to dehydroascorbate (DHA). This oxidised molecule is then excreted, so the body has gained two antioxidant electrons. The kidneys reabsorb vitamin C, but not DHA. So, the vitamin C molecule is absorbed, used up, and then the oxidised form is thrown out with the rubbish. Some so-called sceptics claim that high dose vitamin C only produces “expensive urine” – we hope you can see their fallacy.

The effectiveness of vitamin C is not directly proportional to the dose. If you take too little, the effect will be minimal. At a certain intake, there is a transition, above which vitamin C becomes highly effective. Below this level, the effect is small; above it, the effect is dramatic. The problem is that no-one can tell you in advance what intake of vitamin C is needed in a particular individual. The solution is to take more – more than you think necessary – more than you consider reasonable. Basically, the mantra is dose, dose, dose – or “Moar vitamin C!”

Types of Vitamin C

Straightforward, low cost ascorbic acid is the preferred form of supplement. Vendors May try to sell you “better absorbed” forms with minerals or salts such as sodium, potassium or calcium ascorbate, and so on. These are irrelevant, if not counterproductive, for high intakes. It is worth noting the following:

  1. Timing is more important than form. Two large doses of ascorbic acid taken a little time apart are better absorbed than a single dose of mineral ascorbate.
  2. Mineral ascorbates are salts and do not carry the same number of antioxidant electrons. Ascorbic acid has two electrons to donate while a salt typically has only one. With high doses, the “improved” forms are thus only about half as effective. This is consistent with reports that mineral forms are correspondingly ineffective in combating illness.
  3. Ascorbic acid is a weak acid, much weaker than the hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Mineral ascorbates may be better tolerated, as they make the stomach more alkaline than ascorbic acid. However, an alkaline stomach is not a good idea – there are reasons the body secretes hydrochloric acid into the stomach, including preventing infection. Furthermore, if you are coming down with a haemorrhagic viral infection, mild discomfort will not be something of great concern.
  4. For high intakes, capsules of ascorbic acid are preferable to tablets. This is because tablets are packed with fillers and it is not wise to take massive doses of these chemicals. Check the ingredients – you want to take ascorbic acid and very little else. Bioflavonoids are alright, and the capsules may be made with gelatine or a vegetarian equivalent.
  5. The cheapest way to take ascorbic acid is as powder, dissolved in water. If you do this, use a straw to avoid it getting on the tooth enamel, as it is slightly acidic. You will need a set of accurate electronic scales to monitor the dose. If you do not weight it carefully, it will be difficult to keep close to bowel tolerance.

Intravenous Vitamin C

Ideally, infected people would be given a continuous intravenous (IV) infusion of massive doses of sodium ascorbate. In this case, sodium ascorbate is used, as ascorbic acid is not well tolerated by injection.

  1. People who are sufficiently ill will not be able to take vitamin C by mouth.
  2. IV provides the highest possible blood levels
  3. IV means continuous drip, not an injection (short half-life)

Unless you are a medical professional who can treat yourself and your family, or are exceptionally rich, IV ascorbate will not an option in an Ebola epidemic. People will be asking for the treatment and doctors will be loath to provide it, as it would mean a direct risk to them and, indirectly, their families. (Medical staff are already reported to be deserting hospitals in some infected areas.)


In healthy people, liposomes help the absorption of oral vitamin C; in some circumstances this is also true for sick people. However, we need to dispel some myths propagated by doctors associated with supplement companies.

In a healthy person, higher blood levels (about 600 microM/L) can be achieved using liposomal vitamin C compared with standard ascorbic acid (about 250 microM/L). We were the first to demonstrate this fact experimentally. However, the two absorption methods are different and resultant plasma levels are additive, if both intake methods are used together (something like 600 + 250 = 850 microM/L). Since ascorbic acid is cheaper than liposomal vitamin C, it is cost effective for a healthy person to start with ascorbic acid and top up with liposomes, as required.

