The search for new and improved cancer treatments is an ongoing battle. Every day,
researchers are searching tirelessly for new treatment options for people with a range of cancer.
While options like chemotherapy and radiation treatment have been the staples for most types
of cancer, they come with a long list of drawbacks, not least of which includes the severe side
effects they cause due to damaged healthy tissue. That, and they also face the risk of becoming
less effective on cancer as cancer cells start to become resistant to these treatments. As a
result, treatments like chemotherapy no longer work for some people, leaving them searching
for new options.
But sometimes, looking to the past could provide new options and ideas for ways to tackle
cancer and effectively treat it. One treatment option you’ll find when going into the past is
ultraviolet blood irradiation therapy. However, ultraviolet blood irradiation does have some
controversy, and is not nearly as popular as it used to be. Keep reading to learn more about this
controversial cancer treatment.
What is blood irradiation therapy?
Blood irradiation therapy is the process of exposing blood to light for therapeutic purposes. In
the past, the use of irradiation therapy was used to treat a range of health conditions, such as
tuberculosis, asthma, pneumonia, and more. Irradiation, not to be confused with radiation, refers
to how much radiation is hitting a particular surface, rather than how much radiation a source is
What is ultraviolet light?
Ultraviolet light is a type of radiation. It’s known to have a shorter wavelength than light on the
visible spectrum. You’re probably most familiar with ultraviolet light because of the sun: the sun,
in particular, gives off ultraviolet radiation. In large doses, ultraviolet light can be dangerous, as
it can cause people to develop sunburn
How does ultraviolet blood irradiation work?
Ultraviolet blood irradiation refers to the process of exposing blood to UV light for therapeutic
purposes. The general theory behind this treatment approach is that exposure of blood to
ultraviolet light could do a few things: including killing bacteria and potentially activating the
immune system to work more than it might otherwise. In fact, research shows that it has been a
potential way to treat certain kinds of bacterial and viral infections that impact how the immune
Typically, there are three different methods of doing ultraviolet blood irradiation treatments:
extracorporeally, transcutaneously, and intravenously.
- Extracorporeally involves the removal of blood from the body and placing it in a certain
tub. The blood is exposed to light and then returned to the body.
- Transcutaneously involves the use of a device that is placed on the skin. The device
then sends ultraviolet light through the skin to the blood
- Intravenously involves placing the device into a blood vessel and delivering the
ultraviolet light more directly.
Is ultraviolet blood irradiation an effective treatment for cancer?
While ultraviolet blood irradiation treatment hasn’t been very popular in recent decades, it does
have a decent amount of research that exists exploring its safety and potentially efficacy. Here’s
what some existing research suggests about ultraviolet blood irradiation therapy:
- Causes DNA damage. Cell exposure to ultraviolet radiation has been shown to cause
DNA damage in certain cells. DNA damage can lead to cell death so, in controlled
circumstances, the idea is that this property could be applied to cancer cells.
- Heightens the body’s immune system. Research shows that exposing the blood to
ultraviolet radiation can actually have a beneficial impact on the immune system by
helping it function more effectively. An improved immune system, hypothetically, could
help the body better fight cancer on its own. That’s the idea behind many types of
immunotherapies: to help activate certain aspects of the immune system so the body
could better fight cancer on its own.
Is ultraviolet blood irradiation safe?
Generally, most research suggests that the amount of radiation used in ultraviolet blood
irradiation is a safe procedure. Depending on what method you use to receive your treatment,you may experience mild symptoms, such as nausea.
With any type of cancer treatment, it’s important to make sure you fully understand the available
treatment options and choose options that work for you. This should include talking to your
doctor before starting any cancer treatment. They can help you decide which treatment options
are right for you.