Respectful Insolence

The DCA zombie arises again

Remember dichloroacetate, also known as DCA?

This is a relatively simple compound that showed promise in rodent models of cancer four years ago, leading to an Internet meme that “scientists cure cancer, but no one notices.” It also lead to scammers trying to take advantage of desperately ill cancer patients. The whole sordid story is detailed in my series of posts, the most recent of which I wrote about a year ago and link to here. I’ve also appended a list of every post I’ve written on the subject since I first discovered DCA in January 2007. It’s a story of hope, fascinating cancer biology, and unscrupulous quacks trying to capitalize on a discovery before it’s ready for prime time.

Well, on the Internet, everything old is new again, and a four year old story has risen from the proverbial grave, zombie-like, to spread misinformation again, specifically Scientists cure cancer and no one takes notice. It’s basically the same article that originally appeared four years ago; it even links to the same execrable article in a student newspaper that I excoriated back then. You can even tell how old it is because it mentions only the cell culture and rodent experiments; it says nothing about the modestly promising clinical trial reported last year. Nor does it mention a recent case report mentioned by Steve Novella that links severe polyneuropathy and encephalopathy to DCA:

A 46-year old patient with melanoma which had metastasized to the lung and lymph nodes 2 years previ- ously, was admitted to the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital in The Netherlands because of confusion and gait disturbance. Four weeks before admission he had started taking capsules with identified DCA (400 mg, thrice daily, corresponding with 15 mg/kg/day) and vitamin A capsules (150,000 IU/day), prescribed by an alternative physician. On neurological examination he showed impaired mental processing, dysarthria and an unsteady gait. MRI of the brain and serum blood tests were normal. In the following days he became more confused, showed aggressive behaviour, had visual hallucinations and dysphasia. Cere- brospinal fluid (CSF) examination demonstrated normal biochemical parameters, no malignant cells and negative PCRs for neurotrophic viruses. Antineuronal antibody screening was negative. Both the DCA and vitamin A capsules were stopped on the day of admission. The DCA concentration in the CSF on day 2 after hospital admission was 78 lg/mL, as measured by liquid chromatography tandem mass-spectrometry. On day 16, the DCA CSF concentration decreased to 11 lg/mL, indicating an elim- ination half-life for DCA in the CSF of approximately 5 days. No serum samples for DCA measurement were available.

Meanwhile, the patient was treated with haloperidol and lorazepam. His confusional state improved within 2 weeks, but severe dysarthria remained. A bilateral facial nerve paresis (grade II), a profound sensory ataxia of arms and legs and a severe distal paresis of the legs were present on further neurological examination. He was unable to walk. Electromyography demonstrated a severe sensorimotor axonal polyneuropathy. In the following 8 months, all neurologic deficits gradually improved. Only a slight paresis of the foot extensors (MRC 5-) but no cognitive deficits remained.

None of this stops the zombie article from laying down the same sort of conspiratorial nonsense that we saw back in 2007, while commenters post links to dubious sources of DCA.

I’m not sure how or why this old story has bubbled up to the surface again. Apparently it’s shown up on Reddit and elsewhere and is generating a lot of traffic. In this, it reminds me of a certain story about how investigators at Wake Forest have confirmed some of Andrew Wakefield’s results, a story that pops up every now and then even though it’s at least five years old and, as far as I’ve been able to tell, based only on an abstract. Yet, every so often I see it popping up on my Google Alerts for “MMR and autism.”

Truly, nothing on the Internet ever dies completely.

For the record, here are 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)
  22. Finally, the FDA acts on TheDCASite.com
  23. Dichloroacetate (DCA) and cancer: Déjà vu all over again
  24. Evangelos Michelakis on dichloroacetate (DCA) and glioblastoma

Comments

  1. #1 Roadstergal
    May 16, 2011

    We can cure all kinds of cancer in dishes and mice all day long. Humans are a little more complicated (and not so happy about AEs).

  2. #2 jre
    May 16, 2011

    And the informed consent is much shorter for mice.

  3. #3 J-Dog
    May 16, 2011

    Orac – Thanksfor the update.

    And I wonder if Old IDist DaveScot Springer comes out from under the rock he has been hiding under for the last 4 years to give us more woo so that we can laugh at him some more. Since he quit/got fired from Dembski’s UD blog, we haven’t heard much out of the old woo-meister. So at least something positive happened after his DCA fiasco made him eat his words.

