Cheap, off-patent drug
found to be a cancer game-changer
February 8th, 2017 by Holly Cornish
“. . .every day I am thankful to have the opportunity
Dr. Angus G. Dalgleish, professor of oncology at St George’s Hospital, London, was very surprised to see an advanced cancer patient’s condition had remained stable, so he asked her if she was using a remedy he didn’t know about.
She admitted she was taking low-dose naltrexone (LDN).
After coming across other patients doing well on LDN, Dr. Dalgleish decided to prescribe it for patients who had run out of all conventional options. Here’s what he found. . .
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Dr. Dalgleish describes some of the results he has witnessed as “clearly quite remarkable.”
One of his patients had a very serious melanoma of the head and neck. He’d been stable on an immunotherapy program for four years, but then his condition started to progress. He wouldn’t accept chemotherapy, but agreed to take LDN.
Within a week, he broke out in severe whole body vitiligo (white skin patches). The patient wasn’t pleased, but Dr. Dalgeish was delighted.
That’s because the skin symptom showed that part of the patient’s immune receptor pathway was being stimulated and had targeted the melanoma. The immune system’s killer T cells had started to recognize a major component of melanoma – melanin – and were taking out the normal melanin at the same time. This “side effect” created the bare skin patches.
What state-of-the-art, orthodox cancer treatment hadn’t achieved in four years, LDN attained in a matter of days. The patient is still alive some years later.
Dr. Dalgleish’s other experiences include:
- multiple liver metastases in patients who went on to long-term disease-free status or stability
- stabilization of advanced ovarian cancer
- stabilization of advanced prostate cancer
- stabilization of stage IV glioma (a brain cancer) for six months, even though the patients had continued to go downhill during standard radiotherapy and chemotherapy
- remarkable improvements in the mental state of patients. They feel much better, probably due to subtle effects on opiate receptors
Naltrexone belongs to a family of drugs called opiate antagonists. These block the activity of many naturally occurring chemicals such as neurotransmitters and hormones. It was licensed as a treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in 1984 in dosages ranging from 50mg to 300mg.
It may seem odd, but a medication used to help drug addicts kick the habit turns out to be a powerful anti-cancer remedy. I first wrote about LDN years ago, and my enthusiasm only continues to grow.
It’s effective because the body produces its own natural opiates called endorphins, well known for giving feelings of euphoria, and these have an important immune function. Naltrexone has endorphin-modifying properties.
An influential paper written in 1985 concluded that “endorphins can be considered as immunomodulators…and may become a tool in the field of immunotherapy.”
As an endorphin modifier, naltrexone was found to have immunological effects at doses ten to forty times lower than that required for opiate or alcohol addiction.
In 1986, it was shown that receptors for opiates were present in many different types of immune cell. Since then, Dr. Ian Zagon from Pennsylvania State University has been at the forefront of work on endorphins and low-dose Naltrexone, publishing over 300 papers.
Works on many different facets of the immune system
Dr. Zagon has shown that the immune system is regulated by endorphins which act on opiate receptors. Blocking these receptors for a short time, by using LDN, upregulates the production of endorphins. These can act as immune modulators to correct immune system over- or under-functioning.
In addition, the growth of cells can also be suppressed by endorphins. This would clearly have applications in cancer treatment.
Endorphins are not the whole picture, however. LDN also binds to another group of receptors called toll-like receptors (TLRs) which are an essential part of the innate (non-specific) immune system. This function of the immune system provides a first-line defense against microbial invasion.
By binding to TLRs, LDN suppresses pro-inflammatory cytokines and NF-kB. The latter is a very potent molecule linked to the expression of cancer oncogenes. These in turn prevent cancer cells from self-destruction, leading to uncontrolled growth.
LDN has also been shown to increase natural killer cell and T lymphocyte activity, interfere with cell signaling, and increase p16 and p21 protein pathways to inhibit cancer cell division.
