Other common name(s): Entelev®, Cantron®, Quantrol, Sheridan's Formula, Jim's Juice, Crocinic Acid, Radic, Protocel®
Scientific/medical name(s): none
Cancell® is a substance that has been sold or given to cancer patients under a variety of names as an alternative to conventional treatment. A dark liquid, the exact makeup of Cancell® is unknown and may have changed over time and varied between manufacturers. In 1989, a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review found it was made up of common chemicals, including nitric acid, sodium sulfite, potassium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, inositol, and catechol.
Available scientific evidence does not support claims that Cancell® has any effect on cancer or any other disease. Because it was marketed as a drug without FDA approval, the FDA received a permanent injunction against its manufacturers in 1989, making it illegal to sell Cancell® or Entelev® across state lines. However, several similar formulas are now available as dietary supplements, which are not regulated as stringently as drugs.
How is it promoted for use?
Cancell® has been promoted as a cure for all forms of cancer and a wide variety of other diseases. According to its manufacturers, it is supposed to cause cancer cells to self-destruct by depriving them of the ability to receive energy. Two theories have been proposed for this activity. The original theory was that the proteins in cancer cells are different from proteins in normal cells and that Cancell® causes cells with these different proteins to revert to the "primitive state" where they self-destruct. A later theory held that all cancerous tumors are due to an altered anaerobic cell (a cell that does not require oxygen). This theory claimed that Cancell® changes the "vibrational frequency" and energy of the cancer cell, which then causes the cancer cell to self-digest.
Cancell® has also been promoted to be effective against AIDS, herpes, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, endometriosis, Crohn's disease, fibromyalgia, diabetes, emphysema, scleroderma, Lou Gehrig disease, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, hemophilia, high and low blood pressure, mental illness, and some forms of epilepsy.
What does it involve?
Cancell® was promoted for both internal and external use. Although the Cancell® brand name is no longer used, similar products, such as Cantron® and Protocel®, are available for purchase in some health food stores or on the Internet.
The manufacturers recommend taking these products by mouth. Usually, 1/4 teaspoon of the liquid is held under the tongue for several minutes before swallowing. The liquid can also be diluted in water or other liquids before taking. This is repeated several times a day. If the product cannot be taken by mouth, the manufacturer recommends taking it rectally. They also note that during the first month of treatment, tumors may increase in size, and those with prostate cancer may notice their level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) goes up instead of down.
Promoters of these products also recommend lifestyle and dietary changes including quitting smoking and avoiding high concentrations of certain vitamins, which reportedly could interfere with treatment.
What is the history behind it?
The formula was first developed in 1936 by James Sheridan, a chemist working for Dow Chemical. Sheridan reported that the formula was a cure for all forms of cancer and a wide variety of diseases and came to him in a dream from God. Sheridan called his product "Entelev®." In 1984, Sheridan gave the formula to Edward Sopcak for manufacturing and distribution. The name of the product was changed to Cancell®. In 1989, the FDA received a permanent injunction against Sheridan and Sopcak prohibiting them or their agents from distributing Entelev® or Cancell® across state lines on the basis that they were adulterated, misbranded, and unapproved new drugs.
Supporters today claim that Sopcak changed the formula for Sheridan's original product to a homeopathic mixture (see Homeopathy). However, they claim that for a period of time the name Cancell® was used for both the original product and the homeopathic formulation, which led to some confusion. The name of this homeopathic formula was later changed to Quantrol.
Cancell-like products (Cantron®, Protocel®) continue to be sold in the United States as dietary supplements.
What is the evidence?
Available scientific evidence does not support claims that Cancell® or similar products are effective in treating cancer. None of the theories used to support claims made by promoters are compatible with modern scientific data about the molecular basis of cancer. Animal studies of Entelev® and Cancell® by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1978 and 1980 found it lacked anti-cancer activity. The NCI performed another series of tests in 1990 and 1991 using human cancer cells. According to the NCI website, “Laboratory studies using human tumor cells concluded that Cancell could not be taken in doses high enough to kill cancer cells in the body. The NCI decided that Cancell did not show enough anticancer activity to continue the studies.”
None of the claims of these products' effectiveness against other diseases has been documented through scientific testing and published in peer-reviewed medical journals. Although manufacturers have claimed the products have helped more than half of the cancer patients who took them, no clinical trials have ever been reported in the peer-reviewed medical literature.
Are there any possible problems or complications?
This product is sold as a dietary supplement in the United States. Unlike companies that produce drugs (which must provide the FDA with results of detailed testing showing their product is safe and effective before the drug is approved for sale), the companies that make supplements do not have to show evidence of safety or health benefits to the FDA before selling their products. Supplement products without any reliable scientific evidence of health benefits may still be sold as long as the companies selling them do not claim the supplements can prevent, treat, or cure any specific disease. Some such products may not contain the amount of the herb or substance that is written on the label, and some may include other substances (contaminants). Though the FDA has written new rules to improve the quality of manufacturing processes for dietary supplements and the accurate listing of supplement ingredients, these rules do not take full effect until 2010. And, the new rules do not address the safety of supplement ingredients or their effects on health when proper manufacturing techniques are used.
Most such supplements have not been tested to find out if they interact with medicines, foods, or other herbs and supplements. Even though some reports of interactions and harmful effects may be published, full studies of interactions and effects are not often available. Because of these limitations, any information on ill effects and interactions below should be considered incomplete.
People may feel temporary, moderate fatigue and flu-like symptoms after taking these products. Ingredients and strength of the mixtures may vary. It is not known whether these products would cause any problems due to interactions with other medications. The manufacturer claims that chemotherapy interferes with the effectiveness of these products.
Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.
More information from your American Cancer Society
The following information on complementary and alternative therapies may also be helpful to you. These materials may be found on our Web site (www.cancer.org) or ordered from our toll-free number (1-800-ACS-2345).
The ACS Operational Statement on Complementary and Alternative Methods of Cancer Management
American Cancer Society. Questionable methods of cancer management: Cancell/Entelev®. CA Cancer J Clin. 1993;43:57-62.
Cassileth B. The Alternative Medicine Handbook. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co; 1998.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. CanCell®. Accessed at: www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/69160.cfm on June 21, 2007.
National Cancer Institute Physician Data Query (PDQ). Cancell/Entelev®. 2007. Accessed at: www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cancell/healthprofessional on June 11, 2008.
National Cancer Institute Physician Data Query (PDQ®). Cancell/Cantron/Protocel (Patient version). 1/18/2013. Accessed at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cancell/patient/page1 on June 7, 2013.
Note: This information may not cover all possible claims, uses, actions, precautions, side effects or interactions. It is not intended as medical advice, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultation with your doctor, who is familiar with your medical situation.
Last Revised: 06/07/2013