High-dose vitamin C makes cancer treatment more effective, trial shows
Common treatment options for cancer, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can be expensive and sometimes ineffective. However, a new clinical trial tests the effect of high-dose vitamin C in combination with standard treatment on health outcomes for patients with cancer.
A new clinical trial shows that a high dose of vitamin C can improve health outcomes for patients who are undergoing conventional cancer treatment.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, together with surgeon Ewan Cameron, first hypothesized the clinical benefits of vitamin C for treating people with cancer.
Since then, further studies in animals and cancer cell cultures suggested that a high concentration of ascorbic acid might prevent and treat cancer.
More recent studies have examined the combined effect of high-dose vitamin C and conventional cancer treatment. Some of this research showed that patients who received the combined treatment had a slower progression of the disease, while others have suggested that the side effects of chemotherapy were less pronounced among those who also took high doses of vitamin C.
To obtain a high dose in these studies, vitamin C is usually administered using intravenous infusion. Vitamin C has a short half-life of only 2 hours in the human body, which is why it must be administered in high doses as a treatment.
A new clinical trial studies the effect of giving between 800 and 1,000 times the daily recommended dose of vitamin C to patients with brain and lung cancer.
The new research was led by scientists at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and the results were published in the journal Cancer Cell.
How vitamin C weakens cancer cells
The mechanism that might explain the potential efficacy of vitamin C in treating lung and brain cancer relates to the cancer cells' metabolism.
As a consequence of the faulty metabolism that occurs inside the cancer cells' mitochondria, these cells produce abnormally high levels of so-called redox active iron molecules. These molecules react with vitamin C and form hydrogen peroxide and hydrogen peroxide-derived free radicals.
Scientists think that these free radicals drive cancer cell death by damaging the cells' DNA. The free radicals are also thought to weaken the cancer cells and make them more vulnerable to radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
If the approach proves effective in future clinical trials as well, the new treatment could also be significantly less costly than the standard treatment. To put this into perspective, 9 months of intravenous vitamin C treatment as part of the phase II trial currently costs less than one dose of chemotherapy.
Courtesy : Ana Sandoiu, MNT