When it comes to cold and the flu, Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is hailed as the best remedy and preventive agent. But did you know that this could also help fight against cancer? Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is not produced by our bodies and needs to be sourced through food. It is needed for the synthesis of collagen, norepinephrine, and carnitine. Collagen is required to develop bones, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.
Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter while carnitine is a protein required for transportation of fat to the mitochondria. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that protects the body against damage caused by free radicals. In addition, it boosts the immune system and increases the body’s ability to fight infections. Ideally, an adult man should have 90mg per day while an adult woman should consume 75mg vitamin C per day.
When it comes to cancer treatment, vitamin C can act as an immune-modulator. It enhances the body’s resistance to pathogens and suppresses production of IL-18. This is a key regulator in melanomas, carcinomas and other kinds of malignant skin tumours. In the case of gastric cancers, the production of IL-18 is boosted by the vascular endothelial growth factor. In the case of breast cancer, IL-18 induces the production of transferrin. Thus, by regulating and reducing the production of IL-18, vitamin C can help reduce the risk of skin cancers, stomach cancers, and breast cancer. Dosage is key to the efficacy of Vitamin C in preventing cancer as an immune modulator.
In its reduced form, vitamin C is known as ascorbate. This has the ability to act as a prooxidant. Ascorbate in high dosages induces apoptosis in some melanomas through mitochondrial dysfunction. Similarly, a low dose of ascorbate induces cell cycle arrest of some types of cancer cells. Thus, by acting as a prooxidant, vitamin C inhibits the growth of cancer cells. This includes growth by inducing endoplasmic reticulum stress, suppressing growth factors and inhibiting angiogenic factor production. It also produces hydrogen peroxide-dependent cytotoxicity in cancerous cells without affecting other healthy cells.
The efficacy of vitamin C in dealing with various types of cancer has been found to be most effective when administered intravenously. In addition, it may also be given orally. Since vitamin C is cytotoxic and does not affect other cells, the side effects of this type of cancer therapy are usually negligible.