Healing Support for Cancer: Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of my favorite nutrients because it has so many far-reaching, positive effects on our health. We tend to hear about Vitamin C mainly for its general immune system support, but C has also been studied extensively for its potential cancer-cell-killing ability. That said, despite being a big fan of Vitamin C, I pondered whether to include it or not in my blog series on cancer because the research results are mixed. There are some undeniable benefits of using Vitamin C for cancer, showing themselves rather consistently, while other huge claims of the past haven’t always held up in larger, more current studies. Much of the success of Vitamin C as support for the cancer healing is dependent upon additional therapies administered simultaneously.
But, obviously, in the end I opted to include Vitamin C because it does have health benefits. Plenty of health benefits. And although it would be nice to be certain that it will shrink tumors, you can be sure of one thing: it will make you feel a heck of a lot better during whatever treatment protocol you’ve chosen! That in itself, I believe, is invaluable.
To give you a bit of physiological information about Vitamin C, an interesting fact is that we humans are part of a very small group of mammals, including primates, guinea pigs and fruit bats, who cannot manufacture Vitamin C internally – the very reason we must rely on Vitamin C supplementation and diet to meet the needs of our body. The mammals who do have the ability to make Vitamin C produce the equivalent adult human dose of 5,000-10,000 mg per day. Under stress, that amount can be quadrupled, as the amount of Vitamin C manufactured seems to increase with all types of stress, most notably infection. After all, this vitamin is in highest concentration in the adrenal glands (the glands that make the hormones to help us deal with stress). Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps prevent oxidative stress. It also works with certain enzymes to play a key role in making collagen.
So Vitamin C is available in tablet form, powder form, and, for those who are in a state of disease, an intravenous (IV) injection form of Vitamin C can be used as opposed to oral supplementation. This method of delivery to the body results in much higher blood levels of this nutrient – high enough to cause the death of cancer cells. This cancer-killing effect is thought to result from a chemical reaction that occurs which actually produces hydrogen peroxide as an end product.
Here are a few examples of the research findings on the use of Vitamin C for cancer treatment and support:
- Treatment with high-dose vitamin C slowed the growth and spread of prostate, pancreatic, liver, colon, malignant mesothelioma, neuroblastoma, and other types of cancer cells.
- Combining high-dose vitamin C with certain types of chemotherapy may increase the effectiveness of the chemotherapy.
- One study suggested that combining high-dose vitamin C with radiation therapy killed more glioblastoma multiforme cells than radiation therapy alone.
- Patients with breast cancer, when treated with intravenous Vitamin C along with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, had a better quality of life and fewer side effects than those who did not receive Vitamin C.
- High dose oral or intravenous Vitamin C was shown to improve quality of life in patients with terminal cancer. Improvements were noted in physical, mental, and emotional functioning, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, pain, and appetite loss.
- A study of mice with ovarian cancer showed that combining intravenous high-dose vitamin C with the anticancer drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel made the drugs more effective in treating this cancer.
Any time one isolated nutrient is taken in higher, therapeutic doses there can be side effects and contraindications. In the case of Vitamin C, it actually has been shown to be safe when given to both healthy and diseased volunteers at doses up to 1.5 g/kg or roughly 600 mg/lb of body weight. That said, individuals with a history of kidney disorders, a tendency to develop kidney stones, or kidney failure should avoid treatment with high-dose Vitamin C. Also, those with a rare inherited disorder called “G-6-PD deficiency” should not be given high doses of vitamin C due to the risk of hemolysis (a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed). Lastly, vitamin C increases the absorption of iron by the human body, so high doses should not be consumed by those with a condition called hemochromatosis, in which the body takes up and stores more iron than it needs. All of the potential side effects and concerns with high doses of Vitamin C may be exacerbated by its intravenous administration. Intravenous C results in higher blood levels of the vitamin than when taken orally and those levels remain elevated for more than 4 hours.
- Vitamin C and Inflammation in Cancer Patients http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22963460
- Intravenous Vitamin C as Cancer Therapy http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1405876/
- High Dose Vitamin C and Ovarian Cancer http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/highdosevitaminc/healthprofessional/page7
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