One of my thrivers recently asked me to look into a therapy called GcMAF. While I was aware of it, I haven’t written about it, so in this article I’ll cover what GcMAF is, what it does, and whether it has applications for breast cancer.
What is GcMAF?
GcMAF is a multi-functional protein in the body so it’s not a treatment, per se, but rather a complex vitamin protein molecule naturally produced inside the small intestine of healthy people.
GcMAF stands for “Glycoprotein Macrophage Activating Factor”. It is also known as Vitamin D Binding Protein Macrophage Activator. Vitamin D Binding Protein is the precursor protein out of which immune cells make GcMAF.
What Does GcMAF Do?
GcMAF is responsible for initiating and regulating several important cellular and neurological functions within the body. One of its most important functions is its ability to activate macrophages, a crucial form of white blood cell in the immune system whose job it is to eat up whatever tumor cells and viruses it encounters in the bloodstream or in other tissues (think “Pac Man”).
When we stop naturally producing GcMAF, which can occur in a depleted immune system, we also stop activating macrophages.
The Theory Behind Using GcMAF as a Cancer Therapy
Tumor cells release a protein known as nagalase. Nagalase, which is short for alpha-N-acetylgalactosaminidase, is an enzyme made by cancer cells and viruses to sabotage the host’s immune response. In effect, nagalase puts macrophages to sleep.
We can test for nagalase, a simple blood test will advise nagalase levels. An elevated level can indicate the very earliest beginnings of either a developing tumor or a virus.
The position of some researchers is that reintroducing GcMAF to rebuild an ailing immune system enables that person to better fight cancer. GcMAF was never intended to be a stand-alone treatment, but rather for use alongside other treatments, both conventional and natural.
The Research on GcMAF
Although GcMAF is not approved for use in the USA, some European doctors have been utilizing it. One of my former Swiss clients briefly had GcMAF therapy, which she described as expensive.
Here’s what I discovered.
Several studies authored by Dr Nobuto Yamamoto from 2007-2009 on GcMAF and cancer and HIV (studies which had the alternative medicine world very excited) have been withdrawn by the scientific journals in which they were originally published. This occurred in 2014, at the behest of the Belgian Anticancer Fund. There’s a long and interesting article about Dr Yamamoto and GcMAF on Snopes  if you want an in-depth analysis on the subject.
A 2012 cell study  on breast cancer cells performed by Italian researchers found that in test tubes, GcMAF inhibited angiogenesis (the ability of a tumor to create new blood vessels with which to feed itself), and inhibited the potential of cancer cell proliferation (rapid growth), migration and metastasis (ability to spread to other regions of the body).
A 2013 study  done by Japanese researchers (not Dr Yamamoto, to whom I referred above) and published in the journal Anticancer Research was done with actual human patients. Though small in size (345 patients), and used alongside other treatments such as intravenous vitamin C and alpha-lipoic acid, researchers stated that their results were hopeful and promising.
A 2014-2017 phase 1 clinical trial  was begun by an Israeli biopharmaceutical company, Efranat Macrophage, on “Modified Vitamin D Binding Protein Macrophage Activator”, which they called EF-022. The trial included subjects with advanced solid tumors and although the trial finished in 2017, no results have been posted.
A 2017 review of studies  written by Iranian scientists (often at the forefront of natural medicine research these days) discussed the role that GcMAF may have to play in cancer immunotherapies. They reviewed some of the other research that has been done on GcMAF, noting that most studies have been quite small, and that further studies need to be carried out. However, they did also state that these small studies found that GcMAF may have applications for cancer patients. GcMAF did appear to boost macrophage activity, had anti-angiogenic properties, and inhibited the migration of cancer cells.
A 2020 study  investigated GcMAF for autism and ALS patients. However, they were working with a newly developed 25-OH vitamin D binding complex together with GcMAF. They found this new complex worked better at activating macrophages than either vitamin D binding protein or GcMAF on their own.
So I would say, in light of all of the evidence I’ve read, it has not been proven that GcMAF is an authentic and effective therapy against breast cancer at this time. There’s too little evidence, clinical trial results are too small and/or scanty, and although it may well prove to be an effective treatment, it’s just too soon to say for sure. There may well be European doctors using it with their cancer patients – and if there are, I would welcome their experiences here. Please comment below if you have experience with GcMAF, either as a patient or a doctor utilizing it in your practice.
 How a Retired Scientist’s Questionable ‘Institute’ Convinced the Internet That Cancer Was Cured – https://www.snopes.com/news/2017/09/05/scientists-questionable-institute-cancer/
 Effects of vitamin D-binding protein-derived macrophage-activating factor on human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22213287
 Clinical Experience of Integrative Cancer Immunotherapy with GcMAF –
 Safety Study of EF-022 (Modified Vitamin D Binding Protein Macrophage Activator) in Subjects With Advanced Solid Tumors – https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02052492
 Promising role for Gc-MAF in cancer immunotherapy: from bench to bedside – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5686300/
 Vitamin D – Deglycosylated Vitamin D Binding Protein Dimer: Positive Synergistic Effects on Recognition, Activation, Phagocytosis and Oxidative Stress on Macrophages – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32013346
GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.
My mother always used to tell me “eat your greens, they’re good for you!” It turns out, mother was more right than she could possibly know.
Eating one’s greens may be even more crucial for immune health than we previously thought, according to recent research which has discovered that an immune cell population essential for intestinal health may be controlled by leafy greens in the diet.
The immune cells, termed innate lymphoid cells (“ILCs”), are located in the lining of the digestive tract. They were discovered in 2013 by researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Molecular Research in Australia. 
Let me back-track a bit. Science has, for many years, divided the immune system into two types: innate and adaptive. Innate immunity is present at birth and does not require prior exposure to protect you against pathogens. Adaptive immunity only develops when you have been exposed to a pathogen, for instance chickenpox. Once exposed to a pathogen, your immune cells are able to recognize the invader and mount a defense against it. Adaptive immunity provides the SWAT team that identifies an invading enemy and makes the specific weapons (known as antibodies) needed to destroy it. The fascinating thing about ILCs is that they are neither innate nor adaptive, they sort of straddle the two.
ILCs include cells that have been known for decades, such as natural killer (NK) cells and lymphoid tissue-inducer (LTi) cells. NK cells are key in protecting us from cancer as they recognize a huge array of tumor cells and cancer stem cells and help to eliminate them through cytotoxicity and the production of cytokines. Other ILCs are found mainly in the mucosal lining of the gut and in other mucosal-associated lymphoid tissues, where they work hard to protect us from pathogens.
The 2013 research  discovered that a gene called T-bet is essential for producing these all-important ILCs. Going back to the subject of eating greens, they found that the gene responds to signals in the food we eat. They discovered that T-bet is the key gene that tells precursor cells to develop into ILCs. It does this in response to signals from the food we eat and to the presence of bacteria in the gut.
Here’s how it works. Apparently proteins in green leafy and cruciferous vegetables interact with a cell surface receptor that switches on T-bet. Researchers think that the proteins in leafy greens may be part of the same signaling pathway used by T-bet to produce ILCs.
These researchers were excited about the discovery because it has been exceedingly difficult to isolate or produce ILCs. So finding out that something as simple as leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables in the diet can turn on the gene responsible for making ILCs is noteworthy. Without eating greens and without T-bet, the body becomes more susceptible to bacterial infections and other diseases.
Beyond their role in immunity, ILCs are also found in adipose (fat) tissue where they regulate thermogenesis and prevent inflammation that may lead to metabolic syndrome, obesity-related asthma and insulin resistance. 
Interestingly, while reading all the research as I prepared to write this article, I came across any number of web articles that boldly denied that diet had any role to play in bolstering immunity – despite the vast amount of research that’s being published to the contrary. Some people live in an interesting land called DENIAL.
For more information on which foods help with immunity and fighting cancer, see my page Diet and Cancer.
 Gene Discovery Reveals Importance of Eating Your Greens –
 T-bet is essential for NKp46+ innate lymphocyte development through the Notch pathway –
 Innate lymphoid cells: A new paradigm in immunology – http://science.sciencemag.org/content/348/6237/aaa6566
GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.
If you are struggling to overcome breast cancer, it is important to understand the role of a strong immune system. It is vital that you know that there are many powerful natural boosters for the immune system and that they enhance healing and help to stimulate the body’s natural healing defenses, making them perfect for use just prior to surgery, post-surgery and/or when you are going through chemotherapy and/or radiation.
The Importance Of A Strong Immune System
Once you are through with your treatments, building a strong immune system becomes even more important, to keep recurrences away. Your immune system is your first line of defense against not only pathogens, viruses, and bacteria, but cancer cells. If your immune system is under-reacting to an internal threat, cancer is often the result.
My Favorites To Build A Strong Immune System
Here’s my list of favorite supplements to build a strong immune system. Please don’t use everything listed below all at the same time. Always consult a health professional before embarking upon any regimen to get personalized recommendations for dosages and which of the following is best for you.
