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Can Bacteria Cause Cancer?

Can Bacteria Cause Cancer?: Alternative Medicine Confronts Big Science

David J. Hess
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 242
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  • Book Info
    Can Bacteria Cause Cancer?
    Book Description:

    Growing numbers of cancer patients are exploring diet, food supplements, herbs, and nontoxic immunotherapies like bacterial vaccines as a means of therapy. Yet most cancer research organizations refuse to even evaluate these alternatives. Can Bacteria Cause Cancer? argues convincingly that unless this neglected world of alternative therapies is properly scrutinized, the medical Vietnam of the twentieth century may well affect one in two people by the twenty-first century. David J. Hess investigates one of the great medical mysteries of the twentieth century - the relationship between bacteria and chronic disease. Recently scientists have overturned long-held beliefs by demonstrating that bacterial infections cause many ulcers; they are now reconsidering the role of bacterial infections in other chronic diseases, such as arthritis. Is it possible, Hess asks, that bacteria can contribute to the many other known causes of cancer? To answer this intriguing question, Hess takes us into the world of alternative cancer researchers. Maintaining that their work has been actively suppressed rather than simply dismissed, he examines their claims- - that bacterial vaccines have led to some dramatic cases of long-term cancer remission - and the scientific potential of their theories. Economic interests and cultural values, he demonstrates, have influenced the rush toward radiation and chemotherapy and the current cul-de-sac of toxic treatments. More than a medical mystery story, Can Bacteria Cause Cancer? is a dramatic case study of the failure of the war on cancer.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4483-3
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The carcinogen is the germ of our time. Most of the world’s population lives in a sea of carcinogens: cigarette smoke, pollution, pesticides, asbestos, radiation, radon, excess sunlight, food additives, hazardous waste, poor nutrition, hormones, viruses … the list continues to grow. Because there is so much complexity and uncertainty regarding the risk factors and treatment, cancer is more than a disease. It is a political and social problem. Cancer is a symptom of a global civilization that is out of balance with its biology and ecology. It is a medical crisis that affects millions of individuals and their families,...

  5. 2 Germ Warfare: The Case for Bacteria as Carcinogen
    (pp. 7-48)

    If anyone were to claim today that there is a causal relationship between bacteria and cancer, most cancer researchers would quickly dismiss the idea. Such skepticism is the product of a history in which some researchers claimed that bacteria and/or viruses were the sole etiological agents of cancer. Against such unicausal theories for a disease—or variety of diseases—as complex as cancer, skepticism was warranted. However, the skepticism may have overcompensated for the more extreme claims. A review of the history of claims of bacteria as carcinogenic agents may lead to an intermediate position between extreme skepticism—there is...

  6. 3 Culture and Power in Cancer Research
    (pp. 49-104)

    What is a good explanation of the pattern of suppression that occurred for those scientists and clinicians who advocated the microbial approach to cancer? Within alternative medical circles today the standard explanation is that the emerging cancer establishment was corrupted by financial interests. This approach is applied generally to explain a wide range of suppression of alternative cancer therapies, and it has a strong rhetorical appeal. By pointing to the financial interests that shape the cancer establishment, critics of the medical-pharmaceutical complex paint alternative medicine advocates as the rational, heroic underdogs in the struggle for truth, justice, and the very...

  7. 4 But Is It Good Science?
    (pp. 105-155)

    So what about the “science”? Is it credible? Let us begin the question of evaluation with a clear definition of what is being evaluated. Although I have classified this research tradition as falling under the general theory that bacteria are causative agents in cancer, it should be clear that some of the work would be better termed microbial. Rather than thinking in terms of pleomorphic bacteria, some of the researchers advocated the existence of a new type of microorganism that has features similar to fungi, bacteria, viruses, and (in the case of Enderlein) even something approximating prions. However, in the...

  8. 5 Policy Cures: Forging a New Cancer Agenda
    (pp. 156-173)

    Whatever the status of cancer as a disease, it also represents a pressing political problem. In the United States the National Cancer Institute alone spends about two billion dollars per year on cancer research, and the overall annual cost of cancer to the U.S. economy exceeds $100 billion (Brown 1990). Cancer has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in women aged thirty-five to sixty-four, and it is the second leading cause of death in all other categories except men aged fifteen to thirty-four (Davis, Dinse, and Hoel 1994a; Wing, Tong, and Bolden 1995: 18–19). Although some...

  9. 6 Appendix: The New Science Studies
    (pp. 174-188)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 189-200)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 201-230)
  12. Index
    (pp. 231-233)
  13. About the Author
    (pp. 234-234)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 235-235)