- Cancer is the most frightening human disease and its
cause remains elusive. Therefore, it seems inconceivable that the discovery
of a germ cause of cancer would provoke such hostility among the cancer
establishment. But, in truth, the belief in a cancer germ has always been
the ultimate scientific heresy.
- In the long history of cancer research there was never
a physician more outspoken and controversial than Virginia Wuerthele-Caspe
Livingston (1906-1990). For more than 40 years she championed the revolutionary
idea that bacteria caused cancer and devised a treatment to try and combat
these microbes by immunotherapy.
- Sixteen years after her death she is now largely forgotten
but still condemned by such powerful organizations as the American Cancer
Society-and blacklisted on Quackwatch-a self-proclaimed "non-profit
corporation dedicated to combating health-related frauds, myths, fads,
and fallacies. "
- LIVINGSTON'S CANCER RESEARCH
- Beginning in the late 1940s, Livingston was able to grow
bacteria from cancer tumors; and when she and her associates injected cancer
bacteria into laboratory animals, some developed cancer. Other animals
developed degenerative and proliferative diseases, and some animals remained
healthy. Livingston believed the "immunity" of the host was an
important factor in determining whether cancer would develop.
- Virginia Livingston MD (1906-1990)
- In 1969 at a meeting at the New York Academy of Sciences
, Livingston and her colleagues proposed that cancer was caused by a highly
unusual bacterium which she named Progenitor cryptocides-Greek for 'ancestral
hidden killer.' Neverthless, Livingston claimed elements of the microbe
were present in every human cell. Due to its biochemical properties, she
believed the organism was responsible for initiating life and for the healing
of tissue-and for killing us with cancer and other infirmities. Critics
of this research continued to insist there was no such thing as a cancer
- In her attempt to use a variety of modalities (diet,
supplements, antibiotics, as well as traditional methods) to treat cancer,
she utilized an 'autogenous' vaccine derived from the patient's own cancer
bacteria found in the urine and blood. Livingston explained it was not
an anti-cancer vaccine, but rather a vaccine to help stimulate and improve
the patient's own immune system. The administration of this unapproved
vaccine caused a furor in the cancer establishment and eventually legal
action was undertaken against her and the Livingston-Wheeler Clinic in
San Diego. In spite of all her legal troubles, she continued seeing patients
until her death at 83.
- In March 1990, the year of her death, a highly critical
article on the Livingston-Wheeler therapy appeared in the American Cancer
Society-sponsored CA: A Cancer Journal for Physicians. (No authors were
listed.) The report advised patients to stay away from the San Diego clinic
and claimed: "Livingston-Wheeler's cancer treatment is based on the
belief that cancer is caused by a bacterium she has named Progenitor cryptocides.
Careful research using modern techniques, however, has shown that there
is no such organism and that Livingston-Wheeler has apparently mistaken
several different types of bacteria, both rare and common, for a unique
microbe. In spite of diligent research to isolate a cancer-causing microorganism,
none has been found. Similarly, Livingston-Wheeler's autologous vaccine
cannot be considered an effective treatment for cancer. While many oncologists
have expressed the hope that someday a vaccine will be developed against
cancer, the cause(s) of cancer must be determined before research can be
directed toward developing a vaccine. The rationale for other facets of
the Livingston-Wheeler cancer therapy is similarly faulty. No evidence
supports her contention that cancer results from a defective immune system,
that a whole-foods diet restores immune system deficiencies, that abscisic
acid slows tumor growth, or that cancer is transmitted to humans by chickens."
(The full report is on-line at: http://caonline.amcancersoc.org/cgi/reprint/40/2/103)
- BACTERIA AS A CAUSE OF CANCER
- The recognition of disease-producing bacteria allowed
medical science to emerge from the dark ages into the era of modern medicine.
In the late nineteenth century when diseases like tuberculosis (TB) , syphilis,
and leprosy were proven to be caused by bacteria, some doctors also suspected
human cancer might have a similar cause.
