VITAMIN C Eat to beat cancer
Considering so much detailed research was conducted with this vitamin 70 years ago, it is today one of the most mis-represented, mis-quoted vitamins of all.
Lets clear up a few of the most common myths with a summary right up front:
Vitamin C does not ´cure´ cancer.
The Gerson Therapy (which encourages the consumption of large amounts of juiced and whole organic fruits and vegetables) aims to restore the correct balance of potassium and magnesium over sodium in the cells. It makes no claims about vitamin C. Click this link
to find out more.
Vitamin C megadoses used intravenously do seem to give some survival extension to cancer patients. (Click this link
to find out more)
In research, comparing matched samples of people taking natural orange juice, with others taking synthetic standard vitamin C, the blood of the former showed significant antioxidant power after 4 hours, the latter, nothing.
Of all the Vitamin C and multivitamin supplements on the high street, the majority use synthetically produced ascorbic acid.
Co-factors like bioflavenoids seem to help natural vitamin C increase its effectiveness.
Frankly, unless you are ill or have your intestinal bacteria levels impaired, you should rarely need to supplement with vitamin C. Fruits and vegetables contain so much top are red peppers and berries.
Despite this, about half the population is deficient according to US studies.
2-4 gms seems to be the scientifically calculated daily doseage, although the official RDA is one hundredth of this level.
Smoking, environmental toxins, aspirin, diabetes, HRT, the pill, age and alcohol are all linked to decreased blood levels.
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C, ascorbic acid, is so important to your health that a human will die within a few months without it. Humans, chimpanzees, fruit bats and guinea pigs are the only mammals that cannot synthesise it. If sufficient of the vitamin is not included in the diet, the feet, hands and gums swell, then the rest of the body. In 1589 these symptoms were defined as ´Skurvie´ and by 1593 Sir Richard Hawkins, desperate because he´d lost 10,000 men, noted that oranges and lemons reversed the disease.
A human will die within a few months without Vitamin C
His ´oranges and lemons´ cure, though, fell out of favour (costing many more lives) until revived in the mid 1700´s when a surgeon Dr Lind realised that if men ate two oranges and one lemon a day, within a week they had fully recovered. In 1804 the British Navy ordered lime juice for all its sailors and the nickname "limeys" was born.
By 1911 it was recognised that scurvy was a vitamin deficiency although it was not recognized as vitamin C deficiency until 1928 by the Nobel Prize winner Dr Szent-Gyorgyi.
A human will die within a few months without Vitamin C
Recommended Daily Allowance
The League of the United Nations recommended that everybody should take 30 mgs per day, the threshold level to prevent scurvy. By 1974 The National Research Council amended this slightly to:
However, research shows this is woefully inadequate for sustained good health.
So, How Much Should You Really Take?
Linus Pauling, 2-time Nobel Prize winner, first developed an interest in vitamin C in the 1960´s after meeting Irwin Stone, a biochemist who had been studying the vitamin since the 1930s.
Stone had a view that since humans were one of only four groups of mammals unable to synthesise vitamin C for themselves, this problem had arisen through genetic deficiency and it was up to us to correct it ourselves! Using studies on rats and extrapolating the results Stone concluded that humans needed 1.4 to 4.0gms per day (Hager).
Stone concluded that humans needed 1.4 to 4.0gms per day
Pauling took this work forward with a number of different scientists and doctors. He noted that animals that do make their own vitamin C make it constantly out of dextrose in the liver or kidney. Vitamin C is water-soluble and can wash out of general tissues in just three hours. It is not stored and cells need a constant supply.
Aspirin and the antibiotic tetracycline increase the rate of destruction of vitamin C in the body. Oestrogen, especially from HRT or the pill, increases excretion in the urine. People with diabetes, people who are stressed, smokers and people who drink lots of alcohol all have lower vitamin C levels. Environmental pollutants can cause the breakdown of vitamin C in the body.
But the real problem is the recommended level required. The RDA has been set at the level required simply to avoid scurvy. There is a plethora of evidence that this is way too low to avoid everyday diseases. Worse, when Pauling studied the subject back in 1976 he concluded one third of those people studied were not even getting the RDA of 45mgs!
In 1976 Pauling said that the desired daily level was between 250mgs and 10gms. There are claims that too much can cause liver damage, and even one that it causes cancer. Neither has been substantiated.
What evidence is there on Vitamin C with Cancer?
Ascorbic acid is required for the synthesis of collagen and connective tissue.
Collagen strengthens tendons, cartilage, bones, arteries and veins. However, in 1933 Ewan Cameron, a surgeon at the Vale of Leven Hospital, Scotland, presented a theory about how vitamin C might therefore act to prevent tumour development in a paper ´Hyaluronidase and Cancer´. All malignant tumours probably produce two enzymes, hyaluroldase and collagenase which weaken the connective tissues and the "glue" between cells around the tumour, thus allowing the rogue cells to spread. The theory ran that vitamin C was an inhibitor of these enzymes and a possible treatment to restrict tumours and stop their growth might be vitamin C megadoses of 10gms and above. (For more, click this link
Ascorbic acid strengthens the immune system.
