Respectful Insolence

Yesterday, I wrote about how anti-science pro-”intelligent design” kook extraordinaire Dave Springer (a.k.a. DaveScot) has taken to promoting dichloroacetate as a treatment for cancer and one website in particular, The DCA Site that claims to exist to “help inform people of the exciting research done on DCA [dichloroacetate] by scientists at the University of Alberta. In January 2007 a team of scientists at the University of Alberta published a paper in the scientific journal Cancer Cell describing the discovery that a simple, cheap molecule, DCA, worked to reactivate the apoptosis mechanism of cancer cells, causing rapid shrinkage of tumors in rats. Mitochondrial reactivation represents an entirely new approach to treating cancer.” I noted that, despite its claims, The DCA Site appears to exist mainly as an advertising site for another website owned by the same people, BuyDCA.com. Worse, it appeared to be encouraging desperate people dying of cancer to experiment on themselves with the drug.

Curious, last night while I was sitting on my couch watching Dirty Jobs, I decided to emulate the host Mike Rowe and poke around The DCA Site some more. Now that‘s a dirty job! I was appalled at what I found on the chat boards. Besides the examples of two patients trying DCA with no medical supervision, I found a truly disturbing exchange between Heather Nordstrom, one of the people who put the site together, and a person challenging her over the ethics of selling DCA under false pretenses to desperate patients. First, a challenger, a guy who goes by the ‘nym Sprite8, asks some good questions:

My questions to you are these:

1) Distribution of the DCA is one thing. Will there be instructions on use (for the “pets/animals” who are in need of it) also distributed?

2) How are you able to secure DCA when so many others are not? Is it possible for anyone to get DCA through a veterinarian or other form of distribution? I’m wondering how you are able to get this.

The main reason for my second question is– how are these people who are clinging onto the hope of DCA be assured that it is legitimate and not another scam trying to secure money from desperate people?

Believe me– I hope to God that you are legitimate. But let’s face it, we’re talking to computer screens here.. and we’re surrounded by scam artists and junk mail and phishing all the time these days. How can anyone be sure that you aren’t just distributing water with something like fluoride in it to make a quick buck?

How indeed can one be sure that Heather is legit? Answer: One can’t! There’s no way of knowing whether or not BuyDCA.com is anything other than a huge scam designed to sell the drug to desperate patients. Heck, there’s no good way of knowing whether the chemical being sold at BuyDCA.com is even what it is claimed to be. Indeed, the whole “cancer treatment for pets” angle is so risibly transparent a ploy to try to weasel out of FDA scrutiny that it would, I hope, give even the most desperate dying patient pause. But, to be fair, let’s look at Heather’s response:

In my opinion, it is not that difficult to get, but that may be because my step father has connections with manufacturers since we invent and sell tools for our family business. We know of a chemical company in China that makes DCA. It is pharmaceutical grade. More information on the quality and source will be posted on the website that sells it.

Suuurre, it is (pharmaceutical grade, that is), Heather. We all know how pure a lot of Chinese herbs are that are supposedly “safe” for human consumption. In reality, they’re all too frequently full of lead and other toxic heavy metals. Does anyone want to trust whatever source from which Heather is planning on getting her DCA to be true, pure, pharmaceutical grade DCA? Not me. Who’s going to assure that it’s pharmaceutical grade, Heather or her stepfather? What qualifications do they have to do that? Analyzing a chemical to make sure that it’s pharmaceutical grade requires considerable skills in analytical and medicinal chemistry.

It gets worse, though. Get a load of Heather’s reasoning:

I absolutely understand your concern about scams and quackery. I am not sure how to “prove” we are truly interested in people’s health and finding a cure. Perhaps sharing more about ourselves will help.

My stepfather’s good friend and dance teacher Paul (his story is posted here) has lung cancer. He was diagnosed with only a few months to live. My stepfather did research into everything he could to save his friend’s life. He found Tetrathiomolybdate in the process which stopped Paul’s tumor from growing. Paul is now living with a tumor long past the date he was “supposed” to.

I work with my step father Jim, mother, sister and brother at a family-owned local business here in Sonora, CA. There isn’t anything we have to hide.

Ah, the usual testimonials, a very good sign that you’re probably dealing with a product or treatment that’s not on the up and up! Again, what one has to understand is that estimates of survival times after a diagnosis of cancer are a very imprecise science/art. Significant percentages of patients will live considerably longer than the estimate given them. If these patients happen to be into “alternative medicine,” they are inevitably the patients who turn into “testimonials.” The ones who live shorter than predicted or suffer nasty complications are, of course, forgotten, particularly if they died while taking alternative medicine. And, par for the course Heather believes desperate cancer patients deservehealth freedom” (translation from altie-speak: the “freedom to pursue woo”):

When Jim told me a week ago about his idea to promote the education of DCA, I told him that I didn’t personally don’t believe in a bullet cure to cancer (for animals or people), because cancer is something that forms from a lifetime of toxic living and abuse to the body, mind and spirit. So, I didn’t agree with his idea. However, I read the research and I decided that is not up to me to tell people what to do. We are free and I am a supporter of freedom of choice. The research stands alone. It is up to people assume responsibility for anything they may risk and I do believe that it is a risk for several reasons, mostly being that there haven’t been studies in people for various types of cancer. If people want to consider DCA then they need to realize they are completely responsible for their own choices; they need to educate themselves and make their own decisions. I believe that cancer grows in the first place because of our ignorance about how to be healthy, and finding a cure must include learning to take the time to educate oneself and make the life adjustments as necessary. I have been studying holistic health for the last 10 years and I understand the process of health and disease enough to know that it is very misunderstood by most people.

Heather managed to swallow her “doubts” about selling DCA pretty fast, don’t you think? Yes, people have the “freedom” to “choose” DCA, and there she is, going right into the breech to provide it for them. Pretty idealistic and selfless of her, don’t you think, particularly when there’s green stuff to be made? Of course, Heather justifies her unethical actions by pulling out one of the oldest altie tropes, perhaps the one with the best propaganda value of all: the appeal to “health freedom.” In the U.S., which values personal freedom and responsibility based on the very history of its foundation, this is a powerful appeal. However, here’s the problem with “health freedom.” When used in this context, it’s usually anything but a true appeal to freedom. Usually, in altie hands, it’s a strategy to draw attention away from the unethical and dangerous actions of irresponsible sellers of unproven drugs (like Heather) and towards the patient, for whom we all have sympathy, including us skeptics who like evidence-based medicine. It may also be a way for people like Heather to cloak their unethical and dangerous actions, which are likely to harm far more cancer patients than help, in the mantle of “freedom.”

