Can This Inexpensive, Essentially Harmless Chemical Actually Cure Cancer?

Dr. Frank Shallenberger, MD

October 7, 2019



There’s a cancer drug on the market that has really changed the face of alternative medicine. Alternative doctors have been using insulin potentiation therapy (IPT) for several years. It’s a fantastic treatment.

But this new chemical is giving cancer patients even more hope for killing their cancer without all the terrible side effects the chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery cause. And it works great in conjunction with IPT.

The whole story starts with an amazing observation made 80 years ago. That’s when two-time Nobel Prize for Medicine-winner Dr. Otto Warburg made an astounding discovery. He discovered that cancer cells had a very confusing attribute.

Unlike normal cells, cancer cells choose not to use oxygen to produce energy. Even when they are surrounded by oxygen, they still choose not to use it.

Instead of using oxygen, they choose to make their energy in a process that does not use oxygen called anaerobic metabolism. But anaerobic metabolism is 19 times less efficient in the production of energy than oxygen metabolism (aerobic metabolism). Cancer cells need enormous amounts of energy. So why in the world would they want to use such an inefficient process? This is a question that has baffled researchers for decades.

There must be some advantage to cancer cells for choosing not to use oxygen. But what in the world could it be? Now, thanks to the research around this new chemical, we may know the answer.

It has to do with something called apoptosis. Apoptosis is a strange word that describes a very simple concept – the concept of controlled cell death. Just as every living thing has a defined lifespan, so also do our individual cells. They can only live so long. Then they have to die. At that point, the body replaces the cell with a new one. Think of it this way. If we did not have some kind of limit on growth built into our cells, we would grow uncontrollably. We would soon be big, useless blobs.

So all of our cells have a system in them that determines when it is time to die. When that time comes, the cells initiate their own destruction mode.

But cancer cells have found a way around apoptosis. This is what allows them to grow without any controls. In fact, it is precisely the lack of apoptosis that makes a cancer cell a cancer cell. If a cancer cell had to go through apoptosis like every other cell, it would have the growth restraints that normal cells have, and would no longer be a problem.

How Cancer Cells Survive

As you might have guessed by now, apoptosis has a lot to do with how efficiently cells use oxygen. In order for a cell to use oxygen, it has to be able to convert a molecule called pyruvate into something called acetyl coenzyme A.

If your cells can’t convert pyruvate into acetyl coenzyme A, it compromises the cells’ ability to use oxygen.

Your cell controls this important conversion with the enzyme system pyruvate dehydrogenase or PDH for short. As long as PDH works well, your cells convert pyruvate to acetyl coenzyme A, and oxygen metabolism will proceed efficiently.

But Here’s the Problem

There’s another enzyme (PDH kinase) that inhibits PDH. So when your cell has an excessive activity of PDH kinase, PDH can’t work efficiently. And your cell can’t convert pyruvate into acetyl coenzyme A. So the end result of PDH kinase is to decrease the efficient utilization of oxygen. And here’s why all of this is important.

Oxygen utilization controls apoptosis. The better a cell utilizes oxygen, the more efficiently it is able to initiate apoptosis. The less efficiently a cell uses oxygen, the less able it is to start and complete the apoptosis process. And that’s precisely the advantage that cancer cells have. By choosing not to use oxygen, even when plenty of it is around, it allows the cancer cell to grow without restraint.

Stopping Cancer Before It Starts

This is where this new chemical comes in. The chemical is dichloroacetic acid or DCA. It’s a chemical that does not exist in nature. Molecularly, however, it is similar to the stuff you put on salads – vinegar. Doesn’t sound like much does it? However, recently some very fascinating research has surfaced about DCA. It suggests DCA might be a useful treatment for cancer.

In fact, the authors of a study published only a few years ago in the journal Cancer Cell were impressed with DCA. They summarized their impression as a “promising selective anti-cancer agent.”

Amazingly, DCA is able to induce apoptosis in cancer cells. Here’s how it works.

DCA is a potent inhibitor of PDH kinase. So when you expose a cancer cell to DCA, PDH kinase no longer works to inhibit PDH. That causes the cell to use oxygen more efficiently. It also causes it to die through the apoptosis process. In essence, it changes a cancer cell that has no growth restrictions into a more normal cell that does.

Does it Really Work?

Recently, researchers at the University of Ottawa in Canada, under the direction of Dr. Sebastien Bonnet, performed some incredible experiments using DCA.

They took some standard laboratory lung cancer cells, breast cancer cells, and brain cancer cells. They also used normal lung, artery, and connective tissue cells to compare them to. Then they tested the cells to see how efficiently they used oxygen. As expected, the cancer cells used oxygen much less efficiently than the normal cells.

Then they exposed all of the cells to DCA. The DCA didn’t affect the normal cells at all. Why should they be? They were already using oxygen efficiently. The cancer cells, however, had a dramatic shift. So dramatic, in fact, that within only 48 hours, their oxygen utilization was completely normal!

This goes entirely against the prevailing wisdom about cancer cells. Most doctors believe that cancer cells have permanently defective oxygen utilization. They also think that you cannot reverse this characteristic. This study proved both of these are not true.

But there’s more. The researchers also looked at the effect of DCA on the production of lactic acid in cancer cells. Because cancer cells do not use oxygen efficiently, they end up producing excessive amounts of lactic acid. This excessive production of lactic acid is what helps cancer cells to spread. But because DCA improved oxygen utilization so effectively in the cancer cells, their production of lactic acid decreased to that of normal cells. This is a significant blow to the ability of cancers to spread.

