Vitamin C vs Cancer
Can Vitamin C Stop Cancer?
It is our conclusion that this simple and safe treatment, the ingestion of large amounts of vitamin C is of definite value in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer. Although the evidence is as yet not so strong, we believe that vitamin C has even greater value for the treatment of cancer patients with the disease in earlier stages and also for the prevention of cancer. Linus Pauling, Ph.D. Executive Health, January 1980.
Since 1960 some ten billion dollars has been spent on cancer research in an effort to get some control of the disease. If the trend toward the disease continues one in four Americans will eventually have cancer. This is approximately 36 million people. However cancer is not an American disease. The most feared of all diseases is a worldwide problem. Figures indicate that annual global deaths from cancer may be as high as four million!!
The question of whether or not vitamin C could have a positive impact on the prevention and control of disease started in the 1930’s with the availability of C and experiments showing the anticancer effect of vitamin C were reported as long as forty years ago. Dr. Pauling has been interested in the effects of vitamin C as it relates to cancer for over ten years, and having observed these effects in hundreds of cancer patients, he says:- Vitamin C is not a miraculous cure for cancer but goes a long way toward the desirable therapeutic goal of prolonging the life of the cancer patient and also improving the condition of the patient to such an extent that his life during his remaining months or years is comfortable, contented, useful, productive and satisfying.
Within the medical research community (and with the realms of common sense) it is now widely recognized that there could be more success in the prevention, control and treatment of cancer, if resistance to the disease were enhanced. There is mounting evidence on both theoretical and practical levels to indicate that vitamin C is the substance to do this job. Not only does vitamin C reinforce the body’s defences against disease in general but these vitamin C-dependent defences can be shown to be particularly effective against cancer. There is further evidence to show that people with cancer actually need more of this vitamin.
As a cancer therapy vitamin C has several distinct advantages. It is almost completely safe and harmless even when given in higher doses for prolonged periods of time and it is “simple and cheap, rather than complicated and expensive”.
In 1966 Dr. Ewan Cameron, Chief surgeon of the Vale of Level Hospital, Loch Lomonside, Scotland published his thesis that the most important determinant in the incidence, progress and outcome of cancer is the body’s own protective mechanisms, and that considerable control over cancer might be achieved if some way could be found to enhance these natural defences Dr. Pauling contacted Dr. Cameron espousing the use of vitamin C for this purpose. He gives this account of Dr. Cameron’s response “his immediate reaction to the idea that Vitamin C could have value against cancer was sheer incredulity. He has said that he was a conservative Scottish surgeon, and that the people around him were conservative Scottish medical people. It seemed quite ludicrous to them to suggest that this simple, cheap, harmless powder which could be bought in any drugstore could possibly have any value against such a bafflingly complex and resistant disease such as cancer. The result of Dr. Cameron’s encounter with Dr. Pauling is now history. Dr. Cameron prevailed and Dr. Cameron acceded, deciding to make use of vitamin C in a trial using 100 patients with advanced cancer. “If the vitamin C did the patient no good at least it would do him no harm.”
These patients were treated with 10 grams of C per day, both orally and intravenously. The results of their progress were matched against the records of 1000 other cancer patients. These 1000 controls were matched to the 100 vitamin C patients by age, sex and primary tumour type. All 1100 subjects were diagnosed as having terminal cancer. At the end of a year 22 of the 100 patients survived while only 4 of the 1000 controls lived more than a year. In an interview with Bestways (1978) Dr. Pauling stated that the patients were still living after seven years, while all of the controls had died.
In orthodox oncology (study of cancer) five year survival after diagnosis is generally considered to be a cure. After five yeas there is only a one-in-ten chance of relapse and after 10 years a relapse is virtually nil. Furthermore spontaneous remission occurs only in one case out of 100,000. “There is little doubt that treatment with vitamin C in daily amounts of 10 grams or more has significant value for patients with cancer.”
Dr. Cameron was particularly gratified by the positive side effects experienced by his patients. “Instead of feeling miserable they became lively, regained appetite and were often able to go home and return to work.” He also discovered that vitamin C worked so effectively as a pain killer and he was able to stop administering drugs. Furthermore the patients experienced no withdrawal symptoms. Over the years Drs. Pauling and Cameron have been able to construct a pretty tight case for vitamin C against cancer, based on the characteristics of cancer and the natural relationship of vitamin C with the body’s defence system.
Cancer itself if not a disease caused by one agent like rabies, and there is very little evidence that most kinds of human cancer are the result of an infectious process. Cancer specialists have defined five basic cancers and within these divisions there are at least 200 different types. All these cancers have some mutual characteristics, one of which is the basic condition of cancer itself. This is a condition in which previously normal cells from any tissue in the body suffer a change that makes them grow and reproduce in an uncontrolled fashion.
