As promised, I’ve been researching the safety and efficacy of enyzme supplements for cancer patients.  The news is mixed.  From what I’ve been reading they seem relatively safe.  But do they help?  Or maybe the questions should be, “Help what?”

Here’s an undated article about it from a site identified as Cancer Fighting, touting them as a cancer fighter:

Enzymes for Cancer: Low Enzymes Are Always Found In Cancer

Use The Right Enzymes To Kill Cancer Cells

Researchers have noted for years a correspondence between low levels of enzymes and cancer. In fact enzyme therapy has been used with good results against cancers in Europe, and by some doctors in the United States. To literally digest cancerous cells…

The major reason enzymes levels become depleted is that we eat mostly processed, irradiated and cooked food.

The digestive system was designed to process raw food. Raw food, when it is picked ripe, has enzymes in it that help break down that food in the upper stomach where it sits for 30 to 45 minutes. The enzymes in the food predigest that food. Then in the lower stomach the pancreas excretes more enzymes.

When you eat cooked, irradiated and processed foods, the enzymes have been killed; the food does not predigest in the upper stomach. So when it reaches the lower stomach two things happen. The pancreas must make extra enzymes to try and break down the food.

And often the food is only partially digested.

The pancreas, after decades of overworking, eventually is no longer able to produce an adequate supply of enzymes. So you develop low enzyme levels of all types of enzymes, and your body cannot naturally kill cancerous cells using enzymes.

In addition, food that is not completely digested all too often makes its way into the bloodstream. Especially if you have leaky gut syndrome from candida overgrowth. This partially digest food is treated as a toxin, and the immune system has to get rid of it. This puts an additional strain on the already overworked immune system.

Studies have found that the immune system treats the ingestion of cooked food as a toxic poison, causing a jump in white blood cells in an attempt to get rid of it as fast as possible.

Taking a good quality enzyme supplement with meals, one that has high levels of protease to digest protein, lipase to digest fat, and amylase to digest carbohydrates helps break down food in the upper stomach. So that the pancreas doesn’t have to produce extra enzymes. Food is better digested…

Sounds plausible.  But where’s the proof?  There are a lot of sites like this on the web; using content to help sell supplements.  Still, may be worth reading:

I trust Dr. Andrew Weil’s opinion.  What does he have to say?

Dr. Weil 2Enzymes are specialized protein molecules that catalyze, or speed up, biochemical reactions in the body. They are involved in all aspects of metabolism, growth, and development, and are a necessary component of human physiology. Enzyme therapy is widely promoted as an alternative form of cancer treatment. It usually involves taking specific enzyme supplements that supposedly remove a protective coating from cancer cells, thus allowing white blood cells to identify and attack them. Enzyme supplements are available as pills, capsules and powders…

I know of no evidence showing that these methods worked and have seen no scientific evidence to support claims that the enzyme supplements promoted for cancer treatment today are effective.

Beyond that, there is no benefit in taking many of the enzyme supplements on the market. Enzymes taken by mouth are broken down in the stomach and small intestine and digested like any other proteins. The only exceptions to this rule are the digestive enzymes made by the stomach and pancreas, which work in the gastrointestinal tract and which can be useful for people with digestive problems.

Although there is no evidence that taking enzyme supplements is a worthwhile cancer treatment, the approved chemotherapy drug asparaginase is an enzyme used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs to treat acute lymphocytic leukemia. It is given by injection into a large muscle or vein. In addition, the ACS reports that at least one other enzyme preparation is being studied in the United States for use along with chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

If you’re dealing with cancer, I urge you to first determine what conventional therapies have to offer. Then try to find an oncologist who is open to an integrative approach; see Integrative Oncology edited by Donald Abrams, M.D. and me (Oxford University Press, 2009).

Andrew Weil, M.D.

We feature that title in our My Cancer  Just a coincidence; I’m not trying to sell books by posting this.

That’s discouraging.  Dr. Weil is an alternative medicine guy.  If he’s not on board, personally I’m not interested.

Lord knows I take enough pills, capsules, powders and now even topical chemo cream.  Think I’m going to take a pass on adding enzyme therapy to my daily regimen.  As always, you should make up your own mind.  Here’s a link to what the American Cancer Society has to say; a must read if you would like the establishment point of view:

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

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