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Vitamin C reported to boost chemotherapy

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Many cancer patients undergo chemotherapy to slow the progress of––and even cure––a malignancy. A new study has found that high doses of Vitamin C given intravenously can boost the effect of chemotherapy. The findings were published on February 5 in the journal Science Translational Medicine by researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City

The study authors note that Vitamin C was used as an early, unconventional therapy for cancer, with an outstanding safety record. In addition, anecdotal accounts––not scientific studies—reported that it benefited cancer patients. However, two clinical trials found that the vitamin was ineffective. As a result, Vitamin C therapy was abandoned by conventional oncologists but continued to be used in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The researchers note that recent studies have recommended that Vitamin C should be examined when given by intravenous injection. They note that intravenous Vitamin C has a significantly different therapeutic effect than oral Vitamin C; this form of administration has been found to destroy cancer cells without harming normal tissues.

The study group comprised 27 patients newly diagnosed with stage 3 or stage 4 ovarian cancer. The investigators found that patients who received a high-dose of intravenous Vitamin C, together with conventional cancer therapy using the chemotherapeutic agents paclitaxel or carboplatin, experienced fewer toxic effects from the chemotherapy medications. In addition to the human study, a rodent study was done. It found that intravenous Vitamin C was able to kill cancer cells without any measurable toxicity or pathological changes in the liver, kidneys or spleen.

The authors concluded that the combination of intravenous Vitamin C with conventional chemotherapeutic agents carboplatin and paclitaxel synergistically inhibited ovarian cancer in mouse models and reduced chemotherapy-associated toxicity in patients with ovarian cancer. (
Synergism refers to the combined effect of two therapies producing a greater result than either one used alone.) They recommended that, on the basis of this study, larger clinical trials should be conducted to verify their results.