Heather Mills McCartney: Vegetarian Diet Cures Cancer!

In March, Heather Mills McCartney wrote an article in which she claimed that her vegetarian diet stopped an infection she received after having her leg amputated following a motorcycle accident and cured her cancer. McCartney did not speculate on whether or not vegetarianism can also make the crippled walk and the blind see.

Writing in the London Evening Standard, McCartney claims,

As I watched more and more of my leg disappear [from infection] I decided to discharge myself from hospital. . . A girlfriend of mine had breast cancer. Although not scientifically proven, she believed she went into remission after following a vegetarian program at America’s Hippocrates centre in West Palm Beach, Florida.

In desperation, I went to the States. The moment I arrived they took me off all my medication . . . Just 10 days of a strict vegetarian diet, wheatgrass juice and placing garlic poultices on my wound (Owwww!) and I was healed — as were scores of people around me, from addicts to cancer sufferers and non-insulin dependent diabetics.

Presumably, if she’d have just drank enough wheatgrass juice and garlic rather than relying on those toxic medications which she campaigned against, Linda McCartney could have cured her breast cancer and would be with us still.

Anyway, as the National Council Against Health Fraud puts it, though in slightly different terms, the whole wheatgrass-as-cure nonsense was started by a raw food nutcase named Ann Wigmore. Wigmore believed wheatgrass and raw foods were a Biblically ordained treatment,

The notion that wheatgrass can benefit serious disease sufferers was conceived by Ann Wigmore, a Boston area resident. Wigmore (1909-94) was born in Lithuania and raised by her grandmother who, according to Wigmore, gave her an unwavering confidence in the healing power of nature. Wigmore believed in astrology, and described herself (a Pisces) as a dreamer who saw life from the spiritual viewpoint to the neglect of the physical. Wigmore’s theory on the healing power of grasses was predicated upon the Biblical story of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar who spent seven insane years living like a wild animal eating the grass of the fields. Because he recovered, Wigmore presumed that the grasses had cured his insanity. [The Bible says that a prescribed seven years of insanity was visited upon the King as Divine punishment for his arrogance. (Dan 4:31-7)]

The common observation that dogs and cats nibble on grass, presumably when they feel ill, also strengthened Wigmore’s belief in the healing power of grasses [1]. Wigmore theorized that rotting food in the intestine forms toxins that circulate in the bloodstream (aka, the intestinal toxicity theory) and cause cancer [2]. She taught that the life span of the wheatgrass juice was less than three hours, so it had to be cut from growing plants, juiced and consumed fresh. She speculated that the enzymes found in raw wheatgrass were alive and could “detoxify” the body by oral ingestion and by enemas. Wheatgrass is prepared by sprouting wheat berries and growing them until they form chlorophyll. It was the chlorophyll in wheatgrass that enthused Wigmore. She called chlorophyll “the life blood of the planet.” Wigmore believed that cooking foods “killed” them because this deactivates enzymes. She held that the moment the “sacred” 7.4 acid-alkaline balance (the same as human blood) is “killed” that its effectiveness would be reduced [3]. (For information on exaggerations about the similarities between hemoglobin and chlorophyll see NCAHF’s statement on chlorophyll.)

In the 1980s, Wigmore took to claiming that her “enzyme soup” could cure AIDS and rendered childhood immunization necessary, which led to her unsuccessful prosecution for fraud by the state of Massachusetts. A judge ultimately ruled that Wigmore’s claims that AIDS could be cured through her methods were protected by the First Amendment. She was ordered, however, to stop fraudulently claiming that she was an accredited physician.

The Hippocrates Life Change Center bases its “treatment” regimen on Wigmore’s nutty views. Like Wigmore, the HLCC emphasizes the wonders that are supposed to be accomplished from enzymes. What they can’t get into their brains is that the enzymes from food are quickly broken down into amino acids by the digestive system and as such don’t play much of a role at all in affecting human health for good or ill.

Moreover, as the NCAHF’s William Jarvis notes that it is surprising that wheatgrass fanatics fail to note that “grass-eating animals are not spared from cancer, despite their large intake of fresh chlorophyll,” and, course, since chlorophyll isn’t absorbed by the human body, it does even less for humans.

Of course, who are you going to believe — some evil animal torturing scientists or some nutcase who fraudulently passes herself off as a physician while claiming that raw foods can cure AIDS?


Heather: Vegetarian diet saved me from cancer. Daily Mail, March 23, 2005.

Wheatgrass Therapy. William Jarvis, 1998.

PCRM vs. Ohio State University

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine was making a lot of noise in February about the National Institutes of Health’s decision to investigate PCRM’s complaint about OSU’s Spinal Cord Injury Techniques Training Course.

