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En excerpt from the book : 

"ALTERNATIVES IN CANCER THERAPY"
 
by Ross, R.Ph. Pelton, Lee Overholser

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16

Alkylglycerols

A GROUP OF compounds called alkylglycerols is being used in treating leukemia and other cancers. The major source of these chemicals is shark liver oil. (1)

Shark liver oil has been used as a folk medicine by the inhabitants of the fishing villages along the west coast of Norway and Sweden for hundreds of years. The fishermen cooked the livers to extract the oil, then stored it in the cleaned and preserved shark stomachs.

The oil was used to promote wound healing and as a general remedy for conditions related to the respiratory tract and the digestive system. It was also used to treat "glandular diseases," which we commonly refer to as swollen lymph nodes.

Background

In 1952 a young Swedish doctor named Astrid Brohult was looking for a way to raise the low counts of white blood cells in children receiving radiation treatment for leukemia. In leukemia a group of the white blood cells, the leukocytes, experience an explosion in numbers. Radiation is used to kill off much of the bone marrow where the excess production of white blood cells is taking place.

Damage to the bone marrow is an inevitable side effect of radiation therapy. This causes leukopenia (a reduction in white blood cell count) and thrombocytopenia (a reduction in platelets or red blood cells). These side effects often produce problems that can become more life threatening than the cancer being treated.

On the whole, the conventional treatment of leukemia is one of the success stories of radiation and chemotherapy. A disease that was previously 90-percent or more fatal now has a much lower death rate. However, the side effects of the treatment can be devastating.

Since white blood cells are made in the bone marrow, Dr. Brohult reasoned that an extract of fresh bone marrow might help the children with low white blood cell counts. She prepared an extract using the unsaponifiable fat from fresh scrapings taken from calf bone marrow. (Fat is unsaponifiable when it can't be made into soap.) She then gave this new substance to the children with leukemia at the Radiumhemmet Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, where she was working.

Dr. Brohult's experiment produced astonishing results. Some of the children under her care not only showed increased white blood cell counts, but experienced a remarkable increase in energy.

Dr. Brohult asked her husband, Sven Brohult, Ph.D., a professor of biochemistry, to identify the active substance in the calf bone marrow. After several years he finally established that the increase in white, blood cell production was due to a group of chemicals known as alkylglycerols.

Alkylglycerols

The alkylglycerols were discovered by two Japanese scientists in 1922. (14) They are naturally occurring esters, which are chemicals formed by the combination of a fatty acid and an alcohol molecule. The most common alcohols in these compounds are batyl alcohol, chimyi alcohol, and selachyl alcohol.

Some forty years after their discovery, new analytical techniques enabled a pair of Swedish scientists, Hallgren and Larsson, to study the occurrence of alkylglycerols in humans, cattle, and sharks. (9, 10) When they occur in nature, the alkylglycerols are found esterified with fatty acids. (3)

In the 1940s it was discovered that bone marrow contains one of the alkylglycerols, batyl alcohol. (11) Subsequent research showed that synthetic batyl alcohol enhances the production of red blood cells in the same way that bone marrow extractions containing high concentrations of batyl alcohol do. (13)

In animals and humans the alkylglycerol-esters are found in red blood cells, the spleen, liver, and, especially, the bone marrow. They are also involved in the production of white blood cells in the bone marrow. They appear to be as essential to white blood cell production as iron is to red blood cell production. (11)

Alkylglycerols also occur naturally in mother's milk. There are ten times more alkylglycerols in human milk than in cow's milk. (9) But the most abundant source of alkylglycerols is the liver oil of certain sharks. (10)

Purification Process

It took several years to develop an industrial purification process that removed contaminants such as PCBs (polychlorinated bi-phenyls), pesticides, cholesterol, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and vitamins A and D from the shark liver oil, while at the same time concentrating the alkylglycerols without destroying them. PCBs are used in electrical transformers and are widely distributed throughout the environment in trace amounts. Designing and building machinery for commercial production took several more years. Finally, in 1986 (thirty-four years after Dr. Brohult's original discovery) the first purified shark liver oil containing a standardized dosage of alkylglycerols was marketed commercially.

Clinical Studies

For over half a century now, the Brohults and several other scientists have been studying the biological and medical effects of the alkylglycerols. Dr. Astrid Brohult's early research with leukemia patients showed that taking alkylglycerols during the course of radiation therapy may reduce and even prevent leu-kopenia and thrombocytopenia. (3) It remained to be learned if the enhancement of white blood cell production extended to radiation treatment for other types of cancer.

In a large study Dr. Brohult showed that women with uterine cervical cancer who received alkylglycerols before primary radiation treatment and during follow-up radiation therapy had a significantly better survival rate than the women who had identical radiation therapy but were not given alkylglycerols. (2)

Alkylglycerol-esters were given to about three hundred patients suffering from radiation-induced leukopenia. Of these, 75 percent responded with an increased leukocyte count in spite of continued radiation treatment. In 15 percent of the cases the leukocyte level was stabilized, while only 10 percent continued to decrease.

Another study demonstrated that women who take alkylglycerols prophylactically starting eight days before the beginning of radiation therapy have lower mortality rates and greater survival than women who just take them during the course of radiation therapy. (4) Comparison with controls showed that the prophylactic administration of alkylglycerols before starting radiation also slowed tumor growth.

Radiation therapy can produce a wide range of tissue damage and injury. Several studies have been published showing that the number of radiation-induced injuries is substantially lower in patients treated with alkylglycerols. (6, 7, 12) The results were especially impressive in patients where treatment with alkylglycerols had been started prophylactically seven days before the beginning of radiation therapy. Prophylactic administration reduced the incidence of total injuries due to radiation more than 50 percent.

It was unexpectedly discovered that the administration of alkylglycerols for five to seven days before the beginning of radiation treatment also reduced the growth of tumors. The more advanced tumors (stages IIB-IV) regressed toward less advanced stages. (8) Alkylglycerols have also been shown to cause a regression of tumor growth in studies on mice in a laboratory environment. (3)

Alkylglycerols and the Immune System

The ability to react against cancer cells that are not eliminated by radiation treatment could depend in part upon the body's immune system. In a study designed to test this, volunteers were given alkylglycerols along with standard vaccination shots. Controls were given only the vaccination. Treatment with alkylglycerols enhanced the general immunological response, as shown by the body's capacity to form antibodies after vaccination. (5)

Side Effects and Toyicity

The published research on alkylglycerols does not refer to any side effects or toxicities at normal doses. However, in toxicological studies in rats and dogs, very high doses did produce toxic effects to the lymphatic system.

Dosage

The alkylglycerols are marketed in the United States under the trade name of Ecomer. Each capsule of Ecomer contains 50 mg of alkylglycerols in 250 mg of purified shark liver oil.

The normally recommended therapeutic dosage of alkylglycerols (Ecomer) for cancer patients is 100 mg (2 capsules) three times daily. For health maintenance and as a preventative, the usual recommended dose of alkylglycerols (Ecomer) is 1 capsule twice daily.

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