Hydrazine Sulfate

Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More
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Hydrazine Sulfate

Common Names

  • Sehydrin
  • Hydrazine
  • Hydrazine monosulfate
  • HS

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.


How It Works

Hydrazine sulfate is not an approved cancer treatment. It has been shown to increase the incidence of some cancers.

Hydrazine sulfate is a chemical used in industrial manufacturing of agricultural chemicals and rocket fuel. Supporters make the false claim that hydrazine sulfate limits the ability of tumor cells to make glucose, an important source of their energy, from body stores. In theory, this would also prevent the accelerated breakdown of protein that causes wasting in patients with advanced cancer. However this effect, or that it could slow tumor growth, has never been shown in humans. Furthermore, hydrazine sulfate has been shown to increase the incidence of breast, lung, liver, and skin cancers.

Hydrazine sulfate is commercially available in the US, but it is illegal to use it as a cancer therapy. It is classified as a potential carcinogen by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • To prevent wasting, maintain weight, and increase appetite in patients with advanced cancer
    There is no scientific evidence to support this use.
  • To treat cancer
    Clinical trials do not support this use, and one actually showed that hydrazine sulfate was worse than no treatment at all.
Side Effects
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Nerve damage
  • Low blood sugar
  • Insomnia

Case reports

  • Isolated cases of liver and kidney failure and brain damage.
  • Multiple basal cell carcinomas following extensive exposure to hydrazine sulfate.
  • Acute liver injury following brief occupational exposure of only 30 seconds.
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For Healthcare Professionals

Clinical Summary

A synthetic chemical (H4N2-H2SO4) primarily used in industrial manufacturing such as agricultural chemicals and rocket fuel, hydrazine sulfate has been purported to treat cancer, help maintain or gain weight, and ameliorate cancer-related cachexia.

Animal studies suggest that hydrazine is carcinogenic. In addition, several large randomized clinical trials failed to show benefit with hydrazine for cancer-related cachexia or to improve cancer survival (7) (8) (9) (10).

Hydrazine sulfate is classified as a potential carcinogen by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Potential adverse effects include nausea, pruritus, dizziness, peripheral neuropathies, hypoglycemia, and insomnia (4). Case reports have detailed fatal hepatorenal failure (5) and encephalopathy (6).

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • Cancer
  • Cachexia
  • Maintain or gain weight
Mechanism of Action

Hydrazine sulfate is thought to inhibit phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, an enzyme involved with the Cori cycle for gluconeogenesis from anaerobically metabolized lactic acid. Hydrazine therapy is used to antagonize the inappropriate activation of gluconeogenesis pathways, reduce excessive gluconeogenesis, and improve glucose tolerance particularly in patients with cancer and cancer-related cachexia (1). It is also a weak monoamine oxidase inhibitor (3). Inhibition and stabilization of glioblastoma cell growth was seen in vitro and in animal models (4), but significance in humans is unknown. Hydrazine sulfate appears to have no effect on prostate cancer cell lines in vitro (2).

Adverse Reactions

Common: Nausea, pruritus, dizziness, sedation, peripheral neuropathies, hypoglycemia, insomnia (4)

Case reports

  • Hepatorenal failure (5) and encephalopathy  (6) with use of hydrazine sulfate.
  • Multiple basal cell carcinomas: With extensive exposure to hydrazine sulfate in a 68-year-old man (11).
  • Acute liver injury: After only 30 seconds of occupational inhalation and dermal exposure in a 22-year-old man. He also experienced immediate eye itching, dizziness, and choking sensation that resolved upon leaving the site, but liver abnormalities lasted for 10 days.
Dosage (OneMSK Only)
References
  1. Kaegi E. Unconventional therapies for cancer: 4. Hydrazine sulfate. The Task Force on Alternative Therapies of the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative. CMAJ 1998;158:1327-30.
  2. Kamradt JM, Pienta KJ. The effect of hydrazine sulfate on prostate cancer growth. Oncol Rep 1998;5:919-21.
  3. Chlebowski RT, et al. Hydrazine sulfate: clinical pharmacokinetics and influence on in vitro growth of human glioblastoma cell lines. Proc Am Assoc Cancer Res 1985;26:1002.
  4. Hydrazine sulfate (PDQ). Available at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/hydrazinesulfate/healthprofessional.
  5. Hainer MI, et al. Fatal hepatorenal failure associated with hydrazine sulfate. Ann Intern Med 2000;133:877-80.
  6. Nagappan R, Riddel T. Pyridoxine therapy in a patient with severe hydrazine sulfate toxicity. Crit Care Med 2000;28:2116-8.
  7. Kosty MP, et al. Cisplatin, vinblastine, and hydrazine sulfate in advanced, non-small-cell lung cancer: a randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind phase III study of the cancer and leukemia group B. J Clin Oncol 1994;12:1113-20.
  8. Loprinzi CL, et al. Placebo-controlled trial of hydrazine sulfate in patients with newly diagnosed non-small cell lung cancer. J Clin Oncol 1994;12:1126-9.
  9. Loprinzi CL, et al. Randomized placebo-controlled evaluation of hydrazine sulfate in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. J Clin Oncol 1994;12:1121-5.
  10. Chlebowski RT, et al. Hydrazine sulfate in cancer patients with weight loss. A placebo-controlled clinical experience. Cancer 1987;59:406-10.
  11. Aigner BA, Darsow U, Grosber M, Ring J, Plötz SG. Multiple basal cell carcinomas after long-term exposure to hydrazine: case report and review of the literature. Dermatology. 2010;221(4):300-2.
  12. Ghazanfar O, Salih I. 47. Acute liver injury caused by hydrazine poisoning: a case report. Eur J Emerg Med. Sep 1 2020;27(Suppl 1):e11.
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