Abstract and key points
- Propagermanium is a synthetically produced organic compound containing the element germanium.
- There is no reliable evidence for its efficacy in the treatment of cancer patients.
- Inorganic germanium compounds are associated with severe organ toxicities.
- Possible contamination of propagermanium with inorganic germanium compounds and confusion due to false labelling represent possible fatal hazards
Propagermanium is an organic germanium compound. Germanium compounds are popular as nutritional supplements and proponents advertise beneficial effects on the course of a multiplicity of illnesses. Propagermanium is approved for the treatment of hepatitis B in Japan and is thought to have anticancer effects through induction of endogenous interferon-γ production and augmented NK cell activity. However, there is not enough evidence from clinical trials to judge its efficacy in cancer treatment.
Several cases of severe organ toxicity including acute renal failure after oral ingestion of germanium compounds have been documented. These cases were caused by inorganic germanium compounds. However, labelling of products containing germanium compounds is often misleading and even in scientific literature, substance as well as product names of germanium compounds have been confounded. Therefore and given the risk of possible contamination with inorganic forms organic germanium compounds including propagermanium should be avoided outside clinical trials.
CitationMarkus Horneber, Elke Wolf, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Propagermanium [online document]. http://cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Dietary-approaches/Propagermanium. April 29, 2016.
Assessed as up to date in April 2016 by Barbara Wider.
Assessed as up to date in March 2015 by Barbara Wider.
Assessed as up to date in January 2013 by Markus Horneber.
Summary first published in April 2011, authored by Markus Horneber.
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