Dr. Linus Pauling received the Nobel prize for chemistry (1954) and peace (1962). He is the only person to win two unshared Nobel awards. He also is known for trumpeting the efficacy of Vitamin C in treating the common cold, flu, and cancer.
In 1976, Dr. Pauling and Dr. Ewan Cameron published Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer. “The results clearly indicate that this simple and safe form of medication is of definite value in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer,” the researchers concluded. (1)
There also is research, conducted by the Mayo Clinic, that contends Vitamin C does not offer an object improvement for cancer patients. However, the Pauling-Cameron method (intravenously) was not duplicated by the Mayo Clinic (orally). Since that time, case reports have been published that definitively prove benefits from IVC against cancer.
Dr. Jonathan Stegall, the founder of The Center for Advanced Medicine in Atlanta, said, “The data thus far on IV Vitamin C is very encouraging. Out of the many natural therapies in integrative oncology’s tool chest, Intravenous Vitamin C is perhaps the one that the orthodox community is closest to embracing.
“However, as is the case with many alternative therapies, we need more research to understand it better. As with most alternative therapies, additional studies are needed to validate the positive effects we have seen in smaller studies and in clinical practice.”
What is IV Vitamin C?
So, separating juice from pulp fiction: What is Intravenous Vitamin C and how does it fit into fighting cancer? Basically, Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps sweep away free radicals before they wreak havoc on cells.
In 2018, Drs. Anitra Carr and John Cook published results from a study: Intravenous Vitamin C for Cancer Therapy – Identifying the Current Gaps in Our Knowledge. The doctors noted, “The use of Intravenous Vitamin C (IVC) for cancer therapy has long been an area of intense controversy. Despite this, high-dose IVC has been administered for decades by complementary health care practitioners and physicians, with little evidence base resulting in inconsistent clinical practice. (2)
“In this review we pose a series of questions of relevance to both researchers and clinicians, and also patients themselves, in order to identify current gaps in our knowledge. These questions include:
- Do oncology patients have compromised Vitamin C status?
- Is intravenous the optimal route of Vitamin C administration?
- Is IVC safe?
- Does IVC interfere with chemotherapy or radiotherapy?
- Does IVC decrease the toxic side effects of chemotherapy and improve quality of life?
- What are the relevant mechanisms of action of IVC?
- What are the optimal doses, frequency, and duration of IVC therapy?
“Researchers have made massive strides over the last 20 years and have addressed many of these important aspects, such as the best route for administration, safety, interactions with chemotherapy, quality of life, and potential mechanisms of action,” the paper said.
“However, we still do not know the answers to a number of fundamental questions around best clinical practice, such as how much, how often and for how long to administer IVC to oncology patients. These questions point the way forward for both basic research and future clinical trials.”
Vitamin C – a potent pro-oxidant
Dr. Nathan Goodyear at An Oasis of Healing in Meza, Arizona, is a proponent of Intravenous Vitamin C therapy. “Vitamin C, especially at the higher dosages, only obtainable through IV Vitamin C delivery, has been shown to be a potent pro-oxidant [not antioxidant] in cancer cells. It is this pro-oxidant activity of Vitamin C in cancer cells that generate high levels of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), such as H2O2, OH-, ·O2-, required to kill cancer cells.
“The key factor that separates cancer cells from healthy cells is that cancer cells lack certain enzymes, such as catalase and SOD, to handle these high ROS levels. Healthy cells retain appropriate catalase and SOD activity and are thus perfectly capable of handling the high ROS; hence Vitamin C functions as an anti-oxidant in healthy cells but as a pro-oxidant in cancer cells.”
Research published in 2017 – NADH autofluorescence, a new metabolic biomarker for cancer stem cells: Identification of Vitamin C and CAPE as natural products targeting “stemness” published in the journal Oncotarget – shows that Vitamin C was ~10 times more potent than 2-deoxyglucose [2-DG] for the targeting of cancer stem cells. (3)
The study targeted the tricarboxylic acid cycle (also known as Krebs cycle), which is a series of enzyme-catalyzed chemical reactions that form a crucial part of aerobic respiration in cells.
The study found that the FDA-approved drug stiripentol (an LDHA with the trade name Diacomit) was the most potent glycolysis inhibitor, identified for targeting cancer stem cells – 50 to 100 times more potent than 2-DG. (Lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA) is an essential enzyme in fermentative glycolysis, generating most energy for cancer cells that rely on anaerobic respiration under normal oxygen concentrations.)
Among the conclusions of the researchers: “Vitamin C may prove to be [a] promising agent for new clinical trials, aimed at testing its ability to reduce cancer stem cell activity in cancer patients, as an add-on to more conventional therapies, to prevent tumor recurrence, further disease progression, and metastasis.”
The bottom line is that Intravenous Vitamin C has shown to have an impact on cancer cells. There have been more than 100 studies with Intravenous Vitamin C in cancer treatment, and IVC has proven to be a dependable adjuvant therapy. Still, more research is needed before Intravenous Vitamin C becomes widely accepted in conventional medicine.
(1) Cameron E, Pauling L. Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1976;73(10):3685-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC431183/
(2) Carr AC, Cook J. Intravenous Vitamin C for Cancer Therapy – Identifying the Current Gaps in Our Knowledge. Front Physiol. 2018;9:1182. Published 2018 Aug 23. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.01182. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6115501/
(3) Bonuccelli G, De Francesco EM, de Boer R, Tanowitz HB, Lisanti MP. NADH autofluorescence, a new metabolic biomarker for cancer stem cells: Identification of Vitamin C and CAPE as natural products targeting “stemness.” https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15400