Javanan Radio Interview with
Dr. James Watson
Interview by Mr. Farley Gharagozlou
Mr. Zokaei: I am honored to have you here Dr. Watson and very welcome to Javanan Radio.
Dr. Watson: It’s an honor to be here with you and your audience.
Mr. Zokaei: Thank you very much.
Dr. Watson: Thank you.
Mr. Farley: First of all, welcome Dr. Watson. I had the honor and the pleasure of meeting Dr. Watson in a needy arrangement because—not to take too long and make a long dissertation—currently my wife is Dr. Watson’s patient. So, in fact, that’s how we got together. Today, and for a long time in the future. So, without any further, I want to ask a few questions, then hopefully Dr. Watson will explain the reason he is on our radio and will express his opinion and give some advice for people, perspective—hopefully not—patients that need this awareness that will help them in their lives. Number one is that since Dr. Watson was in Iran, a guest of the University, I’m sure you are (the audience) interested to know—and I’m going to ask him now…Dr. Watson, first of all welcome.
Dr. Watson: Thank you.
Mr. Farley: Please tell us, when you went to Iran, how did you find the country and/or the people? In your profession at least. And how was their reception of you? And how did you find it? How did you find the “medical society,” if you will, in Iran?
Dr. Watson: Well, I’ve had the opportunity to visit Tehran in April of 2014. This was before any of the recent treaties and agreements were made normalizing relations. And I was invited by the government in Iran to come attend the 4th Middle East Congress on Rhinology and Facial Plastic Surgery. So, as an invited guest, I was treated very, very respectfully with welcome open arms by the Iranian government and I was treated with even more open arms and kindness and with very positive feelings by the Iranian people themselves. The Persian community that I met there, which included doctors, university professors, students, people in the stores, restaurants, the hotels, were very friendly. They did not have the animosity against Westerners that we see on TV here in the Unites States. Instead, they were very welcome. They enjoyed dialogue. They were proud of their culture. They showcased their music, their food, their entertainment, their dress, their style. And we enjoyed every part of the Persian culture there.
Mr. Farley: Thank you Dr. Watson. But, I’m going to ask a couple more questions, then I’ll give you the mic and you tell us some of the things you would like our audience to be aware of and advise them of some of the things you think is necessary for them to do. Like for instance, not to delay any sign of disease and so forth, because delaying usually ends up working against the patient. But without going through all that, let me ask these few questions we have. Number one, as some of our readers from Javanan magazine and the radio—Javanan Radio, with all of the knowledge we have—we’ve gone to the moon and everything else—how come there is no cure for cancer in general? If you answer me, then I have a follow up question on that.
Dr. Watson: Okay, that’s a very important question and I’m asked that question by patients and their families many times. If we can go to the moon, if we can make a computer, then why can’t we solve cancer? And I think the answer to that is that cancer has many different causes. It’s not a single cause. And the number one cause of cancer, unfortunately, is aging. We know that as our bodies get older, we can see the aging in the mirror. But what we don’t know and don’t understand is that cancer and aging are two different pictures of the same problem. So, unless we can stop aging, which right now we don’t know how to do, we may not be able to stop cancer. But there are ways to age healthfully. There’s ways to delay the debilitating effects of aging. And many of those same things will help reduce the risk of cancer. The good news though about cancer is that even though we do not know how to cure it, in the late stage of cancer, we absolutely know how to cure cancer in the early stage. And we can treat it and cure it with almost 100% success in the early stage today.
Mr. Farley: Thank you very much. Now I’m going to ask you something which you might not—or you’ll be reluctant in answering. Is it possible—it’s almost common knowledge among some people—that pharmaceutical companies and organizations are the cause that we are not accelerating our work or our research in curing cancer? And another for of this question is that is it the pharmaceutical companies that is preventing the final stages of the cure because they want to capitalize on it? My own family is using medicine that each pill is $1,000. He takes one a day—that’s $30,000 a month. Why is it that high? We know that it wouldn’t cost that. I know that the research of it—the research costs—is applied to the cost of the pill, the medicine, but somehow something is wrong there. And many of the people, common people, blame the companies that create this research for these medicines. They are not fair, they are not—I’m sorry to say this—not honest with the regular costs and they are to blame for not going as fast as they could for the cure of these things. What is your opinion?
Mr. Zokaei: Can I ask this question in maybe a simple way? Is there any mafia—behind this research group—to stop them? To discover maybe exactly, the cure of cancer?
Dr. Watson: That’s a very good question. So, I want to rephrase the question. Is there a conspiracy out there, is there a mafia among the scientists, the government or the pharmaceutical companies to only study cancer but not focus on curing it? Is that a correct…
Mr. Farley: Yes, yes.
Dr. Watson: I would like to answer each of those questions separately. So let’s first ask the question, is the government the conspirator? Are they the mafia with cancer? I personally believe there is no evidence that the government is trying to block the discovery of a cure for cancer. And I believe the reason for this is that politicians have to get elected. If somebody found out that the politicians are blocking the cure of cancer, they would get voted out of office. Another reason why I do not believe the government is the cause, is the government has to pay for so much cost of healthcare and Medicare—healthcare for people over 65 years of age. It is becoming so expensive now that it is going to bankrupt this country in the future. The second possible conspirator is the scientists. Could the scientists be the mafia? Could they be, as a group, uninterested in discovering the cure for cancer? Or blocking the cure for cancer? It could be. It could be that the scientists are afraid they would lose their jobs is they find the cure for cancer. But I have met many of these scientists myself, and I’ve worked with them at UCLA, at the Mayo Clinic, at Harvard, at USC and many other institutions. I’ve even had the chance to visit cancer research labs in Europe and Japan, Korea and China. And I can personally tell you that I have not met a single scientist who told me that they are trying to block the discovery of the cure of cancer. So I personally think that the scientists are not part of a conspiracy. So it raises the third question. Could the pharmaceutical companies be blocking the discovery of the cure for cancer? It could be. And I’ll have to admit that pharmaceutical companies do not have an interest in curing things. They have an interest in managing a disease. If they cure it, they can’t sell the pill any more. But if they only manage the disease, they can keep selling the pill year after year. So…
Mr. Farley: That unfortunately makes sense.
