Ineffective Anti-Cancer Remedies: Pancreatic Enzymes

From the January 2006 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

The theory that cancer was caused by a deficiency of pancreatic enzymes was a speculative notion proposed over a hundred years ago and then rejected. Alternative practitioners frequently unearth this outmoded and disproven theory and use it to fool gullible people.

To be clear, pancreatic enzymes are a legitimate therapeutic intervention when there is pancreatic insufficiency, such as with pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer. However, no study has ever shown a health or survival benefit from using enzymes when the patient's own enzyme producing machinery is intact. Unless you have pancreatic disease, your pancreas is still capable of producing adequate digestive enzymes.

Pancreatic enzymes are used in your body's digestive process. The specific amount of each enzyme you need is finely tuned, based on the precise components of the food ingested. Excess digestive enzymes can injure the digestive tract. Contrary to what is claimed in alternative medicine circles, pancreatic enzymes are not benign. When people who do not need enzymes take them, they harm themselves.

Here are three factors you need to consider:
1. Supplemental pancreatic enzymes significantly lower the level of enzyme production by the pancreas and result in lessening of enzyme response to food stimuli. This leads to a dependency on enzymes whose amount is not adjusted to accurately suit the food ingested. Our body's own regulatory computer does a precise job that can't be matched by any alternative practitioner's guess.1

2. Chronic use or high-dose use of digestive enzymes has been found to be associated with fibrotic strictures of the colon.2

3. Higher levels of pancreatic enzymes are associated with inflammatory bowel disease.3
1. Domínguez-Muñoz JE, Birckelbach U, Glasbrenner B, et al. Effect of oral pancreatic enzyme administration on digestive function in healthy subjects: comparison between two enzyme preparations. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 1997; 11(2):403-8.

2. Moss RL, Musemeche CA, Feddersen RM. Progressive pan-colonic fibrosis secondary to oral administration of pancreatic enzymes. Pediatr Surg Int 1998; 13(2-3):168-70.

3. Heikius B, Niemelä S, Lehtola J, Karttunen TJ. Elevated pancreatic enzymes in inflammatory bowel disease are associated with extensive disease. Am J Gastroenterol 1999; 94(4):1062-9.
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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Philip Rudnick - June 23, 2008 4:24 PM

You manage to contradict yourself within the space of eight lines.
Line 1 -"Ineffective Anti-Cancer Remedies: Pancreatic Enzymes"
Line 8-"To be clear, pancreatic enzymes are a legitimate therapeutic intervention when there is pancreatic insufficiency, such as with pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer."

See:Gonzalez Pancreatic Cancer Enzyme Protocol Sabotaged

NP - January 9, 2009 9:54 PM

Philip Rudnick:
There is no contradiction. People with pancreatic cancer often have depleted pancreatic enzymes and therefore it may be beneficial to treat this deficiency. But the enzymes themselves have no anti-cancer effect - and nor could they plausibly have any. Enzymes, like other proteins, would have to be broken down in order to be absorbed by the body. In other words, it is highly implausible that these enzymes could come into a pancreatic adenocarcinoma to begin with.
Pancreatic enzymes have been touted as cures for all kinds of cancers - not just pancreatic cancer - without there being any demonstrated evidence for it. There is no plausible mechanism for how pancreatic enzymes would work, and more importantly, there is no solid evidence showing a benefit in humans. All we have are a collection of anecdotes from a dentist who used a dubious methodology to "diagnose" patients with cancer and then "treat" them with a concoction of pancreatic enzymes and supplements seemingly straight out of his cauldrom. Then there's Dr. Gonzalez and his cherry-picking of cases, his poorly designed one-arm "Phase II" trial, and the staggering lack of any randomized clinical trial data.

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