This is the $64,000 question. A review of the medical literature, Vitamin C and Treatment of Cancer: Part I Abstracts and Commentary from the Scientific Literature by Gary Null, Ph.D.; Howard Robins, DPM; Mark Tanenbaum, DPM; and Patrick Jennings, Editor gives concise conclusions for approximately 90 studies.
The most famous work on this subject was by Pauling and Cameron. Dr. Cameron was head of the Cancer department at Vale of Leven hospital. He and Pauling decided to try giving 10 grams of Vitamin C a day to patients that had exhausted conventional therapies. In this way, the patients were not choosing between the Vitamin C and another treatment, nor was the treatment combined with something else. The results of these tests was published in Cameron and Pauling's book, Cancer and Vitamin C.
Dr. Abram Hoffer has been treating cancer patients with a nutritional program for many years. The foundation of his nutritional protocol is vitamin C. Below is a chart summerizing Hoffer's results treating over 1000 cancer with vitamin C (documented in the updated publishing of Cancer and Vitamin C).
The points to note in the chart above are the relative survival rates. For example, at the end of 1994, about 70% (top, green line and right scale) of the 500+ (dark bar and left scale) patients on Hoffer's nutritional plan were alive. Of those 98 of the 244, or 40%, seen in 1990 were still alive. In contrast, less than 15% (lower, blue line and right scale) of the 100+ (light bar and left scale) patients not on the plan were alive at the end of 1994. Of those 4 of the 68, or about 6%, seen in 1990 were still alive. Please visit Dr. Abram Hoffer's page that relates his practice's experience treating cancer patients.
There has been some theory concerning vitamin C's potential role in protecting not only healthy cells, but cancer cells as well, thereby interfering with chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Hoffer's view on this is (quoted from his website):
"This [vitamin treatment] would enhance the therapeutic effect of the chemotherapy and decrease its toxicity." Also, "If they [cancer patients] needed chemotherapy the program [vitamin therapy] would make it more tolerable and less painful and if they needed radiation the program would decrease the intensity of the side-effects of the radiation and increase its efficacy."
Also, a recent article printed by InteliHealth from Johns Hopkins suggests a positive impact on cancer from the antioxidant vitamins-C,E and Beta Carotene. Also, please read the article about the work of Sister Mary Eymard Poydock, Ph.D., director of cancer research and former professor of biology at Mereyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania. An additional study on vitamin C's possible role on prostate cancer Effect of vitamin C on prostate cancer cells in vitro: effect on cell number, viability, and DNA synthesis from Prostate, 1997 Aug, 32:3, 188-95 states (Background and Conclusions only):
BACKGROUND: Many studies describe the protective role of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) against cancer development and in treatment of established cancer. The present study investigated whether ascorbic acid demonstrates a therapeutic benefit for prostate cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: Vitamin C inhibits cell division and growth through production of hydrogen peroxide, which damages the cells probably through an as yet unidentified free radical(s) generation/mechanism. Our results also suggest that ascorbic acid is a potent anticancer agent for prostate cancer cells.
Pauling's stature in the scientific community meant that his work on Cancer would not be ignored. Studies to replicate his work were done by the Mayo Clinic, but not with much success. Pauling complained about the procedures used-only post-chemotherapy patients were studied and results included tracking of patients after C administration was stopped!-to no avail. A second study was undertaken, but again, the study procedure evoked complaints from Pauling. For a more thorough explanation of these studies and additional reading about Pauling and Cancer, please visit Linus Pauling and Vitamin C Therapy at Health World. In any case, given the situation presented the cancer patient, my opinion is to take as much Vitamin C as possible regardless of other treatment decisions. Pauling himself recommended surgery as an excellent option where appropriate.
Work involving cancer and Vitamin C points very strongly to the need to take as much Vitamin C as your system is comfortable with. The constant requirement for it and our inability for any long-term storage (a stressful situation can deplete our supplies of C in seconds!) means we all need to take C every single day. If you take more C than your system can handle you will get the runs. This is referred to as the "bowel tolerance limit" (please see How Much to Take). If you are just starting to take C supplementation, this level will be relatively low, but increase over time. This is because certain enzyme systems will be enabled by the increased C and this takes some time. It is interesting to note that your limit will go up dramatically when you get sick. I normally take about 14,000mg per day unless I feel like I'm coming down with something (see A Case of the Flu), then I've been able to take as much as 80,000mg in 24 hours. Cancer patients are advised to get intravenous injections of C if possible, especially if they are having trouble eating. Otherwise, I recommend taking C at least every hour to bowel tolerance limit. If you have cancer, there is no good reason NOT to try this, except the probable flack you will have to endure from the medical community (please see the strategy I discuss concerning surgery in the letters section ). But it's your life and you have a right to try this, especially since it can't hurt (be aware that building up your dosage slowly is recommended - see Cathcart's page on Titrating to bowel tolerance ).
