His views on health and nutrition are at odds with scientific consensus; Stephen Barrett, co-founder of the National Council Against Health Fraud, described Null as "one of the nation's leading promoters of dubious treatment for serious disease".
On his radio show, and in books and self-produced movies, Null criticizes the medical community, promotes a range of alternative cancer treatments, denies that HIV causes AIDS, and promotes dietary supplements which he produces.
In 2010, Null reported that he and six other consumers had been hospitalized from vitamin D poisoning, after ingesting a nutritional supplement carrying his name and endorsement. Null sued a contractor involved in producing the product, alleging that each contained more than 1,000 times the dose of vitamin D reported on the label.
Early life and education
Null was raised in Parkersburg, West Virginia, with his two brothers. He holds an associate's degree in business administration from Mountain State College in West Virginia and a bachelor of science degree from Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey.
Null holds a Ph.D. in human nutrition and public health sciences from Union Institute & University, a private distance-learning college headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Null's doctoral thesis was entitled "A Study of Psychological and Physiological Effects of Caffeine on Human Health".
His credentials, including the degree-granting practices at Edison State and the rigor of the Ph.D. program at Union Institute, have been questioned by Stephen Barrett on his Quackwatch website, who labeled Null as "one of the nation's leading promoters of dubious treatment for serious disease" and a fraud.
Attacks on medicine
Null attacks many facets of mainstream medicine, arguing that physicians and pharmaceutical companies have an economic interest in promoting rather than preventing sickness. In the 1979-80, he co-authored a series of articles on cancer research for Penthouse, entitled The Politics of Cancer beginning with one entitled "The Great Cancer Fraud." Null's writings in Penthouse accused the medical community of "suppressing alternative cancer treatments to protect the medical establishment's solid-gold cancer train." In place of standard medical therapy, Null advocated alternative cancer treatments such as hydrazine sulfate. A series of three articles co-authored by Null in Penthouse is credited by David Gorski with bringing the Burzynski clinic to prominence. In 1985, Null began writing a lengthy series of reports for Penthouse entitled "Medical Genocide". In 1999 TIME wrote of Null: "From a young reporter this is to be expected. But two decades later, Null, 54, is still warning of a variety of medical bogeymen out to gull a trusting public."
Null was the keynote speaker at a rally opposing mandatory H1N1 influenza vaccination during the 2009 flu pandemic, leading the New York State Department of Health to dismiss Null's claims about the vaccine as "not scientifically credible." The New York State Health Commissioner held a conference at the time of the rally to discuss the clinical trials which were used to demonstrate its safety.
In addition to his promotion of alternative cancer treatments and condemnation of the medical establishment, Null has argued that HIV is harmless and does not cause AIDS. In his book AIDS: A Second Opinion, Null advocated a range of dietary supplements for HIV-positive individuals instead of antiretroviral medication. In 2002, Salon.com described the book as "massive, irresponsible and nearly unreadable."
Seth Kalichman, professor of social psychology at the University of Connecticut, has decried Null's role as a prominent proponent of AIDS denialism and has accused him of cashing in on HIV/AIDS; in Kalichman's 2009 book, Denying AIDS, he compared Null's activities to Holocaust denial and described Null as an example of a dangerous entrepreneur who "obviously breached" the balance between free speech and protecting public health.
Null began broadcasting a syndicated radio talk show, Natural Living with Gary Null in 1980. His show was broadcast first on WBAI, then on the VoiceAmerica Network and over the internet. Null's show subsequently returned to WBAI, leading to protests from ACT-UP New York and other AIDS activist groups concerned by Null's promotion of AIDS denialism. He continues to host The Gary Null Show through the Progressive Radio Network, which he established in 2005.
Documentaries and detractors
Null has made several self-funded and self-produced documentary films on public policy issues, personal health, and development. His videos have been aired by PBS during pledge drives, but have since been banned, which in 1999, lead to a surge in sales of Null's books and for record fundraising for the stations. Concern arose within PBS over the videos' sensational claims with the Seattle affiliate cancelling a planned rebroadcast and Ervin Duggan, the president of PBS, expressing concern that by showing Null's videos, the network was "open[ing] the door to quacks and charlatans."
Incorrectly manufactured supplement
In 2010, Null reported that he and six other consumers had been hospitalized for vitamin D poisoning after ingesting a nutritional supplement manufactured for his line of supplements by a contractor. In a law suit against the company, he alleged that the supplement erroneously contained more than 1,000 times the dose of vitamin D reported on the label.
The Los Angeles Times wrote that Null's experience "should give pause to anyone lured by the extravagant claims of many supplements makers", and said that it was common for dietary supplements to contain doses "wildly different than those indicated on their label" as a result of weak regulation.
- Barrett, Stephen (January 29, 2012). "A Critical Look at Gary Null's Activities and Credentials". Quackwatch. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- Butler, Kurt; Barrett, Stephen (1992-06-01). A consumer's guide to "alternative medicine": a close look at homeopathy, acupuncture, faith-healing, and other unconventional treatments. Prometheus Books. ISBN 9780879757335. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
- Park, Alice; Jeffrey Kluger (May 17, 1999). "The New Mister Natural". TIME. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
- Andreadis, Cleopatra (April 29, 2010). "Alternative Health Guru Sues Company Over His Own Product". ABC News. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
- Healy, Melissa (April 29, 2010). "Supplements guru sues over his own product". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 15, 2014. (subscription required (. ))
- Goetz, Kristina (March 27, 2004). "Union Institute rules get stricter". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
- Null's Penthouse articles on alternative cancer therapies include:
- Null, Gary; Robert Houston (1979). "The Great Cancer Fraud". Penthouse: 76–78, 82, 268, 270, 272, 274, 276–278.
- Null, Gary; A. Pitrone (1980). "Suppression of new cancer therapies: Dr. Joseph Gold and hydrazine sulfate". Penthouse: 97–98, 160, 162–163.
- Null, Gary; L. Steinman (1980). "The politics of cancer. Part five. Suppression of new cancer therapies: Dr. Lawrence Burton". Penthouse: 75–76, 188–194, 196–197.
- Gorski, David (July 2, 2013). "Stanislaw Burzynski: The Early Years". Science Based Medicine. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
- Scribona, Charles (November 2, 2009). "Health workers angry over mandatory swine flu shots". Legislative Gazette. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
- Kurth, Peter (May 21, 2002). "Quack record". Salon.com. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
- Kalichman, S (2009). Denying AIDS. Springer. pp. 12; 89. ISBN 978-0-387-79475-4.
- "Letter to Indra Hardat, interim general manager, WBAI/Pacifica". ACT-UP. January 17, 2006. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
- "WBAI: Do not put Gary Null's dangerous show on the air". aidstruth.org. November 17, 2010. Retrieved June 23, 2011.
- Katz, Richard, Null zeroes in on PBS, fills void in coffers, Variety, 23 December 1998. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
- Quinn, Judy Gary Null's Book Sales Get Healthier, Publishers Weekly 12 April 1999. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
- Bedford, Karen Everhart (January 25, 1999). "Gary Null special sparks debate on pledge program standards". Current. Retrieved January 19, 2009.