  4. #4 prn
    May 16, 2011

    For any morbidly curious, I briefly looked at DCA early on, a once over, and quickly bailed out, to avoid wasting valuable research time. Side effects alone were too great, with too little promise, also.

    I salute those who had real ability, knowledge and guts, made independent choices rather than sit waiting for the bus to run over them, and had the guts to share with us their story, their information, for better or for worse. I am sorry they needed to make a choice, and that they were not able to find their way home. RIP.

    By comparison, I feel blessed with scientific studies on colorectal cancer treatments from around the world and authenic experiences from patient forums.

    My background is such that my work (or play) often started with the repeated failure of “experts”, including Ivy PhDs. Information was sparse, and the required time was yesterday. And I was generally an outsider making first appearances, violating others’ turf, but I was expected to fix things in less obvious ways anyway. And did. Otherwise they wouldn’t have had to put up with my insolence.

    Even failures are valuable information. So those that disagree with Orac on DCA, or more generally, should still appreciate his effort here. Along with those that contributed actual data, thoughtful commentary, or analysis.

  5. #5 Marion Delgado
    May 16, 2011

    I think there’s an ad campaign pushing DCA with “Cancer was cured but the medical associations ignored it.”

    Not sure where the profit is, but I’ve seen them.

  6. #6 lilady
    May 16, 2011

    @ prn: We are not in the least “morbidly curious”. Our only “morbidly curious” interest is why you continually post here.

    You really need to consider consulting with a mental health specialist who “might” be able to help you to find answers to your preoccupation/fixation on alternative health solutions to cancer. Also get a referral to a psychiatrist who can prescribe some “traditional” medication such as Haldol or Prolixin…obviously your alternative medicine nostrums don’t cure your medical problems and may be causing your mental impairments.

    @ Ugh Troll: You don’t even have to go to college to have facility to read and interpret simple statistics…it should have been part of your elementary school education.

    As I postulated on one of Orac’s blogs about a week ago…If your mommy told you that your lack of education, inability to get a job and anti-social (pathological) personality is due to vaccine injury…she lied. Oh, and BTW:

    Where did you go to school?

    Are you gainfully employed?

  7. #7 prn
    May 16, 2011

    double credit
    LL = bs, nn

  8. #8 AnthonyK
    May 16, 2011

    oops, LL, our favourite father(?) of two imaginary, unvaccinated kids – my favourite kind – hasn’t appeared on this thread yet. Save it for when the clueless bleating really starts!
    (Not a proper criticism, btw).
    But, on topic, where do the alt-med, cancer’s-only-a-disease-in-your-doctor’s-eyes crowd think the proper research on DCA is going to come from? You know, the clinical trials?
    Oh, wait, they don’t believe in them.
    Hunch is better than testing, right?
    If it works though, we’ll use it.
    Problem is…

  9. #9 Doctor Smart
    May 16, 2011

    DCA is not considered a cure just like numerous other things are not considered a cure simply becuase it cuts profits to big pharma.

    DCA is still better than the killer chemo treatments given. As long as skeptics exist there will never be a cure for another disease.

    Add DCA to the list of other known cancer killers such as

    Apigenin
    Curcumin
    graviola
    Vitamins C,D,E,K
    Melatonin
    Indole-3-carbinol
    Coriolus versicolor (Trametes versicolor)
    Maitake (Grifola frondosal)
    Proteolytic enzymes
    Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
    Essiac
    Selenium
    Milk Thistle
    Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
    Cat’s Claw
    Green Tea
    Noni
    Olive Leaf Extract
    7-Keto
    Flaxseed Oil

    Also remember to keep cancer patients away from processed foods, gluten, sugar, etc. It is vital that oxygen be administered as well. Cancer cells, like candida, cannot function or survive in an alkaline, high oxygen, sugarless environment. It is possible to kill cancer with proper supplementation along with starving cancer of its primary source – sugar. Making the body less acidic and more alkaline is also just as crucial.

  10. #10 Doctor I.M. Smart
    May 16, 2011

    DCA is not considered a cure just like numerous other things are not considered a cure simply becuase it cuts profits to big pharma.

    DCA is still better than the killer chemo treatments given. As long as skeptics exist there will never be a cure for another disease.

    Also remember to keep cancer patients away from processed foods, gluten, sugar, etc. It is vital that oxygen be administered as well. Cancer cells, like candida, cannot function or survive in an alkaline, high oxygen, sugarless environment. It is possible to kill cancer with proper supplementation along with starving cancer of its primary source – sugar. Making the body less acidic and more alkaline is also just as crucial.

