Nicholas Gonzalez Treatment for Cancer

Saul Green, Ph.D.
April 20, 2000

Nicholas Gonzalez, MD, has developed a treatment for cancer that is a duplication of one devised by William Donald Kelley, a dentist from Grapevine, Texas [1,2]. Gonzalez heard about Kelley’s methods from a friend, and during his second year in medical school, he visited Kelley in Texas [3]. Gonzalez learned the details of Kelley’s cancer treatments by reading patients’ charts in which were recorded diagnoses, treatment regimens, and various anecdotes. Gonzalez continued his observations intermittently for five more years, wrote up his findings, but did not publish them.

The Kelley Treatment

The Kelley treatment, as outlined in his Newsletter on Cancer Remedies [4], is based on a belief in a relationship between diet and “detoxification” with coffee enemas as outlined by Max Gerson, MD [5,6]. According to Kelley, all cancers are one disease caused by a deficiency of protein digestive enzymes, which allows cancer cells to grow. Kelley explained that because this cause of cancer is so clear and simple, it is ignored by the medical establishment [7]. He offered this explanation:

The direct cause of cancer according to our research, is the changing of an ectopic germ cell into an ectopic trophoblast cell. An excess of female hormones brings about this change. Both men and women have sex hormones and when the delicate male-female sex hormone balance is upset, a cancer starts. Thus cancer is the growth of normal tissue, i.e. basic germ cells, in the wrong place. Cancer progresses because there is lack of cancer-digesting enzymes in the body. The solution is to get pancreatic enzymes to the place where cancer is growing, in a concentration high enough to stop growth, but not so high as to cause too rapid production of “toxins” from tumor breakdown.

This theory is also similar to that of Scottish anatomist, John Beard, as recorded in The Enzyme Treatment of Cancer and Its Scientific Basis (London: Chatto and Windus, 1911). It was also followed by Ernst Krebs Jr., developer of Laetrile.

To diagnose and monitor the effectiveness of his treatment, Kelley invented the “Kelley Malignancy Index,” “the most accurate and extensive cancer detection system ever developed.” The test is a questionnaire filled out by the patient. When completed, it is supposed to identify the presence and location of cancer, the cancer activity (growth), and to indicate the treatment based on the patient’s “metabolic classification as a sympathetic dominant, a parasympathetic dominant, or a balanced metabolizer.”

Kelley warned that while halting the growth of cancer is relatively simple, only those who followed his treatment program for the rest of their lives would benefit because the body must be continuously cleared of toxins. Patients were warned to continue the treatment until their Kelley Malignancy Index test scores dropped to zero “K-units” and to repeat the test every six months [1,9,10]

The Kelley treatment was divided into five parts:

  1. Nutritional therapy: Tablets and capsules of coenzymes, megavitamins, minerals, high-dose vitamin C, bioflavonoids, rutin, a compound of “organic” and trace minerals, raw almonds, an amino acid-lipoid compound, and a formulation of concentrated beef pancreatic enzymes.
  2. Detoxification: Since the proposed cause of death from cancer was from toxins in waste products given off by tumor tissue, they must be eliminated by laxative purging with epsom salts, fasts, and enemas with coffee, fermented milk, or lemon juice. Successful detoxification was said to take three weeks to twelve months.
  3. Diet: Kelley initially proposed a strict vegetarian diet, but later advocated that diet must be tailored to each patient’s need. He developed ten basic diets with 95 variations. These ranged from pure vegetarian to exclusively meat. The diets forbade processed foods, pesticide residues, milk, soy beans, peanuts, food concentrates, white sugar, and white rice. It allowed almonds, low protein grains and nuts, yogurt, “organic” raw vegetable and fruit juices, salads, and whole grain cereals.
  4. Neurological stimulation: Osteopathic, chiropractic, physiotherapeutic manipulation, or manual “reshaping” of the skull (mandibular manipulation).
  5. Spiritual: Kelley urged patients to pray and seek the truth through the word of God in the Bible [10].

At the end of his unpublished report on the Kelley treatment, Gonzalez concluded, “A study such as mine cannot, of course, prove conclusively that Kelley’s treatment cures cancer, since the patients that were evaluated were not treated under controlled conditions. Nevertheless, significant number of patients with appropriately diagnosed terminal cancer enjoyed impressive regressions of the disease while on the Kelley regimen. This finding alone warrants a full, fair, and unbiased investigation of Kelley’s methods.” [11]

Obviously, Gonzalez at the time was aware of the sort of evidence needed to make Kelley’s claims credible.