- The idea that bacteria cause cancer is considered preposterous
by most physicians. However, despite the antagonistic view of the American
Cancer Society and medical science, there is ample evidence in the published
peer-reviewed literature that strongly suggests that 'cancer microbes'
- Intracellular variably-sized coccoid forms in
Acid-fast stain; Magnification x1000, in oil
- According to reports by Livingston and various other
researchers, cancer is caused by pleomorphic, cell wall deficient bacteria.
The various forms of the organism range in size from submicroscopic virus-like
forms, up to the size of bacteria, yeasts, and fungi. In culture and in
tissue the bacterial forms are variably 'acid-fast' (having a staining
quality like TB bacteria). These bacteria are ubiquitous and exist in the
blood and tissues of all human beings (yet another 'heresy'). In the absence
of a protective immune response, these cell wall deficient bacteria may
become pathogenic and foster the development of cancer , autoimmune disease,
AIDS, and certain other chronic diseases of unknown etiology.
- Needless to say, all this research fell on dead ears
because bacteria were totally ruled out as the cause of all cancers in
the early years of the twentieth century. Thus, bacteria observed in cancer
were simply dismissed as elements of cellular degeneration, or as invaders
of tissue weakened by cancer, or as 'contaminants' of laboratory origin.
- LIVINGSTON AND PROGENITOR CRYPTOCIDES
- Beginning in1950, in a series of papers and books, Livingston
and her co-workers claimed the cancer microbe was a great imitator whose
various pleomorphic forms resembled common staphylococci, diphtheroids,
fungi, viruses, and host cell inclusions. Yet if the germ were studied
carefully through all its transitional stages, it could be identified as
a single agent. She was the first to suggest that the acid-fast stain was
the key to the identification of the cancer microbe in tissue and in culture;
and also demonstrated its appearance in the blood of cancer patients, by
use of dark-field microscopy.
- Anyone who takes the time to read Livingston's reports
in the medical literature will quickly recognize that she was a credible
research scientist, who allied herself with other experts-and was certainly
not the quack doctor pictured by her detractors. Her achievements in cancer
microbiology can also be found in her autobiographical books: Cancer, A
New Breakthrough (1972); The Microbiology of Cancer (1977); and The Conquest
of Cancer (1984). Her research has been confirmed by other scientists,
such as microbiologist Eleanor Alexander-Jackson, cell cytologist Irene
Diller, biochemist Florence Seibert, and dermatologist Alan Cantwell, among
- Intracellular bacteria in prostate cancer.
Acid-fast stain; magnification x1000, in oil.
- THE CANCER MICROBE AND BACTERIAL PLEOMORPHISM
- Microbiologists have long resisted the idea of bacterial
pleomorphism, and do not recognize or accept the various growth forms and
the bacterial 'life cycle' proposed by various cancer microbe workers.
Most bacteriologists do not accept the idea of a bacterium changing from
a coccus to a rod, or to a fungus. Depending on the environment, the microbe
in its cell wall-deficient phase may attain large size, even larger that
a red blood cell. Other forms are submicroscopic and virus-sized. Electronic
microscopic studies and photographs of filtered (bacteria-free) cultures
of the cancer microbe show virus-size elements of the cancer microbe that
can revert into bacterial-sized microbes.
- The cancer microbe has adapted to life in man and animals
by existing in a mycoplasma-like or cell wall deficient state. In tissue
sections of cancer stained for bacteria with the special acid-fast stain,
the microbe can be seen as a variably acid-fast (blue, red, or purple-stained)
round coccus or as barely visible granules . At magnifications of one thousand
times (in oil), these forms can be observed within and also outside of
- Careful study and observation of the tiny round coccoid
forms in cancer tissue indicate they can enlarge progressively up to the
size of so-called Russell bodies, which are well-known to pathologists.
Russell bodies can attain the size of red blood cells, and even larger.
- William Russell was a well-respected Scottish pathologist
who in 1890 first reported the finding of 'cancer parasites' in the tissue
of all the cancers he studied. However, modern pathologists deny that Russell's
bodies are microbial in origin. For more information on Russell bodies
and Russell's 'cancer parasite' (and its intimate relationship to cancer
microbes), Google: The forgotten clue to the bacterial cause of cancer;
or go to: http://www.joimr.org/phorum/read.php?f=2&i=50&t=50.
