Josef Issels (November 21, 1907 - February 11, 1998) was a German physician and known for having developed an alternative cancer therapy regimen, the Issels treatment, that caused a great amount of controversy among medical professionals. He claimed to cure cancer patients who had otherwise been declared incurable by conventional cancer treatments.
As a young doctor Josef Issels made a name for himself by operating in makeshift conditions on, and healing, a female passenger on a German steamer that had left a South African port. Her doctor had diagnosed a terminal condition, and, although forbidden to do so, she had booked passage on, and boarded the steamer in the hope of reaching her relatives before she died. At the behest of the nun who was the chief administrator at the hospital where he worked, Issels reluctantly joined the SS; at the time, physicians were expected to join the SS. After Kristallnacht, he quit the SS for religious and philosophical reasons. During the Second World War, in which he served as a medic, he was given punitive assignments in retaliation for leaving the SS. In the relative anarchy that ensued after the war, Issels had to watch his son die, in part because the occupying authorities would neither give or sell him penicillin he needed to treat his son.
Issels believed that cancer was caused by the weakening of the human immune system and hence had to be cured by strengthening it again. However, he did not dispute the importance of conventional cancer therapies like surgery and chemotherapy, and did in fact use them when treating his patients. Issels did not advocate a panacea-like new therapy, but rather prescribed various neglected, forgotten, or non-mainstream treatments, such as the Coley Vaccine pioneered by William Coley, hyperthermia, where Manfred von Ardenne researched its effectiveness in cancer.
Issels opened his Ringberg Clinic in Bavaria in 1951. As the clinic achieved greater fame, patients from around the world began to seek his treatment. However, his practice was not appreciated by other doctors, specifically the Bavarian Medical Council, which charged Issels with fraud and manslaughter. After a four year legal battle, Issels' convictions on all charges were overturned, and his clinic was relicensed. Issels centers and clinics continue to treat cancer patients with all types and stages of cancer both in and out of the United States.
Among his illustrious patients were Jamaican reggae legend, Bob Marley, and British Olympic medaillist, Lillian Board, who both entered his Rottach-Egern clinic in order to get Issels' cancer treatment. Nevertheless both died soon after since the therapy could not fulfill the hopes of a cure. Issels died of pneumonia at the age of 90.
Issels wrote a number of books, including a biography "My fight against Cancer," a book on his understanding of cancer, as well as sundry scientific articles.
- Unproven methods of cancer management. Issels combination therapy. CA Cancer J Clin. 1972 Mai-Juni;22(3):188-91
- Josef Issels MD (February 2005). Cancer: A Second Opinion: A Look at Understanding, Controlling, and Curing Cancer. Square One Publishers. ISBN 075700279X.
- Josef Issels MD (1981). Mein Kampf gegen den Krebs: Erinnerungen eines Arztes. C. Bertelsmann. ISBN 3570047369.
- Thomas, Gordon. Cancer Doctor: The Biography of Josef Issels, M.D. ISBN 1-893302-18-0
- Hildenbrand G, An appraisal of the life and work of Dr. Josef Maria Issels 1907-1997,J Altern Complement Med. 1998 4(2):137-40
- The Issels Treatment: Complete Long-Term Remissions of Advanced Cancers
- Cancer survivor: an Issels Treatment patient
There is no pharmaceutical or device industry support for this site and we need your viewer supported Donations | Editorial Board | Governance | Licensing | Disclaimers | Avoid Plagiarism | Policies