Dr. William D. Kelly's Nutritional-Metabolic Therapy
by Richard Walters
(Excerpted chapter from OPTIONS - The Alternative Cancer Therapy Book
(1993) by Richard Walters)
Dr. William Donald Kelley
Over a twenty-five year period, Dr. William Donald Kelley, a dentist by
training, developed a complex approach to treating many chronic and degenerative
diseases, including cancer. The three main elements of his metabolic program
are nutrition, detoxification, and supplements of pancreatic enzymes. Although
the controversial Kansas-born practitioner was condemned as a charlatan
by the orthodox medical establishment, thousands; of severely ill patients
sought his advice and followed his program, many with reported good results.
Today, a number of practitioners claim to be using the Kelley regimen, though
whether they actually are is open to question.
Interest in Kelley's therapy has increased dramatically in recent years,
largely due to the work of Nicholas Gonzalez, a New York City physician
who treats cancer patients in advanced or terminal stages using a modified
version of the Kelley program. A graduate of Cornell University Medical
School, Dr. Gonzalez undertook a five - year case study of Kelley's own
cancer patients who had done well on the program. Gonzalez's 500-page study
was prepared under the sponsorship of Robert Good, M.D., Ph.D., then president
of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. It is "widely regarded as
the finest case review ever conducted concerning an alternative cancer therapy,"
according to Misinformation From OTA on Unconventional Cancer Treatments,
by Robert E. Houston.
"Gonzalez has given us convincing evidence that diet and nutrition
produce long-term remission in cancer patients almost all of whom were beyond
conventional help," wrote the late Harold Ladas, Ph.D., a biologist
and former professor at Hunter College. "Because the cases [in Gonzalez's
study] represent a wide variety of cancers, the implication is that the
paradigm has wide applicability to cancer treatment. ...What should happen
is that ACS [Americn Scancer Society] or NCI [National Cancer Institute]
should immediately follow up with a half million dollar study to evaluate
the rest of Kelley's cancer patients. But don't hold your breath,"
added Ladas, who concluded, "The evidence is in, and it is stunning.
Kelley is vindicated."
Cancer & Protein Digestion
William Kelley held that a root cause of cancer is the body's inability
to metabolize (digest and utilize) protein. "The person gets cancer
because he's not properly metabolizing the protein in his diet," said
Dr. Kelley. "Then, to make matters worse, the tumor has such a high
metabolism that it uses up much of the food which is eaten." If a person's
disordered protein metabolism is not corrected, Kelley continued, "it
will give rise to more tumors in the future, even if the first one is successfully
removed. This, by the way, is the unfortunate reason why so many seemingly
successful cancer operations end up in recurrences a year or two later.
The tumor was removed, but the cause-improper protein metabolism-remained."
Dr. Kelley linked faulty metabolism to a deficiency of pancreatic enzymes,
which he regarded as a fundamental cause of cancer. He believed that
certain pancreatic enzymes, especially those that are proteolytic (protein-digesting)
enzymes, are the body's first line of defense against malignancy. This theory
stands in marked contrast to conventional medicine, which holds that the
immune system, with its natural killer cells, protects people against cancer.
As every biology student learns, the pancreas releases enzymes directly
into the small intestine to aid digestion. But Kelley maintained that
the pancreas also secretes enzymes into the bloodstream, where they circulate,
reaching all body tissues and killing cancer cells by digesting them.
Studies in the clinical literature lend support to this theory, first proposed
by Dr. John Beard, a Scottish embryologist working at the turn of the century.
Mineral Imbalance & Immunity
Imbalance of mineral metabolism is another condition that allows malignancy
to occur, according to Dr. Kelley. He identified mineral imbalance as a
root cause of the breakdown of the immune system. Additionally, he said,
cancer cells produce 1. immune-blocking factors and 2. seem togenerate an electromagnetic force field that inhibits the
proper response of the immune system.
The Kelley anti-cancer program combines
1. therapeutic nutrition,
2.supplements intended to destroy cancer cells, and
3. vigorous detoxification of the body.
