Public Citizen Seeks Ban of Dangerous Cesium Dietary Supplements

Health Letter, December 2018

By Meena Aladdin, M.S., Ph.D.

Most dietary supplements on the market have not been shown to offer any health benefits and are a waste of money. Even more concerning are those dietary supplements that are harmful to human health.

Among the most hazardous dietary supplements marketed in the U.S. today are those that contain cesium chloride or other types of cesium salts. These supplements have been promoted as an alternative cure for cancer, despite a lack of evidence that they have any health benefits and the fact that they can cause fatal adverse heart effects.

To address the public health threat posed by cesium-containing dietary supplements, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group on July 23, 2018, petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban such supplements and to provide safety communications to consumers and doctors about their dangers.[1]

The regulation of dietary supplements

The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements as drugs, but rather, much more weakly, as foods.[2] The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 modified the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and set regulations specific to dietary supplements.

Used regularly by more than half of American adults,[3] dietary supplements are defined by the DSHEA as any product intended to supplement the diet that contains a vitamin, mineral, herb or other botanical; an amino acid; or “a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake.”

Importantly, in contrast to its oversight of drugs, the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and efficacy before they are marketed. Furthermore, although drug companies have to report to the FDA any serious or unexpected adverse events associated with the use of their products that come to their attention, there is no such reporting requirement for manufacturers of dietary supplements. The FDA also must prove that a supplement is unsafe in order to remove it from the market.

The promotion of dietary supplements by companies as ‘natural’ creates an illusion of safety that often lures consumers into buying products that are sometimes dangerous. This has been the case with supplements containing cesium chloride — the most commonly marketed form of cesium — and other cesium salts. Cesium has chemical properties similar to sodium and potassium and is found naturally in trace amounts in the human body.

Cesium: Not a cure for cancer

For many years, cesium chloride has been marketed by some complementary alternative medicine and naturopathic health care professionals as a safe and effective treatment for cancer. The substance has been given orally and by injection and promoted as part of “high pH therapy” for cancer. For example, Utopia Wellness, an alternative medicine center in Florida, makes the following claim on its website:

Cesium chloride is a powerful natural mineral that has the ability to penetrate the cells and change their acidic pH to an alkaline pH. This process can destroy the enzyme system of a cancer cell and halt [its] ability to reproduce. As evidenced by the numerous studies cited below, this powerful, high pH therapy has had astounding success in certain cancers.[4]

The use of cesium chloride as an alternative treatment for cancer was prompted by a seriously flawed study published in 1984.[5] The study described a series of 50 cancer patients who had been treated with cesium chloride over a three-year period. The authors of the study claimed that half of the patients had recovered from their cancer. However, an FDA review of the study concluded that it had major design flaws, including the lack of a control group, making any conclusions “unreliable.”[6]

Since 1984, there still have been no well-designed clinical trials showing that cesium chloride (or any other form of cesium) is effective for treating cancer. In 2016, as part of a review of compounded drugs containing cesium chloride, FDA reviewers concluded that “cesium chloride has not been shown to be efficacious for the prevention or treatment of any form of cancer.”[7]

Patients who are misled into believing that cesium chloride is effective against cancer and using it also may be dissuaded from seeking conventional treatments that actually work, ultimately delaying effective treatment. Cancer patients represent a particularly vulnerable group of people who are faced with a potentially life-threatening and debilitating disease. Unscrupulous marketers of alternative medicine can use this vulnerability to their advantage and promote false hope about worthless and potentially harmful therapies.

Life-threatening adverse cardiac effects

The greatest danger posed by use of cesium chloride and other cesium salts is cardiac toxicity. As detailed in our recent petition to the FDA to ban cesium-containing dietary supplements, numerous animal studies conducted over the past four decades have demonstrated that cesium causes changes to the electrical activity of the heart that can lead to potentially fatal heart rhythm abnormalities.[8]

There also have been numerous reported cases of patients experiencing dangerous abnormal heart rhythms following ingestion or injection of cesium chloride or other cesium salts. Several of these patients had cardiac arrest, and at least three of these patients died. Use of cesium also can cause dangerously low blood potassium levels and has been linked to seizures.

In 2016, FDA reviewers involved in the assessment of compounded drugs containing cesium chloride concluded that the substance “is not safe for human use” because of its cardiac toxicity.[9]


Given the abundance of evidence indicating the dangers associated with ingestion of cesium chloride or any other cesium salt, it is imperative that the FDA grant our petition and prohibit the marketing of dietary supplements containing these chemicals.

There are no data to suggest that cesium chloride or any other cesium salt has any health benefits, nor is there any evidence demonstrating its purported cancer-treating properties. It is amply clear from the scientific literature and case reports that the risks of using cesium chloride or any other cesium salt are not accompanied by any benefits.

What You Can Do

You should not take cesium chloride or any other cesium-containing dietary supplements for the treatment of cancer or for any other reason. If you are taking any such supplements now, you should stop taking them immediately and consult your doctor about treatments that have been shown to be safe and effective.


[1] Public Citizen. Citizen petition to the Food and Drug Administration to ban all cesium dietary supplements. July 23, 2018. Accessed August 31, 2018.

[2] Food and Drug Administration. Information for consumers on using dietary supplements. Accessed August 31, 2018.

[3] Cowan AE, Jun S, Gahche JJ, et al. Dietary supplement use differs by socioeconomic and health-related characteristics among U.S. adults, NHANES 2011-2014. Nutrients. 2018 Aug 17;10(8):pii:E1114.

[4] Utopia Wellness. Cesium Chloride. Accessed August 31, 2018.

[5] Sartori HE. Cesium therapy in cancer patients. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1984;21(Suppl. 1):11-13.

[6] Food and Drug Administration. FDA briefing document, Pharmacy Compounding Advisory Committee (PCAC) meeting. June 23, 2016. Accessed August 31, 2018. PDF page 67.

[7] Ibid. PDF page 68.

[8] Public Citizen. Citizen petition to the Food and Drug Administration to ban all cesium dietary supplements. July 23, 2018. Accessed August 31, 2018.

[9] Food and Drug Administration. FDA briefing document, Pharmacy Compounding Advisory Committee (PCAC) meeting. June 23, 2016. Accessed August 31, 2018. PDF pages 69-70.