Hyperbaric Oxygen, HBO, or HBOT, increases uptake of chemotherapy drugs

Hyperbaric Oxygen, HBO, or HBOT, increases uptake of chemotherapy drugs

The uptake of chemotherapy drugs is increased immediately after, and for the duration of, Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO, or HBOT) treatment according to several specific research studies involving different drugs and different cancers, and a 90 person, peer-reviewed meta-study by Ingrid Moen and Linda Stuhr. Consequently, patients having chemotherapy would be well advised to start their Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO, or HBOT) course before their chemotherapy and run it for the duration.
A study (1) specifically looked at how the use of Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) improved the effectiveness of the drug 5FU with breast cancer. Similarly, one of the first ever studies recorded (7) showed HBO enhanced radiotherapy results; and another study (8) showed HBO improved Photodynamic Therapy results. 

Hyperbaric Oxygen has been shown to improve chemotherapy effectiveness in many cases, for example in cases of osteosarcoma (9), glioma (10) and lung cancer (11). The improvement level is dependent upon the drug used, but a variety of drugs have been tested including carboplatin, paclitaxel (taxol), 5FU and others - all showing enhancement by HBO.

Why does HBO help chemotherapy become more effective?
Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist and the leading Champion of HBOT as a complementary cancer therapy in the UK over the last decade said, "Hypoxia is the hallmark of solid tumours which create a ‘valve’ (a hypoxic pocket) to prevent oxygen entering and killing the cancer cell. Hypoxia has been shown to increase genetic instability, activate invasive growth and also maintain the cancer cell in its rapidly dividing undifferentiated state (2). Hypoxia also stops chemo drugs working (3). Most of this science has been known for a decade or more. Crucially, Hyperbaric Oxygen overcomes Hypoxia."
While oxygen aids healing in healthy cells, it has no such positive effects for cancer cells and tumours; nor does it improve their blood supplies. In fact, the longer hypoxia continues, the greater the level of Reactive Oxygen Species in the tumour – these overwhelm the normal antioxidant defences of the healthy cell.  However, in two different studies – with breast cancer and brain tumours, Hyperbaric Oxygen overwhelms the hypoxia and can cause cancer cell death on its own. The HBO also reduces cell proliferation and metastases (14) and inhibits cancer cells (4, 5, 6). Hyperbaric Oxygen has also been shown to be effective against ovarian cancer (12) and prostate cancer (13).  It has even shown benefit in non-tumour cancers, in this example, leukaemia (15).
What is clear is that multiple mechanisms are in play. If you have a cancer, you would be well-advised to look into Hyperbaric oxygen which, in the UK, can be obtained by consulting the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

People should not use Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy is they have lung disease of any sort. See our review (click the link below) for other concerns.

Woollams added, "We specifically looked into this issue as several of our cancer patients have recently been turned away from Hyperbaric Oxygen centres in the UK and told to come back only after their cancer treatments have finished. I don’t know where the centres are getting their information from but it is totally wrong. You should take the oxygen before and during the treatment for maximum effectiveness." 

Go to: An overview of Hyperbaric Oxygen and cancer



  1. Moen I, Tronstad KJ, Kolmannskog O, Salvesen GS, Reed RK, Stuhr LE. Hyperoxia increases the uptake of 5-fluorouracil in mammary tumors independently of changes in interstitial fluid pressure and tumor stroma. BMC Cancer. 2009;9:446. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-9-446

  2. Harris AL. Hypoxia—a key regulatory factor in tumor growth. Nat Rev Cancer. 2002;2:38–47. doi: 10.1038/nrc704

  3. Shannon AM, Bouchier-Hayes DJ, Condron CM, Toomey D. Tumour hypoxia, chemotherapeutic resistance and hypoxia-related therapies. Cancer Treat Rev. 2003;29:297–307. doi: 10.1016/S0305-7372(03)00003-3

  4. Raa A, Stansberg C, Steen VM, Bjerkvig R, Reed RK, Stuhr LE. Hyperoxia retards growth and induces apoptosis and loss of glands and blood vessels in DMBA-induced rat mammary tumors. BMC Cancer. 2007;7:23. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-7-23.

  5. Stuhr LE, Raa A, Oyan AM, Kalland KH, Sakariassen PO, Petersen K, Bjerkvig R, Reed RK. Hyperoxia retards growth and induces apoptosis, changes in vascular density and gene expression in transplanted gliomas in nude rats. J Neurooncol. 2007;85:191–202. doi: 10.1007/s11060-007-9407-2.

  6. Moen I, Oyan AM, Kalland KH, Tronstad KJ, Akslen LA, Chekenya M, Sakariassen PO, Reed RK, Stuhr LE. Hyperoxic treatment induces mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition in a rat adenocarcinoma model. PLoS One. 2009;4:e6381. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006381

  7.  Dische S, Senanayake F. Radiotherapy using hyperbaric oxygen in the palliation of carcinoma of colon and rectum. Clin Radiol. 1972;23:512–518. doi: 10.1016/S0009-9260(72)80032-1

  8. Hjelde A, Gederaas OA, Krokan HE, Brubakk AO. Lack of effect of hyperoxia on photodynamic therapy and lipid peroxidation in three different cancer cell lines. Med Sci Monit. 2005;11:BR351–BR356.

  9. Kawasoe Y, Yokouchi M, Ueno Y, Iwaya H, Yoshida H, Komiya S. Hyperbaric oxygen as a chemotherapy adjuvant in the treatment of osteosarcoma. Oncol Rep. 2009;22:1045–1050

  10. Suzuki Y, Tanaka K, Negishi D, Shimizu M, Yoshida Y, Hashimoto T, Yamazaki H. Pharmacokinetic investigation of increased efficacy against malignant gliomas of carboplatin combined with hyperbaric oxygenation. Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo) 2009;49:193–197. doi: 10.2176/nmc.49.193.

  11. Ohguri T, Imada H, Narisada H, Yahara K, Morioka T, Nakano K, Miyaguni Y, Korogi Y. Systemic chemotherapy using paclitaxel and carboplatin plus regional hyperthermia and hyperbaric oxygen treatment for non-small cell lung cancer with multiple pulmonary metastases: preliminary results. Int J Hyperthermia. 2009;25:160–167. doi: 10.1080/02656730802610357.

  12. Selvendiran K, Kuppusamy ML, Ahmed S, Bratasz A, Meenakshisundaram G, Rivera BK, Khan M, Kuppusamy P. Oxygenation inhibits ovarian tumor growth by downregulating STAT3 and cyclin-D1 expressions. Cancer Biol Ther. 2010;10:386–390. doi: 10.4161/cbt.10.4.12448 

  13. Kalns J, Krock L, Piepmeier E., Jr The effect of hyperbaric oxygen on growth and chemosensitivity of metastatic prostate cancer. Anticancer Res. 1998;18:363–367.

  14. Johnson RJ, Wiseman N, Lauchlan SC. The effect of hyperbaric oxygen on tumour metastases in mice. Clin Radiol. 1971;22:538–540. doi: 10.1016/S0009-9260(71)80131-9

  15. Tonomura N, Granowitz EV. Hyperbaric oxygen: a potential new therapy for leukemia? Leuk Res. 2007;31:745–746. doi: 10.1016/j.leukres.2006.11.020 





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