Can Vitamin C Kill Cancer Cells?

How effective is high-dose vitamin C as a form of cancer treatment? Let’s find out.

Frequently Asked Questions About High-Dose Vitamin C

Here are the top questions and answers about vitamin C for treating cancer:

  1. What is high-dose vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a nutrient found in various foods, including oranges, papayas, grapefruits, broccoli, spinach, and peppers, or in dietary supplements. It has antioxidant properties that help prevent cancer-causing cellular damage. Moreover, vitamin C is an essential cofactor for the enzymes required for collagen synthesis. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body.

L-ascorbic acid and ascorbate and the other terms for vitamin C.

  1. How do doctors administer high-dose vitamin C?

A medical professional can administer vitamin C through intravenous (IV) infusion. Alternatively, a patient can take it by mouth. However, it is important to understand that opting for IV infusion allows the vitamin C to reach higher levels in the blood.

  1. Are there laboratory or animal studies done using high-dose vitamin C?

In laboratory studies, researchers use tumor cells to test and determine whether a substance has anticancer effects. In animal studies, researchers conduct tests to find out if a procedure, treatment, or drug is effective and safe for use. In both laboratory and animal studies, scientists perform experiments on animals before testing anything on people.

The National Cancer Institute revealed that after testing the effects of high-dose vitamin C, the results of laboratory studies suggest that introducing the body to high levels of vitamin C may kill cancer cells.

  1. Have scientists tested high-dose vitamin C in people?

There are several studies about high-dose vitamin C, whether given alone or in combination with other drugs, and how the nutrient may treat patients with cancer.

Results of studies about intravenous vitamin C alone, according to the National Cancer Institute:

  • Two studies revealed that cancer patients who received intravenous vitamin C had fewer side effects and better quality of life compared to patients who did not.
  • In a study comprising both healthy volunteers and cancer patients, vitamin C appeared to be safe at doses up to 1.5 g/kg, particularly in patients who have healthy kidneys and do not have G6PD deficiency. Furthermore, studies have shown that vitamin C levels in the blood are much higher when doctors administer it by IV.

Studies of IV vitamin C in combination with other drugs showed mixed results:

  • In a study comprising 14 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, the researchers used IV vitamin C along with targeted therapy (erlotinib) and chemotherapy. Five out of the 14 patients were unable to complete the treatment because the tumors continued to grow during treatment. However, the nine patients who completed treatment had stable disease and experienced very few side effects.
  • In another small study of nine patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, the participants underwent chemotherapy once a week for three weeks along with intravenous vitamin C twice a week for four weeks during each treatment cycle. Cancer did not progress for an average of six months in these patients. Furthermore, there were no serious side effects reported with the combined treatment.
  • In a study inclusive of 27 patients with advanced ovarian cancer, researchers compared chemotherapy alone to chemotherapy and IV vitamin C combined. The patients were given IV vitamin C during chemotherapy and for six months after chemotherapy ended. The patients who received IV vitamin C had less side effects from the chemotherapy.
  • Doctors gave standard therapy and intravenous vitamin C to patients with glioblastoma multiforme or non-small cell lung cancer in two pilot trials. Overall, patients had better survival and experienced fewer side effects in comparison to the control groups.

Currently, more studies about combining IV high-dose vitamin C with arsenic trioxide and other drugs are ongoing.

  1. Have researchers reported any side effects or risks from high-dose vitamin C?

IV vitamin C presented very few side effects during clinical trials. However, the treatment may be harmful to patients with certain risk factors.

  • In patients with a personal history of kidney disease, researchers reported kidney failure as a side effect of high-dose vitamin C. Therefore, patients who are prone to developing kidney stones are not candidates for IV high-dose vitamin C.
  • Patients with G6PD deficiency are not candidates for IV high-dose vitamin C because it may lead to hemolysis (a condition characterized by damaged red blood cells).
  • Since vitamin C may play a role in making it easier for the body to absorb and use iron, scientists do not recommend high-dose vitamin C to patients with hemochromatosis (a condition in which the body stores more iron than it needs).
  1. Are there reports of drug interactions occurring as a result of adding vitamin C to treatment with anticancer drugs?

According to the National Cancer Institute, “a drug interaction is a change in the way a drug acts in the body when taken with certain other drugs. When high-dose vitamin C is combined with certain anticancer drugs, the anticancer drugs may not work as well. So far, these effects have been seen only in some laboratory and animal studies.”

  1. Has the Food and Drug Administration approved high-dose vitamin C as a cancer treatment in the United States?

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of high-dose vitamin C as a treatment for cancer. 

The Verdict

Is high-dose vitamin C the next miracle drug for cancer? Some signs seem to point toward that direction. However, more research is necessary to determine who else — aside from people with kidney diseases, G6PD deficiencies, and hemochromatosis — are ineligible for treatment. And, of course, it is crucial to consult your doctor before taking any new dietary supplement, especially since vitamin C is available over the counter. Remember, if this treatment is not right for you, trying it could be detrimental to your health.

You Have More Options Than You Know

By partnering with a facility in Mexico, New Hope Unlimited gives patients access to treatments developed in Germany, Italy, Peru and many other countries — but are not available in the United States currently. To learn more about high-dose vitamin C and the other alternative cancer treatments that may help you beat your disease, call us now at 480-757-6573 to schedule a consultation with our cancer care team.

Click here for our blog Disclaimer.