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Your IV Vitamin C and Cancer Fact Sheet:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
For many decades, intravenous (IV) vitamin C has been recognized in complementary medicine for a variety of health benefits to human beings.
Vitamin C IV has been especially sought after in cancer treatments. When administered in high doses (0.5-1.5g/kg body weight), IV vitamin C has been found to:
- Become toxic to cancerous cells;
- Enhance quality of life;
- Help prevent toxicity from chemotherapy;
- Enhance the ability of some chemotherapy agents to fight cancer;
- Strengthen collagen and immune system.
Chemotherapy and radiation may come with unwanted side effects such as: a higher risk of infections due to bone marrow toxicity; toxicity to the digestive tract, liver and kidneys. However, IV vitamin C – also known as IV ascorbic acid – reduces these discomforts and improves the quality of life.
Are you ready to learn more about IV vitamin C and its impact on cancer? Here are your answers to common questions:
Why should IV vitamin C be part of cancer treatment?
From slowing down cancer growth to improving immunity, high-dose vitamin C is frequently favored by and prescribed to cancer patients. However, large doses of vitamin C in the plasma and urine with antitumor activity can only be obtained intravenously, leading to greater serum levels (70 folds higher) when compared to oral supplements. At these high doses IV vitamin C, works as an oxidant (not an antioxidant) inside the cancer cells, which helps kill cancer cells and slows down the growth of tumors.
How does IV vitamin C work?
Vitamin C depletes ATP inside cancerous cells. (ATP is the main source of energy for most cellular processes in our body.) Meanwhile, normal cells sustain their ATP levels. This phenomenon is due to the dysregulation of glucose metabolism within cancerous cells and known as the Warburg Effect (as cancer cells depend on a larger proportion on glycolysis for the production of ATP). In an article published in Anti-cancer Drugs, IV ascorbate acid was found to deplete ATP in prostate cancer cells, leading to autophagy (or cell destruction).
IV vitamin C also builds hydrogen peroxide within the cells; free radicals are then drawn from the hydrogen peroxide and attack the DNA of cancer cells. Scientists also believe that these free radicals make cancerous cells more susceptible to radiation and chemotherapy, causing the radiation and chemotherapy to be more effective.
Studies have shown that intravenous ascorbate acid increases collagen levels, which may slow down tumor growth, too. This was explained in Scientific Reports, which reported how “increased collagen by pharmacological ascorbate treatment is associated with restriction of tumor invasion to the [surrounding tissue].”
Additionally, IV vitamin C slows down the progression of cancer. According to researchers, when tumors grow, the body activates HIF-1 (hypoxia inducing factor), a transcription factor; this leads to angiogenesis, glycolysis and a higher resistance to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. HIF-1 is downregulated by oxygen-sensing enzymes that require vitamin C as a cofactor. But when IV vitamin C is administered, study results have suggested that the vitamin “could slow down tumor growth by moderating HIF-1 activation,” reported Margreet C.M. Vissers, PhD at last year’s Linus Pauling Institute’s 9th International Conference on Diet and Optimum Health.
How does IV vitamin C impact your quality of life?
According to the National Cancer Institute, in two pilot trials, “Patients with non-small cell lung cancer or glioblastoma multiforme…were given standard therapy plus IV vitamin C. Patients had better overall survival and fewer side effects compared to the control groups.”
Overall, patients have noticed an improved mood and better appetite when they are administered IV vitamin C drips. IV vitamin C also boosts the production of endorphins, which leads to reduced pain (and lowering your use of painkillers).
Intravenous vitamin C also helps increase energy since it is involved in the biosynthesis of carnitine, which is needed to transport fatty acids into mitochondria during the breakdown of lipids; in turn, this generates metabolic energy.
Which complications does Vitamin C IV reduce?
IV vitamin C successfully reduces cancer-related complications. Vitamin C IV strengthens the immune system (fights viral and bacterial infections) by ensuring that cancer patients have enough vitamin C levels. In addition:
- The vitamin C drip reduces cancer-related inflammation.
- Helps prevent cancer-related sepsis, which when diagnosed, could dangerously lead to organ failure or septic shock.
What are the dosages? How long is the treatment?
Current studies suggest that an infusion rate of 500mg/minute is desirable to achieve the therapeutic goal of reaching a peak concentration in plasma.