Early studies showed that vitamin C increased the body´s resistance to a cold; in stressful situations like surgery, burns or wounds the levels of vitamin C in the blood fall; and in 1943 Cottingham and Mills show that phagocytosis actually uses vitamin C to ingest and eradicate bacteria. The most crucial study was probably in 1973 by Hume and Weyers. It showed that 250mgs was not enough to support the phagocytes activity and that 1gm was suggested, rising to 6gms at the first sign of a cold. Vitamin C is also known to stimulate the production of interferon which helps protect cells against viral and cancer attack.
Ascorbic acid, consumed orally, is a powerful antioxidant. A number of studies (Ginter 1970, 73, 75; Spittle 1971) have shown that natural vitamin C can counteract saturated fats being converted by oxidation into dangerous peroxides. Meydani et al 1995 and Pike and Chandra 1995 both showed that antioxidant diets based on vitamin C produced less illness overall.
Ascorbic acid is a weak acid, a little stronger than vinegar (acetic acid) and a reducing agent - it donates electrons and hydrogen atoms. It seems to protect cells from oxidative damage, and it interferes with the production and activity of free radicals.
Ascorbic acid can inactivate bacteria and viruses.
The action against free radicals seems to parallel ascorbic acid´s action against bacteria and viruses. Phagocytosis seems to actually use ascorbate to deactivate bacteria.
Ascorbate can inactivate many of the viruses that attack bacteria. Akira Murata showed that ascorbate can inactivate many of the viruses that attack bacteria. Intravenous injections of 20gms of sodium ascorbate inactivated many types of virus within 20 minutes. Murata, Kitagawa and Suromo, 1971, showed that ascorbate needs free oxygen present. Ascorbate reduces the oxygen to a free radical which destroys the nucleic acid of the virus (Pauling 1976).
Ascorbic acid can minimise allergic reactions
It interferes with the production of histamines, released by the immune system in response to an allergen, thus reducing allergic reaction.
Vitamin C and Cancer
Several controversies occur.
1) Does vitamin C prevent cancer?
Neil Riordan at the Riordan Clinic, Arizona has noted that 46 per cent of breast cancer sufferers are vitamin C deficient, some even to the point of scurvy (British Journal of Cancer Vol 84, II).
46 per cent of breast cancer sufferers are Vitamin C deficient
There are a great number of studies which show that cancer sufferers have lowered vitamin C levels in their blood. And studies that show higher levels of blood vitamin C reduce cancer risk for breast, cervix, colon, rectum, mouth, lung, prostate, stomach and oesophagus is very well documented (e.g. Levin: Nat Ac Sciences Vol 93, 8 1996; Block Nutrition Review 50, 7 7992; Frei: AMJ Vol 97, 1994; Uddin Comprehensive Therapy Vol 2.1, 1995 ).
There are also studies that show adequate vitamin C levels reduce stomach cancer risk. This is probably an indirect effect. Beneficial bacteria in the gut reduce the levels of microbes, their by-products (which can be toxic) and toxins from oestrogen to heavy metals to nitrosamines. Vitamin C blocks the formation of nitrosamines from food, and also seems to stimulate the action of some beneficial bacteria.
Recent studies in Japan with workers at the Fukushima Nuclear plant showed that those workers taking intavenous vitamin C (25 gms) had no increase in cancer markers or DNA damage. This replicated findings in Chernobyl where workers took vitamin C with vitamin E and alpha-lipoic acid.
2) Can intravenous vitamin C megadoses cure cancer?
In 1974 Cameron and Campbell took 50 terminal cancer patients and gave them 10 gms intravenously of sodium ascorbate. All had been given less than three months to live. Half survived 361 days on average with five people surviving an average of 610 days.
They requested that the National Cancer Institute conduct proper clinical trials - a double blind study. For some reason or other this was denied. So Pauling and Cameron repeated the experiment with 100 terminal canter patients comparing them with control groups of 1000 people in all. Whilst all the 1000 control group died, 18 of the group receiving vitamin C survived, and five of these appeared to overcome the disease.
Vitamin C megadoses do not seem to work anything like as well if the patient has had chemotherapy
In 1978 Pauling and Cameron repeated this in a second study, this time taking nine control groups each with similar cancers to the test group. As in the previous tests, the patients taking intravenous vitamin C had renewed vigour and energy and their quality of life improved. Whilst all of the control group died, the vitamin C group lived 300 days on average and five patients survived for 16 months.
Vitamin C megadoses do not seem to work anything like as well if the patient has had chemotherapy
There were several caveats. Firstly, while Pauling and Cameron concluded that Intravenous vitamin C significantly extended a cancer patient´s lifespan, the work was ´copied´ by others in three separate studies. In each case the studies did not use Intravenous vitamin C but merely oral. No equivalent gains were noted. Another caveat to all this is that vitamin C megadoses do not seem to work anything like as well if the patient has had chemotherapy. In Cameron´s experiments only four people had had chemotherapy. But in 1978 the Mayo Clinic conducted double blind tests on vitamin C (Cregan et al) using 60 subjects of which 52 had had chemotherapy. They concluded that their results could not endorse the Scottish findings; and observers pointed the finger at chemotherapy which was felt to impede the vitamin C effect.
