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IV Vitamin C: The Long Awaited Cancer Cure

When vitamin C was discovered in the early 1930’s by Hungarian and American researchers it was described as the anti-scurvy vitamin.  Vitamin C is required to make collagen.  Without vitamin C, collagen production stops and our tissues start to breakdown, causing scurvy.  Just a few years after it’s discovery, doctors argued that vitamin C’s ability to strengthen tissues and promote healing would make it the ideal anti-cancer agent.  The theory was that if a person were saturated with vitamin C, their tissues would be impenetrable to invading cancer cells.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that medical researchers actually tested the effects of vitamin C on cancer patients.  In a famous study, doctors gave 100 cancer patients a combination intravenous (IV) and oral vitamin C and compared the outcomes to 1000 other similar cancer patients, who did not receive vitamin C.  The results were stunning.  Patients live longer with the combination of IV and oral vitamin C.  The conclusions were clear; vitamin C increases the life span of patients dealing with advanced cancers.

The medical community’s reaction was swift.  The studies were picked apart for methodological flaws and bias.  The lead researcher was essentially blacklisted from publishing medical research for the next 20 years.  Most impressively, in less than 5 year, preeminent researchers from the Mayo Clinic produced multiple studies that definitively demonstrated that oral vitamin C has no effect on cancer patient survival.  The combination of well designed studies and the Mayo Clinic’s prestige as one of the elite American medical institutions shut the door on research involving  vitamin C.

A handful of physicians continued to offer IV vitamin C to cancer patients, and they continued to publish case reports of the benefits of IV vitamin C.  They reported decreases in  fatigue, reductions in inflammation and pain, decreases in poor prognostic markers, and improvements in blood counts and immune functions.  Over the last 5 years, IV vitamin C has slowly made it’s way back into medical research, based on dozens of case reports that show patients benefit from this therapy.

The biggest revelation about vitamin C has been it’s ability to act as a labile antioxidant.  In normal concentrations, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant.  However, in high concentrations vitamin C can produce free radicals; it turns into an oxidant.  The body has sophisticated mechanisms to prevent this from ever happening under normal conditions.  Regardless of the amount of vitamin C a person consumes, the levels in the blood never rise above a set amount.  This is an example of the body’s innate wisdom.  IV vitamin C can bypass this safety mechanism and allows for the delivery of greater concentrations of vitamin C. into the blood

The initial studies, using 10 grams of IV vitamin C, were able to raise the level of vitamin C above normal levels, but the concentration never approached the levels needed to turn vitamin C into an oxidant.  At these doses in the initial studies, vitamin C acted as a nutrient.  Current research is focused on using massive doses of vitamin C (100-150 grams).  At these levels, vitamin C isn’t acting as a nutrient, but as a cytotoxic agent.  Modern research is focused on using vitamin C to kill cancer cells, in a similar way as chemotherapy.  The preliminary research in this area, vitamin C as chemotherapy, has not been promising; survival times have not improved over standard chemotherapy treatment.

Clinical experience shows that lower doses of IV vitamin C have the ability to improve energy and help prevent some of the most devastating effects of chemotherapy.  IV vitamin C as a nutritional therapy helps maintain blood counts and supports immune function.  The use of IV vitamin C as a nutritional therapy, helping people heal, improves the quality of life for cancer patients.

We are still waiting for solid evidence that IV vitamin C, as a nutritional therapy or as chemotherapy, can improve the quantity of life.   Finally, after 40 years, the medical community is starting to answer this question.  While we wait, a handful of physicians will continue to offer IV vitamin C to cancer patients to improve their quality of life as they struggle with this horrible disease.

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