- OVERLOOKING HIDDEN BACTERIA IN CANCER
- Once bacteria were eliminated as a cause of cancer a
century ago, it became dogma and impossible to change medical opinion.
In this current era of medical science, one would think it impossible for
infectious disease experts and pathologists to not recognize bacteria in
cancer. However, bacteria can still pop up in diseases in which they were
- When a new and deadly lung disease broke out among legionnaires
in Philadelphia in July 1976, two hundred twenty-two people became ill
and thirty-four died. The cause of the killer lung disease remained a medical
mystery for over five months until Joe McDade at the Leprosy Branch of
the CDC detected unusual bacteria in guinea pigs experimentally infected
with lung tissue from the dead legionnaires. Further modification of bacterial
culture methods finally allowed the isolation of the causative and previously
overlooked bacteria, now known as Legionella pneumophila.
- Lymph node showing Hodgkin's lymphoma. Arrows
to variably-sized round coccoid forms and larger Russell bodies.
Gram stain; magnification x1000, in oil.
- Yet another example of dogma-defying research is provided
by recent studies proving that bacteria (Helicobacter pylori) are a common
cause of stomach ulcers, which can sometimes lead to stomach cancer and
lymphoma. For a century, physicians refused to believe bacteria caused
ulcers because they thought bacteria could not live in the acid environment
of the stomach. In 2005 the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to two
Australian researchers for their 1982 discovery. These stomach bacteria
could only be detected by use of special tissue stains. The CDC now claims
that H. pylori causes more than 90% of duodenal ulcers and 80% of gastric
ulcers. Approximately two-thirds of the world's population is infected
with these microbes.
- In the past four years there have been medical reports
of newly discovered bacteria in serious lymph node disease; in Hodgkin's
lymphoma; in cancer of the mouth; and in prostate cancer, to name only
- All these studies prove bacteria can pop up in diseases
where they are least expected. Such a caveat is appropriate for doctors
who think they know everything about cancer and who pooh-pooh all aspects
of cancer microbe research.
- A CENTURY OF CANCER MICROBE RESEARCH
- Livingston never claimed that she was the discoverer
of the microbe of cancer. In her writings she always gave credit to various
scientists, some dating back to the nineteenth century, who attempted to
prove that bacteria cause cancer. Some of these remarkable researchers
include the long-forgotten cancer microbe studies of Scottish obstetrician
James Young, Chicago physician John Nuzum, Montana surgeon James Scott,
the infamous psychiatrist and cancer researcher Wilhelm Reich, microscopist
Raymond Royal Rife, and others too numerous to mention.
- This cancer microbe research has been explored in my
books The Cancer Microbe: The Hidden Killer in Cancer, AIDS, and Other
Immune Diseases  and in Four Women Against Cancer: Bacteria, Cancer,
and the Origin of Life -the story of Livingston, Alexander-Jackson,
Diller and Seibert-four outstanding women scientists who attempted to bring
the cancer microbe to the attention of a disinterested medical establishment.
I was privileged to have met all these remarkable women, who greatly influenced
my own cancer research.
- Why is research exploring bacteria in cancer so strongly
opposed? Perhaps it poses a threat to the money interests involved in the
established and orthodox treatment for cancer. Various forms of cancer
treatment include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. These therapies
might have to be reevaluated if it were proven that cancer was an infectious
- SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER INTERNET STUDY
- Further information pertaining to cancer microbe research
(both pro and con) can be found by Googling: cancer microbe; bacterial
pleomorphism; cell wall deficient bacteria; "alan cantwell";
"virginia livingston"; "Eleanor Alexander-Jackson";
as well as other names and key words mentioned in this communication.
- For a list of scientific publications pertaining to the
microbiology of cancer, go to the PubMed website hosted by the National
Institute of Health (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) and type in "Cantwell AR",
"Livingston VW", "Alexander-Jackson E", "Diller
IC", "Seibert FB", etc. in the search box.
- This short communication is unlikely to convince many
health professionals that bacteria cause cancer. However, after four decades
of studying cancer microbes in cancerous tissue, I am personally convinced
that Dr. Virginia Livingston will one day be vindicated and recognized
as one of the greatest medical geniuses of the twentieth century.
