Written by Luc Geeraert and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated June 29, 2017

Insulin potentiation therapy

Abstract and key points

  • Insulin is claimed to potentiate the effects of chemotherapy, enabling the use of much lower doses of chemotherapy.
  • The mechanism of potentiation of chemotherapy is unclear.
  • The effects of insulin potentiation therapy (IPT) on long-term survival have not been reported in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Due to the lack of published studies, the safety of IPT is hard to judge but it has been associated with several risks.

Insulin potentiation therapy (IPT) is a treatment regimen using insulin as an adjunct to conventional chemotherapy. It is claimed that insulin potentiates the effects of chemotherapy, which would enable a 75-90% reduction of the usual and customary doses of anticancer drugs thus reducing the risk of their adverse effects.

Although some hypotheses have been put forward, the mechanisms of the claimed insulin potentiation of chemotherapy remain unclear and the few published in vitro studies do not help to clarify this.

Clinical evidence is scarce, with only two small clinical trials and four cases published in peer-reviewed journals. Although they reported encouraging preliminary results on tumour growth, effects on patient survival or long-term effects have not been evaluated.

IPT is associated with risks such as hypoglycaemia, and the reduced anticancer effects of lower doses of chemotherapeutic drugs potentially leading to drug resistance. IPT might even promote tumour growth.

Overall, due to a lack of information published in peer-reviewed journals, it is impossible to judge the efficacy and safety of IPT.

Citation

Luc Geeraert, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Insulin potentiation therapy [online document]. http://cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Dietary-approaches/Insulin-potentiation-therapy. June 29, 2017.

Document history

Assessed as up to date in June 2017 by Barbara Wider.

Assessed as up to date in April 2016 by Barbara Wider.

Most recent update and revision in January 2013 by Luc Geeraert.

Summary first published in August 2011, authored by Luc Geeraert.

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