Oxygen therapies are expensive, unproven, and harmful alternatives promoted in appealing and convincing ways for the treatment of cancer and other major diseases. Supporters claim that low levels of oxygen enable cancer cells to thrive and that an oxygen-rich environment destroys them. However, these claims are unsubstantiated. Further, numerous reports of serious complications and fatalities have been reported from the use of oxygen therapies.
The American Cancer Society strongly urges cancer patients not to seek oxygen treatments. Patients should be advised to avoid questionable, alternative treatments and informed of the dangers associated with these therapies.
—Barrie Cassileth, PhD
ALSO KNOWN AS: Oxymedicine, bio-oxidative therapy, oxidative therapy, oxidology, hydrogen peroxide therapy, ozone therapy, ozonolysis, hyperoxygenation therapies, hyperoxygenated water.
SUMMARY: Oxygen therapies are unproven alternatives promoted as a cure for cancer, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), and other degenerative diseases. These “therapies” are offered at clinics in Mexico, the United States, and Europe. Proponents claim that many diseases, including cancer, are caused by oxygen deficiency and that oxygenation can restore health by destroying cancer cells, eliminating pathogens, stimulating metabolism, and by producing “oxidative detoxification.” There is no scientific evidence to support any of these claims.
Oxygen therapies include: (1) hydrogen peroxide therapy involving intravenous infusion, ingestion, colonic administration, or soaking in hydrogen peroxide solution; (2) ozone colonics and ozone autohemotherapy, in which blood is withdrawn and treated with ozone before reinfusion, and (3) “oxygenated” water, pills, and solutions.
The use of oxygen therapies has resulted in serious adverse events and several deaths.
Oxygen therapies should not be confused with those commonly used in respiratory care.
ADVERSE EFFECTS: Common (intrarectal hydrogen peroxide): Numerous cases of hydrogen peroxide-induced ulcerative colitis and sepsis have been reported.
Case Report (intravenous hydrogen peroxide): In a 51-year-old AIDS patient, injection of 35% hydrogen peroxide into the subclavian vein catheter caused Heinz body hemolytic anemia, subsequent hemoglobinuria, and death from progressive renal insufficiency with multiple electrolyte abnormalities. Case Report (oral hydrogen peroxide): Ingestion of 30% to 40% hydrogen peroxide solution resulted in three deaths from gas embolism and circulatory collapse.
In addition, two cases of cerebral embolism were reported after ingestion of 30% to 40% hydrogen peroxide solution.[4,5] Common (subcutaneous ozone): Local pain, burning, erythema, edema, and hematoma.
Transmission of blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV was reported after treatment with contaminated autohemotherapy devices.
DRUG INTERACTIONS: Oxygen may potentiate the pulmonary toxicity of bleomycin.
1. Shaw A, Cooperman A, Fusco J: Gas embolism produced by hydrogen peroxide. N Engl J Med 277:238-241, 1967.
2. Hirschtick RE, Dyrda SE, Peterson LC: Death from an unconventional therapy for AIDS. Ann Intern Med 120:694, 1994.
3. Meyer CT, Brand M, DeLuca VA, et al: Hydrogen peroxide colitis: A report of three patients. J Clin Gastroenterol 3:31-35, 1981.
4. Giberson TP, Kern JD, Pettigrew DW 3rd, et al: Near-fatal hydrogen peroxide ingestion. Ann Emerg Med 18:778-779, 1989.
5. Sherman SJ, Boyer LV, Sibley WA: Cerebral infarction immediately after ingestion of hydrogen peroxide solution. Stroke 25:1065-1067, 1994.
6. Franzini M, et al: Subcutaneous oxygen-ozone therapy in indurative hypodermatitis and in localized lipodystrophies: A clinical study of efficacy and tolerability. Acta Toxicol Ther 14:273-288, 1993.
7. Daschner FD: Hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus infection following ozone autohemotherapy. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 16:620, 1997.
8. Ingrassia TS 3rd, Ryu JH, Trastek VF, et al: Oxygen-exacerbated bleomycin pulmonary toxicity. Mayo Clin Proc 66:173-178, 1991.