Decades Later, Condemnation for a Skid Row Cancer Study

October 18, 2013

An article from the New York Times discusses a study done more than 50 years ago in which researchers from Columbia University, using alcoholics from lower Manhattan as subjects, tried to prove that prostate cancer could be caught early and cured. However, the article reports that the researchers did not warn the subjects that the biopsies to search for cancer could cause impotence and rectal tears. The article cites two recent essays by Robert Aronowitz, MD, an internist and medical historian at Penn, that call the study unethical, both because of the powerlessness of the people who participated in it and the things done to them. The researchers used these men, "because only desperate, poor, and unknowing men would participate,” Aronowitz wrote. β€œIt was unimaginable that the average American man would volunteer.”

New York Times article