Insulin potentiation therapy (IPT) is an alternative medicine pharmacologic strategy for the chemotherapy of cancer using insulin and low-dose chemotherapy.
The therapeutic approach is said to take advantage of the endogenous molecular biology of cancer cells, specifically insulin and insulin like growth factor secretion, and the interaction of these biochemicals with their specific receptors. By using insulin in conjunction with chemotherapy drugs, significantly less drug (about 10-15 % of a standard dose) can be targeted more specifically and more effectively to cancer cell populations, thus virtually eliminating dose-related side effects while claiming enhancing antineoplastic effects.
Controversy regarding effectiveness
Some physicians have labeled insulin potentiation therapy a form of quackery and have warned against its use, see for example http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Cancer/ipt.html
Claimed explanatory molecular biology
The proponents of IPT give the following explanation of the biology of cancer and its cells in order to understand the mechanisms of IPT, which relies upon insulin, the most integral component of IPT, having three significant actions upon cancer cells described below, as well as also dropping blood sugar levels and thus the energy source for cancer. Low blood glucose (below 60 mg/dl) also stimulates secretion of growth hormone, and growth hormone probably helps to strengthen the immune system.
Differentiation between cancer and normal cells
Insulin biologically differentiates cancer cells from normal cells based on insulin receptor concentration.
Insulin can serve to distinguish and differentiate cancer cells from healthy cells in several way. Produced in the pancreas, one of its many functions is the regulation of blood glucose levels. Chiefly, insulin activates a glucose transport protein within all cells – whether they be cancerous or healthy - which allows glucose, the energy source, to enter, thus lowering the blood glucose level.
Like anything else, cancer needs energy to grow. The growth of cancer is abnormally rapid, its sole purpose being to spread, therefore it has a voracious appetite compared to normal cells. Cancer cells have developed the ability to produce insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) themselves; this way they can autonomously increase their glucose uptake.
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