The Gonzalez Treatment

Gonzalez’s cancer treatment resembles Kelley’s with some exceptions. Gonzalez dispensed with the neurological and spiritual components. He uses hair analysis instead of a questionnaire to monitor progress. As with Kelley, Gonzalez insists that a cancer can be eliminated “by the patient’s own body” if the liver, intestines, kidneys, lungs, and blood are detoxified and the body’s acid/alkaline balance as well as its mineral and enzyme equilibria are brought into balance. To accomplish this, Gonzalez treats with coffee enemas and supplements of megavitamins, trace minerals, glandular extracts, and diet [12].

Coffee enemas. According to Gonzalez, tumors are collections of abnormal cells, so when therapy causes cell breakdown (necrosis), abnormal molecules of tumor waste are released into the blood. They are filtered and detoxified by the liver. They are excreted through the bile ducts from the liver to the small intestine. The walls of the bile ducts are composed of smooth muscle that caffeine in coffee causes to relax, allowing ducts to “open wide,” allowing tumor toxins to pass into the small bowel [12].

Supplements. Patients may take as many as 150 pills per day of the above supplements in order to replace the nutrients lost during detoxification.

Diet. The patient submits samples of scalp hair for analysis performed by a company in Louisiana. From hair analysis Gonzalez determines the patients’ “nutritional, mineral, and biochemical patterns and clinical status.” A “hair analysis CT test score” determines the specifics of the diet. Diets consist of “all-natural poison-free food” to prevent new tissue intoxication and to reestablish the body’s balance.


The Kelley and Gonzalez rationales for cancer treatment are largely speculative and invalid. A review of all material published by Kelley and Gonzalez shows neither to have had training in oncology or board certification in any medical specialty or to have performed or published experimental work verifying their conclusions about the cause of cancer or about their treatment.

The theory of cancer causation as a deficit of pancreatic enzymes resulting in growth of trophoblast is speculation from turn-of-the-century (1911) ideas; it conflicts with established facts about cancer causation and etiology confirmed by research done over the past 50 years. Different cancers do not have identical causes, growth characteristics, or responses to treatments. Monitoring of treatment progress is done through proved methods for evaluating effectiveness. Self-assessment questionnaires are of limited value in evaluating progress of cancer or its treatment. Hair analysis yields tittle to no valid information about nutritional status.

Hair analysis. When questioned about the hair analysis he uses to evaluate and prescribe, Gonzalez described the process as a “CT rate” sent back to him from the Louisiana laboratory [13]. He claimed that the machine, invented in England in the 1940s, measures biochemical factors in hair and provides biochemical and nutritional patterns. The instrument also measures “waste products” (not specified) and certain proteins and tumor antigens. On questioning, Gonzalez could not identify these materials, did not know how the analysis was done, did not know the validity of the results or how the conclusions were drawn. He stated that the results were correct because they agreed with his preconceived diagnosis [13].

In 1983, Rivlin reviewed the published scientific literature on the uses and misuses of hair analysis in making nutritional assessments [14]. Among the numerous variables found to influence results were age, sex, rate of hair growth, sweat contamination, environmental contamination, shampoos, bleaches, dyes, and the location from which the sample was taken. Rivlin found so many uncontrollable variables that conclusions from a single sample could not be of value for evaluating nutritional status or in making therapeutic recommendations.

Coffee enemas. Enemas were standard practice of fifth-century C.E. “medicine men” who believed blood letting and purging rid the body of “corrupt humors” [15] Kelley/Gonzalez use of laxatives and enemas seems to endorse this ancient concept when they state that poisoning occurs when people eat “processed foods” and that an “unpoisoned body” can recognize and destroy cancer.

Gonzalez introduces another invalid concept in stating that the “poisoning” damages the body’s ability to use oxygen for aerobic metabolism and forces the body to use anaerobic forms of energy production, and that cancer thrives on anaerobic metabolism [16,17].

Diets. Kelley/Gonzalez diets are not unique and have been referred to variously as nutritional, enzyme, metabolic, holistic, macrobiotic, nontoxic, and oxidative. Advocates of these diets also recommend “all natural foods” grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and prepared without added sugar, salt, artificial coloring, or preservatives. They also recommend large vitamin doses, mineral and glandular supplements, and amino acids.