It’s a “game-changer”
One of the St. George’s research team, Dr. Wai M. Liu, says the beauty of LDN is that it is a fantastic stimulator of the immune system and is also able to bind to certain proteins on the surface of the cancer cell. It may even enter the cell independently of these receptors.
By doing so, it makes cancer more sensitive to cell death. This allows some other remedy to directly kill the cancer cell. LDN therefore is best used as an adjuvant, in partnership with a direct cancer-killing agent.
In their most recent study, published in the International Journal of Oncology in August, 2016, they discovered in their lab work that continuous treatment with LDN had minimal effect on suppressing tumor growth in various cell lines.
However, changing the schedule to intermittent administration resulted in greatly enhanced cell destruction.
According to Dr. Liu, thanks to better knowledge of LDN’s impact on the immune system and results of their latest study, “we can design new treatment regimens; different strategies that can be used in patients, and in that regard it’s a game-changer because we now know how best to use LDN.”
Dr Bihari’s success with LDN
The first placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized trial on LDN is due to report this year. However this study is restricted to measuring quality of life of glioma patients undergoing standard chemoradiation.
So we have to rely on anecdotal or small series evidence to see effects outside of the laboratory.
A pioneer in the use of LDN was the late Dr. Bernard Bihari, who practiced in New York. He is reported to have had considerable success among the 450 cancer patients that he saw.
86 experienced tumor shrinkage of at least three-quarters, with 125 stabilized and/or moving toward remission. These are impressive results, considering that many patients had already undergone standard treatments, and had run out of options. In addition, standard chemotherapy does tremendous damage to the immune system. It’s remarkable that LDN is able to revive immunity in these patients.
The experience of other doctors
Dr. Paul Anderson, Medical Director of AMSA Seattle, has been using LDN for eight years. The reason?
“I would say that of all the integrative and standard therapies that I have seen both in chronic illness, but especially in cancer, in the last 20 years, LDN has been one of the top treatments that has impressed me as far as outcomes, improving quality of life and stabilizing disease.”
LDN is also one of the treatments employed by Dr. Akbar Khan of the Medicor Cancer Center in Toronto. He started using it in 2007, and has continued to do so because he sees better patient outcomes.
Consider a few examples from his files:
- 65-year-old with aggressive bladder cancer. Surgeons wanted to remove the bladder but he refused. He was put on LDN together with an immune therapy called BCG. After four months there was no trace of the tumor. He is still in full remission seven years later.
- A 58-year-old presented with a rare form of mouth cancer. Surgeons recommended removal of tongue and voice box followed by chemoradiation. The patient refused such a mutilating strategy. He was prescribed LDN and high-dose vitamin D. Two years later, MRI scans showed complete disappearance of the cancer. He has now been cancer free for over five years.
Dr. Dana Flavin of the CollMed Foundation, Greenwich, Connecticut, says “all cancer patients should be on LDN because of the fact that it is helpful for them in every area of cancer therapy, period. If I had cancer myself I would be on LDN, and I’m a physician, pharmacologist and a former FDA official. I would recommend it to any and every one of my patients.”
Besides cancer, LDN is used for multiple sclerosis and lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, autoimmune thyroid disorders, restless leg syndrome, depression, and autism spectrum disorder.
Dr. Jill Cottel, medical director of the Poway Integrative Medicine Center in California, currently has more than 100 patients taking LDN. She writes:
“Not everyone has had a dramatic response, but there are many who have. Some of my patients became symptom-free within just a few months of treatment. Some of my chronic pain patients were pain-free within the first month.
“It has been an amazing thing to witness, and every day I am thankful to have the opportunity to watch the responses as they happen.”
I have seldom seen doctors rave about a cancer treatment like they do this one. It’s worth your attention.
LDN is a generic off-label prescription drug that is extremely safe. It has a low incidence of side effects, and those that occur usually resolve within a few weeks.
Every doctor in the US is able to prescribe it – if they are willing to do so.