Over the past century, the notion that vitamin C can be used to treat cancer has generated much controversy. However, new knowledge regarding the pharmacokinetic properties of vitamin C and recent high-profile preclinical studies have revived interest in the utilization of high-dose vitamin C for cancer treatment. Studies have shown that pharmacological vitamin C targets many of the mechanisms that cancer cells utilize for their survival and growth. In this Opinion article, we discuss how vitamin C can target three vulnerabilities many cancer cells share: redox imbalance, epigenetic reprogramming and oxygen-sensing regulation. Although the mechanisms and predictive biomarkers that we discuss need to be validated in well-controlled clinical trials, these new discoveries regarding the anticancer properties of vitamin C are promising to help identify patient populations that may benefit the most from high-dose vitamin C therapy, developing effective combination strategies and improving the overall design of future vitamin C clinical trials for various types of cancer.
Vitamins -micronutrients that act as co-factors in the body's multiple metabolic reactions- have been shown to have drug-like properties in the treatment of some diseases, such as folic acid, vitamin E or vitamin C.
The multiple therapeutic applications of vitamin C (VitC) include the administration of high doses for the treatment of cancer. One of the proposed mechanisms is its antioxidant action in healthy cells and the inhibition of factors that promote tumor formation.
High doses of this vitamin could be "irritants" to the body, causing inflammation linked to the treatment, so treatment protocols with VitC include the simultaneous administration of hydrocortisone.
As proposed by the researchers, studies are still lacking to show the benefit of vitamin administration in chronic diseases and cancer.