Cancer and an anaerobic environment. In a 1961 monograph entitled “Glycolysis and Respiration of Tumors,” Aisenberg reviewed the work of Warburg who had concluded that the cause of cancer was poisoning of oxidative metabolism, with resultant anaerobiasis. Aisenberg concluded: Most carcinogens are not respiratory poisons, most respiratory poisons are not carcinogenic, oxygen neither stimulates nor inhibits tumor growth, tumor cells grow well in the presence of oxygen, absence of oxygen does not induce or accelerate cancer growth, lactate is formed under normal conditions in many normal tissues, anticancer agents interfere with DNA rather than with oxygen metabolism or fermentation, cancer cells do not derive energy from fermentation, cancer cells generate energy through metabolism of fats and carbohydrates as normal cells do, and there is no evidence of poisoning in the respiratory enzyme systems of cancers [18]. Thus, the basis for respiratory poisoning and anaerobiasis as causes of cancer had been refuted by 1961, eight years before the first Kelley publication of his theory.

Cancer as a deficiency of pancreatic enzymes. Since 1961, a vast amount of knowledge has been gained about the initiation and progression of cancer [19-21]. Damage to DNA results in the disruption of genetic regulation of oncogenes and other enabling genetic mechanisms. Growth of cancer cells is determined by genes, not by nonspecific environmental factors, and the characteristics are passed on to their progeny. These facts are missing from the Kelley/Gonzalez pronouncements.

Vital organs detoxified when bile flow is stimulated. Gonzalez refers to “tumor toxins and food poisons” as causes of cancers but has not identified them as being either in the hair samples taken for diagnosis or in the bile.

Biliary excretion is a pathway for transformed biometabolites from the liver [22,23]. But there is an enterohepatic circulation which returns most of the bile salts to the liver. Thus, if detoxified materials are being carried by these bile salts, they will also be reabsorbed. If coffee enemas were to work as advertised, significant amounts of bile salts would not be efficiently absorbed, would be lost via the stool, and replenishment might be diminished [23-25]. Fat and fat-soluble vitamins and calcium would then be lost with possible resultant deficiency states as serious consequences [26]. Eisele and Reay reported two deaths from hyponatremia and dehydration linked to coffee enemas [27].

Another danger is infection from contamination. Ginsberg reported an outbreak of Campylobacter sepsis in patients receiving coffee enemas in a Mexican border clinic [28]. Istre reported an outbreak of amebiasis in Colorado, traced to fecal contamination of the apparatus used to deliver enema solutions [29].

Glandular enzymes restoring normal function to poison-damaged organs. Biological barriers to efficient absorption of proteolytic enzymes into the systemic circulation are so formidable that oral delivery is all but impossible [30,31]. Intestinal absorption of protein molecules depends on their size and complexity, their sensitivity to hydrolysis by host stomach acids and to host digestive enzymes, the capacity for transport across the intestinal mucosa, their avoidance of recognition as foreign by the immune system, and their destruction by the reticuloendothelial system [32].

Like all dietary proteins, enzymes are dismantled into constituent amino acids by host proteolytic enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract, thus destroying their enzymatic activity. Should intact enzymes manage to enter the circulation, they would still have to avoid denaturation by serum proteolytic enzymes. They would have to be “smart” enough to find the “poisoned target organ” or cancer cell before destroying serum proteins and blood-vessel-wall structural proteins. If the enzymes were to avoid those barriers, their repeated appearance in the circulation would eventually give rise to severe hypersensitivity reactions and anaphylaxis. There seem to be good reasons for the evolutionary characteristic of preventing the absorption of proteolytic enzymes from the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Neither Kelley nor Gonzalez has identified proposed toxins in processed food.
  • Neither has evidence that abnormal protein molecules from necrosing tumors are toxins or that they poison organs.
  • Neither has evidence that the toxins poison oxidative metabolism.
  • Neither has evidence that cancers thrive in an anaerobic environment.
  • Neither has shown that coffee enemas, megavitamin doses, and their special diets inhibit the progress of cancer.
  • Neither has produced evidence that a deficiency of pancreatic digestive enzymes is related to the onset of cancer.
  • Neither has produced evidence that enzymes from animal or vegetable sources can replace enzymes in human organs.
  • There is no evidence that ingested pancreatic enzymes seek out and kill cancer cells.
  • Neither has produced evidence that their regimens are more effective than a placebo for cancer.
About the Author

This article was reprinted from The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine 2(2):25-30, 1998 and revised in April 2000. Dr. Green was a former professor of biochemistry at Sloane-Kettering Cancer Institute and a board member of the National Council Against Health Fraud. He died in July 2007.

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This article was revised on April 20, 2000.