An innovative clinical trial to be conducted at Columbia University
in New York City forpeople diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer
is now recruiting patients. The volunteer patients will test the
effectiveness of what is called the Gonzalez regimen,
which combines a strict diet of fresh fruits, vegetable juices,
dietary supplements, and pancreatic enzyme extracts, plus a
John Chabot, md, a surgical oncologist at Columbia, is the trial's
principal investigator. From 72 to 90 patients with advanced
pancreatic cancer are being sought for the phase III study, which is
being sponsored by the National Cancer Institutes (NCI) newly
established Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Half of the patients will receive standard therapy with gemcitabine
(Gemzar), while the other half will follow the Gonzalez regimen.
The Gonzalez Regimen
With this rigorous diet, patients eat large amounts of raw fruits,
raw and steamed vegetables, juices, cereals, and nuts, including up
to 20 almonds a day. Fish is allowed in limited quantities. The diet
excludes red meat, chicken, refined grain products, white sugar, and
Patients also take approximately 150 pills a day, at regular
intervals throughout the day, on an empty stomach. The pills include
vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace elements, glandular extracts,
and 25 to 40 g (40 pills) of freeze-dried pancreatic enzymes derived
from pigs. Most patients take the pills for 15 days, stop for 5 days,
and begin again.
During the 5-day break, patients undergo a detoxification
process: they can use coffee enemas; or drink fruit juices or a
Metamucil-like product in conjunction with various herbs to flush out
their systems. The cost of the regimen is approximately $6,000 per
year, but the cost is being funded by the NCI and the pills are
supplied free of charge.
The trial, which was given a 5-year, $250,000 grant, is applying
scientific methods to assess the efficacy of this alternative
treatment. The NCI agreed to test the regimen after Nicholas
Gonzalez, md, a New York endocrinologist, conducted a pilot study of
his protocol from 1993 to 1996. The results, reported earlier this
year in Nutrition and Cancer, showed that 9 of 11 pancreatic patients
survived for 1 year, 5 patients survived for 2 years, and 4 patients
survived for 3 years. These results surpassed those usually achieved
with standard treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer.
Protocol Based on Embryologist's Observation
The Gonzalez protocol derives from the work of John Beard, a
turn-of-the-century Scottish embryologist who noted that placentas,
which invade the uterus much as a tumor does, stop growing the day
that the fetal pancreas begins to function. Thus, Beard theorized
that pancreatic enzymes might also halt the growth of malignant
For information about patient entry into the trial, contact Michelle
Gabay, rn (212-305 9468), at New York PresbyterianThe
University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell.