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Ive cancer treatment.
What Can You Tell Me About It?
Answer From Karthik Giridhar, M.D. Subsequent well-designed, randomized, controlled trials of vitamin C in pill form found no such benefits for people with cancer. More recently, vitamin C given through a vein (intravenously) has been found to have different effects than vitamin C taken in pill form.
This has prompted renewed interest in the use of vitamin C as a cancer treatment. There are still no large, controlled clinical trials that have shown a substantial effect of vitamin C on cancer, but some preliminary studies do suggest there may be a benefit to combining standard treatments with high-dose IV vitamin C. Until clinical trials are completed, it’s premature to determine what role vitamin C may play in the treatment of cancer. With Karthik Giridhar, M.D.
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Vitamin C as a cancer therapy has had a controversial past.
Now a growing number of preclinical studies are showing how high-dose vitamin C might benefit cancer patients. Since the mechanisms of action of vitamin C are becoming better defined, we can propose vitamin C combinations in a more rational, hypothesis-driven manner. In addition, given the current high financial cost of new cancer drugs, it seems rational to improve the effectiveness of current therapies by studying their clinical interactions with vitamin C. In our view, the implementation of this treatment paradigm could provide benefit to many cancer patients.
This work was supported by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant (R35 CA197588), Stand Up to Cancer–American Association for Cancer Research grant (SU2C-AACR-DT22-17), and the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. The Cantley laboratory also receives financial support from Petra Pharmaceuticals.
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Vitamin C, an important antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and immune system enhancement features, could provide protection against cancer.
However, experimental and epidemiologic evidence on vitamin C and cancer risk are still indefinite. Substantial literature reports that cancer patients experience vitamin C deficiency associated with decreased oral intake, infection, inflammation, disease processes, and treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Studies demonstrate associations between IVC and inflammation biomarkers and propose some amelioration in symptoms, with a possible advantage in quality of life (QoL) when intravenous vitamin C (IVC) alone or in combination with oral vitamin C is administered in oncologic care.
While, the anticancer impact of high doses of IVC remains debatable in spite of growing evidence that high dose vitamin C shows anti-tumorigenic activity by elevating the amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cancer cells without meaningful toxicities. Hence, there is an urgent requirement for rigorous and well-controlled assessments of IVC as an adjuvant therapy for cancer before clear conclusions can be drawn. Thus, more clinical trials are required to determine the additive impact of high dose vitamin C in cancer patient.
Oranges Aren’T Enough
The interest in these studies seems to have partly come from the fact that vitamin C is considered ‘natural’ and found in lots of foods, from oranges to broccoli. It can also be consumed in high doses via supplements. But a closer look at the research reveals that neither study used food or supplements as the source of vitamin C being tested to treat cancer.
Instead, the researchers were injecting patients or mice with very high doses of vitamin C – much higher than you could get from food or supplements directly. And the difference between injecting a molecule and getting it through what you eat is vast, says Professor Anne Thomas, a Cancer Research UK-funded scientist at the University of Leicester. “If you inject a drug, you generally get the active bit more quickly into the system,” she says.
“But if you’re eating food, or a food supplement, we don’t know how much of that active compound someone is having.”
“We can guesstimate, but you don’t know for certain and it is going to vary from person to person how much they get once it’s been digested.”
“By injecting a drug, you make the delivery of the active substance more reliable, and bypass the factors that can affect that.”.