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Q: Immune supplements to treat cancer ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Immune supplements to treat cancer
Category: Health > Alternative
Asked by: mar-ga
List Price: $4.00
Posted: 20 Apr 2002 18:26 PDT
Expires: 27 Apr 2002 18:26 PDT
Question ID: 2393
Which immune boosters and supplements are anti-neoplastics (used to treat 
cancer), and are any of them effective as anti-neoplastics for more than two 
Subject: Re: Immune supplements to treat cancer
Answered By: gale-ga on 20 Apr 2002 22:00 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

If you search the National Library of Medicine's MedLine database for

antineoplastic [mh] AND human [mh] AND dietary supplements [mh]

(where MH stands for 'MedLine Header'), you will find a number of dietary 
supplements that have shown some anti-cancer activity, most notably, vitamins 
A, B12, C, D, E, inositol and folic acid; minerals calcium and selenium; plant 
extracts such as quercetin, lutein and other carotenoids, lycopene (from 
tomatoes), soy isoflavones, and curcumin; fatty acids such as conjugated 
linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, gamma- and alpha-linolenic acid, 
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and other omega-3 fatty acids, and their sources 
such as black currant seed oil, fish oil, and perilla oil; nucleotides (in raw 
milk and colostrum); whey protein concentrate, L-acidophilus, flavonoids, 
glucans from mushrooms Lentinus edodes, Schizophyllum commune, Grifola 
frondosa, and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum; inulin and oligofructose; and nutrition-
rich foods such as liver paste, tomatoes, seaweed, selenium, beets and garlic.

A much longer list is provided in the American Cancer Society Guide to Herbs, 

Vitamins and Minerals:

A few more supplements are reviewed in great detail on the Dr. HingHau Tsang's 

Crusade on Nutrition site (, namely
MGN-3, green tea (green tea extract), inositol hexaphosphate (IP-6), coenzyme 

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC), and melatonin. 

The National Cancer Institute's Complementary and Alternative Medicine site 
lists a 

number of dietary supplement therapies and reviews related studies at:


The therapies reviewed include 714-X (a type of camphor bark extract), 
Cancell/Entelev (main ingredient inositol), bovine and shark cartilage, 
pancreatic enzymes (Gonzales therapy), hydrazine sulfate, immuno-augmentative 
therapy using human blood products, laetrile/amygdalin, and Newcastle disease 

Several other therapies are listed on the Canadian Medical Association's site 


for example, an article at 

the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Institute's initiative on Essiac, green 
tea, and Iscador.

Dr. Ralph Moss's Cancer Therapy report contents at 

include a number of other supplements, and also a list of "serious" immune 
boosters, such as Tumor Necrosis Factor, available only at alternative cancer 

One of the more popular alternative cancer therapies is intravenous vitamin C.

There is a comprehensive article entitled "Intravenous Vitamin C: first aid for 
cancer" on the Cancer Action site:

The Canadian Medical Association Journal mentions it in:
New insights into the physiology and pharmacology of vitamin C 
Sebastian J. Padayatty, Mark Levine 
CMAJ 2001;164(3):353-5 
Canadian Medical Association Journal

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find too many references to short-term 
vs. long-term use of immune system supplements (used against cancer or other 

One exception is echinacea; it has been shown that short-term use of echinacea 
stimulates the immune system, and its long-term use depresses it, see, e.g., 
the ConsumerLab Echinacea Review at:

For further information, I recommend that you search these sites:

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Entrez-PubMed (a MedLine interface at the National Library of Medicine's site)

Suggested search keywords:

cancer immune OR immunity supplement OR supplements

antineoplastics OR antineoplastic OR anti-neoplastic OR anti-neoplastics 
supplement OR supplements

anti-cancer dietary supplements

Clarification of Answer by gale-ga on 21 Apr 2002 14:21 PDT
I want to add that the common theme throughout the reviews of alternative 
cancer treatments is that there have not been enough rigorous studies to prove 
their worth conclusively. 

