The ‘Hot Topic’ of Chelation Therapy vs. Bypass or Angioplasty
The following is a reproduction of a Millennium Health Centre editorial article which appeared in the Seaway News newspaper in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. The content is shortened to accommodate a newspaper space allotment. As such, it is not academically cited with references. These are available, so please feel free to email your questions.
Dr. Stephen F. Jones B.Comm., N.D.
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
It’s summer and the ‘living is easy’ so I thought I would provide some excitement by touching on the highly controversial topic of chelation therapy. I offer this brief outline of the topic to illustrate why chelation therapy should, at the very least, be mentioned to patients with heart and circulation conditions.
Chelation therapy is a painless intravenous treatment whereby a natural amino acid is infused into the body. It is the standard, conventionally recognized treatment for lead and mercury toxicity and has been recently used with success in patients with fibromyalgia and Alzheimer’s.
Chelation’s use for heavy metal toxicity, however, is not the ‘hot topic’. The topic stimulating arguments is its ability to treat those with blocked (coronary) arteries, ‘atherosclerosis’, poor circulation (such as diabetics), vascular dementia, high blood pressure, etc. etc.
Offering a conclusion that might stir some passions, suffice it to say that chelation therapy most certainly has ample evidence supporting its ability to increase blood circulation and reduce the symptoms of heart disease. Moreover, medical research indicates that ‘accepted’ interventions like bypass surgery do NOT provide long term benefits. Allow me to illustrate.
Firstly, one should be aware that some 400 trials exist to date on chelation therapy (should a reader like a summary of these, I encourage a visit to my office). A succinct summary of these is the published work of Dr.s Chappell M.D. and Stahl P.hD. They reviewed the data of 19 studies on the use chelation therapy on 22,765 heart disease patients (J Advanc Med, 1994;7). These 19 medical studies all showed objective, measurable and sustainable increases in blood flow and symptom relief in 88% of the patients!
Now, critics never mention these studies. They, either, dismissively state that no studies exist or frequently recite trials with faulty conclusions. For instance, the most popular rebuttal notoriously raised by chelation critics is a 1963 study by Kitchell and Meltzer in which they concluded that chelation provides ‘no benefits’. The problem is that their actual data did not concur with their conclusions. Their data actually reported that 64 % of the patients had a reduction of symptoms after only 20 treatments and that 46% were still showing improvements 18 months later. Interestingly, at the time of his 1963 ‘conclusions’, Dr. Kitchell was involved with the development of the ‘Internal Mammary Artery Bypass’, the forerunner to the current bypass procedure.
Other studies often cited by chelation critics can be shown to have similar discrepancies between the actual data and the author’s conclusions. The point, then, is that doctors and patients alike should remove the politics of medicine and be thoroughly familiar with existing evidence before reaching conclusions. With chelation, few demonstrate a real knowledge of the evidence . As this debate can’t be fully explored in this space, I encourage you to visit my website and use the chelation “Links”, or review some key books including 1) Bypassing Bypass Surgery by Dr. Cranton M.D. and 2) The Scientific Basis of EDTA Chelation Therapy by Halstead and Rozema.
Lastly, one might ask those critiquing chelation what the evidence says about the ‘acceptable’ interventions, such as bypass surgery. Consider the 10 year study by the U.S. National Institute of Health comparing the survival rates of those who had bypass surgery and those who did nothing. The bypass patients were NO more likely to live longer, live healthier or have fewer health concerns !
Likewise, the American Journal of Cardiology (June 15, 1998;81(12):1393-1399) published a 22 year follow-up study of bypass patients. The study stated a conclusion that “in the long term, an initial bypass protocol offers neither survival nor symptomatic benefits”.
Mark Twain once said "If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Likewise, with heart disease cardiologist and surgeons may only endorse that which they do. Chelation doctors may try to sway patients to their treatment. Ignoring my bias and clinic’s approach, you should inform yourself about all options. You probably have not been given all the information. Good luck.
If you have any inquiries or requests for future columns, please contact the Seaway News or email Dr. Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.