A sick person absorbs much more standard ascorbic acid than a normal person. Thus, when a person becomes ill they can absorb massive doses of standard ascorbic acid, using the dynamic flow approach. If you are sick, taking a gram of liposomal vitamin C instead of a gram of cheap ascorbic acid will provide little extra benefit. Both doses of vitamin C will be well absorbed and the liposome contains sodium ascorbate which is less effective. Liposomes only provide added benefit once the sick person has approached bowel tolerance levels, using standard ascorbic acid.

Liposomal vitamin C is NOT more effective than IV for fighting acute infections. This suggestion is unscientific and unsupported by data. We prefer liposomes for chronic infections and cancer, but this does not extend to acute illness. Wishful thinking is no replacement for rational thought.

There is a lot of hype around the fact that liposomes can be absorbed directly into cells. Many liposomes are absorbed from the gut and pass into the liver, where they are stored and the vitamin C released. Liposomes may also float around in the bloodstream, lymph nodes, and so on, waiting to release their contents or be taken up by cells. The cells that take up the liposomes are not necessarily those that are most in need of vitamin C. Moreover, the cells that take up the microscopic bolus of vitamin C may suffer side effects; liposomes are basically nanotechnology and have additional theoretical issues. Once again, people promoting the idea that liposomes are more effective than IV are often associated with companies providing the product.


To have a reasonable chance of avoiding a major viral infection, a daily intake of at least 10 grams of ascorbic acid is needed. The idea is to start low, say taking 500-1,000 mg, four times a day. Build up the intake to close to bowel tolerance; increased wind and large soft light coloured stools will occur before diarrhoea signals that bowel tolerance has been exceeded. At this stage, back off the dose a little, to a reasonably comfortable level.

At the first hint of an infection – feeling unwell, itchy throat, fatigue, and so on – take more ascorbic acid. If the hint of impending sickness is mild, take perhaps 5 grams every half hour or even more frequently. Anything more than a hint of infection, means taking as large a dose as you feel could be tolerated and follow this by taking 5 grams every half hour. The rule is to take as much as you can without going over the tolerated level: you will probably be taking too little, even though you are trying hard to take a massive dose.

If you are already in dynamic flow and want extra protection, then add liposomal vitamin C. Take it at the same intervals as the ascorbic acid, that is several times a day. The limit is once again bowel tolerance – take too much and it will give you loose stools. This will provide the maximum preventive effect, for the lowest cost.


We assume that you are not a medical professional and do not have access to IV ascorbate. However, if IV ascorbate is available, it should be given slowly and as continuously as possible.

The first important thing is to start the treatment early. The longer a person waits after the initial symptoms, the less effective the treatment will be. If the illness has been allowed to develop, the sick person may not be able to take anything orally. A medical professional might be able to provide an IV, or a vitamin C and liposomal C enema, but we shall ignore that possibility here. Medical professionals can deal with such things with little difficulty, but others may do more harm than good.

Once again, the idea is to get dynamic flow going with as much ascorbic acid as can be tolerated. In this case, the doses are massive. Five to ten grams every half hour, through the day, will provide 120 to 240 grams a day. Even at this high intake, the blood plasma levels may be low or undetectable, at most 250 microM/L will be achieved. So the question then becomes how much additional liposomal vitamin C the patient can tolerate.

A practical approach would be to start with 5 grams of ascorbic acid and a similar amount of liposomal vitamin C in very frequent doses. Remember the key is dose, dose, dose. Moar vitamin C!

How it Works

The mechanism of action of high dose vitamin C is known and understood. In normal healthy tissues it acts as an antioxidant. In other tissues, it generates hydrogen peroxide, the chemical that platinum blondes use to bleach their hair. Hydrogen peroxide is formed in sick and inflamed tissues, for example in a malignant tumour. The process is typically a form of Fenton reaction, generating free radicals. The oxidation and free radicals arising from the hydrogen peroxide kill bacteria and inactivate viruses. In other words, vitamin C acts as a targeted bleach and antiseptic.