This all sounds great, but do these DCA effects actually cause cancer cells to go into apoptosis cell death as advertised?

Yes! When Dr. Bonnet’s team exposed the various cancer cells to DCA they found that the cells grew about one-sixth as fast as they ordinarily would have. And when they counted the number of cells that they exposed to DCA, they discovered that there were 600% fewer cells. In other words, these cancer cells exposed to DCA were dividing and growing at a much slower rate. And they were dying at a much faster rate — rates that are typical of normal cells!

They also measured something else called “survivin.” Survivin is a molecule that cancer cells make that indicates how well they are able to resist the process of apoptosis. It also indicates how aggressive they are.

The more survivin a cancer makes, the less likely it is going to undergo apoptosis and die. And the more aggressive it is. Not surprisingly, the team found that when they exposed cancer cells to DCA, their ability to make survivin decreases dramatically to about one-tenth of what they normally make.

Moving Beyond the Test Tube

These are incredible discoveries. But there’s one problem. Despite these fantastic results, they are all “in vitro” tests. That means that they were conducted in a test tube, not in an animal. And not in a human.

Things can easily happen in test tubes that have little or no effect in actual living biological systems. So the next step was to see if DCA was able to create the same kinds of effects in living animals.

They took a group of lab rats, and implanted cancers into them. One group received no treatment at all. Another group received DCA, but not right away. The researchers wanted to see the effect of DCA on cancers that were already well established. So in this group they did not give them any DCA until after the cancer had grown for two weeks. Then they gave them DCA in their drinking water for three weeks. Here’s what they found.

At the end of six weeks, the cancers in the no-treatment group were almost 10 times larger than the DCA-treated animals. And there was no lag effect to DCA treatment. It worked right away. The tumor growth in the DCA rats stopped immediately as soon as they received the DCA. And this cessation of growth persisted to the end of the experiment three weeks later.

The researchers then completed a second experiment that was different. In this experiment, they waited a full 10 weeks before they administered the DCA. This time the cancers had taken an even greater hold before they began treatment. They followed the animals for two weeks.

Again, the cancers stopped growing immediately in the DCA-treated group. And by the end of the two weeks, the cancers were actually smaller. They were acting like normal cells act. Sound good so far?

Well, It Gets Even Better

When they examined the tumors of the rats treated with DCA, they found something incredible. There were almost no cells at all that were still able to resist apoptosis. This was true even after only two weeks. And as expected, only one-sixth of the cancer cells were still producing survivin.

But what about toxicity? Surely a treatment as effective as that must be very toxic to healthy cells. According to Dr. Bonnet, all these great effects occurred “without affecting non-cancerous cells, or eliciting systemic toxicity.”

My dear friend, this is fantastic news. Here is a substance that has no toxicity, works immediately, is cheap (about $20/week), and you take it orally, so it’s easy for any patient or doctor to use. And it has dramatic effects on cancer cells causing them to change their metabolism back to aerobic metabolism. This, in turn, controls their growth through the apoptosis process.

Certainly you will soon be hearing all about DCA and this incredible study on the network shows, right? Probably not. At least not a word so far. Remember, Dr. Bonnet published his research four years ago.

In fact, if you hear anything about DCA let me now predict that despite this and other studies and case reports, the news will probably be negative. Imagine how Big Pharma and the other powers that be must feel about an $80 a month treatment for cancer that might compete with their $20,000 per month therapies. You can expect the standard, “It may be somewhat effective, but it is still unproven, and should never be used.”

Why? Because DCA has two almost insurmountable strikes against it: It’s cheap. And no one can patent it.

DCA is not new to the medical world. Doctors have given it to children with mitochondrial disorders for the past 30 years to reduce their output of lactic acid. So we know a lot about how it works clinically in children.

Additionally, in one study, researchers used it in adult onset diabetics for over six months. So we also know how it works in adults. There really should be no complaints at all against the use of DCA to treat patients with cancer. But sadly, there is.

Fortunately, DCA is available. But it’s not easy to find. The FDA does allow cancer patients to import DCA for their own personal use. Of course, make no mistake about it. If a patient elects to do that, they definitely need to be under the guidance of a physician who knows how to properly use and dose DCA. This isn’t a supplement. It’s a drug that you need to use wisely.

Additionally, I do not see DCA as a stand-alone therapy for cancer. There is just not enough data on how effective it is in humans with advanced cancers to completely rely on it. But I do believe that you can use it in conjunction with other effective cancer therapies, such as IPT.

I’ve been so impressed with DCA’s ability to fight cancer, that I’ve started training other doctors on how to use it. In fact, I presented a paper on it at the annual meeting of the International Organization of IPT (Insulin Potentiation Therapy) Physicians in Miami. I think anyone with cancer needs to give DCA serious consideration.

If you are a cancer patient, and you’re interested in DCA, please contact one of the physicians listed on the referral site for the International Organization of IPT (Insulin Potentiation Therapy) Physicians: These physicians are thoroughly trained and certified in IPT. And they are also proficient in the other essential aspects of cancer therapy, including detoxification, revitalization, and immune enhancement.

No doubt there will be more that will be coming out on the use of DCA for cancer. And as that happens, you can bet I will be reporting it all back to you.


Bonnet, S., S.L. Archer, J. Allalunis-Turner, Haromy, et al. “A mitochondria-K+ channel axis is suppressed in cancer and its normalization promotes apoptosis and inhibits cancer growth.” Cancer Cell. 2007 January;11(1):37-5.

Gatenby, R.A. and R.J. Gillies. “Why do cancers have high aerobic glycolysis?” Nat Rev Cancer. 2004 November;4(11):891-9.

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