DCA FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
MR10PDCA which contains DCA (dichloroacetate)
CBD International is the first to introduce Cannabis/DCA Suppositories in North America “off label” to cancer patients. We would like to thank everyone who has expressed an interest in our DCA & MR10PDCA trial therapy program. We appreciate your feedback and encouragement. We would also like to acknowledge and extend a special thanks to two of our patients who brought DCA to our attention, and motivated us to begin MR10PDCA treatments.
In 2007 it was discovered that the drug DCA (dichloroacetate sodium) induced the death of human breast, lung and brain cancer cells that were implanted into rats, while being non-toxic to healthy cells. This research was published in Cancer Cell, 11, 37–51, January 2007. DCA has been found to kill cancer cells by a newly discovered mechanism that appears to be common to several types of cancer. DCA works by turning on the natural cell suicide system (called apoptosis) which is suppressed in cancerous cells, thus allowing them to die on their own. DCA does not poison the cells like cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs. DCA also interferes with the cancer cell’s use of glucose, starving the cell of energy. At the same time, it does not starve healthy cells in the body of glucose.
DCA research has accelerated in the last 2 years. The latest research shows that DCA also kills many types of cancer cells, and can boost the cancer-killing effects of radiation. The first formal human cancer research using DCA was published in May 2010. It confirmed that DCA is an effective anti-cancer drug for treating glioblastoma patients (Metabolic Modulation of Glioblastoma with Dichloroacetate. MEDLINE is the largest medical database in the world, and contains information on published DCA research. This database can be searched free of charge for those interested in reading DCA research.
What types of cancers does DCA work on?
Several publications demonstrate that DCA works in a variety of cancers. These include human studies / case reports and lab studies (rat and in vitro). The cancer types studied so far are: colon, breast, prostate, ovarian, brain (neuroblastoma), brain (glioblastoma), lung (carcinoid), uterus (cervix), uterus (endometrial), lymphoma (non-Hodgkins), and cancer of unknown primary.
Is DCA natural?
DCA is a synthetic drug, but it is a very simple compound similar to a chemical combination of salt and vinegar. It works against cancer in a natural way (by triggering natural cell suicide).
Is DCA safe?
DCA has been used in humans to treat a rare disease called “congenital lactic acidosis”, and found to have some mild to moderate side effects. Our experience so far suggests that DCA is safe to use in cancer patients under close medical supervision. Some animal studies show that DCA can itself cause liver cancer. These studies used doses which are much higher than what would be prescribed for cancer treatment. Also, no human study has every demonstrated liver tumour formation as a result of DCA therapy. We have observed that DCA can have 2 main categories of side effects.
Nerve injury in the hands and feet (“peripheral neuropathy”). Neuropathy typically takes several weeks to months to develop, and is reversible if it is caught early. In the existing literature, neuropathy from DCA has always been shown to be reversible. We use vitamin B1 (benfotiamine or thiamine), acetyl L-carnitine and R alpha lipoic acid to prevent and reduce the severity of peripheral neuropathy. These medicines can be given orally. Published data clearly demonstrates all of these medicines can help chemo and/or diabetic neuropathy.
Sedation, confusion, hallucinations, memory problems, mood changes, hand tremors. These side effects are temporary and appear to be dose-dependent and age-dependent. This finding is consistent with existing human research on DCA that we have reviewed. We use benfotiamine (a type of vitamin B1), acetyl Lcarnitine and R alpha lipoic acid to prevent/reduce these side effects which are readily avaiable in your local pharmacy.
Heartburn, nausea, vomiting, indigestion. These side effects may occur with DCA, and we suggest a “proton pump inhibitor” antacid medication (e.g. pantoprazole) as needed to treat them.
Other Side Effects:
Some patients experience pain at the sites of their tumour(s) within the first few days of starting DCA. This may be an indicator of the effectiveness of DCA. About 1-2% of patients have mild liver toxicity (increase in liver enzymes noted without symptoms). We have not observed any drop in blood cell counts due to bone marrow toxicity, or any other significant organ toxicity. Note that leukemia patients may see a drop in their high white blood cell count, indicating destruction of the cancerous white cells.
Most side effects reported so far have been mild or moderate. Patients experiencing moderate side effects are usually taken off DCA as a precaution. Most side effects typically resolve within days after stopping DCA. Neuropathy can take weeks or months to resolve, and is reversible.
