Sodium dichloroacetate is a different (“buffered”) form of the same chemical. This form is not an acid, and can be taken by mouth without causing burning. The term “DCA” in this information refers to this form of the chemical.
DCA can also be absorbed into the body through the skin.
DCA has been tested in humans on a small scale for rare diseases of metabolism (energy production), but has recently shown some promise in the lab for cancer treatment. This has led some people with cancer to try taking DCA on their own. DCA is known to cause nerve and liver damage, as well as some other side effects. It may also be able to cause cancer in humans, but that has not been proven.
At this time, clinical trials (studies on human volunteers) have just been started to find out if DCA might be helpful against cancer. No human studies have been completed yet, so it is unclear how or whether it might help, or what the proper dose might be.
How is it promoted for use?
Mainly, DCA is promoted as a cancer treatment, though some have touted it for use in other chronic illnesses. In 2007, some news and Internet outlets reported on a study of DCA showing it slowed the growth of tumors in animals and of cancer cells in the lab. Certain sources seemed to suggest that DCA could kill cancer cells when nothing else worked — a potential cheap and easy cancer cure. Some suggested that because DCA couldn’t be patented and drug companies couldn’t make much of a profit on it, no one would study it. A few of these people have made it seem that the cancer patient’s best hope might be DCA self-treatment.