The course teaches researchers how to injure the spinal cords of mice and rats so that they can be used in research on spinal cord injuries. The course itself is partially funded by NIH, so the agency’s decision to investigate the course is not surprising. Given that the NIH has previously approved the course, this will likely be a routine investigation unless there are problems with the course that are above and beyond PCRM’s simple objection to conducting this sort of research in animals.

In its press release announcing the NIH’s decision, PCRM takes credit for something that actually hasn’t happened,

In 2002, PCRM was instrumental in stopping NIH-funded experiments by OSU researcher Dr. Michael Podell, who infected cats with feline immunodeficiency virus and injected them with methamphetamine (“speed”) in an attempt to create an animal model for HIV-positive humans using drugs.

And, in fact, Podell made an important discovery — that HIV-like illness in felines progress much faster in cats that were exposed to methamphetamines. Podell hypothesized that this might explain why HIV-related dementia has such a quick onset in human methamphetamine users.

It is true that Podell left Ohio State University in 2002 due to the level of harassment that animal rights activists directed at him, but the research did not stop. It was handed off to another researcher who used tissue cultures to study more closely this effect, but who made it clear that after that study was finished the research would return to using cats in the 4th or 5th year of the study (which would have been 2004 or 2005 — the grant ends May 31, 2005).

As anti-research group Protect Our Earths Treasures noted in 2003,

September 2003, five (5) cats arrive at OSU from Liberty Labs and enter protocol 020047/96A0038.

Why are we concerned? A portion of protocol, 96A0038, was used by Michael Podell to conduct his pilot study which lead to his own protocol – Cats On Meth.

PCRM might have moved on to other things, but the research on felines at OSU apparently continued.


NIH to Investigate OSU’s Spinal Injury Course. Press Release, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, February 8, 2005.

Remembrance for the Animals Used In the Labs at The Ohio State University. Protect Our Earths Treasures, Undated, Accessed: February 28, 2005.

Taking a Different Approach in HIV Research — Blocking Transmission in Animal Models

A lot of the high profile HIV animal research has been directed at finding vaccines for the virus which have, so far, all failed to perform in clinical testing. But there are a number of other avenues of research including research focused better understanding how the disease is transmitted and looking for ways to stop that transmission.

In October, Science published the results of research conducted in the United States and Switzerland that managed to block transmission of the simian HIV in macaque monkeys.

In both human beings and macaques, the HIV virus can be transmitted across mucous membranes in the vagina and cervix. The virus uses a number of molecules to accomplish this task, including one called CCR5. CCR5 is so important to HIV transmission, that human beings who lack CCR5 due to genetic variations are all but immune from HIV infection.

Researchers at the University Hospitals of Cleveland Center for AIDS Research and University of Geneva in Switzerland created a compound that binds with CCR5. They then applied the compound to the vaginal surfaces of macaque monkeys, waited 15 minutes, and then exposed the macaques to SHIV.

The result? Of the macaques who received the highest dosage level of the CCR5-inhibiting compound, 12 of 15 animals did not become infected.

This research is a long way from any clinical trials, but if it is possible to cheaply manufacture a microbicide that would block CCR5 in human beings, it would be an extremely important advance.

As AIDS researcher Donald Mosier told Bio.Com,

Virtually all HIV [strains] use the CCR5 receptor. [So, completely] blocking CCR5 would block 99 percent of HIV transmission worldwide.


HIV in monkeys ‘blocked by drug’. The BBC, October 14, 2004.

A Simple Strategy for Blocking HIV Transmission Proves Effective in Pre-Clinical Trials. Jason Socrates Bardi, Bio.Com, October 18, 2004.

Microbicide Shuts the Door on HIV. Jon Cohen, Science, October 15, 2004.

Did Animal Research Delay Protease Inhibitors?

Peter Tatchell recently repeated his absurd claim that animal research delayed the development of protease inhibitors in an article posted on the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty site. According to Tatchell,

Merck made the false, unscientific assumption that animal experiments provide an accurate model of how anti-HIV drugs interact with humans. The result? Research on a promising protease inhibitor was halted by Merck in 1989 and clinical trials of a new protease drug (crixivan) did not start until 1993. This disastrous setback in protease research is one of the greatest scandals of the AIDS epidemic, possibly contributing to the premature deaths of up to 50,000 people worldwide.

. . .

Merck admits that animal studies were not used in the primary research that led to the invention of protease inhibitors as a treatment for HIV. An animal-free breakthrough, the inhibitor drugs were designed on computers and safety-tested using human cell cultures and biochemical assays. It was only when Merck decided to further test the new drugs on laboratory animals that they ran into trouble, with the dogs and rats dying of liver failure. Protease inhibitors do not, of course, have these same fatal consequences for people. On the contrary, they are lifesavers.

