New study suggests vitamin C can target, kill cancer stem cells

Dr. Scott Ackerman analyzes new findings

A new study from the University of Salford in Manchester, England, found that citamin C can effectively target and kill cancer stem cells.

The study, led by Dr. Gloria Bonuccelli and published in the journal Oncotarget, examined the effectiveness of three natural substances, three experimental drugs and one clinical drug in stopping the growth of cancer stem cells.

"We know that vitamin C helps the immune system and we have been looking at vitamin C since the '70s to fight cancer, and there haven't been any studies that have shown definitively that vitamin C can fight cancer," said Dr. Scott Ackerman with the Ackerman Cancer Center. "Perhaps we can use vitamin C with other drugs to enhance the effects of these other drugs and help to minimize recurrence of cancer."

Of all of the substances tested, actinonin, a naturally occurring antibacterial agent, and the drug FK8766 were the most effective, but vitamin C was 10 times more effective than experimental drug 2-DG.

"This is further evidence that vitamin C and other nontoxic compounds may have a role to play in the fight against cancer," Bonuccelli said. "Our results indicate it is a promising agent for clinical trials, and as an add-on to more conventional therapies, to prevent tumor recurrence, further disease progression, and metastasis."

Vitamin C has been shown to be an anticancer agent by Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, however, later clinical trials conducted by the Mayo Clinic found there was no benefit to high-dose vitamin C in cancer treatment, although Pauling rejected the processes used in the Mayo Clinic trials.

Ackerman said that while going the natural route is preferable, vitamin C and other vitamins and herbals may have an adverse affect on some cancer therapies.

"One needs to be careful and talk to their physician, because while they're getting cancer treatment or chemotherapy, vitamin C may act in opposition to those therapies,' Ackerman said. "Vitamin C may be better after treatment is over to minimize the risk of recurrence or risk of it spreading."