Dying to have known – review

51oSZMse9XL__SL500_AA300_Dying to have known is a 2008 documentary that focuses on the Gerson therapy, which is an alternative health diet that claims to cure cancer and various other ailments through diet alone. Well, ok, diet and enemas. The big question: Why do you have to have enemas Does it actually work? 

The filmmaker does take a stab at hitting both sides of the issue, mainly by interviewing people from the medical industry who say it doesn’t work (although he gives us the impression that these guys maybe can’t be trusted) and then turning the camera on people involved with taking, giving and researching the therapy. So mainly, yeah, the deck is stacked in favour of the Gerson therapy.

They do a pretty good job in stacking this deck though, as there are tons of interviews with cancer survivors, surviving members of Gersons family, and working clinics outside the US (where it’s not allowed because the treatment is not approved by the FDA) in places like Mexico, Spain and Japan. There are also interviews with leading nutritional experts that back up the possibility of these claims with some of their own research, including the acclaimed Dr. T. Colin Campbell (who wrote the book the China Study which is one of America’s best-selling books about nutrition) and Caldwell Esselstyn (who is another physician turned author whose book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, helped convince Bill Clinton to change his diet).

china                               prevent

Although I found the format meandering, and the explanation of what exactly Gerson therapy was never got into anything more specific than to say it was fruit juices, organic vegetables and coffee enemas (I know, you just don’t slip that in there…heh, kinda loses the audience), I can’t help but be somewhat fascinated with the idea of something that claims to cure cancer. There’s also this added level of conspiracy that hangs over the film, that seemed to suggest that perhaps the medical industry was purposely  ignoring the evidence since big pharmaceutical companies couldn’t make $$ on a diet based cure.

However, with such a powerful claim, I would have liked to have seen more evidence and less anecdotes. I also would have liked to have seen greater detail from the medical community interviewees in debunking the therapy to see if they could have given us other more useful facts to consider. I know this goes counter to the bias, but it would make it more convincing. The story telling also seemed to get a little lost at both the beginning and the end, where the final moments were a bit more philosophical lecture on life than a wrap up of the facts and point of the movie.

So, I’d probably give this one a skip, although I can’t help but I think I may do a bit more research on this topic on my own. So, maybe it did it’s job…or maybe I just can’t help being obsessive diligent in my hunt for truth when faced with a good conspiracy story.

If your curiosity has gotten the better of you and you want to see for yourself, I was able to locate it online below, as well as give you a few links for yea and neigh sayers:

Say Yay!:

The Gerson Institute

Gerson Media’s Friends of Gerson list

The Wellness Warrior’s blog

Say Neigh!:

Skeptics Dictionary

American Cancer Society

Canadian Cancer Society