Vitamin C plays a dual role. It makes normal tissues healthier by providing abundant antioxidant electrons. It refreshes other antioxidants. At the same time, it drives processes that inactivate viruses, or kill bacterial and cancer cells. It reprograms cells, switching genes ON and OFF, in response to local inflammation. In addition, it provides signals for cell communications. It upregulates the immune system and helps activate the white blood cells that fight infection.

Vitamin C is unique, because it has low toxicity and can be taken safely in massive amounts. Other antioxidants and supplements will not have a similar effect. Do not be confused and think that Echinacea, for example, will help. Yes, there may be supplements and herbs that provide a little immune system support. This is Ebola we are talking about – get real!

Note, vitamin C is not some magical antitoxin. A disease such as Ebola is not caused by toxins that are inactivated by vitamin C. Free radicals are not toxins. Oxidants are not toxins. Vitamin C nearly always acts by transferring electrons, as an oxidant or antioxidant. It is just basic chemistry. Also, it does not matter if you have poor dental hygiene, this will hardly affect how massive intakes of vitamin C tackle an acute viral infection.

The reason vitamin C helps with viral infection is the massive flow of a substance that acts both as a selective antioxidant and a selective oxidant, throughout the body. In this respect, vitamin C is unique.

Practical Stuff

Sugar interferes with the uptake of vitamin C. If you are using vitamin C to combat a viral infection, do not eat any sugar or carbohydrate (long chain sugars). A low-carb diet is important, otherwise the vitamin C will not be absorbed properly. We stress that this means no sugar and no carbs, at all.

Unfortunately, smoking releases enormous amounts of oxidants and free radicals into the bloodstream. The vitamin C will expend itself, trying to mop up the chemicals from the smoking. We have no moral objections to people smoking: it is a personal choice. However, smoking will hinder even massive doses of vitamin C from preventing infection. Once infected with Ebola, smoking will stop the vitamin C from keeping you alive. If Ebola comes, we suggest a taking a break from smoking and from sugars and carbohydrates.

It is sensible to also supplement with a form of chelated magnesium, such as magnesium citrate, which helps overcome the theoretical risk of kidney stones. For once, RDA supplement levels of magnesium are sufficient. The available data on kidney stones indicates that the issue is probably just fear mongering by corporate medicine, but magnesium supplements are low cost and widely available. In reality, the only established risk from high dose vitamin C supplementation is loose stools. There are some contraindications. People with kidney disease, iron overload disease, or glucose-6-phosphatase deficiency should not take high doses of vitamin C. Such considerations are of little importance to most people in the emergency setting of an epidemic of Ebola or a similar emerging disease.

The reaction that generates hydrogen peroxide in sick tissues can be enhanced a little. To this end, we would take a high dose of selenium with the vitamin C. However, selenium is more toxic than vitamin C, and, in describing the dose as high, we mean relatively normal supplement levels. Methylselenocysteine is a less toxic form and this would be our choice. The normal intake is perhaps 100-200 micrograms (0.1-0.2 mg) a day. We would take 400 micrograms a day during an epidemic and up this to 1,000 micrograms (one milligram) a day, at the initial onset of symptoms. It is possible to go up to 3 mg for short periods, with medical supervision. Anyone taking high dose selenium supplements needs to be aware of the potential side effects and to have appropriate medical support.

Minor supplements may be synergistic with vitamin C. These include alpha-lipoic acid and vitamin K. Alpha-lipoic acid can be taken at reasonably high levels reasonably safely. We would take up to a gram or two a day (1,000-2,000 mg). Vitamin K also helps with blood clotting and is safe in the recommended amounts – we would get the highest dose vitamin K2 supplement available. Note vitamin K is contraindicated in those with clotting disease or those on blood thinners such as warfarin.

