"" Ralph Moss—Cancer Consultant: 2017

Sunday, December 17, 2017


Source: Wikimedia Commons

A few years ago I toured Israeli cancer hospitals and clinics. I was happily surprised to find a widespread acceptance of medical marijuana (MM), especially in the pediatric setting. Now, a new study of American doctors has shown widespread support for the use of MM in the USA as well. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, showed that 85 to 95 percent of American doctors who deal with cancer in children, would be willing to help them get marijuana. This is despite the vicious and irrational campaign of the federal and some state governments against this relatively harmless weed.

All patients with cancer should have access, should they choose, to medical marijuana. It definitely seems to provide relief of nausea and other side effects of chemotherapy.

Perhaps we then can begin to tackle the thornier question of whether or not marijuana extracts have specific anti-cancer effects as well. A lot of people have strong opinions on this question, but there is very little actual clinical data. My guess is that it does help some patients. But as long as the government insists on misclassifying marijuana as a dangerous "Schedule 1" drug (like heroin) we are unlikely to arrive at any clear answers.

The Pediatrics article abstract:


Friday, November 3, 2017


Alcohol poses a danger in terms of causing or promoting cancer. Research suggests that even moderate use is dangerous. We suggest treating it with extreme caution. It also lowers your inhibitions and gets you to eat more sugar and carbohydrates in general.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Fever is actually beneficial for those receiving immune therapy (such as IL-2) for cancer. In fact, it is an essential part of the treatment. Patients whose fever was left untreated lived almost twice as long as those who had their fevers reduced! Therefore, it is a mistake to use fever-lowering drugs in this context. Here is the article:


Friday, July 14, 2017


My good friend, Thomas Seyfried, PhD, an outstanding biologist at Boston College, is senior author on an amazing case report of a complete remission in a patient with triple-negative breast cancer. The treatment took place at an innovative cancer center in Turkey and involved a combination of chemotherapy with hyperthermia, hyperbaric oxygen and a ketogenic (i.e., a very low carbohydrate + high fat) diet.

The article in question appeared in July 2017 in the online PubMedCentral-indexed scientific journal, Cureus. Here is a link to the article:

Efficacy of Metabolically Supported Chemotherapy Combined with Ketogenic Diet, Hyperthermia, and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Stage IV Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.

I have a special favor to ask my readers: If, after reading, you like this article as much as I did, please RATE IT and leave a review at the site. This is important because the paper is in a best outcome competition at the journal and winning this contest will advance the cause of innovative cancer treatment. You may need to sign up with Cureus first.

Here is my comment: Based on the prevalence of the Warburg effect, and the enormous amount of preliminary work on the glucose-dependency of cancer, it would be logical to pursue such strategies as a ketogenic diet, water fasting, and extending the nightly fast, to the cancer situation. This would most logically be done at first as an adjunct to other, better established treatments. Despite this great promise, there has been little human clinical research on this topic. Thus, this paper, although it concerns only a single patient, is highly suggestive that this approach is fully deserving of a full-scale randomized clinical trial.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I'm Now an Honorary Member of ARTOI

International participants at the 2016 ARTOI meeting in Florence, Italy. (Author is third from left.)

I am proud to report that I have been asked to be an honorary member of ARTOI, the "Association for Research and Treatment in Integrative Oncology," based on Rome, Italy. According to Massimo Bonucci, MD, founder and president of this vibrant group:

"On behalf of all members of ARTOI I would like to express our desire to have you as an Honorary Member of ARTOI. It would be an honor for us to consider you a participant in our initiatives. Your commitment to the integrative field is very much in keeping with our mission: to help patients live in the best way the experience of illness."
I am extremely happy to receive this great honor. I will admit to having a 50-year love affair with the entire country of Italy. But, beyond that, I think that complementary medicine fits in perfectly with the values of the Italian people. The emphasis on quality of life accounts for the incredible enthusiasm for "CAM" that I witnessed on my recent visit to Florence, Italy, this fall.

For a description of that meeting, see my previous entry at ralphmossblog.com

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


(Some of the speakers at the ARTOI meeting; the author is in the middle, between Bharat Aggarwal, PhD, Professor Emeritus, M.D. Anderson and Gary Deng, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.)

This is a belated report on an important cancer meeting that I attended this fall. It was the Eighth International Conference of ARTOI, the Research and Therapy Association for Integrative Oncology of Italy. This was in many ways an amazing conference, which lasted for three event-filled days.

