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LDN’s Potential As Adjuvant Therapy for All Cancers

Prof. Angus Dalgleish
August 01, 2015
Interview with Renowned Oncologist Dr. Angus Dalgleish, Professor of Medical Oncology at St George's University of London and Consultant Physician at St. George's Hospital
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Professor Dalgleish, what was your first introduction to LDN?

I first heard about Low Dose Naltrexone from one of my cancer patients. He was doing far better than I expected. He was doing incredibly well, in fact. He informed me that he had started taking LDN and I was so impressed with his response that I started looking into it more.

Were you skeptical about LDN at first?

Yes, like most physicians, when I first heard about it, I was skeptical. Despite the remarkable response of my patient and the intriguing early information about LDN that I found afterward, I was not yet convinced to prescribe it.

What changed your mind about prescribing LDN to your patients?

When I was visiting New York, I visited Dr. Bernard Bihari, and had a lengthy discussion with him about his usage of LDN in a variety of conditions. He allowed me to go through patient records, and although it was hard to decipher if LDN helped in his cancer patients, the results in his multiple sclerosis (MS) patients were very remarkable. I contacted the MS Society and eventually this resulted in a small clinical trial in Italy. I was impressed by what I had seen. Simultaneously, I had several cancer patients asking to be treated with it or to participate in clinical trials, and when I was no longer able to access cancer vaccines, I decided it was time to try it with a patient. That was about 10 years ago.

What has been the biggest benefit you have seen from LDN among your patients?

I have been very impressed with patient reports of feeling much less fatigued, more positive in their ability to cope with their situation, and other significant clinical improvements (depending on the cancer or other disease).

How many patients have you monitored using it?

I currently have about 24 patients on it. I have probably treated about 50 patients with it in total. The problem in the United Kingdom is that, in order to receive LDN, patients have to be "private" patients because the National Health Service will not reimburse LDN treatment for most applications yet. Other than a few general practitioners that can prescribe it for MS, for everyone else it is unlicensed and unapproved, therefore inaccessible to receive unless they receive all their treatment as a "private" patient.

What have you found to be the optimal dose?

In my experience, the optimal dose is usually somewhere between 2.0 and 4.5mg. For a couple of my patients the optimal dose is between 2.0 and 2.5mg. However, this is why a Phase I study (which would examine the effects of different doses) would be useful to both practitioners and users.

Which cancers does it work best for, in your experience?

It is potentially very useful in all cancers. Cancer patients can take it in addition to their other treatments, and after their other treatments end. As such, it is a good general adjuvant therapy. In terms of outcomes in specific cancers, we know about LDN use in pancreatic cancer, as that topic has been published. I've also been impressed with the results in patients with melanoma and liver cancers who did not have other options. Additionally, I've seen it to be very useful with glioma (brain tumor) patients. With a couple of glioma patients I saw significant clinical improvement; patients who had been progressing (declining) rapidly recovered their speech, movement, and stability after starting LDN.

How soon after starting LDN have you observed (or received report of) benefit?

Patients tend to respond quickly- within about two weeks. One of my patients who also had Crohn's disease had a very rapid response in their Crohn's after starting LDN.

Have your patients encountered any side effects and if so, which ones?

I have not seen significant side effects. As reported in the literature, a few patients have reported they couldn't sleep well, but that usually settles down. Only a couple patients have given up taking it due to that side effect.

Is patient compliance with LDN better than with other therapies?

Other than one or two patients who gave up on LDN due to sleep disruption, patients are generally very compliant with taking it.

How receptive are your peers to learning about LDN vs how much resistance?

The blanket reaction of almost all of my physician peers is that "It's not licensed, therefore it could be dangerous, and so I'm not prescribing it." I have never agreed with that attitude or practiced medicine that way. I find that the only way a physician who thinks in this way will change their mind is when they actually see patients doing well on it. Then they get interested, and are willing to learn more. But another side of this equation is the bullying that physicians endure. Colleagues and practice managers, among others, try to pressure doctors into not prescribing anything that is not licensed. I find that approach to be not only unwarranted, but also counterproductive to moving medicine forward for everyone's benefit.

What do you think is the future of LDN?

I believe that LDN should be put through the clinical trials process (particularly for a symptom palliation trial which focuses on relief from symptoms, pain, and stress of serious illness) and given patent protection, so that it will become licensed. I have been involved in negotiations with four companies to try to move in LDN in this direction: three have balked at cost of a clinical trial and the perceived lack of patent protection. I am still working with and the fourth company to facilitate a clinical trial. It is road fraught with many challenges, but is worth pursuing.

I am also doing a great deal of basic research into LDN; I think LDN may work via mechanisms other than OGF receptors--interacting with whole family of immune receptors. We have written an article on this that is waiting to be published. It may open up a whole new avenue of thought and research about LDN.

There is much more work to do on the LDN front, and the public should actively advocate and lobby for clinical trials, in order for things to move forward.

*In June 2016, Dr. Dalgleish co-authored an article about using LDN as an anti-cancer treatment. Click here to read more.