Cesium Chloride

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Cesium Chloride

For Patients & Caregivers

How It Works

There is no evidence to support use of cesium chloride as a cancer treatment.

Cesium chloride is promoted as an alternative 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
    A case series of patients with metastatic cancers showed that only half of the study patients survived after one year of treatment with cesium chloride. However, one quarter of the patients died in the first two weeks which suggests that the treatment is highly toxic.
     
Patient Warnings
  • The US Food and Drug Administration classified cesium chloride as a “bulk drug substance” that poses a significant safety risk in compounding medications. It also issued a warning to avoid using dietary supplements containing cesium chloride or any other cesium salt due to significant safety risks, including heart toxicity and potential death.
Do Not Take If
  • You are taking corticosteroids (both cesium and corticosteroids cause loss of potassium and the combined effects may be serious).
  •  You taking certain diuretics (the combination of cesium and diuretics may severely reduce serum potassium levels).
Side Effects

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.
  • 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.
  • A 42-year-old woman who received cesium chloride as a treatment for metastatic breast carcinoma, experienced a seizure, and died 48 hours later. High levels of cesium were found in blood and organs, including her brain.
  • A 61-year-old woman died of cesium chloride toxicity, following intratumoral injection of oral CsCl around a mass in her breast. Prior to the injection, she took CsCl orally for about an year to treat her breast mass.
  • A 45-year-old man with stage 4 laryngeal cancer experienced urinary potassium wasting that was attributed to systemic cesium toxicity due to consuming cesium chloride supplements for pain relief. He was successfully treated with amiloride.
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For Healthcare Professionals

Clinical Summary

Cesium is an alkali metal, the radioactive isotope (Cesium 137) of which is employed in radiation therapy. Cesium chloride, a non-radioactive salt, is promoted as an alternative cancer treatment. Also known as “high pH therapy,” it is based on findings that cancer cells have an affinity for cesium ions (1). Proponents claim that the elevated cellular pH following uptake of cesium prevents cancer cell division, and neutralizes the toxic material present in them. But there are no data to substantiate these claims. According to a case series, 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)

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 eventually resulting in cell death. Cesium causes hypokalemia by inhibiting potassium channels used for absorption of dietary potassium and for re-absorption of renal potassium. Cesium 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 animal models (4).

Warnings
  • The US Food and Drug Administration classified cesium chloride as a “bulk drug substance” that poses a significant safety risk in compounding medications (13). It also issued a warning to avoid using dietary supplements containing cesium chloride or any other cesium salt due to significant safety risks, including heart toxicity and potential death (14).
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. 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).
  • A 42-year-old woman who received cesium chloride as a treatment for metastatic breast carcinoma, experienced a seizure, and died 48 hours later. High levels of cesium were found in blood and organs, including her brain (11).
  • A 61-year-old woman died of cesium chloride toxicity, following intratumoral injection of oral CsCl around a mass in her breast. Prior to the injection, she took CsCl orally for about an year to treat her breast mass (12).
  • A 45-year-old man with stage 4 laryngeal cancer experienced urinary potassium wasting that was attributed to systemic cesium toxicity due to consuming cesium chloride supplements for pain relief. He was successfully treated with amiloride (15).
Herb-Drug Interactions

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

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.
  11. Khangure SR, Williams ES, Welman CJ. CT brain findings in a patient with elevated brain cesium levels.Neuroradiol J. 2013 Dec;26(6):607-9.
  12. Sessions D, Heard K, Kosnett M.Fatal cesium chloride toxicity after alternative cancer treatment. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Dec;19(12):973-5.
  13. US Food and Drug Administration. FDA alerts health care professionals of significant safety risks associated with cesium chloride. July 23, 2018.  Accessed February 6, 2020.
  14. US Food and Drug Administration. Public Health Alert Concerning Dietary Supplements Containing Cesium Salts. February 5, 2020. Accessed February 6, 2020.
  15. Horn S, Naidus E, Alper SL, Danziger J. Cesium-associated hypokalemia successfully treated with amiloride. Clin Kidney J. 2015 Jun;8(3):335-8.
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