Vitamin C therapy for cancer was first promoted by Linus Pauling, the Nobel prize winner, 30 years ago. Now it turns out that there is renewed interest in this area. News about a few remarkable cancer cures has started to drum up new treatment ideas in which Vitamin C is used as a targeted agent against the terminal disease.
An article in the New Zealand Herald describes three cancer patients who were given large intravenous doses over a period of several months. It turns out that their tumors shrunk and their lives were extended according to the doctors who treated them.
One, a 49-year-old man diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer in 1996, was still alive and cancer-free nine years later, having declined chemotherapy and radiotherapy in favor of regular infusions of vitamin C. Another, a 66-year-old woman with an aggressive lymphoma who had a "dismal prognosis" in 1995, is still alive 10 years later after an intravenous Vitamin C program. The third referenced in the article was a 51-year-old woman with kidney cancer that spread to her lungs. She was diagnosed in 1995 and after the Vitamin C dosing had a normal chest X-ray just two years later. All of these findings were confirmed by pathologists.
Although they do not prove the vitamin cured the cancer they do increase the "clinical plausibility" of the idea, the researchers say. Dr Pauling's claims sparked the continuing boom in sales of vitamin C, but attempts to confirm his findings failed and high-dose vitamin C became an off-the-wall "alternative" therapy.
The latest study, published in the Canadian Association's Medical Journal, could trigger renewed interest in Dr Pauling's claims because studies show that vitamin C is toxic to some cancer cells but not to normal cells. The problem has been delivering a high enough level of C because oral doses of the vitamin are rapidly excreted from the body.
However, injections achieve blood levels 25 times higher and persist for far longer; at these very high doses, the blood level of vitamin C is high enough to selectively kill cancer cells.
Several clinical trials of vitamin C therapy are about to start, including one at McGill University, Montreal.