What is rocket fuel treatment?
I have heard of a cancer treatment that is made from rocket fuel. What is this and could it work for me?
Rocket fuel treatment is actually called hydrazine sulfate. Hydrazine has actually been around for some time. It has been studied a lot in people with cancer because doctors thought it might help prevent the rapid weight loss some advanced cancer patients have.
Interest in hydrazine sulfate was sparked by a research study done in Russia that found that hydrazine could be helpful for one or two types of rare cancer. But the results of this study are doubted by doctors. It was a very early study and was not randomised. It is important for a trial to be randomised so that doctors can fully assess how well it works. And most importantly, whether it works better than existing treatment. You can look at our section about understanding cancer research for information about clinical trials.
Hydrazine sulfate is currently available as a nutritional supplement but there is no evidence that it helps to treat cancer. There is some evidence that it may reduce weight loss in people with advanced cancer.
Four randomised controlled trials were carried out in the USA in the 1990s to try hydrazine sulfate as a treatment for cancer. The trials compared hydrazine sulfate with a placebo. A placebo is an inactive substance that looks like the treatment being tested. The results showed that hydrazine sulfate was not effective in treating cancer. In some cases, it was found to be harmful.
In three of the trials, lung cancer patients had either hydrazine sulfate or a placebo, along with standard cancer drugs. The patients who had hydrazine sulfate did not live longer and their tumours did not shrink any more than the placebo group. In one of the studies, patients who took hydrazine sulfate showed better nutritional status than patients in the placebo group, but the increase in body weight was small.
In another of the studies, patients who received hydrazine sulfate had a poorer quality of life than patients who had the same cancer drugs plus the placebo. A fourth trial found that patients with bowel cancer who had only hydrazine sulfate lived for a shorter time than patients who had only a placebo.
Four other randomised controlled trials studied the effects of hydrazine sulfate on nutritional status and body metabolism. In 2 studies, patients who had hydrazine sulfate showed improvement in metabolism, appetite, and in either gaining weight or not losing weight. In the other 2 clinical trials, lung and colon cancer patients who had hydrazine sulfate had less cancer related muscle wasting.
In general, the reported side effects of hydrazine sulfate treatment have been mild to moderate. Most side effects end when the hydrazine sulfate treatment stops. Some animal studies, however, suggest that hydrazine sulfate may be very harmful when combined with either alcohol or barbiturates. Barbiturates are drugs with sedative and hypnotic effects.
The side effects include the following
- Feeling or being sick
- Abnormal feelings in the arms and legs, such as burning or prickling
- Nerve inflammation
- Dry skin
- Difficulty getting to sleep
- Abnormally low blood sugar
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