Written by Luc Geeraert and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated June 29, 2017

Insulin potentiation therapy

Is it safe?

Adverse events

The main risk of insulin administration is hypoglycaemia or low blood glucose levels. In a small prospective, randomized clinical trial of IPT 5, toxicities recorded with methothrexate alone, at a lower dose (2.5 mg/m2) than the conventional one, were considered non-relevant (WHO grades 1 or 2). Toxicities in the methotrexate/insulin treated group (IPT) were even lower (only WHO grade 1).


The use of certain types of insulin is contraindicated in people having allergic reactions to them 21. IPT during pregnancy may harm the foetus.


Low blood sugar caused by IPT may have more severe effects in diabetics treated with pills to lower the blood sugar 21. Beta-blockers can mask the symptoms of low blood sugar, making it harder to detect low blood sugar before dangerously low levels are being reached. Sulfa antibiotics and excessive amounts of alcohol can make the blood sugar levels go even lower.


The use of chemotherapeutic drugs at only 10%-25% of the recommended dose is a concern 21. There is no evidence that such low doses of chemotherapy in combination with insulin can produce the same anticancer effect as the recommended doses. Moreover, the use of lower doses of chemotherapeutic drugs may promote drug resistance.

It is important to note that insulin may actually promote tumour growth 22,23. Multiple and complex mechanisms are potentially responsible for this tumour growth promoting effect. Most cancer cells express receptors for insulin and the insulin-like growth factor (IGF), via which insulin can directly stimulate cell division, proliferation, and metastasis. Apart from this direct effect, insulin increases the levels of circulating IGF-I, which has more potent effects on promotion of cell division and against apoptosis than insulin itself. It is still unclear how these effects translate into the clinic, but in some cancers (e.g., breast and colon cancer) data indicating a possible link between high insulin levels and poor outcomes in cancer are accumulating 24,25.

Citation Luc Geeraert, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Insulin potentiation therapy [online document]. http://ws.cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Dietary-approaches/Insulin-potentiation-therapy. June 29, 2017.


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