Liposomal vitamin C is expensive. Ideally people would order their liposomal vitamin C as a quality product from a reputable company. Where this is not possible we suggest using a method described in a US patent (US20120171280 A1). The ‘recipe’ is under the heading: Example 1 Preparation of Sodium Ascorbate Entrapped Liposomes. However we suggest that the final mix is subject to sonication for several minutes in a standard ultrasound bath. There are some recipes for homemade liposomal C on the internet but the method described in the patent seems more reliable. Note we are not encouraging people to dishonour the patent – this information may be lifesaving if the commercial product is unavailable.

Why Put This Out?

People need to know that vitamin C is an option for fighting Ebola, and how it works. Also, there is a great deal of misinformation, particularly on the internet, from corporate medicine and from supplement vendors and their medical consultants. Moreover, in an Ebola epidemic vitamin C supplements may be hard to source.

This account is intended for intelligent adults, who can make their own rational decisions and take responsibility for their health. We strongly promote the idea that medicine should be based on rational patients, rather than authoritarian doctors. Doctors are there to provide the information for patients, to help them choose between available options. We are scientists, not medics, and we do not give medical advice. This is information only – what you decide to do with it is up to you.

Our opinion is the use of vitamin C in Ebola is a no-brainer. Get the illness and you have at best a 50-50 chance of surviving without vitamin C. Corporate medicine has no effective treatment. Furthermore, if a drug were available, it would be untested and almost certainly unavailable to you, dear reader. Vitamin C is considered safe and should do no harm. The cost of treatment is low. The clinical reports of vitamin C in viral infection are that if you get the dose right, you will survive. Vitamin C is known experimentally to inactivate viruses.

We consider that any reasonably intelligent adult can weigh the information and come to their own rational conclusions. Some people can do little but conform to what is expected. We support the so-called skeptics that think they and their friends in corporate medicine have a better grasp of the science behind vitamin C than we have. They should go with their opinions. There will be no Darwin Awards for those who remove their genes from the population through foolishness in an Ebola epidemic. In the event, we hope people make rational decisions.

Further reading

There are lots of other sources but these make a good fast start for a person beginning an investigation into the antiviral properties of vitamin C.

Yuanpeng Zhang (2012) Method of making liposomes, liposome compositions made by the methods, and methods of using the same, US patent US 20120171280 A. Description of simple way of making liposomal vitamin C.

Hickey S., Saul A. (2008) Vitamin C: The Real Story, the Remarkable and Controversial Healing Factor, Basic Health. The book gives an easy readable account of the story of vitamin C.

Archive of the Journal or Orthomolecular Medicine. Decades worth of clinical observations and reports on vitamin C are available.

Pubmed contains mostly abstracts of medical research papers. Unfortunately, most of these have been selected to exclude observations on high doses of vitamin C.

Dr Cathcart’s main papers from bowel tolerance to dynamic flow:

Cathcart R. (1981) Vitamin C, Titration to Bowel Tolerance, Anascorbemia, and Acute Induced Scurvy,  Medical Hypothesis, 7:1359-1376.

Cathcart R. (1985) Vitamin C, the nontoxic, nonrate-limited antioxidant free radical scavenger, Medical Hypothesis, 18:61-77.

Hickey D.S., Roberts H.J., Cathcart RF. (2005) Dynamic flow: A new model for ascorbate, J Orthomolecular Med, 20(4), 237-244.

Should You Be Allowed To Make A Rational Decision?

A law might condemn intelligent and educated patients to being ill-informed and unable to make rational decisions about their own cancer. For this law to be valid, however, we need to assume all cancer patients are stupid and unable to decide for themselves.

In order for an intelligent patient to make a rational decision, he or she needs all the relevant information. People are normally allowed access to information that concerns their personal decisions. Imagine going to buy a house and being told that will cost $1,160,543 but you cannot choose the house or even see it, rather the estate agent, who is an expert in houses, will make the decision for you. Most people would consider such a demand unreasonable and would decline the purchase.

