Q: Dr. Gannage, what is chelation therapy?
A: Chelation therapy as is currently being studied, and as conducted in my clinic, is an intravenous infusion of fluids over a specific period of time (generally 3 hours), the purpose of which is to detoxify the body of toxic metals. An active ingredient is EDTA, a chelating agent well known for its ability to rid the body of lead and cadmium in particular, two heavy metals predominant in our modern society and associated with disease of blood vessels among other harmful effects. The infusion also contains a significant dose of Vitamin C and B vitamins.
Q: What was TACT?
A: TACT, an acronym for the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy, was a study investigating chelation therapy specifically for heart disease. Patients who’d had a previous heart attack were asked to enroll in a double-blind, placebo-controlled research trial. It was a study that was intended to take place over 5 years and designed to determine whether or not people with previous heart attacks receiving chelation were able to prevent future heart attacks, other cardiac events, cardiac surgeries, or death compared to those receiving a placebo (which is an infusion without active ingredients).
Q: What conclusions came out of the first trial?
A: TACT showed a 26% reduction in future cardiac events in people over the age of 50 who’d had a previous heart attack, which was surprising to the study investigator, and dramatic and significant enough for the American government to encourage a second study. The first study showed particular benefit for a subset of patients: those with diabetes. In diabetic patients, chelation showed a 43% reduction in mortality, which is huge, and a 51% reduction in future cardiac episodes. There is nothing like this in the medical landscape for diabetics even today, so it implies a different mechanism that we can take advantage of in mainstream medicine, to bring it to the forefront as a bonafide treatment where none currently exists for the purpose of addressing this mechanism.
Q: What is TACT 2?
A: On the heels of the success of TACT, there is TACT2 which specifically assesses diabetics who have had a previous heart attack. It’s the same format of weekly infusions over three hours, with either a placebo or the active chelating agent and nutrients. It is a total of forty infusions, just like the first TACT, and it also includes oral multivitamins and minerals (both active and placebo) to assess whether or not there’s an additive effect from oral supplementation with antioxidants.
It’s designed to enroll about 1200 patients over a five-year period, and it’s currently underway to answer the question of whether or not diabetics specifically benefit. It will also include an economic analysis, the purpose of which is to analyze allocation of health dollars for this particular problem, from a cost-benefit perspective.
Q: Why is TACT2 important?
A: It may be a bonafide treatment, applying a different mechanism, as mentioned, that hasn’t been used in diabetics and heart patients previously in research, but more importantly for me it helps to put the spotlight on environmental contaminants and toxins, particularly heavy metals. The theory is that lead and cadmium are a problem in heart disease. In my practice in particular we have been doing chelation therapy outside of the study for twenty years now, not just for heart disease but also for other applications where toxic metals promote chronic illness, inflammation, damage to tissue, etc. So I am interested in any study that actually provides a focus on toxic metals in particular, and their application in a clinical practice like mine where we see a lot of chronic illness in both younger and older patients that may be attributed to oxidative stressors such as lead and cadmium .
Q: You mentioned that the results of the first trial were surprising for the Principal Investigator in Miami. Why?
A: He was a self-admitted skeptic. He was actually doing the original study to prove that chelation therapy was worthless, so he has confessed to being surprised by the results. I participated as a “chelationist” because I wanted to validate what I had already been doing for years before the study came along in 2007. I looked at it as an opportunity, and an ethical obligation. Our clinic actually enrolled the first participant in Canada, saving the trial from extinction because they needed more participants and weren’t reaching their quotas for study continuation. I was 100% on board to validate, or disprove if that were the case, a treatment especially because how important research into toxic metals and their relationship to chronic illness is to me. It’s rare to have a government sponsored study in such a key area of preventative medicine, as opposed to just medical treatment.
Q: What are the requirements for patients interested in enrolling in TACT2?
A: The main criteria are that patients must have had a previous heart attack, be over the age of 50, be diabetic, and have good kidney function.
Q: When does the trial begin and how can people get involved?
A: It’s already started. Those interested can phone my office at 905-294-2335, or go to http://tact2.org/ the main study website, to get more information.
The more participants we can enroll the greater the benefit not only for medical research as a whole, but specifically research in an area of complementary medicine where there is not robust enough evidence to date. The results can influence the medical community’s approach to illness if there are favourable outcomes in the active treatment group, and even public policy on future treatment, I hope.
Editor’s Note: Another physician in the GTA who is a site investigator participating in the TACT study is:
Dr. S. Bergman, MD
Longevity Healthy Aging
1670 Dufferin St., Ste. 205
(St. Clair & Dufferin)
Toronto 416-652-9862 or 1-866-YOUNG-86 or log on to the website