I spoke at the first ARTOI meeting held in Rome in 2008. At that time, we had about 20 attendees, who as I remember, drifted in and out of a classroom in a Roman hospital. But my involvement with the inception of this conference goes back even further. The founding director of ARTOI is my friend and colleague, Massimo (Max) Bonucci, MD, a medical oncologist and pathologist in Rome. Decades ago, we first met at the German Oncology Society (DGO) meeting in Baden-Baden and shared our interest in non-conventional treatments, particularly that of the DGO founder, Hans Nieper, MD. Max Bonucci proposed the formation of a similar society in Italy. It seemed like a far-fetched idea, as there was no organized movement towards complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for cancer on the Italian peninsula.

On my first tour of Italian CAM clinics, I found only a few isolated individuals, such as Paolo Lissoni at the state hospital in Monza, and Giancarlo Pizza at the University of Bologna, trying to further this cause, but absolutely no concerted effort. However, in the intervening years an astonishing thing happened. ARTOI has grown large and influential, more so than I could ever have imagined. This time there were over 300 participants, mostly from Tuscany (the home province of Florence) but also from all over Italy and from other countries as well.

This time the conference was co-sponsored by Azienda USL Toscano Centro, a giant healthcare organization with 11 hospitals in Tuscany alone, in collaboration with the Cancer Institute of Tuscany “as an opportunity to foster the exchange of knowledge and to promote the integration of care.” 

The conference proper began on Friday, November 11, with an international panel in the Salone dei Cinquecento of the Palazzo Vecchio. Yes, THE Palazzo Vecchio, the ancient City Hall of Florence, whose construction began in 1299! The Cinquecento Room is the most glorious room in the palace. It was built to house the Grand Council of the Republic, which consisting of 500 members, cinquecento in Italian. The monumental paintings that line the walls are by Michaelangelo’s friend and disciple, Giorgio Vasari. I have spoken in some beautiful conference halls around the world, but nothing like this!

In addition to Dr. Bonucci, and many of the political and medical luminaries of Florence, my fellow panelists that evening were as follows:
  • Gary Deng, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York
  • Jun J. Mao, MD, President, Society of Integrative Oncology and Memorial Sloan-Kettering
  • Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD, Professor Emeritus, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
  • Ping Chung Leung, PhD, Institute of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong
  • Gianni Amunni, The Tuscan Cancer Institute, Florence
  • Eran Ben-Arye, MD, Lin Medical Center, Haifa, Israel
  • Lucia L. Li, MD, Zhejiang Chinese Medical University
  • Anil D. Kulkarni, MD, The University of Texas Medical School
  • Philip A. Salem, MD, St. Lukes’ Episcopal Hospital, Houston, TX
  • Thomas Breitkreuz, MD, Federation of Anthroposophical Medical Associations, Germany
  • Yumin Zhang, MD Healthcare Hospital of TCM, Huangshi Province, China
  • Giovanna Franchi, MD, Italian League for the Fight against Cancer
This was an amazing line up of speakers, representing leaders of the CAM cancer field from Europe, America, the Near East (Israel) and China. 

Where other than in the historical country of Italy can one hold a meeting in a 700-year-old building, in a palatial room that is itself one of the wonders of the world? On the next few days, the general meeting was held in the Istituto degli Innocenti, another world famous building--a child welfare association that has worked uninterruptedly for over six centuries.

The conference line-up here was no less significant, with presentations on almost every imaginable aspect of CAM and cancer care. The whole conference was one of the most stimulating I have attended. I don't have room here to go into all the presentations made. But readers can get some idea of the scope of the conference by looking at the agenda:


I am amazed at what my friend Max and his wife and coworker Federica Bonucci have accomplished in a few short years. They and their many coworkers have not only put Italy “on the map” when it comes to CAM and cancer, but have set an example to leaders in other countries on how to skillfully build a popular movement from the ground up through perseverance and dedication to principles.

On a break at the conference...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Dr. Lloyd J. Old and Helen Coley Nauts (c. 1980)

This month, for the second year in a row, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has chosen cancer immunotherapy as its breakthrough of the year. The emergence of immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs (such as Yervoy®, Opdivo® and Keytruda®) is undoubtedly a very important development in cancer treatment. But I thought readers would be interested in the history of the general idea of "de-blocking" the immune system.

The first researcher to postulate the existence of blocking factors in the blood serum of cancer patients was Ernst Freund, MD (1863-1946), of the University of Vienna. Working with his long-time associate, Gisa Kaminer (1883-1941), they anticipated many of the features of modern immune checkpoint inhibition. To me, they are among the unsung heroes of cancer immunology.