Ten Metabolic Types
Kelley divided people into what he called ten metabolic types, with slow-oxidizing
vegetarians at one extreme and fast-oxidizing carnivores at the other. Each
person is different, he asserted, not only in nutritional needs but also
in food utilization.
For each of the ten different metabolic types, a different nutritional program
was recommended. An individualized diet was tailored to match the metabolic
character of each patient, taking into account his or her physiology , neurological
and physical make-up, basic metabolic rate, and personality. Some common
threads ran through the diets, however. The consumption of raw, organic
fruits and vegetables was emphasized, while protein intake was reduced considerably
in order to to preserve the enzymes needed to digest the fruits and vegetables.
In addition to following a diet,. Kelley's patients also took up to 150
supplement pills per day, including pancreatic enzymes, vitamins and minerals,
and concentrates of raw beef or organs and glands , believed by Kelley to
contain tissue-specific growth factors, hormones, natural stimulants, and
"protective" molecules. A direct anti-tumor effect has been observed
repeatedly in patients on various metabolic therapies who receive enzymes
either orally or by injection. As the enzyme "digests" the tumor,
large amounts of cellular debris are released into the bloodstream and surrounding
tissues, according to Kelley.
These breakdown products from cancer cells are foreign to the normal body
and can be very toxic, he maintained. Even though the liver and kidney can
filter these substances out of the bloodstream, the wastes from tumor destruction
form so quickly during enzyme therapy that the body's normal detoxification
processes may become overloaded. To assist their bodies in detoxification,
Kelley's patients periodically discontinued their enzymes and other supplements
for several days. This rest period, Kelley believed, allows the liver and
kidneys to catch up with the body's load of tumor by-products.
As at second aid in detoxification, Kelley advised all his patients to take
at least one coffee enema daily. His reasoning was that coffee enemas clean
out the liver and gallbladder and help the body get rid of the toxins produced
during tumor breakdown. During a coffee enema, claimed Kelley, the caffeine
that is rapidly absorbed in the large intestine flows quickly into the liver.
He held that in high enough concentrations, caffeine causes the liver and
gallbladder to contract vigorously, releasing large amounts of stored wastes
into the intestinal tract and greatly aiding elimination. Kelley also believed
that enemas are important in stimulating the immune system, since most waste
products eliminated by detoxification are enzyme inhibitors. Frequent enemas
prevent the suppression of protein-digesting enzymes. These enzymes can
break down the cancer cells' fibrin (protein) coats, making the cancer cells
more vulnerable to the immune system.
Nonorthodox doctors other than Kelley, among them Dr. Max Gerson, have recommended
The original Kelley program also included purges to cleanse the liver, gallbladder,
intestines, kidneys, and lungs. Like many other metabolic therapists, Kelley
believed that the functioning of these organs is severely impaired in the
cancer patient. Colonic irrigations, liver and gallbladder flushes, and
controlled sweating accomplished the cleansing tasks. Kelley also often
recommended some form of manipulative therapy, such as chiropractic adjustment
or osteopathic manipulation, to stimulate enervated nerves.
The Spiritual Component
A frequently overlooked aspect of the Kelley system is its spiritual component.
Kelley called his approach metabolic ecology, taking into account the cancer
patient's total environment-physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
He urged the patient to "accept the fact that you are afflicted with
a symptom (malignant cancer) and that recovery is possible. Establish a
faith in a power greater than yourself and know that with His help you can
regain health and harmony. Patients were encouraged to conduct a searching
self-analysis and to eliminate negative behavioral patterns and emotions.
The Kelly Regimen
The rigorous Kelley regimen is not easy. It requires self-discipline and
a strong will to alter established dietary and other habits. Some patients
experience fear and anxiety during "healing crises" involving
lymph-system swelling, pain, and fever, all normal responses as the body
detoxifies and heals. Critics of the system are deeply troubled by the enormous
number of pills the patient is required to consume. Orthodox medicine holds
that mega-doses of vitamins and minerals are unnecessary and can be harmful.
Excessive amounts of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are stored
in the body and can be toxic, according to mainstream physicians.
