O.F: Dr Ellis, are we winning the
war on cancer?
M.E: Data from Australia and the
USA show that there has been no improvement in cancer mortality
in males and females in the last fifty years.
In fact in males, there has been an increase in mortality over
the past fifty years. Men have 1.3 times more cancer incidents than
women. The survival of the commonest cancers has not altered for
Five year survival of lung cancer is ten percent, bowel is thirty
five percent, breast is sixty five percent, pancreas is two percent
and stomach is ten percent.
John Bailar who is a very reputable professor of Epidemiology in
the USA has stated that the increase in cancer death rates by seven
percent during 1975 and 1999 cannot be explained by aging. "A
decade of wars against cancer has been a qualified failure."
O.F: So if we are losing the war
on cancer with modern medicine what should we be doing to combat
M.E: It has been shown again and
again and again and I can provide appropriate papers for you to
see that cancer like the other degenerative diseases of our society
which include, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol,
arthritis, osteoporosis and stress can be prevented by lifestyle
changes i.e., the use of nutrition and nutritional products, exercise,
weight loss and relaxation.
The health of the public hinges on three legs of a stool, these
legs being, release of stress, some sense of mastery of one's own
life and support of community.
O.F: Doctor, you are based in Australia
- what do you see as the greatest threat to the nation's health?
M.E: Cardiovascular disease is the
greatest killer in our society. A person in Australia dies of a
heart attack every ten minutes. The cost of management of heart
attack in the States, including costly heart surgery and angiography
and stenting of the coronary arteries amounts to $US56 billion per
year. In Australia the cost is approximately $5.6 billion per year.
O.F: So what is the root cause of
heart disease and how do we manage the challenge?
M.E: The management of cancer, heart
disease and stress which in fact when looked at in an overall perspective
are all related.
Just as the body is composed of mind, body and spirit and works
in an integrated fashion, the various illnesses, which people suffer,
have a common cause.
O.F: Then, if we know the cause
of heart disease and cancer, why don't we just deal with it rather
than treating the symptoms when it occurs?
M.E: Medical science is now beginning
to define this cause but unfortunately because of the kind of education
that doctors receive, (the bio-medical model), this means that most
of the profession are not willing to open their eyes to a holistic
They are motivated by self serving interests and narrow focusing
of their minds which prevents them from seeing the total picture.
The problem is further inflamed by the fact that medical schools
seek out students who although may be very intelligent are not being
educated for life itself.
This is seen as such a problem in England that there is now thought
of introducing arts education into the domain of medical science.
The most successful medical school in Germany chooses its students
on the basis of intellect and passion and also includes within its
curriculum a host of complementary, holistic and nutritional education.
Once the students have enrolled, their only requirement is to pass.
Despite this, the university achieves the highest results in Germany.
O.F: Do you think there is a "groundswell"
of popular opinion requesting a different approach to the prevention
of degenerative disease?
M.E: Yes, this sentiment is being
echoed by the public at large, seventy percent of who are now also
turning to naturopaths and alternative practitioners.
People are looking for more than just therapy. They know that therapy
can often be painful and in hospitals they are treated as anonymous
numbers. People increasingly are seeking for something extra which
I would term 'quality of life'.
O.F: It all sounds interesting but
is there any evidence to back it up?
M.E: In the New England Journal
of Medicine on July 13th 2000, a paper was published estimating
the overall contribution of inherited genes to the development of
cancer. The paper was the combined data on 44,788 twins in Sweden,
Denmark and Finland that enabled the researchers to assess the risks
of cancer in twenty eight anatomical sights.
The conclusions provided remarkable information. In particular,
it showed that environmental factors were the dominant determiners
of site specific cancer.
From this perspective, environmental exposure, particularly in
regards to foods, and environmental toxins (xenobiotics) and stress
is paramount in the causation and treatment of cancer.
O.F: So that provides some evidence
for the dominant factors in the cause of cancer. Do you have any
references for studies on the prevention of heart disease?
M.E: Dean Ornish's work at San Fransisco's
Preventive Medicine Research Centre is impressive.
Ornish has demonstrated that a comprehensive group approach which
includes an extremely low fat diet, aerobic exercise, smoking cessation,
yoga and meditation as well as group support can unclog plaque narrowed
He published a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association
(JAMA) back in 1988, in which two groups of a total of 48 patients
with cardiovascular disease were trialed, the control with conventional
treatment and the other group with a comprehensive lifestyle approach.
The result showed massive differences in cardiovascular morbidity
and mortality. At a five year follow up, coronary stenosis was increased
11.8% of controls and stenosis had decreased in 3.1% of the treatment
It has also been shown that regular meditation increases the diameter
of the coronary artery and reduces the intima media thickness meaning
that the coronary artery vessels are wider and better perfused.
The Dean Ornish program in America is supported by forty insurance
companies and costs $10,000 compared with an average cardiovascular
surgical intervention which costs at least $40,000-$50,000.
OF: We hear a lot about diet and
exercise for the prevention of cancer and heart disease. How important
is the reduction of stress for degenerative disease prevention?
M.E: The scientific work in medicine
done on the effects of a stressed society on disease really started
with the work of Dr David Spiegel at Stanford University.
In 1989, his very significant work on the effect of psychosocial
treatment on the survival of patients with metastatic breast cancer
was published in the Lancet.
86 patients were split into two groups. Both groups had routine
cancer therapy. However, the treatment group had a one year intervention
consisting of a weekly supportive group therapy.
The study showed survival time for the intervention group was 36.6
months compared with 18.9 months for the controlled group. This
means that psychosocial treatment increased the survival of breast
cancer patients twice.
OF: So what
do we do with this information? - What is the way forward?
M.E: The kind of information, I
have given you regarding cancer, cardiovascular disease and lifestyle
change has been all but ignored by the medical profession at large.But,
it does point to the way stress and the release of stress has on
the management and treatment of both cancer and cardiovascular disease
and probably most diseases of western society.
I therefore feel that powerful psychosocial changes need to be
implemented for the general population if we are to create a more
co-operative and healed society.
Most doctors seek for a band-aid approach and instant cures. The
treatment of illness is considered more significant than prevention.
There should be a new medicine based on the creation of health
rather than the treatment of illness.