7 safe, conventional drugs that can be used to treat cancer

7 safe, conventional drugs that can be used to treat cancer

Julian Kenyon of the Dove Clinic in Winchester, England, reviews seven old, safe, off-patent drugs that have been 'repurposed' by oncologists and are being used to treat cancer in an attempt to achieve a stable disease.

Dr. Julian Kenyon writes:

There is a range of conventional drugs, which are proven, have been used for many years and are known to be totally safe. They have not been traditionally used for cancer but were primarily focused on other illnesses. These drugs themselves don’t cure cancer, but when combined with well chosen treatments in an individual’s particular case, they can result in stable disease. This essentially means you can live with your cancer, which is especially important when a cancer has spread (metastatic). 

It is even possible to live for long periods of time with a stable disease.

1. Mebendazole

Mebendazole is an anti-parasitic drug which binds to tubulin, a protein which, when it multiplies, causes more parasites to be formed. Tubulin is important in cell division. Mebendazole thus blocks Tubulin and stops cell division. Various cell cultures of a range of cancer cells, particularly lung cancer but also colorectal cancer and brain tumours, have shown that Mebendazole stops these cells from dividing. Clinical trials have yet to be done but, as this drug is safe, it is reasonable to try these kinds of medications in order to try and obtain stable disease.

2. Metformin

Metformin is a popular oral drug that has been used to treat Type-2 Diabetes for many decades, lowering blood glucose levels and  improving how the body handles insulin. It is shown to be safe. It only has low-grade side effects such as nausea and diarrhoea, and these can be lessened by raising the dose slowly and taking the medication with meals.

Patients who are taking Metformin have been shown to have lower rates of cancer and heart disease. In one study they lived 15% longer than people without diabetes. To that end Metformin is even going to be trialed in a long-term clinical trial at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, to study longevity in patients who are not ill.

Go to: 20 links between sugar and cancer

Experts are not entirely sure exactly how the drug works but one theory is that it mimics the effects of calorie restriction, which delays ageing in many animals and so reduces the incidence of cancer. In calorie restriction, cells shift into an energy conserving mode and this seems to have knock-on effects, which are helpful to the cells.

3. Statins

Statins are widely prescribed drugs, aiming to lower cholesterol in patients at risk from heart disease and indeed those who have already had heart attacks. However, not all statins were created equal and anti-cancer statins are the ones that are lipophillic and lower dangerous blood fat levels, like Simvastatin and Atorvastatin, rather than Pravastatin, which is almost useless. People with the highest blood fat levels have more metastases, and lipophillic statins can control that. Animal research and ongoing observation of people who take Statins suggests that these drugs may lower the risk of certain cancers including colorectal and skin cancer. Research has shown that Statins also work against critical cellular functions that may help control tumour initiation, tumour growth and spread (metastasis). Some clinical trials are ongoing to assess the effect of Statins in colorectal cancer.

Go to: Link between Metastases and bad fat levels

4. Doxycycline

Doxycycline is an old antibiotic and has been used for many years. In various animal studies, Doxycycline has been found to be effective against bone metastases in patients with breast cancer. Various clinical trials have begun in order to investigate this. There are reasons to suggest that in all secondary bone cancers, not just from the breast, Doxycycline may be useful. The drug needs to be taken on a long-term basis.

5. Tagamet

Tagamet is used in heartburn and is a histamine receptor antagonist; in other words it switches off the receptor. It has been hypothesised to have a cancer preventative effect on the prostate due to its ability to inhibit the binding of dihydrotestosterone onto androgen receptors in the prostate. It also has other hormonal effects, which may be helpful in preventing breast cancer. What we do know, however, is that Tagamet makes cancer cells less ‘sticky’ and this has been particularly noted in colorectal cancer. There is a lower incidence of tumour spread (metastases) following the surgery if the subject has taken Tagamet from at least two or three weeks before the surgery until at least two years following surgery. A similar improvement on the outlook of patients with stomach cancer has been found with the use of Tagamet. In summary it inhibits tumour cell migration and therefore spread. It also interferes with tumour growth and modulates the body’s immune response to the cancer. Those who take Tagamet before surgery would be well advised to combine it with Modified Citrus Pectin, which also seems to restrict metastases..

6. Dutasteride

Dutasteride is used for treating an enlarged prostate, known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, which is very common in older men. It does have some side-effects such as decreased libido and erectile dysfunction. However, it affects dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the accumulation of which in the prostate is thought to trigger prostate cancer. It has been found to reduce the incidence of prostate cancer and, in those who have the disease, it reduces the incidence of prostate cancer spread. (There are a number of herbal preparations, which also reduce dihydrotestosterone).

7. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

Naltrexone is a well-tried drug which blocks opioid receptors - opioids are pain-killing drugs such as morphine - and is used primarily in patients addicted to alcohol (alcoholics) and those that are addicted to opioids such as heroin addicts. Naltrexone can be used in a very low dose fashion, ten times below the standard dose. It can also be effective at even lower doses than that. It is useful in patients who are on well-chosen ‘safe treatments’ in order to obtain stable disease. It is thought that Low Dose Naltrexone possibly exerts its effects on tumour growth through three possible mechanisms.

a)  By increasing the amount of natural opioids such as metenkephalin in the body and beta endorphins in the blood stream.

b)  By increasing the number of opiate receptors on tumour cell membranes, therefore making them more responsive to the growth inhibiting effects of the already present levels of endorphins which induce programme cell death, which is how chemotherapy works on tumours – this is called apoptosis. This seems to be especially relevant to pancreatic cancer.

c) By increasing natural killer cell numbers and the activity of natural killer cells and also upregulating tumour killing CD8 T-cells, which are a subset of white cells that are in the tumour microenvironment.
It is interesting that Low Dose Naltrexone doesn’t work in patients who are vitamin D deficient, so having vitamin D levels checked is a of major importance, as indeed it is important in all us.


All the above drugs are pretty safe, they are certainly not expensive and, if used carefully with well chosen ‘safe treatments’, then stable tumours may well occur for long periods of time.

However helpful, these are not cancer cures.

The Dove Clinic is in Harley Street, London and in Winchester, Hampshire.


People who read this article may be interested in also reading … 

New Drugs for old

A Review on Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

Clinical Trials of old repurposed drugs planned by Oncology Professors


Safe Conventional Drugs Can Be Used to Treat Cancer
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