In any case, it’s not surprising that Heather would take this sort of view. A quick Google search turned up this article by a Heather Nordstrom of Sonora, CA (who, I’m pretty sure based on the city and the writing style, is the same Heather as the one from The DCA Site) about a trip to Tijuana she made to see an “alternative dentist” who “had even worked for Hulda Clark!” The purpose of her trip was to remove the amalgam fillings from someone named Josh (who, I assume, is her son), after which Josh undertook a typical altie “detox plan” to “rid himself of the remaining mercury.” In the article, Heather gushed about the “alternative medicine” clinics in Tijuana thusly:

I write this information because more people need to know. Especially people in the US and any modern medicine practicing country, because our health (more truthfully, lack of) is a major money-making industry. I might offend some people with my point of view, but I believe that some of our practices make people sicker and eventually kill them. Many US doctors decide to practice in Mexico because of the difficult conditions in the US that hinder or prevent them to successfully cure and treat disease. The US’s general approach is “allopathic” which is aimed at the disease, rather than “naturopathic” which is focused on the whole person and their lifestyle, to determine what caused the disease and bring the body back into balanced health.

And:

Mexico is a refuge for those who want to practice natural and alternative medicine without persecution, and those who seek highly successful and non-harmful treatments for what US doctors call “incurable” disease.

No, it’s not, Heather. It’s a refuge for quacks selling ineffective and often dangerous nostrums. Also, having worked for a quack like Hulda Clark is nothing to be proud of! If a healthcare practitioner told me that he had ever worked for “Dr.” Clark with anything other than the deepest shame at admitting such an embarrassing tidbit about his past, I’d be running, not walking, out of his office.

Spirit8 was not alone, however, in warning Heather about the dangers of what she is doing, fortunately. A man by the ‘nym of CJohn Zammit also tried to warn her:

Heather, it is admirable that you are keen on DCA … BUT what you are doing is highly unethical and very likely illegal.

DCA cannot exist in isolation. No one can supply you with DCA.

The stuff used by the researchers is SodiumDCA, and while it has been used on humans for a long time, and its side-effects are well-known, it is NOT a do-it-yourself thing.

It needs medical supervision.

For heaven’s sake, do not sell it to the public. Try to bring it to the attention of your local hospital’s oncology department; show them all that has been written about it. Persuade them to use it on their patients.

I know the pain of having cancer or losing someone dear to that dreaded disease … I lost my wife.

I tried to e-mail you from your Contact link, but it bounced back.

[...]

Together, we can raise the awareness and put pressure on the medical profession to start prescribing this simple drug.

But doing it yourself is not the answer.

Sensible words, except for the part about encouraging oncologists to use DCA outside of clinical trials. What Heather and the other purveyors of false hope at The DCA Site are doing is indeed highly unethical and breathtakingly irresponsible. It’s disingenuous as well, given the painfully obvious subterfuge of selling DCA “only for animal use” when anyone with half a brain (or even those with less than half a brain, like DaveScot) can see that the DCA is being sold to be used by desperate cancer patients. It’s all done with an incredibly blatant “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” disingenuousness that disgusts me. Sadly, Heather’s reply is more of the same “health freedom” blather:

My family is promoting the education of DCA because I believe we have too much (too many lives) to lose if we wait for trials to begin and end. The bottom line is that people should be free to choose for themselves. What is illegal is selling DCA for human use. We have been talking with the FDA and making sure we are staying within their guidelines. If people want to take it for themselves, that is completely their choice and they must accept responsibility.

“Talking with the FDA”? I wonder what Heather and her stepfather have really been telling the FDA, if they’ve been in contact with the FDA at all (which I sincerely doubt). If it was the truth, my guess is that the only thing the FDA would respond by telling them that selling DCA under such an obviously false pretense could get them in trouble with the law. And, really, Heather can’t really believe that this disingenuous disclaimer will shield her from prosecution or liability, Can she? Here it is:

For veterinary use only. DCA is not approved for use by humans. We are neither doctors nor veterinarians and cannot make statements about the medical condition of your pets. Please note we make no claims nor give any guarantees. The information on this site should not be considered complete, nor should it be relied upon to suggest a course of treatment for a particular individual. This information is for educational purposes only. It should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider, or veterinarian. Always consult with your physician or veterinarian before embarking on a new medical treatment, diet or fitness program.

Funny, I thought BuyDCA.com was selling DCA for use in animals only. Why, then, are Heather and her family making such a big deal out of mentioning physicians and treatments for individuals? It couldn’t be that Heather and her stepfather are being, as I said before, disingenuous, could it? You’re far too cynical; Heather is an idealist, after all. Fortunately, CJohn Zammit is not done yet and he echoes exactly what I said about Chinese suppliers:

Now, a few words about why you should NOT sell this drug.

You have indicated that your source is in China. I have had a lot of experience dealing with Chinese manufacturers. In a number of cases, I find that my language means different things to them. I will not bore you with tales of woe.

In the case of this drug, if you have ordered “DCA”, chances are that you will receive Dichloroacetic Acid, often referred to as simply DCA. I would not want to give that to even my worst enemy.

There is a lot of confusion about DCA — Dichloroacetate. On its own, it cannot exist (I am paraphrasing Benjamin Abelow M.D., author of the famous book, Understanding Acid-Base). For human use, it is mated with Sodium, thus what you get from your doctor is Sodium Dichloroacetate (Molecular Formula: Cl2CHCO2Na), which has been proven effective in the treatment of congenital lactic acidosis and other mitochondrial disorders…Importing this drug, for human use, requires that someone in the importer’s organization is fully qualified to check the authenticity of the imported product. That means a well-equipped laboratory, and certified professional(s) to carry out an analysis of the compound. Unless you are so equipped, then, I suggest to you that, you are not in a position to sell this drug.

Stick to publicizing it … and if I may add, you are already doing a fabulous job in that respect. Keep it up.

[...]

Urging oncologists to use the drug, does not mean to imply that anyone should take it on themselves to use it. True enough, it is a simple drug, but how do you know that what you are taking IS the drug that you seek? You don’t! Just ask yourself, just because you are dying, would you take poison? I don’t think so.

Sadly, this drug, unless used by the medical profession, is a magnet for quacks. And that would be a disaster, because not only will patients not be cured, the drug will get a bad name and be relegated to the trash can. We cannot allow that to happen.

Obviously, I disagree with encouraging oncologists to try the drug for their patients on a compassionate use/”off-label” basis without at least some convincing Phase II data to support such treatment. I also disagree with his violent criticism of the researchers at the University of Alberta for Evangelos Michelakis, the scientist who published the Cancer Cell article showing the activity of DCA against experimental cancer in rats for “sitting on it for two years” (not quoted), nor, obviously, do I agree with his hysterical demand that the drug should be made available to medical professionals, who should be encouraged to use it. (Never mind that not very many physicians would be willing to risk malpractice suits and the loss of their medical license by using a drug that is not FDA-approved.) However, I do agree 100% that DCA appears to have become a magnet for quacks. Unfortunately, the situation is likely to worsen. I also totally agree that Heather’s company appears utterly unqualified to import DCA. She clearly can’t verify the content and purity and has no clue how to use it.

