There is one fundamental problem with cancer: it is not one disease, or even one strict group of diseases, but a whole series of radically different conditions that have one thing in common. What helps in one case may even harm in another, a good example being antioxidants, which greatly accelerated the development of both melanoma and lung cancer, while protecting against other varieties of cancer.
In principle, each drug, as well as each supplement, should be analyzed separately, conduct research in each variety of disease. Such research, unfortunately, costs money, and a number of permits must be obtained, which were intended to protect against unnecessary, unethical clinical trials, but in practice serve to protect the monopoly of the richest, who can afford both the fees and to break through with obtaining permits.
Supplements are on the losing end here. No one is going to spend fat millions to test something that can’t be covered by a patent, and certainly not the corporations, which would be marketing free competition for their main source of income. That leaves a handful of individual trials, conducted by state-run centers, and animal studies that translate quite sensibly to humans. The problem is that the animal disease model is often not compatible with the human one, for example, cancer cells are sometimes implanted in animals that do not have adequate immunity to destroy them, so it is not known whether a drug that admittedly kills these cells and is effective in animals will continue to work in humans, where our immunity plays a major role. Immune system doesn’t work in laboratory animals, so if this drug destroyed it, it didn’t have a big impact on the course of the disease, but if it destroys it in humans it could have a very big impact.
Supplements usually don’t have this problem, they don’t destroy natural immunity. If an herb causes a decrease in tumor growth by 80%, there is a very high probability that it will be identical in humans. Here, too, there can be complications, both one way and the other, for example, large doses of something can blind our cells specialized to fight tumors, or, on the contrary, they can support them, which would not be observable in animals. The ideal would be to conduct hundreds of clinical trials with humans, but we’ll probably never see that; modern medicine is all about bringing things to market that can make money, not about seeing if some supplement costing a few bucks will help. So we have a choice, to try the supplement on ourselves, risking that it won’t help, and there’s even some small chance that it will harm, or not to try it on ourselves, risking giving up a perhaps extremely effective treatment.
MSM is promising enough that I would put it at the very top of the list of substances that offer some hope. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this supplement is quite biologically active and can affect the effects of various drugs, including chemotherapy, both enhancing its effects (to the point where it can harm more severely than the doctor anticipated) and nullifying them. Here again is the problem of lack of research, until this is tested, it is not known how MSM reacts with a particular drug, clinical trials would have to be conducted for each variety of chemotherapy, and of course, this too, no one will ever do. Usually, herbs or supplements do not affect the course of treatment, and if we are talking about chemotherapy, the most common effect is to enhance its anti-cancer effect, without increasing the harm to healthy cells, but it is never certain that in any particular case there will be no strong side effects. I emphasize this because on alt-med sites one can often encounter false information that supplements are completely safe. They are not.
I wrote about what MSM is and what other characteristics in one of previous entries:
To the point, what do animal studies say? They gave the substance to mice with liver cancer:
I’m not sure if I calculated the dosage correctly, because the results seem downright incredible, so much so that the mouse study was the main reason for writing this article. If I didn’t miscalculate, the mice got to eat a dose equivalent to 0.5 to 1 gram in humans. You can see in the pictures in the article what the tumors looked like in the mice that got MSM compared to the control group. If the results translate to humans, the patients would manage to die of old age before liver cancer kills them. This would be a drug that is literally able to save any patient, virtually completely stopping the progression of the disease, at a dose that has no side effects.
The effect has been tested on human breast cancer cells in mice:
Unfortunately, the authors did not provide information on what dose of MSM the animals received, as well as whether they got it in food or perhaps in the form of, for example, injections inside the tumor. But here, too, the progression of the disease was slowed down, and not by a few or a dozen percent, but many times over. A patient who in the normal course of the disease would have had, say, five years to live, would have lived 25 years with this therapeutic effect.
Here, it was tested what effect MSM would have, compared to tamoxifen, when administered to mice bearing human breast cancer. Of note is graph C in image 6, where tumor size is shown. As it turns out, both MSM alone and the mixture with tamoxifen had very similar efficacy, that is, essentially complete inhibition of disease progression, this was many times higher than tamoxifen alone. Here again, it was not stated how much of the supplement and how the animals got it. Maybe it would be possible to convert the dose, the authors mention 200 mM MSM and 15 uM tamoxifen, a dose about 10,000 times higher than tamoxifen, which, however, has 4 times that molar mass, it comes out to several tens of grams of MSM per day, but here, too, I could have been mistaken in the calculations.
That, unfortunately, is where the animal studies end. There are a number on cell lines, but this type of research has a rather poor translation into subsequent therapeutic effects, in a test tube a gunshot will kill a cancer cell. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that in such trials MSM has proven to be extremely effective, in the concentrations you get by taking supplements.