Cancer claims the lives of thousands of Americans every day, but it also results in tens of billions of dollars in revenue for the medical and pharmaceutical industries. Why would these industries champion a cure for the disease when they enjoy such stratospheric profits in its treatment? This is the premise of the documentary titled Cancer: The Forbidden Cures, a cynical indictment of medical establishment ethics.
The film opens with a rudimentary examination of the disease, including how it develops and spreads in the human body, and the damage it inflicts along the way. The filmmakers' main focus lies in the three mainstays of modern cancer treatment - surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Their points of view on each of these options are damning. Chemotherapy alone is a toxic compound that has been shown to produce severe illness, diminished immune system capabilities and cognition malfunction. Meanwhile, many suspect that prolonged exposure to radioactive therapies can inspire the same cancers they're employed to treat. Are these really the best solutions we have at our disposal?
Leaders in the field of oncology over a hundred years ago prescribed a treatment regimen that was largely free of toxicity and heavily reliant upon nutritional value. The film contends that all of this changed when the wealthiest members of society began making sizable donations to medical universities in exchange for placement on their boards. The financial prospects of cancer treatment started to outweigh humanitarian concerns almost overnight, according to the film's interview subjects. Drug companies prospered, the cost of additional treatment resources such as radium doubled many times over, research dollars were devoted to pharmaceutical endeavors instead of those aimed at finding a cure, critics within the medical community were discredited as "quacks", and promising alternative therapies were never given an opportunity to succeed.
The filmmakers seem too eager in their willingness to endorse those who claim to have discovered the next miraculous alternative therapy. Largely absent are the voices of those who work tirelessly and with great compassion to defeat the scourge of cancer in our lifetime, and do so while operating within the confines of the same medical establishment the film criticizes. Still, the film's premise of rampant greed working to impede the tides of true progress is valid and worthy of exploration.
Directed by: Massimo Mazzucco