Bioethics Cancer Clinical trials Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

An “arrogant medico” makes one last comment on dichloroacetate (DCA)

I love it.

You see I noticed an old “friend,” the Herbinator, making this comment about me regarding dichloroacetate:

I was listening to CBC Radio – the Current, as is my want, and there was a show on about DCA, or Dichloroacetic acid. DCA is a molecule so simple and cheap to make that drug companies are unable to patent it … so they simply pass on researching it. Some say that DCA is a most excellent and effective cancer treatment.

I have to confess that I had never heard of DCA before. And so I perked an ear toward listening to the radio show as simplicity itself and uppity people spitting into the eye of arrogant medicos always tends to perk my interest.

Heh. He called me an “arrogant medico.” Could I call him a clueless “herbalist”? Apparently, the answer is yes:

As I was listening I was thinking, geez, some idiot is marketing yet another simple drug-like substance to vulnerable people. Just like that sugar substitute, Splenda, where three Hydrogens are cleaved off sugar and replaced with three Chlorines; so too has someone decided that cleaving two Hydrogens off Acetic acid (vinegar) and replacing them with two Chlorines is a superior innovation for body inserted substances.

All this interest in polychlorinating natural substances. When the drug companies do this to some substance or other they call it a remarkable discovery … when, in fact, simply having more of the original, natural substance would probably be superior in the long run. And so, similarly, I was thinking in this case — that drinking certified organic apple cider vinegar or just simple lemon juice in water would be far superior to taking DCA; especially in the treatment of cancer…

Not talked about so far are those pesky Chlorines attached to simple molecules. Nobody knows what good they do except to make unique, patentable molecules such as are many, many drugs. Poly-Chlorinated chemicals are always nasty when introduced into the body and are certainly not part of the natural treatment realm but the pharmaceutically-trained medico shills love them.

So is DCA a miracle cancer treatment? Well, take off those chlorines to make it healthy and it may very well prove to be, given other considerations. The approach of IV injection is thoroughly unnecessary and not particularly justified as any holistic nutritionist with a practical knowledge of “raw food eating” can teach you how to both improve your health AND fight that cancer through alkali bias.

To reitierate: If you remove the chlorines from dichloroacetate and replace them with hydrogens, all you have left is acetic acid or, if you neutralize it so that its pH in solution is neutral, sodium acetate. (For those without a chemistry background, vinegar is primarily dilute acetic acid, usually around 5%.) Is the Herbinator actually claiming that acetic acid is an effective treatment for cancer? From his comments about how bad it supposedly is to “chlorinate natural products,” it would seem so. It would also seem that he believes in more pH woo. (Perhaps blog buddy Abel would like to educate him about altering natural products.) It’s this sort of silliness, combined with a rabid distrust of scientific medicine, that feeds the hysteria over an as yet unproven chemotherapeutic drug–and, yes, once again I emphasize that DCA is a chemotherapeutic drug. Indeed, in this the Herbinator’s mindset appears no different that that of Heather Nordstrom, the stepdaughter of Jim Tassano, the owner of the DCA Site and, two websites from which he sells home brew DCA to desperate cancer patients. We’ve met her before as she expressed admiration for a dentist who had worked for über-quack Hulda Clark. Now, she’s writing letters to Michael Moore:

I am writing you because my step-father Jim Tassano’s family business here in small town Sonora, California, started to sell online the compound DCA as a possible cancer-cure a couple months ago, and since then we have become involved in a growing international debate. We’re getting the attention from the press worldwide. I should have known this would have come about but as the forum moderator I didn’t really imagine to be personally attacked by doctors. You have probably gotten the letter from my stepfather already, explaining what DCA is and how it works, so I won’t repeat all of that. What I am concerned about most is the campaign of misinformation and control the current political administration and the wealthy and powerful health industry are exerting over the public. I am sick of their disregard for human life as they prey on people’s illness to make a fortune. I also believe that they promote illnesses to keep the population docile and controllable. When people are weak, ill, fearful and ignorant, they are extremely easy to control.

