An Examination of the Claims in Hulda Clark’s Book The Cure for All Cancers
- Evaluation of the Claims in The Cure for All Cancers
- Clark’s Legacy
- Clark’s Work from the Perspective of the Adventist Health Message
After hearing several times about the book The Cure for All Cancers by Hulda Regehr Clark, I decided that an evaluation was in order. Since there were several claims made about the book that were difficult for me to believe, it seemed necessary to examine those claims to determine whether they are true, or at least plausible. The following is a summary of what my examination revealed.
Why Is This Important?
Proper healthcare is important. Treatment of cancer can be a life-or-death matter. If The Cure contains valid information, then it is essential for cancer patients and their doctors to know about it. However, if the information Clark presents is wrong, then her book is harmful, and at worst could cost people their lives.
My first response was to do an Internet search, which turned up the article “The Bizarre Claims of Hulda Clark” by Stephen Barrett, M.D.1 As the title suggests, Barrett disagrees with Clark. It is a strongly-worded critique of her writings and portrays her in quite a negative light—as a shyster, even.
Since the fact that something appears on a website doesn’t automatically make it true, reading a negative review of The Cure for All Cancers is an insufficient basis for making a factual evaluation. So, I went to a library and examined a copy of the book in question.
My original intention was to look up the passages quoted by Barrett to determine whether he was fairly representing Clark’s work. Upon further reflection, I decided that in order to be fair, I needed to read key portions of the book without reference to Barrett’s critique and form opinions based on my reading prior to referring back to Barrett’s work.
I read all of the first part of the book, in which Clark sets forth the basis for her cure. This is the most important part of the book, because if the basis is sound, the treatment is sound, or at worst requires minor adjustments. However, if the basis is unsound, then it naturally follows that the treatment is likewise unsound. I read and skimmed the second part of the book, in which she outlines her treatment methods. The third part contains case histories. I read her introduction to the histories and the first several, concluding that they were sufficient to evaluate her methods. Finally, I glanced through two other sections, in which Clark gives construction plans and operating instructions for her two instruments, the syncrometer and the zapper. The rest of the book didn’t appear to be relevant to my purposes.2
Evaluation of the Claims in The Cure for All Cancers
The Big Picture
Most of the claims in the book give no evidence to support them beyond the author’s assertions. She cites very few studies, and the ones she does cite are peripheral to her main arguments. Apparently, we are to simply take her at her word without critical evaluation.
I’m giving this its own section rather than citing specific page numbers because I came across this problem time and again. Science is based on careful evaluation. When a new idea is advanced, it should be critically examined by others to determine whether the idea has merit. But claims without supporting data are impossible to evaluate. Clark writes that she wanted to give cancer sufferers the information first before providing data in a more scientific manner,3 but my internet searches turned up no evidence that she ever attempted to provide proper scientific backing for her theories.
Regarding the case histories, which Clark relies on almost exclusively to support her ideas, I will address them in their own section toward the end of this paper.
Always Begin with a Good Conspiracy
The book begins on page xiii with typical conspiratorial thinking, to the effect that virtually the entire healthcare industry is deliberately withholding information from patients in order to protect their income. To this end, it cites a single textbook on herbology. There is no other evidence given to support the claim.
When it comes to conspiracies, it is worth noting that they require secrecy to be effective. The problem is that some secrets are too big to keep. A cure for all cancers is one such secret. If it truly worked, it would be absolutely impossible to prevent it from becoming widely known. This was true in 1993 when The Cure was published, and it is even more true today, in the age of widespread internet access. Even if the healthcare industry wanted to keep secret a quick, 100% reliable cure for cancer, their financial interests would not stop those who would benefit financially from making it widely known—people such as writers, television and radio personalities, and the press, along with would-be manufacturers of the supplies and equipment necessary for the cure.
Imagining that a healthcare conspiracy could keep such a secret ignores this reality, yet that is precisely what Hulda Clark would have us believe at the outset. After all, if a conspiracy is supposedly afoot, then certain people will view everything negative said about Clark’s work as a part of the conspiracy, rather than evaluating it on its merits.