- Ralph W Moss, cancer advocate and author of The Cancer
Industry, notes her passing was "a major loss to the cancer world."
In the Cancer Chronicles #6, 1990, he writes, "Virginia Livingston
was a great person and a great scientist. Sadly, she never received the
recognition she deserved in her lifetime. The true scope of her achievements
will only become known in years to come."
- This report honors the centennial of her birth which
takes place on December 28, 2006.
- Alexander-Jackson E. A specific type of microorganism
isolated from animal and human cancer: bacteriology of the organism. Growth.
- Cantwell AR. Variably acid-fast cell wall-deficient bacteria
as a possible cause of dermatologic disease. In, Domingue GJ (Ed). Cell
Wall Deficient Bacteria. Reading: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co; 1982. Pp.
- Cantwell A. The Cancer Microbe. Los Angeles: Aries Rising
- Cantwell A. Four Women Against Cancer. Los Angeles: Aries
Rising Press; 2005.
- Diller IC, Diller WF. Intracellular acid-fast organisms
isolated from malignant tissues. Trans Amer Micr Soc. 1965; 84:138-148.
- Greenberg DE, Ding L, Zelazny AM, Stock F, Wong A, Anderson
VL, Miller G, Kleiner DE, Tenorio AR, Brinster L, Dorward DW, Murray PR,
Holland SM. A novel bacterium associated with lymphadenitis in a patient
with chronic granulomatous disease. PLoS Pathog. 2006 Apr;2(4):e28. Epub
2006 Apr 14.
- Hooper SJ, Crean SJ, Lewis MA, Spratt DA, Wade WG, Wilson
MJ. Viable bacteria present within oral squamous cell carcinoma tissue.
J Clin Microbiol. 2006 May;44(5):1719-25.
- Nuzum JW. The experimental production of metastasizing
carcinoma of the breast of the dog and primary epithelioma in man by repeated
inoculation of a micrococcus isolated from human breast cancer. Surg Gynecol
Obstet. 1925; 11;343-352.
- Russell W. An address on a characteristic organism of
cancer. Br Med J. 1890; 2:1356-1360.
- Russell W. The parasite of cancer. Lancet. 1899;1:1138-1141.
- Sauter C, Kurrer MO. Intracellular bacteria in Hodgkin's
disease and sclerosing mediastinal B-cell lymphoma: sign of a bacterial
etiology? Swiss Med Wkly. 2002 Jun 15;132(23-24):312-5.
- Scott MJ. The parasitic origin of carcinoma. Northwest
- Seibert FB, Feldmann FM, Davis RL, Richmond IS. Morphological,
biological, and immunological studies on isolates from tumors and leukemic
bloods. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1970 Oct 30;174(2):690-728.
- Shannon BA, Garrett KL, Cohen RJ. Links between Propionibacterium
acnes and prostate cancer. Future Oncol. 2006 Apr;2(2):225-32. Review.
- Wuerthele Caspe-Livingston V, Alexander-Jackson E, Anderson
JA, et al. Cultural properties and pathogenicity of certain microorganisms
obtained from various proliferative and neoplastic diseases. Amer J Med
Sci. 1950; 220;628-646.
- Wuerthele-Caspe Livingston V, Livingston AM. Demonstration
of Progenitor cryptocides in the blood of patients with collagen and neoplastic
diseases. Trans NY Acad Sci. 1972; 174 (2):636-654.
- Young J. Description of an organism obtained from carcinomatous
growths. Edinburgh Med J. 1921; 27:212-221.
- [Dr. Alan Cantwell is a retired dermatologist and the
author of THE CANCER MICROBE and FOUR WOMEN AGAINST CANCER, both available
from Aries Rising Press, PO Box 29532, Los Angeles, CA 90029 (www.ariesrisingpress.com).
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Abstracts of 30 published papers can
be found at the PubMed website ( type in Cantwell AR). Many of his personal
writings can be found on www.google.com by using key words "alan cantwell"
+ articles. His books are also available on www.amazon.com and through
Book Clearing House @ 1-800-431-1579]