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Krebiozen

Other common name(s): Carcalon, creatine, lipopolysaccharide C

Scientific/medical name(s): none

Description

Krebiozen was a commercial name for an alternative cancer formula originally prepared from the blood of horses that had been injected with bacteria. An analysis by several federal agencies later found Krebiozen to contain mineral oil and a form of creatine. Creatine is a substance that occurs naturally in the human body and is sold as a dietary supplement.

Overview

Available scientific evidence does not support claims that Krebiozen is effective in treating cancer or any other disease. According to the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), creatine has been linked to several dangerous side effects.

How is it promoted for use?

Proponents have claimed that Krebiozen cures cancer. They have cited private experiments claiming that Krebiozen stops tumor growth in mice and induces recovery in some people with advanced cancer.

What does it involve?

Krebiozen has been manufactured in powder and liquid forms. The liquid form of Krebiozen was combined with mineral oil and delivered through injection.

What is the history behind it?

Krebiozen was originally developed in Argentina by Stevan Durovic, MD, a Yugoslavian physician, and brought to the United States in 1949. It drew the attention of Andrew Ivy, MD, at the University of Illinois, who began making his own version of the drug in 1959, calling it Carcalon. Dr. Ivy privately published 2 monographs claiming Carcalon’s anti-cancer benefits. Krebiozen therapy grew in popularity during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Durovic claimed his original powder was obtained as an extract from the blood of 2,000 Argentinian horses that had been previously injected with Actinomyces bovis, a type of bacteria. In an article on Krebiozen, Dr. James Holland describes a 1963 announcement from the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare that both government and independent scientists had identified the Krebiozen powder given to the FDA by Ivy and Durovic as creatine, a type of amino acid found naturally in muscle tissue. The FDA also found that the Krebiozen solutions for injection contained either mineral oil or a form of creatine dissolved in mineral oil.

Dr. Holland also noted that Drs. Durovic and Ivy and several colleagues were indicted on a number of charges, including fraud, although they were ultimately acquitted. Dr. Durovic left the country a short time later, after being indicted for tax evasion. According to William Goodrich, U.S. General Counsel at the time, supporters expressed their enthusiasm quite vigorously during this period through protests and boycotts, but the Krebiozen boom ultimately collapsed. Krebiozen and Carcalon are rarely used today.

What is the evidence?

A 1973 review reported that a thorough investigation of Krebiozen by federal government agencies found it had no anti-cancer activity in humans. A committee of 24 scientists studied the medical records of 504 "best cases" submitted by the Krebiozen Research Foundation before reaching their conclusion. Following the investigation, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) agreed, saying that it saw no justification for a clinical trial. The NCI director at that time noted:

    The committee's report of the 504 case records clearly established that 'Krebiozen' does not possess any anticancer activity in man. The National Cancer Institute has completed its consideration of 'Krebiozen.' There is no justification for a clinical trial, and from a scientific standpoint we regard the case closed.

Are there any possible problems or complications?

These substances may have not been thoroughly tested to find out how they interact with medicines, foods, or dietary 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.

There is no reliable information on the safety of Krebiozen. However, creatine supplements have been linked with some side effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, seizure, anxiety, myopathy (muscle tissue disorder), irregular heartbeat, blood clots, and even death.

Relying on this type of treatment alone, and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer, may have serious health consequences.

Additional resources

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).

Dietary Supplements: What Is Safe?

The ACS Operational Statement on Complementary and Alternative Methods of Cancer Management

Complementary and Alternative Methods and Cancer

Placebo Effect

Learning About New Ways to Treat Cancer

Learning About New Ways to Prevent Cancer

References

American Cancer Society. Unproven methods of cancer management. Krebiozen and carcalon. CA Cancer J Clin. 1973;23:111-115.

FDA History: FDA Oral History Program. Interview with William W. Goodrich, Office of the General Counsel, 1939-1971, Part 2. Accessed at: www.fda.gov/oc/history/oralhistories/goodrich/part2.html on June 11, 2008.

Holland JF. The Krebiozen Story. Accesssed at: www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Cancer/krebiozen.html on June 11, 2008.

Jallut O, Guex P, Barrelet L. Unproven methods in oncology. Sweiz Med Wochenschr. 1984;114:1214-1220.

PDRhealth. Creatine. Accessed at: www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/nutsupdrugs/cre_0086.shtml on June 11, 2008.

US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. Unconventional Cancer Treatments. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; 1990. Publication OTA-H-405.

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 Medical Review: 11/01/2008
Last Revised: 11/01/2008