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

Insulin potentiation therapy

What is it ?

Scientific name(s)/brand name(s)/common name(s)/ingredient(s)

In IPT, insulin is used as an adjunct to conventional chemotherapy. It is claimed that insulin potentiates the effects of chemotherapy, enabling the use of lower doses of the latter 1.

Insulin is a peptide hormone used as a conventional therapy for diabetes. Several medical preparations of insulin are available and sold under different brand names. Historically insulin was derived from animal sources (e.g., pig, cattle), although nowadays mainly human insulin (or very close analogues) manufactured by recombinant DNA technology is used 2.

Application and dosage

Insulin is usually given subcutaneously, seldom intravenously, either by injections or by an insulin pump 2.

In IPT, chemotherapeutic drugs are administered as in standard anticancer therapy, although at lower concentrations 3.

In the only two IPT clinical trials published in a peer-reviewed journal 4,5 cancer patients were given 0.3 to 0.4 units intravenous insulin per kg body weight followed by chemotherapy at lower doses than usual, starting 20 minutes after insulin administration or sooner if symptoms of hypoglycaemia were observed.


Insulin was first isolated by the Romanian scientist Nicolae Paulescu in 1921 6, the first successful application of insulin in the treatment of a diabetic patient was performed by the Canadian scientists McLeod, Banting, Best, and Collip in 1922 7.

IPT was developed by the Mexican medical doctor Donato Perez Garcia in the 1930s, originally for the treatment of syphilis 1. Later on, he used IPT in the treatment of other diseases including arthritis, asthma, and colitis. Since 1947, Perez has also treated cancer patients with IPT, claiming positive results. However, as no clear scientific basis was provided for IPT and clinical trials were not reported in peer-reviewed journals, the therapy remained controversial.

Claims of efficacy/Mechanism(s) of action/Alleged indications

Insulin is a hormone that plays a pivotal role in regulating energy balances and the metabolism of glucose in the body 2,8. When blood glucose levels are increased (e.g., after a meal), insulin is secreted by the pancreas. Most body cells possess insulin receptors; they capture this insulin signal and start to absorb glucose from the blood stream, lowering the blood glucose levels again. Uptake of glucose in liver, muscle and fat tissue is governed by insulin as well. Additionally, insulin plays a role in the stimulation of cell growth 9,10.

It is claimed that insulin potentiates the effects of chemotherapy, enabling the use of lower doses of the latter 1. Two hypothetic mechanisms for the potentiation of chemotherapy by insulin have been proposed 3. On the one hand, insulin has been suggested to increase the permeability of the cell membrane for cytotoxic drugs, resulting in higher intracellular drug concentrations. On the other hand, influence of insulin on cell cycle kinetics has been proposed to play a part. In the latter hypothesis, insulin would increase the S-phase fraction of tumour cells, i.e., increase the number of cells with active DNA replication, hence making the tumour more vulnerable for the action of cytotoxic drugs, in particular cell-cycle-phase-specific agents. Moreover, IPT would differentiate between cancerous and normal cells based on the higher levels of insulin receptors on cancerous cells. Overall, it is claimed that drug potentiation by insulin enables a 75-90% reduction of the usual and customary doses of anticancer drugs, reducing the risk for their adverse-effects.

Prevalence of use / Legal issues

IPT is not endorsed by mainstream oncologists. It is usually provided by IPT clinics, making off-label use of approved drugs.

Cost(s) and expenditure

Web sites quote an average charge of $1,800 - $2,000 (€1,350-1,500) per IPT treatment 11, and $15,500 - 17,500 (€11,625-13,125) for 3 to 4 weeks of “intensive” IPT therapy 12.

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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