Penthouse Retrospective

by Gary Null, Leonard Steinman, Terry Leder, Kalev Pehme Originally Published: July, 1980

Cancer Politics – Part Five | 40 Years Ago This Month

Terry was critical of the clinic. As far as he is concerned, the clinic is a procedural and scientific mess. He has not made it a secret that he regards the whole thing as quackery. According to Terry, there were no accurate records, no consistent protocols of treatment or study. And even if there were, Burton would not have been able to properly interpret them. The theory of the relation of the blood fractions to the immunological system is, according to Terry, just “horse manure.” “From whatever Dr. Burton has ever told me, or Dr. Friedman, or from what I saw down in the Bahamas, the lab tests they are doing make no sense and have no basis in science.” Terry spent only two days in the Bahamas; he did not interview patients but nevertheless authored a critical report to the Bahamian government concerning Burton. Apparently, the Bahamian government paid no credence to Terry’s unscientific polemic. Pursuant to agreement with the Pan-American group, Terry’s unscientific appraisal was not released, and the Bahamian government invited Burton to stay.

Burton’s recollection of the two-day trip of the international review board is vivid, and he recalls that the panel wanted the names and U.S. addresses of patients as well as those of the doctors who recommended them to the clinic. Burton’s Bahamian attorney balked at the request in the belief that it was not made in good faith but rather for the purpose of reporting the physicians to their local medical societies for disciplinary action. Terry claims the reason for the request was to attempt to verify the results.

What Burton remembers most about Terry’s Freeport visit was Terry’s alleged constant references to money, wanting to know who paid and how much. Terry conveyed the impression that he thought Burton was making a great deal of money. The issue of money was not casual. It costs between $5,000 and $7,500 for treatment at the Freeport Clinic. This may sound expensive, but it is actually a fraction of the cost of orthodox treatment. It costs a cancer victim about $23,000 to die of cancer in the United States. Part of the cost is for conventional treatment, such as chemotherapy.

Burton is paid $30,000 a year for his work. He claims that he puts about half back into the clinic’s operation. The clinic’s facilities are modern and clean, and its equipment is new and well serviced. A computer aids in the setting of serum doses for patients who have left the island so that serum injections can continue under the supervision of the patient’s own physician in the United States. All patients are required to sign a consent form when they come in, which explains the nature of the treatment and states that it is experimental and is not represented as a cure.


One of the interesting outgrowths of Burton’s work has been a joint project with Metpath, a mammoth medical testing laboratory located in New Jersey. Nationally known and respected for its meticulous testing, Metpath is vitally interested in the accuracy and practicality of Burton’s serum as a cancer-detection test. Metpath’s president, Dr. Paul Brown, says, “We are … looking at how Burton measures one particular substance, the ‘blocking protein,’ to find out whether that is in fact present or not present in people who have malignant disease.”

The contract betwen Metpath and Burton received the commendation of Dr. Paul Rosch, president of the American Institute of Stress, whose special field of interest is the relationship between stress and cancer. At first Dr.Rosch was skeptical about Burton’s blood test for early cancer detection and also for uncovering cryptic malignancies that do not show up through any other signs, symptoms, examinations, or tests. Dr. Rosch would send Burton blood specimens by air express and not indicate anything about the patient’s condition just to see whether Burton was able, on the basis of the blood sample alone, to distinguish patients with tumors from those with other conditions, patients with malignancies that were responding to treatment from those who were doing poorly. “Over the course of three months,” continued Dr. Rosch, “I sent Burton over one thousand blood specimens.” He became satisfied that Burton was on to something big, or, as he described Burton’s blood test for detection of cancer, “something which had great merit and potential.” Rosch added that Burton’s percentage was extraordinarily high in getting the right answers from the blood specimens. “Very impressive.”

Burton’s test is a means of measuring several specific protein elements in blood. Burton has long identified these specific elements as part of a complex defense system against cancer. By measuring the relative amounts of these elements present in a person’s bood, he is able to determine (1) whether the patient’s system is effectively battling the cancer, (2) whether the patient’s immunological defenses are strong or weak, and (3) whether the tide of battle is running in favor of the cancer or the patient.

The test is thus extremely useful as a diagnostic tool-an objective means of detecting cancer from the blood profile, even in the absence of any positive X-ray findings, tumor mass, or pathological signs or symptoms. But equally important is its “watchdog” usefulness in measuring the results of any treatment, its efficacy or lack of it. The test can alert the physician that his particular treatment regimen is not working, and that a change in treatment strategy is required.

Dr. John T. Beaty, an internist in Greenwich, Conn., is familiar with Burton’s unique cancer test and the first experiment conducted by Metpath to gauge the accuracy of Burton’s technique. In that experiment Metpath air-expressed 193 numbered vials of human blood samples without any accompanying data to Burton’s clinic lab in Freeport. Four of the samples were of patients known to have cancer. Running the specimens through analysis, Burton identified ten blood samples as belonging to cancer patients, including the four cases known to Metpath. The initial opinion at Metpath was that the six additional vials were “false positives” — the equivalent of false alarms. But within two months three of the “false positives” showed clinical evidence of previously undetected cancer, and within six months the remaining three also metamorphosed into cancer status. Thus, Dr. Beaty points out, Burton’s analyses were correct in all ten cases, and his test predicted what was not yet apparent. According to sources close to Metpath, that medical lab has repeated the experiment several times with new batches of numbered vials. Burton’s results in all respects paralleled the initial trial in accuracy.

Of all the things that should be above petty egotism, you might think pushing a cure for debilatating disease might qualify. Yet Cancer Politics thrives, sadly even 40 years after this article.

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