Indeed, how can anyone doubt that Heather’s basically lying through her mercury-free teeth when she says, “We are not selling it for human use although people may do what they will”? Come on! Give me a break! Also, just because Heather claims to have “biologists and chemists” does not necessarily make them qualified to determine whether the DCA they “import” is pharmaceutical grade, even if it’s true that there are biologists and chemists working for her stepfather. Finally, I’m really surprised that no one appears to have picked up on the fact that there’s a huge contradiction between what Heather says on the forums on The DCA Site and what is written on the BuyDCA.com website. In the forums, she claims to be planning on importing DCA from a Chinese supplier. Yet, on the BuyDCA.com website, this is what they have to say about how they make their DCA:

We make Pet-DCA from Dichloroacetic acid, 98%. Dichloroacetic acid is synthesized by mixing the precursors and hitting the mix with a laser tuned to a particular frequency. 98 percent of the resultant product is dichloroacetic acid, 1% monochloroacetic acid and 1% trichloroacetic acid.

Our synthesis of sodium dichloroacetate produces the same aqueous (water) solution you would get when dry sodium dichloroacetate is added to water. And for much less money.

This sounds fishy to me. I could be wrong, but best guess is that she’s getting dichloroacetic acid, not its sodium salt (sodium dichloroacetate) from her supplier and then planning on somehow neutralizing it with sodium hydroxide or some other base. I could be wrong, though; so I ask: Which is it? Are they “importing” pharmaceutical grade DCA from China, or are they making their own homegrown concoction out of dichloroacetic acid? Inquiring minds want to know!

Not surprisingly, Heather also harbors some rather typical altie misconceptions about cancer therapy:

Nobody is allowed legally to sell DCA for human use except doctors because the FDA has made it illegal for ANYONE to claim they can cure cancer in humans except through things like chemotherapy.

I’ve got news for Heather: DCA is chemotherapy! The difference is that it’s chemotherapy that hasn’t been scientifically shown to be effective against cancer in humans. So, basically, Heather is a chemotherapy peddler. Yes, indeed, she’s enthusiastically peddling chemotherapy developed scientifically through that evil “allopathic” medicine for which she voices such contempt! There’s no getting around that fact. Worse, in my opinion, it’s very hard not to conclude that Heather’s not just an allopathic chemotherapy peddler but a lying peddler of unproven chemotherapy who’s intentionally deceiving people by claiming to be selling it only for animal use when her own words quite clearly show that she knows damned well that people won’t be buying the DCA for their pets. Perhaps she thinks she’s doing this all only out of the highest ideals and that lying about not selling DCA for use in humans is acceptable in the service of a higher cause if it keeps “the Man” off her back. Perhaps. But, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and, quite frankly, I’m beginning to doubt whether Heather and her stepfather’s intentions were ever all that good in the first place.

This is what DaveScot has wrought. Apparently Heather’s stepfather learned of DCA from Uncommon Descent and was so inspired by it that he set up his “educational” website, which is in reality disingenuous, intentionally deceitful about its true purpose, and utterly irresponsible. Worse, Heather is stoking the very flames of false hope that I’ve warned about before, as this person commenting describes:

Of course, the other issue is that the pharmacists who carry the stuff, are having a difficult time keeping it stocked because there is so much interest since the University of Alberta article. The pharmacist I used has just a small supply on hand now but is waiting for a larger shipment to come in from the UK but it may be a month or so. But even so, I strongly urge you to get it through a prescription and a reputable compounding pharmacist – you can not be sure exactly what you are getting if you just order it over the internet – it may not even be DCA and it could be harmful to you, and even if it is DCA, you can’t be certain of the grade or purity and then you can’t possibly know what dose to use.

This is madness, people, for reasons that I’ve amply described before in my usual long-winded fashion. In any case, if you want to see how much Heather wants to “help people”? Check out the rest of the disclaimer:

To insure the product is safe for all buyers, there can be no refunds or returns. All sales are final.

The sad thing is, in the end, after all the right Phase II trials are done, DCA might actually prove to be legit. It might actually prove to be an effective new chemotherapeutic agent with activity against a wide variety of human cancers (although, I must point out again that it is highly unlikely to be any “cure” or miracle treatment). The preclinical data in cell culture and rats are promising. But we won’t know whether its activity in cell culture and in rat tumor models will translate into an effective human therapy until the clinical trials are completed. While that’s happening, we have idiots like DaveScot and opportunistic “entrepreneurs” like Heather Nordstrom’s stepfather doing their best to sully DCA by making it look like another Laetrile, all the while claiming to be “helping” people.

ADDENDUM: Walnut has posted his critique on Daily Kos as well.

All Orac posts on DCA:

  1. In which my words will be misinterpreted as “proof” that I am a “pharma shill”
  2. Will donations fund dichloroacetate (DCA) clinical trials?
  3. Too fast to label others as “conspiracy-mongers”?
  4. Dichloroacetate: One more time…
  5. Laying the cluestick on DaveScot over dichloroacetate (DCA) and cancer
  6. A couple of more cluesticks on dichloroacetate (DCA) and cancer
  7. Where to buy dichloroacetate (DCA)? Dichloroacetate suppliers, even?
  8. An uninformative “experiment” on dichloroacetate
  9. Slumming around The DCA Site (TheDCASite.com), appalled at what I’m finding
  10. Slumming around The DCA Site (TheDCASite.com), the finale (for now)
  11. It’s nice to be noticed
  12. The deadly deviousness of the cancer cell, or how dichloroacetate (DCA) might fail
  13. The dichloroacetate (DCA) self-medication phenomenon hits the mainstream media
  14. Dichloroacetate (DCA) and cancer: Magical thinking versus Tumor Biology 101
  15. Checking in with The DCA Site
  16. Dichloroacetate and The DCA Site: A low bar for “success”
  17. Dichloroacetate (DCA): A scientist’s worst nightmare?
  18. Dichloroacetate and The DCA Site: A low bar for “success” (part 2)
  19. “Clinical research” on dichloroacetate by TheDCASite.com: A travesty of science
  20. A family practitioner and epidemiologist are prescribing dichloracetate (DCA) in Canada
  21. An “arrogant medico” makes one last comment on dichloroacetate (DCA)

Posts by fellow ScienceBlogger Abel Pharmboy:

  1. The dichloroacetate (DCA) cancer kerfuffle
  2. Where to buy dichloroacetate…
  3. Local look at dichloroacetate (DCA) hysteria
  4. Edmonton pharmacist asked to stop selling dichloroacetate (DCA)
  5. Four days, four dichloroacetate (DCA) newspaper articles
  6. Perversion of good science
  7. CBC’s ‘The Current’ on dichloroacetate (DCA)

Comments

  1. #1 S. Rivlin
    February 21, 2007

    Orac,

    Yesterday, on your post ‘An uninformative “experiment” on dichloroacetate’ I responded with a comment about the price of DCA in Sigma Chemicals catalog and have calculated that the people who sell DCA for pets on buydcanow.com mark up the price by approximately 5,000%. DaveScot, in response to my comment, called me a moron, explaining that there is another company, the only one in the country, that sells pharmaceutical grade DCA, and they sell 25 g of it for $170. Thus, according to DaveScot, the expert on everything, the profit that buydcanow.com makes is much smaller. I went back to the Sigma catalog, 2006-2007, to check the price and purity of their DCA:

    Dichloroacetic acid
    Cl2CHCOOH, FW 128.94 [79-43-6]
    Purity, >99%
    Cat # D54702-1KG 1 kg $39.60

    Buydcanow.com sells a solution of DCA that contains 40 g for $20.00. If they buy it at the Sigma Chemicals price of ~$40.00/kg, they still mark up the price by 5,000%. They probably buy it cheaper than the Sigma price, since they import it from China, where most products are either faked or of a lesser quality.

