DMSO cancer treatment


Dimethyl sulfoxide (also expressed as one word, dimethylsulfoxide, as well as DMSO) is a wood industry by-product, created in the process of making paper. For years DMSO's medicinal potential went undiscovered, until the 1960s, when it was first realized that DMSO had the ability to cryo-preserve organs en route to be transplanted without damaging them at the cellular level.

It is very easily absorbed by the skin, another quality that has attracted medical researchers to this chemical solvent.

DMSO received approval from the FDA as a new molecular entity in 1978 for the relief of pain and swelling associated with certain conditions having to do with the bladder or urinary tract. It is also approved for the use of cryopreservation. Any uses beyond those are not approved by the FDA. This includes DMSO as a cancer treatment.

DMSO in cancer

Among the many purported medicinal uses of DMSO is in the treatment of cancer. Specifically, DMSO has been explored in the cancer pain management setting as an analgesic, as the agent has shown rather evident anti-inflammatory properties.

DMSO as a drug mule
Because of its easily absorption in the skin, DMSO has also been studied as a potential anti-cancer drug carrier, an agent that could effectively carry an anti-cancer drug payload into the body with lower toxicity and fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapeutics. The evidence to support this is inconsistent.

DMSO as a cancer cell killer
The evidence that DMSO is capable of killing cancer cells in vitro, meaning in the laboratory setting, is not inconsistent, but the levels of DMSO required to achieve this would are so toxic they would likely be fatal to humans.

DMSO as an extravasation preventive
Extravasation in chemotherapy is a condition in which chemotherapeutic drugs being infused into a patient's veins escape those veins and enter the surrounding tissue. The results are painful and range from extreme discomfort to actual tissue necrosis. DMSO has been used to prevent this extravasation.

DMSO: Dangers and availability

DMSO can be purchased at some supplement stores and various places on the internet, generally as a topical ointment. However, it may increase the potency of some medications, which could lead to serious illness or even death. People should discuss DMSO with their physician to determine whether they can benefit from it or not.


Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Dimethylsulfoxide

American Cancer Society, DMSO Dimethyl sulfoxide, background literature


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