Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Monday, September 26, 2005

NIH Study Takes Another Look At Vitamin C and Cancer

NIH Study Takes Another Look At Vitamin C and Cancer

September 13, 2005

Does vitamin C help fight cancer? It depends on which studies you believe. The latest research says it might.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says high doses of vitamin C, administered intravenously, may be an effective cancer treatment.

Ever since the 1970s, when Linus Pauling wrote Vitamin C and The Common Cold, some scientists have suggested vitamin C holds powers against all manner of ailments, including cancer. Early studies seemed to suggest that might be the case, though later studies found no benefit when it came to cancer.

But now researchers say those early studies used intravenous and oral ascorbate, while the later studies used only oral administration. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health believe those differences could account for the different outcomes. They reexamined intravenous ascorbate therapy in cultured cancer cell lines.

Dr. Stephen Barrett, of the Website QuackWatch, says three prospectively randomized, placebo-controlled Mayo Clinic studies involving 367 patients documented no consistent benefit from vitamin C among cancer patients with advanced disease. In fact, he says, the studies suggest high doses of vitamin C can have significant adverse effects.

“Despite these hard facts, many individuals still claim that high doses of vitamin C are useful as a cancer treatment. It is important for responsible health professionals to clarify this issue so that patients neither forfeit scientific care nor put themselves at risk by using a product that has no merit,” Barrett said.

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