Dichloroacetate sodium (DCA) is an inexpensive and simple chemical compound similar to combining vinegar and salt. It was originally used in cases of a rare disease called “congenital lactic acidosis.” This means it is not a “new” drug and has been used safely in humans for decades. Studies from this application of DCA indicate mild to moderate side effects.

DCA is available in several forms including topical cream, oral liquid, oral capsules, and via intravenous. It is easily absorbed by the body and the oral administration of DCA can be done at home. IV administration can be done at a cancer clinic or a doctor’s office. The length of treatment recommended is between six and eight weeks, although slow-growing cancers require a longer treatment time.

DCA has been found to be safe for use in patients with moderately severe renal failure, heart failure, heart arrhythmias, and diabetes. That said, it is always recommended to speak with your doctor about your specific situation.

The history of DCA

In 2007 at the University of Alberta, DCA, a simple molecule, was found to kill off cancer cells in breast, brain and lung cancers in rats, while not harming healthy cells. [1] It was observed that DCA would turn on natural apoptosis (cell death) in the cancerous cells of lab rats. It was also observed that DCA blocked the process by which glucose is used by cancer cells, thus removing their energy source and starving them. Notably, it did not block the use of glucose by healthy cells. Researchers worldwide have confirmed the University of Alberta’s findings.

However, just because it has been found effective does not necessarily mean it will become widely available as a cancer treatment. As always, profit margins are a determining factor.

Studies with human subjects were first published in 2010, confirming DCA to be effective for treating glioblastoma (a type of brain cancer). [2]

DCA research is ongoing and can be followed here.

What types of cancer

There is evidence that DCA is effective for many types of cancer cells. Based on both lab studies and human studies along with case reports, the types of cancer studied thus far include brain, breast, cervical, colon, lung, lymphoma, ovarian, prostate, uterine, and cancer of an unknown primary source.

It has also been found to boost the effectiveness of radiation. [3]

Side effects of DCA

Mild to moderate side effects include gastrointestinal issues, mood changes, sedation, confusion, memory issues, hand tremors, and reversible neuropathy (when caught early). A small percentage of patients experience mild liver toxicity. It is usually recommended that patients who experience moderate levels of one or more side effects be taken off DCA as a precaution. The majority of side effects have been observed to resolve within days, save for neuropathy which can take several weeks to reverse.

Contraindications

There has been some evidence that DCA potentially interacts with hallucinogenic drugs including cannabinoids, benzodiazepines, and other central nervous system drugs, particularly when the patient is already experiencing a level of neurological side effects.

There has also been some evidence that high levels of caffeine can inhibit the effectiveness of DCA.

Where can I get DCA?

In the US, Canada and most of Europe, DCA is prescribed by a doctor. It is discouraged to obtain DCA from any other means, as some types of DCA are not suitable for human consumption.

The future

Due to the fact that DCA is a simple compound and very inexpensive, there has been virtually no interest from the large pharmaceutical companies. No one owns the rights to DCA. The research done so far has been funded largely by a generous public. Further studies are in the works, and results look very promising.