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) – a tonic herb, it can boost energy levels and decrease recovery time post-surgery.
Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) – has been studied recently for its immune stimulating effects, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits. There’s a good article on it on the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website .
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) – an Ayurvedic herb useful for strengthening the immune system, it also combats the effects of stress, reduces anxiety and depression, and has anti-inflammatory benefits.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) – used for centuries by the Chinese, astragalus is a potent enhancer of the immune system.
Curcumin – a yellow pigment derived from the root spice turmeric, a powerful antioxidant. We have loads of research on its anti-cancer activity, and it decreases the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation. 
Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) – boosts the immune system by increasing production of white blood cells which help fight disease.
Essential oils – vast quantities of research now exist proving beyond a shadow of a doubt exactly how essential oils can be used to enhance immunity. Nearly every single essential oil contains phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that have research-backed anti-cancer and immune-stimulating properties. This is a vast subject, so if you’d like to know more about how to use essential oils – and which ones help the most, just subscribe to my newsletters. I share loads of great information in my free newsletters.
Glyconutrients – plant based and organic, these supply all eight of the simple sugars our cells require for proper communication, thus assisting with brain function, immune function, etc. When the cells are communicating better, everything starts working more optimally. What I like about them is that they help to create healthy stem cells. See my article Breast Cancer Stem Cells – Stopping Them In Their Tracks.
Goji or Wolfberry (Lyciumbarbarum) – unlike some herbs, this one has good research ,  which indicates its usefulness for increasing immunological responses. Best taken in a juice as it tends to preserve the polysaccharide content that dried fruit does not contain. The brands I love are Young Living’s NingXia Red (you can get that from me) and Freelife GoChi. Both taste amazing and are super easy to take and work the best for boosting immunity.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)– a natural antibiotic, goldenseal contains the phytochemical berberine. It’s wonderful for helping to prevent and fight infections, it is a potent anti-inflammatory, helps boost white blood cells, and one 2010 study found that berberine inhibited the growth of two different types of breast cancer cells better than the chemo drug doxorubicine .
Green tea (Camellia sinensis) – contains potent antioxidant compounds that neutralize free radicals and prevent damage to the immune system. In addition, green tea stimulates the liver to secrete interferon, an immune compound that helps fight infection. To bolster immune function, drink 3 or more cups of organic green tea daily.
4Life Transfer Factors – specially formulated to help immune cells identify health threats and speed up the immune response to those threats. Transfer factors work by transferring immune memory and knowledge from one entity to another, a rather different approach to immune system support. I’ve taken these myself, have recommended them for hundreds of others and everyone loves them. You can get them from me. Contact me for more information.
It’s always a good idea to let your physician know exactly what you are taking in order to avoid any possible drug interactions.
 Curcumin Induces Cell Death and Restores Tamoxifen Sensitivity in the Antiestrogen-resistant Breast Cancer Cell Lines MCF-7/LCC2 and MCF-7/LCC9 — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23299550
 Immunomodulatory Effects of a Standardized Lycium Barbarum Fruit Juice in Chinese Older Healthy Human Subjects — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19857084
 Lycium Barbarum Inhibits Growth of Estrogen Receptor Positive Human Breast Cancer Cells By Favorably Altering Estradiol Metabolism – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19373615
 The Alkaloid Berberine Inhibits the Growth of Anoikis-resistant MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cell Lines by Inducing Cell Cycle Arrest – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19800775
GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.
The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem and please be sure to consult your health care professional when making decisions about your health.
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About Marnie Clark
Hi I'm Marnie Clark, breast cancer survivor, and breast cancer coach. I have 20+ years of experience in natural medicine. In 2004/05 I battled breast cancer myself. You can see more about my journey on my page Breast Cancer Diary.
I've been healthy and recurrence-free since 2004 and in 2012 I became a Breast Cancer Coach because I became aware of the fact that whilst there is now a wealth of information on the Internet, much of it is confusing, conflicting, and sometimes just wrong!
Why should you work with me? Because:
(1) You don't want to go through this journey alone, feeling unempowered, frightened or just plain
clueless about what to do to help yourself.
(2) You will have someone working tirelessly on your behalf, putting together a healing plan for
you so you don’t have to lose your precious energy researching what food you should eat,
what supplements you should take, and what other things you can do that will give you the
best chances for survival. Instead you can spend that time resting, meditating, healing.
(3) You will learn what questions to ask your doctor (and have someone to turn to for the
questions they can't or won't answer).
(4) You will be armed with the tools and strategies you will need to get through the therapies you
choose so you can make your body hostile terrain for cancer.
You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.