I wonder if she’s referring to my posts about DCA that mention her and how I suspect that her lack of critical thinking skills with regard to science, her penchant for woo, and her paranoia about conventional medicine could provide a perfect storm of bad reasoning that led to her helping Jim Tassano in his dubious enterprise. If so, I would retort that it’s not “misinformation” to state plainly that DCA has not yet been tested in humans against cancer yet in a clinical trial, that doing a clinical trial is the only way to demonstrate conclusively whether DCA has anticancer activity (barring its actually being a miracle cure), and that providing it to desperate cancer patients with no medical oversight by doctors experienced testing experimental chemotherapeutics is highly unethical, particularly coupled with the disingenuous claim that it is being sold only for use in pets and that she changed the website when I pointed out that she had let slip that the real purpose was to sell DCA to humans. It’s not a “personal attack” to point out that what she and her father are doing is not helping patients and may indeed jeopardize the clinical trials that are needed to evaluate the efficacy of DCA against cancer. It’s not a “personal attack” to point out that Heather seems to lack critical thinking skills with respect to alternative therapy or that it’s rather ironic that someone so enamored of “natural” therapies would be complicit in making and selling a bootleg chemotherapeutic drug.

But get a load of Heather’s paranoia:

One of my friends who works for the government and has been knowledgeable for years on their activities wrote this interesting point:

“As long as Jim is small potatoes and isn’t getting rich off this stuff or saving too many people the FDA et al will lie back and watch. But if this cancer cure looks viable they WILL try to stop him. Usually they use arson, first on the labs, then on the house or business or whatever. That usually stops people. I know a guy who actually found a cure for sickle cell anemia and they burned so much of his stuff that he gave up and moved away and stopped giving the stuff to people.”

This is scary and it isn’t the first time I’ve heard them do things like this. What they are doing now, however, in trying to regulate supplements, herbs and even massage oils and rocks, is one of the most dangerous things I have ever seen them attempt. I am outraged and completely sickened by them.

Note the common refrain: DCA is a cancer cure “they” don’t want you to know about, just as Kevin Trudeau likes to say about all sorts of “cures” that “they” don’t want you to know about. Of course, Jim Tassano has nothing to fear from the FDA or the pharmaceutical industry as far as having his business burned down. On the other hand, sadly, it appears that, at least so far, he has nothing to fear legally from the FDA either, given that the government seems unwilling or unable to shut him down using existing law, even though he is clearly manufacturing and selling for human consumption a non-approved drug that is not of pharmaceutical grade. Cancer patients, however, do have to worry about people like Jim Tassano and Heather Nordstrom, not to mention Drs. Akbar and Humaira Khan. Whether they’re in it for the money, for altruistic reasons, or for a combination of the two in the end doesn’t really matter all that much. The end result is the same: Cancer patients being encouraged, through Internet and media hype, as well as the groupthink that’s developed on the discussion boards of The DCA Site and on other discussion boards, to experiment with an unproven chemotherapeutic agent without informed consent or adequate medical oversight to monitor for actual tumor response and complications, all paid for out of their own pockets.

There, between yesterday’s post and this, I think I’ve gotten the DCA blogging out of my system for a while. Time to go back to a less contentious topic. Maybe I’ll revisit vaccines and autism again; there have been some developments, as well as a couple of stories that I’ve seen and that readers have been sending me.

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 (, appalled at what I’m finding
  10. Slumming around The DCA Site (, 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 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)

Posts by fellow ScienceBlogger Abel Pharmboy:

  1. The dichloroacetate (DCA) cancer kerfuffle
  2. Where to buy dichloroacetate…
  3. Local look at dichloroacetate (DCA) hysteria
  4. Edmonton pharmacist asked to stop selling dichloroacetate (DCA)
  5. Four days, four dichloroacetate (DCA) newspaper articles
  6. Perversion of good science
  7. CBC’s ‘The Current’ on dichloroacetate (DCA)

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

Comments are closed.


Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading