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Medical Frauds, Fakes, and Hoaxes: Parasites, Cancer, and the Zapper (Part 1)

written by: Robyn Broyles • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 12/15/2008

Learn about the flaws in an "alternative" therapy for cancer. The Clark Zapper cannot heal or cure cancer, yet it is marketed as a bona fide treatment. Part 1 of a two-part series.

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    Cancer is a term for a broad class of diseases characterized by cells that grow in an uncontrolled and invasive way. It can start in almost any tissue of the body in which there are reproducing cells, including the blood, bone, skin, liver, lungs, and brain. Cancer results from mutations in the genetic material in cells. The mutations may have external causes, such as ionizing radiation or toxic chemicals, but the disease itself involves the patient's own cells.

    Thus, modern medicine has determined quite clearly that cancer is not caused by parasitic worms — not unless those worms are somehow able to reach into cells and tweak the DNA found there to cause unrestricted growth, or transport those cells around the body to cause metastasis. Yet one alternative health practitioner, Dr. Hulda Regehr Clark, has made a living by making that exact claim.

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    The Cure for All Cancers?

    Clark has published several books, giving them provocative titles like The Cure for All Cancers and The Cure for All Diseases. In The Cure for All Cancers, Dr. Clark asserts that a parasitic flatworm, Fasciolopsis buski, is the cause of all cancer.

    According to the online Atlas of Medical Parasitology, F. buski, also known as the human intestinal fluke, is an intestinal parasite endemic to south Asia. Symptoms of infestation include abodominal pain, malabsorption of nutrients, and other intestinal symptoms. The parasite remains in the intestines and does not travel to other parts of the body. It is not found in North America or Europe.

    To claim that this relatively large organism somehow not only can cause cancer, but is the cause for all cancers, is utterly strange. Yet this is exactly what is stated in The Cure for All Cancers. In fact, Clark also states that "propyl alcohol" is also present with all cancers, and the combination of propyl alcohol and intestinal flukes is found in "100%" of cancer patients (Barrett, 2006). (It is not specified whether "propyl alcohol" refers to n-propanol or isopropyl alcohol, two different compounds which are both sometimes called propyl alcohol.)

    Clark also asserts that the metal in dental fillings is toxic and a source of illness. Though metal dental fillings typically use a mercury-based amalgam, Clark has allegedly claimed that they can contaminate people with unrelated radioactive metals such as polonium and uraniam (Chavez, 1997).

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    Continued in Part 2 of the series.