Researchers at Merck had scored a coup in 1989 when Nature published their three-dimensional structure of HIV’s protease. Modifying compounds in the lab, Merck developed a compound — L-689,502 — which had good activity in laboratory tests. When they tested it in dogs in March 1990, however, the dogs all suffered from severe liver toxicity. Merck then abandoned the compound and moved on to other similar compounds, finally settling on indinavir (marketed as Crixivan), which went into clinical trial in 1993 and was approved for sale by the U.S. FDA in 1996.

Tatchell makes an absurd claim when he suggests that, “Protease inhibitors do not, of course, have these same fatal consequences for people. On the contrary, they are lifesavers.”

Tatchell is correct — the protease inhibitors that were eventually approved don’t cause fatal liver problems in human beings. Indinavir was remarkable precisely because it had both high efficacy in laboratory tests and caused very little toxicity in animal tests.

Second, it is likely that L-689,502 would have been highly toxic in human beings. Contrary to Tatchell’s claim, most of the FDA approved protease inhibitors cause liver toxicity to one degree or another in some patients and those taking protease inhibitors are advised to have their liver function monitored. The only reason that “protease inhibitors do not” have fatal liver consequences in human beings is due to such monitoring. Merck would have been highly irresponsible to have gone forward with development of a protease inhibitor that had such obvious liver toxicity side effects in animal models.


Protease inhibitors: a tale of two companies. (Merck and Abbott Laboratories) Jon Cohen. Science, June 28, 1996 v272 n5270 p1888(2).

AIDS Activist adds another voice to the SHAC Campaign

BioSyn Obtains Rights to Potential HIV Microbicide

Biotechnology firm BioSyn announced in April that it had acquire exclusive worldwide rights to a potential HIV microbicide from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The compound in question is cyanovirin-N which has been shown to be relatively successful in preventing the spread of AIDS-like diseases in animal models. NIH researchers working with a primate model showed that CV-N prevented transmission of SIV among monkeys.

Dr. Richard Bax, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Biosyn, said in a press release announcing the deal,

CV-N is a member of an exciting new class of HIV drugs termed fusion inhibitors. By preventing HIV entry into and fusion with target cells, CV-N effectively inhibits the virus’ mode of infection. As an intravaginal gel applied prior to intercourse, CV-N could help to avert the sexual transmission of HIV.

Although tests of actual prevention of transmission have so far occurred only in animals, laboratory tests show that CV-N prevents HIV transmission from cell to cell by binding to a protein on the outer shell of the virus and thereby interfering with receptors that HIV uses to target healthy cells.

The NIH conducted studies using a rabbit vaginal toxicity/irritancy model to establish that a gel containing CV-N would be benign (I’d love to see animal rights activists explain how to reproduce that research without using animals), and in vivo tests with human cells suggest it will not attack human immune cells nor important bacteria present in the human vagina.

BioSyn received a $10 million grant from the NIH in November 2002 to develop CV-N through the clinical trial process.


Biosyn, Inc. Obtains Exclusive Rights to Novel HIV Microbicide Candidate from National Institutes of Health. Press Release, BioSyn, April 3, 2003.

Cyanovirin-N Shows Potential to Block HIV Transmission. Reuters Health Information Services, May 8, 2000.

Structural studies of the potent anti-HIV protein cyanovirin-N using NMR and ITC. Carole A. Bewley, National Institutes of Health.

Solution structure of cyanovirin-N, a potent HIV-inactivating protein. Carole A. Bewley, et al., Nature Structural Biology, July 1998, v.5, no. 7, pp.571-578.

SIV-Resistant Monkey Offers Clues about HIV

One of the common animal rights arguments against the efficacy of AIDS research in non-human primates, despite the many important advances made through such research, is that most non-human primate species do not get ill and die from the Dominican Simian Virus. One of the questions for researchers has been to find out why most non-human primates can co-exist with SIV, and researchers from the University of Texas the Medical Center in Dallas and Emory University recently announced they have found two differences in the immune system that offer some insight into this question.

According to the BBC, researchers at these two institutions looked at sooty mangabey monkeys which do not become ill from SIV infection.

Dr. Donald Sodora told the BBC that one answer to why the sooty mangabey monkey does not become ill is because its immune system issues a relatively low level response to the SIV virus,

The mangabeys have just as much virus in their system as during pathogenic HIV infection of humans. . . . The absence of the indirect effects in the SIV-infected mangabeys can at least be partially attributed to the immune system, and the ability to maintain continued renewal of T cells. One potential treatment might be an approach to deactivate the immune system, in a very strategic and careful way.

The mangabey monkeys also maintain a stable level of T cells, unlike in human infections where the HIV virus quickly depletes T cell levels and thereby weakening the immune system.


Monkey offers Aids cure. The BBC, March 18, 2003.