Cesium Chloride

Health Care Professional Information

Clinical Summary

Cesium is an alkali metal that is stable in its natural form. The radioactive isoform (Cesium 137) is used in radiation therapy. Cesium chloride, the non-radioactive salt, is promoted as an alternative treatment, also known as “high pH therapy,” for cancer. This is based on the findings that cancer cells have an affinity for cesium ions (1) and proponents claim that the increased cellular pH following uptake of cesium prevents cancer cells from undergoing mitosis and neutralizes the toxic material present in them. But there are no data to substantiate these claims. According to a case series report, half of the patients with terminal cancers who used a cesium-based regimen survived after one year. However, one quarter of the patients died in the first two weeks which suggests that the treatment is highly toxic (2).
Reported adverse effects of cesium chloride intake include syncope, hypokalemia, diarrhea, and ventricular tachycardia with prolonged QT interval (3) (4).  No randomized clinical trials have been conducted using oral cesium chloride as a cancer treatment.

Purported Uses
  • Cancer treatment
Mechanism of Action

Proponents of cesium chloride therapy claim that it exerts antitumor effects by increasing the intracellular pH of tumor cells. The resulting alkaline environment is thought to prevent cancer cells from undergoing mitosis and eventually result in cell death.  Cesium causes hypokalemia by inhibiting potassium channels used for absorption of dietary potassium or for reabsorption of renal potassium. It may also cause hypokalemia indirectly via loss of potassium due to repetitive diarrhea (5). Intravenous administration of cesium has been shown to cause arrhythmias in animals (4).

Pharmacokinetics

Upon oral administration, cesium is widely distributed in the body with high concentrations in liver and is retained for a long time in soft tissues, especially in the skeletal muscle (6).

Adverse Reactions

Reported (Oral)
A 52-year-old woman with colon cancer developed syncope, hypokalemia, and ventricular tachycardia with a prolonged QT interval following several weeks of self treatment with 3 grams/day of cesium chloride. The symptoms reduced after four days following cessation of cesium chloride intake (5).
A second case reported in 2004 was that of a 43-year-old woman with brain cancer. She developed symptoms of prolonged QT interval and sustained monomorphic ventricular tachycardia following 10 days of self administration of cesium chloride (9 grams/day). The QT interval returned to normal after six weeks of initial onset of symptoms. The hypokalemia was treated by potassium and magnesium supplementation (3).
A 16-year-old girl with metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma experienced cesium-induced QT-interval prolongation after the start of a cesium chloride-based alternative treatment regimen. The symptoms abated following treatment and discontinuation of cesium chloride (8).
Repeated episodes of torsades de pointes ventricular tachycardia were observed in a 45-year-old woman with metastatic breast cancer patient following ingestion of oral cesium chloride for several months. Her condition improved with treatment and cessation of cesium chloride (9).
A 65-year-old lady experienced recurrent syncope attacks following use of anticancer naturopathic drugs which included one containing 89% Cesium chloride. Her symptoms abated after treatment and discontinuation of cesium intake (10).
 

Herb-Drug Interactions

Cesium use causes hypokalemia that may be exacerbated when taken with drugs such as diuretics and corticosteroids that reduce serum potassium levels (2).

Literature Summary and Critique

Sartori HE. Cesium therapy in cancer patients. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1984;21 Suppl 1:11-3.
This is a case series of cancer patients with metastatic disease. Patients were given 6 to 9 g cesium chloride daily along with vitamin A, zinc, selenium, and amygdalin, plus a supportive diet of whole grains and vegetables. Of the 50 patients treated, 13 died in the first two weeks of treatment. According to the author, the autopsies did not show any tumors in these patients. However, this also suggests that cesium chloride is highly toxic. Only half of the study patients survived after one year. 
Because this was not a controlled study, the effects of cesium compared to other treatments remain unclear. 

