High dose vitamin C in treating cancer patients

high dose vitamin c for cancer

High dose vitamin C is also known as Ascorbic acid (AA) which is a water-soluble vitamin. The sources of ascorbic acid are Indian gooseberry, lemon, oranges, tomatoes, papaya, green and red peppers, kiwi fruits, strawberries, broccoli, and fortified cereals. It has a special property called antioxidant activity. This property helps in preventing various diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, common cold, age-related muscular degeneration, and cataract.

Vitamin C plays a key role in the physiological process of human beings. It helps in repairing tissues in all parts of the body. It works with enzymes to play a key role in making collagen that is required in the formation of skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels in healing wounds, and also repairing and maintaining cartilage, bones, teeth, and also aids in the absorption of iron. In earlier articles, we came to know about the High dose vitamin C and it is used for treating various diseases.

High-dose vitamin C can be taken by mouth or given by an intravenous (IV) infusion (through a vein into the bloodstream). When taken by IV infusion, vitamin C can reach higher levels in the blood than when the same amount is taken by the oral route.

Studies of IV high-dose vitamin C in patients with cancer have shown improved quality of life, as well as fewer side effects. However, utilizing high doses of vitamin C as a cancer therapy has drawn many controversies over the years. Hence, mainstream medicine has largely neglected the use of megadose quantities of vitamin C. As this argument is still going on now also. But still, some clinical research is going on whether high-dose vitamin C help to fight against coronavirus.

Let’s unravel the controversial history of high-dose vitamin C in cancer treatment:

The usage of vitamin C in treating cancer patients is not just a new thing was using for the past 60 years as a therapy. It has its history. The well-known physician from Toronto named William McCormick observed that the patients who are suffering from cancer have a lesser level of Vitamin C in their blood and were suffering from symptoms of Scurvy resulting in hypothesize that vitamin C may also fight against cancer by increasing collagen synthesis

In extension to this theory, a well known Scottish surgeon by the name Ewan Cameron (1972) declared a theory that ascorbate can defeat against the development of cancer and hinder hyaluronidase, or else it weakens the extracellular matrix and enables cancer to metastasize. Again he continued treating cancer patients and published a report of 50 patients, among them few of them are recovered and got advantage from high dose vitamin C.

This positive response motivated Cameron to build a team with other doctors such as Linus Pauling and others. This team also did clinical trials on terminal cancer patients. In the year 1976, the duo published a detailed study on 100 patients, who were suffering from advanced cancer and treated with the help of high dose vitamin C. Based on this progression of diseases and life-saving rates, did a comparison to 1000 retrospective control patients and matched with the ascorbic acid-treated patients related to age, sex, type of cancer and clinical stage and the patients were treated by same physician and hospital.

At the same time, the duo also reported on the patients, who are not received and medicated with the help of high dose vitamin C. This study has its cons, the main reason was the placebo-control group and also it was not planned well to reach modern standards. But still, the outcome showed a positive result on the patients who are treated with high dose Vitamin C, there was a revamp in quality of life and increase in there life with lesser health-related complications. It is also reported that the survival rate is also increased to one more year as compared to control patients and even the same clinical trial was conducted in Japan separately and the result was the same.

With these positive results, this interest developed, and hence in the capability of vitamin C for cancer therapy grew and Even vitamin C  and its sources, functionings, sensing, and analysis help to treat the patients.   

There was a debut on the pros of high dose vitamin C started as a consequence of double-blind randomized clinical trials directed by Charles Moertel of the Mayo Clinic. Hence this study took the wrong direction to justify the positive advantage of high dose vitamin C in medicating cancer patients, which was also reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. But the clinical trials conducted by Mayo Clinic were more rigid, and hence the people believed in the data and dishonor the Cameron-Pauling trials, diminishing the enthusiasm for vitamin C as a potential cancer therapy.

Yes, as the reader you can get a question that why did the Pauling and Mayo Clinic trials had different results? This final research found that at least two crucial differences.

Firstly, as soon as the patients developed the symptoms of a tumor, Mayo clinical trials spontaneously stopped the administration of ascorbic acid and changed to their traditional type of treatment called chemotherapy. But the main thing is this treatment duration was short term was just 2.5 months. Whereas the Pauling and Cameron trials treated patients for the duration of the entire study period or as long as 12 years.

Secondly, the Mayo Clinic trials were suggested to administer 10 g of daily ascorbate to patients orally, whereas the Cameron and Pauling trials administered volunteers with vitamin C both orally and intravenously. There is a drastic change between them as the dosage routed suggested by two of them is different as already mentioned earlier.

Even Levine’s group at the NIH in the 2000s has proved and demonstrated that the oral vitamin C doses used in the Mayo Clinic studies would have produced a peak plasma concentration of less than 200 μM. At the time of phase I, the clinical studies proved the positive benefits of vitamin C. However Mayo clinic failed to disprove high dose vitamin C benefits as a potential anticancer agent at the time of clinical trials. From the past 10 years, the number of clinical trials has been increased on high dose vitamin C in treating cancer patients. But still, these studies were not designed as large-scale, randomized controlled trials and thus the benefits of high dose vitamin C therapy remain to be determined.

Difficulties faced while conducting randomized control trials for Vitamin C cancer therapy

Below are the three challenges (but not limited to) that have so far prevented large-scale, randomized controlled trials of vitamin C for cancer therapy.

  •  The foremost benefit of Vitamin C is not patentable and hence it is cost-effective.
  • It is already mentioned that treatment-related ascorbic acid with cancer patients has its argument from the past so many years.
  • The mechanism of high dose vitamin C is not much clear about killing the cancer cells.

Conclusion: It is always recommended to do Randomized trials of IV vitamin C as it has trials of IV minimal side effects and has shown promising results.

Contraindications and side effects:

It is already mentioned in the earlier that Intravenous high-dose vitamin C has created very few side effects at the time of clinical trials. However, high-dose vitamin C has some side effects and harmful in patients with below risk factors:

  • The patients with a history of kidney problems reported with the failure of the kidney due to the medication of high dose vitamin C and also it is not suggested to medicate the patients, who are expected to develop kidney stones. 
  • Patients with an inherited disorder called G6PD deficiency should not be suggested to give high doses of vitamin C, mainly it may cause hemolysis because it is the special type of condition in which red blood cells are destroyed.
  • As you all know that Vitamin C might boost the absorption of iron very easily by the body and hence high doses of vitamin C are not endorsed for patients with hemochromatosis (It is the condition in which the body takes up and deposit more iron than it needs).
  • Some patients experience a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction. This condition is marked by the release of endotoxin from microorganism death resulting in pimples, fever, and body odor, for a few hours after the therapy. However, these are resolved quickly with no lasting effects.

High dose vitamin C is always recommended to the cancer patient as we already know that it helps in boosting the immunity. It has lesser side effects as compared to chemotherapy.