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Krebiozen (aka Carcalon, creatine, substance X, or drug X) is a disproven cancer treatment that is made available as an alternative cancer treatment. While the substance has been marketed as a cure for cancer, originally sold for thousands of dollars per dose in the 1950s and early 1960s, Krebiozen is not known to possess any therapeutic value. Attempts to analyze its composition have shown that Krebiozen consists only of the amino acid creatine dissolved in mineral oil, and some samples sold as Krebiozen consist solely of mineral oil with no other discernible ingredients. [1] [2]

Amino acid Organic compounds containing amine and carboxylic groups

Amino acids are organic compounds containing amine (-NH2) and carboxyl (-COOH) functional groups, along with a side chain (R group) specific to each amino acid. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), and nitrogen (N), although other elements are found in the side chains of certain amino acids. About 500 naturally occurring amino acids are known (though only 20 appear in the genetic code) and can be classified in many ways. They can be classified according to the core structural functional groups' locations as alpha- (α-), beta- (β-), gamma- (γ-) or delta- (δ-) amino acids; other categories relate to polarity, pH level, and side chain group type (aliphatic, acyclic, aromatic, containing hydroxyl or sulfur, etc.). In the form of proteins, amino acid residues form the second-largest component (water is the largest) of human muscles and other tissues. Beyond their role as residues in proteins, amino acids participate in a number of processes such as neurotransmitter transport and biosynthesis.

Creatine chemical compound

Creatine ( or ) is an organic compound with the nominal formula (H2N)(HN)CN(CH3)CH2CO2H. This species exists in various modifications (tautomers) in solution. Creatine is found in vertebrates where it facilitates recycling of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of the cell, primarily in muscle and brain tissue. Recycling is achieved by converting adenosine diphosphate (ADP) back to ATP via donation of phosphate groups. Creatine also acts as a buffer.

Mineral oil liquid mixture of higher alkanes from a mineral source, particularly a distillate of petroleum

Mineral oil is any of various colorless, odorless, light mixtures of higher alkanes from a mineral source, particularly a distillate of petroleum.


The American Cancer Society states: "Available scientific evidence does not support claims that Krebiozen is effective in treating cancer or any other disease." According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), creatine has been linked to several dangerous side effects. [3]

American Cancer Society health organization seeking to cure and treat cancer

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a nationwide voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer. Established in 1913, the society is organized into eleven geographical divisions of both medical and lay volunteers operating in more than 900 offices throughout the United States. Its home office is located in the American Cancer Society Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The ACS publishes the journals Cancer, CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and Cancer Cytopathology.

History and evaluation

Krebiozen was initially promoted by Stevan Durovic, a Yugoslavian physician who claimed that the substance came from horse serum inoculated with Actinomyces bovis . [1] Durovic claimed that Krebiozen had been useful in the treatment of cancer, mainly in cats and dogs. His claims were backed by Andrew Conway Ivy, a prominent physiologist, and by several politicians including Senator Paul Douglas (D-IL). [1] Ivy became convinced that Krebiozen possessed anti-cancer properties, [4] administered the substance to himself and colleagues, then to a dog, and eventually started testing Krebiozen on patients. [2]

Yugoslavia 1918–1992 country in Southeastern and Central Europe

Yugoslavia was a country in Southeastern and Central Europe for most of the 20th century. It came into existence after World War I in 1918 under the name of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes by the merger of the provisional State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs with the Kingdom of Serbia, and constituted the first union of the South Slavic people as a sovereign state, following centuries in which the region had been part of the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary. Peter I of Serbia was its first sovereign. The kingdom gained international recognition on 13 July 1922 at the Conference of Ambassadors in Paris. The official name of the state was changed to Kingdom of Yugoslavia on 3 October 1929.

Actinomyces bovis is a gram-positive, rod-shaped bacterium of the genus Actinomyces. It is the causative agent of Lumpy jaw in cattle, and occasionally causes infections in humans

Andrew Conway Ivy was appointed by the American Medical Association as its representative at the 1946 Nuremberg Medical Trial for Nazi doctors.