  2. #2 llewelly
    February 21, 2007

    The bottom line is that people should be free to choose for themselves.

    If someone is misled into using Heather’s ‘DCA’ preparation, and it does not contain DCA, how is their choice ‘free’?
    If someone is misled into using Heather’s ‘DCA’ preparation, on the belief that it will cure their cancer, how is their choice ‘free’?

  3. #3 _Arthur
    February 21, 2007

    DCA is a *NATURAL* remedy! As natural as bleach.

  4. #4 llewelly
    February 21, 2007

    One other thing … Heather’s description of of how they make DCA caused me to imagine a long conveyor belt, moving a long row of bottles of saltwater past a brilliantly shining green laser pointer.

  5. #5 Melissa G
    February 21, 2007

    This is terrible.

    The New York Times just ran an article on the huge harm counterfeit antimalarials from China are wreaking around the world– gaaaaaah!!!!

    Back in my woo days I swallowed the “health freedom” line whole. Now all I can see is the harm it does to desperate people.

  6. #6 No Longer a Urinated State of America
    February 21, 2007

    “I went back to the Sigma catalog, 2006-2007, to check the price and purity of their DCA”

    Also bear in mind Sigma makes a whopping great big markup on its supplies. Typically, costs in Sigma are an order-of-magnitude higher than the bulk price from the manufacturer. So that makes the quack’s markup even higher.

  7. #7 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 21, 2007

    because cancer is something that forms from a lifetime of toxic living and abuse to the body, mind and spirit.

    Her woo-fu is strong.

  8. #8 anonimouse
    February 21, 2007

    I think the words we’re all looking for when it comes to Heather and her “stepfather” are lying pieces of crap.

  9. #9 Cain
    February 21, 2007

    So, somebody’s already called the FBI tip line, right?

  10. #10 Alex Whiteside
    February 21, 2007

    I think it’s worth reminding people that the toxicologist’s maxim “the dose is the poison” applies to medicines, too. If it’s pharmacologically active, it can find a way to kill you. Depending on how your liver likes it, it might kill you at the same dose required to kill the tumor.

  11. #11 TheBrummell
    February 21, 2007

    …my guess is that the only thing the FDA would respond by telling them that selling DCA under such an obviously false pretense could get them in trouble with the law.

    Is the FDA able to initiate legal procedings against individuals or corporations that violate laws relevant to the FDA’s mandate?

    Selling unproven chemicals with flimsily-covered claims about medical effects in humans (is that vet thing fooling anybody?) is illegal in the USA, is it not? Which agency has jurisdiction to press civil or criminal charges?

  12. #12 Apu Illapu
    February 21, 2007

    Just to clarify:
    DCA (acid) (CAS 79-43-6) is a dense liquid (1.5 times more than water) that Sigma sells around my part of the world in 2.5 liter jugs for 88 euro.
    Sodium DCA (salt) (CAS 2156-56-1) is a powder sold by Sigma in 50-gram bottles for 165 euro.
    Huge difference! Now I have no idea what the details might be, but this somehow makes me think that getting the salt might be more complicated than just neutralizing the acid with sodium hidroxide…
    Any readers from Europe that noticed anything in the media about this?

  13. #13 Alex Whiteside
    February 21, 2007

    In the UK, at least, it’s made a brief appearance in the popular press and then disappeared again. Same pattern as all the other potential wonder-cures. Our only really big cancer treatment story in recent years was a breast cancer drug which in the opinion of the prospective patients wasn’t getting approved fast enough.

  14. #14 S. Rivlin
    February 21, 2007

    There’s nothing complicated about neutralizing DCA with sodium hydroxide. It is as easy and as simple as neutralizing any other monocarboxylic acid such as acetic acid, lactic acid, pyruvic acid etc. The only thing to remember is that the created salt stays as a solution. If you want to crystalyze it, you need to get rid of the water. The pet people (buydca.com) who want to sell their stuff to “cure cancer,” while becoming rich, are selling it as a solution. Although they are not indicating what the pH of their magic stuff is, I guess it is probably about 7.0 after neutralizing their Chinease DCA with NaOH.

  15. #15 Prometheus
    February 21, 2007

    OK, I was doing fine until she got to the part about:

    “Dichloroacetic acid is synthesized by mixing the precursors and hitting the mix with a laser tuned to a particular frequency.” (emphasis mine)

    And what, pray tell, is the laser supposed to do (apart from adding that sexy, high-tech, “gee-whiz” touch)?

    I work with and around a number of people who research what happens to chemicals when you “hit them” with laser light. They all assure me that what this woman is saying is pure baloney.

    Dichloroacetic acid is made in a number of ways, but they all have in common a step that adds chlorine to the methyl group. The result of this reaction is a mixture of monochloroacetic acid, dichloroacetic acid and trichloroacetic acid (and a fair bit of unreacted acetic acid). These are separated by mundane chemical means, not by a magic laser.

    Oh, and a bone for the conspiracy nuts. The above reaction is primarily done to obtain trichloroacetic acid, which has a myriad of laboratory and inductrial uses. The DCA is essentially a waste product…unless the evil multinational chemical companies can convince a bunch of desperate people to buy it as a cancer therapy.

    What do you think? It’s at least as plausible as anything the DCA purveyors/advocates are suggesting (I would say it is more plausible, in fact).

    Prometheus

  16. #16 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    I’m glad someone pointed out to S. Rivlin, the idiot I had to ban at Uncommon Descent for serial stupidity, that the product in question is dichloroacetic acid sodium salt.

    Here’s what Sigma wants for the 98% pure salt:

    http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/search/ProductDetail/ALDRICH/347795

    $40 PER GRAM.

    For the reagent grade acid:

    http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/search/ProductDetail/SIAL/D54702

    $0.66 per gram.

    What say you now, Rivlin?

    I know the name of the guy behind thedcasite, checked him out, and he’s at least a legitimate business owner (pesticide related) in the U.S. who deals directly with the public with a reputation in his community and who can be sued. I was informed he tried to acquire pharma grade DCA in the U.S., found none or found the supply extremely limited, and acquired the last 250kg of pharma grade dichloracetic acid that a Chinese supplier he works with for other chemical feedstocks had in stock. Evidently there’s a run on it and supplies are limited. He said it was by sheer luck he beat another customer to that last 250kg before Chinese New Year (a two week holiday that virtually shuts down business in China). He employed a lab with chemists (or so he claimed, I can’t know this is true) who are familiar with this sort of thing to convert the acid into the sodium salt. Obviously this isn’t a simple process and/or a gram of acid doesn’t make a gram of salt, given there’s about a 100x markup in price per gram between the acid and the salt at Sigma Aldrich.

