ADS, Alleged Cancer Cure, Is Actually 99.94% Water, Court Told

Times Staff Writer

Chemical analysis shows that ADS--the murky brew a Colton physician is accused of selling as a cancer cure--is “99.94% pure.”

That is, it’s 99.94% pure water. The remainder is a brownish sludge consisting primarily of coliform bacteria, the kind that feed on human feces, according to the prosecutor’s opening statements in the trial of Dr. Bruce W. Halstead on felony charges that include fraud, conspiracy, grand theft and fraudulently providing a cancer treatment.

Halstead, serving as his own counsel, countered with a lengthy and frequently confusing opening statement that included his autobiography and a rambling dissertation--punctuated with technical terms like “entropy,” “metastasis” and “metabolics"--on the history of medicine.

“You are talking all over the field . . . about matters that have nothing to do with the charges,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Marvin D. Rowen told the defendant on Thursday during one of several jury recesses that Rowen called to admonish Halstead about his opening remarks.


‘Cancer Quackery’ Code

Halstead--director of the World Life Research Institute and the Halstead Preventative Medical Clinic in Colton--is being prosecuted, in part, under so-called “cancer quackery” statutes of the California Health and Safety Code. The law makes it illegal to offer as a cancer treatment, cure or diagnostic aid any substance that has not been approved for that purpose by state or federal health authorities.

And the prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Hayatt Seligman, took care to point out to the jury that ADS has no such approval.

In his opening remarks on Wednesday, Seligman told the jury that he would prove during the trial that Halstead--a champion during the 1970s of Laetrile and other unconventional cancer therapies--prescribed ADS for patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis and other ailments. In several cases he sold them one-liter bottles of the liquid at prices ranging between $100 and $150.


One of those patients, Seligman said, was an undercover investigator sent by authorities after the district attorney’s office began looking into the matter.

The inquiry started in 1983, when a Chatsworth minister, the Rev. Paul Doepke, reported to state officials that he had spent $6,000 on ADS after visiting Halstead’s clinic. Doepke, a victim of leukemia, subsequently died of his illness.

Seligman said that Halstead conspired with other defendants in “an overall plan to defraud and cheat the public.”

The other defendants include Gary Middleton, 36, an Australian who is being sought as a fugitive after he failed to appear in court in connection with the case; Alfred M. Dix, 57, a retired broadcast engineer from Marina del Rey; Robert A. Sanford, 47, a Chatsworth contractor, and Kazuo Yamagishi, 53, the purported inventor of ADS, who remains at large. Dix and Sanford have admitted their involvement in the case and have been sentenced to probation.

Halstead told jurors that he will prove that he did not actually treat patients for cancer and other ailments.

Waves Cereal Box

“There is a difference between treating disease and nutritional support,” Halstead said, at one point waving a box of bran flakes cereal at the jury. ". . . We’re going to be talking a lot about energy and food.”