DCA and CancerDCA as a Cancer Treatment - Sodium Dichloroacetate

DCA Safety and Side Effects

Brain cancer patients who use DCA and caffeine are at very high risk. Please read this.


Update 1 March 2008: We are seeing a consistent response in people on the DCA-caffeine protocol. The DCA is "wiping them out". Many of the patients sleep much of the time and their muscles are weak, especially their leg muscles. Balance can be an issue and the patients can fall down. However, these patients are experiencing very noticeable response in their cancers. These symptoms are among those shown for tumor lysis. Source


DCA is a common by-product of the chlorination of drinking water, and as a result, has been the focus of many studies. The EPA has published a large study, "Toxicological Review of Dichloroacetic Acid", a 200 plus page volume listing a summary of most DCA safety and health research done as of August 2003. WHO has published "Dichloroacetic Acid in Drinking Water", 2005. Health Canada has published "Haloacetic acids in Drinking Water" . This gives us an abundance of research to examine the safety considerations of DCA. (Please note that nowhere in the literature has any human ever been reported to have died from DCA intake)

The Michelakis patent states that tumor action is achievable with a dose as low as 10 mg/kg.

"To date, there have been no reports of dichloroacetic acid-induced neoplasia in any human tissue and no reports of gonadal toxicity in humans (Stacpoole et al., 1998a)." from WHO

"Dichloroacetic acid has been used as a therapeutic agent to treat lactic acidosis, diabetes, and familial hyperlipidaemia in humans; oral or intravenous therapeutic doses are usually in the range of 25–50 mg/kg of body weight per day (Stacpoole et al., 1998a)." WHO

NOEL: Stands for No Observed Effects Level
NOAEL is No Observed Adverse Effects Level
These levels are defined as the highest tested dose of a substance that has been reported to have no harmful (adverse) health effects on people or animals. Thanks to the extensive EPA research, the NOELs have been determined for mice, rats and dogs. These numbers range from 3 to 12.5 mg/kg.

Acute toxicity: Oral LD50 in rats is 4480 mg/kg and 5520 mg/kg for mice.

Several excellent articles relating to the safety aspects of DCA are available at our Human Studies page,


"Several cases of mild peripheral neuropathy following dichloroacetic acid treatment at 50–100 mg/kg of body weight per day for several months to a year have been reported (Stacpoole et al., 1998a; Spruijt et al., 2001). All were completely reversible after cessation of treatment. In one of these cases, dichloroacetic acid was reinstituted at 25 mg/kg of body weight per day following reversal of neurological symptoms, and this dose was maintained for 2 years without further evidence of neuropathy (Stacpoole et al., 1998a). " WHO article.

"The potential benefits of DCA, with or without aerobic training, must be weighed against the potential side-effects of the drug. There were numerous adverse reports during the course of the chronic phase of the study that were directly attributable to DCA, including increased fatigue, shortness of breath, episodes of vomiting and/or gastrointestinal distress, and increased incidence of tremors, " from "Dichloroacetate Therapy Attenuates the Blood Lactate Response to Submaximal Exercise in Patients With Defects in Mitochondrial Energy Metabolism" (this was a 25 mg/kg per day over three month study)

A good study of side effects in dogs shows the range of side effects of DCA exposure even at 12.5 mg/kg per day and really highlights the importance of using the minimum dosages of 10 to 15 mg/kg. The higher the dosage, the more risk of side effects.

The side effects reported by users (taken from our survey to-date), include:

peripheral neuropathy (tingling in the fingers)
numbness in toes or fingers
shaking or tremors in hands
weakness in legs
mild nausea
swollen ankles
more urination
breathing heavier than usual
tingling (neuropathy) in the lips

With the use of the DCA-Caffeine-B1 protocol we are seeing a whole new set of effects. These effects appear to be TLS, as the symptoms are appearing much sooner than typically seen with DCA alone. Sleepiness, fatigue, weak legs and balance issues are sometimes reported.

Recommended Treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy

You should closely monitor for side effects. We suggest that if you start to feel tingling or numbness in your fingers that you should get off DCA for a few days, then restart at the same or lower dose level. Some supplements often recommended are thiamine or folic acid. Vitamin B1 has been standard. There is movement now towards the use of benfotiamine instead of vitamin B1.

Additionally, glutamine is something to consider. Dr. Steve Martin of Grouppe Kurosawa recommends 50g/day of glutamine. Here are some supportive links:

Glutamine as a neuroprotective agent in high-dose paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy: a clinical and electrophysiologic study.

Effect of glutamine on methotrexate efficacy and toxicity. (this study is focused on the benefits of glutamine as an adjunct in the treatment of cancer)

"... natural treatments such as acetyl-L-carnitine, lipoic acid, evening primrose oil, fish oil, magnet therapy, selenium and vitamin E have been shown to alleviate the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy altogether" from http://www.peripheral-neuropathy-help.com/diabetic-neuropathy-treatment.html It is interesting that most of these are known to be effective anti-cancer treatments.

Fish Oil supplementation has been shown to be effective. Fish Oil Supplementation Prevents Diabetes-Induced Nerve Conduction Velocity and Neuroanatomical Changes in Rats And taking fish oil is potentially a great supplement to take to fight cancer. Here is a reported remission due to fish oil. We have an entire section devoted to fish oils.

Additionally there is talk that citric acid might help reduce peripheral neuropathy. One Dutch doctor self-medicating for his own cancer would take 20 grams of citric acid 20 minutes before taking DCA.

Tumor Lysis Syndrome

Side effects atypical of DCA have been reported. These effects may be what is termed "Tumor Lysis Syndrome", the consequence of the rapid breakdown and death of cancer cells. This can be serious, and can result in death in some cases. The fact that we even have to worry about this is good news for us, because DCA is working so well against many cancers. TLS is also caused by other, standard, cancer therapies when they destroy tumor cells rapidly.

Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) is a life-threatening oncologic emergency characterized by metabolic abnormalities that can occur during rapid tumor breakdown in response to anti-cancer treatment. TLS is most frequently seen in acute lymphocytic leukemia and high-grade NHLs, but many other hematologic and solid tumors have been associated with this complication.

According to the Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics, the following cancers are associated with TLS:

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL)
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
Acute myelocytic leukemia (AML)
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
Chronic myelocytic leukemia (CML)
Breast cancer
Testicular cancer
Merkel cell carcinoma
Small cell carcinoma of the lung





An academic note: TLS is not just a cancer issue. Even mass parasite death results in a situation similar to TLS. "A Tumor Lysis-Like Syndrome during Therapy of Visceral Leishmaniasis." http://www.annclinlabsci.org/cgi/content/abstract/32/4/419

There is a related syndrome, called the Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction, or "Herx" Reaction. This can result from bacterial lysis after the initiation of antibiotic use. Sample links: Wikipedia, Lyme, TNF

If you develop symptoms of TLS:
1. See your doctor immediately
2. Discontinue use of DCA until the symptoms subside,
3. When you start taking DCA again, use it at a lower dose or use DCA on alternate days.

Possible Drug Interactions

We have not seen any drug interactions yet. Keep in mind that DCA is very new and we have extremely little data to work with here. However, based on the survey results to-date, we have no reports of drug conflicts with DCA. One report suggested that Lasix might interact with DCA. All the symptoms reported were actually those of Lasix. However, DCA may have amplified the Lasix effect.