Some people prefer to get expert advice for complex decisions, although most would surely consider it important that such advice was independent and unbiased. Similarly, most people would expect to solicit expert opinion for life and death decisions, such as those involving cancer. Approved advice concerning cancer is widely available from physicians and hospitals. In the UK, such advice and treatment can be provided at no immediate charge to the patient. However, note that the government must surely be held responsible for delivering ALL the relevant data and not providing a partial or biased viewpoint. Anything else would be biased and unscientific. It is not clear how any organisation could achieve such scientific omnipotence, and certainly not by restricting access to the requisite variety of information.

More intelligent and informed patients may wish to be involved in decisions about their cancer treatment, after all, their lives may be at stake. It turns out that, in the UK, the patient is not allowed to make a rational decision or even have access to available information. Suppose that the patient is a PhD biologist and goes to her friend, a retired Nobel Prize winner, who was given his award for research into cancer. Even the Nobel Laureate would not be able to independently advise his friend on the range of treatment options open to her, without technically breaking the UK law. He would be limited to providing scientific information and educational data. Whereas what the patient really wants to know from the expert is what is the optimal treatment choice and why.

For the doctors point of view, we note Item 35 in the World Medical Association’s Helsinki Declaration. This is the primary international document on medical research ethics. This section is taken from the “additional principles for medical research combined with medical care”.

“In the treatment of a patient, where proven interventions do not exist or have been ineffective, the physician, after seeking expert advice, with informed consent from the patient or a legally authorized representative, may use an unproven intervention if in the physician’s judgement it offers hope of saving life, re-establishing health or alleviating suffering. Where possible, this intervention should be made the object of research, designed to evaluate its safety and efficacy. In all cases, new information should be recorded and, where appropriate, made publicly available.”

The reason cancer has its own restrictive UK law is that organisations can make massive profits out of this illness. This law helps defend a monopoly position for corporate medicine.

Below is a recent example of this censorship. Section 4.1(b) of the ill advised 1939 law was repealed by the Medicines Act 1968. The 1939 act suggests that it is a means of preventing advertising. However, the definition of “advertisement” is expanded to cover just about any independent communication of information. Note that we are not supporting or criticising Dr Burzynski’s ideas, or those of others. We are merely making the case that open debate at a conference is an accepted and essential part of the scientific process.


OMNS August 3, 2012

The Stranglehold that the UK 1939 Cancer Act Exerts in Great Britain

by Madeline C. Hickey-Smith

(OMNS Aug 3, 2012) Most citizens of Great Britain are totally unaware of the 1939 Cancer Act which effectively prevents them from finding out about different treatments for cancer.

Excerpts from the UK 1939 Cancer Act:

“4 – (1) No person shall take any part in the publication of any advertisement –

(a) containing an offer to treat any person for cancer, or to prescribe any remedy therefor, or to give any advice in connection with the treatment thereof; or

(b) referring to any article, or articles of any description, in terms which are calculated to lead to the use of that article, or articles of that description, in the treatment of cancer.

In this section the expression “advertisement” includes any “notice, circular, label, wrapper or other document, and any announcement made orally or by any means of producing or transmitting sounds”. [1]

Publication of such advertisements is permitted to a very restrictive group comprising members of either House of Parliament, local authority, governing bodies of voluntary hospitals, registered or training to become registered medical practitioners, nurses or pharmacists, and persons involved in the sale or supply of surgical appliances. A very tight grip, therefore, is exercised on information that is fed to citizens of Great Britain; interestingly, the Act does not apply to Northern Ireland.

That pretty much wraps it up, and wraps us (in Britain) up in the legal stranglehold that this outdated Act still exerts. Was this enacted to protect the citizens from charlatans and “quacks” or to safeguard the interests of the National Radium Trust, to whom the British Government lent money? If no one is allowed to tell us, how can we, the general public, ever find out what alternatives there are to those offered by mainstream medicine, mainly surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy?

