Repurposed, off-label drugs as new and effective cancer treatments: Top 25

Repurposed, off-label drugs as new and effective cancer treatments: Top 25

The Top 25 Off-label drugs for cancer - Drugs created for specific medical conditions - like diabetes, blood pressure, acne or even pet de-worming - are now being used off-label to stop cancers feeding, disrupt their growth or division, restrict metastases, increase survival times, and even help cure cancer.

New Drugs for Old: off-patent, off-label drugs help fight cancer

A minor revolution has been occurring in UK cancer treatment and it concerns about 60 or so old drugs, developed originally to treat parasite infections, allergies or acne, but which have each now been found to have a previously little-known side-effect - they are effective in some way against cancer.

Oncologists and Integrative cancer experts are now turning to these old drugs and using them as a part of their Complementary and Integrative mix when treating cancer. The official term is ‘Drug repurposing’. It’s new drugs for old!

Let’s be clear. These drugs already exist, they have been around for years and doctors know exactly what they do, their safety results in clinical trials, and exactly what their side-effects are (usually slight). They include NSAIDs, cold remedies, sleeping drugs, addiction medicines, anti-parasite remedies and antibiotics.

Oh, and by the way, these drugs are all now off-patent, so they are very cheap. 

In truth, it’s a good idea. A very good idea. And already there are people surviving longer by using these non-cancer approved drugs.

Using off-label, repurposed drugs to beat cancer

For example, 

i) Dr. Charles (Snuffy) Myers, a top US research scientist formerly with both the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Health, created a drug called suramin (an AIDS drug that also happens to block cancer cell growth). When he, himself, developed prostate cancer he used suramin, which he knew could help fight prostate cancer, along with dutasteride (a drug that restricts 5-alpha reductase and lowers the production of Dihydrotestosterone that is normally associated with enlarged prostates). He also formed a group at the NCI looking at repurposed drugs with promise for prostate cancer - like phenylacetate, phenylbutyrate and geldanamycin. He has recently retired from running The Prostate Forum, a support organisation and newsletter he created in the USA, as part of The American Institute for Diseases of the Prostate in Charlottesville, Virginia. Myers cured a cancer active patient with Dutasteride and LDN. Both are mentioned below.

ii) Professor Ben Williams, now a septuagenarian, paid a visit to London In April 2015  - he beat his brain cancer (the worst sort, a glioblastoma) back in 1998 by adding a sleeping drug (melatonin), an antihistamine (cimetidine), a blood pressure drug (verapramil) and an acne medicine (accutane) plus tamoxifen to his doctor’s recognised brain tumour medicines. 

Go to: How Professor Ben Williams beat his brain cancer using old repurposed drugs

It worked. Twenty years after the last signs of cancer, Ben can genuinely say he beat terminal cancer. A film has been made of his story by Dominic Hall – it is called Surviving Terminal Cancer’ and the UK launch is supported by the Brain Tumour Charity.

iii) Jane McLelland - grade 4, stage 4, cervical cancer patient turned to off-label drugs after her orthodox treatments then gave her stage 4, grade 4 leukemia.  Jane completely beat her cancer, and wrote a book 'How to Starve Cancer' about her experiences. Jane used drugs like pyridamole and cimetidine along with the herb berberine (an alternative to metformin).

iv)  Zoe Wooton who had ER+ve breast cancer in multiple locations including her lymph nodes, was yet another person to have a Personal  Prescription with Chris Woollams, and he built a programme of off-label drugs around her orthodox medicine, and put supplements, diet and other treatments around that! Eight years on, she remains all clear and featured in an interview with Chris - it's in the CANCERactive Community. Chris has been using off-label drugs since 2007.

The point, as in all cancer, is that these people tailored their treatment package to their personal situation and cancer type.

Top 25 repurposed drugs shown to fight cancer:

Here is a list of the most interesting off-label drugs for cancer. We tell you what the label says, and what the drug may do according to research. Every one of these has its own page on this CANCERactive Website.

Cancer has altered the microenvironment of healthy cells, causing a loss of important messages because the copying process from DNA into mRNA and then into a protein has been ‘polluted’. You are not ‘doomed’, and unless you inherited a mutation such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, you have no new mutations inside your DNA (1). The issue is to restore your cellular microenvironment back to health. 

What can ‘pollute’ it? Poor diet, smoking, alcohol, environmental toxins, stress, mRNA from pathogens, hormone imbalance, low localised oxygen, minerals and antioxidants. As I keep saying. We are trying to build you a body conducive to health - and programmes beat cancer. The Active8 programme has helped many, many people.  

