Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: An Environmental Scan

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3.14.2. High-Dose Vitamin C Therapy

The use of vitamin C therapy is an area of interest to researchers. As far back as the early 1950’s, vitamin C was hypothesized to prevent the spread or metastases of cancer and later Scottish investigators sought to demonstrate how vitamin C added to the survival of patients with advanced cancer. However, by the early 1980’s, two separate clinical trials failed to demonstrate any therapeutic effects of vitamin C therapy and there was significant criticism of more recent trials performed at the Mayo Clinic, which specifically used oral vitamin C and failed to show any significant effects (National Cancer Institute 2009).

In February 2010, researchers in the United States reported the successful use of vitamin C therapy to suppress both the growth and spread of tumors surrounding prostate cancer in rats (HARVEY B. Pollard et al. 2010). Also, animal studies at the National Institute of Health and University of Kansas have demonstrated that tumor size and spread were reduced in mice who received injections of vitamin C among  ovarian, pancreatic and giloblastoma tumors (National Cancer Institute 2009). At issue is the lack of pre-clinical and clinical research examining the effects of this treatment while also simultaneously examining dose responses, methods of the delivery of vitamin C, specific types of vitamin C (ascorbic acid and dehydroascorbic acid) and which particular tumors are possibly susceptible to treatment. Furthermore, controlling for the effects the patient may be receiving from conventional therapy or any other CAM therapies in use while undergoing vitamin C therapy is necessary to improve the rigor of studies (Assouline and Miller 2006).

The premise of high-dose vitamin C is based on increasing the level of antioxidants (vitamins C, A and E along with others) and effectively reducing the amount of free radicals in the body. Free radicals accumulate because of exposure to toxicity, for example toxins in the environment such as cigarette smoking. An oxidation effect occurs, whereby free radicals (also known as reactive oxygen species) increase and cause damage to  particular molecules which in turn compromises otherwise healthy tissue and cells.  There is recent scientific evidence which suggests that vitamin C reduces oxidative stress within the body and may be cytotoxic to cancer cells while sparing otherwise healthy cells in the process. Furthermore, additional evidence concerning the use of intravenous vitamin C for terminal cancer patients may improve symptoms and extend life (Padayatty et al. 2006). Importantly, a recent resurgence in the area of vitamin C therapy holds a biologically plausible explanation for why this approach could prove effective (SATOSHI Ohno et al. 2009) (Assouline and Miller 2006).