The Central Claim
Clark makes her central claim easy to find, placing it in a big box on page 1: “In this book you will see that all cancers are alike. They are all caused by a parasite. A single parasite! It is the human intestinal fluke. And if you kill this parasite, the cancer stops immediately. The tissue becomes normal again. In order to get cancer, you must have this parasite” (emphasis altered from the original). She elsewhere explains that the intestinal fluke can only cause cancer if isopropyl alcohol is present in the body, asserting, “Remember, 100% of cancer patients have the solvent isopropyl alcohol accumulated in the liver and in their cancerous tissues. People without cancer do not have isopropyl alcohol in their livers.”4 Or, in another repetition: “All cancer patients (100%) have both propyl alcohol and the intestinal fluke in their livers. The solvent propyl alcohol is responsible for letting the fluke establish itself in the liver. In order to get cancer, you must have both the parasite and propyl alcohol in your body.”5 These are quite startling claims, and claims which, if true, upend everything that cancer researchers believe.
Let’s examine some other sources to see what they say. According to the American Cancer Society,
Cancer is caused by changes in a cell’s DNA – its genetic “blueprint.” Some of these changes may be inherited from our parents, while others may be caused by outside exposures, which are often referred to as environmental factors. Environmental factors can include a wide range of exposures, such as: Lifestyle factors (nutrition, tobacco use, physical activity, etc.); Naturally occurring exposures (ultraviolet light, radon gas, infectious agents, etc.); Medical treatments (radiation and medicines including chemotherapy, hormone drugs, drugs that suppress the immune system, etc.); Workplace exposures; Household exposures; Pollution.6
The Mayo Clinic says, “Cancer is caused by changes (mutations) to the DNA within cells.” After explaining what happens when mutations occur, they give a list of factors that cause mutations to occur:
Gene mutations can occur for several reasons, for instance:
Gene mutations you’re born with. You may be born with a genetic mutation that you inherited from your parents. This type of mutation accounts for a small percentage of cancers.
Gene mutations that occur after birth. Most gene mutations occur after you’re born and aren’t inherited. A number of forces can cause gene mutations, such as smoking, radiation, viruses, cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens), obesity, hormones, chronic inflammation and a lack of exercise.
Gene mutations occur frequently during normal cell growth. However, cells contain a mechanism that recognizes when a mistake occurs and repairs the mistake. Occasionally, a mistake is missed. This could cause a cell to become cancerous.7
The contrast is clear. The scientific establishment says that cancer is caused by mutations in DNA which are in turn caused by a wide variety of factors, while Clark claims that 100% of cancer is caused by a single parasite (in the presence of isopropyl alcohol). Obviously, they can’t both be correct.
Just because the establishment is the establishment doesn’t mean it’s correct. However, there is a burden of proof placed on those who challenge the accepted conclusions of the scientific community. Clark’s claim must be backed up by solid evidence, or it must be rejected as quackery. Unfortunately, however, those who search Clark’s book for such evidence will be disappointed. They will be met instead by numerous unsubstantiated assertions, which the reader is expected to believe for no reason other than that Clark wrote them. (I will explain later why the case histories Clark provides do not constitute acceptable evidence.)
The fact that Clark’s book flies in the face of the rest of medical science, and offers no substantial evidence to show that cancer is, in fact, caused in 100% of cases by an intestinal parasite is sufficient grounds to reject The Cure for All Cancers as medical quackery. If the central claim is without merit, then all conclusions based on that claim logically must also be meritless. I could, therefore, end this paper here. However, in the interest of persuasion, I will provide more reasons to reject Clark’s work.