  11. #11 lilady
    May 16, 2011

    @ AnthonyK: I’ve been “busted”…that’s my just desserts for flipping between this article and the prior one “Vaccine and infant mortality rates”…where Ugh Troll has posted.

    Let’s agree to hold my comments for “our favorite father (?) of two imaginary, unvaccinated kids” for later…when Ugh Troll posts.

  12. #12 Krebiozen
    May 16, 2011

    @Doctor Smart

    Cancer cells, like candida, cannot function or survive in an alkaline, high oxygen, sugarless environment. It is possible to kill cancer with proper supplementation along with starving cancer of its primary source – sugar. Making the body less acidic and more alkaline is also just as crucial.

    What kind of a doctor are you? Normal cells cannot function or survive in an “alkaline, high oxygen, sugarless environment” either. There is no level of alkalinity, oxygen saturation or glucose level that selectively kills cancer without killing the patient.

  13. #13 Doctor I.M. Smart
    May 16, 2011

    A was referring to a gluten free diet. A diet where sugar and processed food intake is significantly reduced, not altogether stopped. Cancer and candida have so many similarities and i seems that remedies that rid the body of nasty candida infections also rid cancer cells as well.

  14. #14 Gray Falcon
    May 16, 2011

    Any evidence? Tell me, “Smart”, why do you think we should just believe everything you say? Shouldn’t you back up your medical claims?

  15. #15 Chris
    May 16, 2011

    Krebiozen:

    What kind of a doctor are you?

    Doctor Smart/Doctor I.M. Smart/MedicienMan/Televionless Conservative is not a doctor of any kind. He is an electronics technician with delusions of multi-personality competence, and he thinks engineers think too much.

  16. MESSAGE BEGINS———————

    Shills and Minions,

    Security Breach! Vacation interrupted! Unacceptable!

    Cindy informs me that one of the rebels has somehow stowed away on an Obsidian Unit, infiltrated the station’s security system, made their way from the docking bay to the hatchling creche, survived breaching the gamma curtain and reached the SOOPER SEEKRET KANCER KURE™ vault and made of with at least one of the many all-natural, unpatentable, easily affordable silver-bullet cures for all cancers.

    Our plucky cybernetic host has already begun its campaign of mockery and misinformation, but there is still work to be done. The culprit must be apprehended and the the cure returned to the vault at once.

    I shall be returning within three earth standard days. I want this vexing business cleaned up by the time I return. In the meantime, I’m returning to the spheres for some much needed trivarmitaxx-misting, and I don’t want to be disturbed by this kind of thing again.

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L

    Forward Mavoon of the Great Fleet, Suzerain of V’tar and Pharmaca Magna of Terra

    PharmaCOM Orbital Remote 003
    Imperial Vortex Cutter Persistent Dread :iH7L

    Sector: Undisclosed

    0010101101001
    —————————————— MESSAGE ENDS

  17. #17 danrubi
    May 16, 2011

    Just in case no one has posted it, there’s a recent article on DCA’s effect on neuroblastoma growth: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21557214

    Haven’t read the article yet, but just FYI.

  18. #18 Pareidolius
    May 16, 2011

    Not exactly an article, but an abstract or as it’s known in these circles: “hey, we think this stuff might work on Cancer, we should study it more. Give us some money”

  19. #19 Kathi
    May 17, 2011

    So glad you wrote this post, Orac. Thanks for the update. It always bugs the crap out of me when I see the hype headlines in the media on any research. They are nearly always misleading in some way that often does a disservice to the genuine findings of the study being hyped. And there’s always some snake oil salesman out there ready to hop on the bandwagon of offering false hope & eschewing the scientific method. The length & expense of the FDA process is frustrating to cancer patients, but it is what it is for good reasons.

    What is fascinating about the legitimate DCA research is what it adds to our understanding of how cancer cells behave. Whether or not anyone can develop DCA as part of an effective cancer treatment protocol, perhaps this added knowledge about cancer cell behavior can lead to other drugs or protocols that are effective.

    Puzzled myself by this ‘old news’ about DCA making the rounds, I had begun to cast about for other published peer-reviewed research on it. You’ve saved me a lot of work!

  20. #20 Mojo
    May 17, 2011

    @Doctor Smart:

    A was referring to a gluten free diet. A diet where sugar and processed food intake is significantly reduced, not altogether stopped.

