April 10, 2006

Vitamin C Shots May Benefit Cancer Patients

NEW YORK -- High-dose intravenously administered vitamin C apparently led to longer-than-expected survival in three patients with advanced cancer, doctors at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland and colleagues in Canada report. Two of the three patients are still alive without evidence of disease.

In the three cases described in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, vitamin C was given intravenously at doses ranging from 15 to 65 grams to produce plasma concentrations that cannot be achieved by taking vitamin C by mouth.

The first patient was a 51 year-old-women with advanced renal cancer who underwent surgical removal of the kidney but had evidence that the cancer had spread to the lungs. She received IV vitamin C 65 grams twice a week for 10 months, in combination with other alternative therapies. Repeat chest x-ray revealed one small spot, assumed to be a scar. Five years later, new lung masses were detected. The patient again received intravenous vitamin C, with unsuccessful results.

The second patient, a 49-year-old man, had bladder cancer with multiple satellite tumors. He received IV vitamin C 30 grams twice a week for three months, followed by 30 grams vitamin C once every 1-2 months for four years. Nine years after diagnosis, the patient is in good health, without signs of disease.

Case three was a 66-year-old woman with lymphoma invading spinal muscle and bone. She received IV vitamin C 15 g twice weekly for 7 months, then 15 g every 2-3 months for about one year. Ten years after diagnosis, the patient is in good health.

Dr. Mark Levine of the National Institutes of Health and colleagues note that all three patients survived for longer than expected for the types and stages of cancers that they had. At the doses delivered, vitamin C "is a pro-drug for hydrogen peroxide formation," they explain. Histology results also showed evidence of tumor hemorrhage, attributable to vitamin C.

While early clinical trials of intravenous and oral vitamin C showed benefit in cancer patients, randomized controlled trials of oral vitamin C failed to show benefit. Based on their three patients, "the role of high-dose intravenous vitamin C therapy in cancer treatment should be reassessed," the authors conclude.

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journal, March 28, 2006.