But Kelley proponents counter that the nutritional program supplies various
aids to the digestive system enabling the large doses of supplements to
be absorbed and fully utilized. These digestive aids include hydrochloric
acid, said to be abnormally low in many people, lessening their ability
to digest proteins. Kelley also prescribed a combination of the herb comfrey
and the digestive enzyme pepsin. These supplements dissolve the mucous coatings
that cover the villi ( the fingerlike projections) of the small intestine
and block the absorption of nutrients.
Kelley's theory that people are genetically carnivorous, vegetarian. or
somewhere in-between is rejected by many vegetarians and by others.
Some prospective patients were put off by the idea of frequent enemas, although
Kelley claimed that most of his patients quickly adapted to this procedure.
In fact, many patients on metabolic-therapy programs have reported a dramatic
increase in energy and improved outlook after a coffee enema, presumably
because of the elimination of toxins from the bloodstream, cells, and liver.
The procedure appears to, calm and soothe the nervous system, dispelling
nausea, irritability, lethargy. lack of appetite, and sometimes even severe
Pat Judson, a woman from Dearborn, Michigan, became Dr. Kelley's patient
in 1972, having been operated on for cancer of the colon two years earlier.
She is now in excellent health and completely cancer-free after her original
diagnosis of "incurable" cancer. As she told a Michigan State
Legislature committee investigating alternative cancer treatments in 1977,
"I speak as . . . a cancer patient who seven years ago was sent home
to die by a doctor who told me there was nothing more traditional medicine
could do for me . . . One of the doctors that performed my surgery told
me that I had the fastest growing type known to man and cobalt or chemotherapy
would not help me. Expressing surprise that I even survived the surgery,
he told , me I had six months to a year to live. However. I was given diethyl-stilbestrol
[DES] for hormone balance since they had also removed my ovaries. I have
wondered many times why a medical doctor would prescribe a cancer-producing
drug to a cancer patient."
In January 1972, almost two years after the original surgery, Pat had a
recurrence of the blockage of her colon and the cancer had metastasized
to the lymph glands. Reluctant to go through the ordeal of surgery a second
time, she turned to a different doctor who, advised her that she might survive
"possibly three months" with surgery. At that point, she heard
of the nutritional therapy of Dr. Kelley and went to visit him in Texas.
After taking a blood sample and conducting diagnostic tests that were subjected
to computer analysis. Kelley determined that Pat had a cancer index of 600.
This scale was devised by Kelley to gauge the body's ability to defend itself;
it runs from an optimal 1 (normal) to 1.000 (terminal, beyond help). Following
these tests, Kelley prescribed a combination of diet, rest, exercise, and
When Pat Judson returned to Kelley's office five months later for a checkup,
her index rating had dropped to 300 and her cancer was under control. Eleven
months after the initial visit, a shriveled mass of excreted material was
found to be necrotic, or dead, tissue from the colon tumor. Pat's next cancer-index
reading with Kelley was 50, which is within the normal range. Standard diagnostic
tests subsequently confirmed her to be in remission.
During Pat's first operation in 1970, her surgeon had noticed a lump in
her throat that she had had since girlhood He said it might have been a
"leader" for the cancer. As Pat continued on a Kelley maintenance
protocol after being diagnosed in remission, she also took Essiac, the Canadian
herbal tea that has helped many cancer patients. By 1978, the lump in Pat's
throat was completely gone, and it has never returned. (Note: Some practitioners
strongly advise against combining the Kelley program with Essiac or any
other herbal remedy. They contend that the herbs work against the enzyme
Pat Judson served as president of the Metro-Detroit chapter of the Foundation
for Advancement in Cancer Therapy (FACT), in which capacity she told a Michigan
State Legislature committee, "If I had accepted the advice of my doctor,
if I had not been directed to Dr. Kelley, I would be another cancer statistic.
" In her speech, she also rebuked the medical establishment for its
constant harassment of Dr. Kelley.
Kelly Comes Under Attack
Kelley's problems with the medical orthodoxy intensified in 1969, when he
self-published his book One Answer to Cancer, which became a best-seller
in the "nutritional underground." The dietary program presented
in the book was a distillation of his personal battle against illness. In
1964, according to Kelley, he was told by a doctor that he had metastasized
pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease, and that he
had only weeks to live. There is no biopsy verification for his cancer.