No Freedom of Therapy, Information, or Assembly

My colleague, Sarah Ling, and I unwittingly found ourselves in a maelstrom when we decided to hold a convention in Birmingham, later this year, to do just that – inform the general public about some of the other ways to tackle this hideous disease than those generally doled out to their mostly trusting, but fear-filled patients. A well-justified fear of the actual treatments as well as the disease prevails.

Last year, Sarah’s sister was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Chemotherapy was the only treatment offered, which she accepted out of fear. She nearly died within hours of having it, and very sadly died days afterwards. Sarah was determined to help prevent others from enduring such trauma and so, under the umbrella of our Institute (The Cambridge Institute of Complementary Health), we organised a convention to educate people – conventional/complementary health professionals and the general public – about different ways to treat people who have cancer.

We quickly drew up a short list of speakers that we felt would have much to contribute, including Dr Stanislaw Burzynski who agreed to come and talk about his pioneering work on antineoplastins.

After posting our speakers on our web-site, one, an oncologist, pulled out due to a malevolent e-mail she had received, questioning her wisdom at sharing a platform with Dr Burzynski. She didn’t want to cause her team any controversy. We then discovered that we had attracted a lot of adverse attention that was derogatory, critical of our speakers, casting aspersions on them and on us as an organisation. Unfortunately Dr Burzynski decided not to come – so as not to expose us to the sort of attacks that he has suffered. Regrettably, the public lost an opportunity to hear first-hand of his pioneering treatments in tackling cancers, including inoperable brain tumours.

Two speakers down, we then found ourselves possibly contravening the archaic Cancer Act. We’ve had to be extremely careful in how we word any publications relating to the convention so that the Advertising Standards Agency doesn’t come down on us like a ton of bricks and prevent us from holding it at all. Britain cherishes its long-held tradition of freedom of speech, but in recent years that seems questionable. However, we can still hold debates, and that is what we are doing.

We are aware that efforts will be made to stop us, from those who are not seekers of truth. If they were truly interested in the welfare of people, they would be advocating most of the alternative/complementary approaches instead of deriding them and trying to close down clinics and individuals who practise them, via the Advertising Standards Agency. This ridiculous Act affords them the guise of protecting the public and gives them ammunition that they can use against persons advocating alternatives.

We can’t hold an open day of education on treating cancer in this country: how bizarre is that? How much longer can this information be contained?

The Cost of Ignorance

The UK National Health Service is overstretched and, as more and more people contract cancer (one in three presently), the rising costs of expensive and often ineffective treatments will surely mean they have to look at alternatives.

Conventional healthcare professionals are too often ignorant of the enormous value of unconventional treatments. How can they be otherwise, as those outside of their profession are prohibited from alluding to the fact that they can help treat cancer? Shockingly, even nutrition is most often totally overlooked during orthodox cancer treatment, and the very foods that promote cancers are given to patients in our hospitals sometimes in order to maintain calorie intake. There is frequently no advice on diet, that most crucial aspect of our health. [2]

Thankfully, some oncologists do recognise the benefits that alternative/complementary treatments offer. [3] Hopefully more and more will come to accept that integrating the best of conventional and complementary/alternative methods is the way forward.

It is our opinion that a reform of the 1939 Cancer Act is long overdue. The tenacious grip that it holds on treating cancer must be relinquished, so that patients and their healthcare providers can make an informed choice as to what approach may be best for their individual needs.

(Madeline C. Hickey-Smith has an honours degree in biology and is cofounder of the Cambridge Institute of Complementary Health . The direct link to the convention page is .)


1. The 1939 UK Cancer Act:

2. What UK cancer patients are officially told:

3. Intravenous Vitamin C as cancer therapy: Free access to twenty-one expert video lectures online. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, April 14, 2011. or and

Those who have had quite enough of government censorship of alternative cancer treatments may also wish to look at the following:

Straus H. Censorship, sports and the power of one word. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, May 21, 2012.

Saul AW. Half-truth is no truth at all: Overcoming bias against nutritional medicine. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, Oct 7, 2011.

Smith RG. Vitamins decrease lung cancer risk by 50%. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, Nov 18, 2011.


