A new research suggests that high-dose vitamin C can boost the cancer-killing effect of chemotherapy in the lab and mice.
Given by injection, it could potentially be a safe, effective and low-cost treatment for ovarian and other cancers, scientists at the University of Kansas say.
Reporting in Science Translational Medicine, they call for large-scale government clinical trials.
Pharmaceutical companies are unlikely to run trials, as vitamins cannot be patented.
Vitamin C has long been used as an alternative therapy for cancer.
High-dose vitamin C can boost the cancer-killing effect of chemotherapy in the lab and mice
In the 1970s, chemist Linus Pauling reported that vitamin C given intravenously was effective in treating cancer.
However, clinical trials of vitamin C given by mouth failed to replicate the effect, and research was abandoned.
It is now known that the human body quickly excretes vitamin C when it is taken by mouth.
However, scientists say that when given by injection vitamin C is absorbed into the body, and can kill cancer cells without harming normal ones.
The researchers injected vitamin C into human ovarian cancer cells in the lab, into mice, and into patients with advanced ovarian cancer.
They found ovarian cancer cells were sensitive to vitamin C treatment, but normal cells were unharmed.
The treatment worked in tandem with standard chemotherapy drugs to slow tumor growth in mouse studies. Meanwhile, a small group of patients reported fewer side-effects when given vitamin C alongside chemotherapy.
Co-researcher Dr. Jeanne Drisko said there was growing interest in the use of vitamin C by oncologists.
One potential hurdle is that pharmaceutical companies are unlikely to fund trials of intravenous vitamin C because there is no ability to patent natural products.
Scientists have found that vitamin C can kill multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in the laboratory.
The surprise discovery may point to a new way of tackling this increasingly hard-to-treat infection, the US study authors from Yeshiva University say in Nature Communications.
An estimated 650,000 people worldwide have multidrug-resistant TB.
Studies are now needed to see if a treatment that works using the same action as vitamin C would be useful as a TB drug in humans.
In the laboratory studies, vitamin C appeared to be acting as a “reducing agent” – something that triggers the production of reactive oxygen species called free radicals. These free radicals killed off the TB, even drug resistant forms that are untreatable with conventional antibiotics such as isoniazid.
Scientists have found that vitamin C can kill multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in the laboratory
Lead investigator Dr. William Jacobs, professor of microbiology and immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, said: “We have only been able to demonstrate this in a test tube, and we don’t know if it will work in humans and in animals.
“This would be a great study to consider because we have strains of tuberculosis that we don’t have drugs for, and I know that in the laboratory we can kill those strains with vitamin C.
“It also helps that we know vitamin C is inexpensive, widely available and very safe to use. At the very least, this work shows us a new mechanism that we can exploit to attack TB.”
It might be that vitamin C could be used
alongside TB drugs. Alternatively, scientists could create new TB drugs that work by generating a big burst of free radicals.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, has many important functions in the body, including protecting cells and keeping them healthy.
Good natural sources of the vitamin include oranges, blackcurrants and broccoli and most people get all they need from their diet.
What is drug-resistant TB?
- TB is caused by infection with the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis
- Increasingly, doctors are discovering that the drugs they normally use to treat the infection no longer work because TB has developed resistance
- Drug resistance arises due to improper use of antibiotics – for example, when patients do not finish the full course of their medicine
The end of summer doesn’t only mark the end of sunshine, sunbathing and warm temperatures and thus the return of poor weather, but also a necessary change in everyone’s wardrobe. Gone are the days of shirt, top and skirt. Instead we should get ready to dress in coats and waterproof boots again and keep in mind not to forget an umbrella. Apart from dressing according to the bad weather there are some other important things one should keep in mind to prevent falling ill.
Balanced and healthy nutrition
- Especially during the cold months of the year eating health conscious is important. The reasons are diverse: Firstly, eating fresh and healthy food can prevent people from becoming depressed and sad. Fats, fast food and ready-to-eat-meals on the other hand can amplify negative feelings. Secondly, vitamins are essential for strengthening the body’s immune system, which in autumn and winter is under constant attack from various viruses, and for supporting the nervous system. A very pleasant side-effect is that Vitamin C also protects and softens the skin. This directly leads to the next point.
Catering to the skin
- Since wind, cold, rain and snow are threatening the skin during the cold season it is vital to protect it and give it some extra treatment. There are several products like BB cream available which do not only protect and nourish the skin but also cover impurities and reddened areas.
Getting some fresh air
- Although it might be tempting to stay at home when it’s cold and wet outside, it is advisable to go out for a walk for at least 15 minutes per day. That way, the body gets used to the rougher climate and the immune system is strengthened. One should just make sure that the clothes are warm enough and one’s limbs are protected since most of the body heat is lost over the head, the arms and the feet. A cap, gloves and warm shoes are therefore mandatory to stay healthy.
Keep yourself warm
- Keeping oneself warm doesn’t only have to do with one’s clothes. It is equally important to have the right temperature in one’s flat. However, one should pay attention that the air doesn’t become too warm and dry. Otherwise the risk of getting a cold once one goes outside rises. Taking a warm bath every now and then also helps to give body and mind time to relax.