All multi-celled organisms are vulnerable to this disease. Even the fruit fly suffers both brain tumours and blood cancers. It is currently thought by cancer biologists that many, if not most, human cancers are caused by genes that have been altered (mutated) by carcinogenic materials. Carcinogens are substances and forces that cause cancer. These chemicals come from the environment or they can be produced in the body itself as a part of normal body functions. Gene mutation causes damage to DNA which in turn causes inappropriate cell formation and reproduction. It is thought that there may be one particular gene that is susceptible to cancer. Right now much research is being done in an effort to isolate that one vulnerable gene from among the 100,000 genes in our chromosomal structure.
Although we don’t know how exactly a cancer begins, we do know that cancer cells cause damage both by distorting normal structures and by interfering with normal metabolic processes. The mutated cells eventually become a tumour. Occasionally a cancerous tumour will be encapsulated in a sheath of fibrous tissue (vitamin C helps this to happen). In these somewhat rare cases, the entire cancer can be removed surgically. However this is not usual, commonly the tumorous mass enters the bloodstream and begins reproducing at other sites in the body. This is called metastasis. Metastasis is the real cancer menace. Malignant cells can also be conveyed through the body in the lymph fluid, lodging in the lymph nodes and thereby attacking an important part of the immune system.
If the cancer cannot be removed by surgery, then the object of orthodox cancer therapy is to kill the tumour with radiation and/or chemotherapy, hopefully without killing the patient . The Harvard Medical School Newsletter reports. “Where progress has been made in cancer therapy is in finding more effective and more selective means of attacking cancers without severe damage to the patient. More and more we read of the necessity of using these seemingly radical therapies in conjunction with natural therapies…..cancer is a life threatening disease, a radical, life threatening disease.” Both Drs Cameron and Pauling endorse a combination of vitamin C with conventional therapy. The clinicians have a clear duty to remove the main tumour cell mass, if at all possible, by surgery, radiotherapy, cytotosic chemotherapy or combinations of all three, remembering that supplemental ascorbate can protect the host against all three forms of assault, thereby enhancing their therapeutic effectiveness.
Most of us are familiar with the premortal symptoms of cancer. The terminal pattern is called cachexia. It begins with an inexplicable loss of appetite, followed by loss of weight. The weight loss can be slow or it can happen with almost frightening speed. The muscles become weak, sleep is elusive and pain is constant. The malnourished body deteriorates and wastes within it reach toxic levels. Eventually the person goes into a deep terminal coma.
In their review, Cameron, Pauling, and Leibovitz point out that cachexia and the other characteristics of advanced cancer, anaemia, extreme lassitude, haemorrhages, ulceration, susceptibility to infections and abnormally low tissue, plasma,and white blood cell ascorbate levels, with terminal adrenal failure,are virtually identical with the premortal features of advanced human scurvy. One might go so far as to describe scurvy as cancer happening everywhere at once. Of course we all know that the basic function of vitamin C is the prevention of scurvy.
Manu studies demonstrate that cancer patients have abnormally low ascorbate levels. At first it was assumed that his was a reflection of the poor nutritional status of advanced cancer patients. It is now generally agreed that these low levels indicate an increased utilization and requirement for the vitamin. Both animal and human studies show that available ascorbate is concentrated in the cancerous tissues, depleting the normal tissues. This same increased need for vitamin C with the subsequent normal tissue depletion is found wherever or whenever rapid cell reproduction is taking place in the body, inflammation, wounds, heart attack, and thermal burns. The ascorbate is removed from the circulating reserves and concentrated at the site where the repairs are taking place.
Drs. Cameron and Pauling have linked vitamin C to many of the body’s natural defence mechanisms in establishing its role as an anti-cancer material. Immunotherapy, the use of substances that stimulate the body’s defences to fight disease is a relatively new idea to orthodox cancer therapy. However the importance of vitamin C to proper immune system function has been frequently and thoroughly discussed in the pages of many popular magazines on health. Suffice it to say that the immune system protects us against both foreign and mutant invaders, including cancer, and that vitamin C is essential for its mechanisms to work correctly. The immune system can also protect the cancer victim against the toxaemia of secondary internal infections and vitamin C plays a role in this action.
After the immune system, matrix and collagen form the next line of defence against cancer. Many of us are aware of the connection between vitamin C and collagen, but what is matrix?
Matrix is the intercellular environment the stuff that surrounds the cells. It is just now beginning to be appreciated scientifically that for every action of the cell there is an appropriate reaction in the intercellular environment. The basic substance of the intercellular matrix has been described as ‘a complex aqueous gel containing electrolytes, metabolites, dissolved gases, trace elements, vitamins, hormones, enzymes, carbohydrates, fats and proteins.”
In healthy matrix there is slow formation of new molecules, with a simultaneous decay of the old ones. In cancer, the enzymes liberated from the malignant cells break down the matrix immediately surrounding the cancer mass. 9This is the exact change that happens on a generalized scale in scurvy) Dr. Pauling suggests that an increased amount of Vitamin C would act to produce increased amounts of substances that would inhibit these enzymes from attacking the matrix.
