Vitamin C is a nutrient which is found in food like oranges, grapefruit, paprika, kale, etc. It is an antioxidant, what means that it protects cells from damages which can be created by free radicals. Also, it is important in the production of collagen as an enzyme.

Vitamin C was proposed as a potential agent against cancer for the first time through research of a Nobel laureate, Dr. Linus Paulinga and Dr. Ewan Cameron. Their first clinical study began in 1971 and it described four times longer survival with patients treated with 10 g vitamin C, intravenous. The mentioned therapy lately attracts interest of scientists and is a frequent complementary therapy in carcinoma treatment. Latest research of the American National Institute for Health reports that vitamin C increases efficacy and reduces adverse effects of chemotherapy, and that it also acts like a substance which prevents the growth of carcinoma cells.

Numerous studies have shown that high doses of vitamin C can influence cancer cells negatively, improve the quality of life and reduce adverse effects of chemotherapy. It has demonstrated to be safe even in doses of up to 1,5g/kg (with patients who don’t have kidney stones or other kidney diseases, hemochromatosis or G6PD deficiency). If vitamin C is taken orally, its absorption will be significantly reduced because our digestive system has a limited absorption capacity of vitamin C. After ingestion of over of 2g of vitamin C, less than 20% will be reabsorbed. The rest will stay in the intestine, accumulate water and cause discomfort and diarrhea. Only intravenous application can enable intake of high doses of vitamin C into the organism.

Mechanisms through which vitamin C acts on cancer cells, which are numerous:

  1. Selective cytotoxicity – it targets and destroys cancer cells, without influencing our healthy cells in a way that its high doses create production of a large amount of hydrogen peroxide within the connective tissue of our body. Hydrogen peroxide is an important oxidative molecule which participates in many immunological processes within our body. In healthy cells hydrogen peroxide is absorbed quickly and soon is neutralised with the help of our own antioxidants. However, cancer cells have a lower level of antioxidants and hydrogen peroxide is accumulated within them, and not decomposed. As the level of hydrogen peroxide increases within them, eventually it leads to cellular death.
  2. Tumour growth and metastasis inhibition
    Most tumours need activity of many enzymes in order to grow and metastasize. Vitamin C blocks the activity of these enzymes and encourages the creation of collagen, what can play an important role in “stabilisation” of the tumour cell and prevention of local growth.
  3. Chemosensitization
    Vitamin C has been tested under laboratory conditions, in combination with many chemotherapeutics in order to evaluate their combined impact on cancer cells. Most studies have demonstrated a greater effect of chemotherapeutics if they were combined with vitamin C. A positive (synergistic) effect was demonstrated when combined with conventional treatments in patients with pancreatic,
    ovarian and breast cancer.

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