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Alternative Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer

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Updated January 23, 2008

Pancreatic enzyme therapy, an alternative cancer therapy, is undergoing preliminary research to test it's effectiveness and safety.

The study, published in the journal Pancreas, found that mice treated with pancreatic enzymes survived significantly longer than those that did not. Tumor growth in the enzyme-treated group was also significantly slower.

Five years ago, a pilot study of human cancer patients by one of the study authors, Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D., was published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer. Gonzalez later received a $1.4 million federal grant for a Phase III prospective clinical trial involving enzymes for pancreatic cancer. This multi-year study is ongoing.

Pancreatic enzyme cancer therapy was first written about by Scottish embryologist John Beard in the 1906 book, The Enzyme Treatment of Cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat and has a high mortality rate, due to difficulties in diagnosis, the aggressive nature of pancreatic cancer, and the few treatment options available. Pancreatic cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths following breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.

Risk factors of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Age - Most pancreatic cancers occur in people over the age of 60.
  • Smoking - Cigarette smokers are two to three times more likely than nonsmokers to develop pancreatic cancer.
  • Health condition - Pancreatic cancer occurs more often in people who have diabetes and chronic pancreatitis.
  • Gender - More men than women are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
  • Family history - The risk for developing pancreatic cancer triples if a person's mother, father, sister, or brother had the disease. Also, a family history of colon or ovarian cancer increases the risk of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is sometimes called a "silent disease" because early pancreatic cancer often does not cause symptoms.

Symptoms may include:
  • Pain in the upper abdomen or upper back
  • Yellow skin and eyes, and dark urine from jaundice
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss

Note: Pancreatic enzyme therapy is an unproven therapy for cancer. It should not replace conventional treatment.



Sources:

Saruc M, Standop S, Standop J, Nozawa F, Itami A, Pandey KK, Batra SK, Gonzalez NJ, Guesry P, Pour PM. Pancreatic enzyme extract improves survival in murine pancreatic cancer. Pancreas. (2004) 28.4: 401-12.

Gonzalez NJ, Isaacs LL. Evaluation of pancreatic proteolytic enzyme treatment of adenocarcinoma of the pancreas, with nutrition and detoxification support. Nutr Cancer. (1999) 33.2: 117-24. published 05/05/04

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