By: Lori Dickson, BHSc, ND
Published studies have helped us to understand that High Dose IV vitamin C preferentially kills cancer cells through two mechanisms:
- In low doses vitamin C works as an antioxidant BUT in high doses, vitamin C changes roles and becomes a pro-oxidant, causing hydrogen peroxide to be formed. Hydrogen peroxide is a free-radical that damages DNA and other cell structures. In healthy cells, this hydrogen peroxide is immediately neutralized/destroyed by an enzyme called catalase. Cancer cells differ from healthy cells in that they are deficient in catalase. Thus, in cancer cells, hydrogen peroxide builds up and kills the cells. Healthy cells remain unharmed.
- The other way vitamin C works is to increase collagen production, the glue that holds the body together. To make collagen we require an amino acid called proline. The biochemical process called hydroxylation requires the presence of vitamin C, which renders proline available for collagen production. Research has shown that vitamin C dramatically increases the collagen within tumor cells, an act that tends to immobilize the cells, “gluing” them into place. Without mobility metastasis is blocked.
In order for vitamin C to act as a cytotoxic (toxic to cells) agent, very high doses (50-100 grams which is 50,000-100,000 mg) must be given. However, there is a limit to the amount of vitamin C that can be absorbed when taken orally (by mouth). Generally, people will experience diarrhea at doses anywhere from 2000 mg to 10,000 mg (2-10 grams) depending on their tolerance and tissue saturation.
The frequency of administration of the IV vitamin C needs to be individualized to each patient and will depend on factors such as the staging of the cancer, and any treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation that are currently taking place.
A common recommendation for treatment is 2-3 times per week, and each treatment lasts 1.5-2 hours depending on the dose required. When administered properly, intravenous vitamin C is very safe. Patients need to be screened with a simple blood test prior to beginning treatment.
Intravenous vitamin C as a ‘natural chemotherapy’ not only makes scientific sense, but is steadily becoming more recognized as a valid treatment option as the body of evidence showing that it is both safe and effective is growing.