It’s not complicated; it’s not rocket science. We have all sorts of weaponry, not used by your oncologists, from Hyperbaric Oxygen to using mRNA from Lactic Acid Bacteria, or PSYCH-K to de-stress people. Yes, we use diet and supplements and we do everything with purpose. We aim to tick off the boxes. Sometimes an off-label drug will help. Whatever we use, it is tailored to the individual, their personal situation and needs.


The Top 25 Off-label drugs

*  Accutane (Isotretinoin) or Retinoic Acid, is an acne treatment with quite strong side-effects, especially with the liver, and must definitely not be taken by pregnant women. It seems capable of killing cancer stem cells and has research with GBM, neuroblastoma, breast cancer (with metformin). More can be found on this link - Retinoic acid, accutane, vitamin A and cancer 

* Aspirin - A well-known anti-inflammatory; and it can increase survival. According to research, people with cancer need only take a low dose (75-81 mg) four days per week with food. Benefits have been shown with many cancers - breast, prostate, lung. Aspirin also improves the performance of …

* Atorvastatin - A lipophilic statin, which reduces cholesterol and crosses membranes into tissues. As we keep saying, “cholesterol can drive cancer spread”. Cancer needs cholesterol for all those new membranes and to generate blood supplies. In an Australian study - women with colorectal, melanoma and breast cancers, increased survival by an average of four years; there’s also research with several cancers, from high grade serous ovarian to prostate and lung cancer.  Several US Hospitals recommend taking CoQ10 as Atorvastatin lowers levels in tissues and this can actually increase cancer risk and promote metastatic cancer and myopathy (weak muscles). 

* Celebrex (Celecoxib) is an NSAID and Cox-2 inhibitor - It has been shown to reduce inflammation and thus cancer spread and development. It has also been shown to attack cancer cells and cancer stem cells. It reduces chemo resistance. There's limited research with prostate, lung, breast, colorectal, brain cancer

* Chlomipramine is one of a group of widely available tricyclic antidepressants, shown to act selectively on cancer cells due to their compromised respiratory function. It can be repurposed to treat brain cancer and can improve the performance of Temozolomide with GBM enhancing survival times, according to Professor Geoffrey Pilkington.. 

* Chloroquinone - This old antimalarial drug is an ionophore (which means it is a helpful carrier, of ions like zinc, across membranes and into the cell). NIH research shows that doing this increases cytotoxicity. It can increase the lifespan of drugs used to treat BRAF mutations in brain tumours, melanoma and others. The University of Colorado concluded it could increase survival times in GBM.

* Cimetidine - (Tagamet) is an H2 antihistamine which inhibits stomach acid production. Research from Japan and Johns Hopkins shows it can considerably increase survival if taken before and from 5 days after surgery, as it prevents cancer cells becoming aggressive, sticky and clumping into new tumours - research with colorectal cancer, gastric cancer, melanoma, kidney cancer and Ben Williams!.

* Clemastine - Several research studies have now shown that this antihistamine is capable of reversing brain fog and even the damage done to myelin white matter caused by chemotherapy. General use with/after chemotherapy.

* Doxycycline - antibiotic. Research shows it can attack and kill cancer stem cells - there is a good study in vivo with breast cancer. Obviously damaging to your microbiome, especially as it is recommended to be used for one month at a time. Almost impossible to recover the microbiome thereafter. One study in the USA showed that after 2 drugs for 4 rounds plus Doxycycline for a month, the patients one year later only had 27 per cent of a full microbiome.

* Dipyridamole - a safe drug used to prevent blood clotting and strokes, it reduces platelets, which are essential in helping cancer form blood supplies, grow and metastasise. Research with breast cancer (and TNBC), colorectal cancer, melanoma and others show it may reduce the size of secondary and even primary tumours, increasing survival with melanoma, colorectal, breast, TNBC.  (It seems to work well with the antihistamine cimetidine). Turmeric is often blamed for reducing a patient’s platelets. It’s a good thing. It’s only dangerous with extremely low platelets.

* Dutasteride - (Avodart) is a medicine primarily used to treat a benign, swollen prostate. Over 1 million prescriptions for it are written each year in the USA. Must not be used by women. It inhibits the 5α-reductase enzyme and Charles Myers in the USA uses it as part of his prostate cancer protocol as it can reduce DHT.

* Fenbendazole - (Panacur). An helminthic (kills worms), with action against tubulin and microtubules, also found in cancer cells; FBZ out-performed Mebendazole in GBM trials in Johns Hopkins; but licensed only for animals, so oncologists won’t prescribe it. Pulse it 3 days on, 4 off. Research with GBM, NSCLC, lymphoma, metastatic colorectal cancer, prostate cancer - It also blocks uptake of sugar.

