A Discussion: High-Dose Vitamin C
for Cancer Patients
There are many benefits to vitamin C in general, but use as a cancer therapy remains controversial. What has been intriguing are small clinical trials that suggest a response, but without understanding as to why cancers should respond to vitamin C. Currently, there are a large number of preclinical trials investigating how high dose vitamin C may potentially benefit cancer patients. What these preclinical studies offer is the potential to discover the rationale and potential biomarkers that are likely to respond to vitamin C therapy.
As a company, Effect Doctors are not cancer specialists and as such, are unable to advise patients on whether they should be undertaking Vitamin C treatment for specific cancers. If, based upon your own research or the advice of your oncologist or medical team you wish to undertake Vitamin C infusions, we are able to guarantee a safe, insured and experienced service. We use sterile equipment and drugs from reputable European pharmaceutical companies with full product liability insurance. We will also ensure it is safe for you to have the IV treatment and may request a discussion with the oncology team or Doctor that referred you to us.
The Use of IV Vitamin C in Cancer
The use of high-dose IV vitamin C is a controversial topic. 60 years ago, William McCormick noticed that cancer patients exhibited extremely low levels of vitamin C and their symptoms resembled scurvy, which lead to him hypothesizing that a high dose of vitamin C could assist in protecting cancer patients from further spread. In 1972, Ewan Cameron, a Scottish surgeon hypothesised that high dose IV Vitamin C could suppress cancer spread by inhibiting hyaluronidase, which makes the extracellular matrix weaker and therefore allows cancer cells to metastasize. He started treating terminal cancer patients with clinical trials using IV vitamin C. The testing showed that some patients benefited from vitamin C. He subsequently partnered with Linus Pauling to undertake further research. Overall, the results of this further research showed that vitamin C improved the quality of life and increased mean survival time four fold. The studies were not large and have their own issues which scientists must scrutinise when considering their applicability.
Over the past decade, there have been an increased amount of clinical trials regarding the safety and efficacy of Vitamin C as a monotherapy or in combinational therapy. Many of these studies show a much better quality of life for cancer patients by minimizing pain and protecting normal tissues from toxicity caused by chemotherapy. Vitamin C showed synergistic changes and effects when administered in combination with radiation and standard chemotherapies. These were also not conducted in a large scale manner, or in a “double blind randomised controlled manner”so the medical community to date is forced to remain neutral regarding vitamin C therapy in cancer patients until such higher level studies have been performed.
Why give it intravenously?
When given orally, vitamin C concentration in human plasma is controlled by multiple mechanisms acting together which are intestinal absorption, tissue accumulation, renal reabsorption and excretion, and potentially even the rate of utilization. When ascorbate is administered through an IV or intraperitoneally, the tight controls are bypassed, and large pharmacologic millimolar plasma concentrations of vitamin C can easily be achieved.
What dose should we use?
Many clients referred to us desire doses of 25-75g up to three times a per week though we cannot advise you on what dose you should be using or how often, please discuss this with your own medical team or decide based upon your own research.
What are the risks of high dose IV Vitamin C?
• 400,000 people in the world are deficient in G6PD. This is an X linked condition so men are much more likely to have it than women. High dose intravenous vitamin C has also been known to cause haemolysis in G6PD deficiency carriers, thus G6PD deficiency testing should be routinely worried in males before infusions of doses larger than 25g. Those of ancestral origin from Africa, Middle East and South Asia have a higher risk of this deficiency.
• Vitamin C stones can form in the kidneys and ureters after high dose infusions of vitamin C. We advise all patients who undertaken high dose vitamin C infusions to drink large amounts of water (0.75 litres in the hour before the infusion and 0.75 litres in the hour after). Please note that for patients with renal disease these infusions may not be suitable. A medical consultation should be undertaken before infusions are started to ensure they are safe for you.
• High dose IV Vitamin C may chelate (remove) calcium from our bones. We advise patients to take oral calcium supplementation over the weeks or months in which they undertake Vitamin C infusions.
• Having an IV drip has small risks such as allergic reaction, fluid overload, extravasation of the fluid (ie the IV not being properly inserted into the vein), accidental insertion into an artery, infection, bruising. We advise using an experienced and reputable company.