    I take it that you don’t know what is meant by “gluten-free diet”, then.

  21. #21 lilady
    May 17, 2011

    @ mojo: I think that “gluten” can be interpreted to mean a carbohydrate in Smarty’s world.

    In my world however, gluten is a protein.

    Smarty isn’t a doctor, is clueless about nutrition and thinks that his stated credentials as “a technician” qualifies him to post as an expert.

  22. #22 Dave Springer
    May 17, 2011

    Six years and counting, Brian. The Edmonton guys discovered this in 2005 and spent two years trying and failing to hook up with a pharmaceutical company before they wrote it up for public consumption. I’m still waiting for the serious trials to start up. Six years since discovery, four years since it became public, and not jack diddly shit.

    Here’s a lovely little patient study published this year in the journal of palliative medicine for you. Enjoy and don’t forget to think about how many millions of people have been denied what this patient received…

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21486148

    for those without access to the full article it’s reproduced in full including tumor MRI images at:

    http://www.thedcasite.com/Library/Use_of_Oral_Dichloroacetate_for_Palliation_of_Leg_Pain_Arising_from_Metastatic_Poorly_Differentiated.pdf

    Yer old pal,
    DaveScot

  23. #23 Birger Johansson
    May 17, 2011

    Comment to Katti: Yes, regarding to the except it certainly looks as if there is much knowledge to be gained.

    Excerpt: “Neuroblastoma was one of the tumor types on which DCA was considered ineffective as it is composed of cells with few recognized mitochondrial anomalies. Neuroblastoma, however, is composed of different cell types in terms of metabolism, phenotype and malignant potential. Despite the above prediction, in this work we show that i) DCA exhibits an unexpected anticancer effect on NB tumor cells and ii) this effect is selectively directed to very malignant NB cells whereas the more differentiated/less malignant NB cells are refractory to DCA treatment.”

  24. #24 Orac
    May 17, 2011

    Six years and counting, Brian. The Edmonton guys discovered this in 2005 and spent two years trying and failing to hook up with a pharmaceutical company before they wrote it up for public consumption. I’m still waiting for the serious trials to start up. Six years since discovery, four years since it became public, and not jack diddly shit.

    That’s actually not bad, compared to the development pace of many pharmaceuticals and the life cycle of translational research:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/10/the_life_cycle_of_translational_research.php

    Seriously.

  25. #25 Dianne
    May 17, 2011

    Dave, that’s an interesting finding and it might be worth studying DCA futher to see if it works in anyone else. However, I would point out, that if this patient’s case is typical, DCA is hardly the magic bullet it is being presented as. The tumor grew while the pt was on DCA and he experienced considerable weight loss on DCA (which is, inexplicably, not considered a SE by the authors of the paper.) Also, case reports are hypothesis generating and not conclusive. Any oncologist who has practiced for a reasonable length of time could give you more anecdotes of patients with spontaneous or inexplicable slowing or regression of disease after treatment with any number of compounds or no treatment at all. It’s part of the biology of the disease and a major reason why large clinical trials must be performed before changes in treatment are recommended.

  26. #26 Prometheus
    May 17, 2011

    Dave Springer offers a DCA case study:

    “Here’s a lovely little patient study published this year in the journal of palliative medicine for you.”

    I read the study and was less than impressed. The only thing that improved was that patient’s leg pain which, six months after radiation therapy (target not specified – I assume it was the leg tumour), and after three months of DCA, was reduced. Given the other interventions, I can’t see that we can clearly attribute the reduction in pain to the DCA.

    Meanwhile, the liver metastases grew “moderately” (I’d have preferred actual numbers). This seems to fly in the face of DCA’s proposed use to “shrink tumours”.

    The author of this case report does a nice little “bait and switch”, moving from the introduction, where DCA is said to cause “tumour shrinkage” to the conclusion where the emphasis is on pain reduction (probably because there was no “tumour shrinkage”).

    Since – as I mentioned above – the time course can’t exclude the possibility that the patient’s pain would have improved without DCA, this is not a convincing case report.

    While I think that DCA might have a place in the treatment of selected cancers, this sort of haphazard use of it in uncontrolled settings doesn’t validate DCA as a therapeutic or even palliative adjunct in cancer therapy.

    It seems likely that there will be more people injured by random use of DCA by “true believers” than will ever be helped by it.