However, Cameron´s hyaluronidase theory seems to be sound. For example, the speed of breast cancer spread is believed to be about free radical damage and is drastically reduced by vitamin C (Malins: Nat Ac Sciences vol 93, March 1996 ).
One point worth stressing is that vitamin C taken orally is normally used when the doses are small. Megadose vitamin C involves intravenous injection of ascorbate. Paydayatly and Levine conducted research in 2001 showing there was no benefit in high oral doses. There is some evidence (confirmed by the Dove Clinic) that megadose vitamin C should not be used on patients with primary or secondary brain tumours as it causes astrocytosis - i.e. the spreading of the tumour.
Riordan took the view that intravenous vitamin C works as a pro-oxidant in much the same way as some chemotherapy agents and this brings about cancer cell death because large doses build up hydrogen peroxide in cancer cells. If you are taking high levels of vitamin C you should increase magnesium levels to avoid kidney stones.
3) If you are having Chemotherapy or radiotherapy, should you take anti-oxidants like vitamin C?
One study in 2008 seemed to show that an oxidised version of vitamin C could interfere with antineoplastic cancer drugs in laboratory experiments - so the word went out that you definitely should not take antioxidants if you are having chemotherapy. (Ed: It´s conclusions like this that get scientists a bad name.)
But Riordan´s research seems to say clearly that you should take vitamin C with chemotherapy.
In 1999 Gotlieb went further. With Kedar Prasad, Professor of Radiology at the University of Colorado, Denver, they showed that high dose vitamin C, as well as other antioxidants, can protect healthy cells which regulate their uptake levels during treatment. Whereas Prasad is quite clear, cancer cells cannot regulate uptake and this aids their death. Whilst he is actually against high doses of vitamin C because of possible toxicity in the liver, he believes C, E or beta-carotene are highly protective.
UCLA confirmed this theory in 2004, and MD Anderson have also stated that people should take their antioxidants during radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Indeed, MD Anderson have gone further and in clinical trials have shown vitamin C and vitamin K3 enhance the effects of Bladder Cancer drugs. Other US research shows that vitamin E enhances the effects of Tamoxifen. In fact women taking vitamin E need 25 per cent less Tamoxifen.
So, Are you Getting Enough?
As we said earlier, if you are eating lots of fruit and vegetables you should not need to supplement. If you do feel the need to ensure you have adequate levels in your body, make sure it is a quality, natural supplement . You may think it beneficial to include bioflavenoids. The latest developments, however, are in the use of liposomes. Liposomes and like balloons where the wall is fat based and can bind to and cross membranes, taking the inside contents across too. Liposomes are how the body packages food compounds naturally. Liposomal vitamin C has been shown to deliver 10 to 15 times the dose of vitamin C to the target tissues, whilst snthetic vitamin C is almost ineffective.
If you are already thinking of buying natural Vitamin C, or liposomal vitamin C, you might like to look at the Natural Selection Product of Choice. You can do this by clicking here.
Research in the British Journal of Nutrition (2007, 96; 639-643) backs up the need for the vitamin C to be natural and deliverable. Matched samples of adults were given either 150 mgs of vitamin C in fresh orange juice, or the same dose from a synthetic tablet. Blood samples were taken between 3 and 24 hours. Oxidative damage was significantly reduced in people who had taken the natural vitamin with its associated flavones, carotenoids and cyanadin-3 glucoside found in the oranges. The synthetic vitamin was concluded to be almost worthless. Researchers concluded the co-factors exerted an important synergistic effect. And it was also possible that the natural sugars in the fruit also had this effect.
Foods for Vitamin C
|fresh orange juice
|green snap peas
Cooking reduces vitamin C content by half. Vitamin C is also destroyed by poor storage. A potato will lose 70 per cent of its vitamin C five days after being dug up.
Well now you come to mention it, vitamin C has been shown to neutralise the action of alfatoxin B, the toxin of some parasites that can infect us all. This might explain some of the benefit of vitamin C in some terminal cancer cases. After all, the WHO believes at least 15-20 per cent of all cancers are caused by infection.
And finally, vitamin C is highly influential as part of an anti-ageing programme. The National Institute of Ageing showed that people who took vitamin C and E supplements had a 50 per cent lower risk of dying prematurely. This was backed up by a Californian study which showed that a supplement of 75Omgs a day reduced the risk of dying prematurely by 60 per cent.
If you are thinking of buying natural or liposomal Vitamin C, you might like to look at the Natural Selection Product of Choice. You can do this by clicking here.
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Please be clear: At CANCERactive we do not consider the above compound to be a cure for cancer, despite what the research says or experts doing the research may claim. The above, is an article on the compound from published research and expert opinion in the public domain. At CANCERactive we do not believe that any single compound (drug, vitamin, whatever) is a cure for cancer. We believe that people can significantly increase their personal odds of survival by building an Integrated Programme of treatments. Equally, cancer prevention is best practiced through a width of measures.