Fenbendazole is a common medicine used for veterinary purposes in animals (roundworms, hookworms and some tapeworms). But it’s also been touted as a cure for cancer by veterinarians who post videos on Facebook and TikTok. These vets have been reprimanded by the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia for promoting alternative medicines.
Veterinarians have a duty to provide patients with accurate and up-to-date information on health care and treatment. These videos, which are viewed millions of times on social media, are misleading and may lead to harm.
In one video, a Canadian veterinarian claims that he has personally witnessed patients with cancer who were cured by taking a dog dewormer called fenbendazole. Another vet says fenbendazole kills all forms of cancer, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, as well as non-cancerous tumours, such as cysts. The vets recommend fenbendazole as part of an overall approach to cancer, which includes diet, exercise and other treatments.
While a number of research studies suggest that anthelmintics—medicines that treat parasites in animals—have potential anti-cancer effects, no peer-reviewed study has found evidence to confirm that fenbendazole can cure cancer in humans. Despite this, people are still asking the question “Can I take fenbendazole for my cancer?”
According to a recent research article published in PLOS ONE, fenbendazole interferes with the activity of microtubules, which are crucial for cellular growth and cell division. These are the structures that separate chromosomes during mitosis, the process by which cells divide to create two new cells. Drugs that disrupt the activity of microtubules are able to inhibit cell growth and block cell replication.
The study tested the effect of fenbendazole on human cancer cells, using an immunofluorescence technique to examine the effect on the microtubule network around the cell nucleus. The researchers found that fenbendazole caused partial disruption of the network and enhanced cell death in cancer cells, even in the presence of wild-type p53 tumour suppressor genes.
They also tested the drug on cancerous mice. The researchers fed the mice fenbendazole every second day for 12 days and found that it significantly reduced tumour size and weight. The results indicated that fenbendazole reduces tumour growth by interfering with the linear movement of the glucose transporter isoform 4 (GLUT4) from the cell membrane to the interior of the cell, thereby blocking insulin-fueled sugar absorption.
In addition to its cancer-fighting properties, fenbendazole has also been shown to kill cryptococcus neoformans, an opportunistic fungus that can cause meningitis in some people. This fungus is difficult to treat with other drugs and can be fatal in some cases, so the discovery of an effective treatment is extremely important. The research team is collaborating with the University of Toronto to further investigate the effectiveness and safety of fenbendazole in treating human cancers. The results of this work will be published in 2023. The researchers are particularly interested in assessing the effect of hypoxia on the cytotoxicity of fenbendazole and other anti-cancer compounds. They hope that their findings will lead to the development of novel strategies for treatment of various types of cancer. fenbendazole for humans