How High Dose Vitamin C Kills Cancer

How High Dose Vitamin C Kills Cancer

Let’s examine some of the history, facts and research that support the hypothesis that high dose Vitamin C kills cancer, and also delve a little into the theory.


In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Linus Pauling a Nobel Prize winner together with surgeon Ewan Cameron pioneered the use of vitamin C as a treatment of cancer. Further studies have since suggested that a high concentration of Vitamin C may both prevent and treat cancer. More recent studies have shown that patients who received high dose Vitamin C treatment displayed a slower progression of the disease, and that the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy were less pronounced.

A study of terminal cancer patients treated with high-dose Vitamin C was reported in 1976 where 100 terminal cancer patients were treated with Vitamin C (10 g/day for 10 days IV, then orally) and compared with 1000 matched controls from the same hospital. The mean survival time for Vitamin C treated patients was 300 days longer than that of the matched controls. Two studies further demonstrated that high dose vitamin C treatment resulted in improved quality of life and a decrease in cancer-related side effects.

How Does it work?

Research by biology expert Garry Buettner, a professor of radiation oncology and a member of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa found that at extremely high levels of Vitamin C selectively kills cancer cells but not normal cells. Physicians are now testing this approach in clinical trials for pancreatic cancer and lung cancer that combine high-dose, intravenous vitamin C with standard chemotherapy or radiation.

In a new study, Buettner et al have extablished the biological actions of how high-dose Vitamin C (also known as ascorbate) kills cancer cells. The study shows that Vitamin C’s ability to target cancer cells is a result of the fact that it breaks down into hydrogen peroxide. Studies show that tumor cells have low levels of catalase enzyme activity making them less able to remove hydrogen peroxide than normal cells, and are therefore more susceptible to apoptosis or natural cell death when exposed to high doses of vitamin C. The enzyme catalase is one of the main methods of hydrogen peroxide removal within a cell, and cancer cells which are typified by reduced catalase activity, are more prone to apoptosis in the presence of high amounts of vitamin C.

Cancer cells also contain unstable iron particles, otherwise known as redox active iron molecules, which makes them a target as a result of the oxidative damage caused of vitamin C. Redox active iron reacts with vitamin C producing hydrogen peroxide and other free radicals, which damage cancer cell DNA, thereby making chemo and radiation treatment more effective.

It is also interesting to note that vitamin C also lowers inflammation, making it beneficial as a cancer treatment. Studies in humans have also shown that vitamin C can help improve symptoms associated with cancer and cancer treatment, such as nausea and vomiting, fatigue and pain, loss of appetite and more.

Research Cases

Intravenously administered vitamin C as cancer therapy: three cases

We found 3 well-documented cases of advanced cancers, confirmed by histopathologic review, where patients had unexpectedly long survival times after receiving high-dose intravenous vitamin C therapy.

Tumor cells have decreased ability to metabolize H2O2

Rate constants for removal of H2O2 (kcell) and catalase activities were determined for 15 tumor and 10 normal cell lines of various tissue types. A differential in the capacity of cells to remove H2O2 was revealed, with the average kcell for normal cells being twice that of tumor cells.