The Intestinal Fluke
Clark begins her book with the claim that “if it [the intestinal fluke] establishes itself in the liver, it causes cancer!”8 She later explains that the parasite in question, Fasciolopsis buski, “stays tightly stuck to our intestine (or liver, causing cancer, or uterus, causing endometriosis, or thymus, causing AIDS, or kidney, causing Hodgkin’s disease).”9
Of course, as is typical, she provides no documentation to back up her claim. Of greater interest, though, is just how obviously impossible it is. The main parasite she is concerned with, the one to which she attributes 100% of cancer, is known by the scientific name Fasciolopsis buski. Here’s the glaring problem: F. buski10 doesn’t occur in North America, the region in which Clark lived and practiced. Writes the CDC, “Fasciolopsis is found in south and southeastern Asia.”11
There is a massive problem with this. If all cancer is caused by F. buski, and given that F. buski is only endemic to a part of Asia, how is it that cancer has been documented in many different regions of the world from time immemorial? Has this parasite learned to teleport? If Clark expected us to believe her, she could at least have chosen to pin the blame for cancer on a parasite that actually occurs in the region where she practiced and where she intended for her book to be sold.
In addition, her claim that F. buski also causes endometriosis, AIDS, and Hodgkin’s disease only adds to the mass of unsubstantiated claims. In particular, it has been widely known for a long time that AIDS is caused by the virus HIV, which is known to be transmitted through body fluids. Granted, she has another book on HIV/AIDS which I haven’t read. But I have no reason to believe that her AIDS book contains any better evidence than her cancer book has.
Finally, throughout her book, Clark mentions a number of other parasites. Some she blames for other diseases (such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s), but in other cases, it is unclear why she bothers with other parasites if her central claim that all cancer is caused by F. buski is true.
As quoted above under the heading “The Central Claim,” Clark asserts that 100% of cancer patients have isopropyl alcohol in their systems and that people without cancer do not have isopropyl alcohol in their livers. The American Cancer Society does list isopropyl alcohol as a known or probable carcinogen (cancer-causing chemical), but that list contains many screenfuls of other substances in the same category.12
What makes isopropyl alcohol more special than all the other carcinogens? Clark would apparently have us believe that there are no other carcinogens, and that alcohol is the sole cancer-causing agent in conjunction with F. buski. Yet, to support that assertion, she would need to show that other carcinogens aren’t really carcinogens—something she doesn’t even attempt to do. Her only support for her claim of 100% is an admonishment to examine the case histories. We will do so in time, but unsurprisingly, those histories do not actually support her claim.
Hulda Clark considers the substance ortho-phospho-tyrosine to be a 100% reliable cancer marker. She writes, “As soon as there are adults [intestinal flukes] in the liver. . . . a growth factor, called ortho-phospho-tyrosine appears. Growth factors make cells divide. Now YOUR cells will begin to divide too! Now you have cancer. . . . Having propyl alcohol in your body allows the fluke to develop outside of the intestine.”13 On the next page, she writes, “When the fluke and all its stages have been killed, the ortho-phospho-tyrosine is gone! Your cancer is gone.”14
The problems with this are many. Of course, the usual problem of yet another unsubstantiated claim is present. Also, when I searched the internet for ortho-phospho-tyrosine, not only were all the results from either pro- or anti-Clark websites, but I couldn’t find any independent source to confirm that this substance even exists. The closest I could find was a brief mention in a Wikipedia article of an amino acid called ortho-tyrosine.15 Since her book only references testing for ortho-phospho-tyrosine using her syncrometer (described in a later section) which is itself unreliable, it makes me wonder whether Clark simply made this substance up.
In a sworn affidavit (which is well worth reading in its entirety), Aron Primack has this to say regarding ortho-phospho-tyrosine:
With regard to cancer, Clark also claims that a substance called “ortho-phospho-tyrosine” that she detects with her Syncrometer is an infallible cancer or malignancy marker. (The Cure for All Cancers, pp 8, 59,203-4; The Cure for All Diseases, p. 9) This is simply an assertion for which no evidence is provided in her books, nor is it supported by any competent and reliable evidence. Clark seems only to have found or tested for “ortho-phospho-tyrosine” with the Syncrometer. In her book, The Cure for All Advanced Cancers, in which she includes a large number of blood test results, she never shows results for this substance. Thus, Clark’s theories of cancer diagnosis and cure are completely unsupported by scientific evidence on at least two counts: intestinal flukes as the cause of all cancers and “ortho-phospho-tyrosine” as a marker for all cancers.16
As I read The Cure, I wasn’t looking for contradictions and inconsistencies. However, several of them jumped off the page and screamed in my face. If I found contradictions without looking for them, how many more might I find if I looked?