    Prometheus

  27. #27 Dave Springer
    May 17, 2011

    “For any morbidly curious, I briefly looked at DCA early on, a once over, and quickly bailed out, to avoid wasting valuable research time. Side effects alone were too great, with too little promise, also.”

    Right you are. Chemotherapy drugs would be popular recreational drugs if they weren’t 10 times the cost of cocaine. Ask anyone who’s been through the regimen about how good it makes them feel.

    /sarc off

    Chemotherapy drugs are essentially a race to see which gets poisoned enough to die first, you or the the tumor. Many people refuse because they’ve watched someone else go through it and would rather just die sooner than go through it themselves. Literally in that case the cure is perceived as worse than the disease.

  28. #28 Dave Springer
    May 17, 2011

    Dianne,

    Maybe in six more years someone will undertake some controlled trials of DCA with enough patients to get some statistically valid data. I wouldn’t bet on that happening. What’s going to be different in the future than anytime in the past six years that will spur some action?

    Reports like those you read were given by many people who were self-medicating a few years ago. It was no secret. They reported on a public blog. It’s still there to read. Most of the people who get to the point they’ll self-medicate with an untested drug have already been told there’s nothing left to do but go home and get their affairs in order. DCA isn’t going to magically cure stage 4 cancer but it probably performs as well as anything else with certain types of cancers. It’s a small molecule that passes through the blood brain barrier for instance making it ideal for brain tumors. Maybe it works really well in combination with other drugs and because its side effects are so mild and easily managed it’s well tolerated in combination with painful regimens.

    Regardless of curative properties it does very often arrest tumor growth to at least some degree and make a lot of people feel better than they would otherwise. The report you read is more the rule than the exception.

    The Edmonton glioblastoma trial with a grand total of five patients, all they could afford with voluntary private funding that was almost literally holding a tin cup on a street corner begging for spare change, the people with stage 4 glioblastoma survived far longer than average. Sure, it could be a fluke, but it’s a fluke that appears over and over again in the few dozen observed cases.

    So we already knew it has great potential, all things considered, and we already knew that a few years ago. Nothing has changed. I don’t think anything will change. No one is stepping up to the plate and no one will.

  29. #29 Calli Arcale
    May 17, 2011

    Dave — it’s a bit more sophisticated than that, and not all chemo regimens are so arduous. I know a woman who went through one of the arduous regimens. She was rapidly declining before she did that. Now she’s completed the regimen and is healthy and has been cancer free for over a decade. I’d say it was worth it. It all depends on the specific patient, the specific cancer, the specific treatments available, and what the prognosis is. I’d take a horrible treatment for six months if it’ll give me twenty good years. But I wouldn’t take the same horrible treatment if it would only give me those six horrible months before dying anyway. And not all chemo is so horrible. Medical science has progressed quite a lot in the past few decades, and I think your impression of cancer treatment is a bit out of date.

    Now, DCA does have promise, but that doesn’t justify using it at random, without knowing better what it actually does and who’s likely to benefit and what the right doses are to minimize side effects while maximizing benefits. It’s also not an alternative to chemo. It *is* chemo. Just not one that’s been adequately studied yet. Unfortunately, these random “medical maverick” attempts to use it without any real controls do not help in getting it studied. They actually hinder proper research.

  30. #30 Dave Springer
    May 17, 2011

    Anyone truly interested and with qualified opinion here’s at least one site of self-medicating people’s reports.

    http://www.thedcasite.com/cgi/dcboard.cgi?forum=DCForumID2&az=list

    I haven’t looked at it for a couple of years. Looks there’s about 250 or so individual threads as recently as a month ago. Not sure how many are same people in more than one thread. Some situations are doctor prescribed and monitored, some doctor didn’t prescribe but was informed and monitored anyway, some could afford to pay out of pocket for regular MRI scans and lab work, some all on their own with no support of any kind. All kinds of cancers.

    Have a look. Let’s see if there’s anyone here who is both qualifed and will spend some time to look it over.

    I’m an author on the first place 2011 Weblog Awards in Science Category. I was approved in December but have yet to publish an article on it yet. This might be a good time and good subject for my first one. If I link back to here Brian will be the first to know as he’ll get more hits in a week than he’s had in the last two years. I’m not sure if I want to throw that particular bone or not.

  31. #31 Doctor I.M. Smart
    May 17, 2011

    @ Gay falcon

    All the back info that you request is at your fingertips. Now use your brain and do the homework for yourself and stop relying on crooked government studies and crooked paharma studies. You rely too much on studies that have financial ties to the very product they are conducting the study on.

