MD Anderson Cancer Center
Credit: Flickr photo by faungg's photo

Noted Breast Cancer Researcher Indicted

Dr. Ana-Maria Gonzalez-Angulo accused of poisoning colleague

Dr. Ana Maria Gonzales-Angulo is only 42 years old. Yet, she's considered one of the top breast cancer researchers in the country.

She's on the faculty at the famed MD Anderson Cancer Center, affiliated with the University of Texas. Her research papers have been widely published.

In fact, she has developed such a reputation as a top cancer specialist that patients travel to her clinic from all over the country, and beyond.

The Susan B. Komen foundation has used Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo in a promotional video, highligting her as an example of the great strides being made in breast cancer research, a disease that still kills 44,000 women a year in the United States alone.

Tragically, Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo has also been accused of aggravated assault. In the late spring of 2013, she allegedly poisoned a medical colleague, with whom she was romantically involved.

The two cancer researchers were at her house. She poured him two cups of coffee. It was allegedly laced with a colorless and odorless chemical called ethylene glycol.

The Coffee Tasted Sweet

In January of 2013, Dr. George Blumenschein, MD, a head and neck cancer specialist, was served coffee prepared by Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo. He noted it tasted tasted sweeter than he preferred, according to media accounts. Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo told him it was because she had added Splenda, an artificial sweener.

However, hours after leaving Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo's home, Dr. Blumenschein was rushed to the emergency room. He suffered from an array of puzzling symptoms, including slurred speech and loss of motor control. Emergency room physicians also noticed his kidneys were failing.

All of these can be potential signs of poisoning. A urinary analysis revealed that Dr. Blumenschein had abnormal levels of a solvent known as ethylene glycol. He told authorities that he had consumed two cups of coffe at Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo's house, which, he noted, tasted unusually sweet, according to other published reports.

News accounts noted that Dr. Blumenschein, also on the MD Anderson staff, has since had to undergo dialysis.

Coffee Laced with Poison?
Credit: Flickr photo by Moyan_Brenn

News Clip on the Criminal Charges

Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo Denies Charges

Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo Released on Bail

The noted cancer researcher was indicated, but released on $50,000 bail. The case is eventually expected to wind its way to a grand jury, according to published reports. One former Texas prosecutor quoted by another media outlet said the evidence thus far seems insufficient to uphold a conviction.

Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo's attorney was also on record as saying the case would be looked at more critically by the District Attorney's office, as it was possible the criminal justice system acted too hastily in this case.

Dr. Gonzalez is Still on the Staff of MD Anderson

The latest news from MD Anderson indicated that Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo is on paid leave. However, the medical center's website still lists her as a faculty member. A page with her picture lists her impressive credentials. She has also authored or co-authored more than 100 research papers that have appeared in publication such as the Journal of Clinical Oncology and the Clinical Breast Cancer journal.

A Colombian native, she was trained as a physician and surgeon in her home country at the Universidad del Cauca. Later, after moving to the United States, she attended the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, where she completed a residency in internal medicine. Then, after studying oncology at the Oschner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, she became affiliated with the MD Anderson Center.

Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo is board certified in both internal medicine and medical oncology. She is noted for her work in a type of breast cancer known as triple negative, a relatively rare cancer that is less responsive to some conventional medical treatments.

Dr. Ana Maria Gonzalez on Komen Promotional Video

Where this Case is Headed?

There are many unanswered questions in this case, which, strangely, received a lot of initial media interest, but very little follow up.

Someone obviously poisoned Dr. Blumenscheid, although it will still take a court process to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it was Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo.

From the evidence presented in the media, it is impossible to know if she is guilty, as people shouldn't be tried in the press.

But something was clearly off in the relationship between the two oncologists. In my mind, this is the most important facet of the entire case.

Cancer has reached epidemic levels. Many patients, without question, submit themselves to highly toxic treatments in an effort to get well. Yet, there is no literature to support the notion that chemotherapy will cure advanced breast, lung, pancreatic, colon or prostate cancer.

Oftentimes, what happens is the patient gets increasingly sicker. Despite their dismal track record of restoring health, oncologists have achieved a god-like stature. They are highly regarded and considered to be the experts on a disease that continues to take too many lives.

Perhaps we need to rethink this, and view them more as frail human beings, just like the rest of us. Changing our mindset might save a lot of lives.

A number of very effective cancer treatments have been discovered. But each one has been suppressed. Why is that so? Is it possible the cancer industry is more concerned with profits than with patients?