- hydrazine monosulfate
For Patients & Caregivers
Bottom Line: 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 of this therapy 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 in the body that causes cachexia (wasting) in patients with advanced cancer. However, this effect has never been shown in humans. Hydrazine sulfate was able to inhibit the growth of some tumors in laboratory animals when used alone or with chemotherapy drugs, but this effect has also not been shown in humans. Furthermore, hydrazine sulfate has been shown to increase the incidence of breast, lung, and liver cancers and basal cell carcinoma.
For Healthcare Professionals
A synthetic chemical (H4N2-H2SO4) primarily used in industrial manufacturing (e.g. agricultural chemicals, rocket fuel, etc), hydrazine sulfate is used to treat cancer, maintain or gain weight, and ameliorate cancer-related cachexia. It is thought to interfere with gluconeogenesis via the inhibition of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (1). It has moderate monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAO-I) activity (3).
Animal studies suggest that hydrazine is carcinogenic, although it is not established in humans. Several large randomized clinical trials failed to show significant benefit from hydrazine supplementation (7)(8)(9) to alleviate cancer-related cachexia (10) or to improve cancer survival.
Potential adverse effects include nausea, pruritus, dizziness, peripheral neuropathies, hypoglycemia and insomnia (4). Case reports detailing fatal hepatorenal failure (5) and encephalopathy (6) exist in the literature. Potential drug interactions include increased hydrazine toxicity when combined with benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and alcohol (1)(4). Theoretically, foods high in tyramine content, meperidine, sympathomimetics, and dextromethorphan should be avoided due to MAO-I activity (3).
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). Hydrazine also has been shown to be 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).
- Common: Nausea, pruritus, dizziness, sedation, peripheral neuropathies, hypoglycemia, insomnia. (4)
- Case reports:
Hepatorenal failure (5) and encephalopathy (6) have been reported with use of hydrazine sulfate.
Multiple basal cell carcinoma has been associated with extensive exposure to hydrazine sulfate in a 68-year-old man (11).