Antineoplaston Therapy: Controversial Cancer Treatment

Antineoplastons are a group of compounds that were first identified by Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski in the 1970s. Dr. Burzynski claimed that antineoplastons could selectively target and kill cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells unharmed. Since then, antineoplastons have been a controversial alternative cancer treatment, with some supporters claiming remarkable success, and others dismissing it as unproven and potentially dangerous.

In this article, we’ll explore the history, mechanism of action, clinical studies, controversies, and legal issues surrounding antineoplaston therapy.

History of Antineoplaston Therapy

Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski is a Polish-born physician who emigrated to the United States in the 1960s. In the 1970s, he began researching a group of compounds that he called “antineoplastons,” which he believed could selectively target cancer cells. Burzynski claimed that antineoplastons were naturally occurring peptides that could be isolated from human urine or synthesized in the laboratory.

In 1983, Burzynski began treating cancer patients with antineoplastons at his clinic in Houston, Texas. He claimed remarkable success, with some patients reporting complete remission of their cancer. However, Burzynski’s claims were met with skepticism by the medical community, who demanded proof of his treatment’s efficacy.

In 1991, Burzynski was indicted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for violating federal law by shipping unapproved drugs across state lines. Burzynski argued that antineoplastons were not drugs, but rather natural substances that he had a right to use as a physician. After a long legal battle, Burzynski was eventually acquitted of all charges in 1997.

Mechanism of Action

The exact mechanism of action of antineoplastons is not well understood. Burzynski claimed that they worked by repairing damaged DNA and blocking the signals that cancer cells use to grow and divide. He also claimed that antineoplastons could boost the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.

However, many researchers and oncologists are skeptical of Burzynski’s claims. Some have pointed out that there is no evidence that antineoplastons are naturally occurring peptides, and that they may be synthetic compounds that Burzynski has not fully disclosed.

Clinical Studies

Despite decades of controversy, there have been a number of clinical studies of antineoplaston therapy. However, the quality of these studies has been widely criticized, and most have not been published in reputable medical journals.

One of the most well-known studies of antineoplastons was published in 2006 in the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies. The study, which was conducted by Burzynski and his colleagues, claimed that antineoplastons were effective in treating advanced brain tumors. However, the study was criticized for its small sample size, lack of a control group, and other methodological flaws.

Controversies and Criticisms

Antineoplaston therapy has been controversial since its inception. Supporters of the treatment claim that it is a safe and effective alternative to traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. They point to anecdotal evidence of patients who have experienced complete remission of their cancer after receiving antineoplaston therapy.

Critics, on the other hand, argue that there is no scientific evidence to support the use of antineoplastons in cancer treatment. They point out that the majority of clinical studies of the treatment have been conducted by Burzynski and his colleagues, and have not been published in reputable medical journals.

Some critics have also raised concerns about thepotential side effects of antineoplaston therapy. According to the National Cancer Institute, some of the reported side effects of antineoplastons include fever, nausea, vomiting, and confusion. In rare cases, the treatment can cause life-threatening electrolyte imbalances.

Another major criticism of antineoplaston therapy is the lack of regulation and oversight. In the United States, the FDA has not approved antineoplastons for the treatment of cancer. However, Burzynski has been able to provide the treatment to patients through a regulatory loophole known as “compassionate use.”

Compassionate use allows patients with life-threatening illnesses to access experimental treatments that have not been approved by the FDA. However, critics argue that compassionate use can be exploited by unscrupulous practitioners who use unproven and potentially dangerous treatments to exploit vulnerable patients.

Legal Issues

In addition to the legal issues that Burzynski faced in the 1990s, he has also been the subject of numerous investigations and lawsuits in the years since. In 2013, the Texas Medical Board filed a complaint against Burzynski, accusing him of administering antineoplaston therapy without sufficient evidence of its efficacy.

In 2018, Burzynski was ordered by a Texas court to pay more than $500,000 in damages to a former patient who claimed that his clinic had provided her with ineffective and dangerous treatments. The patient alleged that she had suffered severe side effects from the treatment, including seizures, hallucinations, and memory loss.


Antineoplaston therapy remains a controversial and unproven alternative cancer treatment. While some patients and supporters of the treatment claim remarkable success, the majority of clinical studies have been criticized for their methodological flaws and lack of scientific rigor.

Critics argue that the potential risks and side effects of antineoplaston therapy outweigh any potential benefits, and that patients should seek out proven and well-regulated treatments for their cancer. As with any alternative therapy, patients should consult with their doctors and do their own research before considering antineoplaston therapy.