Niagara Gazette

November 25, 2013

AGAINST THE ODDS: Doctor describes how he beat lung cancer with alternative

By Michele Deluca
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Carl O. Helvie was diagnosed with lung cancer in his 40s. He’s now 81, cancer-free and convinced that his regimen of federally unapproved laetrile, a vegetarian diet and an assortment of natural medicines, has helped him to reach his 80s. He’s hoping to reach the age of 100 and beyond.

Helvie, a registered nurse with a doctorate in public health, has written a new book, called “You Can Beat Lung Cancer: Using Alternative/Integrative Interventions,” in his belief that natural supplements, herbs, enzymes, along with diet, prayer and meditation helped him beat the disease and prevent a recurrence.

Reached by phone at his home in Virginia, he shared some thoughts about his journey to wellness.

QUESTION: Why do you think you’re the longest living survivor of lung cancer?

ANSWER: I researched it on the Internet. The longest survivor I could find was a man diagnosed in 1972 who died in 2010. I have communicated with people at a site called Longevity. They have a lot of people on that site who are cancer survivors. And I talked to the woman who runs that site and she’s never heard of anyone who has survived longer. Besides, no one has challenged me on it.


Q: Your new book describes your methods of beating lung cancer.  What do you believe was most responsible for your successful healing?

A:  I credit my faith, my optimism, my doctor and my support system. My doctor gave me the physical care but I added the mental and spiritual care.


Q: Tell me about your doctor.

A: I can’t say enough good about him. Within five years after I had overcome cancer, the Virginia Board of Medicine took his license. All the poor guy did was try to save lives. He was so progressive that everything he told me to do has since become a proven scientific fact.


Q:  What did your doctor tell you to do that has since become proven scientific fact?

A: He had me on a vegan-type diet. There’s research now that shows the value of fruit and vegetables in preventing and treating cancer. He also had me on a no protein diet and there is a whole theory now as to why you don’t eat protein when you are battling cancer because lot of cooked food, and especially protein, do not get properly digested so the food just sits in the gut and becomes putrified, which is never a good thing when you’re battling illness. He also put me on pancreatic enzymes. That’s a very important part of the treatment.


Q: You credit a lot of your healing to the power of laetrile (a chemically modified version of a substance found in the kernels of apricots, peaches and almonds). Yet it’s not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Why do you think that is?

A: The laetrile has cyanid in it. Traditional literature says the cyanide can kill you or send you to the emergency room. That can be frightening to people. But, the cyanide requires certain enzymes to activate, and cancer cells have those enzymes and normal cells do not.  

(Editor’s note: The American Cancer Society notes on its website that studies conducted from the mid-50s to the mid-70s found no evidence that laetrile results in any benefit against tumors in animals.)


Q: I read in your book that you also took apricot kernels, which have laetrile in them.

A:  I took the 2,000 milligrams laetrile every day and I also took 25 apricot kernels at the same time. The apricots kernels are a major source of natural laetrile. They’re very bitter. I chewed them.  I would take three or four and I would chew them up and I would have a glass of water ready. The water would taste sweet after the kernels. You get used to it, the same way I got use to a vegan diet.  


Q: Do you know if anyone has ever been killed by the cyanide in laetrile.

A: No. Edward Griffin wrote a book called “World Without Cancer,” and he wrote that people are killed by aspirin every year but no one has ever been killed by laetrile.


Q: Is laetrile available now?

A. Yes, and if people get in touch with me I tell them where they can get it. I prefer not to publish the addresses because as recently as this spring the FDA raided and closed a clinic in Oklahoma because they were using laetrile in their clinic.


Q: You’ve said you counsel cancer patients.  What do you usually advise them to do?

A:  First I find out what they want to do and whether they want to use natural or traditional methods of healing. If they want to use traditional methods, I refer them to books they can read that will tell them how to reduce the symptoms from the treatment. It they’re interested in natural methods, I will usually send them the chapter I wrote on the protocol I used … If they want to go to an alternative physician, depending if they’ve got money because health insurance won’t pay for it, I give them names of alternative physicians.


Q: Do you counsel them about dealing with the reaction of family members who might prefer they take a traditional route.

A: Actually I’ve never had to do that, because I’m a nurse. I’ve had people write things occasionally on Internet sites, someone always comes to my defense.  


Q: Do you have any recommendations for those of us who are fairly healthy and want to stay that way?

A: Every day I make this drink in my blender. I take six tablespoons of organic 2 percent cottage cheese and three tablespoons of flax oil. I let it sit for five minutes and then put it in the blender. I add a couple handfuls of pecans, my organic berries, such as strawberries, blueberries or black berries. Then I blend it and it is delicious. Cancer diet expert Johanna Budwig is the biochemist who developed it and found it has a whole different chemical composition which takes oxygen to the cells. When I went to the doctor yesterday and had my test, my oxygen level in my cells was at 98 percent. That’s fantastic. A lot of people drink it as a preventive.

Q: What else do you recommend for those who want to get well or stay well?

A: I recommend at least one meal with salad a day, the limiting of protein intake in a diet that includes lots of vegetables and lots of nuts. I recommend people pray to God every day — or to some higher being — meditate, get out and exercise, even if it’s just walking. And, help people. Do what you can every day to help someone and don’t worry about yourself.

For more information about Carl O. Helvie visit his website at