Dr. Virginia Livingston-Wheeler

Jeff Bender (bender@nova.umd.edu)
Mon, 17 Oct 1994 12:03:41 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Mon, 17 Oct 1994 12:03:41 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jeff Bender <bender@nova.umd.edu>
Subject: Dr. Virginia Livingston-Wheeler
To: Peterwiz@aol.com
In-Reply-To: <9410150251234282973@aol.com>
Message-Id: <Pine.3.88.9410171151.A9077-0100000@nova>

To All -

Please be aware that the messages sent by Peterwiz are full of hype and
inaccuracies, at the same time he is asking for your money. We in the
brain tumor newsgroup, while encouraging factual information about both
traditional and alternative therapies to treat cancer, abhor the kind of
self-serving approach taken by Peterwiz. If you have something to ask or
to share (for free!), join one of the cancer newsgroups and do it. If
brain tumors are your interest, send a SUBSCRIBE request for BRAINTMR to

For some balance, here's a PDQ from the National Cancer Institute on Dr.

Dr. Howard Jeffrey Bender
Associate Director of Software Engineering
University of Maryland University College
College Park, Maryland 20742

CancerNet from the National Cancer Institute

* National Cancer Institute *
* National Institutes of Health *

Virginia Livingston-Wheeler

Dr. Virginia Livingston-Wheeler, who operated the Livingston-Wheeler Clinic in
San Diego, California, believed that cancer is caused by a bacterium she named
"Progenitor cryptocides." Dr. Livingston-Wheeler, who died in 1990, claimed
that this microorganism normally is found in humans and animals and causes
cancer only when the immune (defense) system is inadequate. She believed that
dietary deficiencies are responsible for weakening the body's defense against
cancer. Based on these theories, Dr. Livingston-Wheeler's treatment for
cancer involves a vaccine prepared for each patient, a low-carbohydrate diet,
antibiotics, and certain enzymes. There is no scientific evidence to confirm
her theories of cancer causation or to justify her treatments.

Dr. Livingston-Wheeler published reports on "Progenitor cryptocides" beginning
in the 1950s. However, other researchers have not been able to confirm the
existence of a unique organism such as Dr. Livingston-Wheeler described.
Cultures that she submitted to the American Type Culture Collection--a private
organization that collects, grows, preserves, and distributes authentic
cultures of microorganisms--have been identified as Staphylococcus

Dr. Livingston-Wheeler's vaccines were derived from bacteria, usually cultured
from the patient's urine. She claimed that these vaccines (called autogenous
vaccines) stimulate the body's immune system to destroy the cancer. Although
she cited instances of success in her clinic, most of the patients whom she
claimed to have helped had also received standard therapy (i.e., surgery,
radiation, and/or chemotherapy) before, during, or after treatment at the

The California Department of Health Services' Cancer Advisory Council, which
includes nine cancer experts and five consumer representatives, conducted a
review of the available information and concluded that there is no scientific
basis for believing that the Livingston-Wheeler vaccines are safe and
effective in treating cancer. As a result, in February 1990, the State of
California ordered the Livingston-Wheeler Clinic to stop treating cancer
patients with these vaccines. Under California law, only drugs approved by
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the California Department of
Health Services can be prescribed or used in cancer treatments.
Dr. Livingston-Wheeler never sought FDA approval for her vaccine. The clinic
is still operating, however, having applied to the California health
department for an extension.

The claims that Dr. Livingston-Wheeler made for her cancer treatment are
common themes among practitioners of unconventional methods of cancer
treatment: that the treatment has few, if any, side effects and a high degree
of activity against cancers that are considered incurable. Although she
published many of her findings, other researchers have been unable to get the
same results using her techniques.

The idea that a microbe is responsible for causing cancer is not a new one.
Certain viruses have been linked with some human cancers, but there is no
evidence that bacteria can cause cancer. Moreover, the vast majority of
cancers do not appear to be associated with or cured by treatment for any
infectious agent. At this time, although it does not seem realistic to expect
the development of a vaccine to prevent cancer, vaccination and other ways to
stimulate the immune system as a means of cancer treatment are under study at
many research centers, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has provided
considerable research support for such studies.

The NCI strongly urges cancer patients to remain in the care of qualified
physicians who use accepted methods of treatment or who are participating in
carefully conducted clinical trials (treatment studies). The use of
unconventional methods may result in the loss of valuable time and the
opportunity to receive potentially effective therapy and consequently reduce a
patient's chance for cure or control of cancer. Often, it is appropriate for
patients to consider investigational therapy. For such patients,
scientifically designed, carefully monitored clinical trials are a treatment

It is important to recognize that anecdotal reports of successful cancer
treatment are not sufficient proof that a treatment method is safe and
effective. When laboratory research shows that a new treatment method has
promise, the method must be evaluated in clinical trials with cancer patients.
These studies are carefully designed to answer scientific questions and to
find out whether the new treatment is both safe for patients and effective
against the disease.

# # #

The Cancer Information Service (CIS), a program of the National Cancer
Institute, is a nationwide telephone service for cancer patients and their
families, the public, and health care professionals. CIS information
specialists have extensive training in providing up-to-date and understandable
information about cancer. They can answer questions in English and Spanish
and can send free printed material. In addition, CIS offices serve specific
geographic areas and have information about cancer-related services and
resources in their region. The toll-free number of the CIS is 1-800-4-CANCER

Date Last Modified: 11/90