Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid or ascorbate, is a nutrient found in food and dietary supplements. It can help prevent oxidative stress and plays a role in making collagen. This antioxidant can be delivered via IV infusion to reach higher levels. There are several benefits to vitamin C, but can they help you fight cancer?
Higher Dose Vitamin C and Cancer Cells
It has been suggested that higher levels of vitamin C could cause the death of cancer cells. Scottish surgeon Ewan Cameron and American chemist Linus Pauling studied the benefits of vitamin C therapy with cancer patients in various clinical trials from the late 1970s and 1980s. Later studies by Dr. Abram Hoffer and Japanese researchers provided evidence that cancer patients could live longer because of vitamin C.
Surveys from healthcare practitioners in the United States have shown that high doses of vitamin C have been administered intravenously for the treatment of fatigue, infection and various kinds of cancers.
What Are the Risks of High Doses of Vitamin C?
There have been few side effects in clinical trials in intravenously administered high doses of ascorbic acid. The risks are higher in patients with a G-6 PD deficiency, which is an inherited disorder that leads to the premature breakdown of red blood cells. Also, patients with a higher chance of developing kidney stones are not advised to have high doses of vitamin C. Patients with hemochromatosis, a condition where the body stores more iron than needed, are also not recommended to receive high doses of vitamin C.
Vitamin C and Cancer Cases
In a study with pancreatic cancer patients, weekly chemotherapy was given along with a twice-a-week IV vitamin C cycle treatment. After a month of infusions, the patients’ disease did not progress for several months. There were also no side effects, and researchers found that the treatments were tolerable. Ovarian cancer patients receiving chemotherapy along with vitamin C had similar results.
In a study with colorectal cancer patients, though, IV vitamin C and other drugs worsen the disease and caused severe side effects.
There are still ongoing studies of combining IV vitamin C with other drugs. Some reduced the toxicity of chemotherapy in preliminary human trials; others showed no statistical benefit in cancer progression.
While there is still work to be done on this question, Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology is committed to remaining on the cutting-edge of cancer treatment and offering our patients every safe and viable option in their cancer treatment.
If you have a question about supportive therapies, reach out to us. More than a thousand men and women diagnosed with cancer each year turn to our trusted team of cancer specialists. We encourage you to call us, ask us a question, or consult with us to get a second opinion so you too, can experience the difference.