Skip to comments.Cimetidine: A Common Heartburn Remedy Complements Conventional Cancer Therapy
Posted on 08/13/2009 12:30:38 AM PDT by oprahstheantichrist
More than two decades ago, Life Extension called attention to the over-the-counter heartburn drug cimetidinemore commonly known by its brand name, Tagamet®as a complementary cancer treatment. Although cimetidine was developed to relieve heartburn, acid indigestion, and sour stomach, numerous studies demonstrate that this readily available medication may offer powerful support in the fight against cancer.Unfortunately, many cancer patients and even oncologists remain unaware of the compelling evidence demonstrating its efficacy.
An Unexpected Anti-Cancer Agent
The first studies to hint at cimetidines effectiveness against cancer were published in the late 1970s. Although scientists initially thought that cimetidine worked by enhancing immune function, later studies showed that cimetidine functions via several different pathways to inhibit tumor cell proliferation and metastasis
In a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled study in 1988, 181 patients with gastric cancer received cimetidine (400 mg, twice daily) or placebo for two years or until death. Those given cimetidine had a significantly prolonged survival rate compared to the placebo group, particularly patients with more serious disease.1
In a 1994 study, just seven days of cimetidine treatment (400 mg twice daily for five days preoperative and intravenously for two days post-operative) in colorectal cancer patients decreased their three-year mortality rate from 41% to 7%. In addition, tumors in the cimetidine-treated patients had a notably higher rate of infiltration by lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.2 These tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, part of the bodys immune response to the tumor, serve as a good prognostic indicator. When more tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes are present, the body is more capable of attack-ing and eliminating the tumor.
A report in the British Journal of Cancer examined findings of a collaborative colon cancer study conducted by 15 institutions in Japan. First, all participants had surgery to remove the primary colorectal tumor, followed by intravenous chemotherapy treatment. They were then divided into two groups: one group received 800 mg of oral cimetidine and 200 mg of fluorouracil (a cancer-fighting medication) daily for one year, while a control group received fluorouracil only. The patients were followed for 10 years. Cimetidine greatly improved the 10-year survival rate: 85% of the cimetidine-treated patients survived 10 years, while only 50% of the control group survived.3 Cimetidine produced the greatest survival-enhancing benefits in those whose cancer cells showed markers associated with the tendency to metastasize.
In just the last two years, several other studies have corroborated cimetidines benefits for surviving colorectal cancer. For instance, in a Japanese study in 2006, colorectal cancer patients who received cimetidine following surgical removal of recurrent cancer had an improved prognosis compared to those treated with surgery only.4
A groundbreaking study reported in the International Journal of Oncology in 2006 confirms decades of research highlighting cimetidines role as an important adjuvant cancer therapy. This study demonstrated that cimetidine may enhance survival in those undergoing conventional treatment for brain tumors.5 The most common primary brain tumors in adults and children, known as malignant gliomas (tumors that begin in the supportive cells of the brain or spinal cord), often fail to respond to chemotherapy, and are frequently fatal. Mice with tissue grafts of human glioblastoma cells that received both cimetidine and the chemotherapy drug temozolomide (Temodar®) demonstrated improved survival rates compared to those that received chemotherapy only. Cimetidine may thus prolong survival in people undergoing chemotherapy for the most prevalent type of brain tumor.
How Does Cimetidine Fight Cancer?
Since cimetidines anti-cancer effects were first reported, scientists have proposed several hypotheses to explain how the drug works. Cimetidines potential mechanisms of action include:
■ modulating the bodys immune response (immunomodulation)
■ interfering with tumor growth
■ inhibiting tumor cell migration and metastasis.
Cimetidine Modulates the Immune System
Histamine plays many roles in the bodycontributing to allergic responses, regulating physiological function in the gut, and acting as a neurotransmitter. Histamine secretion also has the effect of suppressing the immune system.
Many cancers, particularly colorectal and breast tumors, secrete histamine.3,5,6 Histamine secretion also frequently occurs in response to surgical resection of colorectal cancers.6 In the tumor environment, histamine acts to suppress the immune response the body mounts to attack a tumor. This creates an immunosuppressive environment in the area of tumor growth and throughout the body, thus facilitating tumor growth.
Since cimetidine is a histamine receptor antagonistthat is, an agent that binds with a cell receptor without eliciting a biological responseit may help reduce immunosuppression caused by increased histamine levels in a tumors environment.6,7 Administering cimetidine may enable the immune system to mount a more effective response, so that it can attack and potentially eliminate the tumor.
While histamine appears to stimulate the growth and proliferation of certain types of cancer cells,8 inhibiting histamines action may be only one mechanism by which cimetidine fights cancer.9 Researchers have found evidence that cimetidine has many different effects on the immune system and the bodys ability to respond to a tumor.
In 1972, for example, scientists discovered that T-suppressor cells in the immune system express receptors for histamine on their surface.10,11 T-suppressor cells accelerate the growth of tumors,12 and by activating these cells, histamine suppresses the immune response.13 Several studies have shown that cimetidine inhibits this immune suppression and helps restore a normal immune response.7,14-16 Compared to normal controls, gastric cancer patients also have higher levels of suppressor lymphocyte activity, and cimetidine treatment helps restore these levels to normal.17
During surgery, some cancer cells may be released into the bloodstream. A suppressed immune system may contribute to the ability of these residual cancer cells to escape immune surveillance and establish metastatic lesions.7,15,16 Cimetidines ability to reverse immune suppression could thus help the immune system to remain alert to challenges such as spreading cancer cells.
I always try to take this stuff when I have heartburn, though it's actually getting tough to find, as it's not as effective for that as the newer heartburn meds.
I've even seen it at the dollar stores, though it gets snatched up quickly at ten cents per dose.
Very interesting, and obviously no gruesome side-effects.
Isn’t Life Extension one of those new health magazines for boomers aging gracelessly? After all, didn’t Tommy Daschle state in his book that seniors should learn to accept the ills and pains of old age rather than expect any help with treatment?
Perhaps I should get my aunt a subscription.
Nah, they've been around for eeons. Usually cutting edge stuff, I have great respect for them, though they seem to lean a bit left despite efforts to appear apolitical. Methinks many members are AAS sufferers (Aging Atheist Syndrome).
Okydoke, so I should not confuse Life Extension with all those New Age alternative health ‘zines?
Thanks, never knew that. I’ll pop a zinc if I take it for more than a day or so.
Life Extension has nothing to do with supposed therapies based on channeling, crystals, homeopathy, the secrets of Atlantis, or other such off the wall stuff. LE does hate the FDA, which makes them ideological allies of a sort.
One should take zinc in combination with co-factor minerals calcium and magnesium, preferably all in amino chelated form. Most vitamin stores stock such a combination.
Cimetidine and zinc gets 40 citations at PubMed. Thank you.
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