    @ Chris. Stop stalking me.

    I do think engineers think too much. I am a technician. Experience trumps book knowledge every single time. That why college professors get little respect from conservatives. They talk big, but rarely have the experience to back up their america hater fantasies. They rely on knowledge passed down to them instead of actual experience themselves, which renders them useless in the world of education. Tenure should be banned.

  32. #32 lilady
    May 17, 2011

    Smarty must be a “technician”, certainly not a technician in any of the science fields.

    Chris nailed him for his (way beyond) ultra conservatism, sexism and general dislike of anyone who is educated…”I do think engineers think too much”. He is also a major conspiracy nut.

    Yeah Smarty, you have a lock on patriotism as opposed to educated people who hate America.

    P.S. Could you expand on your posting about Gluten-Free diet…from a “technician’s” viewpoint?

  33. #33 AM
    May 17, 2011

    When I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, it was a no-brainer: chemotherapy was the right choice for me. Having spent over twenty years eating whole foods and being more inclined towards alternative therapies, I only used allopathic medicines when necessary, I’d given it much thought. I’d lost a few friends and acquaintances to the disease, women who had decided to go the natural route. Of the women I knew who did chemo, and/or chemo augmented with natural therapies, all are still alive. No manner of healthy living can guarantee a cure or guard, unfailingly, against future metastases, and neither can chemo. However, chemo is doable and great advancements have been made in delivery and in the management of side effects. Plus chemo can and does save lives. We all must die someday. I’m just glad I get to live for several more, hopefully decades more. Also, I’m a single mother of two who worked throughout treatment. I never once felt nauseous. It’s not a cake walk, but it’s nothing remotely close to the agonizing ordeal the fear mongers make it out to be. Inner and outer spirit and strength make a world of difference. For those who may face a cancer diagnosis in their future, I say only this: do not let fear choose for you; do everything that you can; and always remember to honor yourself.

  34. #34 AM
    May 17, 2011

    Meant to rephrase: “Having spent over twenty years eating whole foods and being more inclined towards alternative therapies, *only using allopathic medicines when necessary, I’d given it much thought.”

  35. #35 herr doktor bimler
    May 17, 2011

    Experience trumps book knowledge every single time. That why college professors get little respect from conservatives.

    This from a man who believes that random ill-informed opinions he reads through Google outweigh the clinical experience of practicing oncologists.

  36. #36 Gray Falcon
    May 18, 2011

    All the back info that you request is at your fingertips. Now use your brain and do the homework for yourself and stop relying on crooked government studies and crooked paharma studies. You rely too much on studies that have financial ties to the very product they are conducting the study on.

    No, you have to provide the evidence. You see you were the one who made the claims in the first place. That’s called “burden of proof”. Also, most of the support I’ve seen for your claims were from advertisements for the products in question, which is about as crooked a financial tie as is possible.

  37. #37 Drivebyposter
    May 18, 2011

    Experience trumps book knowledge every single time.

    I flipped a coin a few times. It landed on tails every time. Therefore experience tells me it either always lands on tails or it lands on heads pretty rarely.

    That why college professors get little respect from conservatives.

    No, it’s because conservatives are generally stupid as hell and are threatened by literate people.

    They talk big, but rarely have the experience to back up their america hater fantasies. They rely on knowledge passed down to them instead of actual experience themselves, which renders them useless in the world of education.

    YOU’RE RIGHT! No professor has EVER done work in the field in which they teach. No science professor has ever or will ever be involved in science experiments and no English professor has ever written a book.

    Tenure should be banned.

    Nothing promotes quality work like not knowing whether you’ll be employed next year or not!

  38. #38 Jarred C
    May 18, 2011

    Experience trumps book knowledge every single time. That why college professors get little respect from conservatives.

    I once told one of my college professors (toxicology department) that I wanted to be a college professor someday. He told me that the path to becoming a professor was challenging; you have to be actively engaged in the most cutting-edge research – cancer, Alzheimer’s, pesticides – anything that will greatly help our community as well as the advancement of science. If you choose to do research in a less impacting field, you’ll have a hard time overcoming your competition when you apply for a job as a professor.

    So much for a “lack of experience” in their fields.