Ivy called a press conference in 1951 at which he announced to an audience of journalists, politicians, doctors and potential investors that Krebiozen was a success. At the press conference, Ivy claimed that of 22 treated patients, 14 were alive and none had died of cancer. However, in reality 10 of the treated patients had diedall of cancerat the time of the press conference. [2] Shortly afterward, the Krebiozen Research Foundation was established by the Durovic brothers, with Ivy as president.

Intrigued by Ivy's announcement, 10 hospitals and cancer research centers followed up on the trial and attempted to reproduce Ivy's claimed results. None of these independent researchers observed any effect of Krebiozen on cancer. A compilation of these institutions' negative data was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1951. [5] Krebiozen's backers responded by alleging a conspiracy against the drug. [2] In 1959, Ivy began producing his own version of the drug under the name "Carcalon". [6]

Reproducibility is the closeness of the agreement between the results of measurements of the same measurand carried out with same methodology described in the corresponding scientific evidence. Reproducibilty can also be applied under changed conditions of measurement for the same measurand to check, that the results are not an artefact of the measurement procedures. A related concept is replicability, meaning the ability to independently achieve non-identical conclusions that are at least similar, when differences in sampling, research procedures and data analysis methods may exist. Reproducibility and replicability together are among the main beliefs of 'the scientific method'—with the concrete expressions of the ideal of such a method varying considerably across research disciplines and fields of study. The reproduced measurement may be based on the raw data and computer programs provided by researchers.

Conspiracy theory An explanation of an event or situation that unnecessarily invokes a conspiracy

A conspiracy theory is the fear of a nonexistent or alleged conspiracy or the unnecessary assumption of conspiracy when other explanations are more probable. Evidence showing it to be false, or the absence of proof of the conspiracy, is interpreted by believers as evidence of its truth, thus insulating it from refutation.

On October 28, 1964, the Durovics, Ivy and the Krebiozen Research Foundation were indicted for introducing mislabeled drugs into interstate commerce in violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. After a 9-month trial, the case ended with a hung jury and they were acquitted. [2] [7] Soon afterwards, Durovic was indicted for tax evasion and fled the United States. [6]

A hung jury or deadlocked jury is a judicial jury that cannot agree upon a verdict after extended deliberation and is unable to reach the required unanimity or supermajority.


In order to evaluate Durovic's and Ivy's claims, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) requested samples of Krebiozen. These were provided on two occasions to the NCI and one occasion to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Durovic proposed to charge the NCI $170,000 per gram of Krebiozen, although ultimately the samples were provided free of charge. However, the FDA spectrophotometry team, led by Alma Levant Hayden, proved the samples consisted only of creatine monohydrate, a simple amino acid, sometimes dissolved in mineral oil. [1] [2] [4] [6] [8] When the FDA went back to test previously acquired samples of Krebiozen, they found that many lacked even creatine, and consisted solely of mineral oil with no discernible active ingredients. [2]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 "Krebiozen Analyzed". Time . 1963-09-13. Archived from the original on December 22, 2008. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Holland, James (1966-10-07). "The Krebiozen Story". Quackwatch . Retrieved 2008-10-09.
  3. "Krebiozen". American Cancer Society. 1 November 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  4. 1 2 "Krebiozen". British Columbia Cancer Agency. February 2000. Archived from the original on 2008-04-16. Retrieved 2008-10-09.
  5. "STATUS report on "krebiozen"". J Am Med Assoc. 147 (9): 86473. October 1951. PMID   14873580.
  6. 1 2 3 "Krebiozen". American Cancer Society. 20 July 2007. Archived from the original on 29 October 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  7. "The Krebiozen Verdict". Time . 1966-11-02. Archived from the original on February 22, 2008. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  8. Loory, Stuart H. (8 September 1963). "Student found clue to Krebiozen identity shortly after starting work on 20,000 spectrographs". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 24. Retrieved 7 May 2017.