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Orthomolecular Oncology

A Different Cancer Charity

Registered Charity No. 1078066


The Earl Baldwin of Bewdley
(Co-Chairman of the Parliamentary Commitee for Alternative and Complementary Medicine)

Dr Damien Downing, MBBS
(Editor of The Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine)

Mr Peter J Gravett, MB, MRCS, FRCPath.

Dr P J Kingsley, MB, BS, MRCS, LRCP, FAAEM, DA, D.Obst. RCOG.

What is Orthomolecular Oncology?


"Orthomolecular" medicine is a term coined by one of the greatest scientific minds of the 20th Century, twice Nobel Laureate, Linus Pauling.

Orthomolecular medicine involves the treatment of disease with natural substances, endemic to the body, vitamins, minerals, herbs and other biological response modifiers. These are often used in enormous doses, to a drug-like intensity. But as they are not drugs, toxicity is largely avoided, and the body can respond in a more positive way. (A classic example of orthomolecular medicine is the treatment of diabetes with insulin). The practice of orthomolecular oncology was started over 25 years ago by a Canadian psychiatrist, Dr Abram Hoffer. Inspired by some encouraging results in his work with nutrition in schizophrenia, and wanting to do more than just give spiritual counsel to his terminal cancer patients, he began to prescribe large doses of vitamins and minerals for them. To his surprise, these terminal cancer patients lived four times as long as expected, and a small percentage were cured.(1) In a Scottish study - the Vale of Leven Study, - inspired by Dr Pauling, similar results were produced with just 10 grams of oral vitamin C daily, after all conventional treatment had been abandoned. In this study 10% of terminal patients were actually cured.(2)


Forty percent of cancer patients do not die of cancer. They die of malnutrition. In addition, some 67% of cancer patients die of opportunistic infections, due to a severely depressed immune system: the end result of aggressive cytotoxic treatments, and malnutrition. This is both preventable and highly treatable. Many lives would be spared if early, appropriate action were taken, in conjunction with traditional systemic treatment of cancer, and/or the new, still experimental, scientific approaches, such as immunotherapy, anti-angiogenic therapy, etc. We need strong, well primed immune systems to fight and overcome cancer. Most conventional therapies actually wipe out the immune system, and do not address this paradox by taking measures to redress this. Adjuvant nutritional therapy in cancer can reduce the toxic side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation, increase their selectivity and “kill” potential, reduce and prevent secondary tumours, act as an immune stimulant, improve patient appetite, and therefore guard against the problems associated with poor appetite, treat and reverse malnutrition, improve overall chances of remission and cure, and not least, quality of life. The Bristol Cancer Centre, UK, has a data-base listing over 3,000 academic papers attesting to all this. The scientific evidence is burgeoning.


In North America, for over two decades now, these facts have been investigated, understood and increasingly implemented into clinical practice with growing success. Adjuvant nutritional cancer therapy is a mainstream medical movement in the U.S. and Canada, supported by many distinguished scientists and doctors, from the Harvard School of Medicine, to the National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health, to individuals such as Dr Charles Simone, oncologist to President Reagan, and Dr Abram Hoffer, a chief collaborator with Linus Pauling. Nutrition is a science and its increasing knowledge, at the molecular level, is converging in a complementary fashion with an increasing knowledge of the biology of cancer.

Yet, in the United Kingdom and Europe generally oncologists are largely ignorant and inactive in this field. Some of them compound their scientific ignorance by hostility. I have talked to a good number of consultants, both in the U.K. and Europe, and have found their ignorance of the subject astonishing, given the avant-garde knowledge and work across the Atlantic. Prevention of cancer through diet has become a fashionable subject. The World Cancer Research Fund is doing much admirable work to raise awareness on this front. However, the logical and increasingly well-documented conclusion, that cancer might also play an important part in treatment and cure, does not follow as a universal creed. This is an inexplicable medical blindspot. There is an important need for medical education in this expanding subject. It is Orthomolecular Oncology's aim to initiate and promote this. It is also our wish not to be provincial and restrict our mission to the U.K., rather to make it, at least initially, European based, but with eventually expanding world-wide interest.

There are two principal arguments for employing adjuvant nutritional therapy in cancer. One is ethical and pragmatic: in thirty years the 5 year survival and cure rate for cancer, with conventional therapies, has, with the exception of the childhood leukaemias and several rather rare cancers, such as testicular cancer, remained unchanged.(3) Indeed, there has been an overall increase in cancer of 18% and a 7% increase in mortality. Chemotherapy alone cures less than 3% of all advanced epithelial cancers.(4) "Insanity", said Rudyard Kipling, "is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results". There is a need to break through the current cure ceiling by trying fresh approaches. Biotechnology will undoubtedly offer many such approaches within the next 2 or 3 decades. People who are dying of cancer however want the future now and this is possible by pooling and acting on the knowledge orthomolecular oncology has to offer now. Epidemiologically, there is a strong link between diet and cancer. Increasingly, it is being found that cause and cure are linked.

The second argument for using adjuvant nutritional therapy in cancer is economic, and therefore also, highly pragmatic. The Americans have found that it significantly reduces in-patient stay and complications of conventional systemic treatment. The cost of treating cancer is phenomenal. In the States alone it accounts for 10% of the national health budget. Anything that reduces this, with good patient results, must be welcomed.



1). Hoffer A. & Pauling L: Hardin Jones biostatistical analysis of mortality data for cohorts of cancer patients with a large fraction surviving at the termination of study. Orthomolecular Medicine; 1990, 5: 143 - 154.

2). Cameron E. & Campbell A: The orthomolecular treatment of cancer. II. Clinical trials of high dose ascorbic acid supplements in advanced human cancer. Chem. Biol. Interact; 1974,9: 285-315.

3) Bailar JC, Gormick HL. “Cancer Undefeated”. New England Journal of Medicine, 1997; 336: 1569-74.

4). Dr Ulrich Abel, (statistician at Heidelberg, Germany); “Chemotherapy of advanced epithelial cancer: a critical review”. Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, 1992; 46: 439-452.

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