This is a type of salt sold as an alternative cancer treatment. The theory is that it keeps cancer cells from spreading. Researchers have found no proof of that — a small study showed that cesium chloride didn’t help people with cancer. And side effects can include diarrhea, nausea, and an irregular heartbeat. In some cases, it can lead to serious, possibly life-threatening, heart problems.
This is based on the idea that your muscles are linked to certain organs, and muscle weakness is a sign of a health issue in those areas. Also called muscle strength testing, some use it to diagnose illnesses, including cancer, and make treatment decisions. But no science supports it, and research shows it doesn’t work.
This is based on lab studies that show cancer cells can’t survive in a low-acid, or alkaline, environment. The theory is that eating certain foods and staying away from others will lower your body’s acid level and keep cancer cells from growing. But what you eat doesn’t affect how acidic your blood is. Your body controls that balance.
Made from marijuana plants, this is also called hemp or marijuana oil. Some think it can kill or shrink cancerous tumors, but no science backs that up. And while cannabis may ease the side effects of some cancer treatments, like nausea and loss of appetite, talk to your doctor before you try it. Some compounds in cannabis may affect how certain cancer drugs work. They also cause side effects like memory and attention loss.
The idea that very high doses of vitamin C can treat cancer started in the 1970s. It was based on research that suggested the nutrient is toxic to cancer cells. But studies show that taking megadoses of vitamin C by mouth doesn’t do anything for people with cancer. And it can affect how certain chemotherapy drugs work. Researchers are now looking at whether shots of vitamin C can help.
The pH of bodily fluids, such as saliva and urine, does change temporarily depending on the foods you eat, but that doesn’t affect blood pH levels (or, hence, the environment of cancer cells in the body). In fact, any significant deviation in blood pH levels can cause serious, even life-threatening conditions known as acidosis (low pH) or alkalosis (high pH)
“Natural” cancer therapies should be regarded with great caution because most are unsupported by evidence. Many people offering testimonials to the effectiveness of such treatments may attribute benefits to them simply because their condition improved after using them — when the actual cause for the improvement is unrelated.
The verdict: “There is no evidence that changing your diet to alter pH levels affects cancer growth,” Dr. Yeung says. “The actual science has been misinterpreted. Changing the pH in your saliva doesn’t mean your blood pH changes. Some patients try using chemicals to modify their blood pH, but that can be extremely dangerous.”
Manipulating pH Levels through Diet
The hype: Laetrile, first popularized as a cancer therapy in Russia and the United States more than a century ago, is the trade name for a purified form of amygdalin, an extract derived from apricot pits and some nuts and plants. Intestinal enzymes break down Laetrile to produce cyanide, which proponents claim kills cancer cells and leaves normal tissue unharmed. Some also claim that Laetrile is actually a vitamin called B-17 and that deficiencies can cause certain cancers. Banned in the United States, an oral form of Laetrile is available in other countries.
Cannabis oil is often heralded as a treatment for cancer and other diseases, but there’s no science to support these claims.
The verdict: “So far, there are no human studies that show cannabis oil can be used as cancer treatment,” Dr. Yeung says. “Patients who are using it — or any form of marijuana — should let their doctors know so they can advise you properly.”
The verdict: “Laetrile has not been proven to be effective against cancer and can even be dangerous to some patients,” Dr. Yeung says. “If amygdalin is eventually used in an anticancer drug, it will have to be in a different form, because the oral form is toxic and too dangerous to use.”
In this case report, we highlight a dramatic response to combination Laetrile and CBD oil in a patient with widely metastatic LGSOC. Laetrile is a semi-synthetic version of amygdaline, a chemical compound found in plants and fruit seeds. Both Laetrile and amygdaline contain cyanide within a common structural component. Theoretically, Laetrile has anti-cancer effects when cyanide is released via enzymatic degradation. However, a Cochrane review published in 2015 found no randomized or quasi randomized control trials supporting the use of Laetrile in cancer patients (Milazzo, 2015). Further, they argued that due to the risk of cyanide poisoning, Laetrile use should be discouraged in patients seeking the compound for alternative cancer therapy. Concerns for toxicity in combination with inability to demonstrate clinical efficacy led to an effective ban on the substance by the FDA in the 1980s. Nevertheless, the substance remains available for purchase in variable formulations commercially.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound naturally derived from the cannabis plant. The anti-cancer effects of CBD have been evaluated predominantly in the laboratory setting. Interestingly, ovarian cancer cell lines express GPR55, a target that is inhibited indirectly by CBD and that plays a role in prostate and ovarian cancer cell proliferation (Piñeiro et al., 2011). Mouse model studies have also demonstrated cannabinoids inhibit tumor cell growth and induce apoptosis in gliomas, lymphomas, prostate, breast, lung, skin, and pancreatic cancer cells (Sarfaraz et al., 2008). Despite this theoretical benefit, there is not clear evidence that it has more or less activity than standard treatments in cancer patients.
The management of patients with LGSOC remains a challenge, particularly in the advanced stage and recurrent setting. The current standard of care remains platinum and taxane based combination chemotherapy, followed by maintenance hormonal therapy. Unfortunately, patients who progress have limited therapeutic options and are encouraged to consider clinical trials if available, as response rates to chemotherapy in the recurrent setting are less than 5% (Grisham and Iyer, 2018).
Ca-125 trend on treatment.
Low grade serous ovarian cancer (LGSOC) is a rare subtype of serous epithelial ovarian cancer, comprising approximately 10% of all cases of serous carcinoma. The majority of women are diagnosed with advanced stage disease, despite its slow growth. Treatment options for advanced disease include neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by interval surgical cytoreduction or primary surgical resection followed by adjuvant therapy as well as maintenance hormonal therapy (National Comprehensive Cancer Network, 2019). Adjuvant therapy traditionally consists of combination platinum and taxane based chemotherapy, although response rates are limited, and may include concurrent/maintenance hormonal therapy. Even with advanced stage at diagnosis, patients with LGSOC have an improved prognosis when compared to their high grade serous counterparts, with median overall survival of approximately 100 months reported, reflective of a protracted clinical course (Gershenson et al., 2015).
After extensive counseling, the patient declined all interventions due to concerns regarding quality of life and treatment toxicity. She elected to pursue alternative therapy and started Laetrile tablets (500 mg orally four times per day) and cannabidiol (CBD) oil (1 drop sublingually each evening) in May 2017. Her Ca-125 level in May 2017 was 46, and after one month on the above regimen, her Ca-125 normalized to 22 ( Fig. 2 ).
In July 2017, CT imaging was repeated and she was found to have a decrease in the size of the bilateral adnexal masses and mesenteric and pelvic lymphadenopathy, which was confirmed by clinical exam. Her mesenteric and omental carcinomatosis remained stable. Genomic profiling of her primary surgical specimen was ordered at this time and no molecular aberrations were identified. She was seen for follow up in September 2017, four months after starting initial treatment, and repeat imaging in November 2017 continued to show a dramatic reduction in her disease burden, with near complete resolution of all previously identified lesions ( Fig. 3 ). On her most recent interval assessment in December 2018 she continues to show a response to therapy. She is clinically asymptomatic with a performance status of 0, which is unchanged from her performance status at time of diagnosis.