Dr. Watson: So of the three people you mentioned, government, scientists and pharmaceutical companies, if there is anyone who has an improper motive in cancer research, it would most likely be the pharmaceutical industry. But keep in mind that the pharmaceutical industry has come up with many drugs that have cured certain conditions, such as antibiotics. The pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars on research for antibiotics. They also have come up with some drugs that do not cure, but manage certain viral conditions very well, such as HIV. Recently they have come up with some drugs that manage hepatitis virus very well. And my own cousin has been cured of hepatitis virus infection of his liver with new drugs that were just approved three years ago. So personally I believe that the pharmaceutical industry does have profit motives that are higher than the motive to cure people. But at the same time, I believe that they have an incentive to discover things that will provide cures for cancer. And they are working on that. But again I would like to go back to the issue that the number one cause of cancer is multifactorial. It’s many, many causes. We are all thinking that cancer is cause by a bullet, and if we find the magic bullet to destroy that one cause of cancer, we will cure cancer. But that’s probably a bad picture of cancer. Cancer is probably more like a puzzle that you put together. It’s probably a puzzle with 5,000 pieces. And this is why unless we find out the piece to solve the puzzle, you shouldn’t be any more afraid of cancer screening than driving your car down the Los Angeles freeway. It’s probably just as safe.
Mr. Farley: Okay, go ahead if you want to add anything to that. This was very interesting.
Dr. Watson: So let’s talk a little bit about cancer screening in general. For women, the most common cancers are cancers of the female organs—the uterus, the cervix, the ovaries and the breast. And cancers of the lung. Lung cancers we know are associated with smoking, but not all lung cancers. Only about 60% of lung cancers are due to smoking. 40% are either due to pollution, radon gas or bad luck—what we call random chance. For those people with no risk factors, there’s no reason to do screening for lung cancer. But for a smoker, or somebody who has a husband or wife who smokes, or for somebody who is exposed to a lot of pollution, such as air pollution, smoke or radon gas, there is a very simple, effective way to screen for lung cancer called a Lung CT Scan. It’s a low dose CT, so it has a low dose of radiation, it can be done with no IV, no contrast, it can be done rapidly, insurance pays for it and it picks up 95% of lung cancer. In the very early stage, it requires no chemo or radiation. For cancers of the female organs, breast cancer is the most common in the United States. Worldwide, cervical cancer is the most common. Cervical cancer can be screened very effectively with Pap Smears. Pap Smears are paid for by insurance for all woman and they can pick up cancer even in the pre-cancer stage. In the pre-cancer stage, it’s a very simple procedure to remove the pre-cancerous cells and more importantly, it requires no chemo or radiation to treat that. The third most common cancer worldwide and the second most common cancer in females in the United States is breast cancer. Unfortunately, we do not have the ideal test for breast cancer screening. The best one we have right now is mammogram. Mammogram is only 85% accurate. But if you do an ultrasound at the same time, it increases the accuracy to 87-90% accurate. And if something is abnormal there, it can be followed up by an MRI of the breast. So if you add mammogram, ultrasound and when needed MRI, 90-95% of breast cancer can be detected in such an early stage that it can be treated with no radiation, no chemo—simply an excision. And if it is at the first stage, it can be treated with simple excision and radiation. Very, very simple—not a problem. So in summary, I hope that our women in our audience realize that cancer screening is very simple. It’s very safe. It’s not something they should be afraid of. Now for men in our audience, the most common cancer is smoking. And I know smoking is quite common in the Persian community, both here in the United States and in Iran. When I was in Iran, I saw many people—
Mr. Zokaei: Most of them.
Dr. Watson: Yes, most of them. Just like China, Japan and to a certain extent, Europe where many, many people smoke. Any Persian male who smokes should have lung cancer screening after age 50. And if that’s done, it can be picked up at a very early stage. You don’t even have to stop smoking. They will still do the test even if you’re still smoking. The key is: have the test done early. Because when the test is done late, lung cancer is not curable and the treatment is miserable. The second most common cancer in men is colon cancer which can be screened in both men and women colonoscopy. You only have to have a colonoscopy once every 5 years. It’s not that often. And if it’s done once every 5 years, colon cancer can be completely cured very simply with no chemo and no radiation. But of course the number one cancer overall that we see in men worldwide is becoming prostate cancer. Because prostate cancer is clearly being cause by the same cause—aging. So until we can cure aging, we will not be able to prevent prostate cancer. But the good news is that prostate cancer can also be treated very simply if it’s picked up early. It does not require the loss of sexual function and it can be treated with no surgery—with simply radiation 2 ways—normal radiation or what’s called proton beam therapy. For those who say I’m afraid of radiation and I don’t want proton beam therapy, there is a way of removing the prostate with a robot today that is very, very safe, very effective and easy to recover from. So in summary, women should not be afraid of breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screening, or lung cancer screening. Men should not be worried about lung cancer, colon cancer or prostate cancer. And the screening tools for this could reduce the deaths from cancer in the United States by 80%.
To be continued…