With the cooperation and support of the Vitamin C Foundation, Cforyourself is developing a project to demonstrate the therapeutic value of vitamin C for cancer. Our approach will differ from other studies that aim to produce results for the consumption of the medical community. We will be attempting to present results in a way that is captivating to the general public. We need your support. We are looking for funding. participating doctors and patients in the Baltimore, MD area.
The following .pdf documents outline our project.
Prospective Patient Documents:
I very much want your comments, questions and suggestions regarding this study. Please e-mail me.
Dr. Klenner, who's work involved as much clinical experience as anyone in the use of vitamin C felt that vitamin C may be extremely effective if given in high enough doses. He explained in his paper on C that an investigation should include intravenous C at a rate of 100-300 grams per day! The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine has published an account worth reading of a patient's experience with IV vitamin C entitled Intravenous Vitamin C in a terminal Cancer Patient.
In the words of Dr. Louis Lasagna (1981) of the University of Rochester Medical School concerning vitamin C therapy for cancer patients, "It seems indefensible not to at least try substantial doses of vitamin C in these patients."
IV Vitamin C and Diabetics
I received a letter concerning diabetic patients under IV vitamin C therapy from James A. Jackson, MT(ASCP)CLS, Ph.D., BCLD(AAB) Laboratory Director BioCenter Lab and Senior Research Consultant, Center for the Improvement of Human Functioning. www.brightspot.org www.biocenterlab.org
"Our clinic has been on the forefront of High Dose I.V. Vitamin C for 20 years (Dr. Riordan and The Center staff). A note of caution... any diabetic taking high dose I.V. Vitamin C should be aware that the I.V. vitamin C (ascorbic acid) will be recognized by the electrochemical strips as glucose and give a grossly false positive result...with the ABBOTT instrument "E4..Too high to read with + ketones!" The higher the dose, the higher the reading. The serum hexokinase glucose method is not affected! A diabetic should wait 8 hours after the I.V. before doing a fingerstick. It affects all meters using the electrochemical strip. This finding has been recently published in the JOMM, Dec. 2006 issue. Dr Hunninghake and I are presenting these finding at the Orthomolecular meeting in Toronto, CA in April.
Vitamin C plays an important role in our daily fight against cancer. Due to its importance to the development of immune system cells, it is crucial as a first line of defense against mutated cells from ever multiplying into overt cancer. If cancer does get a foot-hold, high-dose vitamin C still plays at least three important roles.
Immune System Enhancement
The first is as a raw material for the immune system. Even after the most successful surgery, radiation- or chemo-therapy, some cancer cells are bound to remain. It is our immune system that will hunt down these cells and destroy them. Vitamin C is required for our immune systems to generate and mobilize the specialized cells that fight cancer and infections, too. The more stress your immune system is under, the more vitamin C is used, if it is available. If it isn't available, the disease will not be stopped.
Inhibition of Tumor Growth
Secondly, there is a cement, or ground substance, that holds our cells together properly to form the integrity of our tissues. Dr. Ewan Cameron theorized that cancer cells excrete a substance, hyaluronidase, that breaks down the collagen and fibers that make up the structure of this ground substance creating the space needed for tumor growth. Vitamin C is required for the proper development of collagen and this fibrous material. This is why vitamin C is so important to all tissue related problems, including wound healing, spinal disc injuries, gum problems and especially cardiovascular disease. Specifically in cancer, proper tissue integrity will help encase a tumor and make it much harder for it to grow.
J.P. Casciari, N.H. Riordan, T.L. Schmidt, XL Meng, J.A. Jackson and H.D. Riordan have demonstrated in the laboratory that vitamin C in combination with other natural substances can actually be cytotoxic to cancer cells. What this means is that these safe, non-toxic natural substances can kill cancer cells in a way similar to chemotherapy. These tests were done with concentrations of vitamin C that can be duplicated in vivo. One of the authors and researchers of this paper describing this function of vitamin C is Dr. Hugh Riordan. He is the director of The Center for the Improvement of Human Functioning International and one of the signatures of this project. This is the organization we will be working with on our cancer project.