    And Pet-DCA is selling for $0.50/gram. I just wonder how it’s so inexpensive if it’s the real thing. A marketing VP I hired in a company I founded years ago told me never to vastly underprice the competition even if your costs allow you to because no one will believe your product can possibly stand up against the competition at a much lower price point.

    If Orac can manage to break away from the task of bitching about all this and order a bottle of Pet-DCA and have it analyzed in the high tech labs he must surely have easy access to we could all get an answer on whether or not Pet-DCA is what it claims to be. Gosh, an actual productive activity. Given the amount of time Orac spends surfing the net doing something useful in his line of work might be a real novelty.

  17. #17 Jeb
    February 21, 2007

    Also bear in mind Sigma makes a whopping great big markup on its supplies. Typically, costs in Sigma are an order-of-magnitude higher than the bulk price from the manufacturer. So that makes the quack’s markup even higher.

    Actually, in most cases Sigma is the manufacturer. This is not to suggest there is no mark-up, just FYI.

  18. #18 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    Someone asked me in a DCA thread on Uncommon Descent if I’d self-medicate with DCA. I said I didn’t know if I would or not but that if one my dogs was dying of cancer I’d give it a try. If the DCA made the dog sicker the worst case is you’d put him down a little sooner than you’d expected. This is purely a risk/reward decision. If the upside outweighs the downside by a huge amount the risk is justified. We’ll probably hear some stories coming real soon about people giving Pet-DCA to dogs with cancer as that’s a pretty common way for mutts to meet their end.

    As a matter of fact I think I’ll go to some of the top google hits for dog cancer and let them know about Pet-DCA. Surely none of you FDA boot lickers will object to trying the shit out on dogs. Or will you?

  19. #19 Coin
    February 21, 2007

    Uh… personally I think feeding random chemicals to dogs just to see what it does is fairly awful and borders on animal cruelty, yes. I know some people who work with animal shelters and rescues and they’d probably be a lot more horrified than I would at your comment.

    I mean, I think animal testing is necessary and proper for real scientific and medical research, but surely not for poorly-controlled backyard chemistry experiments.

  20. #20 S. Rivlin
    February 21, 2007

    I know a Springer who won first place at the last Dog Show in Madison Square Gardens, but Dave Springer would probably bit him if his owners would just enter him in time for the competition. Now, let’s see what your legitimate businessman done: He acquired the last 250kg of pharma grade dichloracetic acid that a Chinese supplier he works with for other chemicals. He acquired the ACID form of DCA, the cheaper form. Of course, you, smart Springer, concluded that “this isn’t a simple process” to convert the acid to a salt “and/or a gram of acid doesn’t make a gram of salt, given there’s about a 100x markup in price per gram between the acid and the salt at Sigma Aldrich.”

    Everyone please pay attention, the higher the mark-up, the more complicated is the salting process. All that doesn’t really matter, because the pet doctor (legitimate businessman) is selling a DCA solution (supposedly a sodium salt), which is very simple and inexpensive to prepare. Another point, genious Springer, is that when you convert 1 g of dichloroacedic acid to its sodium dichloroacetate you get more than 1 g of the latter, actually making more from less. Do you understand the chemistry of this reaction or do you need to google a bit?

    Anyhow, I want to thank you for volunteering as the blog’s clown. You could be even funnier if not for the seriousness of the crap you are spewing here and elsewhere.

  21. #21 JujuQuisp
    February 21, 2007

    DaveTard really needs to just be IGNORED. Half of all his effort is just to get ATTENTION. He is nothing more than an attention troll and we are all biting. Most sensible people can see through DaveTard and his rhetoric. For those that want to brainlessly tag along with DaveTard, be my guest. To each their own, but be willing to suffer the consequences. To DaveTard—–try using some respect or humbleness in your commentary once in a while. You might find it gets you a lot farther and the conversation will be less hostile. Who knows? Maybe everyone will learn something and become a better person in the end. Your vitriolic act is becoming tiresome and really doesn’t put in a good light anywhere. Just some advice, DaveTARD.

  22. #22 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 21, 2007

    the idiot I had to ban at Uncommon Descent for serial stupidity

    —–

    Gosh, an actual productive activity. Given the amount of time Orac spends surfing the net doing something useful in his line of work might be a real novelty.

    My Irony meter just blew up.

    As a matter of fact I think I’ll go to some of the top google hits for dog cancer and let them know about Pet-DCA. Surely none of you FDA boot lickers will object to trying the shit out on dogs. Or will you?

    You really missed the whole point didn’t you? Controlled studies are what give us the data that can be relied upon to safely be able to claim a drug as 1) safe for human consumption and 2) reliable as a treatment or that they aren’t. Some wingnut applying the drug to his dog or his neighbor or 30 random people doing this does not produce reliable data and can not be trusted. Anecdotal evidence is not reliable. Are you so jaded that you think the entire medical and scientific community doesn’t know what they are doing? That all these years, the tests and research and studies were just for show?

    Yes DCA may be something that works but before we start giving it out willie nilly to whomever we know that is sick, the ethical thing to do is to make sure it is safe and that it actually works. Conspiracy theories are not good science nor are they good medicine. Your repeated reliance on so many of these should be a sign.

  23. #23 llewelly
    February 21, 2007

    Surely none of you FDA boot lickers will object to trying the shit out on dogs. Or will you?

    Is this an inadvertent confirmation of my suspicions that the product in question is something other than DCA?

  24. #24 Coin
    February 21, 2007

    Yes, indeed, she’s enthusiastically peddling chemotherapy developed scientifically through that evil “allopathic” medicine for which she voices such contempt!

    I’m really at a loss as to what to call this. It’s surely, as you observe, not homeopathic or naturopathic. The term “alt med” doesn’t even seem to entirely apply, because in this case at least there isn’t anything particularly “alternative” about it– These people are engaging in totally normal, mainstream-principles doctoring, they just happen to be doing it without licenses, education, FDA approval, scientific understanding of any underlying theory, or safety, efficacy, or dosage testing.

    What’s really surprising to me about this DCA thing is to see overlap with the anti-mercury crowd. You’d think the anti-mercury crowd would be the exact people most likely to desire caution about putting “unnatural” chemicals, like dichloroacetate, into your body. Apparently, though, only some chemicals are bad. For example, mercury is pure evil, causes autism and who knows what other number of diseases, and can sneak into your body “environmentally” even if you don’t take any; but dichloroacetate is a miracle drug that treats not just metabolic diseases, but also malaria and cures cancer in 60 days. One of these two chemicals is being specifically used to treat a disease and the other isn’t, but other than that, what is the pattern here? The only heuristic at work seems to be to just take whatever the current thinking is in mainstream medicine and assume the exact opposite.

    Anyway, the thing really concerning me about all of this– now that it’s becoming clear that people are not only self-medicating DCA, but that they’re getting it from extremely sketchy suppliers– who’s going to be monitoring to see which of these people suffer adverse effects? One assumes DaveScot’s friend will at least have DaveScot checking in on them, but on the DCA site there appear to be people who are self-medicating chemotherapy with no one to guide them through the process except… a forum on a website. What if these people suffer side effects– either from the DCA itself, or from whatever else is floating around in there as a result of the extremely questionable process apparently being used to prepare the DCA for these people– and become seriously ill to the point where, even if temporarily, they can’t continue to use the website?