Since matrix forms the ground for collagen, if it is dissolved by the cancer enzymes, new collagen formation is inhibited. However, it is collagen that truly makes the matrix an ‘intercellular cement’. Collagen actually reinforces matrix with a microscopic network of 3-dimensional collagen fibres called fibrils. Ascorbic acid is essential for collagen formation. Back in 1971, Dr. Pauling suggested than an increased intake of vitamin C should result in the synthesis of more collagen fibrils, strengthening normal tissues against cancerous invasion.
In the beginning of this newsletter, we spoke of the occasional malignant tumour that is encapsulated in a sheath of fibres. This sheath prevents prevents metastasis, and it is collagen fibres that ‘imprison the invasive tumour cells’. An abundance of vitamin C is necessary for this response to take place.
Knowing the features of Vitamin C to prevent scurvy, reinforce the immune system and strengthen the intercellular matrix and collagen, all function to protect the body against cancer, it comes as no surprise to find that ascorbate as an antioxidant substance likewise has anti-cancer capacity. Wattenberg for one has stopped the formation of tumours by a number of known carcinogens by the use of a combination of anti-oxidants.
Can vitamin C combat malignancy directly? In other words, can it keep cells from becoming cancerous or curb the division of cancer cells. In the Vitamin C connection, Drs. Cherskin, Ringsdorf and Sisley site studies where this has been the case. They report that a University of Kansas Medical Centre group headed by Chan H. Park showed that vitamin C can suppress the growth of leukemic cells from human beings, and another group demonstrated that vitamin C is toxic to malignant melanoma cells from humans. In another study of pre-malignant patients, these subjects who showed a propensity to cancer development because of the occurrence of many polyps in the colon and rectum, were given three grams of C daily. There was improvement ranging from a 35 percent lessening of polyp density to complete disappearance of the growths.
Vitamin C has further proven itself useful in protecting the body against the formation of nitrosamines and nitrosamides, against hydrocarbons, against bladder cancer, against ultraviolet light, and against anaemia.
Several years ago there was quite a lot of publicity about the danger of nitrates and nitrites as potential carcinogens. You may recall that these substances. which are called nitrosating agents, are added to meat for colour, flavour, and control of bacterial contamination, they are used for food processing and for fermentation in pickling and brewing and in the ‘smoking’ processes. They are also a by product of human metabolic reactions. In your stomach the nitrosating agents react with amines or amides (from proteins) to form nitrosamines and nitrosamides. These highly carcinogenic substances have been shown to form a variety of experimental tumours of the alimentary tract, liver, lung and bladder. They are also thought to influence the incidence of stomach cancer. Evidence that these carcinogens can be passed to the unborn through the placenta was found in one study where respiratory tract tumours were produced at a rate of up to 97% in the offspring of mice given the carcinogen during the last four days of pregnancy.
In 1972 it was established that vitamin C could counteract the transformation of the nitrates and nitrites into carcinogens. Both vitamin C could counteract the transformation of nitrates and nitrites into carcinogens. Both Vitamin C and E compete with the amine or amide for the nitrosating agent. If the vitamin reacts with the agent, then no carcinogen is formed. Obviously the presence of vitamin C has a protective influence. Camerson, et al in their 1976 review stated that vitamin C had little or no protective effect against preformed nitrosamines. In other words you probably can’t protect yourself after the fact.
Hydrocarbons are the materials produced when almost anything is burned, including tobacco, gasoline, paper, wood, coal, fat, oil, etc. They are highly carcinogenic, and are suspected to be the cause of 40-80 of all human cancers, excluding those skin cancers caused by ultraviolet light. Antioxidants, including Vitamins, C E selenium and BHT have been shown to prevent the activation of hydrocarbons as carcinogens.
Bladder cancer is developed in some 25,000 Americans each year and over ten thousand of them die of it. Dr. Jorgen Schlegal, a urologist at Tulane University Medical School has been involved in research that shows that substances found in human urine may cause bladder cancer. Later, Dr. Schlegal and some colleagues implanted a proven bladder carcinogen in mice and then added vitamin C to their drinking water. The mice did not develop cancer.
Dr. Schlegal began to recommend 1500 mgs a day to his patents who have bladder cancer and to those who are at a high risk from smoking or drinking large quantities of alcohol, cola or coffee. When the body is saturated with Vitamin C it spills into the urine and protects the bladder. Once this state is maintained no new bladder cancers develop (Schlegal and Pipkin).
It is common knowledge that excessive exposure to ultraviolet light is carcinogenic. Evidence from this comes from regional studies which show that fair-skinned people living in areas of high solar intensity, like Australia, suffer an increased incidence of skin cancer. Animal studies show that the carcinogenic effects of ultraviolet can be suppressed by feeding the animals antioxidants. We also know that women who have below RDA levels of Vitamin C intake show a 10 fold increase in the risk of cervical cancer. A final vitamin C feature is its ability too promote the absorption and utilization of iron, relieving cancer induced anaemia.
Certainly vitamin C offers a cheap and simple means of probable cancer prevention and control.
“The collective evidence suggests that increasing ascorbate intake could produce measurable benefits in both the prevention and the treatment of cancer and pilot clinical studies tend to support this view.”