I see DCA for sale online from various merchants. Is it of good quality and safe?
Lab grade DCA is sold legally online from various chemical manufacturers and is not suitable or approved for human consumption. Various online merchants have attempted to bypass FDA and Health Canada regulation by selling DCA capsules online to anyone. Buyers should be aware that these companies are not regulated and may be selling fake DCA. There is no way to know whether the product being sold is DCA, or what the purity is.
TLS (Tumour Lysis Syndrome)
This is a condition in which a large number of tumour cells are rapidly killed, causing a sudden release of the contents of the dead cells into the bloodstream. It can result in abnormal heart rhythms, salt imbalance in the blood and kidney failure. A detailed reference article can be found here. TLS occurs most commonly in patients with a large mass of tumour cells in the body who receive chemotherapy, especially with lymphomas or acute leukemia. We have not had a single case of TLS in our patients treated with DCA alone. Since DCA can enhance the effect of chemotherapy in certain cases, it may be more likely to occur if DCA is combined with chemotherapy (especially without medical supervision).
DCA and Renal Failure
DCA is not toxic to the kidneys. DCA can safely be used in patients with moderately severe renal failure based on our experience.
DCA and Heart Failure
DCA is safe to use in patients with heart failure. DCA improves the pumping efficiency of the heart without increasing oxygen demand. As a result, it can improve heart failure or angina.
DCA and Heart Rhythm Disturbance
DCA shortens the QT interval which is an electrical measurement of the heart determined by ECG. Combination with drugs that prolong the QT interval is therefore unlikely to cause abnormal heart rhythms. Rather, DCA may prevent abnormal heart rhythms.
DCA and Liver Failure / Jaundice
DCA is metabolized by the liver, so dose adjustment is needed for patients with liver failure. Also a difference cycles may be needed. Intravenous DCA is likely safer than oral DCA for patients in liver failure.
DCA and Diabetes
Diabetics may notice a slight improvement in blood glucose control. Diabetes medications generally do not have to be changed, but blood glucose monitoring will determine if adjustment is required.
We have observed that drugs that can cause confusion or hallucinations have a potential to interact with DCA.
This may include cannabinoids, benzodiazepines and other CNS drugs, especially if they are already causing some neurological side effects. Patients on stable doses of opiate pain medications or benzodiazepines who are not having side effects from these drugs rarely have such issues.
DCA and Caffeine
We have received a large number of inquiries about caffeine following some anecdotal reports of enhanced DCA effect with excessive tea/caffeine intake. After conducting a limited review of our DCA patients, we have noted that a few patients with high tea/caffeine consumption (> 10 cups per day) have shown no response to DCA. Also many patients who have shown an excellent response to DCA do not take tea/coffee or caffeine or take it in minimal amounts.
There are a number of potential harmful effects of consuming high doses of caffeine including increased likelihood of seizures in brain tumour patients, abnormal heart rhythms, anxiety, and insomnia. Even though there is new data to show that intravenous high dose caffeine can enhance chemotherapy, the potential for caffeine to enhance DCA therapy is unverified. We are presently recommending against the use of high dose caffeine, unless it is done with medical supervision. Patients should use moderation with consumption of caffeinated drinks and check with their own doctor, naturopath or dietician for specific advice.
What is the status of DCA clinical trials?
DCA is different from other drugs that undergo clinical trials because it is not a “new” drug. It has already been used for decades in humans, and has a relatively safe profile. This means that the trials may take less time, but may still take years. Many cancer patients cannot wait this length of time. We are hopeful that information obtained from our experiences with DCA will supplement clinical trials, and help patients and the medical community.
Do I Qualify for DCA Treatment?
Patients with a documented diagnosis of cancer (any type) under the following categories qualify for treatment:
How is DCA administered?
DCA is currently available in 4 formulations: cream, oral liquid, oral capsules, suppository. Oral DCA as well as suppository can be taken at home,
What is the duration of treatment?
In order to determine if MR10PDCA or DCA alone is effective in treating your cancer, we recommend at least 6 to 8 weeks of treatment. For slow growing cancers, longer treatment is needed, perhaps 3 – 6 months. If your cancer responds to the drug, therapy may continue indefinitely. If you experience significant side effects, treatment will be stopped and may be restarted later.
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