The question one has to ask is WHY there have not been enough studies. If you 
are interested in a discussion of that question, have a look at: the war on cancer is a fraud
One quote from that site:
"Everyone should know that most cancer research is largely a fraud and that
the major cancer research organisations are derelict in their duties to the
people who support them." - Linus Pauling PhD (Two-time Nobel Prize
mar-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
That is exactly what I wanted. Thanks a lot!

Subject: Re: Immune supplements to treat cancer
From: voila-ga on 21 Apr 2002 12:07 PDT

Thought I'd throw this site into the mix.  It has to do with facts and myths 
about cancer treatment.  I thought the last paragraph of the article was 
especially telling.  It reads:

Immune boosters can protect against cancer

Not proven. There is no published scientific information that shows that any 
chemical or group of chemicals can "boost", "stimulate", "modulate" or alter 
the immune system in such a way as to prevent cancer. Claims to this effect are 

In order to be substantiated it would be necessary to conduct a double blind, 
randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial in which it was shown that the 
treatment in question caused a statistically significant reduction in the 
incidence of a given cancer over a prolonged period of time, compared to the 
control group. 

No such study has yet been reported. 

Furthermore, it is not correct to assume that an optimally functioning immune 
system can prevent all cancers from forming. If this were the case, then 
persons having severely compromised immune systems should be prone to all 
cancers. This is not the case. In AIDS patients only a few selected cancers are 
more prevalent, i.e. Kaposi's sarcoma and lymphomas.


here is the site if you wish to participate in clinical trials:

and one additional site written and reviewed by board-certified physicians:

Best of luck to you and be careful out there.
Subject: Re: Immune supplements to treat cancer
From: voila-ga on 21 Apr 2002 16:09 PDT
Hi Mar,

Found a few more links that might be of interest to you and I agree with gale-
ga that there should be more funding for alternative cancer treatments.  It 
seems this trend is changing, albeit slowly, and here is a list of alternative 
medicine resources provided by UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas where 
they're doing quite a bit of herbal medicine research.

and another UT article about the thunder god vine that shows promise treating 
immunological diseases.

There are surely caveats in treating cancer traditionally or through 
alternative medicine.  I suppose the key is finding a physician who will treat 
you through a complementary approach -- factoring in the mind/body/spirit 
elements of healing.

be well.
Subject: Re: Immune supplements to treat cancer
From: questor-ga on 23 Jun 2002 17:04 PDT
True, it is "not proven" that immune boosters protect against cancer.
By the same token, if you were to break down each instance of
so-called cancer "protection" listed in the Answer, you would also be
surprised to find that different protocols, standards and definitions
were used from study to study. In fact, "cancer" has become such a
gereric catchall for certain [otherwise unclassifiable] ypes of
aggressive disease that in some cases it is used to denote conditions
where the organs decrease in size instead of increase -- which is
normally the hallmark of a true cancer. So, bottom line, until you
define the question, you are not going to get much of a response. Try
this one -- "One hundred years from now, will Science have shown a
definite link between immune vitality and cancer resistance?" That is
almost a guaranteed "yes" for those with their eyes open. If the
intent of the question was real-life cancer treatments, best look at
the Gerson Protocols or perhaps that of the late Dr. A. Wigmore, aka
the Hippocretes Program. [Which lives on, in a weakened form, in
Subject: Re: Immune supplements to treat cancer
From: mydogrex-ga on 10 Jul 2002 07:14 PDT
Before answering I'd suggest reading Politics in Healing by Haley
Politics of Cancer by Epstein and Choices in Healing by Lerner.

Gale-ga's list is pretty comprehensive. 
Avoid trans fats.
I'd add limonene to the list and recommend eating reds and greens
(berries contain ellagic acid and the carotenoids seem to be
Make sure the supplements are high quality as some have been found to
be "adulterated" with toxic herbs or even steroids.

However I wouldn't classify tumor necrosis factor (TNF)  as an "immune
booster".  The cachexia associated with cancer involves TNF and if
they had a way to localize it specifically to the tumor site it might
work otherwise the body just gets weaker and more susceptible to as an
oncologist said "the cancer patients best friend, pneumonia."

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