Copper promotes the formation of blood vessels, including those that supply tumors. Depleting copper can deprive the tumor of its suppliers.

How do experts use copper chelation?

Integrative experts provide recommendations for this therapy in treating people with cancer. Learn more about the approaches and meanings of recommendations.

Published protocols, programs, and approaches

Copper chelation is used in programs, approaches and protocolsa package of therapies combining and preferably integrating various therapies and practices into a cohesive design for care from these integrative oncologists, drawing from both scientific research and observations from years or even decades of treating people with cancer:

Keith Block, MD

Block KI. Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Care. New York: Bantam Dell. 2009.

The integrative Block Program has recommendations to people who are at different places along the cancer continuum:

  • Those who’ve been recently diagnosed
  • Those in treatment
  • Those who’ve concluded treatment and need to remain vigilant to prevent recurrence

Copper chelation: off-label use for cancer to inhibit formation of new blood vessels to supply tumors (angiogenesis)

Neil McKinney, BSc, ND

McKinney N. Naturopathic Oncology, Fourth Edition. Victoria, BC, Canada: Liaison Press. 2020.

This book includes descriptions and uses of many natural and complementary protocols for cancer in general and for specific cancers. It also includes information on integrative support during conventional cancer treatment.

Uses of copper chelation:

  • Melanoma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Breast cancer: used in the Bastyr University Integrative Oncology Research Center research protocol for stage 4 breast cancer

Gurdev Parmar, ND, FABNO, and Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO

Parmar G, Kaczor T. Textbook of Naturopathic Oncology: A Desktop Guide of Integrative Cancer Care. 1st edition. Medicatrix Holdings Ltd. 2020.

This book provides information on the treatment of 24 cancers, plus the most effective treatments of the most common symptoms affecting cancer patients while they undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery.

Other expert use

Some physicians providing integrative oncology care, such as CancerChoices advisor Brian Bouch, MD, have used copper chelation in their practices and have noted good or even reSome physicians providing integrative oncology care, such as CancerChoices advisor Brian Bouch, MD, have used copper chelation in their practices and have noted good or even remarkable results in some of their patients. Some of these physicians also have their patients follow a low-copper diet.1Food for Breast Cancer: Food and Other Sources of Copper Exposure. July 2015. Viewed May 16, 2022; Discharge Instructions: Eating a Low-Copper Diet. St. Luke’s. Viewed May, 16 2022..

Dosing

Dosage has not been standardized for use in cancer care, but recommendations are available from these sources:

See the Commentary below.

General information about dosing

Find general dosing guidelines regarding natural products and supplements.

Expert commentary

Naturopathic oncologist and BCCT advisor Jen Green, ND, FABNO, and CancerChoices Senior Clinical Consultant Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, July 15, 2019: Zinc and copper are inversely related: as zinc levels increase, copper levels decrease. A higher copper-to-zinc ratio is associated with an increased risk of some cancers, likely because copper levels increase with angiogenesis. The situation is often exacerbated by zinc depletion from chemotherapy, malabsorption, head radiation or chronic diarrhea (all common in people with cancer). Zinc is important for white blood cell function, so I (Dr. Green) am a fan of zinc supplementation.

High doses of zinc can lower copper levels, and zinc is used in lowering copper levels in Wilson’s disease. To our knowledge it has not been used alone in clinical trials to reduce copper levels in people with cancer. I (Dr. Green) have tried high-dose zinc with molybdenum to lower copper levels in my patients, and that strategy is able to get ceruloplasmin to the low end of the normal range. However, to actually get ceruloplasmin into the 8 to 17 mg/dL range (below normal range) that was used in the Cornell study in triple negative breast cancer survivors, one has to use TM. Thankfully, TM is still currently available from one pharmacy in the US.

See also commentary for health professionals in Are you a health professional? ›

Keep reading about copper chelation

Authors

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Reviewer

Jen Green, ND, FABNO

Naturopathic oncologist and CancerChoices advisor
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Dr. Green is a naturopathic physician who is board-certified in naturopathic oncology (FABNO). Dr. Green is also a cofounder/research director for Knowledge in Integrative Oncology Website, a nonprofit website that harvests up-to-date research in integrative oncology to support evidence-informed decision making. Dr. Green has published scientific articles in journals such as the American Urology Association Update SeriesJournal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine and Natural Medicine Journal.

Jen Green, ND, FABNO Naturopathic oncologist and CancerChoices advisor

Last update: May 16, 2022

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

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