Raymond Royal Rife


In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an electrical device, called Optune (formerly NovoCure), along with the standard drug temozolomide (Temodar) for the primary treatment of a kind of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

Optune is described as “ a portable, non-invasive device that delivers low-intensity, intermediate frequency, alternating electric fields—referred to as Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields)—that inhibit cancer cell replication and cause cancer cell death.”

I cannot help but note some similarities between Optune and the infamous Rife Machine. In the 1930s, an eccentric inventor named Royal Raymond Rife created a “Buck Rogers”-style device called a “Frequency Generator.” Rife claimed that his machine could kill cancer cells using particular frequencies of radio waves. As one proponent Web site put it,

“As an inventor and scientist, [Rife] dedicated his life to study the relationship between frequency and disease. His research helped him to discover that all microorganisms, including cancer cells, viruses, and bacteria, have their own unique resonance frequency.”(


It is a wonderful story. Rife was either a great inventor in the mold of Nicholas Tesla or else an exceptionally clever fraud (or perhaps a bit of both). His story would make an exciting movie, along the lines of Matthew Broderick’s The Road to Wellville (1994). I cannot solve the puzzle of whether Rife’s machine worked or whether the current crop of “Rife Frequency Generators,” selling for $2,500 apiece are scams. I can say this: in my 40 years in this field I have never reviewed a single documented case of a patient whose remission from cancer could reasonably be ascribed to use of a Rife machine.
But it is hard to miss the irony of the FDA, which joined in harassing Rife and his acolytes for decades, now approving the Optune device, which enables doctors to alter the radio frequency depending on the type of cell being treated. I’m no physicist, but that sounds an awful lot like Rife to me!
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