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Could Coffee Enemas and Vitamins Save Your Life?

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WebMD Health News

June 15, 2000 (Arlington, Va.) -- After months of delays and years of debate, researchers are finally enrolling patients for a study designed to see if an unorthodox treatment regimen, including vitamins and coffee enemas, can shrink the tumors of patients with cancer of the pancreas.

The controversial method already has kept nine of 11 patients who took part in a preliminary study alive for a year, while another person survived for five years, says Nicholas Gonzalez, MD. Gonzalez has received $1.4 million from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, in partnership with the National Cancer Institute, to do a three-year study of the treatment. Gonzalez is director of the Nutritional Research and Educational Foundation in New York.

If the FDA were to approve the method for treating pancreatic cancer, it would be "a major revolution," Gonzalez tells WebMD. "This would be the first time that an alternative therapy went through the testing process by the best and most stringent of academic criteria, and got approved as a treatment."

Chemotherapy and surgery are the standard treatments for this very aggressive type of cancer, but they're often ineffective.

The study's original goal was to compare patients on chemotherapy with those using the coffee-enema method. But Gonzalez says it was impossible to recruit patients willing to settle for standard chemotherapy. So the study has been reorganized to allow participants to choose the type of treatment they wish.

"Patients know in this day and age chemotherapy is a death sentence" for pancreatic cancer, Gonzalez said here at the recent Comprehensive Cancer Care 2000 conference, which was aimed at exploring alternative approaches to treatment. For the study to show success, participants on the coffee-enema regimen will have to live about 15 months, or three times the typical survival time for pancreatic cancer patients -- results Gonzalez already has achieved in the small initial study.

While Gonzalez will supervise the project, the research actually will be conducted at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York.

Here's how the program works: Gonzalez puts his patients on a restrictive, mostly vegetarian diet and gives them up to 160 capsules a day, including vitamins as well as natural pancreatic substances that he believes slow tumor growth. Coffee enemas are added twice daily to help "detoxify" the system.

Gonzalez says he's hopeful the FDA ultimately will approve his method, and that, even though the treatments are natural, they can be patented. "The drug companies aren't dumb," Gonzalez says. "They'll use moon dust if you can prove it works."

Over the years, Gonzalez' treatments have come under attack from the medical mainstream. He has persevered through two lawsuits, as well as criticism from the New York state medical board. Gonzalez attributes his problems to "hostility" from the establishment.

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