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The False Hope of Stanislaw Burzynski’s Cancer Treatments, in ‘Skeptical Inquirer’

February 12, 2014

Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski has been hawking unproven cancer treatments to desperate patients while facing repeated investigation by the authorities for decades. Skeptical Inquirer reveals the truth behind his dubious claims, and details the efforts by activists to rein him in and contain his damage.

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On the heels of a recent USA Today exposé of Burzynski’s unsound practices, Dr. David Gorski digs deep into the life of Burzynski and his scientific background, revealing both the genesis of his work and the facts that undercut Burzynski’s claims, describing him as an expert in “donning the mantle of science” for his own purposes, all the while operating under “nearly constant investigation by medical authorities.”

“There is little doubt that Burzynski started out trying to be a real scientist,” Gorski writes, but he eventually turned to an “ethical slide into oblivion,” sacrificing scientific rigor and the health of his patients. We learn the truth about Burzynski’s “antineoplastons,” mysterious compounds that Burzynski claims can be used to target and destroy cancer cells, that Gorski says “almost certainly do not have significant anticancer activity.”

Robert J. Blaskiewicz details the battle to challenge Burzynski’s questionable claims, and to provide reliable information about them to the public. For example, as a form of protest of Burzynski’s clinic, skeptics worked to raise funds for genuine cancer treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, even as they weathered legal threats from allies of Burzynski. Meanwhile, activists have formed The Other Burzynski Patient Group, which tells the stories of the Burzynski patients who did not survive treatment. “While skeptics cannot perform the protective and punitive roles that regulators and courts have been unable to serve,” writes Blaskiewicz, “we can step up and do the investigating, reporting, and editorializing that the media have failed to do.”

Also in this issue : Joe Nickell investigates the truth behind the alleged hauntings portrayed in the new movie The ConjuringBryan Farha looks back on the terrible record of late “psychic” Sylva Browne; Richard E. Wackrow characterizes the threat of a terrorist “dirty bomb” as overblown; and much more.

The March/April 2014 edition of Skeptical Inquirer is now available on newsstands, in the Apple App Store, or on Pocketmags for Android, Kindle, and other platforms. For more information, visit www.csicop.org/si.