Can Vitamin C Help With Cancer Treatments?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid or ascorbate, is an essential nutrient that is found in food and supplements. The vitamin belongs to the class of water-soluble vitamins. Most animals and plants produce Vitamin C from D-glucose and D-galactose.
However, humans do not produce the vitamin endogenously due to the lack of L-gluconolactone oxidase enzyme. Humans obtain Vitamin C externally from foods and supplements.
According to the World Health Organization, the required daily allowance of Vitamin C for adults is 45 milligrams.
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Vitamin C takes part in various enzymatic reactions as a reducing agent. The vitamin has a low redox potential of 280 mV. The low potential enables Vitamin C to react with most of the free oxidized radicals that are present in the body. Because of this, Vitamin C is used therapeutically as an antioxidant.
Vitamin C also participates in the synthesis of collagen, and also takes part in the synthesis of various neurotransmitters in the body.
Vitamin C is also thought to be involved in the immune system because of its availability in the immune cells in high concentrations. The vitamin is also consumed in the body in the presence of an infection.
According to alternative medicine experts, high doses of Vitamin C can be used in the management of cancer. Several lab studies have produced promising results. However, there are no human clinical studies to support these claims.
How Does Vitamin C Kill Cancer Cells?
Vitamin C is known as a potent antioxidant. It can promote the functions of the immune system, prevent the development of infections, and protect the body against a wide range of diseases.
But there is the least known role that is played by the vitamin, and this is the ability of vitamin C to kill cancer cells when it is given in high doses via the intravenous route.
Vitamin C interacts with iron to produce hydrogen peroxide. The availability of hydrogen peroxide in high concentrations leads to the destruction of cancer cells. It blocks energy supply to these cells and prevents their growth.
Laboratory and animal studies have shown that Vitamin C is effective against several types of cancers including cancers of the brain, lungs, ovaries, and pancreas. Animal studies have found out that high-dose intravenous Vitamin C can reduce the size of tumors by 53 percent.
Vitamin C Tricks Tumor Cells Into Self-Destruction
Reports suggest that Vitamin C can impair the growth of both BRAF and KRAS gene-mutated colorectal tumors. The antioxidants enter the cancer cells, causing an attack response that is characterized by oxidative stress that causes the cells to burn out and die.
Vitamin C does not attack cancer cells directly, but rather they convert into an oxidized substance known as dehydroascorbic acid. The dehydroascorbic acid tricks tumor cells into accepting its entry.
Once it enters the malignant cells, dehydroascorbic acid is converted back to ascorbic acid, which is a form of Vitamin C. The antioxidant property of Vitamin C then leads to the destruction of the malignant cells.
Vitamin C Lowers Inflammation In Cancer Patients
The high-dose IV of Vitamin C benefits cancer patients by lowering the inflammation that occurs in their bodies. Chronic inflammation is one of the common symptoms of cancer. Studies have found out that Vitamin C helps reduce the concentration of pro-inflammatory cytokines and the C-reactive protein, which are the primary inflammatory markers in the body. The reduction in inflammation correlates to tumor size reduction.
Another study, carried out by a researcher at the Riordan Clinic, found out that vitamin C can help reduce the risk associated with metastasis. The scientist conducted the research project for 15 years, and concluded that Vitamin C could act selectively against cancer cells.
Another research that was performed by scientists at the Lewis Cantley of Weill Cornel Medicine located in New York, revealed that high doses of ascorbic acid could help kill colorectal cancer cells. Other studies have found that Vitamin C can prevent the growth of pancreatic, prostate, colon, and liver cancer cells. Human clinical studies have also revealed that high-dose IV Vitamin C can be used to manage the side effects of other anticancer agents such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and fatigue.
Vitamin C Helps Treat Infections
Vitamin C is well known for its ability to manage infectious diseases. The most popular case involves Allan Smith, who became infected with a severe case of swine flu. He was treated with a combination of intravenous and oral Vitamin C.
Reports also indicate that ascorbic acid has never failed in the treatment of an acute viral syndrome. Scientists explain that there should be a proper flow and interchange of electrons in the body. An impaired flow of electrons may cause cell death. Free radicals present in the body may also result in oxidation that causes electron loss.
