The Truth about Intravenous vitamin C (IVC) and cancer

The Truth about Intravenous vitamin C (IVC) and cancer

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, essential to the immune system, yet plasma levels are usually depleted in people with cancer, sometimes severely. While oral ingestion barely raises these levels, Intravenous infusion of 0.5 - 1.0 gm per Kg of body weight provokes significant changes and research is becoming ever more supportive of IVC in the treatment of cancer.

This overview on High Dose vitamin C therapy using intravenous vitamin C (IVC) presents the latest research (particularly from Iowa and Kansas Medical Schools) and proves the skeptics wrong about IVC, with Intravenous rather than oral vitamin C gaining credibility as an important complementary and integrative cancer therapy.

Vitamin C and High dose or intravenous Vitamin C (IVC)

Vitamin C is one of the most important antioxidants and is found in fruits and vegetables. While it is known to accumulate in the brain, some white blood cells and the adrenals, plasma levels stay relatively low.  Levine et al in 1996 showed that even after oral ingestion of 2.5 gm of vitamin C, plasma levels stayed below 100 microml per litre.

Vitamin C's role in the immune system is widely known, but it also plays a crucial role in cholesterol metabolism, collagen production, neurotransmitter health, L-carnitine synthesis (energy levels) and cytochome-P450.

Go to: Vitamin C - are you getting enough?

In the 1950s, the role of vitamin C in collagen production and thus cell wall stabilisation, prompted the idea that vitamin C might restrict the spread of cancer. But in 2005 the Riordan Clinic in Arizona showed that of 22 people with 'terminal cancer', 10 had zero detectable vitamin C in the plasma, while another 4 were below healthy levels. Another study of cancer patients in Hospice care by Maryland et al (2005) showed one third with depleted plasma levels. Not surprisingly, these patients were found to have greater levels of inflammation (as measured by C-Reactive protein) and shorter survival times.

But if water soluble vitamin C in its oral form does not show marked improvements in plasma ascorbate levels, what does?

High dose, Intravenous vitamin C  (IVC) - history and research

In 1976 Linus Pauling (two times Nobel Prize winner) working with Ewan Cameron put 100 terminal cancer patients through trials using Intravenous vitamin C. Their findings of efficacy were subject to scorn. In 2017, the University of Iowa researchers, when conducting Clinical trials with glioma patients and non-small cell cancer patients, announced that IVC definitely did both increase survival times and reduce the side-effects of orthodox medicine.

1. The research of Linus Pauling, Cameron and Campbell

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. 

Linus Pauling first became interested in the potential of vitamin C after meeting a biochemist Irwin Stone who had been studying the vitamin since the 1930s. Pauling went on to be awarded two Nobel Prizes for his work on Vitamin C. Vitamin C in the natural state is actually L-Ascorbic acid, and most supplements of vitamin C are deficient. This is why you will hear about IVC being ascorbate, the full spectrum vitamin C. In America IVC (Intravenous Vitamin C) may be called IAA (Intravenous Ascorbic Acid).

Go To: The practical use of IVC or high dose vitamin C

Next, 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.

High dose Vitamin C increases survival times in brain cancer and 

                                                                                      non-small cell lung cancer

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.

2. Fake research attempted to counter the Intravenous vitamin C truth 

When 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. However, in each case the studies did not use Intravenous vitamin C but merely oral. Not surprisingly given vitamin C’s poor ability to cross the gut wall, no equivalent gains were noted.  Vitamin C needs liposomes to help it cross into the bloodstream, so always take it with a little fat or olive oil. Without the oil, only 7% can cross into the plasma. With the oil, the figure is nearer 90%.

Unsurprisingly, Paydayatly and Levine conducted research in 2001 showing there was absolutely no equivalent benefit in high oral doses. 

Next, there was the suggestion that High dose vitamin C  do not seem to work anything like as well if the patient has already 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. This finding has subsequently been disproven by The University of Iowa.

However, Cameron’s ’hyaluronidase’ theory seems to be sound. The theory was that malignant cells produce an hyaluronidase enzyme, which helps the cancer grow by free-radical spread and that vitamin C seemed to inhibit this. This seems to have been confirmed - 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 ).

Intravenous vitamin C uses the ascorbate version which acts as a pro-drug to deliver H2O2 to the tissues and eliminate free radicals and kill cancer cells.

Riordan at his Arizona Clinic 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 poor 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.

Memorial Sloan Kettering even recommend the use of 20mg supplements of melatonin during chemotherapy; as does Professor Russell Reiter of UCLA. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, one that when you are in full health is produced by your pineal gland and by your own gut bacteria.

Finally, there are a number of clinical trials on Curcumin, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, showing it actually IMPROVES the efficacy of drugs. 

4. The latest research on High Dose vitamin C calls for a re-think 

Then in 2014 researchers (Assistant Professor Qi Chen and Dr. Jeanne Drisco) at the University of Kansas Medical Centre showed in several studies (in vitro, in mouse models, and in human ovarian cancer patients) that IVC kills cancer cells without harming healthy cells. They went further and showed how High Dose vitamin C enhanced the effects of two drugs - carboplatin and paclitaxel. 27 patients with Grade 3 and Grade 4 Ovarian were treated. Patients were monitored for 5 years and experienced fewer side-effects from the toxicity of the drugs.

In 2017, the University of Iowa announced the results of the first stage of their three phase clinical trials announcing that IVC increased the survival times for people with brain cancer and non-small cell lung cancer; and that no side-effects were noted from High Dose vitamin C, which was effective on its own or in enhancing both chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Go To: University of Iowa research on IVC

5. Intravenous Vitamin C Dosage.

Levels are given at 0.1 to 1.0 gm per kilo of body weight. This may seem a great deviation but obviously the state of the patient plays a big role. For an 80 kg male, the dose is most usually 50-80 gm. It is not, however, a quick fix. At the Riordan Clinic in Arizona, the use of IVC sees plasma levels several times higher than after oral supplementation. After infusion of vitamin C, levels in cancer patients still remain lower in cancer patients than healthy volunteers. However, over time, levels even in depleted patients return to normal.

Dr Thomas Lodi of An Oasis of Healing, also in Arizona believes that the issue is to 'keep the pressure up' on cancer cells. He is looking at using a large dose of 50 gm of IVC on the first day, and then having a portable pouch of Vitamin C with a line into the patient for 3 or more days later. The patient would just wear it on their hip. This system is used with drugs such as 5FU). In this way, the Vitamin C level could be constantly maintained in the bloodstream and in the cancer. What is clear is that having IVC once every 10 days or so, is not particularly effective.

Readers can find out more in an interview with Dr Julian Kenyon of the Dove Clinic on the practical use of IVC - what happens, how, how much does it cost? And so on.

Go To: The practical use of IVC or high dose vitamin C

6. Intravenous Vitamin C has great patient interest

IVC is a very popular cancer patient subject - we are asked about it frequently. Our view is that there is clearly serious potential in the treatment, it seems to improve survival with little or no side-effects; but, until we get the Phase III results of the current Clinical Trial, there is really no evidence to believe alone it is a ’cure’ for cancer.

The research and expert opinion does suggest you can use it at the same time as cancer drugs and it is helpful in reducing liver toxicity.

But the issue with IVC is that you cannot have it on the NHS in hospitals; you have to pay, and to many it seems expensive when no one at the moment can definitively answer the question, "How much extra survival time do you get?"

Hopefully the Clinical Trial research will soon tell us.


The Truth about Intravenous Vitamin C and cancer
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