His internist recommended surgery, but the surgeon felt Kelley wouldn't
survive the operation.
With nothing to lose, Kelley, who holds a Doctorate of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.)
from Baylor University in Dallas and has an extensive background in nutrition,
began his own impromptu course of nutritional therapy and lifestyle changes.
As he gradually recovered, he felt he had stumbled across a scientific discovery
and undertook further research to refine his program.
As One Answer to Cancer soared in popularity, Texas medical and
legal officials launched an investigation of its author in 1969. Undercover
officials posed as patients. A restraining order prohibited Kelley from
treating non-dental disease, and a local district court made it illegal
for him to distribute One Answer to Cancer or any other publication discussing
his approach to degenerative illness. Dr. Kelley appealed the decision to
the United States Supreme Court, arguing that the restraining order was
a flagrant violation of his First Amendment rights. But the Supreme Court
upheld the ruling. "To my knowledge, Dr. Kelley remains the only scientist
in this country's history ever forbidden by court decree from publishing,"
notes Dr. Gonzalez.
In 1971, the American Cancer Society put Kelley's therapy on its "Unproven
Methods" blacklist, where it remains. To this day, no ACS scientist
has ever attempted a direct, objective evaluation of Kelley's methods and
After the Texas dental board suspended his license for five years in 1976,
Kelley moved to Winthrop, Washington, where he continued his nutritional
practice. He later moved to Pennsylvania.
Kelley's most highly publicized encounter with the medical establishment
began in 1980, when he agreed to treat actor Steve McQueen, suffering from
advanced mesothelioma, a rare, nearly always fatal form of lung cancer.
McQueen's malignancy was too extensive for surgery, and his terminal condition
was completely hopeless. Nevertheless, on Kelley's advice, McQueen entered
a small Mexican hospital where doctors claimed to use the Kelley program.
McQueen never followed the full Kelley protocol; he smoked and smuggled
junk food into his room. Even so, after eight weeks on a partial Kelley
regimen, his tumor had stopped growing, he no longer felt a need for painkillers,
and he had put on weight. His doctors expressed some cause for optimism.
However, McQueen eventually discontinued the program. He died in November
1980, just hours after undergoing surgery to remove an apparently dead tumor
mass in his abdomen.
The ensuing publicity triggered a media assault on Kelley organized by the
American medical community. Spokesmen for the ACS, NCI, and leading medical
schools condemned Kelley and his methods vociferously, without ever bothering
to examine the details of McQueen's treatment.
Kelley claimed a high success rate with patients on his therapy. For those
with a predicted life expectancy of about three months, he said that a well-designed
nutritional program would yield "slightly better than a 50-50 chance
of survival." For those with a very advanced disease, given less than
three months to live, he claimed a success rate between 25 and 35 percent.
These figures have not been verified and should be treated with caution.
Yet according to Ruth Sackman, executive director of FACT, an educational
organization that leans toward a nutritional-metabolic approach, "Enough
of Kelley's patients lived ten years or more to suggest a pattern of survival
and to indicate that he was using a basically sound system."
In Kelley's elaborate system of diagnosis and treatment, patients answered
a detailed questionnaire, a nutritional survey consisting of up to 3,200
questions. The results were assessed by computer, and each patient was then
fitted into Kelley's classification system of metabolic typing, which he
used in treating a wide variety of diseases.
To understand Kelley's metabolic typing system, let us quickly review the
ABCs of metabolism. The human body has two nervous systems. The central
nervous system (CNS) regulates conscious movement, and the autonomic nervous
system (ANS) governs unconscious actions such as digestion, the secretion
of enzymes and hormones, breathing, blood circulation, and heartbeat. The
ANS plays a key role in the way cells transform food into energy
There are two branches of the ANS - the sympathetic system, which tends
to speed up body metabolism, and the parasympathetic system, which slows
down metabolism. Kelley's thesis is that people can be divided into three
genetically based categories that evolved in distinctive environments under
evolutionary pressure. Each metabolic type reflects an inborn balance in
the activities of these two subsystems.