Freund and Kaminer suggested the existence of cancer-dissolving (or “carcinolytic”) factors in normal blood serum. Serum from cancer patients, they said, contained “anti-carcinolytic” elements that protected cancer cells from some destructive element in normal serum. This distinction between normal and cancerous serum formed the basis of their “Freund-Kaminer reaction.” Introduced in 1910, it constituted the first diagnostic test for cancer.

Freund and Kaminer believed that cancer could be diagnosed when a patient’s serum blocked the destruction of cancer cells—in other words, through the presence of these anti-carcinolytic elements. It is hard to interpret these results in terms of modern science, but it is possible that Freund and Kaminer were actually measuring what we now call “PD-L1.” This is a functional part of the linkage between the cancer cell and the immune T cell. 

It is amazing to realize that Freund and Kaminer “attracted attention throughout the scientific world,” according to a 1924 article in Time magazine. The article continued: 
“They have found in…persons with cancer a substance which, when added to the serum of normal persons, changes it to resemble the serum of persons with cancer. The normal serum loses its power to dissolve cancer cells….It is the belief of the Viennese investigators that…the chemical substances mentioned have the power of encouraging or preventing the growth of cancer.”
Freund and Kaminer were of Jewish ancestry, and so, like thousands of others, had to flee for their lives after the Nazi Anschluss (annexation) of Austria in 1938. Like another Viennese professor, Sigmund Freud, MD, Freund and Kaminer found refuge in Great Britain. Kaminer died in 1941 and Freund died five years later. By then the British Medical Bulletin referred to their once-famous test as a “half-forgotten chapter of cancer research.” By the 1950s it was completely forgotten, one of those scientific discoveries that did not survive the turmoil of World War II.


Then, in the late 1960s the husband-and-wife team of Karl Erik and Ingegerd Hellstrom gave new life to the study of blocking factors. The Hellstroms came to the University of Washington from the famed Karolinska Institute. In Seattle, for the next 40 years, they pursued blocking factors in the blood of cancer patients, as well as many other aspects of cancer immunotherapy.

The Hellstroms' starting point was similar to Freund’s, in that they found that adding “tumor fluids” from cancer patients’ blood to immune cells would “specifically block the ability of human lymphocytes to kill…tumor cells.” (Sjorgen 1971).

When these still-undefined factors were removed, immune cells were once again able to attack cancer cells. The Hellstroms wrote:
“Sera from mice carrying progressively growing sarcomas…can block the cytotoxic effect of lymphocytes immune to the tumor-specific antigens of the respective neoplasms [i.e., cancers]. The blocking effect can be specifically removed by absorbing sera with the respective types of tumor cells.” (Ibid.)
A search to define these blocking factor began among immunologists. A major problem was that scientists could not reach a consensus over the exact nature of this blocking process. To quote Prasanta K. Ray of the Medical College of Pennsylvania and Hospital in 1981:
"It is not clearly understood how a tumor can grow in an individual despite the fact that the host may have anti-tumor immunity" (Ray 1981).

Prof. Fernando S. Salinas of British Columbia concurred:
"The nature of these blocking factors still remains unclear" (Serrou 1981).
In the past few decades, though, several important discoveries have shown how cancer can block the immune system. The most important of these is the theory of immune checkpoint blockade.


This was also the point at which conventional oncology and CAM converged. Several unconventional practitioners, such as Lawrence Burton, PhD, founder of the Immuno-Augmentative (IAT) treatment center in Freeport, the Bahamas; Valentin I. Govallo, MD, of Moscow, Russia; and M. Rigdon Lentz, MD, an American oncologist who still practices in Prien, Germany, all postulated various methods for “de-blocking” the immune system of cancer patients.

A new era began when James P. Allison, PhD, now head of immunotherapy at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, showed that directing monoclonal antibodies ("guided missiles") against a so-called checkpoint protein, CTLA-4, helped mice fend off tumors. In a now classic paper, he and his colleagues wrote:
“It has recently become apparent that CTLA-4…is a negative regulator of T cell activation….Antibodies to CTLA-4 resulted in the rejection of tumors, including pre-established tumors….These results suggest that blockade of the inhibitory effects of CTLA-4 can allow for, and potentiate, effective immune responses against tumor cells.” (Leach 1996).
In other words, if you could eliminate the factors that are blocking the immune system, you might eliminate the cancer as well. This was the beginning of the development of "immune checkpoint inhibitors" (or blockade), the most important development in cancer immunotherapy in many years. 

