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Zoetron Therapy
(Cell Specific Cancer Therapy)

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Zoetron therapy used a magnetic device that the promoters claimed would "selectively impact the life cycle of cancerous cells without harming the normal cells in any way." The treatment, origically called Cell Specific Cancer Therapy (CSCT), was marketed by CSCT, Ltd., in London, England, and CSCT, Inc., in Canada, originally in Kitchener, Ontario, and later in Penticon, British Columbia. The treatment facility opened in 1996 [1] in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) and was moved to Tijuana, Mexico, in 1998. The treatment originally cost $20,000 but was lowered to $15,000 in 1998. Promotional literature has stated that some patients who could not afford this amount could be treated at lower cost or even free of charge. A few people who attended the clinic during its first years have told me that this was true. In 1997, the clinic promised refunds to dissatisfied patients, but later stopped doing this. In 2003, a coordinated effort by government officials in the United States, Canada, and Mexico put the promoters out of business,

Far-Fetched Claims

CSCT was delivered with a device that is a ring about two feet in diameter and four inches thick. The patient would lie on a table with his body through the ring, while the therapist listened for sounds that supposedly indicated whether the device was detecting cancer cells. Its promoters claimed that the device detected vibrational differences between cancer cells and normal cells and killed cancer cells by sending back their frequency, which would cause them to rupture and die [1].

A clinic brochure stated:

It has been well known for some considerable time that cancerous cells are markedly different from normal cells. In the case of many cancer cells, this difference includes the way in which cancer cells metabolize glucose into ATP, the basic unit of cell energy. While normal cells perform this task in an efficient manner, cancerous cells do so in a very inefficient and much more complicated way.

In the course of their life cycle this inefficiency of operation makes the cancerous cells vulnerable to interference and susceptible to disruption. In the event that this vulnerability and susceptibility can be exploited, using an energy form which does not interfere with the life cycles of the adjacent normal cells, then the cancerous cell can be destroyed while the normal cells remain undisturbed (and the patient will remain free of side effects and after effects).

The Zoetron device, when applied in accordance with the prescribed protocol has this ability to selectively impact the life cycle of cancerous cells without harming the normal cells in any way. . . .

The energy used in the Zoetron device to disrupt the life cycle of the cancerous cells and cause cell death, is magnetic energy from a specially contrived array of both permanent and electromagnets. The complex magnetic field so created and to which the patient is exposed is an extremely active field of phased incoherence, but one which, even so, operates at a very low gauss level. Whereas a modern Magnetic Resonance Imaging device (such as are now in widespread use) may have a magnetic field with a gauss (measure of intensity) in excess of 10,000 gauss, the Zoetron device normally operates at a maximum field intensity of less than 100 gauss [2].

The promoters also claimed that cancer cells accumulate iron and that the Zoetron device produces pulsed magnetic field that causes the iron to vibrate and produce heat that kills the cancer cells [3].

Misleading Case Reports

CSCT's promoters have published several case histories and two summary reports which they claimed to provide evidence of effectiveness. However, the reports did not use standard methods for measuring cancer treatment results and should be dismissd as meaningless. In addition, the individual case reports were so skimpy that no conclusions could be drawn.

One summary report covered 50 patients from the Netherlands treated between 1996 and 1999 and tabulated in February 2000 [4]. The data were summarized in a table that listed outcomes as "favorable" (23 cases), "unfavorable" (7 cases), "indefinite" (16 cases), or "other" (4 cases). The report defined these terms, but it provided no raw data that would enable the reader to judge how the criteria were applied, how the patient follow-up status was obtained, which patients had had conventional therapy, and which patients were alive when the report was compiled. In addition, although the table included information about the stage (seriousness) of each cancer, it did not indicate when the staging was done. The report admitted that "the evidence presented here is not yet conclusive of the efficacy of the CSCT/Zoetron therapy." It would be more accurate to state that the data have no significance whatsoever

The other sumary report, tabulated in September 2000, covered the cases of pancreatic cancer that had been treated with CSCT since 1996 [6]. The report claimed that CSCT provided a "192% survival improvement" over the results anticipated by comparing the patients to published in a French cancer textbook. This is not a proper way to evaluate a cancer treatment because it difficult to ensure that the patients are comparable. Proper studies compare patients who receive a treatment with similar patients who do not. Moreover, the length of survival for the CSCT patients was calculated by tabulating the number of days from the time of diagnosis to the time of death, regardless of when CSCT was started. The proper way to measure survival would be to state how long the patient lived after taking the treatment, but that was not calculated. The report also failed to state whether the patients had received conventional treatment.

What are the Facts?

