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Woman Fights Cancer With Grapefruit Juice

Woman Fights Cancer With Grapefruit Juice

Rapamycin supplemented with grapefruit juice helped Albina Duggan fight cancer…

In 2004, Albina Duggan was given just three years live after being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer.

“[The doctor] told me I had three years — if lucky, five — to live,”

Five years later, thanks to the drug rapamycin and grapefruit juice, she has beaten the odds.


Duggan turned to clinical trials in March 2008, after several attempts to treat her tumor had failed to stop the cancer spreading. When she enrolled for the trials at the University of Chicago, the cancer had made its way from her liver to her spine and lymph nodes.

U. of C. cancer researcher, Dr. Ezra Cohen, who lead the trail, started Duggan on a weekly dosage of the drug rapamycin, supplemented by a daily glass of grapefruit juice.

A chemical in grapefruit juice is known to heighten the potency of many drugs, while this can be dangerous when mixed with some medicines, the effects are beneficial when paired with cancer fighting drugs.

But things did not go smoothly from the start, at first the combination did not seem to work. It was only by a stroke of luck that the Florida Department of Citrus saw a report about Cohen’s work on television.

The department quickly contacted Cohen to inform him that the key chemicals in grapefruit juice have a short shelf life and can break down during the time it takes to process and sell the juice.

Duggan immediately switched over to freshly frozen grapefruit juice, which effectively raised the levels of rapamycin in her blood.

Rapamycin prevents cells from multiplying, which is important for keeping cancer growth under control. But because an enzyme in the intestine breaks down the drug, only a small amount of the rapamycin a patient swallows actually, gets into the system.

Grapefruit juice contains chemicals that block this enzyme, which, Cohen says, “normally protects us from other toxic chemicals and metabolizes them to harmless byproducts.” These chemicals, called furanocoumarins, prevent rapamycin from being broken down so the body can absorb more of it.

Of the 25 patients involved in the study, a third showed positive results, according to a preliminary report presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting this spring. However, Cohen says no results were as dramatic as Duggan’s.

Duggan said that when she was enrolled in other clinical trials with different cancer drugs, she experienced sore legs and feet, rashes and hair loss. With this combination, though, she said “side effects are minimal. I feel healthy and full of energy.”

“Once a week I take my rapamycin and that is the day that is hardest because I feel fatigued, but I sleep it off, “

Thrilled with her treatment, Duggan said her life expectancy is “indefinite.”

“There is nothing in my charts that will point to any number…

“I might outlive everybody.”


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