Life Extension Update
Another look at high dose vitamin C cancer therapy
The March 28, 2006 issue of the Canadian Medical Journal, reported three cases of individuals with terminal cancer who experienced unexpectedly long survival times following the administration of high dose intravenous vitamin C.
Mark Levine and colleagues from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland examined the details of three advanced cancer cases in accordance with National Cancer Institute Best Case Series guidelines. Patient 1 was a 51 year old woman with metastasized kidney cancer who declined conventional cancer therapy and received 65 grams intravenous vitamin C twice per week for ten months, along with several other nutritional supplements such as N-acetylcysteine and thymus protein extract. Patient 2 was a 49 year old man with advanced bladder cancer who also refused chemotherapy and radiation, and who received 30 grams vitamin C twice weekly for three months, followed by 30 grams every one to two months for four years. Patient 3, a woman with stage III diffuse B-cell lymphoma, underwent 5 weeks of radiation but declined chemotherapy and opted for 15 grams vitamin C two times per week for two months, followed by once per week for seven months, then once every two to three months for one year. Patients 2 and 3 also combined a number of nutritional supplements with their treatment.
Although patient 1 died of smoking-related lung cancer several years after her initial treatment while the kidney cancer was in complete remission, patients 2 and 3 remain in good health with no symptoms of recurrence.
In their introduction to the case studies, the authors suggest that the failure of high dose vitamin C to effectively treat cancer in trials conducted at the Mayo Clinic could have been due to the oral route of administration which can only elevate plasma levels of the vitamin to a maximum of 220 micromoles per liter, while intravenous administration can raise levels as high as 14,000 micromoles per liter. They note that concentrations of 1,000 to 5,000 micromoles per liter have been shown to be selectively toxic to tumor cells in culture studies. Additionally, studies conducted several decades ago by Linus Pauling and Ewan Cameron which used high doses of both oral and intravenous vitamin C reported success against terminal cancer.
Concerning the current case history review, the authors commented that “most previous case reports lacked independent pathologic confirmation of the tumour and did not follow the NCI Best Case Series guidelines, which makes their interpretation difficult.” They conclude, “In light of recent clinical pharmacokinetic findings and in vitro evidence of anti-tumour mechanisms, these case reports indicate that the role of high-dose intravenous vitamin C therapy in cancer treatment should be reassessed.”
Although there are hundreds of published studies showing that the ingestion of certain nutrients may reduce cancer risk, relatively few investigate the effects of dietary supplement intake by those already stricken with cancer. This paucity of data has enabled mainstream oncologists to speculate that certain dietary supplements might protect cancer cells from apoptosis (programmed cell death). The assertion made by some oncologists is that there may be a risk when cancer patients take certain dietary supplements.
Abram Hoffer , MD. PhD, contends that the concept of antioxidants decreasing the efficacy of chemotherapy is conveyed more and more by orthodox oncologists. It is, in fact, speculated that the number of oncologists opposed to patients taking antioxidants while receiving chemotherapy may be as high as 75%.
Dr. Hoffer adds that he has treated more than 1100 cancer patients with high doses of vitamin C (most of whom were concurrently receiving chemotherapy) (Hoffer et al. 1993a; Hoffer et al. 1993b; Hoffer 1994; Hoffer 1996). Upon examining health histories, Hoffer found that the mean difference in prolongation of life was heavily in favor of the use of vitamins. In the first Hoffer/Pauling series published, patients on the Hoffer program lived 10-20 times longer than patients not receiving vitamin C.
Critics argue that antioxidant supplements should not be used while treating cancer patients with conventional therapy because they would protect cancer cells against free radicals that are produced by most anticancer agents (Labriola et al. 1999).
One way of approaching this dilemma is to observe the distinct differences of low-dose compared to high-dose antioxidants on cancer cells (Prasad et al. 1998; 1999b). Antioxidants such as vitamin A (and its drug analogs), vitamin E (tocopheryl succinate), vitamin C, and certain carotenoids, when used in high doses individually, have been shown to induce cell differentiation, growth inhibition, and apoptosis in rodent and human cancer cells in vitro and in vivo (Kline et al. 1995; Cole et al. 1997; Prasad et al. 1998; 1999b).
The media has launched an assault against healthy lifestyles and some popular dietary supplements. The public has been thrust into a state of confusion by these frenzied media reports that contradict long-established scientific principles.
I am impressed by how quickly Life Extension members picked up on the errors contained in the studies used to ridicule those who practice healthy living.
The outrage over these biased reports was not limited to Life Extension members. The front page of the Wall Street Journal carried a scathing report about how the Federal Government issued misleading press releases that gave the media the green light to discredit alternative approaches to disease treatment. According to the Wall Street Journal:
“Design problems in all the trials means the results don’t really answer the questions they were supposed to address. And a flawed communications effort led to widespread misinterpretation of the results by the news media and the public.”
What you are about to read might at first seem unbelievable. Please remember, however, that the studies we describe were conducted by mainstream doctors who know virtually nothing about natural ways to prevent and treat disease.
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