    If this happened, from the perspective of the other website users, it would just appear these people stop posting. From the perspective of whoever becomes responsible for the medical care of these people, on the other hand, these complications may appear to come out of nowhere if they don’t know what the patient has been doing to themselves outside the medical system. No one with a full understanding of what was happening to the patient would be in a position to interact directly with the patient’s medical handling. This is obviously a worst case scenario, and I have no personal knowledge of the medical issues here and so can’t comment on how likely something like this might be, but is there legitimate cause for worry that something like this might happen?

  25. #25 qetzal
    February 21, 2007

    Is the FDA able to initiate legal procedings against individuals or corporations that violate laws relevant to the FDA’s mandate?

    You bet your sweet bippy they are!

  26. #26 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    Surely some of you reading this has access to a lab that can analyze what Pet DCA is selling for strength & quality. Why not turn down the rhetoric and turn up the finding of fact. Or is the more sciency thing to do these days avoid the lab and bitch on your blogs instead?

  27. #27 LRM42
    February 21, 2007

    For Davescot,

    From the Sigma-Aldrich links you kindly provided:

    The price of 50G of Sodium Dicloroacetate is $134.00, or $2.68 per gram, as opposed to your claim of $40.00 per gram. The price of 1KG of Dichloroacetic Acid is $41.60, or around $0.04 per gram (since the price includes a packaging fee), as opposed to your figure of $0.66. Am I missing something here, or must I study math for years at the feet of Bill Dembski before I can reproduce your results?

  28. #28 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    Prometheus

    Tell your friend to google

    “laser” “chemical synthesis” “acetic acid”

    and start reading. Tell me how many of the 40,000 hits it takes to confirm that lasers are a common part of the modern chemical production toolbox.

    I’m no chemist and I’m not going to bother checking but I presume the laser can function like an enzyme by speeding up and/or preferentially maximizing certain reaction products. While this is probably not something available in the high school science labs it appears to be common in industrial application. I’d really like to see more science from the alleged scientists here.

  29. #29 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    Coin

    I rescued 7 motherless abandoned in the woods by a lake 4-week old mixed breed shepherd pups winter before last, raised them, kept my two favorites, and found good homes for the rest. I’ll tell you what you miserable cretin, if I saw you and one of my dogs about to get run over by a car and I only had time to save one of you, it would be the dog.

  30. #30 Coin
    February 21, 2007

    I’m no chemist and I’m not going to bother checking but I presume

    Go figure.

  31. #31 Shirley Knott
    February 21, 2007

    Well, at least the tardmeister is consistent — ID doesn’t do research, DaveTard doesn’t do research, the DI doesn’t do research, but oh, boy, do they expect others to, and for their benefit.
    Listen Davie-doo-doo — why not take a tiny fraction of your Dell millions, get the test done at a reliable lab*, and publish the results?
    Oh, yeah, you don’t do research and don’t see any need to.
    Go figure.
    no hugs for thugs,
    Shirley Knott
    *oh, that’s right, you wouldn’t recognize a reliable lab no matter how many Google searches you did. Silly me.

  32. #32 zwa
    February 21, 2007

    I’m no chemist and I’m not going to bother checking but I presume the laser can function like an enzyme by speeding up and/or preferentially maximizing certain reaction products. While this is probably not something available in the high school science labs it appears to be common in industrial application. I’d really like to see more science from the alleged scientists here.
    I am a chemist.

    We make Pet-DCA from Dichloroacetic acid, 98%. Dichloroacetic acid is synthesized by mixing the precursors and hitting the mix with a laser tuned to a particular frequency. 98 percent of the resultant product is dichloroacetic acid, 1% monochloroacetic acid and 1% trichloroacetic acid.

    This reads to me as: We buy the DCA as 98%. They make the DCA 98% by reaction of chlorine and acetic acid. This is a pretty simple reaction, but i doubt they use a laser (more likely a sunlamp or other big lighbulb. Getting 98% purity of DCA from this reaction is unlikely. It is most likely that a mixture of the three chlorinated products is separated by distillation to give a 98% pure sample of the product.

    Making the salt will not involve lasers in any way.

  33. #33 W. Kevin Vicklund
    February 21, 2007

    Tell your friend to google

    “laser” “chemical synthesis” “acetic acid”

    and start reading. Tell me how many of the 40,000 hits it takes to confirm that lasers are a common part of the modern chemical production toolbox.

    First of all, it’s about 35,000 hits using your criteria. Secondly, of the first 50 page hits that I had access to the text, the lasers were used for mass-spectrometry in all but one paper, where lasers where used to create polymers (in a process superficially similar to that used for creating computer chips). Conclusion: lasers are predominately used in chemical synthesis to check the purity of the product, not synthesize the compound.

    DaveScot shows his stupidity yet again.

  34. #34 W. Kevin Vicklund
    February 21, 2007

    Weird, I could have sworn there was a backslash in my closing tag for the blockquote. My text begins at the fourth paragraph.

  35. #35 zwa
    February 21, 2007

    Some other points:

    There is no way 98% pure material is going to be pharma grade.

    It is trivial to make DCA, but its wide availiablity and low price are most likely due to the fact that TCA (trichloroacetic acid) is a chemical that is in high demand, and DCA is a by product of its production.

    Purifying DCA to higher grades will get harder and so more expensive the more pure you get.

    I wouldnt be eating it. Chemotheraputics work by killing cancer cells *slightly* better than they kill other cells. Self medicating a chemotheraputic agent is one of the more stupid ideas i’ve heard.

  36. #36 zwa
    February 21, 2007

    I think I screwed up the blockquotes.

    The problem here is the ‘A little learning…’ one.

    mono-,di-,trichloroacetic acids are produced photochemically. Generally with a broad spectrum lamp. This is an incredibly non-selective process.

  37. #37 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    I read it as the chemical manufacturer in China uses laser thermochemistry to produce 98% dicholoracetic acid + 1% each mono and trichloroacetic acid. Pet-DCA buys from that source and doesn’t describe the process they use to buffer it as a sodium salt solution. As far as I can tell they haven’t started selling it yet. Maybe they’ll have an independent lab analysis of the product to assure people of quality and quantity before they start shipping.

  38. #38 zwa
    February 21, 2007

    I really really doubt lasers are used, just for the fact that the same thing is routinely done with bi light bulbs and big lightbulbs can light up more stuff than a laser can.

    98% of the dichloro compound just from reaction of acetic acid and chlorine is just not going to happen. If i had access to scifinder id get the actual numbers for you.

