Alivazatos Greek Cancer Cure

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

The principal proponent of the Greek Cancer Cure was microbiologist Dr. Hariton-Tzannis Alivizatos, of Athens, Greece, who died in 1991. Alivizatos used a blood test that he claimed would diagnose the location and extent of a person's cancer. Treatment then consisted of a serum injected daily into the patient's body for six to thirty days. Dr. Alivizatos claimed that the serum boosted the body's natural immune system and helped rid the body of cancer. He advised patients to follow a diet low in salts and acids, to limit their physical activities, and to avoid certain drugs such as aspirin and laxatives. He further advised them to discontinue all chemotherapy and radiation programs before beginning his treatment and for a period of time afterwards.

Dr. Alivizatos was in trouble with regulatory officials in Greece on several occasions. For a time, he lost his license to practice medicine in Greece due to failure to submit his serum to the government for testing. He regained it when he submitted the substance. The Greek government asked him not to use the serum because they could not establish that it was effective against cancer. His license was again suspended in 1983 for two years following an investigation by the Hellenic Medical Association. Following his suspension, he resumed treating cancer patients. The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute asked Dr. Alivizatos several times to submit information on how his treatment worked, but he never replied. He also refused to divulge the composition of his blood test or the serum that he injected into patients [1].

In 1979, Seattle surgeon Ross Fox, M.D., who was president of the Washington division of the American Cancer Society, traveled to Greece posing as a cancer patient in order to investigate the treatment. He managed to obtain some serum samples that later were analyzed at the University of Washington. The ingredients turned out to be nicotinic acid (niacin, a B-vitamin) and water [2]. The dosage of the niacin was high enough to produce temporary flushing and burning of the skin. Although Dr. Alivizatos claimed to cure most of his patients, many died within a few months after returning home [3,4].

Today a few clinics in North America offer what they say is the same treatment and, according to a book on "alternative" cancer treatments, his formula is marketed under the names METBAL and Cellbal [5]. The book states that the ingredients are brown sugar (150 mg), niacin (20 mg), vitamin C (75 mg), and the amino acid alanine (15 mg). None of these have any proven value for treating cancer. The FDA has issued an import alert banning the importation of METBAL [6].


  1. Unproven methods of cancer management, Greek Cancer Cure. Ca—A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 40:368-371, 1990.
  2. Chazottes M: Exposed! Greek quack duped many cancer victims. The Medical Post (Toronto), July 23, 1985, p. 38.
  3. Cancer treatments questioned, man loses wife weeks after cure told. The Dispatch (Cookeville, Tennessee), January 15, 1989, pp. 1-2.
  4. Loschiavo SR: The danger of unrecognized cancer treatment clinics. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 83:212­213, 1991.
  5. Diamond JW and others. Definitive Guide to Cancer. Tiburon, CA: Future Medicine Publishing Co., 1997.
  6. Import Alert #66-41 - Unapproved New Drugs Promoted In the U.S. Revised 8/9/95. Revised Attachment 11/17/04.
This article was revised on February 14, 2005. .

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