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The Gonzalez Program

 

Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez (212-213-3337)  (www.dr-gonzalez.com) is a New York city based physician who has for years been developing using a diet/supplement/detoxification treatment for pancreatic cancer. This treatment has three components: a special diet (mainly vegetarian with lots of juicing, although some eggs, milk products, and fish are allowed), supplementation with nutrients and lots of pancreatic and other enzymes (up to 130 - 160 capsules of enzymes alone a day), and cleansing components such as twice daily coffee enemas. Like the Gerson diet, this program is very extensive and requires a great deal of time, effort and will to comply with its many demands. In addition, prospective patients should be warned that I have been told, by very reliable sources, that Dr. Gonzalez chooses to treat some pancreatic patients and not others - and does not give his reasons why a patient is not accepted for treatment.

 

But while you weigh these different factors when considering the Gonzalez program, you should also consider the results that this program, and its descendant the Kelley program, have shown for non-operable pancreatic patients. These results (which are detailed below) have been stunning (for Kelley's program, those 5 who were compliant median survival was 9 years, for the new Gonzalez study of 11 patients, 81% survived 1 year, 45% survived 2 years, and 36% survived 3 years - 2 are still alive after 3.5 years and 4.5 years (see full text of this study on Dr. Gonzalez's web site www.dr-gonzalez.com). These results easily exceed the results usually found for non-resectable pancreatic cancer patients (survival of 4 - 6 months) and are easily among the best verifiable results for any therapy for pancreatic cancer. What I find very exciting is these results were sufficient to interest the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in doing a full fledged, randomized study on the Gonzalez program vs. standard care with the drug Gemcitabine. This study is now underway - you will find the information about enrolling in this study on the Dr. Gonzalez's web site www.dr-gonzalez.com. Hopefully this new randomized study will, within a fairly short time, get to the truth about the efficacy of the Gonzalez program vs. traditional therapy and, if it continues to show these kind of positive survival results, give patients who are interested and have the interest in undertaking this type of all encompassing program, a real alternative for survival.

 

Background

 

When I first ran across an article on the Gonzalez program in a paper written by Mutual Benefit and Life on the Gonzalez program, I was stunned to read about the survival statistics for pancreatic cancer patients who had participated in the Kelley program, which Dr. Gonzalez's program grew out of, between 1974 and 1982. I have talked about this study in detail below, but the bottom line was this: 22 patients were seen - 10 never followed the program and had 67 days median survival, 7 patients partially or sporadically followed the program and had 233 days median survival, but the 5 who completely followed the program had 9 years median survival. That's right - it is not a typo, 9 years.

 

Study of Dr. Kelley's program

 

Dr. Gonzalez's protocol grew out of the program first developed by Dr. Kelley in Texas. In 1981, Dr. Gonzalez, in the summer preceding his third year at Cornell Medical College, Dr. Gonzalez at the request of a friend began an informal evaluation of Dr. Kelley's nutritional approach to cancer. Subsequently, Dr. Gonzalez began an analysis of the survival of the pancreatic patients who used Dr. Kelley's program. From a review of 10,000 of Dr. Kelley's, he narrowed the review to 50 patients who met strict inclusions criteria. These patients were of all types of cancer (25 different types), and while they had all been given terminal or extremely poor prognosis for their survival, upon review median survival for this group using Dr. Kelley's program was 10 years.

 

Dr. Gonzalez then went on to analyze one specific form of cancer to analyze in depth. He chose pancreatic cancer since it is so morbid and survival results of any kind would be significant. All patients with pancreatic cancer who saw Dr. Kelley between 1974 and 1982 were reviewed which identified 22 who had pancreatic cancer. Upon examination, these 22 patients broke down into three groups: 10 who never followed the program, 7 who followed the program sporadically or partially, and 5 who followed completely.

 

The survival statistics for these three groups was stunning. Median survival for the 10 who never followed the program was 67 days, for the 7 who followed partially was 233 days, and for those following completely was 9 years. That's right, 9 years. When I first read this study I could not believe these results, and even years later they still stun me. While these results are very small and certainly not definitive, this type of survival by any pancreatic cancer patients in any sort of treatment protocol just floored me. The only other results that I have yet seen of this type of survival is the Gerson program, where I have personally talked with 3 survivors. Unfortunately, the Gerson clinic does not track all it's patients so it is not clear whether this type of survival commonplace in the Gerson diet (although I certainly find any survival for non-resectable pancreatic patients significant and find the Gerson diet an important alternative to consider).

 

Recent Study

 

To say the least, this perked up my interest and in the subsequent years I have followed Dr. Gonzalez as he has refined his treatment and attempted to quantify whether this program can consistently produce greater survival for pancreatic patients. Lately his efforts have produced fruit: in Spring of 1999 he has released a pilot study, which was initially suggested by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and which was funded by Nestle, which shows promising results (Journal of Nutrition and Cancer, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp 117 - 124) (you will find the full text of this study at Dr. Gonzalez's web site www.dr-gonzalez.com). Overall, 11 patients were part of this pilot study (all with non-resectable pancreatic cancer), and the results were very interesting. Of the 11 patients followed in the trial, 9 of 11 (81%) lived one year, 5 of 11 lived two years (45%), and 4 of 11 lived 3 years (36%). As of June 1999, 2 were still alive with no signs of disease - one at 3.5 years and one at 4.5 years. In comparison, median survival for those with non-resectable pancreatic cancer is has been found to be 17 - 22 weeks (4 - 6 months).

 

Current Randomized Study on Gonzales method vs. Gemcitabine

 

Based on the positive results of this pilot study, the NCI recently approved funding for a large scale randomized study comparing the Gonzales protocol vs. the current standard of care for pancreatic patients, the drug Gemcitabine. They hope to accrue 72 - 90 patients for this trial. Patients wishing to enroll in the program must have been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the pancreas, and this diagnosis must have been made within the last four weeks. Patients admitted to the study will be randomly selected to follow either the Gonzales program or receive treatment with Gemcitabine. Dr. John Chabot, M.D., Chief of Surgical Oncology at Columbia, is the principal investigator for this trial and those interested in finding out more about the trial should contact Michelle Gabay in his office at 212 305 9468 or see the patient information for the study on Dr. Gonzalez's web site www.dr-gonzalez.com

 

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