Antioxidants help prevent the development of diseases that are associated with the loss of electrons. Antioxidants can be obtained both endogenously and from food sources. Vitamin C is one of the primary antioxidants.
According to scientists, it is an important electron donor that is needed to maintain a normal electron flow in the body cells.
According to a report that was published by the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service in 2005, Vitamin C is an effective remedy against viral infections, such as bird flu.
Extremely high doses of Vitamin C are needed to exert an action against the avian flu. According to experts, the recommended dose of Vitamin C ranges between 200,000 and 300,000 milligrams to combat it.
The high doses are administered because the avian flu degrades Vitamin C very rapidly. Several other studies have shown the ability of Vitamin C to treat other infections such as influenza, measles, and encephalitis.
Ascorbic Acid For Sepsis
Studies have shown the ability of Vitamin C to manage severe sepsis and septic shock. The vitamin is administered in combination with Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine and hydrocortisone.
Sepsis is a systemic infection that can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites. The disease affects the vital organs in the body. Sepsis that results from hospital-acquired infections can lead to death.
According to a report that was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, most hospital deaths arise from sepsis, and the treatment of sepsis is also expensive.
Other Health Benefits Of Vitamin C
Other studies have shown the ability of ascorbic acid to lower the risk that is associated with postoperative atrial fibrillation after a surgical procedure of the heart. It is also used to shorten the hospitalization period after a heart surgery.
Vitamin C may also help reduce the risk associated with the development of high blood pressure. The vitamin achieves this by protecting the body’s supply of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a molecule that is involved in the relaxation of the blood vessels.
Ascorbic acid is associated with reduced risks of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and this disorder is common among smokers. It also helps prevent the development of heart attacks by reducing inflammation. It also protects eyesight by promoting the function of the retina and it reduces the risk of developing cataracts by preventing oxidative stress.
The Potential Adverse Effects Of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is thought to be harmless to the body because it is water soluble. However, literature reports indicate several side effects and drug interactions that are associated with Vitamin C. Reports show that high doses of Vitamin C could lead to hemolytic anemia with Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency.
Vitamin C can also increase the risks associated with renal failure in individuals with renal disorders.
The use of Vitamin C in patients with hemochromatosis is discouraged because the vitamin can increase the bioavailability of iron in the body. High concentrations of Vitamin C can also reduce the absorption of Vitamin B12 and copper in the body.
Vitamin C can even cause the acidification of urine, and this may lead to the formation of kidney stones. Hyperoxaluria may also develop from the buildup of oxalic acid, which is a product of Vitamin C metabolism.
A study that was published in 2000 showed that the tolerable level of Vitamin C is 2 grams. Amounts exceeding 2 grams can cause a laxative effect in the affected individual. The common side effect of high-dose Vitamin C is diarrhea.
Literature reports also indicate that the combination of Vitamin C with other chemotherapy agents could increase toxicity levels.
The administration of high-dose Vitamin C in combination with arsenic trioxide for refractory metastatic colon cancer and metastatic melanoma may also lead to serious side effects.
Contraindications For Vitamin C Treatment
Although several studies support the use of high-dose IV Vitamin C in the management of inflammations and cancers, it is advisable to check if the patients deficient of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase.
The enzyme helps to maintain the membrane integrity of the red blood cells. Administering high dose IV Vitamin C to a patient who lacks glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase enzyme can lead to hemolysis of the red blood cells.
Administration of the vitamin should be performed by a medical professional who understands the Riordan protocol.
Fortunately, cases of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency are rare. People from the African and Mediterranean areas are at a greater risk of developing this condition.
Final Thoughts On Vitamin C Cancer Treatments
Due to the unpleasant side effects that are associated with chemotherapy, any remedy that improves cancer symptoms can help improve the quality of life of cancer patients.
Evidence shows that high-dose IV Vitamin C can contribute to improving the quality of life of cancer patients and reduce cancer-related fatigue.
More well-designed placebo-controlled research work needs to be conducted to investigate the impact of high dose ascorbic acid on the quality of life of cancer patients.