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Intravenous Vitamin C could Fight Cancer

Update Date: Feb 06, 2014 11:22 AM EST

According to a new study, combining vitamin C intravenously with chemotherapy could improve cancer treatment. The researchers from the University of Kansas experimented vitamin C on human cells and mice models, and discovered that vitamin C helped kill cancerous cells without destroying healthy cells.

"There's been a bias since the late 1970s that vitamin C cancer treatment is worthless and a waste of time," the authors wrote according to the Los Angeles Times. "We're overcoming that old bias."

For this study, investigator Dr. Jeanne Drisko and colleagues first exposed human ovarian cancer cells to vitamin C within a laboratory setting. They discovered that the vitamin C caused DNA damage, which killed the cancer cells but left the healthy, normal cells untouched. The researchers then administered vitamin C intravenously to mice with ovarian cancer. The team noted that vitamin C appeared to strengthen the chemotherapy's effect on the tumors. The tumors either stopped growing or started getting smaller.

"In cell tissue and animal models of cancer, we saw when you add IV vitamin C it seems to augment the killing effect of chemotherapy drugs on cancer cells," said Drisko, director of integrative medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

The team went on to conduct a pilot phase clinical trial and recruited 27 patients diagnosed with stage III or stage IV ovarian cancer. Some of the patients were given vitamin C intravenously with their usual chemotherapy treatment. These patients reported less toxicity in the brain, bone marrow and other major organs. The researchers also found that these patients lived around 8.75 months longer in comparison to the patients who only had chemotherapy.

"If you can get your blood levels of vitamin C very high, it gets driven into the space around the cancer cells," Drisko said according to HealthDay reported by Philly. "In that space, it's converted into hydrogen peroxide. It's very similar to what our white blood cells do. They create hydrogen peroxide to fight infection."

Even though the findings were promising, critics stated that the sample size was too small. More research would have to be conducted in a larger group of people in order to determine if intravenous vitamin C could be used with chemotherapy. The study was published in Science Translational Medicine.

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