Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States (1). It’s also one of the most aggressive and deadly, being the third cause of cancer deaths in the country (2).
Because of these numbers, researchers are being pressured to find new ways to cure patients suffering from the disease. This lead to the following discovery…
Vitamin C Kills Colorectal Cancer Cells
A preliminary study published last year showed that, “intravenous vitamin C (IVC) may improve quality of life, physical function, and toxicities associated with chemotherapy, including fatigue, nausea, insomnia, constipation, and depression. Case reports document several instances of tumor regression and long-term disease-free survival associated with use of IVC.”
And while the study did say that “more rigorous evidence is needed to conclusively demonstrate these effects.” It also, said that the “existing evidence is suggestive of a good safety profile and potentially important antitumor activity.”
And thanks to a new study published this year, researchers now have a better understanding of why this works (3).
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How Vitamin C Kills Cancer And Impairs Tumor Growth
Around half of all colorectal cancer cases harbor mutations in the KRAS and BRAF genes, which means that the disease is more aggressive and doesn’t respond well to current therapies or chemotherapy.
The study from Harvard Medical School and The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center found that high doses of vitamin C — roughly equivalent to the levels found in 300 oranges — impaired the growth of KRAS mutant and BRAF mutant colorectal tumors in cultured cells and mice.
In the oxygen-rich environment of human arteries, a fraction of vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, becomes oxidized and is transformed into a new compound called dehydroascorbic acid (DHA).
The study reveals that DHA acts as a Trojan horse. Once inside in a cancerous cell, natural antioxidants in the cell attempts to convert the DHA back to ascorbic acid; in the process, these vital antioxidants are depleted, and the cell dies from oxidative stress. via MedicalNewsToday
According to Tech Times, researchers noted the potentials of vitamin C in treating cancer, since regular therapies for cancer are not capable of targeting mutated cells.
The oxidative stress observed in the study and induced by large dose of vitamin C affected only cancerous cells, leaving healthy cells untouched.
“Our hope is that our study will inspire the scientific community to take a fresh look at this safe and inexpensive natural molecule and stimulate both basic and clinical research regarding vitamin C as a cancer therapy,” study co-author Jihye Yun said in a press release.