Why high-dose vitamin C kills cancer cells

Vitamin C has a patchy history as a cancer therapy, but researchers at the University of Iowa believe that is because it has often been used in a way that guarantees failure.

Most vitamin C therapies involve taking the substance orally. However, the UI scientists have shown that giving vitamin C intravenously—and bypassing normal gut metabolism and excretion pathways—creates blood levels that are 100 – 500 times higher than levels seen with oral ingestion. It is this super-high concentration in the blood that is crucial to vitamin C’s ability to attack cancer cells.

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Dr. Stegall’s comments: Vitamin C in IV form is an essential part of an integrative oncology treatment plan. We have multiple studies showing how it works inside the body, with a major advantage being that it harms cancer cells but not normal cells. As with most alternative therapies, more research is needed. However, I virtually always include it in my cancer treatment protocols and believe it is effective.

One caveat: IV vitamin C is not a very effective stand-alone treatment. I realize that there are a lot of articles touting the near-miraculous benefits of IV vitamin C, but I do not believe that it is effective by itself. A balanced approach, drawing from both conventional (allopathic) medicine and alternative (natural) medicine seems to be best.

Intravenous Vitamin C and Cancer

There is actually a wide spectrum of medical uses for vitamin C. Evidence exists documenting it as the best antiviral agent now available … IF used at the proper dose. Vitamin C can neutralize and eliminate a wide range of toxins. Vitamin C will enhance host resistance, greatly augmenting the immune system’s ability to neutralize bacterial and fungal infections. Now the National Institutes of Health has published evidence demonstrating vitamin C’s anti-cancer properties. With so many medical benefits, why do so few doctors know of them?

One explanation stems from ascorbic acid’s designation as a “vitamin.”

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Dr. Stegall’s comments: The pioneering work of Dr. Linus Pauling taught us a lot about the wonders of vitamin C. Dr. Riordan built upon this knowledge, and used IV vitamin C as a cornerstone cancer treatment. It is one of the most-studied alternative cancer treatments, and research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is ongoing. Unfortunately, we do not have more long-term studies on IV vitamin C because such large trials require a significant amount of money. That money usually comes from pharmaceutical companies who hope to patent a drug. In the case of vitamin C, it cannot be patented so funding is an issue. Nonetheless, high quality smaller studies have occurred and they shed light on how intravenous vitamin C works inside the body against cancer cells. I am confident that it works well as part of an integrative approach.

Vitamin C kills tumor cells with hard-to-treat mutation

Maybe Linus Pauling was on to something after all. Decades ago the Nobel Prize–winning chemist was relegated to the fringes of medicine after championing the idea that vitamin C could combat a host of illnesses, including cancer. Now, a study published online today in Science reports that vitamin C can kill tumor cells that carry a common cancer-causing mutation and—in mice—can curb the growth of tumors with the mutation.

If the findings hold up in people, researchers may have found a way to treat a large swath of tumors that has lacked effective drugs.

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Dr. Stegall’s comments: With advances in testing, we are now able to detect specific mutations in cancer cells. Two such mutations – KRAS and BRAF – are particularly important because they tend to create cancer which is very aggressive as well as resistant to many treatments. IV vitamin C seems to target these mutations well, at least in mouse studies. Hopefully more studies on humans will take place. Nonetheless, we have plenty of evidence showing us how IV vitamin C works and that it is safe in humans, to the point that I believe we should use it in the treatment of most cancers.