Fenbendazole is an antiparasitic drug that’s used to treat parasitic infections in animals. Some studies suggest that fenbendazole may slow down cancer cell growth in laboratory tests. But there’s not enough evidence from randomized clinical trials to show that fenbendazole can cure cancer in people.
The anecdotal story of a man who claims that fenbendazole, a dog deworming medicine, cured his lung cancer is generating a lot of buzz on social media. The man, Joe Tippens, says that he started taking fenbendazole because his veterinarian recommended it. He says that his fenbendazole treatment, coupled with conventional cancer treatments, cured him of his disease. But he’s not the only one making this claim. Some of these posts have received millions of views on Facebook and TikTok. While the story of Tippens’ anecdotal experience is interesting, there’s not enough evidence to show that fenbendazole alone can cure cancer in humans.
Fenbendazole interferes with the formation of microtubules, which are essential for cellular movement and division. The mitosis process in which cells divide is controlled by the spindle, a structure that separates and distributes chromosomes during cell division. Drugs that interfere with the activity of microtubules block cell division and inhibit the progression through mitosis. This is how fenbendazole and other drugs kill parasites and could explain why some research suggests that it might also have anticancer effects in human cells.
In experiments, researchers treated EMT6 cell lines with a range of doses of fenbendazole. They looked at the survival of these cultures after irradiation, and they measured the levels of apoptosis and ferroptosis in the cultures. They found that fenbendazole increased the sensitivity of these EMT6 cells to radiation, but they didn’t find that it enhanced the sensitivity of cells to the chemotherapy drug docetaxel.
Researchers then tested fenbendazole in colon cancer organoids, which are samples of tissue from the colon, and in colorectal cancer tumors in mice. They found that fenbendazole reduced the number of circulating cancer cells and prevented the growth of colorectal cancer tumors. But they didn’t find any significant effect on the number of lymph node or bone metastases.
These results don’t prove that fenbendazole can help treat humans with cancer, and Health Canada lists the drug as only for veterinary use. But other anthelmintics, including albendazole and mebendazole, do have anticancer effects and have been approved for use in humans. And although these drugs aren’t as effective against cancer as paclitaxel, they can be used in combination with other chemotherapy agents to reduce the chance of resistance developing. Research on fenbendazole and other anthelmintics as potential anticancer agents is ongoing. In addition, some anthelmintics, such as pyrantel worming treatments for dogs, are already being used to treat certain types of cancer in humans and have shown some promise. But if a human patient is considering using an anthelmintic for cancer, they should talk to their healthcare provider about the risks and benefits. Until there’s sufficient evidence from randomized clinical trials, most doctors wouldn’t recommend this approach. fenbendazole for cancer