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High Dose Vitamin C as Cancer Treatment: History of Much-Debated Usage

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Lemon with vitamin C pills over white background. (Alena Brozova/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 05:59 PM

High dose vitamin C as a treatment for cancer remains controversial despite a lengthy history of clinical studies and applications. Since the 1970s, laboratory, animal, and clinical trials with humans have produced mixed results. However, in some cases patient response has been positive, which has provoked continued interest and research into the potential benefits of treating cancer with high dosages of vitamin C.

In 1974, Scottish surgeon Dr. Ewan Cameron and Dr. Allan Campbell published a groundbreaking report on a clinical trial in which 50 people with advanced cancer were treated with continuous oral and high IV doses of vitamin C. All of the patients were considered terminal and all other treatment options had been exhausted.

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Despite the complications of administering treatment to cancer patients who were "hopeless" and a multitude of variables present in such a condition, Cameron and Campbell were able to conclude that high doses of vitamin C had a positive effect on their subjects. These effects, for a variety of cancers, included pain relief, a reduction in metastases, reduction of blood in the urine, temporary reversal of jaundice, and changes in cancer progression rates. According to the researchers, they found that "large doses of ascorbic acid [vitamin C] enhance natural resistance to cancer" and these findings led to additional clinical trials on vitamin C.

Notable biochemist Dr. Linus Pauling was also researching high dose vitamin C applications in the treatment of cancer. He formed a close association with Dr. Cameron, which resulted in 10 years of research collaboration and the appointment of Dr. Cameron as the Chief Medical Officer at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine. In 1975 and 1976, the duo conducted additional trials that examined the potential for treatment to prolong the life span of terminal patients. These trials produced data that supported their theory that high dose vitamin C increased longevity. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/

Since the early clinical trials, researchers have continued to conduct extensive studies on the potential benefits of high dose vitamin C in treating cancer and the results have been mixed. For example, a 1979 clinical trial of 150 patients, "Failure of high-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) therapy to benefit patients with advanced cancer" was "unable to show a therapeutic benefit of high-dose vitamin C treatment." On the other hand, Frontiers in Oncology reports on a 2014 study, "The effect of intravenous vitamin C on cancer and chemotherapy-related fatigue and quality of life" that concluded, "…there is consistent evidence that IV vitamin C can improve cancer patient’s QOL [quality of life] and decrease multiple aspects of fatigue."

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Finally, one of the key controversies in high dose vitamin C cancer trials have involved methods of collection and data analysis. In particular, the administration method of vitamin C, either orally or intravenously, has generated debate because the delivery affects the measurable level of vitamin C in blood plasma. In turn, this can affect the positive or negative effects of a clinical trial. The Linus Pauling Institute states that after Dr. Pauling's research in the 1970s and 1980s, "Controversy surrounding the efficacy of vitamin C in cancer treatment ensued, leading to the recognition that the route of vitamin C administration is critical." A recent study published in Advances in Nutrition on the administration of high doses of vitamin C for treating cancer also addressed the efficacy of delivery methods.

This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.

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High dose vitamin C as a treatment for cancer remains controversial despite a lengthy history of clinical studies and applications.
high, dose, vitamin c, cancer, debate
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2014-59-16
Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 05:59 PM
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