Researchers claim that a high dose injection of vitamin C was able to cut brain, ovarian and pancreatic tumors in half among laboratory mice involved in a recent study.
Conversely, Cancer Research UK argues that other studies have shown that these large doses may actually interfere with cancer treatment.
The team at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland suggested that the vitamin, also called ascorbate, could kill cancer cells in the laboratory.
The successful trials with laboratory mice is causing some researchers to believe that the treatment could be used in humans at similar levels ““ up to four grams per kilo of bodyweight.
The mice involved were bred to have malfunctioning immune systems. They were injected with human cancer cells, and the vitamin was injected into their abdominal cavity.
Tumor growth and weight fell by between 41% and 53%, and while in untreated mice, the disease spread rapidly to involve other body parts, no such spread was seen in the vitamin C-treated animals.
The researchers wrote: “These pre-clinical data provide the first firm basis for advancing pharmacologic ascorbate in cancer treatment in humans.”
The treatment works because vitamin C reacts with this chemical make-up, producing enough hydrogen peroxide to kill the cell, while leaving healthy cells unscathed.
“This is encouraging work but it’s at a very early stage because it involves cells grown in the lab and mice,” said Dr Alison Ross, from Cancer Research UK.
“There is currently no evidence from clinical trials in humans that injecting or consuming vitamin C is an effective way to treat cancer.”
“Some research even suggests that high doses of antioxidants can make cancer treatment less effective, reducing the benefits of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.”
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