One of the more dramatic examples of the placebo effect reported in medical literature involved a patient of Dr. Bruno Klopfer, a researcher who participated in testing the drug Krebiozen in 1950. Krebiozen had received sensational national publicity as a "cure" for cancer. These reports caught the eye of a man with advanced cancer - a lymphosarcoma. The patient, Mr. Wright, had huge tumor masses throughout his body and was in such desperate physical condition that he frequently had to take oxygen by mask and fluid had to be removed from his chest every two days. When the patient learned that Dr. Klopfer was involved in research on Krebiozen, he begged to be treated with it. Dr. Klopfer agreed, and the patient's recovery was startling - "The tumor masses had melted like snowballs on a hot stove, and in only a few days, they were half their original size!" The injections were continued until Mr. Wright was discharged from the hospital and had resumed a full, normal life, a complete reversal of his disease and its grim prognosis.
However, within two months of his recovery, a report that Krebiozen was not effective was leaked to the press. Learning of this report, Mr. Wright quickly began to revert to his former condition. Suspicious about the patient's relapse, his doctors decided to take advantage of the opportunity to test the dramatic regenerative capabilities of the mind. The patient was told that a new version of Krebiozen had been developed, that it overcame the difficulties described in the press, and that he would be given some of it as soon as it could be procured.
With much pomp and ceremony, which increased the patient's expectations to a fever pitch, a saline water placebo was injected. Recovery from this second nearly terminal state was even more dramatic than that from the first. Mr. Wright's tumor masses melted, his chest fluid vanished, and he became a picture of health. The saline water injections were continued, since they had worked wonders. He then remained symptom-free for over two months. At this time the final AMA announcement appeared in the press - "nationwide tests show Krebiozen to be a worthless drug in the treatment of cancer." Within a few days of this report, Mr. Wright was readmitted to the hospital in dire straits. His faith now gone, his last hope vanished, he died two days later.
Find out more about this book:What the Drug Companies Won't Tell You and Your Doctor Doesn't Know: The Alternative Treatments That May Change Your Life--and the Prescriptions That Could Harm You