Alternative cancer treatments are not proven to cure cancer, but they can often provide significant relief from signs and symptoms. Also, alternative therapies for cancer may reduce some of the side effects of conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Insulin potentiation therapy (IPT) is an alternative cancer treatment that can be beneficial in many patients with cancer. What does the scientific evidence say about IPT?
What is IPT?
Insulin potentiated therapy (IPT) was developed by a Mexican physician in the 1930s. It has been used as an unconventional cancer treatment for several decades now. The medications used in IPT consist of insulin hormone in combination with standard chemotherapeutic agents. Many of the drugs used in IPT are FDA approved. However, their use in IPT cancer treatment is “off-label” (unapproved).1
Is IPT safe?
The dose of insulin used during IPT is carefully monitored to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Studies have shown that IPT is very well tolerated. Patients who undergo IPT report no significant side effects. There have been no reported lethal complications.
Common side effects of IPT are usually mild. They include sleepiness and slight weakness on the day of the treatment.2 Some patients experience a slight reduction in hemoglobin levels and may require a blood transfusion.2
How does IPT kill cancer cells?
Cancer cells grow and divide very rapidly. They have higher energy needs compared to healthy cells. Therefore, cancer cells consume more sugar and are more sensitive to insulin.1 Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels in the body. Insulin also makes the cell membrane more permeable. This allows chemotherapy drugs to pass through the cell membrane more easily, resulting in increased concentration of the anticancer medications inside the cancer cells.1
For this reason, insulin is believed to potentiate the effects of chemotherapy drugs. In other words, insulin makes chemotherapy medications more powerful. IPT involves intravenous insulin in combination with standard chemotherapeutic drugs. This allows a 10 times lower dose of chemotherapy to be used. The treatment, therefore, has very low toxicity and equal efficacy to standard chemotherapy.2
The insulin in IPT kills cancer cells by activating them. This allows a reduced dose of chemotherapy drugs to be used with the same effectiveness. The result is significantly lower toxicity and adverse reactions from chemotherapy.
How will I know IPT is working?
Insulin potentiation therapy is very attractive to physicians and patients because it can achieve the beneficial effects of full-strength chemotherapy at a fraction of the normal doses and greatly reduced toxicity.
There is not enough scientific evidence from large-scale clinical trials to support the use of IPT as a standard cancer treatment. However, you will know IPT is working if your tumor reduces in size, your tumor markers go down, and your organ function improves. With IPT, this can be achieved with a chemotherapy dose that is up to 90 percent less than the standard doses, with significantly fewer side effects.