Early research shows cancer-fighting potential of LDN

Early research shows cancer-fighting potential of LDN

A number of early research studies show that opioid receptor antagonist, Naltrexone, used in a low dose format (LDN) of levels between 0.5 and 4.5 mg, has an effect against breast and brain cancer especially when combined with vitamin D and alpha lipoic acid; it also helps cancer drugs such as Taxol and Cisplatin increase effectiveness (writes Chris Woollams)

“The State of the Science of Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) plus Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for the Treatment of Cancer” was the subject for a panel of researchers and clinicians brought together on March 19, 2012 for presentations and a roundtable discussion by the NCI Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM) and the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP), both part of the National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis (DCTD).

LDN clinical trials with breast cancer and GBM

There were two NIH-supported clinical trials of naltrexone in cancer patients starting at that time. One research study was from the University of Minnesota for patients with breast cancer (1) and the other at Duke University with glioma patients (2). The latter has reported results showing an improved quality of sleep amongst patients.

The meeting also heard from two experts in the subject who had also conducted pre-clinical research already with patients. Namely, Dr. Burton Berkson, an integrative medicine physician and Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, and Adjunct Professor at New Mexico State University and Dr. Renee N. Donahue, Research Fellow in the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology at the NCI Center for Cancer Research, about her pre-clinical research on the efficacy and proposed mechanism of action of LDN for the treatment of cancer.

Dr. Farah Zia, Director of OCCAM’s Case Review and Intramural Science Program, noted, “The cases being presented today by Dr. Berkson were submitted and given rigorous scientific evaluation under the NCI Best Case Series (BCS) protocol. The ultimate goal of the BCS is to identify those complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) interventions that have enough evidence to support NCI-initiated research.”

LDN costs just $15 a month.

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) and LDN

Dr. Berkson, (Burt Berkson), originally used ALA to treat people with liver damage resulting from Hepatitis C or mushroom damage. 

In this meeting he presented 7 case studies of his own where he had used both Intravenous and oral ALA plus oral LDN along with an alkaline diet, supplements and lifestyle programs. He backed this with a number of studies from Europe.

Having learned about LDN from a patient he has been using it successfully to treat both Rheumatoid Arthritis and cancer.

35 years of research on LDN shows benefits against cancer and auto-immune diseases

Dr. Renee Donahue presented her research from her time as a Doctoral Graduate at Penn State College of Medicine, where she worked with Drs. Ian Zagon and Patricia McLaughlin. Their main focus was the role of a peptide called OGF in cancer and auto-immune disease, but they showed that low dose LDN blocked cell proliferation by blocking Opioid Growth Factor which can stimulate cancer cell growth. Almost 90% of cancers appear to have OGF involvement.

LDN acts as an opioid receptor antagonist and thus LDN blocks DNA synthesis. Her work was done in vitro and with ‘nude’ mice, where the tumours had less blood vessels.There was also research showing LDN can inhibit the formation of new blood vessels, essential for the growth of cancer.

Penn State researchers’ original hypothesis holds true today - the duration of the blockade of the opioid receptor by LDN determines overall biological response. The effect of LDN is independent of the immune system; but it also inhibits proliferation of dangerous ’activated’ T- and B-lymphocytes. A single application of LDN, for example, inhibited growth in ovarian cancer cells by 25%. In mice, tumours were reduced by 45%.

What has surprised researchers most (3) has been the effects against cancer, but also in auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis. It also helps in cases of HIV.

LDN helps drugs work better

Work has taken place with pancreatic, ovarian and other cancers. And with chemotherapy drugs such as Taxol and Cisplatin. It is believed that no conflict occurs with such drugs and there may even be some enhancement of activity.

Go to: Full review of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) as a cancer Treatment

The NCI also heard from Dr. Gregory Plotnikoff, of Allina Hospitals System in Minneapolis, Minnesota who reported that his hospital has 36 advanced cancer patients using LDN with and without ALA in cases where no more orthodox treatments were available to the patients. “The oncologists there are intrigued and anxious to do rigorous trials because they believe that there is something here that they have not seen from any other therapies,” he said.

Low Dose Naltrexone, or LDN, seems full of potential as a cancer treatment.


1. “Naltrexone in Treating Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer That Did Not Respond to Hormone Therapy”: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00379197?term=naltrexone+AND+cancer&rank=1

The glioma trial conforms to dose specifications and is ongoing:

2. “Low-Dose Naltrexone for Glioma Patients”; a placebo controlled randomised trial: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01303835?term=naltrexone+AND+cancer&rank=3

3. https://www.ldnscience.org/resources/interviews/interview-zagon-mclaughlin 

2015 Research
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