    None of this changes the efficacy of the chemical. However, these people are selling for profit a chemical compound that was shown to kill some cancer cells in vitro. Sure, it may kill your tumor, infact it looks promising. Can you tell me what effect the DCA will have on your liver or other organs? What about the trace amounts of mono- and tri-chloroacetic acid? Is it converted into other compounds in your digestive system or bloodstream before it ever gets to the cells? I dont know. But i doubt the people selling it do either. They took results from a few cells in culture and are applying it to whole organisms. There is a reason drugs go through lengthy testing. I hope no-one dies.

  39. #39 W. Kevin Vicklund
    February 21, 2007

    Here’s what Sigma wants for the 98% pure salt:

    http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/search/ProductDetail/ALDRICH/347795

    $40 PER GRAM.

    For the reagent grade acid:

    http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/search/ProductDetail/SIAL/D54702

    $0.66 per gram.

    To follow up on LRM-42′s excellent catch, here is the listing of the prices for the various quantities, with a per gram price:

    For the 98% pure salt:
    10g @ $28.70 = $2.78/g
    50g @ $134.00 = $2.68/g

    For the 99% pure acid:
    5g @ $17.80 = $3.56/g
    100g @ $21.10 = $0.21/g
    500g @ $35.50 = $0.07/g
    1kg @ $41.60 = $0.04/g

    Where the hell did you learn to do math, Dave? None of those numbers come even close to what you claim to have calculated. Btw, that’s not a typo on the 5g of acid – when you plot it out, the 5g, 100g, and 500g prices are nearly linear with an intercept of about $17.50 (S&H fees, perhaps?) In fact, small quantities of the acid cost more per gram than the salt, which is not available in bulk.

  40. #40 W. Kevin Vicklund
    February 21, 2007

    Hey, Dave, did you put in the correct country of origin when you first went to that site? I hear the Albanian exchange rate can be quite the killer…

  41. #41 Xerxes1729
    February 21, 2007

    Intense light or heat sources, are used in [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_radical_halogenation|radical halogenation] reactions. Usually, UV lamps are used, but I suppose a laser would too. Pure halogens exist as diatomic gases, so chlorine gas is made up of pairs of chlorine atoms bonded together. An energetic photon can break that bond, producing two chlorine atoms, each with an unpaired electron. These atoms are called free radicals. Electrons do not like to be unpaired, and therefore radicals are incredibly reactive. Because of their reactivity, this is the only (relatively easy) way of adding other atoms to hydrocarbons.

  42. #42 Xerxes1729
    February 21, 2007
  43. #43 S. Rivlin
    February 21, 2007

    Springer,

    Haven’t you suffered enough humiliation for one day? I am sure the intelligent designer never had a design like you in mind ;)

  44. #44 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    Oops. This is funny. Sigma’s website thinks I’m in Mexico. The prices I was being quoted is in pesos. I stand corrected.

    However, Pet-DCA is still priced at $0.50/gm for the salt and Sigma wants over $2.50 so my point remains.

  45. #45 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    Xerxes

    Following links around for lasers used in chemistry was fun in and of itself. Femptosecond pulsed lasers were more interesting and work with large molecules. Basically a spectrograph monitors the reaction products and feeds continuous real time results back to a computer that controls the laser pulse frequency and duty cycle. The frequency and duty cycle of the pulse train resonates with and supplies precisely the right amount of energy to break specific bonds while leaving others alone. Gotta love high tech factory automation…

  46. #46 Troublesome Frog
    February 21, 2007

    I’m no chemist…

    Did I just miss something, or did DaveScot just admit to not being an expert in a particular field? Today is a red letter day indeed.

  47. #47 steppen wolf
    February 21, 2007

    Hi,
    I am a Molecular Biology and Biochemistry major who will be writing an article for our university student newspaper about DCA and so-called “miracle drugs”. This blog is excellent, and your last post on the DCA website bit me on time!
    By the way, you might be interested in knowing that both the buyDCA.com and theDCAsite.com have private URLs – ie. they cannot be tracked back to the actual person/company who registered them, but only to a daughter company of the one (godaddy.com)that sold the original URL .
    Now it turns out this person has a name and “nothing to hide”. But this really seems a miracle-seller that wears a mask with a face painted on it. If she (or he, for that matter) had nothing to hide, she would not be using a private URL: what is she so scared of? SPAM?
    I doubt it. She should be more scared of those 150-pound “pets” s/he is trying to sell garage-grade DCA … they might have a brain and report to the authorities.

  48. #48 Alison
    February 21, 2007

    I’m sorry to detract from the deadly (quite possibly literally) serious tone of the discussion, but I’ve seen DaveScot’s description of the process with lasers so many times now, that all I can picture is sharks with lasers. . .swimming around zapping out miracle cures, with DaveScot intoning “One MILLION dollars!” It sounds just that scientific.

  49. #49 Orac
    February 22, 2007

    By the way, you might be interested in knowing that both the buyDCA.com and theDCAsite.com have private URLs – ie. they cannot be tracked back to the actual person/company who registered them, but only to a daughter company of the one (godaddy.com)that sold the original URL

    Actually, I was aware of that. (One of the first things I did was a WHOIS query.) However, my post was too long already; so edited out a paragraph about that.

    If anyone has mad Internet skills for finding out more about the domains thedcasite.com and buydca.com, by all means, exercise them.

    I also note that the company that set up these websites hired a professional web graphics design company, Seder Graphics. To me that implies that the company wants to make a profit and is willing to invest what it takes to set up a professional-looking website. Or at least they bought one of the Seder Graphics CDs and used one of the templates on it.

  50. #50 DanScot
    February 22, 2007

    David Springer said:

    I’ll tell you what you miserable cretin, if I saw you and one of my dogs about to get run over by a car and I only had time to save one of you, it would be the dog.

    That’s not very nice of you, David Springer. What would the intelligent designer think about that?

    David, you need to take a deep breath and calm down. Go back to UD where you can ban all opposing views and delete whole threads after you realized you embarrassed yourself enough in them. Here different views are flaunted in your face. And reading them causes your rage level to rise out of control. It’s not healthy, dave.

  51. #51 Alex Whiteside
    February 22, 2007

    While lasers are frequently called upon to open up novel reaction pathways (excited states often lead to products that are symmetry-forbidden in a thermal reaction) my BS sense is tingling. Photochemical synthesis isn’t something I’d particularly associate with small inorganic molecules in the liquid phase. Until I see a mechanism published and/or patented, I’m dubious.

    BTW, the reason the acid is more expensive than the salt is probably because pure acids are an utter pest to deal with.

  52. #52 Orac
    February 22, 2007

    David, you need to take a deep breath and calm down. Go back to UD where you can ban all opposing views and delete whole threads after you realized you embarrassed yourself enough in them. Here different views are flaunted in your face. And reading them causes your rage level to rise out of control. It’s not healthy, dave.

    Call me hoplessly optimistic or naive, but I’m starting to wonder if DaveScot’s increasingly hysterical rants have anything to do with his actually having a conscience. I’m wondering if he’s starting to realize that he’s been had by the owner of The DCA Site, who represents himself as being idealistic and doing this only to help cancer patients but is increasingly being revealed to be probably nothing more than your run-of-the-mill snake oil seller “entrepreneur” taking advantage of the recent excessive hype over DCA.

