When I started looking through the dozens (if not hundreds) of alternative and adjuvant cancer therapies, High Dose Intravenous Vitamin C is one that caught my attention early on. Advocated as a potential cure by Linus Pauling, a very respectable scientist in his day, it has been subject to a great deal controversy ever since.
Cancer cells have a high affinity for vitamin C and readily take it up. This is because Vitamin C is structurally very similar to glucose. (in fact commercially, Vitamin C is made from glucose) Usually vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, but in high doses it acts as an oxidant, reacting with metal ions to create hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is then responsible for oxidative damage to the cancer cell resulting in apoptosis. It has been argued that Vitamin C in high doses is selectively cytotoxic to cancer cells and may thus be used as an effective chemotherapy agent. (I am sure that this does not sit well with the various pharmaceutical firms)
I went through the Vitamin C chemistry with a fine tooth-comb, and I could not fault it. (who said that my biochem degree would never come in handy?) As there are virtually no significant side effects I decided to take 90g vitamin C (which is 1.5g per kilogram of body weight). Needless to say, my very traditional oncologist disapproved strongly and had the hospital pharmacy provide me with studies on how and why Vitamin C and Chemo is a bad combination. (Can’t help but smell a bit if pharmaceutical industry propaganda there).
The evidence against Vitamin C
I reviewed several of the studies that I received from my oncologist, and after reading them, that is when decided that Vitamin C therapy is the right decision for me. The first study from the 1970’s indicated that Vitamin C has mutagenic properties. What they failed to mention is that in that study, copper was given together with Vit C. Basically its like giving dioxins with orange juice and making a claim that orange juice is carcinogenic. The study was rubbish.
The next study, done in guinea pigs, allegedly showed high doses of Vit C helping cancer cells to grow. First problem with the study is that oral instead of intravenous Vitamin C was used. Its simply not possible to reach the needed concentrations using oral administration to have the same effect. Secondly there is a large Vitamin C clinical trial by the Mayo Clinic which showed that Oral Vitamin C had no impact on cancer. This means that Vitamin C did not decrease the overall survival time, making this study irrelevant.
The Mayo clinic Vitamin C trials were used to discredit Linus Pauling’s work. The problem with these trials is that they all used 10g of oral vitamin C, where as Pauling used both oral and IV administration. For me, this makes the Mayo trials irrelevant and they do not apply to IV C.
The cornerstone of all objections to Vit C with chemo is a study done by Sloan Kettering which showed that Vitamin C can interfere with many chemotherapy agents. The study was done in vitro and in mice. Firstly the favourite argument used by oncologists is “Just because it works in vitro (in a test tube) does not mean it will work in vivo (inside the body)”. Well I’ll throw that one back at you. That is my first argument. The second argument is why choose mice for a Vitamin C experiment? Surely the researchers must have known that mice produce their own Vitamin C, equivalent to 10g per day in humans. Chemo works just fine in mice even with their Vitamin C btw. Next problem I have with the study is that the director of research at SK just happens to also be on the board of a large pharmaceutical company. Its like letting the tobacco companies run their own research on the dangers of smoking. Besides there are dozens of studies that show that Vitamin C has synergetic effects with chemotherapy. Even oxidants like Cisplatin and Oxaliplatin, which I was most concerned about.
Sadly, my oncologist pretty much refused to consider all the other vitamin C research papers and refused to offer Vitamin C as part of my chemo treatment. (I guess Vitamin C was not recommended at any of the industry sponsored oncology conferences he attends so it must not work. Don’t get me wrong, I respect my oncologist and he is good at dosing chemo, but there is a bigger world of possibilities out there if one can open one’s mind to them). Even the pharmacy girl that delivered the vitamin C research told me that there is a lot of evidence that Vitamin C can be of benefit to cancer patients. She had to tow the company line however and added that it is best to wait till after chemo. Unfortunately with palliative chemo, I don’t have that option.
Can Vitamin C Cure Cancer?
It may in some people, but I very much doubt that it will be the cure that I seek. I believe that just like with other chemo agents, Vitamin C has limited use and that eventually the cancer cells will evolve a repair mechanisms to deal with the oxidative damage it causes. (Just like they do with other oxidants like cisplatin and oxaliplatin). Vitamin C can reduce many side effects of chemotherapy, can increase the quality of life in patients and helps to boost the immune system. Even if it does not lead to a cure, for that alone it is worth it.
My aim is to throw everything possible at my cancer and IV vitamin C is a part of that strategy. I like the fact that cancer cells take up Vitamin C as readily as glucose, and Vitamin C they can’t use for energy. (anything to make life harder for my little mutants is a good thing in my book) I also started on a Ketogenic diet to reduce my blood glucose levels to a minimum. The higher the Vit C/Glucose ratio, the more Vitamin C the cancers are likely to soak up.
I just started on IV Vitamin C, slowly building the dose from 15g to 90g. This is important as there are reports of deaths due to rapid cancer necrosis resulting in kidney failure following High Dose Vitamin C Therapy. I plan on 3 weekly infusions, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I will be taking 10g of liposomic Vitamin C on the off days. I will be adding lipoic acid IV to the treatment and Sodium Bicarbonate (as my bicarb blood levels have been low since being diagnosed with cancer). I also plan to take supplements of Vitamin K2 and K3 which make Vitamin C more potent. I will report on my progress.