  39. #39 rjb
    May 18, 2011

    When I was in grad school in the ’90′s, I remember a bunch of hype over n-acetyl-cysteine as a potential cure-all, anti-oxidant that was going to be the next miracle drug. From all of the DCA stuff I’ve seen, it sounds like the same things that were said about nAC about 20 years ago.

  40. #40 dizi
    May 18, 2011

    Now, DCA does have promise, but that doesn’t justify using it at random, without knowing better what it actually does and who’s likely to benefit and what the right doses are to minimize side effects while maximizing benefits. It’s also not an alternative to chemo. It *is* chemo. Just not one that’s been adequately studied yet. Unfortunately, these random “medical maverick” attempts to use it without any real controls do not help in getting it studied. They actually hinder proper research.

  41. #41 Martin Winer
    May 18, 2011

    You point out one reported case where DCA was used (perhaps misused) and use this to dismiss the value of DCA out of hand.

    Your ‘case study’ underscores the importance of a clinical study to determine safe dosages and treatment protocols. The whole point which you seem to negate is that DCA won’t be investigated properly because it is a non-patentable agent.

    Despite the lack of a full clinical study, there are doctors who have researched it in a clinical setting and come up with their own protocols. This is possible since DCA is approved for human use.

    Please review this interview:
    http://www.martincwiner.com/between-the-lines-episode-1-dca/
    and let me know what you think of it.

    For reference, when Salk cured polio, a batch of the vaccine was issued which contained active virus (ie it GAVE people polio). This led to stricter enforcement of procedure, it didn’t CANCEL the vaccine. We’d all have polio if it had.

  42. #42 Heliantus
    May 18, 2011

    Six years and counting, Brian.

    If I link back to here Brian will be the first to know

    I think I missed an episode here. Who is this Brian that Dave Springer keeps talking to?

  43. #43 Heliantus
    May 18, 2011

    Rhaaa… Blockquote error. Twice.
    The first two lines from my post #42 are quotes from Mr Dave Springer.

    Preview is my friend. Preview is my friend. Preview…

  44. #44 JayK
    May 18, 2011

    It appears that Martin Winer isn’t a doctor, scientist or anything of note, but his blog is so slow I had to give up trying to figure him out. It does appear from what little I did find that he’s not willing to view DCA skeptically, but more as someone searching for a cure-all based on little evidence.

  45. #45 Calli Arcale
    May 18, 2011

    The whole point which you seem to negate is that DCA won’t be investigated properly because it is a non-patentable agent.

    I’m genuinely curious — why do you think this? I have never seen any reason for a drug manufacturer to decline to test something they can make money off of (and absolutely DCA drugs could be patented — it just takes a tiny amount of creativity to come up with a novel formulation which can then be patented) other than “we’re busy with other things right now”.

    So seriously, why would the unpatentability of the chemical itself prevent them from studying it?

  46. #46 herr doktor bimler
    May 18, 2011

    In the Pharyngula thread on DCA, commentor ‘Raven’ repeatedly explains how pharmaceutical companies can apply for ‘use patents’ on DCA, or apply for orphan drug status.

  47. #47 Doctor I.M. Smart
    May 18, 2011

    @lielady:

    sexism? Really? Do explain. Where is YOUR proof?

    Being a conservative white male does not make me a sexist. it makes me an endangerered species worthy of federal protection.

  48. #48 Drivebyposter
    May 18, 2011

    It makes me an endangerered species worthy of public mockery

    Fixed that for you.

  49. #49 Liz Ditz
    May 19, 2011

    One of my favorite online sites is Boing Boing (happy mutants) — today, poster Maggie Koerth-Baker mention the mighty Orac:

    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.

  50. #50 Marcus
    May 22, 2011

    If anyone wants to read it I’m posting some stuff from the research team at the University of Alberta who are looking into DCA, should you care to read beyond opinions ( even if they are well founded ).

    From the research update on the University of Alberta website:

    “No conclusions can be made on whether the drug is safe or effective in patients with this form of brain cancer, due to the limited number of patients tested by the study’s leads Drs Michelakis and Petruk. Researchers emphasize that use of DCA by patients or physicians, supplied from for-profit sources or without close clinical observation by experienced medical teams in the setting of research trials, is not only inappropriate but may also be dangerous.” ( http://www.dca.med.ualberta.ca/Home/Updates/2010-05-12_Update.cfm )

    Original research is found here: http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/2/31/31ra34.full?sid=b841e241-d988-45e3-a68e-0f4e7b72534d

    Free abstract is found here: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fstm.sciencemag.org%2Fcontent%2F2%2F31%2F31ra34.abstract&h=eef1a

  51. #51 RLS
    June 30, 2011

    Doubters / skeptics appear more like zealots than those who want to see more trials. Why?