Doses up to 1.5g/kg per body weight three times weekly have been found to be safe and capable of achieving plasma ascorbic concentrations of up to 20mM. This dosage is necessary for IV vitamin C to act as a pro-oxidant that generates hydrogen peroxide, which becomes lethal to cancerous cells. However, it is advisable to start treatment with a lower dose, and, if no adverse events are observed, to gradually increase doses to their final level.
Are there any adverse effects and side effects to using intravenous vitamin C?
IV vitamin C has very mild side effects, which may include: perspiration, fatigue, dry mouth, nausea, feeling dizzy. These may arise due to the high level of solute concentration, but the side effects may be canceled out by drinking water prior to and during the IV therapy session.
Are there any cautions and contraindications when using IV vitamin C?
Please take note that IV ascorbate acid should not be administered to the following patients with a history of:
- Renal failure;
- Kidney stones;
- G6PD deficiency.
Careful consideration should take place for patients with hemochromatosis. Also, IV vitamin C may not be suitable for dehydrated patients and those with anuria, low cardiac output, edema/pulmonary congestion. Because studies have not taken place on pregnant and breastfeeding women, plus children, caution should take place when using IV vitamin drips on these groups.
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Berdiel, Miguel J. MD, Duconge, Jorge PhD, Gonzalez, Michael J. NMD, DSc, PhD, FANMA, FACN, Miranda-Massari, Jorge R PharmD. (2017). Increasing the Effectiveness of Intravenous Vitamin C as an Anticancer Agent. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Volume 32, Number 1, 2017.
Carr AC, Vissers MCM, Cook JS. The Effect of Intravenous Vitamin C on Cancer- and Chemotherapy-Related Fatigue and Quality of Life. Frontiers in Oncology. 2014;4:283. doi:10.3389/fonc.2014.00283.
Carr, A.C.; McCall, C. The role of vitamin C in the treatment of pain: New insights. J. Transl. Med. 2017, 15, 77.
Carr AC. Symposium on Vitamin C, 15th September 2017; Part of the Linus Pauling Institute’s 9th International Conference on Diet and Optimum Health. Antioxidants. 2017;6(4):94. doi:10.3390/antiox6040094.
Chen, Ping & Yu, Jun & Chalmers, Brain & Drisko, Jeanne & Yang, Jun & Li, Benyi & Chen, Qi. (2011). Pharmacological Ascorbate Induces Cytotoxicity in Prostate Cancer Cells through ATP Depletion and Induction of Autophagy. Anti-cancer drugs. 23. 437-44. 10.1097/CAD.0b013e32834fd01f.
Duconge, Jorge & Miranda-Massari, Jorge & Gonzalez, Michael & A Jackson, James & Warnock, William & Riordan, Neil. (2008). Pharmacokinetics of vitamin C: Insights into the oral and intravenous administration of ascorbate. Puerto Rico health sciences journal. 27. 7-19.
Gonzalez, Michael J., Miranda-Massari, Jorge R. New Insights on Vitamin C and Cancer. From series SpringerBriefs in Cancer Research. Published by Springer-Verlag New York, 2014.
“High-dose vitamin C makes cancer treatment more effective, trial shows” by Ana Sandoiu. Medical News Today, published March 31, 2017. Accessed June 14, 2018.
PDQ® Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. PDQ High-Dose Vitamin C. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated February 13, 2018. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/vitamin-c-pdq. Accessed June 4, 2018. [PMID: 26389507]
Polireddy, Kishore & Dong, Ruochen & Reed, Greg & Yu, Jun & Chen, Ping & Williamson, Stephen & Violet, Pierre-Christian & Pessetto, Ziyan & Godwin, Andrew & Fan, Fang & Levine, Mark & Drisko, Jeanne & Chen, Qi. (2017). High Dose Parenteral Ascorbate Inhibited Pancreatic Cancer Growth and Metastasis: Mechanisms and a Phase I/IIa study. Scientific Reports. 7. 10.1038/s41598-017-17568-8.
Padayatty SJ, Sun H, Wang Y, Riordan HD, Hewitt SM, Katz A, et al. Vitamin C pharmacokinetics: implications for oral and intravenous use. Annals of internal medicine. 2004;140(7):533-7. Epub 2004/04/08.
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