The 100 Trillion Dollar Prize for Medicine

(OMNS April 19, 2012) Here is your chance to impress your colleagues holding mere Nobel Prizes: the Newlyn Research Group announces the Cargo-Cult Prize for Medical Informatics. At 100 Trillion Zimbabwe dollars (Z$100,000,000,000,000), the prize value is nominally greater than that of all Nobel Prizes ever awarded. The value of the award was chosen to reflect the inflated worth of large-scale clinical trials.

Pic: One Hundred Trillion Dollars

1. To receive this award, all one has to do is explain the validity of the selection of the “best” evidence in the “systematic” reviews of the Cochrane Library [1]. That is, you will “prove” how non-random selection of the “best” data can be achieved without censorship, without bias, and without having determined the answer in advance.

2. In addition, the competition asks you to provide a mechanism whereby the results of Cochrane reviews can determine the “best” treatment for an individual patient who wants to make a rational decision. It is important to “prove” how a Cochrane review provides unbiased and realistic data for a doctor treating an individual patient, or for individuals rationallyconsidering decisions about their own health.

3. We also ask you to demonstrate how you would apply your suggestions to an individual. We will look for a demonstration of how the results of significant large-scale clinical studies can be applied validly to specify treatment for an individual. In so doing, you will answer the following question: how do you remove the gray area from the graph below, which shows the overlap between two highly significantly different large groups (p < 0.01 n=1000). (Using an eraser, or burying one’s head, is not considered a solution.)

Graph: Normal Distribution

The gray area, as the term suggests, illustrates the uncertainty in the decision. The larger the study, the greater is the area of uncertainty.

The winning submission will explain how a Cochrane review provides anything other than background data for rational patients and their doctors.

Winning the prize should be easy if, as claimed, Cochrane reviews and large-scale randomised placebo controlled double-blind clinical trials are a “gold standard” for medical decision making.

The inspiration for this award came from a pair of Cochrane reviews, namely, that of Bjelakovic et al. “Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases” [2] and that of Hemila et al. “Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold.” [3] Both reviews disparage nutritional supplements and each appears to represent the biased viewpoint of its authors, presented as impartial analysis. We have objected to these reviews on the grounds that the scientific method precludes such data selection. So far, the review authors, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and the Cochrane Library have failed to answer these questions adequately.

Applications for the Cargo-Cult Prize for Medical Informatics are invited in the format for papers for the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine [4], where they may be submitted for editorial and peer review. A short summary of the paper should be provided, suitable for peer review and publication in the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service. Prior to peer review, the paper will be subject to an initial screening, to remove papers that lack basic rationality. In pre-screening, we follow the (irrational) example of the Cochrane reviewers, who screen papers and remove those that 1) use high nutrient doses and 2) demonstrate that supplements are safe and effective.

We suggest that, until we make the award, all Cochrane, JAMA, and similar meta-analysis reviews are issued with the following warning:

“CAUTION: This review is a selective interpretation of the available data and incorporates the bias and prejudice of the reviewers. The effects it describes are only valid as aggregate statistics of large groups and should not be used by doctors or members of the public for making decisions about individuals.”



2. Bjelakovic G. Nikolova D. Gluud L.L. Simonetti R.G. Gluud C. (2012) Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases, Cochrane Database Syst Rev., Mar 14, 3, CD007176.

3. Douglas R.M. Hemilä H. Chalker E. Treacy B. (2007) Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold, Cochrane Database Syst Rev., Jul 18, (3), CD000980.


Rational Patients

What the medical system needs is rational patients.

Rational patients ask for the relevant information and make their own judgements. For some strange reason some medical professionals believe that they alone can make decisions. When challenged, they appeal to patients not having the necessary medical training or education. They they often claim that their decisions are uniquely important as they involve life and death. By contrast, their patients made several life or death decisions while driving or walking to the surgery. 

When patients start demanding rational treatment that works for them, medicine will have started on the long road leading to helping support good health…