The first drug that directly targeted CTLA-4 was approved 15 years later, ipilimumab (Yervoy®). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration subsequently approved other checkpoint drugs, including nivolumab (Opdivo®) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda®), both of which target a related protein, PD-1. In 2015, Allison won the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. This is frequently a precursor to the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology, for which he allegedly has been short-listed.


Almost 50 years ago, Helen Coley Nauts, the dynamic founder of the Cancer Research Institute (CRI), New York, published a series of 17 detailed monographs on the beneficial effects of acute concurrent infection, inflammation, fever or immunotherapy on a variety of cancers. The series included almost 1,000 cases of advanced cancer that had been successfully treated by her father, the great William B. Coley, MD, using a combination of killed microbes called Coley’s toxins, Coley’s fluid or mixed bacterial vaccine (MBV). I keep the set that she gave me almost 40 years ago close at hand and consult it frequently. But, at the time, Mrs. Nauts’ valiant attempts to defend and revive her father’s epochal work was almost entirely ignored or ridiculed. I remember seeing her monographs on a shelf of Cornell University Medical College, literally gathering dust, unread and unappreciated. At the time, almost the only scientist who took her work seriously was Lloyd J. Old, MD, the young vice president of Sloan-Kettering Institute, who became the first scientific director of the CRI. 

Fast-forward 40 years, and the present-day director of the the Cancer Research Institute’s Scientific Advisory Council is none other than James Allison, who, as I said, developed the first immune checkpoint inhibitor. So, through these individuals--Nauts, Old and Allison--there is direct line of descent from William B. Coley’s toxins to the present generation of immune-checkpoint inhibitors. But we must also pay homage to the unsung heroes of this tale--Freund, Kaminer, the Hellstroms, Burton and Lentz. Without them, I doubt if this field would ever have come to its present-day position of eminence.


Anonymous. Medicine: Chemistry of Cancer. Time, Jan. 28, 1924.

British Council Medical Department. Lactation: Function and Product, British Medical Bulletin. London: Churchill Livingstone1947, p. 259.

Freund E and Kaminer G. Ueber die Beziehungen zwischen Tumorzellen und Blutserum. Biochem Ztschr. 1910;26:312-324.

Govallo VI. Immunology of Pregnancy and Cancer. Moscow: Nova Publishers, 2003.

Leach, DR, Krummel MF, Allison JP. Enhancement of antitumor immunity by CTLA-2 blockade. Science 1996;271:1734-1736.

Lentz, MR. The Role of Therapeutic Apheresis in the Treatment of Cancer: A Review. Therapeutic Apheresis: Official Journal of the International Society for Apheresis and the Japanese Society for Apheresis 3, no. 1 (February 1999): 40–49.

Paulson, Tom. 40 years ago, this Swedish couple pioneered cancer immunology. Seattle PI, Feb. 23, 2006; I can find no references to Freund and Kaminer in their writings.

Ray, P. K., and S. Raychaudhuri. Low-Dose Cyclophosphamide Inhibition of Transplantable Fibrosarcoma Growth by Augmentation of the Host Immune Response. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 67, no. 6 (December 1981): 1341–45.

Bernard Serrou, Claude Rosenfeld. Immune Complexes and Plasma Exchanges in Cancer Patients. Elsevier/North-Holland Biomedical Press, Jan 1, 1981, p. 253.

Sjögren, H. O., I. Hellström, S. C. Bansal, and K. E. Hellström. Suggestive Evidence That The ‘blocking Antibodies’ of Tumor-Bearing Individuals May Be Antigen--Antibody Complexes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 68, no. 6 (June 1971): 1372–75.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Annie Appleseed Conference 2017

Dear Friends,

Do you know about the Annie Appleseed Conference?

For 11 years this has been one of the best patient-centered conferences on the topic of complementary and alternative (CAM) treatments for cancer. My friend Ann Fonfa has done an amazing job of building up this conference from scratch. It is a great venue for learning about many evidence-based treatments. Plus, it takes place in sunny Florida in early March–just the time for a break from the dreariness of winter (for some of us, at least). I spoke at the first of these conferences, and have been proud to participate on many subsequent occasions. I am sure you will benefit greatly from hearing the multiple points of view presented at these enjoyable and educational meetings.


March 2-4, 2017


Embassy Suites Hotel
1601 Belvedere Rd
West Palm Beach, FL 33406

Learn More: