There is no miracle cure for cancer


Or: Maybe Facebook isn't the best source for science and health news. An interesting debunking.

You know the game, Telephone? You line up a bunch of people and the person on one end whispers something to their neighbor, who repeats it to the next person in line, and so on. At the other end, the last player says the secret out loud, and then everybody gets a nice chuckle from how distorted the secret has become as it was passed along the line. I rather like Telephone the game. But, lord, how I hate when it happens in real life.

So, this week on the Internet, there's a story circulating that claims scientists have discovered a foolproof, side-effect free cure for cancer ... but They (you know, "THEY") are preventing you from getting access to it. This story is like the end of a game of Telephone. There's some real (and interesting!) science going on, but by the time the story made it to Facebook the reality of a promising chemical compound that could be a good treatment for some types of cancer (maybe, scientists aren't sure yet) had become a first-rate conspiracy theory.

The compound in question is dichloroacetate (or DCA), and it's not really anything new. In fact, research into this compound has been going on long enough—and with enough attention from within the field of people who closely follow basic, laboratory chemical research—that I could almost do this entire debunking using only excerpts from four-year-old posts made by Orac, a surgeon and scientist who blogs about this kind of stuff in a much more specialized way than I do.

Here is something fundamental that you need to remember: Every moment of every day, there is tons of research happening that is centered around chemical compounds that might be useful in some medical application. New compounds are discovered. Existing compounds are tested in new ways. Sometimes, one of these compounds looks particularly interesting to a researcher. They'll publish on it, and their school or institution will put out a press release. Basic chemistry isn't much of a news hook, so these press releases tend to speculate about what the compound could be used for, how it might benefit us someday.

There are so many of these sort of press releases floating around at any given time that journalists who focus on medical science talk about them as a separate category. But, just because a compound is interesting in a chemistry sense, or just because it has shown promise in some in vitro laboratory tests, doesn't mean that it will ever be useful in a practical application. It is very common for a compound to kill cancer in a test tube, but not actually do anything in a human body. Sometimes, a compound successfully fights cancer, but isn't actually safe for humans. And, most importantly, "cancer" isn't really one disease. Different cancers have different causes and require different kinds of treatment—even the same cancer at different stages might not be able to be treated the same. A compound could be effective against stage 2 leukemia, but not do a damn thing to treat stage 4 breast cancer.

DCA is just one of those chemical compounds that scientists are excited about. It's made it past some of the most basic, early studies, but we don't yet know how effective it truly is, and what it's effective against. From what I have read about it, the vast majority of research has been in vitro and in animals. Here's Orac on what we know about why, in those settings, it has been an effective treatment against some cancers:

... to boil it down even further, DCA shifts the cell's metabolism from anaerobic to aerobic metabolism. Why, then, would such an activity be useful as an anticancer therapy?

It all boils down to something known as the Warburg effect, which Otto Warburg first described way back in 1928 and reported in Science back in 1956. Over the last five years or so, cancer researchers have been increasingly coming to appreciate the role of abnormalities in metabolism, in particular the mitochondria, in cancer. To put it briefly, many cancers (approximately 60-90%) favor glycolysis, even in the presence of adequate oxygen for oxidative phosphorylation, leading to a voracious appetite for glucose. Indeed, it is this very avidity of cancer cells for glucose that is the basis of the PET scan, which detects the high uptake of a radiolabeled form of glucose by cancer cells relative to the surrounding normal cells.

Over the last few years, there has been a sort of "chicken or the egg" argument about what is more important and what is the first abnormality leading to cancer. The traditional view has long been that mutations in DNA lead to the activation of protooncogenes into cancer-initiating and causing oncogenes and to the shutdown of tumor suppressor genes. Under this model, mutations leading to cancer also lead to the observations of abnormalities in metabolism. In the wake of the DCA furor, there have been data reported suggesting that the metabolic derangements may actually occur first or simultaneously with the mutations.

This fascinating basic science met the public in January 2007, when Michelakis and his colleagues at the University of Alberta in Edmonton published a seminal paper in Cancer Cell. In the study, DCA was tested in multiple cell culture and rodent models of cancer. In rats, tumor weights in animals treated with DCA were approximately 60% lower than the tumors in the untreated control groups. The drug increased apoptosis, decreased proliferation, and inhibits tumor growth by acting on a critical enzyme that controls the switch between aerobic and anaerobic metabolism without harming non-cancerous cells. Even better, DCA had already been FDA-approved for mitochondrial disorders, meaning that using it in humans would be an "off-label" use of an already existing drug to test it in humans. Thus, the regulatory requirements were considerably easier to meet for early drug trials in cancer.

This new round of excitement on the Internet has bubbled up because those same researchers recently published the results of a first, very small clinical trial of DCA. For the first part of the study, the researchers tested DCA on 49 tumors that had been taken out of human patients. They got some good results, and then tested DCA on five actual human cancer patients. But here's the thing—those humans were treated with more than just DCA. In fact, they were also getting chemotherapy and radiation treatments, stuff we already know is effective in some situations against some cancers.

So, why do that? If you're tying to figure out whether DCA is effective, why administer it alongside things we already know are effective? Doesn't that muddle your results?

It would, yes. If efficacy was the thing that was being tested here. Orac again:

For those not familiar with the various types of clinical trials, phase I clinical trials are not trials of efficacy. They are designed to determine two things: dose and dose-limiting side effects. They generally use a few patients (although five patients represent a rather small number, even for a phase I trial, which usually requires around 10 or 20), and it is not uncommon to perform a dose escalation. Researchers don't expect necessarily to see tumor response in a phase I trial, as that is not the purpose of the trial, but it is heartening when tumor shrinkage is observed, for obvious reasons. Phase 0 trials similarly are not therapeutic trials but rather seek to determine if the drug is doing biochemically what it is expected to do based on preclinical studies. The usual design is to take a biopsy of the tumor, test it for biochemical markers in the laboratory, treat the patient with experimental drug, and then resect the tumor. The biochemical markers in the resected tumor are then compared with those measured in the pre-treatment biopsy. The idea is to see whether the drug can recapitulate biochemical changes in actual living tumors in human patients, the idea being that, if it can, then the drug is "hitting the target" (i.e., its molecular target) and therefore "working." Whether its "working" actually shrinks tumors or results in prolonged patient survival is then the next question that has to be tested.

Five different patients, in different stages of cancer, and using different treatment regimens took DCA in addition to their ongoing traditional cancer treatments. One died. When you look at all the patients' tumors, there's evidence that the DCA did what the researchers expected it to do—which is good, and is part of the process of studying a chemical like this—but it isn't the same as evidence that DCA cured anybody.

Basically, as I said before, DCA is an interesting and promising chemical that could, someday end up being a treatment for some cancers. But that has by no means been proven yet. Scientists are studying this chemical the same way they study all promising chemicals. It's a slow process, one that involves many little steps of research—any of which could easily be overblown into something that it is not. This is probably not the last time you will hear about DCA. And there is a good chance that the next time you hear about it, it still won't be because the chemical has been proven to work. You'll just be hearing about another link in the chain of evidence.

The snail's pace of cancer research is frustrating. Especially to people who actually have cancer right now. It's easy to wonder, "Why don't we just give DCA to cancer patients who want to try it, and see what happens?" That's a tough a question. And it doesn't have any easy answer. I'm going to pass this back to Orac just one more time:

... there is always a conflict between wanting to do something now for suffering patients, damn the consequences, and following the scientific method to demonstrate efficacy and safety. Our nation has been at both extremes. Indeed, until 1906, pharmaceutical companies could make essentially any claims and sell essentially anything to the public as a drug without regulation. We all know how well that worked out. Early in the history of the FDA, as Dr Jerome Groopman points out, companies often tested new drugs by sending them to doctors to offer to their patients, asked for little information regarding side effects and complications, and had no standard criteria for efficacy. There was a reason we moved away from such a system.

Many are the lists of new "miracle cures" that have met this same fate. The difference today is that the Internet has allowed news of these drugs to be disseminated to more people than ever before--and faster than every before. Moreover, it has linked patients and activists into mutually supportive disease-specific communities, who can inform and educate each other, as well as publicizing research about their disease and lobbying legislators. The dark side of this power, however, is that it can facilitate the spread of false hope and the demand for a drug after only cell culture and animal work, before it even makes it to human trials.

Emotion is easy. Conspiracy mongering is even easier. Balancing harms versus benefits, risks and rewards, all the while doing the best for each patient that we can is very, very hard.

Here's a couple of links I'd recommend for further reading:
Dichloroacetate (DCA) and cancer: Déjà vu all over again—This is the recent Orac blog post where the quotes in this post of mine come from. If you're interested, there is a lot more detail in here about DCA, and about the research that's been done on it to date. There are also some good links to previous stuff Orac has written about DCA.

Another cure for cancer?—This is from the Skeptic blog, where Dr. Steven Novella talks a lot more about the conspiracy theory part of this DCA story, and pokes some neat holes in it.

The Hidden Cancer Cure—DCA isn't the only supposed perfect cancer killer that is being suppressed by powerful forces. This Steven Novella post, from last February, talks about the standard cancer cure conspiracy narrative, and why it doesn't really mesh with reality. I'd recommend bookmarking this, and pulling it out every time you hear about a miracle cancer cure.

Image: Cancer?, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from runran's photostream


    1. I almost thought about not linking to the myth-mongering story at all. But I ended up deciding that it was important for people to know where this was coming from. (Protip: If the author of a story on a random website doesn’t tell you their real name then that should be the first clue to be skeptical of what they have to say.)

      And Enormo: I am so, so sorry to hear about your wife. And even more sorry that there are so many frauds and (let’s just say it) ginormous douchebags out there who are adding to the stress and fear you and she must feel. It’s fucking terrible, and you have every right to be furious.

  1. These stories are complete mindfucks for so many cancer patients and caregivers out there. Watching my wife cry because of the fear, angst, and guilt that we’re not doing all we can to keep her alive gets me so very angry. And the quacks that profit by perpetuating the myth that we actually have the ability to cure cancer but it’s being suppressed by some vast global conspiricy of doctors… oh… i’m shaking I’m so mad right now.

  2. I work for a thyroid cancer diagnostic company, and one of the things that amazes me is the number of different types of cancer that can affect just the thyroid. We have determined a gene expression profile for many of them, which we analyze using custom Affymetrix chips. For most of them, it’s almost possible to figure out which type it is from looking at the scanned chip images, because the gene expression profiles are so varied.

    That such a diverse disease could be cured with a single simple compound would be — almost — laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that people like Enormo and his wife have their hopes raised and then dashed by cynical charlatans who perpetuate the cancer conspiracy myth for their own personal gain.

  3. I have keen interest in tumor fighting. One of my legs is ravaged by neurofibromitosis. Personally, I dream for the day that nanobots can just go in and cut stuff out cell by cell; even let me control one like a FPS.

    1. I dream for the day that nanobots can just go in and cut stuff out cell by cell; even let me control one like a FPS.

      This made me think of a SF story by Norman Spinrad, “Carcinoma Angels”.

    2. “even let me control one like a FPS”

      Hey, that’s a cool idea! Imagine, after work, sit down to a fun game of nanobot cell hunting.

        1. “Better yet, put it on X-Box live and let your Call of Duty guild do the work for you.”

          Leeeroy Jenkins!

    3. My mom was dying of cancer at the same time I was heavily into Doom on my Sega Genesis. I remember imagining that I was traveling through her body wiping out cancer cells with my shotgun.

      1. IIRC – there have been documented cases of people visualizing destroying their tumors, and they end up going away. Mind over matter? Paladin heal thyself? Lucky coincidence? Miracle? Dunno. Or I could just be remembering an urban legend.

    4. I dream for the day that nanobots can just go in and cut stuff out cell by cell; even let me control one like a FPS.

      Sold! That would take care of both my wife’s cancer and my propensity to waste large ammounts of time playing videogames.

  4. Thank you for the detailed (and accurate) information.

    It would seem that we can generalize that any widely (or is that wildly!) circulated item, be it a chain letter or an internet viral email is certain to contain false information.

    The great oil shale miracle that will give us billions of barrel of oil has come and gone again as I patiently try to explain to friends and others that this is well known – just impractical.

    1. But that’s the thing: the interesting part of the “conspiracy”, and the part that’s not addressed in the above post. Why did a trial have to be funded via online donations? Is DCA not receiving the same amount of attention as it otherwise would if there were massive profits to be had from its use?

      1. It’s not really a conspiracy, it’s just the way the system currently functions. DCA is absolutely not receiving the same amount of attention as it otherwise would if there were massive profits to be had from its use, true. The scientist who is running the study is also hoping to patent it and make back his investment and likely become fabulously wealthy. I don’t begrudge him, or any other drug researcher, it’s hard work, very complex science, very complex red tape, crazy hours, and only pays off if you win the research/regulatory lottery and your drug happens to be the right one. Most people work very hard and don’t become fabulously wealthy. My brother was one of them.

        If it were up to me, the NIH and similar bodies in other countries would be funded sufficiently to carry out the studies they need, with the medicine having no patent. Meds would be cheaper, and we could focus on things that are most needed by patients (new generations of antibiotics, cheaper meds) vs. things that satisfy the needs of pharm industry (slight variations of drugs, such as time release, that then are awarded a patent, and drugs that treat chronic diseases, insuring chronic costumers). I don’t think pharm companies are evil, I just think they’re companies, and companies that do best and become biggest are the ones that make the most money.

        If oatmeal and the small cardiovascular benefits were discovered today, it would be sold (as avena sativa, the new noni-juice) in health food stores for 10-100 times the cost. A pharm company would find a specific variant that they were allowed to patent, and sell it for 1000 times the cost. In the pharm companies defence, they would put a billion dollars into research for it, but only for their variant, they would be careful not to validate natural oatmeal. I would like an independent body to instead invest the billion in research in natural oatmeal.

        Then again, I believe in universal health care for Americans, so I’m clearly living in a fantasy world.

  5. I had to debunk the first article linked above last week for some Facebook friends. Here’s what I posted:

    “Two comments: (1) The article you link to is written by a scientific illiterate, and (2) if you go to you can read about the clinical trials that are ongoing, conducted by the group that first identified this drug’s effect. Clinical trials of a drug can take anywhere from 5 to 15 years, and in this case the drug takes up to 3 months to reach effective levels in the bloodstream, so it’s likely to be at the longer end of that scale. [Name Redacted], thanks for sharing this info but remember that MOST science reporting in mainstream journalism is inadequate if not outright mistaken.”

    I feel like this advice about trusting mainstream science journalists could also apply to the BoingBoing article re: natural selection.

    Finally, my credentials are that I am a biochemist working in basic research in a field tangentially related to cancer research.

  6. In the first further reading article, it says that DCA is no quack cure. We know, more or less, what it does and how it does it. It is difficult to answer these urgent questions with neither a yes or no, but rather an involved addressing of the nature of the situation.

    That being said, there is a distinct difference between a dying cancer patient who has exhausted all other avenues, and a cancer patient who might forgo proven methods for this easier, cheaper option. The former is pitiably sympathetic. The latter is dangerous.

    Therefore, someone dispensing DCA has to be careful, more careful than he could possibly manage in reality. A dealer of DCA could go from saint to devil from patient to patient, through little to no fault of his own.

    There’s no clear line, but blanket approval or blanket denial is not the answer.

  7. Great timing! I just debunked this on a friend’s FB wall and I look forward to exploring the links you’ve found in detail. For science!

  8. I work for a doctor who is convinced that MRIs were created to kill cancer but the FDA or whoever won’t let them. He’ll spout off all this crazy stuff if you ask him about it; so I don’t, but this part of the problem. The man is a doctor and yet he believes this sort of stuff.

  9. I love a good pharma conspiracy.
    For example, you know ulcers? Ulcer drugs were big blockbuster drugs. Every pharmaceutical had one or more in their top-10 selling drugs. Thanks to Warren and Marshall, who got a Nobel for their efforts, it turns out that ulcers are caused by Helicobacter pylori, and are most effectively treated by fairly common off-patent anitbiotics.

    OK, so now the conspiracy. You have multiple pharmas running many clinical trials on ulcer drugs, and tracking what happens to the patients. Because the real cure (antibiotics) is commonly prescribed, you would expect that a non-trivial percentage of their subjects would be miraculously cured, even if they were in the control group and didn’t even take the drug being studied. In every trial, the correlation between antibiotics and ulcer cure would be far stronger than between the drug being studied and an ulcer cure. Obviously people enrolled in a drug trial would have all of their medications tracked. Were all people taking antibiotics systematically excluded from all the trials? Its expensive to exclude people once the trial starts, and antibiotics are famously over-prescribed, so there would have to be a lot of exclusions. What are the chances that all these pharmas looking at all these trials failed to find the link between antibiotics and disappearance of ulcers? Could have happened, I guess. I’m just proposing a conspiracy theory here, so its not like I have to have evidence for anything. Just a thought experiment.

    It took Warren and Marshall about a decade to convince the medical establishment of the relevance of their scientific findings, which were scientifically speaking an open and shut case (Koch’s postulates are not to be trifled with!). Oddly, medically speaking, the case was not so open and shut.

    There’s a lot of talk these days of “science-based Medicine” and “evidence-based Medicine”. In contrast, you hardly ever hear of “science-based Physics”. There’s a good reason for that.

    The point is that by and large Medical conspiracy theories are pure bunk. Except when they’re not. Medicine does have some ways to go yet before it fully emerges from its pseudo-science past. The fact that drug development happens (or not) purely from a profit-motive perspective doesn’t help either.

    1. In contrast, you hardly ever hear of “science-based Physics”. There’s a good reason for that.

      Because physics is a type of science? A better example might be science-based engineering, but in truth, very few people try other types except on the smallest scale. On the other hand, typing “science-based” into google does bring up things like parenting and dog-training…I don’t know if there are conspiracies there or not.

    2. to anon#25

      The flaw in your argument is:
      If researchers that worked for a drug company saw that antibiotics cured ulcers, they would then think:
      “Huh, curing is a lot better than relieving discomfort…, why don’t we try our company’s antibiotic, or have our company acquire a small antibiotic company, or why don’t I go to work for an antibiotic company, and then I can a Nobel, money for nothing and my chicks for free…”

      Yes, I know the h. pylori guys went against accepted dogma, and they are heroes. But once they proved it, they did get the Nobel, so no hard feelings from the med community.

      Yes, if you’re sick enough to need antibiotics you tend to get excluded by studies, this would be true of almost all medical research studies.

  10. I think that specifically targeted transgenic viruses as vectors for cancer cells recovery by infection will some day cure any cancer. Using nature (with a bit of transgenic help made in a lab) to fix cancer cells is way better than using drugs. Cancer is about genetic and epigenetic mess in somatic cells.
    Also directing your immune system against tumors is a way to reach unseen goals. It is what happens all the time in your body – but sometimes it does not work. So if you get the immune system back on track of who is bad in your cell comunity you are potentially cured.

  11. Sorry to hear that Enormo, my father is currently undergoing chemotherapy and has to put up with ‘helpful’ friends & family foisting similar bullshit upon him. Luckily, he’s a critical thinker, and raised me as one also. So much so that my little sister and myself did science degrees. Great tools for spotting BS in general. I’ve made a few observations over the years since I graduated:

    1, If it’s reported in a newspaper, on the TV, or ‘teh interwebs’, but not in a journal, it’s probably wrong.

    2, If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. (See 1)

    3, If it’s endorsed by a celebrity, it’s probably BS.

    4, If it’s featured on Oprah, it’s definitely BS, or Deepak Chopra (See Tim Minchin’s STORM for more on this)

    5, If it involves praying, it’s BS.

    6, To paraphrase Patrick Swayze’s response to ‘Alternative Health nut-jobs, “If you had a cure, and it worked, you’d be very rich and very famous, you’re not, it’s bullshit, stop writing to me.”

    Apart from those items above, I work for a charity that grants wishes to terminally ill children, during the last 9 years I’ve seen the numbers of fatal cases (mostly leukaemias) drop by an astonishing degree. The same is probably true of adult cancers. Take heart, science is winning. Tiny steps.

    If you need good info about what is and isn’t medicine, go to Orac, he rocks.

  12. Derek Miller died of colon cancer a short while ago. He was followed in his blog my many people. I found the blog recently, just after he died, and read the whole thing from the time he was diagnosed till his last post.

    Derek was diagnosed in October of 2006 and lived an astounding 4.5 years which is at the high end of survival meaning he was in the 7% who live that long with Metastatic Colon Cancer.

    Why so interested? Because my last name is Miller, because we both have two daughters, both spent a life interested in photography, his mother’s name is one letter removed from my wife’s and because I was also diagnosed with Metastatic Colon Cancer in October 2006.

    Like Derek I also discovered DCA, Sodium Dichloroacetate, in February of 2006.

    Here is where we differ. Both Derek and his wife are Biology majors. I on the other hand never had a course in Biology.

    Derek discarded DCA as another miracle drug with no definitive testing that would be embraced by desperate cancer patients with little left to loose.

    In my ignorance I didn’t. I didn’t have much faith in DCA but I didn’t dismiss it. I called and emailed lots of people and one sent me a sample of DCA free of charge.

    For two years I had no chemo and the DCA stayed in the fridge. Then large aggressive tumors were found in my Hylar region and in my right lung. My oncologist and primary doctor told me statistics said I had six months to a year to live if I still did no chemo and another year maybe if I did.

    I asked for a second opinion and did dental work to prepare for chemo while waiting for that second opinion from a top two cancer hospital. I asked my primary doctor if I should try this DCA while waiting and he told me “Don’t touch the stuff”.

    The next day I did.

    Two months later I told him I had used the stuff, DCA, and asked for a CT scan of my chest to see if it was working which he agreed to.

    A few days later he called to inform me that “I don’t know what to say Bob, your tumor has shrunk by 30%. Naturally I kept taking DCA and when my second opinion appointment arrived and I had a second CT scan my new oncologist told me “this if very surprising your tumor has shrunk a further 25%.

    DCA did not shrink my tumors anymore but for the next 14 + months it kept them stable, no growth.

    All through this I was in excellent health with no symptoms and it was only because DCA caused peripheral neuropathy that I cut my dosage in half and only took it half as often in the three months leading up to my CT scan last November and my small tumor in a lung grew a little bit though the radiologist still classed me as stable and my oncologist suggested this was the time to stop DCA and go on chemo.

    For five months my tumors grew while I looked for a clinical trial but I was disqualified from some and rejected others and have now been on first line chemo for six weeks.

    I am alive and in good health, still no symptoms of cancer, and I and a lot of doctors, researchers and oncologist will agree with me that it was DCA that gave me life and quality of life for almost two years.

    DCA in conjunction with other chemos, targeted drugs or something that will counter peripheral neuropathy could well figure in a cure for many cancers.

    A recent study of 5FU, a drug I am taking at this minute from a force fed bottle on my hip, and DCA showed in petrie dishes that DCA kills X amount of colon cancer cells and 5FU kills X amount of colon cancer cells and together they kill a 4X amount colon cancer cells.

    And DCA works on stem like colon cancer cells not just fast dividing cancer cells like standard first line chemo. DCA also works on a metabolic pathway that is common to all or almost all types of cancer cells. And DCA is a small molecule that can past the blood brain barrier.

    I am not the only one that has had a good experience with DCA. Medicor of Toronto Canada has treated a lot of cancer patients with DCA and is about to produce a paper claiming that they have CURED three Stage IV cancer patients with no hope of cure with standard chemo using “palliative chemo” and DCA. And there are others, check out

  13. A half-dozen people sent me this story, so I took a look. The links were dodgy and confusing, so I forgot it. Then I saw it linked at several places. I think Hubpages has a enthusiastic PR department.

  14. “Protip: If the author of a story on a random website doesn’t tell you their real name then that should be the first clue to be skeptical of what they have to say.”

    You mean for example when an author calls himself “Orac”? ;-)

    Just kidding. Great article. Thanks!

  15. oh robmx, the problem is that you don’t know whether DCA did anything or not.

    my wife has a rare, generally untreatable, aggressive cancer (a sarcoma). it’s not usually treated with chemo until late, late stages, because no chemo is known to cure it. none. ever.

    she had a sluggish tumor that hung around barely growing, for 3 years. her docs pointed out, correctly, that if we had given her chemo, we would have thought it was working – but her tumors just weren’t growing that much. and chemo had nothing to do with it.

    now she’s on chemo.

    it can’t be emphasized enough how research works.

    first you give people a proposed treatment – but generally only when they’ve got no other choices. because it would be unethical and monstrous to use them as guinea pigs and kill them with something really dangerous if they otherwise might live. these are often small groups of people and any apparent benefits might be a statistical accident – but at least you know you’re not killing people by trying this.

    now if a treatment doesn’t appear to make people die faster, you can go on to giving it to a wider group. then you can really tell if it shows promise. so it’s very likely effective for *some* people if it passes this stage.

    finally, you can give it to people who have multiple options and evaluate if it’s safe, effective, and good enough to use as a general treatment option, and under what conditions.

    but without going through these steps, you’re just grasping at straws. straws that may kill you, or make you die sooner, or just make you miserable with no real benefit.

  16. Actual link from LIVE SCIENTIST dot com

    I could recount the entire article explaining quite clearly why the release of DCA is not happening from pharmaceuticals, but that would appear conspiratorial by you and yours.

