The above notions are false. Here are the facts:
- The oxygen that cells use is delivered to them through the bloodstream. Blood oxygen levels are maintained within a narrow range, and the body’s supply of oxygen is obtained through breathing and would not be doubled by taking a mineral concoction.
- The notion that cancer is related to low-oxygen levels was discredited many years ago. Cancer cells do not use oxygen any differently from normal cells . So even if cellular oxygen levels were low and could be doubled, there is no reason to believe that this would help the patient.
- The normal immune system does not recognize cancer cells. So the idea that a mineral product can inspire it to scavenge and destroy cancer cells is nonsense. So is the idea that cancer cells are protected from the immune system by a membrane that limits their oxygen supply.
In April 2001, the listed cost was $375 to $500 for a supply for intravenous use, $875 for six 16-ounce bottles for 14 weeks of follow-up treatment, and $29.95 per 16-ounce bottle for “preventative” use. According to an e-mail message I received from a prospective patient, the rights to MICOM were sold to Biopulse International, which operates several Mexican clinics. However, I have found no indication of this on the Somamed or Biopulse Web sites.
Although a disclaimer on the Web site’s home page stated that MICOM is not “intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease,” the site also claims:
Since its recent introduction MICOM has been administered to numerous individuals in eight countries. Language and cultural differences prevent acquisition of information on many of the users; but based on the information that has been supplied the following statements can be made. There appear to be only two outcomes for cancer victims who received MICOM: either their cancer went into remission, by ceasing to grow, shrinking in size, or disappearing entirely; OR, the victim’s organs were already too seriously damaged by the cancer or by previous treatments, and they died of organ failure. In no case did the cancer continue to grow.
In an apparent effort to support it therapeutic claims, the site provides brief “observations” of 16 patients treated with MICOM. None of the descriptions provides enough detail to reach an understanding of the patient’s disease or progress. Some of the patients received standard cancer treatment, which means that it would be difficult or possible to separate any effect of the MICOM from that of the standard treatment. Few of the descriptions include measurable data, and none followed the patient’s progress long enough to determine whether their cancer was actually reduced or eliminated. In some cases, improvement was declared after only a few days.
In December 2000, after reading what I had written about MICOM, Maldonado invited me to telephone him so he could arrange “a full presentation with some very impressive results that you can verify.” I replied by asking for a list of MICOM’s ingredients and various documents that support his claims of effectiveness. Although he promised to send them, I have received nothing.
On August 8, 2000, in Kelso, Washington, 52-year-old Edward Steward died following MICOM administration by Joyce E. Brown, R.N, a nurse whose license had expired 16 months previously. According to press reports:
- Sreward, who had liver cancer, had traveled from Louisiana to get Brown’s treatment.
- Brown ran an at-home business called Nature’s Friend, and sold vitamins and herbal remedies in addition to administering MICOM.
- One of Brown’s former patients had a severe reaction to the medication and spent several days on a respirator .
Brown’s nursing license was summarily suspended in April 2001  and revoked in August on grounds that she had (a) practiced while her license was expired; (b) practiced without supervision of a licensed physician, and (b) administered an unapproved drug to cancer patients. In February 2002, a jury convicted her of second-degree manslaughter. Victor Herbert, M.D., J.D., who testified for the prosecution, stated that the man’s death was caused by high levels of potassium in the MICOM that stopped his heart. Steward’s daughter has filed a $5 million wrongful death suit against Brown in Cowlitz County Superior Court.
After the conviction was announced, I was unable to locate Web sites for Somamed Internacional or Reyan Internacionale. In June 2002, Brown was sentenced to three months in jail and five years on probation, during which she must refrain from any medical or nursing procedures and may not operate the business known as “Nature’s Friend.”
- Green S. Oxygenation therapy: Unproven treatments for cancer and AIDS. Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine 2(1):6-12, 1998.
- Maldonado R. Email to Stephen Barrett, M.D., July 22, 2000.
- Sunde S. Cancer ‘cure’ ended in death: Kelso case a reminder to be cautious with alternative treatments. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 14, 2001.
- State issues immediate license suspension to Kelso nurse accused of using unapproved alternative cancer medication; one patient dies. Washington State Department of Health News release, April 13, 2001.
This article was revised on June 27, 2002.