Insulin potentiation therapy: A dangerous alternative cancer treatment

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Insulin potentiation therapy: A dangerous alternative cancer treatment

Question

What does Mayo Clinic think about insulin potentiation therapy as a treatment for cancer?

Nan
New Jersey

Answer

Insulin potentiation therapy (IPT) is an unproven and dangerous alternative cancer treatment. It's based on the theory that injected insulin increases the therapeutic effects of chemotherapy drugs so that lower doses are needed. Proponents claim that IPT is an effective cancer treatment that also dramatically reduces the adverse side effects of chemotherapy. However, no clinical trials have been done to validate those claims.

Advocates of insulin potentiation therapy believe that cancer cells consume more sugar (glucose) than healthy cells do and as a result are more sensitive to insulin. IPT is performed by injecting insulin in the arm, followed by an injection of chemotherapy drugs. The insulin causes low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which supposedly makes cancer cells more susceptible to chemotherapy drugs. However, this is unproved. Also, if too much insulin is given, it can cause dangerously low levels of blood sugar, which can result in seizures, coma, shock, stroke and even death.

While insulin potentiation therapy has been used for decades in Mexico and some other countries, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that it works or is safe.

Last Updated: 10/19/2005
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