Vitamin C and Cancer… What's the Truth?

You might have seen the recent headlines announcing that Vitamin C was dangerous for cancer patients.

These articles were based on research done at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and published in the journal, Cancer Research in October 2008. That research indicated that Vitamin C interfered with the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs given to cancer patients.

This finding flies in the face of decades of experience showing that Vitamin C actually helps cancer patients fight the disease. Why the apparently sudden difference in these studies?

Medical Researcher Uncovers the Truth

Medical researcher, Jack Challem, writing in Alternative and Complementary Therapies, in his column, “Medical Journal Watch,” dug deep into this study to find the answers.

What he found was a serious flaw in the methods researchers used to arrive at their conclusions in the most recent study.

The flaw? They used a form of Vitamin C, dehydroascorbic acid, which is not used anywhere in the world as a supplement. This makes the results irrelevant for human health.

Besides never being used as a supplement, this form of Vitamin C is oxidized, which means it acts as a free radical in the body, causing oxidative damage. By contrast, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is a potent anti-oxidant that protects the body from free radical damage.

As if those errors weren’t enough, the researchers also used toxic doses of dehydroascorbic acid in the research. Is it any wonder that the treatment made the cancer worse?

Vitamin C Used for Supporting Cancer Patients

The real facts about Vitamin C and Cancer are these: many alternative and complementary physicians use IV Vitamin C drips to treat their cancer patients. Massive doses of the vitamin are slowly dripped into the blood stream of these patients during the treatments.

Recent journal reviews point out that Vitamin C, when used as part of an overall approach to fighting cancer, increases the effectiveness of the treatment as well as supporting the body in many other ways.

This whole brouhaha serves as a reminder that it pays to look a little deeper whenever you see a headline slamming natural approaches to health. Often the studies that supposedly show problems with natural healing methods are seriously flawed.


Hyperhealth Pro Database, In-Tele-Health, Hansville, WA, 2008.

Link to the PDF File with Jack Challem’s Analysis of this Flawed Study

Linus Pauling Institute View of Vitamin C in Cancer Treatment

Mark L. Heaney, Jeffrey R. Gardner, Nicos Karasavvas, David W. Golde, David A. Scheinberg, Emily A. Smith, and Owen A. O’Connor, Vitamin C antagonizes the cytotoxic effects of antineoplastic drugs. Cancer Res 2008 68: 8031-8038. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-1490

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