When she’s making her case for parasites as the cause of disease, Clark writes, “Seizures are caused by a single roundworm, Ascaris, getting into the brain.”17 It is important to note that the amount of emphasis she places on diseases having a single cause means that, contextually, we should interpret her statement to mean that the sole cause of seizures is Ascaris. A few pages later, while writing of the dangers of common drugs, she lists seizures as a side effect of the drug Flagyl.18 Which is it? Are seizures caused by a parasite or by a drug? It’s important to emphasize that there’s no language in the book that would allow for a disease to have more than one cause.
Later, while giving instructions on how to use the supplement ornithine, she writes, “It [ornithine] can make you a bit irritable. Cut back if this happens.”19 A mere three lines later, she asserts of ornithine: “There are no side effects as you can see from the case histories.” But she had just mentioned a side effect: irritability. Clark can’t even be bothered to be consistent within three lines of her book. Besides, since when are 138 case histories adequate documentation of all potential side effects? Claims of no side effects need to be based on large-scale double-blind clinical trials. Her case studies’ small sample size and unknown biases make them unreliable for the purpose of determining side effects. What about a hypothetical side effect that affects one out of every 500 people who take ornithine? It probably would not show up in the case histories at all.
At first glance, pointing out contradictions may appear to be nitpicking. However, these inconsistencies point to a larger problem that certainly is significant. The presence of obvious contradictions suggests that at best the writer and editor were both sloppy. If Clark is sloppy with her writing, then can we trust her to be concerned with accuracy in areas that are more important? But what if the problem isn’t sloppiness? What if the contradictions arose as a consequence of something more sinister? One of the easiest ways to get oneself into a contradiction is to try to manipulate someone, pull the wool over someone’s eyes, or be otherwise less-than-honest. Thus, these contradictions serve to raise questions about Clark’s honesty. And her entire case rests on her expectation that readers will trust her.
Clark promotes two devices to aid in her program.20 The first is called a syncrometer. It works by passing a small electrical current through the skin or some other substance and emitting a pitched tone in response. By listening to the tone, operators can supposedly divine any information they want, such as whether a person has cancer or not.
Despite Clark’s claims that the syncrometer is incredibly accurate, her instructions for using it show how imprecise it really is. Users are instructed to wet the skin using tap water. Here, Clark’s obsession with pollutants works against her. She says elsewhere to avoid distilled water because it is likely polluted. Yet here she recommends the use of tap water, which is known to be considerably more polluted than distilled water. Furthermore, the desire is to obtain consistency of readings, so why recommend a water source which is of inconsistent composition? And this inconsistent composition is by Clark’s own admission, as she urges her readers to get rid of copper water pipes.
After sorting out the water issue, the next step is to probe the skin with the right amount of pressure. Consistency is emphasized, yet no measurements are used to ensure consistency. Without measuring the moisture content and pressure, it is impossible to guarantee consistency, and therefore accuracy. Consistency of the sound generated is the measure Clark uses. However, few people are able to consistently identify precise pitches across sessions without some sort of measurement or tuning device. And Clark apparently finds such a device to be unnecessary. Nevertheless, in her personal account of a failed treatment, Patricia Chavez, whose mother had been one of Clark’s patients, states that none of Clark’s patients that she had talked to had been able to learn how to use the syncrometer correctly.21
All the precision and accuracy issues, severe though they may be, are rendered unimportant, though, by the key problem with the syncrometer: There is simply no evidence that it works as advertised. Clark cites no independent sources to verify its accuracy. As is usual, she relies instead on her case histories. The problem, though, is that diagnosis is made using the syncrometer, which supposedly is evidence of the device’s accuracy. Then the syncrometer monitors the treatment and cure, thus proving the diagnosis. In other words, it’s circular reasoning, which proves neither the syncrometer nor the diagnosis.
