Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, are initiating a trial to test the effects of high dose vitamin C in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The study will be the first to test the effects of the vitamin when administered intravenously to NHL patients.
A team led by Daniel Monti, MD, who is the director of the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson, plans to enroll twenty patients for whom standard non-Hodgkin lymphoma therapy has been unsuccessful. Trial participants will receive varying doses of intravenous vitamin C three times per week while being monitored for disease progression.
“This is a very unique study for a set of patients who have really run out of options,” Dr Monti stated. “Vitamin C administered intravenously has shown great promise in the laboratory and there has been some anecdotal data in cancer patients, but no one has really ever run a detailed study on humans. Vitamin C doesn’t cost much and is very low in toxicity, making it a particularly desirable agent for further study.”
In vitro research at the NIH recently determined that the conversion of vitamin C to hydrogen peroxide that occurs when high amounts are administered intravenously destroys lymphoma cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. “Previous human studies have been flawed because the vitamin C was given orally versus intravenously,” Dr Monti observed. “The problem with that is the oral route tightly limits the amount of vitamin C that can get into the bloodstream. When vitamin C is given intravenously you can get up to 70 times more of the vitamin into the blood versus the same dose given orally. It is these high blood levels that are required to get the mechanism of action, vitamin C converting to hydrogen peroxide around the cancer cells, to occur. Although other cancers could be a contender for this intervention, the preliminary data on non-Hodgkin lymphoma cells is why we decided to start with this disease.”
“As leaders in the field of integrative medicine, Jefferson is always seeking new and innovative therapies for our patients,” Dr Monti remarked. “We want to look in every corner for solutions. This study is a unique collaboration of several clinical and research specialists. If this study yields positive data we will do further studies to expand the availability of this intriguing therapy.”
The lymphatic system consists of organs such as the lymph nodes, the thymus gland, the spleen, and bone marrow, which participate in the production and storage of infection-fighting white blood cells (lymphocytes), as well as in the network of vessels that carry these white blood cells around the body. Lymphomas are cancers of the white blood cells (lymphocytes) within the lymphatic system.
Nutritional supplements with demonstrated activity against lymphoma cells include:
Vitamins A, C, D, and E
Vitamins A and D3. Natural and synthetic vitamin A (also known as retinoids) promote normal cell differentiation and have been used to treat T-cell lymphomas (Kempf W et al 2003; Mahrle G et al 1987; Zhang C et al 2003). Vitamin D3 blocks the growth of lymphoma cells (Mathiasen IS et al 1993).
Vitamins C and E. In experimental studies, vitamin C has improved the effectiveness of chemotherapy in inducing lymphoma cell death (Chen Q et al 2005; Nagy B et al 2003; Prasad SB et al 1992). Vitamin E supplements boost the function of immune cells capable of killing lymphoma cells (Ashfaq MK et al 2000; Dalen H et al 2003b; Dasgupta J et al 1993). Alpha-tocopheryl succinate, a semisynthetic analogue of vitamin E, is a potential adjuvant in cancer treatment (Dalen H et al 2003a).
Until now, those seeking to capture vitamin C's optimal health benefits have had no choice but to consume it several times throughout the day.
Fortunately, a flavonoid antioxidant known as dihydroquercetin functions as a vitamin C "supercharger". Studies demonstrate that dihydroquercetin acts to inhibit the oxidation of vitamin C, thereby helping to maintain its concentration and to recycle vitamin C throughout the body. This synergistic relationship between dihydroquercetin and vitamin C greatly enhances the efficacy of both molecules in the body's organs and tissues.