    The summary , for those who care though is, it cost about 500 million to test a drug for approval by the FDA. When DCA is already so cheap, no pharma company would make their money back, thus, they pass on getting it tested. This is being classed as one of the first drug tests ever paid for by random people on the internet and donations to get the approval (over $1.5 million now), meanwhile a single doctor in Canada is quietly helping cancer victims on his own while trying to put together a full test release.

    Its quite sad actually, there are many suffering and many who would gladly test things like this but are not even given the opportunity to do so thanks to fear articles like this one. They come to websites like this one, where they are out and out told that either adding DCA to their current meds will help or that it has been known to cure many forms of cancer, BUT, its all a scam so avoid it… that makes no sense at all. If its non harmful and has been proven to work numerous times, then let people try it on their own and make a blog of that. Not once does the author say that she is testing it and she admits numerous times that she doesn’t even know what she’s talking about, yet because of one article (that states that it works… by the way…) she still assumes that it doesn’t.

    I repeat: This is the most nonsensical article I have seen in a long time.

    Oh, and P.S. thanks for offering many of the other alternatives as well, oh wait, you didn’t do that either…

    This entire article can be summed quite sadly as;
    “Just give up, any medication that the scientific community comes up with is a scam, so just give up.”

    what a load of …. NEVER GIVE UP FIGHTING!

    1. This assumption that there is no money to be made off of DCA if it actually cured cancer is at the heart of the conspiracy theories and absolutely false. Just go to your local drugstore, billions are made off of aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen; all dirt cheap generics for the same conditions. Furthermore, there is no reason why a company can’t get exclusive rights to DCA for between 3-7 years if they simply paid for the clinical trials. This is done under the Unapproved Drugs Initiative, which allows the FDA to do exactly that. Colchicine is just one example: But hey, conspiracy theories make so much fun.

      1. To anon @37:
        Takes about a billion to bring drugs to market. US patent is 20 years, normally. The 3-7 years is a consolation prize, but they have to have a real winner before they can devote what they need to get it through all hurdles. Colchicine has a longer track record than DCA, and cancer studies are particularly expensive. Cochicine, with patent is selling for “only” $5 a pill, which is crazy cheap for a cancer drug. That’s good in my mind, bad in the mind of the company selling it.

  17. This article claims that of the 5 patients used during the Phase I testing one of the 5 patients died. IF one of the 5 died, it was unrelated to the trial — the article here is intentionally misleading.

    “In the 5 patients tested, the drug took 3 months to reach blood levels high enough to alter the tumor’s metabolism. At those levels, there were no significant adverse effects. However, at some of the higher doses tested, DCA caused nerve malfunction, i.e. numbing of toes and fingers. Importantly, in some patients there was also evidence for clinical benefit, with the tumors either regressing in size or not growing further during the 18 month study.” — Taken from

  18. Back in Jan 2007 when the Cancer Cell journal article came out my dear friend and sister in law was dying of breast cancer. DCA is the most hope I have had for efficacious cancer treatment since forever, thus I have been following Dr Evangelos Michelakis at the University of Alberta and his work since then. The thing that is holding up the DCA research more than anything is lack of money. It is expensive to hold clinical trials… in the many millions. Add to that the fact that drug companies will not do nor fund the research because the drug has been on the market for over 40 years treating kids with mitochondrial disease, and therefore cannot be proprietary to them. There is no money in it, and they are a business. So donations from people like you or me is what is funding the clinical trials. The website has the latest info and will accept donations. All Blessings, Maggie

  19. I actually did some work on the Wikipedia article some months ago, after seeing in an email from the library at the cancer research/treatment centre I’m at mentioning that DCA was one of their most-searched terms.

    Anyway, reasons you may not want to jump in and try DCA are:

    1. It’s neurotoxic
    2. In high doses, it’s actually carcinogenic
    3. In at least one study, it enhanced tumour growth rather than inhibiting it.

    I mean, the science is promising. It’s quite well known that tumour cells have things going on in terms of not using their mitochondria, but you just don’t know until more research has been done.

  20. Disgusting actions by people to make a buck.

    Of course, the psychic from the Dr. Oz show would have probably told us as much.

    I think that’s more of the point to the story. Everyone had such high hopes for the internet, that it wouldn’t be another way to scam people and debase our collective knowledge. Then this crap comes along.

  21. “the drug has been on the market for over 40 years treating kids with mitochondrial disease”

    If that is the case surely tracking above patients to see if any of them developed cancer, would show the efficacy of the drug!

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