IV Vitamin C Gets a Reboot

December 29, 2014

Vitamin C Gets a ReBoot 

 Reference: University of Iowa Alumnae Magazine, Winter 2014, PACMAN Study 

 Cancer cells have a problem. They have broken mitochondria. Mitochondria is the part of the cell that makes energy from high-energy compounds. (We call those high energy compounds carbs, and fats, and proteins.)   In particular, mitochondria are great at taking fats and burning them down to low-energy compounds. (We call that carbon dioxide). In effect, mitochondria are the engines of our cells and in cancer, those engines are broken. Cancer cells can live only by having lots and lots of glucose, which they also burn inefficiently. 

If we were to follow the engine analogy, we would say that the engine of cancer cells really needs a ring job as it is spewing out black smoke out of its tailpipe. Black smoke? Well, yes. Cancer cells can’t burn fats and glucose efficiently and in the process of trying to do so, spew out boatloads of partially digested chemicals. The nitty-gritty of that chemical process is huge numbers of reactive oxygen species – or free radicals. Those free radicals are pretty damaging things, which means cancer cells are pretty close to trouble, and barely getting along with all of their internal poisons and inefficient metabolism. They only way those cells can survive is to dissolve and destroy tissue around them, spread around the body and generally destroy their own host.   

Yuck. That’s where Vitamin C comes in. When you take Vitamin C orally, your blood level doesn’t get very high. Your body controls the Vitamin C level very tightly, and with a half-life of some 30 minutes, anything you take is gone in a couple of hours.   When you give it IV, however, you can get levels a couple hundred times what you get orally.   Hmmm.   If you give it by IV over 3-4 hours, cancer cells get exposed to a very high level for that time, even if it’s gone in just a few hours. And what happens then?   You likely think of Vitamin C as an antioxidant, and that it is at low, normal levels. But at those high levels you get by IV, it becomes a pro-oxidant. That adds oxidizing stress to those cancer cells that are already stressed out by their own internal flood of reactive oxygen species, and their own inefficient energy metabolism with all their broken mitochondria. The final straw for the cancer cells may be mediated by Vitamin C turning into a very powerful oxidant, and in so doing, generating hydrogen peroxide. 

 So the folks at the University of Iowa gave high dose IV C to cancer patients getting regular chemotherapy. And what they found in their preliminary study was pretty amazing. Of 9 patients with advanced cancer given “Two cycles” of IV Vitamin C, survival went from 6 months to 14 months.   And it was very well tolerated with no other side effects. That’s what I’m seeing in my practice too. It’s not easy to project from the few folks I have, but I’m seeing folks with cancer living much longer than their projected and expected longevity.   And if I can give them another Christmas, New Year, Diwali, Hanukkah with their families, I’m a happy guy. 

 WWW. What will work for me? Well, I’m thinking about what I want to learn this coming year.   The ketogenic diet adds stress to cancer because it’s all fat, and cancer cells need glucose, not fat. That fat in a cancer cell burns like a car burning oil with black exhaust. But IV vitamin C turns into hydrogen peroxide inside the human body, at the cancer cell. So this coming year, I want to learn everything I can about hydrogen peroxide.   Between IV Vitamin C, a ketogenic diet, strategies to increase peroxide, and regular chemotherapy, maybe we can start to put cancer on the ropes.   

 Pop Quiz

  1. Taking Vitamin C orally gives you effective cancer-fighting therapy? T or F.             Answer:  False. We’ve tried and it really came out a bust. A few hints of help, maybe.
  1. IV Vitamin C causes oxidative stress on cancer cells, but not normal cells. T or F.             Answer:     Bingo
  1. Cancer cells have lousy mitochondria that can’t burn energy efficiently, and as a side effect, make tons of reactive oxygen species, that are very “oxidizing”. (Think dirty exhaust.) T or F                        Answer:   True. Yuk
  1. IV Vitamin C can be given with no side effects, even to folks on chemo? T or F.               Answer:   Not only true but very likely additive to the salutary effects of the chemo
  1. One strategy to double your expected longevity with cancer is to get traditional chemotherapy along with IV Vitamin C. T or F                    Answer:   Well, not proven yet but this adds to multiple other studies. Kind of exciting.