The bottom line here is very simple: There is no scientific evidence or reason to believe that exposure to weak magnetic fields will kill any cells or that cancer cells accumulate iron or respond differently than normal cells to a magnetic field. CSCT promoters claimd that their device could "detect cancerous cells with a sensitivity much greater than that of . . . magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)." This claim is nonsense. MRI devices use radiofrequency waves, a very strong magnetic field, and a computer to produce cross-sectional images of the body. The patient is placed inside a large magnetic coil. When the magnetic field is turned on, it causes hydrogen nuclei (protons) within the body to line up in one direction. Then selected radiofrequency waves flip these particles in another direction. When the waves are turned off, the particles realign, releasing an electromagnetic signal that the computer translates into an image. This may reveal the presence of a cancer by producing shadows that represent tumor masses. But it cannot detect any difference between normal and cancer cells at the cellular level. Moreover, the MRI procedure produces no known permanent effect on cell structure or function. If magnetic fields could kill cells, MRI devices might seriously damage the patient's body. Furthermore, even if powerful magnetic fields could kill cancer cells, there is no reason to believe that the clinic's device -- which has a much weaker magnetic field -- would have the same ability. As noted in an FTC memorandum:

Despite the Defendants' claims, there is no proof that cancer cells can be heated at an atomic level to the point of cell death, and that even if this were possible, the Defendants' Zoetron machine cannot possibly produce enough energy to accomplish this task. Defendants' website asserts that the Zoetron machine produces a magnetic field equal to 20-40 gauss (units of magnetic force). As a rough comparison, a toy refrigerator magnet has a strength of 100 gauss, and a magnetic resonance imaging ("MRI") machine produces 15,000 gauss. In addition, Defendants claim that the Zoetron machine can target cancer cells because of the cancer cells' purportedly higher iron content. While some cancer cells may have more iron than some normal cells, cells in other areas of the body such as the liver and bone marrow are very high in iron content. Even assuming that the Zoetron machine could somehow target iron-rich cells, it would also doubtless kill the red blood cells, the bone marrow, and the liver cells. Finally, even if the Zoetron Therapy could kill cancer cells without harming other parts of the body, it would leave a mass of dead cells that would itself often pose a life-threatening danger to the patient.

In short, . . . CSCT's therapy simply cannot kill cancer cells [6].

The memorandum also described the device as "no more that a group of weak magnets arranged in a hoop-type array." [6]

Patients and their companions were also advised to undergo a three-week "NOVASAN" protocol to "detoxify" and "enhance their immune system." This includes colon hydrotherapy, chelation therapy, lymphatic massage, and far infrared sauna. Clinic literature states that companions who share environments, diets, or genetics with the patients may have the same risks and thus might prevent cancer by undergoing the protocol [7]. However, cancer is not related to a build-up of toxins, and none of NOVASAN's components have any proven value for preventing or treating cancer.

Government Action

In February 2003, the Federal Trade Commission obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting CSCT Ltd., CSCT, Inc., and its officers (John Leslie Armstrong and Michael John Reynolds) from continuing to claim that CSCT is effective against cancer. The judge also froze the defendants' assets and ordered their Web site to be shut down. The FTC's Complaint stated:

During the patient's stay at the clinic, staffers claim to assess the patient's condition by analyzing tumor size, blood chemistry, and tumor markers. As time goes by, the clinic may tell a patient that his or her tumor has reduced in size or that their tumor marker tests are decreasing. If a consumer expresses some doubt, possibly because the consumer's observation of the tumor indicates that there is no change, the clinic will assure . . . that the cancerous cells are in fact dead and explain . . . that the body simply takes time to eliminate the dead cancerous cells [8].

The FTC's action was coordinated with law-enforcement agencies in Canada and Mexico. Mexico's Ministry of Health shut down CSCT's clinic after finding that is offered unapproved treatment. Government officials estimated that about 850 people has received the treatment over a 5-year period. In 1994, the three countries established a health fraud work group to strengthen their ability to combat frauds that operate from one country to target consumers in another country.

In February 2004, the FTC announced that CSCT, Inc., John Armstrong, and Michael Reynolds had signed a consent agreement barring them from marketing Zoetron therapy or making unsubstantiated claims in connection with the marketing and sale of any service, program, food, drug, or device The settlement contains a judgment of $7,650,000 that is suspended because the defendants allege they cannot pay it but which can be enforced if the FTC finds that they misrepresented their financial status. The settlement also prohibits the defendants from selling identifying information about anyone whose information was obtained in connection with the marketing of their services [9].

References

  1. Leviton R. Killing cancer cells with magnetic energy. Alternative Medicine Digest, Issue #20, 1996.
  2. Zoetron therapy. Brochure, CSCT Web site, downloaded April 29, 2001.
  3. Untitled 21-page report. Circulated in 2001.
  4. Complaint for permanent injunction and other equitable relief. Federal Trade Commission v CSCT, Inc., et al. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Diviision, Civil No. 03000880, filed Feb 6, 2003.
  5. Zoetron Case report pancreatic cancer. Data tabulated on Sept 21, 2000.
  6. FTC memorandum, Feb 6, 2003. Downloaded from zoetrondefense.com ( a poponent site), March 1, 2004.
  7. Health Multiplex - NOVASAN. Undated flier, distributed in 2000.
  8. FTC, Canada, and Mexico officials crack down on foreign companies that offer bogus cancer treatment. FTC news release, Feb 20, 2003.
  9. Canadian company settles FTC charges that it offered bogus cancer therapy to U.S. citizens. FTC news release, Feb 25, 2004.

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This article was revised on March 1, 2004.