This prescription drug is used off-label in low doses to treat people with cancer, with notable but very preliminary successes in cases where the cancers were difficult-to-treat or quite advanced.
Low-dose naltrexone at a glance
Naltrexone is a pharmaceutical opioid antagonist approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in conventional medicine at doses of 50 mg or higher to treat addiction (opioid or alcohol). Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) is used off-label—outside FDA’s approval—to treat cancer and other diseases and disorders.
Every US state allows off-label drug use if supported by enough evidence. According to Dr. Linda Elsegood, off-label use of LDN is supported by sufficient evidence in small studies and case studiesa descriptive and exploratory analysis of a person, group, or event regarding changes observed over time; because changes due to treatment are not compared to similar changes over time without treatment, a case study is considered a weak study design.1Elsegood L. Ed. The LDN Book. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing. 2016.
The evidence to date for LDN in improving treatment outcomes is sparse but impressive, linking LDN to longer survival among people with a few difficult-to-treat cancers, including glioma and pancreatic cancer. LDN may also reduce non-cancer pain.
CancerChoices ratings for low-dose naltrexone
We rate low-dose naltrexone on seven attributes, with 0 the lowest rating and 5 the highest.
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