According to Kelley, people who are slow-oxidizing "sympathetic dominant"
types thrive on high-carbohydrate, low-protein foods and are meant to eat
a largely vegetarian diet. Fast-oxidizing "parasympathetic dominants"
grow hungry and weak between meals, so Kelley suggested that they follow
a diet providing at least half of their total calories from fatty meat.
"Balanced types," having both branches of the autonomic nervous
system equally developed, were said to thrive on a wide variety of foods.
If a person follows the "wrong" diet, in Kelley's theory, disease'
is more likely to develop. For each of the three basic types (broken down
into ten metabolic sub-types), he recommended a diet that would push the
autonomic nervous system toward metabolic equilibrium. Furthermore, he linked
specific syndromes and illnesses with each of the three types. "Hard
tumors" - malignancies of the internal organs such as lung or colon
cancer-were held to be more likely to afflict severely imbalanced "sympathetic
dominants." "Soft tumors" - cancers of the white blood cells
and lymph system - were linked with "parasympathetic dominants."
Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez
Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, the New York City physician mentioned at the beginning
of this chapter who uses a modified Kelley program, visited Dr. Kelley in
Texas in 1981 and was given access to all of Kelley's records. Gonzalez
was amazed to discover case after case of patients with advanced metastatic
cancer who were healthy and active five, ten, and fifteen years after diagnosis.
Gonzalez interviewed 455 Kelley patients in depth, then narrowed down the
group to 160 after eliminating the patients whom he considered inadequately
diagnosed, others who had received intensive orthodox therapy, others who
had been apparently "cured of their disease before they consulted Dr.
Kelley ," and still others who did not meet the selection criteria.
Eventually, Gonzalez selected 50 patients whom he considered representative
cases rather than Kelley's best cases.
These 50 patients represented a broad spectrum of cancer types, including
long-term survivors of cancer of the breast, colon, ovaries, pancreas, and
prostate. According to Gonzalez's findings:
* 22 of the .patients " ..experienced documented regression of cancer
while pursuing the Kelley program. None in this group received orthodox
therapy during this period of improvement.
* Another 5 patients described regression of superficial, biopsy-proven
malignancies, such as breast tumors or cancerous lymph nodes . . . [but]
never returned to their orthodox physicians for follow-up studies.
* six patients were found at surgery to have extensive inoperable abdominal
or pelvic disease, such as metastatic pancreatic or prostate carcinoma.
All these patients were given terminal prognoses. None have ever returned
to their orthodox physicians, so strictly speaking I have no proof of
tumor regression . . . [although] each of these people has survived for
years with cancer that usually kills within t months.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease; the five-year
survival rate in orthodox medicine is essentially 0 percent. Dr. Gonza1ez
reviewed the records of all 22 patients whom Kelley had diagnosed with
pancreatic cancer between 1974 and 1982. Five of these 22 patients followed
the Kelley program completely. Their median survival (at the time of Gonzalez's
study in 1987) was nine years, and 4 of the 5 are alive today; one died
of Alzheimer's disease. This is a 100 percent remission rate for those
who adhered to the full Kelley regimen. (The 10 patients with pancreatic
cancer who never followed the treatment had a median survival time of
67 days. Seven who partially followed the program had a median survival
time of 233 days.)
These reported results are virtually unheard of in conventional
treatment. Orthodox medicine gives a median survival time of two to six
months for panreatic cancer.
One of Kelley's patients whom Gonzalez investigated was Robert Dunn, a sixty-two-year-old
man from Missouri diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in June 1977.
The formal diagnosis, as it appears in the medical records, reads, "Carcinoma
of the pancreas - unresectable, incurable." Although his traditional
physician recommended both chemotherapy and radiation, Bunn was told he
would probably not live a year even with aggressive treatment. Refusing
both options, he took a brief course of laetrile in Mexico, then consulted
Dr. Kelley and, in August 1977, began the full Kelley protocol.
Within a year, Dunn said, he felt better than at any other time in his life.