* Flufenamic acid - an NSAID. This common cold remedy has been shown by Japanese researchers to block metastasis in bladder cancer, block a system cancer cells use to develop resistance to chemotherapy; and to inhibit COX-2 production of prostaglandins in colon cancer 

* Indomethacin - NSAID; we covered research that this old-anti-inflammatory drug could potentially be the best NSAID to increase survival in people with serous ovarian cancer.

* Itraconazole - Anti-fungal medicine. Yeasts and fungi can play a role in creating favourable conditions for cancer. We prefer oregano oil and/or artemisinin. Has research with pancreatic, NHL, endometrial, NSCLC, prostate, breast cancer and TNBC.

* Heparin - Anticoagulant often used alongside chemotherapy and surgery; in real life this drug definitely does increase survival times; Low-Molecular Heparin is better than Unfractionated, but both deliver results.

* Ivermectin - Controversial Helminthic; proven viral killer; with a mass of research, largely in the laboratory on almost all cancers. Potentially better than both Fenbendazole and Mebendazole - Lymphoma, leukaemia, and solid tumours such as ovarian, TNBC and breast cancer.

* Loratadine - an H1 antihistamine; women using only in the summer months for hay fever and allergies, had 30 per cent increased survival with ER+ or Er-ve breast cancer. Desloratadine actually showed slightly better results but needs to be prescribed. Histamines encourage aggression and cancer cell clumping and they also block the immune attack. The off-label drugs work better for immunogenic cancers - gastric, colorectal/anal, pancreatic, lung, breast, prostate, kidney, and bladder cancer, melanoma and Hodgkin lymphoma; works less well for non-immunogenic, e.g. liver, uterine, ovarian, brain/CNS, and thyroid cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

* Low Dose Naltrexone - Naltrexone at 300 mg is used for addictions and mental issues. Here LDN is used at night time up to only 4.5 mg, often with CBD and alpha-lipoic acid, as a powerful immune booster and for pain relief. Most cancers - especially CRC, ovarian, breast.

* Mebendazole - Another Helminthic; licenced for humans. Attacks tubulin in microtubules found in the worms and in cancer cells. Research on GBM; not much good quality researchon other cancers though; may also reduce blood sugar levels.

* Metformin - Diabetes drug, cuts blood sugar, restricts cancer feeding, a little research against mTOR, AMPK, IGF-1, NF-kB, and others. Can cause inflammation in the liver so ensure markers are OK before use;  may contain contaminants like NDMA in extended release version or those from third world suppliers. There Is research showing it limits the development of breast, prostate, lung, colon, oesophageal, melanoma. It is known to increase cancer-driving homocysteine levels, whike herb berberine reduces them. 

* Methadone - Synthetic opioid agonist used for chronic pain relief. A limited study or two suggests it may appear to help counter drug resistance.

* N-acetyl-cysteine, NAC, has been shown capable of stopping primary breast tumours feeding off their localised environments and growing while women wait for their surgery. Not much other research though.

* Niclosamide - a tapeworm drug that attacks cancer cells with a p53 deficiency; can kill cancer stem cells and reduce tumour size by 50 per cent and can limit cell migration and metastasis. It inhibits mTOR, STAT3 and Wnt/β-catenin  - research on head and neck, colorectal, prostate cancer and leukaemia.

* Propranolol - a non-specific Beta-blocker has numerous studies with a variety of cancers such as breast, ovarian, colorectal and non-small cell lung cancer. Stress hormones are known to encourage metastases via COX-2, and beta-blocker propranolol seems capable of blocking this and reducing cancer aggression and metastases. Observational research from MD Anderson showed taking the drug increased survival in high grade serous ovarian by four years. Also research on lung cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, pancreatic, prostate, stomach, leukaemia, and ovarian cancer 

* Verapamil - A calcium channel blocker used for high blood pressure; it can limit drug resistance and attack Tumour Side (TS) population cancer stem cells. It limited tumour progression in drug-resistant pancreatic cancer, also research with breast cancer and brain tumours. Controversial since there is 2003 research showing it can be associated with increased cancer risk. 

***** Warning *****

Off-label drugs are drugs; however long they’ve been around, they do have side-effects. Different combinations have almost certainly not been researched together, nor have these drugs been researched with your oncologist’s latest cancer drugs.

When using off-label drugs, you should never put a programme together by yourself; you must seek expert medical advice. 

This was only meant as a short guide. Every one of the drugs above has a full write up, complete with research and analysis on this CANCERactive website.

Chris Woollams has been writing about off-label drugs since 2005, and many patients have benefited.


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