Continuing with Clark’s fascination with electrical currents, the zapper is a device which purportedly uses low-level electrical currents at specific frequencies to kill nearly all parasites. As the device is for treatment and not diagnosis, some of the problems with the syncrometer are not as significant in this case. The key problem remains, however: There is no evidence that the zapper actually works as claimed. In addition, one questions the wisdom of holding an electrode in each hand and passing a current through the body.
The Case Histories
What Clark claims to be support for her theories is provided almost entirely by her case histories. If the case histories are valid, then her work has a chance of being accepted as legitimate. However, if the histories are invalid, they provide yet another reason to dismiss her work.
Clark’s case histories (which are more like case notes than full histories) describe 138 patients. Clark states that these 138 patients are all the patients she treated between the time when she began using the methods detailed in The Cure and the time when the book was written. Detailing all cases rather than a sample is something she does right.
Clark states the following about the patients in her case histories: “Although not all of them were diagnosed as having cancer by their clinical doctor, I considered them to have cancer if they tested YES (positive) for ortho-phospho-tyrosine (the abnormal growth stimulant). See The Tests for more information on cancer markers. Similarly I considered them ‘cured’ when they tested NO (negative) to ortho-phospho-tyrosine, even though other symptoms did not immediately abate.”22 Note that her tests for ortho-phospho-tyrosine were apparently conducted exclusively by the use of her syncrometer.
Are her diagnostic methods sound? Primack asserts that “in order to diagnose cancer biopsy proof is required. Biopsy proof is also needed in order to diagnose metastasis (the spread of the cancer).”23 Clearly, there is a conflict between the medical establishment and Clark—though it is worth pointing out that Primack has more knowledge of alternative treatments than the average doctor has, considering his scholarly history of studying alternative medicine and cancer.24
Because Clark differs significantly from the rest of the scientific community on the topic of cancer diagnosis, it’s important to consider how she supports her claims. Remember, she asserts the following: If a patient tests positive for ortho-phospho-tyrosine, that patient has cancer; a negative test result means the patient is cancer-free. The case histories are based entirely around this principle. However, Clark relies on these same case histories to establish ortho-phospho-tyrosine as a cancer marker, leading to circular reasoning.
It gets worse, however. Not only is it problematic to say that ortho-phospho-tyrosine is the marker of cancer, because cancer was diagnosed solely on the alleged basis of the presence or absence of this substance, but the diagnostic method is similarly circular. The supposed evidence to support the syncrometer is the case histories—which were diagnosed solely on the basis of the device which is in question. There is no independent verification that the syncrometer works.
If any element in this whole chain (case histories, ortho-phospho-tyrosine, and syncrometer) fails, there is absolutely no way to detect it, because the chain is tangled up in itself and there are no external factors to impart order to this mess. One key element of the scientific method is that all theories must be falsifiable. That means that there must be a detectable way to prove the theory false if it is wrong. Due to the circularity of Clark’s chain, there is no way to falsify her claims; therefore, they are unscientific and should be rejected in their entirety.
Since Clark’s diagnostic methods are irreparably flawed, it is clear that her case histories are entirely devoid of value. Worthless data yields no valuable insights. And with her educational background, Clark ought to have known better. Furthermore, since the case histories are the so-called evidence upon which her entire premise rests, then the entire book is unfounded. Not only that, but with such worthless evidence, it seems safe to say that Hulda Clark is guilty of a deadly fraud, one which could cost the life of any cancer patient who takes her writings to heart.
In case what I have written in this section isn’t damning enough, I encourage the reader to refer to the “Case Histories” section of Barrett’s article, and sections 8.f. and 8.g. of Primack’s affidavit.25
Clark’s central claim has been debunked. There is no evidence that intestinal flukes are the cause of all cancers, nor is there evidence that alcohol in the liver is an essential prerequisite for cancer. The notion that ortho-phospho-tyrosine is a universal cancer marker is unfounded. Clark’s machines do not work. And the case histories are nothing more than a waste of paper.
Because her methods are ineffective, treating cancer using Clark’s methods is virtually the same as not treating cancer at all.26 Clark’s books encourage cancer patients to endanger their own lives, to no benefit.
Hulda Clark is a fraud, and the only remaining wonder is how anyone who has read her books could take her seriously.
