I’ve heard that vitamin C might be an alternative cancer treatment. What can you tell me about it?
Answer From Timothy J. Moynihan, M.D.
Interest in using very high doses of vitamin C as a cancer treatment began as long ago as the 1970s when it was discovered that some properties of the vitamin may make it toxic to cancer cells. Initial studies in humans had promising results, but these studies were later found to be flawed.
Why high-dose vitamin C kills cancer cells
Low levels of catalase enzyme make cancer cells vulnerable to high-dose vitamin C
- January 9, 2017
- University of Iowa Health Care
- Cancer researchers have homed in on how high-dose vitamin C kills cancer cells. Vitamin C breaks down to generate hydrogen peroxide, which can damage tissue and DNA. The new study shows that tumor cells with low levels of catalase enzyme activity are much less capable of removing hydrogen peroxide than normal cells, and are more susceptible to damage and death when they are exposed to high doses of vitamin C.
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IVC Protocol Vitamin C Research: The Riordan IVC Protocol for Adjunctive Cancer Care Intravenous Ascorbate as a Chemotherapeutic and Biological Response Modifying Agent
Vitamin C (ascorbate, ascorbic acid) is a major water-soluble antioxidant that also increases extracellular collagen production and is important for proper immune cell functioning (Hoffman, 1985; Cameron, et al., 1979). It also plays key roles in L-carnitine synthesis, cholesterol metabolism, cytochrome P-450 activity, and neurotransmitter synthesis (Geeraert, 2012). The Riordan intravenous vitamin C (IVC) protocol involves the slow infusion of vitamin C at doses on the order of 0.1 to 1.0 grams ascorbate per kilogram body mass (Riordan, et al., 2003). IVC use has increased recently among integrative and orthomolecular medicine practitioners: a survey of roughly 300 practitioners conducted between 2006 and 2008 indicated that roughly ten thousand patients received IVC, at an average dose of 0.5 g/kg, without significant ill effects (Padayatty, et al., 2010). While IVC may have a variety of possible applications, such as combating infections (Padayatty, et al., 2010), treating rheumatoid arthritis (Mikirova, et al., 2012), it has generated the most interest for its potential use in adjunctive cancer care.