You have pain and cancer; your doctor reaches for his script pad and orders: 7,8-didehydro-4,5-epoxy-17-methyl-(5α, 6α)-morphinan-3,6-diol. Morphine. A widely and commonly used opiate, it is in fact the earliest of painkillers, isolated in 1803 by Sertürner. It is today still the most commonly used pain killer. But besides trying to alleviate your pain what is it doing to your cancer?
Scientist have known for years morphine increases the rate of tumor growth and the rate of migration of cancer cells causing an increased amount of metastases. Ever notice when cancer patients begin morphine they seem to get worse? And the morphine is increased due to the increase of cancer pain; more cancer, more pain until the vicious cycle ends in a funeral.
So what is occurring?
Mice with induced cancer given morphine showed it enhanced, rather than diminish, spontaneous pain, the studies indicated sustained morphine increases the pain, bone loss and spontaneous fractures. Studies show morphine in a concentration typically administrated in patients stimulates human microvascular endothelial cell proliferation and angiogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. The research results indicate clinical use of morphine promotes tumor neovascularization in human breast tumors, leading to increased tumor progression. It is also shown to stimulate the growth of glioblastoma tumors
A study done with rats showed carcinosarcoma cells produced subplueral pulmonary metastases when they were given morphine, the number of metastases increased. If given Naloxone they discovered the metastases proliferation could be decreased. Unless in a controlled study humans are not given the luxury of naloxone; therefore standard dosage is given regularly and the increase of metastases is an everyday occurrence as we much as we can assume.
In further studies they noted mice given morphine showed marked atrophy and a reduced amount of cellularity of the spleen and thymus demonstrating the immune system is greatly affected using morphine. The studies researched all noted data collected suggests morphine enhances tumor growth and results in an overall immunosuppressive effect.
Most scientist studying the use of morphine in cancer patients conclude, morphine can promote tumor growth and reduce the survival rate of cancer patients due to immunosuppression. Furthermore, cancer cells by majority have the ability to migrate, called metastases, they settle in surrounding or distant sites; most cancer deaths occur not from the primary cancer site but the main cause of ‘failure’ in cancer treatments is due to the metastases. In a study done by Shapiro in 1996 showed that uPA levels regulated by cancers were affected when morphine was administrated. The uPA levels in vitro demonstrated morphine caused marked increase of the secretion uPA in breast cells.
There is enough research documents and studies that show doctors should cautiously use morphine in patients with cancer. If the goal is to put patients into remission, there is strong evidence to show morphine will inhibit that process. Tumor growth and increased metastases go hand in hand with morphine,
A scan shows metastases in the hip and spine; the doctor prescribes morphine to one woman; her pain increases over some weeks and the morphine is increased. Desperate and afraid to die she sought treatment in a remote clinic. There a new scan was done, just weeks after her scan revealed some bone mets. The astonishing new scan revealed her cancer had spread significantly to nearly 80 percent of her body. The only medication given was morphine. The woman so shocked, stopped the morphine, underwent her new treatment and reported that her pain had decreased by nearly 90 percent.
Pain during treatment of cancer where the patient is not considered in a death watch should not be given morphine or the direct result could be lack of survival.
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