What is Hulda Clark’s legacy? Has she advanced the field of cancer research in any meaningful way? Internet searches on the primary claims of the book turned up only results related to Hulda Clark. In other words, others haven’t found her work to be of value.
Some have suggested that the reason Clark hasn’t received greater notoriety is because of persecution. However, persecution is only persecution if it is unjust. Criticism of a fraudster isn’t unjust; it is the moral thing to do. Hulda Clark was not and is not a victim of persecution. She was a quack attempting to play Russian roulette with cancer patients unfortunate enough to read her books.
Finally, although her case histories lack even the most basic credibility, there is one case that we can rely on: the case of Hulda Clark herself. She died in 2009 at the age of 80. Her death certificate27 indicates that she died from complications of multiple myeloma, a type of blood and bone cancer. Clark claimed to be able to cure 100% of cancers in a short period of time, yet she was unable to cure her own cancer. Her supporters note that her cancer left her debilitated such that she was unable to use her syncrometer. However, this is irrelevant. First, there is no reason why someone else couldn’t have used a syncrometer on her. More important, though, is the fact that her treatment plan is supposedly harmless, can be followed with or without a cancer diagnosis (Clark recommends following a form of it as a maintenance program), and doesn’t require the physical abilities that she lost. We must conclude, then, that either she didn’t attempt to treat her cancer or that her treatment was ineffective. Neither option reflects well on the effectiveness of her supposed cure.
Clark’s Work from the Perspective of the Adventist Health Message
A final note is a comparison of Clark’s work with the Adventist health message. Clark focused on parasites and pollutants as the cause of all disease. While it is true that those two are significant in some cases, the Adventist health message is much broader. As illustrated by the acronym NEWSTART, principles absent from Clark’s work, such as exercise, fresh air, rest, and most importantly trust in God give our health message a much surer footing. Rather than focusing on a handful of items, our message encourages a holistic approach to health that encompasses all aspects of lifestyle.
Finally, the most important component of the Adventist health message is the spiritual component. Our message finds its basis in the Bible, and our motivation for healthy living is the fact that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. While it is important to live a healthful lifestyle in the same way that it is important to follow God’s other principles, the most important part of health is surrender of the will to God and trusting Him with the results. A healthful lifestyle greatly reduces the likelihood of disease, but it doesn’t guarantee a disease-free life. Paul prayed three times for his thorn in the flesh to be removed, yet God didn’t do so. Ellen White had health problems throughout her life. In these cases, God had a reason for not providing healing. So it is with us. Our job is to apply what we know, trust God, and leave the result to Him.
Due to the nature of my approach, with a few exceptions I will not address the supplements she recommends or the steps to avoid pollutants she suggests. I have no reason to believe that an evaluation of these areas would produce any results that are significantly different from this paper’s conclusions. Even if they are different, however, the final conclusion remains unaffected. ↩
I neglected to note the page number for this, but it is in the introductory portions of her book. ↩
Clark, p. 39. ↩
Clark, p. 2. ↩
Clark, p. 1. ↩
Clark, p. 4. ↩
Interestingly, Clark never refers to the parasite in the usual scientific fashion (F. buski). Instead, she calls it the intestinal fluke (in reality, by her own admission there are multiple species of intestinal fluke) or by the longer form of its name, fasciolopsis buski. ↩
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Parasites - Fasciolopsiasis (Fasciolopsis infection).” Accessed October 28, 2015. ↩
American Cancer Society. Same reference as above. ↩
Clark, p. 8. Quoted in Barrett. ↩
Clark, p. 9. Quoted in Barrett. ↩
Clark, p. 11. ↩
Clark, p. 16. ↩
Clark, p. 17. ↩
Unfortunately, I neglected to take notes on this section of the book, so I am unable to cite specific page numbers or directly quote her. However, the details of Clark’s devices are easy enough to obtain from numerous sources—an exercise left to the reader. ↩
Clark, p. 203. Italics and capitalization as in original. ↩
Primack, section 8.g. ↩
Primack, section 4. ↩
Primack, section 9.a. ↩