Dosage (Inside MSKCC Only)
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References
  1. Brewer AK. The high pH therapy for cancer tests on mice and humans. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1984; 21 Suppl 1:1-5.
  2. Sartori HE. Cesium therapy in cancer patients. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1984; 21 Suppl 1:11-13.
  3. Dalal AK, Harding JD, Verdino RJ. Acquired long QT syndrome and monomorphic ventricular tachycardia after alternative treatment with cesium chloride for brain cancer. Mayo Clin Proc 2004; 79(8):1065-1069.
  4. Jones DL, Petrie JP, Li HG. Spontaneous, electrically, and cesium chloride induced arrhythmia and afterdepolarizations in the rapidly paced dog heart. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol 2001; 24(4 Pt 1):474-485.
  5. Lyon AW, Mayhew WJ. Cesium toxicity: a case of self-treatment by alternate therapy gone awry. Ther Drug Monit 2003; 25(1):114-116.
  6. Centeno JA, et al. Blood and tissue concentration of cesium after exposure to cesium chloride: a report of two cases. Biol Trace Elem Res 2003; 94(2):97-104.
  7. Low JC, Wasan KM, Fazli L, et al. Assessing the therapeutic and toxicological effects of cesium chloride following administration to nude mice bearing PC-3 or LNCaP prostate cancer xenografts. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 2007;60:821-829.
  8. O'Brien CE, Harik N, James LP, et al. Cesium-induced QT-interval prolongation in an adolescent. Pharmacotherapy. 2008 Aug;28(8):1059-65. Review.
  9. Wiens M, Gordon W, Baulcomb D, et al. Cesium chloride-induced torsades de pointes. Can J Cardiol. 2009 Sep;25(9):e329-31.
  10. Chan CK, Chan MH, Tse ML, et al. Life-threatening Torsades de Pointes resulting from “natural” cancer treatment. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2009 Jul;47(6):592-4.

Consumer Information

How It Works

Bottom Line: There is no evidence to support use of cesium chloride as a cancer treatment. Cesium chloride can cause heart problems.

Cesium chloride is promoted as an alternative cure for cancer treatment. Supporters claim that cesium neutralizes the toxic material produced by tumor cells and prevents them from dividing. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims. Cesium taken orally is known to cause diarrhea, nausea, loss of potassium, and irregular heartbeat.

Purported Uses
  • Cancer Treatment
    There is no scientific evidence to support this claim.
Research Evidence

A small non-randomized study done in 1984 in patients with metastasized cancers showed that only half of the study patients survived after one year of treatment using cesium chloride along with supplements. No studies have been conducted since.

Do Not Take If
  • If you are taking corticosteroids (both cesium and corticosteroids cause loss of potassium and the combined effects may be serious).
  •  If you taking certain diuretics (the combination of cesium and diuretics may severely reduce serum potassium levels).
Side Effects
  • Nausea
  • Syncope (loss of consciousness due to insufficient blood flow to the brain)
  • Ventricular tachycardia (rapid heart beat that originates in one of the ventricles)
  • Hypokalemia (reduction in potassium levels)
  • Diarrhea

    Several cases of heart problems have been reported with use of oral cesium chloride:

    A 52-year-old woman with colon cancer developed syncope, hypokalemia, and ventricular tachycardia with a prolonged QT interval following several weeks of self treatment with 3 grams/day of cesium chloride. The symptoms reduced after four days following cessation of cesium chloride intake.
    A second case reported in 2004 was that of a 43-year-old woman with brain cancer. She developed symptoms of prolonged QT interval and sustained monomorphic ventricular tachycardia following 10 days of self administration of cesium chloride (9 grams/day). The QT interval returned to normal after six weeks of initial onset of symptoms. The hypokalemia was treated by potassium and magnesium supplementation.
    A 16-year-old girl with metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma experienced cesium-induced QT-interval prolongation after the start of a cesium chloride-based alternative treatment regimen. The symptoms abated following treatment and discontinuation of cesium chloride.
    Repeated episodes of torsades de pointes ventricular tachycardia were observed in a 45-year-old woman with metastatic breast cancer patient following ingestion of oral cesium chloride for several months. Her condition improved with treatment and cessation of cesium chloride.
    A 65-year-old lady experienced recurrent syncope attacks following use of anticancer naturopathic drugs which included one containing 89% Cesium chloride. Her symptoms abated after treatment and discontinuation of cesium intake.
    A 45-year-old woman with metastatic breast cancer experienced repeated episodes of torsades de pointes polymorphic ventricular tachycardia following oral cesium therapy for many months. Her symptoms resolved after discontinuation of cesium therapy.
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