Yesterday Cancer Monthly reported updated information about the potential for large doses of vitamin C to kill cancer cells. This idea has been out there in the medical world since the sixties and the efforts of Linus Pauling. Pauling is one of the few individuals to have ever been awarded the Nobel Prize more than once, and the present popularity of vitamin C is in large part due to his influence.
Pauling believed that huge doses of vitamin C could effectively combat and kill cancer cells. The medical establishment was skeptical, and after two clinical trials by the National Cancer Institute at the Mayo Clinic failed to replicate Pauling's claimed results, his ideas were basically dismissed and shunned by mainstream medicine.
But perhaps there is a revival of sorts in the wind. The August issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) reports that a number of recent studies have found that large infusions of vitamin C can kill cancer cells or block them from growing while leaving healthy cells unharmed. The PNAS authors believe, as Pauling himself did, that the original National Cancer Institute trials failed because of the way the vitamin was administered. At the Mayo Clinic trials vitamin C was taken orally, whereas Pauling's research, and the subsequent studies which have followed, have concentrated on high-doses of the vitamin taken intravenously.
From the Cancer Monthly write up:
This idea that large IV doses of vitamin C destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact is the basis of more recent studies by Mark Levine, MD, chief of the Molecular and Clinical Nutrition Section at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. High concentrations of vitamin C can act as a pro-oxidant in the body, producing hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which damages cancer cells and ultimately leads to their demise. Meanwhile, normal cells survive because they arenít as vulnerable to the effects of hydrogen peroxide. In a study published in the same issue of PNAS, Dr. Levineís group found that injecting vitamin C directly into the bodies of mice inhibited tumor growth by about 50 percent.
You can check out further details of the article at Cancer Monthly online, as well as a history of vitamin C and cancer treatments in CancerWire (second story down).