Cancer is an absolutely terrible thing to go through, and even though there are silver linings (I always say it was my invitation to live again), I would still never wish it on anyone. My blog serves the purpose of helping people understand that with knowledge they can see that they have options when it comes to treatment. Also, regardless of treatment, there is always room for improving one’s lifestyle when it comes to health.
Today I would like to seek the answer to the question, “Can Vitamin C kill cancer stem cells?”
The problem with cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation is that they can be so toxic and have such horrible side effects. There are alternative treatments that can be effective. High dose Vitamin C IVs can be one of them.
In the realm of cancer stem cells, Stem cells are the mother cancer cells and these are responsible for creating massive amounts of daughter "cancer cells.” Conventional treatments can help kill off cancer cells, but not always the cancer stem cells.
Is high dose Vitamin C a viable option?
Vitamin C and Cancer Stem Cells
The problem with most drugs is that they can only treat symptoms. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, can go after the root cause.
The problem with our normal cells is that, what could be due to many factors, certain stem cells begin to go rogue, wreaking havoc in the body. This can eventually lead to cancer.
Harvard says this about stem cells and cancer:
“Stem cells are key to our normal development and health from conception through adulthood. Embryonic stem cells produce the progenitors and patterns that determine how our organs, muscles, sinews, and skeletons are formed and how they are arranged in the body. After their work is done, they leave behind a guardian population of stem cells that repair each tissue as the need arises. When the stem cell divides into two, it creates one progenitor and renews itself. The progenitor continues its path of differentiation into mature, specialized cells, while the new stem cell waits for the next round when it is called upon to replenish tissue. Stem cells survive much longer than ordinary cells, increasing the chance that they might accumulate genetic mutations. It might take only a few mutations for one cell to lose control over its self-renewal and growth and become the source of cancer.”
Vitamin C can impact cancer stem cell growth. There was a study comparing cancer stem cells and their reaction to different pharmaceutical drugs and then Vitamin C. They found that all of these had impacts on the growth of these cancer cells, but it was Vitamin C that had an impact on cancer stem cells- aka the root of the problem.
The first big turn in medical research of cancer stem cells: Leukemia
In 1997, Researchers at the University Of Toronto figured out (or rather, confirmed from prior speculation) that Leukemia stemmed from specific stem cells- no pun intended. 😉 This discovery was wonderful news!
What is even more wonderful was the realization that Vitamin C has been shown to help blood cancers like leukemia. The basic premise is that blood cells are made in the bone marrow and the early cells are called stem cells, these are more primitive and can turn into other kinds of cells. In Leukemia, the stem cells are not working properly and they keep multiplying. Science has found that Vitamin C encourages these faulty stem cells to kill themselves. In studies in mice, it has been extremely successful. With humans, they say it has to be incredibly high doses of intravenous Vitamin C to have an effect.
Tumors, Stem Cells, & Vitamin C
The work done on tumor treatment has been spectacular over the past 20 years. Conventionally (and often still to this day), treatments for tumors involve going after the fast-growing cells- this is important, right? Of course, but the problem is that they leave behind these slow growers- the cancer stem cells, which means the patient may find relief for a while but once those cancer stem cells take over again, cancer comes right back. In the past twenty years, more research has come up about this. In order to eradicate malignant tumors, we must go after the cancer stem cells.
According to research done on lab rats, one way to do this in tumors? High dose Vitamin C.
Regular Cancer and Stem Cells
Did you know that Vitamin C and cancer first started going through studies dating back to 1976? There was a study that was built upon the original years later, but basically, they found that cancer patients who were treated with ascorbate (aka vitamin C) had not only a better quality of life, but their survival rate went up four-fold! What did Vitamin C inhibit? You guessed it, cancer stem cells!
What is controversial in past studies is that some studies were halted because some patients decided on Chemotherapy midway through, or studies with Vitamin C taken orally vs. intravenously were vastly different. One thing for sure though was that when Vitamin C was given through an IV, it was twenty five times more effective than oral Vitamin C.
In the medical world, it has been proven that Vitamin C can be highly beneficial when treating cancer stem cells with Vitamin C. What is tough is for them to determine whether Vitamin C can be its own monotherapy- meaning it is the only cancer treatment the patient is relying on. Many are comfortable saying that Vitamin C in combination with chemotherapy is a route to consider. But on its own, not everyone is fully convinced. However, studies have been proven that Vitamin C can help reduce toxicity of chemotherapy, pain felt, and of course- the patient’s quality of life.
There still needs to be more studies done on Cancer patients and Vitamin C.
To answer the question- Can Vitamin C alone kill cancer stem cells? I am going to have to say no until there are further studies. Right now many of the studies are done on lab rats and while it is amazing what they have uncovered, it still is not a human clinical trial and that is what we need more of. We need more large case studies with control groups. I am hopeful that Vitamin C is an effective treatment for cancer, however, more research would be the extra nudge of assurance before I believe that Vitamin C alone can cure cancer.
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