While looking for a new topic for this week, I discovered that I have not yet written on vitamin C and cancer. Three decades after the publication of Linus Pauling’s 1979 book “Vitamin C and Cancer” medical research is finally taking a serious look at vitamin C as a possible cancer treatment.
A study published in November 2015 in the prestigious journal Science by a team of researchers including scientists from Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins Cancer Center, found that high doses of vitamin C impaired the growth of two specific colorectal cancers in cultured cells and in mice. Interestingly they discovered that the effect was not from vitamin C’s role as an antioxidant, as had always been assumed, but rather as an oxidant. Vitamin C enters cancer cells in its oxidized form called dehydroascorbic acid (DHA) (not to be confused with the omega 3 fatty acid DHA) via a glucose transporter called GLUT1 which cancer cells have in abundance. Once inside DHA is converted back to ascorbic acid by the cell’s antioxidants. If sufficient DHA (vitamin C) enters the cancer cell, the antioxidants are depleted and the cell dies from oxidative stress.
Other studies have confirmed that high dose intravenous vitamin C (IVC) is selectively cytotoxic to cancer cells, meaning that it kills the cancer cells but does not harm normal cells. A small human trial from the U. Kansas Medical Center published in 2014 combined IVC with conventional chemotherapy drugs in women with stage 3 or stage 4 ovarian cancer. Compared to the control group (chemo only), the vitamin C group had not only better results but reduced toxic side effects from the chemo.
The U. Kansas researchers described IVC’s safety profile as “outstanding”. One of them wrote:
“we now have a better understanding of vitamin C’s anti-cancer action, plus a clear safety profile…our data provide strong evidence to justify larger and robust clinical trials to definitively examine the benefit of adding vitamin C to conventional chemotherapy.”Funding for such trials will have to come from government or foundation sources as pharmaceutical companies are not likely to spend that much on a therapy which cannot be patented.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.