The homeopaths are franctically spreading the good news. A new study published in the International Journal of Oncology proves that extreme dilutions not only have a biologic effect but also selectively kill cancer cells.. Frenkel M, Mishra BM, et al. ; Cytotoxic effects of ultra-diluted remedies on breast cancer cells. Int J Oncol; 2010 Feb; 36(2):395-403.The abstract can be found here, and on that page is a link to download the complete text as pdf file.
The authors claim: “We conducted an in vitro study to determine if products prescribed by a clinic in India have any effect on breast cancer cell lines. We studied four ultra-diluted remedies (Carcinosin, Phytolacca, Conium and Thuja) against two human breast adenocarcinoma cell lines (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) and a cell line derived from immortalized normal human mammary epithelial cells (HMLE). The remedies exerted preferential cytotoxic effects against the two breast cancer cell lines, causing cell cycle delay/arrest and apoptosis.”
One magazine for homeopaths (Homeopathy Plus) even writes: “Homeopathy as good as chemotherapy for breast cancer”, and no side effects of course.
I had a look at the paper and was not impressed.
They tested four different homeopathic remedies. Three are ultra-diluted to 60, 60 and 400 zero's and one to 6 or 1/1.000.000. Dilution beyond 23 zero's (the Avogadro constant) means that there isn't any active ingredient present anymore. The subjects were breast cancer cells and normal cells in test tubes. They were brought in contact separately with each remedy, in different amounts and with different durations, and also with the solvent alone. The effect on the cultures was measured in five different ways and is represented in dozens of bar graphs and pictures. The authors conclude that the products have a biological effect and selectively kill or stop the growth of cancer cells, comparable in strenght to paclitaxel (Taxol), a well known anti-cancer drug.
The products were supplied by an Indian firm, the tests were done by the MD Anderson's Integrative Medicine Clinic in Texas, USA, where homeopathy is currently used for many ailments.
What's wrong with this study: