Actress and health/fitness guru Suzanne Somers is defending alternative medicine’s power to treat cancer after Dateline NBC ran a story criticizing two doctors she profiled in one of her latest books.
The Dateline NBC episode “Suzanne Somers: A Dose of Controversy,” analyzed the claims of two alternative-medicine practitioners featured in Somers’ 2009 book “Knockout: Interviews With Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer and How To Prevent Getting It In the First Place.” Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski and Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez both espouse alternative treatments for cancer. Burzynski conducts FDA-controlled clinical trials using biologically active peptides called antineoplastons to treat patients with aggressive brain tumors. Gonzalez treats patients with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer by focusing on diet, enzyme therapy and a detox regimen that includes coffee enemas.
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Somers says the NBC program focused on the high cost of these two doctors’ treatments, but didn’t mention that traditional cancer treatment is also very expensive. She also said the show didn’t mention that Burzynski’s main detractor, Barrie Cassileth, chief of integrative medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, isn't a doctor. Cassileth is but a researcher whose aim, she says in her online biography, is “to alert patients and oncology professionals to the sometimes useless or harmful therapies promoted incorrectly as viable cancer ‘treatments.’”
Somers was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in November 2008. She was later informed she’d been misdiagnosed, but in the meantime, she’d begun researching alternative therapies for cancer. She decided to write “Knockout” as a way to share the information she’d gathered from talking to doctors and patients about non-traditional cancer treatment.