A follow-up CAT scan indicated that the once-large pancreatic tumor had
completely regressed. Exploratory surgery in 1983 to remove a small bowel
obstruction further confirmed that the tumor was gone. When last contacted
by Dr. Gonzalez more then ten years after his original diagnosis, Dunn was
following a maintenance protocol and was in excellent health.
Dr. Gonzalez treats advanced cancer patients with a Kelley-derived program.
He keeps careful records of his own patients and also monitors many of Kelley's
patients who have survived ten years or more. He claims that approximately
80 percent of his patients are doing well on his therapy. Most of his patients
have already been heavily treated with surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy
and, having failed these modalities, come to him with a prognosis of two
to three months to live.
In May 1985, doctors removed roughly ten pounds of tumor from Bonnie Randolph,
a clinical psychologist from Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. They also performed
a total hysterectomy. Bonnie's ovarian cancer had grown silently for eight
years, according to the doctors, - and had spread to her abdominal organs.
The survival rates in such cases are less than 20 percent. Over the next
year, Bonnie underwent eight courses of chemotherapy and two more major
operations, all of which failed to eradicate the cancer. By the fourth chemotherapy
treatment, her bone marrow was suppressed to such an extent that her white
blood count had plunged from a normal of 4,000 to less than 100. After the
second major surgery, in March 1986, her doctor injected a massive dose
of radioactive phosphorus into her abdomen, "which he said would be
my quota of radiation for the rest of my life," according to Bonnie.
Six ovarian cancer specialists then told her that despite the radiation
treatment, she had a year to live at the most.
Bonnie, who tells her remarkable, moving story in the November 1991 issue
of East West, began investigating alternative therapies through a cancer
referral service. "I had known there were cancer survivors who had
beaten the odds by using nontraditional forms of treatment. What I did not
know was that there were so many of them-and that they were doing so well."
She became a patient of William Kelley, and her CA 125-a standard medical
test for ovarian cancer-dropped from 29 to 11. (A reading above 35 indicates
tumor growth.) Her pelvic exams were negative. But Dr. Kelley abruptly moved
away into semi-retirement. A few months later, the ovarian cancer returned.
Her conventional doctor insisted that Bonnie undergo radiation once more,
even though it would not save her life. When Bonnie refused to submit her
body to more damage from radiation therapy, her doctor became incensed.
"'You'll be dead in two months,' he yelled at me over the phone."
For two months, Bonnie followed a strict nutritional program, which she
believes kept her alive, while searching for a responsible alternative practitioner.
In January 1988,' she began the Kelley - derived program with Dr. Gonzalez
in New York. "He warned me that it could be years before I became completely
well again because of all the damage the chemo and radiation had done to
my immune system," she says. Under Dr. Gonzalez's supervision, Bonnie
followed, an organic vegetarian diet (one of the ten diets prescribed) and
took massive doses of pancreatic enzymes, nutritional supplements, and coffee
Today, more than six years after her initial diagnosis, Bonnie is, alive,
free of pain, and writing a book about her experience. Her last three Pap
smears were normal. Although she still has evidence of cancer and works
hard to maintain good health, she keeps the cancer l. under control with
a maintenance protocol of pancreatic enzymes, supplements, and sound nutrition
and hopes to achieve complete remission. "The Gonzalez regimen requires
discipline," Bonnie reflects, "but this is a small price to pay
for having the chance to live out my life. And implementing the program
is in my hands, so I feel that I am in command of my health care."
In a review of the Gonzalez study published in a leading insurance industry
journal, Robert Maver, vice president and research director of Mutual Benefit
Life, stated, "The Research Division has been evaluating Dr. Gonzalez'
results over the last four months, including numerous site visits. ...The
results are indeed extraordinary." He added, "This is a prime
example of an innovative therapy that merits evaluation, but is being ignored.
As costly as cancer is to our industry, and in light of such promising and
cost-effective preliminary results, our industry should consider funding
such a trial."
Richard Walters, 1993
(Dr. Kelley is today (2003) once again active in teaching
people how to take responsibility for their own dis-eases.)
Web posted at: http://www.drkelley.info/index.php?section=A+View+From+The+Outside
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