  52. #52 Antaeus Feldspar
    June 30, 2011

    Yes, I’m sure that in the eyes of those who have already convinced themselves that more trials are merited, those who disagree look like “zealots.” Just as I’m sure that, countless times throughout legal history, people who had already convinced themselves that Defendant X was guilty, viewed people who felt that proper legal procedure should be followed as zealots. “What? You actually want to go through the hassle and delay of getting an indictment?! How can you possibly support delaying justice for that murderer even a single day?? Oh, that’s it, isn’t it? You’re actually for that murderer, aren’t you?! That’s got to be it! That’s the only reason you could want us to go through the hassle of first proving that there was even a murder, before we can run that murdering bastard through a trial that’s going to prove him guilty!”

    To people who are themselves zealots, people who insist firmly on a moderate position will always look like zealots. We are viewed as zealots because we insist on viewing the evidence for DCA on its own merits, and not as part of the wishful thinking meme “yayy, the cure for all cancer is going to be announced any day now!” or the conspiracy theory “of course They could be curing all cancer already but They don’t want that!” We look at the evidence and say, “DCA shows some promise but there’s reason to proceed with a lot of caution.”

    And that makes us enemies and zealots in the eyes of people who don’t want to hear that the road ahead has obstacles and our destination is not necessarily in sight.

  53. #53 RLS
    July 1, 2011

    Antaeus – what side of this particular fence are you on? If you say it shows promise – I agree with you. ‘End of’ as the youngsters are prone to say.

  54. #54 x
    July 20, 2011

    How was this giving any new knowledge about treating cancer with DCA? What I read in this post are well known side-effects. Give me five minutes and I will find 10 case studies of much worse side effects from chemo. Give me another five and I will present you with 10 DCA “success stories”. What we need is more research, not sarcastic “sceptic” posts like this that add no new knowledge at all.

  55. #55 Chris
    July 20, 2011

    The plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not data.

    Give us more than a thousand DCA “success” stories and you will have exactly one thousand anecdotes. That is still not data.

    Come back to us when you realize that cancer is not just one disease. We will take you seriously when you get more specific on which particular cancer DCA can treat and can explain the mechanism that it acts on.

    Until then, you are just a random insignificant “prophet.”

  56. #56 April
    July 29, 2011

    If these people who insist that research into the efficacy of DCA against cancer will be thwarted by big pharma are wrong then it seems suspicious to me that in 4 years there has only been one study done and that study was pointless because there were too many uncontolled factors. This drug has already been tested for dose and side effects. It is has been around a long time remember. Granted it hadn’t been studied for the proper dose to give when using it for cancer treatment.People should have the right to choose if they want to take a drug that could possibly cure their fatal illness. For many they have nothing to lose. What is the point of keeping a possible cure from someone like that. Side effects aren’t a viable argument against that. I am sure there is no shortage of cancer patients who have exhausted all therapies and are waiting for the end, willing to test this drug. What possible ridiculous argument can you come up with for why that shouldn’t be an option. I have read the research findings and they don’t add up. We have this drug that we already know is safe, albeit not free from some side effects, that has shown promise by shrinking tumors. Who cares if we know why yet. There are people dying everyday that this drug might help and while these people, who will die if they do not do something, are taking this new treatment the Drs can assess the drug and its effects while they have these patients in the hospital in a situation where they can control all the outside factors and conduct some real research. Then if the drug works woooohooo people who would have died don’t and many more are saved by future treatment, if it doesn’t work then we try the next promising thing. Reading these reports it seems these researchers don’t know the first thing about research or control groups. It’s just common sense and all these arguments about why we shouldn’t allow people to take it ot about black market drugs are besides the point. Wouldn’t be a black market for this drug if yoo were allowed to make the decision to try it on your own, knowing the risks and be treated by a physician. All this other nonsense is just government bureaucracy or should I say corporate bs.

  57. #57 Beamup
    July 29, 2011

    in 4 years there has only been one study done and that study was pointless because there were too many uncontolled factors

    And yet, searching Pubmed for “DCA cancer” produces 297 hits. On the first page alone there are 12 from this year. That’s a lot of research.

    If you’re going to engage in threadomancy, at least make some vague effort to have your claims bear some resemblance to reality.

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