An epidemiological study was conducted to observe the effects of an oral enzyme (made up of papain, trypsin and chymotrypsin) in patients with breast cancer. Out of 649 patients, 239 received the oral enzyme whereas 410 patients received only conventional treatment. Researchers found that symptoms such as infections, skin disorders, tumor pain, and headache resulting both from cancer and cancer treatments were less in patients who took the oral enzyme. Since the observations were made over a short period of time, more research is needed.
One hundred patients with head and neck cancers receiving radiotherapy participated in another study. Patients in the study group received three tablets of an oral enzyme (made of papain, trypsin and chymotrypsin) three times a day from 3 days prior to beginning radiotherapy until 5 days after completing radiotherapy. Patients in the control group did not receive the enzyme. Researchers found a reduction in symptoms such as mucositis (inflammation of mucus membrane), dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing) and skin reaction associated with radiotherapy in patients from the study group. Studies with more patients are needed to verify the above effects.
Another study involved 56 cancer patients who were given either four capsules of an oral enzyme preparation three times a day, three days before pelvic radiation and finishing on the last day of treatment or placebo. All patients received similar amounts of radiation. Results did not show any benefits of the oral enzyme in reducing the severe side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting due to radiotherapy.
Fifty-five patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer were enrolled in this controlled, observational study. Twenty-three patients chose gemcitabine-based chemotherapy, whereas 32 elected enzyme treatment that consisted of pancreatic enzymes, nutritional supplements, detoxification, and an organic diet. The two groups had no significant differences in quality of life or pathology at enrollment. At one year time point, researchers observed an increase in overall survival and better quality of life in patients who chose gemcitabine-based chemotherapy compared to those in the proteolytic enzyme group.