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Progress in Research on Vitamin C and Cancer Cells

We are always glad to learn of medical research of promise in the treatment of cancers caused by asbestos exposure, mainly mesothelioma and lung cancer. Advances in the treatment of these serious cancers will ultimately help our clients, some of whom suffer serious medical problems from having been exposed to asbestos earlier in life.

In December, University of Iowa medical researchers published findings from their study of vitamin C as a cancer treatment. Two important things were learned in this study:

  • Delivery of high doses of vitamin C, also called ascorbate, intraveneously instead of orally may be more potent because blood levels of the vitamin are 100 to 500 times higher when the substance does not pass through the digestive system.
  • Cancer cells are more vulnerable to vitamin C therapy than are healthy cells. The vitamin easily breaks down into hydrogen peroxide, which can damage or kill cells and DNA. Because cancer cells have lower levels of an enzyme called catalase, it is harder for the cancer cells to remove the hydrogen peroxide than it is for healthy cells to do so. Therefore, the cancer cells are more likely to become damaged or to die from exposure to hydrogen peroxide generated by vitamin C.

The study is well summarized for nonscientists in Science Daily.

To learn whether this treatment could lengthen the lives of cancer patients, related clinical trials using intravenous vitamin C combined with chemotherapy or radiation are underway at the University of Iowa in patients with lung and pancreatic cancers.

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