Saturday, May 7, 2011

Urine-- Just a nasty drink or a possible cure?

Seven years ago, when my grandfather was diagnosed with liver cancer, some family friends suggested he try drinking his own urine on a daily basis. They claimed that they had heard this unique method to be an effective cure to cancer— all it would require was urine and some courage and endurance. Even though Grandpa was intent on fighting for his survival, he was not completely ready to accept and try out every proposal; in all honesty, he was a little spooked out by the notion. Well, Grandpa passed away a few months later in the summer of 2003, and it was not until yesterday that I actually remembered and decided to research about the urine-drinking remedy— once so odd to Grandpa as well as to me.

The use of one's own urine to cure diseases such as cancer is scientifically referred to as urotherapy or urine therapy [1]. There is no proper way for urotherapy, as actions can range from drinking urine, as was suggested to Grandpa; to injecting urine into the circulatory system; to rubbing it over the skin [1]. Urine therapy is recognized by the Asian, Indian, Greek, and Mexican cultures as well as some individuals in the Western world; yet, it is not a conventional method administered or purported by Western doctors [1]. Presumably, urotherapy is a controversial treatment for cancer, and the following will provide an analysis of the pro and con arguments found from my research regarding the use of urine.

The Affimative—Urotherapy Cures Cancer

The general and major rationale of urine therapy is founded upon the concept that urine contains unique antigens that cancer cells release [2]. Because antigens illicit immune responses from the body, ingesting urine with antigens adds to the antigen levels already present in the body [2]. This causes a vigorous immune response, in which antibodies are produced in great folds to counteract the antigens. Ultimately, the “[body’s] capacity to kill tumor cells” increases [1].

The individual facts underlying this rationale are correct and reasonable. Scientific tests have proven antigen content in urine of cancer patients—for example, urinary-tumor-associated antigen (U-TAA) can be found in the urine of urinary cancer patients and prostatic-specific antigen (PSA) can be found in the urine of prostate cancer patients [2]. Science has also proven that increasing antigens in the body leads to production of antibodies as an immune response [2]. However, no research addresses or proves the combined effects of cancer cell antigen-intake from urine and immune response against those cells [2]. Thus, it would be justified to say that the rationale of urotherapy is not completely reliable and credible.

Another that purports the benefits of urine therapy is an experiment performed by Dr. Evangelos Danopoulos of Greece in the 1960’s. In his short publication, Regression of Liver Cancer with Oral Urea, Danopoulos writes about giving liver cancer patients “ 2-2.5 g. pure synthetic urea 4-6 times daily” for over 3 years’ period [3]. Patient survival “from the start of urea treatment” ranged from over 13 months to 4 years, while patient death, according to Danopoulos, resulted from “unconnected illness” and “interruption of …treatment” [3]. In addition to observing extended survival, he also recorded the decrease of liver tumor size in patients after treatment [3].

At the onset, Danopoulos’s results may seem convincing, but many questions may follow. What were the lifestyles of patients before and during treatment? What were the patients’ eating and sleeping habits? Were they exposed to radiation or carcinogens? Danopolous did not address nor control for any of these factors in his study. It could be that patient life span lasted 4 years not because of urine therapy but because of a change in patient diet. It could be that size decrease in tumors was correlated to increase in rest and sleep. There is no way of knowing the actual contributing factors to the observed results. Furthermore, there was no control group of patients who did not undergo urine therapy; what did Danopoulos compare his results to? It is not uncommon for cancer patients to survive several years, how could he conclude that urotherapy actually elongated lives? In all aspects, Danopoulos’s experiment cannot justify the success of urine therapy in treating cancer.

The Negative—Urothreapy Does Not Cure Cancer

In opposition to urine therapy, many claim that urine is toxic—containing urea, and can only bring harm to the body if ingested. The truth of the matter is, however, that urine is not toxic. Urine contains 95% water, 2.5% urea, and 2.5% of minerals, salts, enzymes, and hormones [4]. It requires very, very large amounts of urea to negatively affect the body, and “the small amount of toxins in urine is not abundant enough to be toxic to the body” [4].

Another argument against urine therapy, mentioned above, is the lack of scientific experimentation. According to the American Cancer Society, no appropriate clinical trials or any “well controlled” studies have been conducted to test the actual effects of urine therapy on “controlling or reversing the spread of cancer” [1]. Indeed, my search for scientific studies on urotherapy yielded no results at all; the American Cancer Society’s claim is validated.

Analyzing and questioning information passed on to us is very crucial. All sorts of suggestions for remedies and treatments for sicknesses are existant, but not all of them are benefitial or even safe. This analysis, although somewhat long and tedious, helped me reach the conclusion that urine therapy should not be used as a treatment for cancer. While it may be true that drinking one’s own urine is not dangerous or harmful, there simply is no reliable scientific proof of urotherapy's efficiency in curing and deterring cancer. I would definitely advise against urine therapy for anyone suffering from cancer.

[1] American Cancer Society. (2008, November 1). Urotherapy.
[2] Eldor, Joseph. (1997, April). Urotherapy for Patients with Cancer. Theoretical Medicine Institute.
[3] Danopoulos, Evangelos D. (1974). Regression of Liver Cancer with Oral Urea. Lancet, 132.
[4] Lowe, Jeff. Urine Therapy. Vanderbilt University.