Cancer Active
Cancer Prevention Cancer Treatment Support Us Online Shop
Chris Woolmams / Catherine Woollams
Sodium Dichloroacetate, or DCA - reigniting the mitochondria
SODIUM DICHLOROACETATE, or DCA - Clinical Trials for cancer and glioblastoma

Sodium Dichloroacetate, or DCA, the sodium salt of dichloroacetate, is a cheap chemical compound that has shown some clear potential as an alternative cancer treatment, according to researchers at the University of Alberta, in Canada. Its safety has been evaluated by researchers at the University of Florida. In particular, it has been used in a number of trials with people suffering from brain cancer, or glioblastoma.

The American National Cancer Institute describes it as follows: The sodium salt of dichloroacetic acid with potential antineoplastic activity. The dichloroacetate ion inhibits pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase, resulting in the inhibition of glycolysis and a decrease in lactate production. This agent may stimulate apoptosis in cancer cells by restoring normal mitochondrial-induced apoptotic signalling. 

Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, a Professor at the University of Alberta has shown that DCA can reboot mitochondria, turning them back on and allowing the cancer cell temporarily to return to ´normal´, when it recognises it has a problem and promotes cell death! Indeed, he has found that DCA can cause increased cancer cell death in almost all cancers, and can achieve this by simple addition of the compound to your drinking water. Of particular interest is his preliminary work with brain cancer.

In 2010, 5 people with brain cancer (glioblastoma) and a dismal prognosis were treated with DCA and there seemed great potential in the results.

Suddenly, DCA was sold on many Internet sites. The AntiCancer Fund in the USA then commissioned two expert researchers (Dr. Erin Dunbar and Dr. Peter Stacpoole) of the University of Florida to conduct a phase I clinical trial amongst 15 subjects with brain tumours to discover dosage levels and possible side-effects. The finding was that dosage depended upon the individual´s personal ability to break down DCA. It was not a trial to study effectiveness, even though it lasted almost 5 years. Now, several groups are looking to fund the development of DCA and they will continue with any trials.

DCA has clinical trials behind it to support its use in cardiac problems and heart disease. It has also been used for 30 years with children who have mitochondrial problems, so its action is reasonably well-known. However, at present time, there is little hard evidence (in the form of clinical trials) that it is effective as a cancer cure.

At present time the NCI lists three clinical trials using DCA: One examines DCA on its own with patients with solid tumours, one is with patients with head and neck cancers, and the third is in conjunction with cisplatin and radiotherapy for head and neck cancers.

Background - Glycolysis and inhibited mitochondria

As is so often the case in cancer, the precise nature of action is not 100 per cent clear. In 1931 Otto Warburg won a Nobel Prize for explaining that the normal energy production mechanism of a healthy cell, which involves burning carbohydrate in the presence of oxygen, was lost in a cancer cell. He proposed that the power stations, or mitochondria, lost control of the energy production system as levels of oxygen decreased in the cell and, instead, a very inefficient system of energy production, called glycolysis, started to occur outside the mitochondria and in the cytoplasm of the cell, through fermentation. The main waste product of this process is a form of lactic acid.

This decline in oxygen inside the cell was considered by Warburg to be the primary cause of cancer. Warburg also noted that even when cellular oxygen levels started to increase, it did not follow that the mitochondria kicked back into action and the glycolysis ceased. This he called the Warburg effect: the ability of cancer cells to continue with glycolysis even as oxygen levels rose.

A decade or more later, Hans Krebs showed the complex 26 step system that healthy cells use - with six steps in the cytoplasm preparing the fuel, and twenty in the mitochondria to efficiently burn this fuel. He concluded that glycolysis (the six step, low energy producing system) resulted because of damage to the mitochondria themselves. Hence, even when oxygen levels were increased, they still would not work.

Background - Glucose, the cancer promoter

A further point of interest is that the lactic acid waste is then detoxified by the liver. The end product of this detoxification is glucose, which proceeds back round the body to feed the cancer cells.

There have been a number of important studies in the last 5 years that have shown conclusively that glucose is the favourite food of a cancer cell and that people with high blood glucose levels survive less that those with lowered levels. This is especially true of brain cancer, for example. Moreover, in 2014 researchers in America showed conclusively that common sugar and especially High Fructose Corn Syrup could actually cause cancer (See Cancer watch, 2014) .

Readers should read an article on Hydrazine Sulphate by clicking this link. This inexpensive compound was believed by an American John Gold to break this glycolysis lactic acid glucose cycle. There are several Russian Clinical Trials on Hydrazine sulphate all showing increased survival times, several relating to brain tumours. However, the work is the subject of much criticism and debate. And there are better options to cut your plasma glucose (like diet and exercise).

We have also noted in the past with horror that NHS booklets on Diet and Chemotherapy encourage the use of milky, sugary food, cheeseburgers and sticky buns, cakes and biscuits all ladened with cows´ dairy and glucose!

DCA and mitochondria

In a healthy cell, when the mitochondria spot that something is going wrong in the cell, they initiate the suicide of the cell, which in biochemical terms is called apoptosis.

This cannot happen with cancer cells; the mitochondria are shut down and so cancer cells are almost immortal. This effect extends to attacks by chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy, and explains why these treatments can be ineffective, whilst causing damage to healthy cells.

Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, a professor at the University of Alberta Department of Medicine, has shown that dichloroacetate can turn the mitochondria of cancer cells back on, allowing them to spot the faults in the cell and commit suicide. 

Michelakis and his team discovered in their research that DCA is very effective in reactivating the mitochondria of cancer cells. Michelakis reports that "The mitochondria are so sensitive to DCA that just 5 minutes of exposure reactivates them for 48 hours".

Research to date has indicated that DCA can cause regression in several cancers, including breast, lung, and brain tumours.

In one study with 5 people all having glioblastoma brain cancer, Michelakis gave the DCA along with standard radiotherapy, surgery and temozolomide and 4 of the 5 patients were alive 18 months later. When the researchers looked at the tumour samples they found that the mitochondria had indeed been turned back on.

In another study with 49 glioblastoma patients, they confirmed that DCA could turn mitochondria back on, when looking at tumour samples. 
Current uses

DCA is a colourless, odourless, inexpensive compound. It is an off patent, approved drug.

Hitherto, according to the American Cancer Society, the only medical use is for removing warts and other skin growths. Researchers have also tested it on humans for decreasing lactic acidosis (lactic acid buildup), hypertension and metabolic diseases.

There are some side-effects like nerve reactions but apparently the side-effects stop as soon as treatment ceases.

In research it seems to be more effective if used in conjunction with thiamine (vitamin B1) and caffeinated tea! The addition of these two compounds into any treatment protocol seems to allow lower doses of DCA to be used. People should only take medical grade DCA, and should always consult with their Doctor first.

The bottom line - Clearly there is huge potential with DCA if it can ´re-ignite´ the power stations. We await the results of the Clinical Trials with interest. We cannot really make any conclusions or recommendations without the results of the trials.

Want the latest news on this?
Print This Page
  Search Website
Follow us on:
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter

Heal Your Gut  
Part 1:  The importance of the microbiome 

More info? See

CANCERactive Website Appeal

Thank you for helping us to raise a fantastic £19,708 for our new CANCERactive website which will be launched in 2018

Select a donation amount:
Enter a donation amount:

Gift Aid:
So that CANCERactive can claim back 25p for every £1 donated, I confirm that I am a UK tax payer, who has paid over enough tax for you to reclaim this amount

Sign up for icon


Our icon magazine is available free in over 500 UK hospitals, cancer centres and libraries. Full of great articles and the very latest cancer information, you can have it sent to your own home.

Buy online

The CANCERactive Patient Group (CAPG) – Run by Patients, for Patients

  • Tell your Story
  • Start a Blog
  • Start a Diary Blog
  • Start a Discussion
  • Ask a Question

Search Drugs


Quick search for YOUR DRUG here  

Search Drugs


Quick search for a COMPLEMENTARY THERAPY here 

Search Complementary Therapies



Search Alternative Therapies

Important Notice

At CANCERactive we provide information that is already in the public domain.  It is not our intention to provide advice. It is up to the reader to decide if any of the matters to which any article refers might be suitable for them.


Follow CHRIS WOOLLAMS, the UK's number 1 cancer researcher, on his free e-news and keep right up to date with the very latest cancer information and research

 click here

  click here

click here


CANCERactive information and publications (books, magazine and leaflets)

CANCERactive compiled books

Heal Your Gut Heal Your Body

A real paradigm shift - this book will help you really understand exactly what to do to be in great health.

Click here to find out more.

The Brand new 4th edition of Everything You Need to Know to Help You Beat Cancer

"This book is head and shoulders above the rest". Geoffrey Boycott

Click here to find out more.

The Rainbow Diet - and how it can help you beat cancer

"At last the definitive book on a diet to fight cancer". Mrs BS Devon.

 Click here to find out more...

Brand new 3rd edition of Oestrogen The Killer in our Midst

"Learn how to take control of your oestrogen levels"

 Click here to find out more...

CANCERactive magazine (free in hospitals and complementary cancer centres)


Free downloadable prevention leaflets


Buy online

Donate to Us

We can only help people like you - if people like you help us!

Buy online

Fund Raising


Interested? Click here for more information

Click here to see all our fundraising events.

Click here and see what events are taking place and perhaps sponsor one of our supporters. 

Click here for other ways to raise money for CANCERactive.

Or if you want more information about our other fun activities, the Peru trek, our sky diving etc. click the button below.

Click here for our Just Giving page and see what our supporters are doing for us.

Click here for our Virgin Money Giving page.

Buy online

Visit a Catherine Corner

Catherine Wollams

Buy online

Need a Support Group?  

Find a cancer support group near you, now.
Buy online

So what is the truth behind mammograms, drug clinical trials, the PSA test and prostate surgery, and the stories you read in the press?Go to Junk Science to read the unbiased truth. Click Here.


Do you have a problem with our factual content?

If you have research which conflicts with ours, just address it to 'The Medical Board'. Ever since we started this site we have had an 'open-mind' policy and have expert oncology doctors and professors who will address your concerns.

© Copyright 2018 CANCERactive. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format and provided, where used to publish on a website, that website provides a link to If any other use is desired, permission in writing from CANCERactive is required.
All content and images © Copyright 2018 - Website design and maintenance by a Web design and Search engine marketing company