Research by scientists at the University of Iowa could significantly change the way cancer patients are treated. And increase their chances of being cured.
Vitamin C has a not as glittering history as cancer therapy. But researchers at the University of Iowa believe the answer lies in the way this therapy is used.
In most therapies, vitamin C is taken orally. Scientists at the University of Iowa have shown that taking Vitamin C intravenously increases the concentration of Vitamin C by 100-500 times compared to oral therapy. It is this high concentration in the blood that is crucial for the power of Vitamin C to invade and kill cancer cells.
Earlier work by expert Gary Butner found that at such extremely high levels in the blood.
Vitamin C selectively kills cancer cells but not normal cells in test tubes and mice.
Now, doctors from hospitals and clinics in Iowa have participated in clinical trials of pancreatic and lung cancer that combine high doses of intravenous vitamin C with standard chemotherapy or radiation. The early phase of the first trial indicated that this treatment was safe, well-tolerated and improved patient outcomes. Larger trials are now in place to determine if treatment increases survival rates, Science Daily reports.
In a new study published in the journal Redox Biology. Butner and his colleagues investigated how high doses of vitamin C kill cancer cells.
The study found that vitamin C breaks down easily to produce hydrogen peroxide. A so-called reactive oxygen species that can damage tissue and DNA. The study also shows that cancer cells are less able to remove hydrogen peroxide than normal cells.
“In this paper, we have shown that cancer cells are less effective in removing hydrogen peroxide than normal cells. Causing cancer cells to be more prone to damage and decay than a large amount of hydrogen peroxide,” said Butner, professor of radiology and oncology.
“This explains why the very large amounts of vitamin C used in our clinical trials did not affect normal tissue, but only tumor tissue,” he added.
Normal cells have several ways to remove hydrogen peroxide. Keeping it low so as not to cause damage. And in the removal of hydrogen peroxide is the key enzyme catalase. Scientists have found that cells with a lower amount of catalase activity are more susceptible to cell damage. And death when exposed to large amounts of vitamin C.
Butner believes this is crucial information that could help determine which cancers and therapies can be improved by high-dose vitamin C treatment.
The next objective is to develop a method for measuring catalase levels in tumors.