Di Bella's "miracle" cancer cure shortens survival
The Di Bella therapy, a cancer treatment
touted as a cure for up to 100% of patients, actually provides results far worse
than standard cancer treatments, study results show.
The therapy program was developed in Italy by Dr. Luigi Di Bella, who claims to
have treated more than 10,000 patients over the past 20 years. Di Bella's drug
cocktail consists of a low dose of cyclophosphamide -- a chemotherapy drug --
plus various other drugs and vitamins. Di Bella is a physiologist, a scientist
who studies how the body works.
With Di Bella's cooperation, a research team led by Dr. Eva Buiatti, from
Azienda USL Firenze in Florence, Italy, reviewed the medical records of 314
patients who received the Di Bella therapy. All but four had also received
Compared with patients identified in the Italian cancer registry, who received
only standard therapies, patients who received the Di Bella therapy "showed
lower survival probability over both the short term and the long term for all
the cancer sites considered," Buiatti's team reports in the November 15th issue
Specifically, patients who received only standard treatment were twice as likely
to survive compared with patients treated by Di Bella.
Buiatti and colleagues conclude that "results from this study do not support any
evidence of the (effectiveness) of the anticancer strategy proposed by Dr. Di
The Di Bella therapy came to national attention in Italy, and the Italian
courts, when a number of Di Bella's patients organized and demanded that Italian
hospitals provide the therapy free of charge. So the Italian government funded a
study of the Di Bella therapy at 26 cancer clinics throughout the country.
A total of 386 patients were treated with the Di Bella therapy under the
supervision of other physicians. In a separate report in the journal Cancer, Dr.
Giuseppe Traversa, from Instituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome, Italy, and
colleagues report that fewer than 1% of patients experienced a partial response
to treatment. None achieved a complete halt to their cancer.
Traversa's group concludes that the study results are "incompatible with the
initial claim that (the Di Bella therapy) might represent a cure for any type of
"Alternative medicine is a poor alternative to conventional medicine," Dr. Paul
Calabresi, from Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, Rhode Island,
argues in a journal editorial. "By replacing worthwhile mainstream therapies, it
robs many people with potentially curable cancer of precious time and a chance
SOURCE: Cancer 1999;86:1887-1889, 1903-1911, 2143-2149.