    A guy can hope, can’t he?

  53. #53 Alison
    February 22, 2007

    Orac, that’s way beyond “hope”. ;-) I’d wager that if we look for any reason behind DaveScot’s increasing stridency, it would be more likely the fear of actually being held responsible for something idiotic he’s said, and trepidation that that responsibility might include fines and/or jail time.

  54. #54 bcpmoon
    February 22, 2007

    Well well well, something in my area of expertise for once…
    First of all, the impression that someone somewhere is using femtosecond laser pulses to steer a radical reaction is really fascinating, but had me laughing on the floor for a while. Noone in his right mind would ever use that technique to synthesize a commodity that´s falling off several trucks in china. Acetic acid, Chlorine, UV-lamp and a good distillation column and you´re set. Lasers in industrial processes? Only as diagnostic tools, I can assure you and I bet that there is no lab in the world that uses laser excitement for preparative chemistry.
    And looking around, I found this interesting page:
    http://www.belleonline.com/newsletters/volume9/vol9-1/n4v91.html
    , where it is stated in plain words that DCA induces cancer. But in higher doses not. But then again other pathways are interrupted. And so on. Talk about the dose makes the poison.
    And what is this talking about “Go and test that PET-DCA if you do not believe that that is Pharma stuff”? Huh?Obviously, somebody here has no clue what pharmaceutical companies have to do to get their stuff on the market. If you want to sell an API (and DCA is an API) and you don´t have several tons of paper and analytical results ready, think again. You cannot test quality into a product.
    No sir, now that I have read about DCA, looked into the MSDS and given the very dubious sources discussed here, you would have to give me much better data before I put that stuff into my body.

  55. #55 W. Kevin Vicklund
    February 22, 2007

    DaveScot bloviated:

    Femptosecond pulsed lasers were more interesting and work with large molecules.

    Which implies they don’t work with small molecules. Small molecules such as dichloroacetic acid…

  56. #56 W. Kevin Vicklund
    February 22, 2007

    The reason the salt is more expensive than the acid is because the salt is shipped as a powder and not in aqueous solution. The salt is (easily) made by neutralizing the acid with sodium hydroxide, which creates an aqueous solution. Sodium dichloroacetate is miscible in water, which means it doesn’t precipitate, so all the water has to be removed in order to get the dry powder. Removing water requires time/energy, which equals money, especially since the solution can’t be heated. Sodium dichloroacetate is heat labile in aqueous solution, so it must either be shipped as a powder or kept refrigerated.

    Preparation and stability of intravenous solutions of sodium dichloroacetate (DCA).

    An IV injection formulation of sodium dichloroacetate (DCA) was prepared without heat sterilization, and examined for stability. DCA is heat labile in aqueous solutions. Its decomposition involves dehalogenation and production of hydrogen ions. Decomposition occurs relatively rapidly at relatively low pH values, and is promoted by heating. Injection solutions should be prepared aseptically and sterilized by filtration. Solutions prepared aseptically and sterilized by filtration are stable stored at 4 degrees C for at least four yrs.

  57. #57 S. Rivlin
    February 22, 2007

    W,

    You have’nt expected DaveScot to know that DCA is a small molecule, have you?

  58. #58 W. Kevin Vicklund
    February 22, 2007

    No, I expect Dave to have completely ignored the people telling him it was a small molecule prior to him posting that bit. In other words, he shows what a moron he is yet again.

  59. #59 Marilyn
    February 22, 2007

    Orac
    Thank you for your open coverage of this topic. As some one who has spent the last 3-4 weeks reading almost everything I can on DCA I welcome your view – also those of S Rivlin, Coin, and others. However, trying to slog through all this info with no science background can be difficult. Just to shorten all of this (and leave all the crap about Dave Scot, Springer etc.) I think what you are saying is yes, this may work, but without serious data from a large number of people observed in clinical trials, we can’t possible know if DCA does what is being claimed. I’ve been on the DCA site and wondered myself what grade they were selling. The Canadian site for sigmaaldrich quotes
    sodium dichoroacetae linear formula Cl2CHCO2Na formula weight 150.92 98%
    product # 347795-10G 40.70 Canadian dollars.
    My other big concern was whether or not the testimonial blogs from those now using DCA were even true or more hype from the site…who knows. My problem is that I have a sister who has been fighting ovarian cancer since Aug 03 who is desperate to get her hands on this stuff. I find that your blog at least shows another side to this story. I only hope you don’t get bored of the subject and stop writing about it. I just wish those who comment on the subject would do just that and forget all the crap with the ‘trolls’ Marilyn

  60. #60 S. Rivlin
    February 22, 2007

    Dear Marilyn,

    You are absolutely right; we should really discuss DCA and not those who manipulate cancer patients’ miseary or those who do not understand that the only way to find out whether or not DCA works is to conduct a controlled clinical study. I have just lost a brother to this aweful disease and I would do anything to find him a cure. However, I must painfully submit to you that after spending much time reading about DCA (scientifc papers) and having my own scientific research experience with this compound and its sister (trichloroacetic acid), my conclusion is that based on the available information in the literature, there is only one study (the Canadian one) that found anti-cancerous activity of DCA in a petri dish and in grafted human cancer cell line in rats. I work with rats for over 35 years and I can tell you that those boogers are much more resistant to most toxic chemicals and conditions than human beings are. To conclude from the Canadian study that DCA will exert its anti-cancerous activity against all the different types of cancers humans are suffering from is not only rediculous, it is dangerous. For the one promising study there are dozens that actually showing a whole range of toxic effects of DCA, including causing cancer. A good anti-cancerous drug (chemotherapy) is a drug that is more effective at poisening cancer cells than normal ones. So far, there is no indication whatsoever that human cancer cells in a patient are more susceptible to DCA than his/her normal cells. Just imagine for a moment that a cancer patient who decides to try DCA; while DCA may kill or shrink cancerous tumors, it may also kill white blood cells, the very cells that any chemotherapy kills. What if DCA is more toxic toward white blood cells than toward cancer cells?

    There is no substitute to controlled clinical studies, and unfortunately, until such studies are performed, DCA should be avoided. These cautionary words are all said before we even begin to discuss the effective dose of DCA in a patient, which is a topic that is also covered by controlled clinical studies.

    Wishing your sister the best,
    S. Rivlin

  61. #61 Prometheus
    February 23, 2007

    It was terribly kind of DaveScot to prove my point about his unthinking “parroting” of what he’s been told about DCA. By perseverating on the “laser” issue, he has clearly demonstrated his utter ignorance of chemistry.

    Just to “close the loop”, I contacted Spectrum Chemicals (http://www.spectrumchemical.com/retail/aboutus.asp) and asked their technical rep if they used lasers in the manufacturing of DCA. After a brief pause, probably to keep from laughing in my ear, he explained that they do not (repeat: DO NOT) use lasers, nor do they need to. Lasers are used in some of the analytical equipment, but not in the manufacturing process.

    So, now that DaveScot has definitively proven that he is a parrot, I guess we can all ignore him.

    Polly want a cracker?

    Prometheus

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