Cancer researchers from the University of Iowa in the United States have finally clarified how extremely high doses of vitamin C given as infusions are able to kill cancer cells. It turns out that the low levels of the enzyme, catalase, in cancer cells make them vulnerable to vitamin C’s ability to generate free radicals. That way, vitamin C works like a type of chemotherapy, while, at the same time, stimulating normal activity in healthy cells. We are dealing with a treatment that is virtually devoid of side effects.
Mega-doses of vitamin C given as infusions have been used for more than 30 years with positive results. Nonetheless, oncologists in the public healthcare system worldwide, with the exception of Germany and Switzerland, have rejected this type of therapy. In Denmark, it is only administered by a few private practitioners as part of a so-called redox treatment that also includes supplementation with other antioxidants combined with dietary adjustments. Still, the new findings with vitamin C may contribute to a greater understanding and accept of vitamin C as a useful therapy form.
Comparison of high-dose vitamin C together with chemotherapy and radiation
With most therapies, vitamin C is administered orally. However, when it is infused directly into the bloodstream – thereby bypassing the intestine, liver, and excretion pathways – scientists use levels that exceed normal intake levels by 100-500 times. These extremely high quantities are determining for vitamin C’s ability to attack and take out cancer cells.
Redox expert Garry Buettner has conducted in-vitro (test tube) studies and mouse studies to demonstrate how these extremely high levels of vitamin C are able to kill off cancer cells specifically, without harming normal healthy cells.
Cancer researchers from the University of Iowa have been conducting research that compares high-dose vitamin C infusions with standard chemotherapy or radiation in patients with pancreatic cancer and lung cancer. Early phase 1 studies show that treatment with mega-doses of vitamin C are safe, well tolerated, and are most likely able to improve the condition of the patients. What they need to show now is if vitamin C can also improve survival.
Vitamin C generates hydrogen peroxide that kills cancer cells
In newer research that is published in Redox Biology, Buettner and his team of researchers show that vitamin C kills cancer cells. The study demonstrates that vitamin C breaks down easily, causing it to generate hydrogen peroxide that functions as a free radical and damages cells and their DNA. Hydrogen peroxide is also a byproduct of normal cellular energy metabolism, but in contrast to normal healthy cells, cancer cells have greater difficulty with breaking down the harmful hydrogen peroxide. This makes them much more vulnerable, and the large amount of hydrogen peroxide that is generated in the wake of the vitamin C infusions causes the cancer cells to perish.
Normal cells can easily remove hydrogen peroxide
Normal cells can easily break down and remove hydrogen peroxide, thereby limiting free radicals to levels that are unable to harm the cell. For this to happen, normal cells use an enzyme called catalase, which breaks down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. The process is extremely fast, because every single catalase molecule can decompose 10 million hydrogen peroxide molecules per second. Catalase is one of the most rapidly working enzymes and plays an essential role in protecting normal cells against oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Many cancer cells have low catalase activity, which makes them far more vulnerable to damage and destruction when they get exposed to high doses of vitamin C that generates large quantities of hydrogen peroxide.
Therapeutic use of high-dose vitamin C utilizes the biological differences between cancer cells and healthy cells. In contrast, chemotherapy also damages healthy cells and is associated with various side effects.
Catalase activity as a guideline for cancer therapy
Buettner claims the new research may help clarify which cancer forms and which therapies will be suited for high-dose vitamin C therapy in the established healthcare system. It appears that cancer forms and cancer cells associated with low levels of catalase are more vulnerable to high-dose vitamin C therapy, while cancer forms and cancer cells with higher catalase activity are less vulnerable. By measuring catalase activity in the different tumors, it is possible to assess if the extremely high doses of vitamin C are likely to have an effect. There is good reason to believe that intravenous vitamin C therapy will be approved by and incorporated in the established healthcare system.
Redox therapy leads to two things:
Reduction is adding electrons/energy to normal cells that become stronger from this treatment
Claire M Doskey et al. Why high-dose vitamin C kills cancer cells. ScienceDaily. 2017
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