Vitamin C can be given intravenously as part of a programme of Metabolic Therapy. A 2014 study on PubMed confirmed that it has immune supportive function (1). Intravenous Vitamin C (IVC) is of interest in cancer - a 2014 systematic review on PubMed concludes that ‘IVC may improve time to relapse and possibly enhance reductions in tumor mass and improve survival in combination with chemotherapy.’ Furthermore, the review concluded that IVC may significantly improve quality of life measures alongside cancer treatment, and has a positive safety profile (2).
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. Unlike most mammals, humans do not have the ability to make their own vitamin C, therefore we must obtain it through our diet. Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen, an important structural component of blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone. Vitamin C is also a highly effective antioxidant. Even in small amounts vitamin C can protect indispensable molecules in the body, such as proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species. These can be generated during normal metabolism as well as through exposure to toxins and pollutants (e.g. smoking). Vitamin C may also be able to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E. A 2014 PubMed paper (3) states ‘because of marked pharmacokinetic differences, intravenous, but not oral, ascorbate produces millimolar concentrations both in blood and in tissues, killing cancer cells without harming normal tissues.
The National Cancer Institute states that ‘the anticancer effect of vitamin C in different types of cancer cells involves a chemical reaction that makes hydrogen peroxide, which may kill cancer cells.’ (4). Healthy cells can metabolise hydrogen peroxide efficiently, via the catalase enzyme, into oxygen and water. However tumour cells lack catalase thus leaving them vulnerable. In addition, as a 2008 NIH paper explains, ‘many cancers … over-express the GLUT family members, in particular GLUT1’ (5). These are glucose transporters which, in addition to glucose, also transport Vitamin C into the cell. Therefore tumour cells selectively uptake more vitamin C (and hence hydrogen peroxide) than regular cells, and can’t metabolise it efficiently.
IVC may also significantly reduce the side effects of cancer treatment, including fatigue, nausea, insomnia, constipation and depression. A pilot RCT of 27 newly diagnosed stage III-IV ovarian cancer patients reported half of the adverse events compared to the control group when treated with IVC alongside chemotherapy. There was a non-significant trend toward improved survival, and the median time to disease progression or relapse was longer (25.5 months vs 16.75 months)(6).
Due to its excellent safety profile, practitioners use Vitamin C therapy in any stage of cancer. It involves daily intravenous administration at up to 75g for three weeks. Commonly, patients may feel tiredness due to the destruction of many cancer cells.
See link below for scientific references
About 30 years ago, Dr. Pauling (twice nobel prize winner and considered the 'father' of Vitamin C treatment) suggested to Ewan Cameron, a Scottish surgeon, that he administer 10 grams of vitamin C a day to patients with advanced cancer for whom conventional treatments had ceased to be of benefit. Over an 8-year period, 500 patients with varying stages and types of cancer were treated with vitamin C therapy. The initial observation showed those receiving 10 grams of vitamin C a day improved their state of well-being, as measured by increased appetite and mental alertness, as well as a decreased need for pain-killing drugs. A retrospective analysis of the study showed that those using vitamin C lived considerably longer than those not supplemented.
In addition, Vitamin C therapy in cancer cases was discovered by accident by Dr Abraham Hoffer, a psychiatrist, (Director of Psychiatric Research University Hospital in Saskatoon) in 1960 when treating a retired psychotic professor. The retired professor also had bronchiogenic carcinoma of the lung and when he became psychotic it was concluded he had secondaries in his brain. The professor was placed in terminal care and expected to die within a month or so. With Vitamin C treatment, he lived about 30 months after he was diagnosed terminal. When he died it was not from cancer. Having treated several psychiatric patients with tumours by chance and after receiving a positive response, Dr Hoffer then decided to change his professional career from psychiatry to treating cancer patients in a complementary way, and set up a practice in Victoria. Since then, he has worked with Dr Linus Pauling in the treatment of cancer.
Clinics in selected countries now offer Vitamin C therapy but operate differently depending on client's requirement.
Books on Vitamin C Therapy
Vitamin C has also been shown to help benefit individuals receiving radiotherapy. Patients have reported that they have suffered less anaemia, pain, loss of weight and loss of appetite.
Many doctors and patients are aware of a much publicised trial which appeared to demonstrate that it is inadvisable to take Vitamin C whilst receiving chemotherapy. This has since been shown to be invalid.( See Ralph Moss web link)
Therapy: Intravenous Vitamin C
(1) Sorice A, Guerriero E, Capone F, Colonna G, Castello G, Costantini S (2014) Ascorbic acid: its role in immune system and chronic inflammation diseases. Mini Rev Med Chem. May;14(5):444-52.
(2) Fritz H1, Flower G2, Weeks L2, Cooley K3, Callachan M1, McGowan J1, Skidmore B1, Kirchner L4, Seely D5. (2014) Intravenous Vitamin C and Cancer: A Systematic Review. ) Integr Cancer Ther. 2014 May 26;13(4):280-300
(3) Ma Y, Chapman J, Levine M, Polireddy K, Drisko J, Chen Q (2014) High-dose parenteral ascorbate enhanced chemosensitivity of ovarian cancer and reduced toxicity of chemotherapy. Science Translational Medicine Feb 5;6(222)
(4) National Cancer Institute, accessed on 20/10/14 http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/highdosevitaminc/patient/page2
(5) Zhao FQ, Keating AF (2007) Functional Properties and Genomics of Glucose Transporters. Current Genomics. Apr; 8(2): 113–128
(6) Ma Y, Chapman J, Levine M, Polireddy K, Drisko J, Chen Q. (2014) Highdose parenteral ascorbate enhanced chemosensitivity of ovarian cancer and reduced toxicity of chemotherapy. Sci Transl Med. Feb 5;6(222)